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I can’t tell you how much the Surrealists hated mornings because I made it up. Still, the evidence is there…and there…and there.


You can find more unbelievable tales like this in my new book, Peter Duggan’s Artoons.


“Irreverent and uproariously hilarious…Peter Duggan’s Artoons is sensational…I can’t remember when I last laughed so much…I’m blown away by Artoons. It’s genuinely hilarious…I absolutely love this book…It’s just brilliant!”



“There are too many funny ones”



If you can’t find it in your local bookstore then try online: (UK) (USA)

Or in French:

Librairie Flammarion

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Smarty Dali

First published in The Guardian, 6 August 2014.


Leons have been ponted and collapsed. Again. LMVQ!


Above is an ordinary statement, picked at random, from the future. Specifically 2039, twenty five years from now. I managed to get this because of my fairly rare ability to see forward in time. It’s kind of like a Google Street View in my head, but of the future. Sometimes I check out how my friends are doing. So sad.


Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that this cartoon is based on the most famous selfie of all time, which has been retweeted more than any other image. Think about that statement. Salvador Dali died in 1989; a mere 25 years later, in 2014, the language is already incomprehensible. Selfies, retweets, camera-phones – it’s quite surreal.


In case you are unfamiliar with the photo, the host of the 2014 Academy Awards, Elen DeGeneres, got a few people from the front rows to be in a selfie with her. It was stacked with the A-lister “In” crowd – Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey, Julia Roberts, Henry Darger; the list goes on. She immediately tweeted it and it quickly became the most retweeted photo in the history of bird noise.


However, due to the Future Street View in my head, I often get my time zones muddled. That may have happened here. But it is entirely appropriate Dali appears in a cartoon about selfies. A monumental narcissist, he believed in the “prideful exaltation of self’’. Dali has obviously traded in his old lobster phone for a brand new smartphone. Knowing Dali’s love of money (the poet André Breton once coined an anagram of Salvador Dali – “Avida Dollars’’. Avida means greedy) there is no way he would have opted for a pay-as-you-go plan. He would have locked himself into a 2 year contract and got the phone for free. That’s a canny money saving move on his part. He won’t make a single call – he’s been dead for 25 years! So he gets the phone for free and can take as many photos as he likes. Smart.

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Lost phone

First published in The Guardian, 23 July, 2014.


I bet you didn’t realise that Salvador Dali’s Lobster Telephone is a sexually charged object. The crustacean’s tail, where its sexual parts are located, is placed directly over the mouthpiece. Ooooo. Lobsters held erotic overtones for Dali. This seems very weird, but it is not as uncommon as you might think. Most people like lobster. However a recent Royal Commission into Fine Dining revealed that several unscrupulous Michelin starred chefs were secretly adding small quantities of eroticism to their lobster dishes. This moral decay at the heart of the food industry has leaked out even into home cooking. An unaired episode of the Great British Bake Off showed an ambitious contestant adding a full dollop of eroticism to his lobster soufflé. At the judges’ tasting Mary Berry refused to release the spoon from her mouth. Immediately sensing danger, the quick-thinking Paul Hollywood gallantly punched her in the face, locked her in a full Nelson and hung on as she descended into full-blown lasciviousness, frantically clawing at his trousers.


After the judges deliberations, and despite Paul Hollywood’s protestations, the contestant was put through to the next round.


I have no idea why Dali decided to make a telephone out of a lobster though. It’s such a crazy idea. 

That Dali. Such a surrealist. Such a luddite.



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This is not a knife

First published in The Guardian online, 23 June 2011
This is a riff on Rene Magritte’s famous painting The Treachery of Images. It shows a pipe. Written below it are the words “Ceci nest pas use pipe.”, French for “This is not a pipe.” This highlights the fact that, despite its realism, this is a painting of a pipe, not an actual pipe.
In the first version of this cartoon I had the two Surrealists, Magritte and Dali, making the explanation that no, it wasn’t a crack-pipe, merely a drawing of one. The joke, of course, is that the same rule applies to themselves. They too are just drawings.
I believe the premise is a very funny one but doing this cartoon taught me that a great premise does not, on its own, make a great cartoon – it has to be presented right. The earliest incarnation had the two artists happy and smug that they had pulled the wool over the cop’s eyes. But the whiff of nastiness really bugged me. I was sure I could end better than this, and ideally you want the final panel to be a strong one, not a winding down of the jokey climax in a previous panel. I then changed it to the cop being the one to point out that the pipe was actually just a drawing. Good, but what happens then? The two surrealists exclaim he is a genius? Baffled themselves? Neither of these, nor several other variants, quite worked. Finally I hit on the angle of the final version above. All Magritte has said is that it isn’t a crack-pipe. By saying this the cop has a revelation about the Treachery of Images, Dali is bowled over by Magritte’s ingenuity in getting them out of a tight spot and Magritte doesn’t have a clue what’s gone on.
It’s a good solution and the artoon is possibly my favourite. It is also is one of those few cartoons of mine that takes the meaning of an artwork and adds another layer. It took a lot of rewrites to find the right angle, and as it was one of the first artoons I ever drew, it was a good lesson to learn. Don’t settle if you are not satisfied. The only thing that ever prevents me doing this is the roaring, ravenous face of a fast approaching deadline.
In case anyone has missed the references, here is a picture of Dali’s flaccid clock, and something Dali designed to be sat on.
A little aside about cruelty in humour: 
I remember seeing an interview with John Cleese where he talked about writing A Fish Called Wanda. He said he was struck by a comment by Paul Hogan (this was the time of Crocodile Dundee) that he didn’t like Monty Python humour because it was emotionally “cold”. This really affected Cleese. It struck him to be true, that the English were, he felt, too reserved, and he made a big effort with A Fish Called Wanda to make the characters and their interactions a lot warmer.
I remember being surprised that Cleese didn’t realise that Monty Python humour was ‘cold’ (The Meaning of Life?). It’s a fairly obvious observation I guess that if characters are emotionally closed off from each other they can, and do, treat each other in a colder, crueller manner. The whole essence of Hogan’s humour was warmth between the characters. People who are real fuck-ups are still your good mates, and treat each other with equal respect. That’s a funny scenario and the humour of the situation is inextricably tied up with human warmth. It gives you a warm glow.
Anyway, perhaps because I grew up watching The Paul Hogan Show, perhaps just because there’s a difference between the Australian psyche than the English one, but I find a mocking type of humour just not quite as funny. As you grow up your tastes expand and the initial cringiness of Fawlty Towers becomes hilarious. However I still retain that initial prejudice.
Oh don’t get me wrong. Times have changed. The English are less tightly buttoned up than they were decades ago, and there are plenty of Australians who are absolute pricks. Just ask my mates.