Sallie Eden talks to her absolute favourite cartoonist, Dave Walker
Dave Walker is a freelance cartoonist specialising in church and cycling-themed cartoons. He lives in Essex and, according to his website, started drawing cartoons when he should have been concentrating on theological lectures at college.
His exquisitely observed drawings have appeared in the Church Times for ten years. He has also produced cartoons for The Guardian, Christian Aid, Greenpeace, and Cycling Weekly. As if that wasn’t enough, he runs a number of cartoon websites, including cartoonchurch.com, which supplies ecclesiastical cartoons for church magazines and which keeps me amused on an almost daily basis.
I started by asking Dave to tell me about his work and how he manages to come up with new and amusing ideas.
“I draw a weekly cartoon for the Church Times newspaper as well as others for clients who commission me. My other main area is cycling cartoons – I’m a keen cyclist and so that forms another natural subject area. The ideas can be hard work and I do rely quite a bit on help from others – I greatly appreciate suggestions sent to me, which some people kindly do.”
What triggers you to start work/to give you an idea?
“It can be something I’ve seen or heard, or an idea that someone has given me. As for a trigger to start work – usually a deadline the next day will focus my mind.”
Do people who meet you expect you to be instantly amusing?
“Some possibly do. They are probably disappointed…”
Do you have a favourite cartoon?
“Of my own? Probably either my one about foodbanks or ‘The election’ from the pleasevote.org.uk website. I think I like them because they were popular and vaguely political. I’d like to do more like these, but I find them incredibly difficult.”
My own favourites are too numerous to list here but I love ‘The Chain of Command’, ‘Committee Meetings’ and ‘Keeping Order’ (which made me laugh out loud). I also like, ‘Recruiting volunteers’ and… and… There are so many and most can be translated to any sphere of work or social life, especially where there are meetings or other groups of people.
What is your target audience?
“I hope everyone can enjoy at least some of what I do. It is my aim to make church cartoons generally understandable by anyone, whether they are a churchgoer or not. I’m told my books are often stored in the smallest room in vicarages.”
Are people ever offended by your reflections on church matters?
“Occasionally. Someone once wrote in and complained that I implied that people sitting on the front row were keen. “I’m not keen, I just can’t hear.” But on the whole I am drawing cartoons that are fairly gentle in their humour, so not many complaints.”
Where do you write? In solitude? At home? In short bursts, steadily or…?
“I generally draw in quiet and on my own, but I write anywhere. Public transport can be a good place for having ideas, provided you turn off your phone and music. The internet is the biggest killer of creativity, so I need to make sure I am somewhere I can’t look at it.”
What cartoonists do you admire/enjoy?
“I could name lots, but the greatest length of bookshelf in our house is probably occupied by Jean-Jacques Sempé (large beautifully-drawn panoramas and social commentary) and, to go back a few years, W Heath Robinson for his fabulous inventions.”
What are you planning next?
“I still draw for the Church Times – I was doing website editing for the paper too, but stopped that to focus on cartoons and my own websites which provide some of my income. There are cartoon projects on the horizon, but nothing new that is definite at the moment. I love writing / drawing on my blog, and that is something I am planning to do more of. I’ve been writing it since 2002 or thereabouts. Please do join me at davewalker.cc.”
Mugs, tea towels, books – all your gift buying problems solved! Dave Walker to the rescue! By the time you read this many of you will know I went in for bulk buying Dave’s books this Christmas. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
“I must tell your readers that my wife and I love Cornwall. We spent our honeymoon in St Ives. We have been a good number of times – in recent years to Perranporth, Porthleven and Fowey. Having had two summers holidays following the Tour de France perhaps this summer would be a good one to return.”
So, Dear Reader, if you have ideas for Dave’s next holiday destination and/or subjects for a cartoon, please contact me.