Most people probably don’t turn to newspapers or science journals when they’re looking for a laugh, particularly in a time of crisis. However, Tom Gauld’s work is testament to our collective need to crack a smile in even the bleakest of times – and in doing so reinforces the cultural appeal of the humble cartoon strip.
Born and raised in Aberdeenshire, the Scottish cartoonist and illustrator has published a number of books telling tales of everything from robots to Goliath. Since 2005, he’s been a regular cartoonist for the Guardian, including his weekly illustrated Cultural Cartoons column that sees him take “a sideways look at cultural life”.
Yet it’s his other regular gig that gave legs to his latest monograph, Department of Mind-Blowing Theories, which is filled with a collection of cartoons he has created for the New Scientist since 2015. Through his deadpan humour, Gauld makes light work of accentuating the perceived tension between haughty scientists and amateur readers, peeling back the serious exterior of the science community and having a good poke around. In other words, no one is exempt from feeling the burn of Gauld’s jibes.
Below, Gauld reveals more on his creative process, his lifelong connection to New Scientist, and why humour is often found in the most unexpected places.