Brexit: The Comic Strip
Sanmeet Kaur Dua and I (Emily Allbon) write The Insider’s Guide to Legal Skills, published by Routledge. It’s a book that is designed for those new to law, giving them an understanding of the basics of the English Legal System as well as chapters dedicated to all the key legal skills: writing, using legal sources, research, mooting, referencing, revision and general academic and university survival skills.
When it came to writing the second edition (published 2023) we knew it would need to be more than a straightforward update. There needed to be a new chapter around online learning (thanks to the push during covid), far more focus on employability and the legal system chapter would need to include the whole Brexit debacle.
We were keen to create an illustrated guide which would engage readers of the book but also act as a useful learning tool for students more widely. We wanted this to take the form of a comic and hoped the dry content of the Brexit soap opera might be made easier to understand and be ‘brought alive’ in visual form.
Materials and process
Sam generated the step-by-step commentary and then I worked through each step in the Brexit story (nightmare?) to generate ideas for our artist, Adam, on how he might illustrate the separate comic panels. These were sometimes quite challenging to generate but I put my imaginative hat on and buckled in for the ride. Where possible, I added a couple of options so he could experiment with what worked best. Textual suggestions included:
- DC at podium outside No.10 looking sad
- Hands shaking – one with union jack cuff link and one with EU cuff link – words ‘agreement in principle’ on image somewhere.
- Boris Johnson dead in a ditch? Or just a ditch with sign saying BJ lies here…
- Big Ben striking 11pm and (socially-distanced) British people in EU t-shirts sobbing
In the words of the illustrator:
I enjoyed creating the Brexit comic illustrations for TLDR. I don’t often illustrate public figures, so this was a fresh and exciting challenge for me. Drawing inspiration from the 80s TV programme Spitting Image, I exaggerated certain facial features to help me achieve the right look. Once I had completed the Cameron illustration, the others soon took shape.
The design brief had the Brexit timeframe clearly laid out, but I was still able to use my creative freedom within the images e.g. drawing the Tory party election in a dusty, cobwebbed basement with ‘Maggie was ere’ scribbled near the overhead projector. Being a political piece, it was important that I kept it fun so it could be enjoyed by anyone, no matter which political side they sit. Overall I am delighted with the comic!