Twisted Nature

The Story of Twisted Nature

My highest profile work has to be the Twisted Nature cartoon series which appeared in the worlds top natural history magazine, BBC Wildlife, from January 2008 to September 2011 giving it national and international exposure for almost four years before the magazine was given a new format and TN was replaced by a crossword (?) in the autumn of 2011.
It began in the summer of 2007 when I put some humorous ideas down on paper during a time when a new baby was giving me sleepless nights and more detailed work was too much of a chore. I shared those initial cartoons with an online wildlife forum, received great encouragement and got in touch with BBC Wildlife who took them on board immediately, the rest as they say is history (or in this case natural history) and here are a few of my early cartoons :

Travelling by Rail

Travelling by Rail was the first ever Twisted nature cartoon, before the name was even born, and still probably my favourite though was never chosen for publication. It features two of my fave creatures locally, the Water Rail and Banded Demoiselle damselfly, though the original idea came from an observation at Gibside National Trust estate across the valley and featured a migrant hawker dragonfly which annoyed a moorhen by briefly touching down on it.
A Bad Day at the Office

Bad day at the Office, the second cartoon ever completed, inspired by a kingfisher at a local pond perched up in the rain and generally looking sorry for itself, though I‘ve since learned that the rain makes good fishing as it brings the fish nearer the surface. This cartoon appeared in BBC Wildlife in March 2008.
Carry On Crow

Carry on Crow was the first cartoon published in BBC Wildlife back in January 2008, from an idea I’d carried around with me for years, just a play on words which I couldn’t get out of my head every time I heard or read the words ‘carrion crow’.

Every few months I would submit a dozen cartoon roughs to BBC Wildlife magazine from which they would choose three or four for publication, for which I would then produce a high resolution master copy from the original idea. The characters in the cartoons were painted in watercolour, then scanned in to the computer and their digital world was built up around them to make polished and colourful contemporary looking images.
Here is an example of a rough sent to the editorial team:

A cartoon rough
And this is the finished cartoon made from scratch:

The finished version
A spoof on the film poster of the similarly named
Fiddler on the roof
As a result I have a huge amount of unpublished images, some of which I loosely tied together in titled sections and added a narrative for each chapter to produce a paperback, Twisted Nature, - An Alternative Guide to British Wildlife, (as most of the early cartoons were all produced from wildlife observed locally) containing 72 cartoons in 32 pages.

And the book is currently available to buy from, (priced £ 7.99 plus p&p) or alternatively contact me via email (see header) and I’ll organize a signed copy, it makes an ideal gift for the wildlife lover in your life. (That’s the advert finished)

I also started to produce a range of novelty items to sell at local Arts and Craft fairs, local outlets (including the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust shop at Washington) and for a while online, which proved very popular.
Book Marks, Key Rings, Fridge Magnets and Coasters, all moderately priced and something for all senses of humour, from slapstick to surreal.

Twisted Nature Cartoon Novelties
Coaster size 9 x 9 cms
Fridge Magnet size 9 x 6 cms
Book Mark size 18 x 5 cms
Key Ring size 5 x 3.5 cms

Many Images are available, priced as follows:
Book Mark £ 1.20 plus 50p postage and packing
Key Ring £ 2.00 plus 80p postage and packing
Fridge Magnet £ 2.50 plus £1.00 postage and packing
Coaster £ 3.00 plus £1.00 postage and packing

Novelties can be produced from any cartoon published in BBC Wildlife between Jan 2008 and September 2011. Contact me at for further details.
The Twisted Nature Brand gathered momentum, novelty items selling really well at local Arts and Craft Fairs, and many people got in touch online to order prints and novelties, but best of all I was commissioned to paint three original cartoons by Naturalist, Conservationist and TV Presenter Mark Carwardine, who at the time (Autumn 2009) was appearing in Last Chance To See with Steven Fry.

It was a great series, what the BBC Natural History Unit do best, being informative and entertaining at the same time, and I have to say was really chuffed to be asked for original artwork by such an esteemed naturalist and a great bloke.
Later the same year an article ran in a local newspaper about the success of Twisted Nature which resulted in a late surge of sales on my book for Christmas 2009.

click image to read
BBC Wildlife kept asking for more submissions through 2010 and 2011, and by now I’d expanded the range from local wildlife to worldwide. Some examples :

But in the Summer of 2011, it was a case of ‘All good things must come to an end', as I was informed that the magazine was undergoing a revamp from Autumn 2011 and Twisted Nature was to be replaced with a crossword. Disappointing but I had a good run considering it was taken only for an initial six months. And with so many cartoons yet unpublished and ideas to be drawn up, Twisted Nature may well return some day in another form. Watch this space as they say. but meanwhile here is a countdown to the final three cartoons published by BBC Wildlife up to September 2011.

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011
The final cartoon in BBC Wildlife magazine
And as for the future, like I say, Watch This Space . . . . .

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