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He is to the modern parent what Sid the Sexist is to feminism. He dragged the otherwise honourable profession of arts criticism through the dirt. Now cartoonist and illustrator JOHN FARDELL is bringing his satirical wit to The List.

Words: Jack Mottram Self portrait: John Fardell

JOHN FARDELL lS SITTING IN THE LIVING ROOM OF HIS Edinburgh Dalry flat. Opposite him. the large bookshelves heave with comic book art. everything from the surreal inventions of William Heath Robinson to the graphic novels of Art Spiegelman. A room away lies his cramped studio, neat and tidy but for the hint of semi-realised ideas

crammed beneath his drawing board.

Fardell, as fans of Vi: Comic will know, is the man

behind the Modern Parents. the absurdly laissez-faire mum and dad on an eternal quest to save the planet despite the better efforts of their burger-loving offspring. and The Critics. that frighteningly accurate portrayal of the blinkered pseudery spouted on late night arts discussion programmes. As of this issue, Fardell, whose work has been seen everywhere from The Independent to the programme for the Scottish International Children’s Festival, brings his wicked talents to The List.

Gaining a degree largely in theatre design. Fardell put in stints as a puppet maker. designer and illustrator. gravitating towards cartooning in the late 80s. Before long. Vi: Comic snapped him up. and his two continuing contributions. The Modern Parents and The Critics began their run in l99l. The strips introduced a touch of Swiftian exaggeration to the magazine. a welcome counterpoint to the scatological pranks with which the grown-up comic made its name.

Both series rely on pointedly observed

'But I‘ve a who keeps with some influence is

he‘ll do it i

Funnfly enough,no one ever seems to recognise themselves in the strips

We "RKJJJEZJPIe who are Just (Me the Modern Parents!

coloured tights kicking the shit out of each other,‘ he says.

of realistic detail; even when Tintin is going to the moon,

Robinson machines never have a bolt or a screw that looks

lways admired people like Raymond Briggs. the fantasy rooted in a domestic setting. even thing like Fungus the Bogeyman. Another Hergé. who packs his backgrounds with loads

n a spaceship that looks feasible. Even Heath

out of place.’ As far as The Cartoon. Fardell‘s debut on the pages of The List. goes. current events are set to stand alongside social types as a source of inspiration. ‘Each time. the strip will be based on a topical cultural event. either real or imaginary.’ Fardell says. ‘But I don’t want to follow particular news stories. or even stick to a particular format. One issue. The Cartoon might be a single panel packed with little jokes. the next it could be a three-panel strip with a punch line.” This change of tack for Fardell means that readers are more than likely to find themselves the butt of Fardell’s gags. ‘There won’t be the kind of character—driven humour you see in Viz.’ he says. ‘There might be the odd recurring character who shows up enough to become familiar. if they turn out to be a particularly good source of jokes. I’m mainly interested in the various Glasgow

characters and a slight tweaking of the excesses of the satirical target. That old hippies and media ponces are easy targets for the cynic only adds to the success of the cartoons, as the majority of readers can easily spot an acquaintance or two. ‘l've always admired humour that is close to reality,‘ says Fardell. himself now a father of one. ‘People come up to me and say, “The Modern Parents are my parents!” Funnin enough, no one ever seems to recognise themselves in the strips. I don't really have to go over the top to make it funny. Anything the characters say ' - - f can be topped by the kind of people they‘re based on.’ ' ' v, He takes the same rooted approach to his work even The Cartoon by John Fardell appears on page A " when dealing with fantasy. ‘An awful lot of cartoonists 120. John Fardell can be contacted for « think fantasy begins and ends with two big guys in commisions on 0131 337 5878.

and Edinburgh types, though. and that means I can bring a wide range of characters in, from old stereotypes like the prim Edinburgh ladies this time to the people who go in for that resurgent cafe’ culture in Glasgow.‘

Fardell, then, is set to bring a refreshingly satirical viewpoint to The List while taking a cheeky sideswipe at the lifestyles of its readership.

16-30 Mar 2000 THE [ISTTI