john watson’s noisy corner

December 4, 2008


front cover


back cover


centre spread


quarter fold-out back cover


half fold-out back cover

My favourite image in this issue of Spy is the Mhairi Macaroon illustration. It’s so seedy and cheesy, and so beautifully done. Redolent of some war-time cabaret, it was probably created mostly with John’s trusty Berol RollerBall pen. He could make that little bit of shitty plastic sing!


6 Responses to “john watson’s noisy corner”

  1. Oscar Grillo Says:

    Words cannot express my admiration for these. John was one of the greatest British cartoonists of his generation!
    (Funny. The current work of the young Argentinean underground cartoonists remind me of his)

  2. anneke baving Says:

    hello there,
    I am so pleased to finally read about john watson from someone who knew him.
    I have met him years ago in holland(where i live) since that time we were sort of pen pals he wrote me some letters and send me little illustrations and cards he made.
    I was schocked to find out that he died.
    Do you know what the cause was?
    If you have more information about him, please let me know.

    greetings anneke baving

    • sharrock Says:

      Hi Anneke,

      Nice to hear from you. It’s always nice to hear from anyone who knew and liked John and his work. His death was terribly sad and a little of a mystery. His wife (now also sadly dead) told me that she believed he had been supplied with fake insulin (John was diabetic) while travelling on his own in the far east and this had resulted in him going into a coma and dying. Unfortunately his body was embalmed by the local authorities before it was returned to the UK so it was not possible to do an autopsy.

      Apart from me posting stuff here (and I admit I have been somewhat remiss recently- I have a lot more of his work to post) there is no real on-line archive. There is the catalogue for the exhibition his widow organised after his death: “My Mouth is Quiet but My Mind is Noisy” but I’m not sure if you can buy it anywhere.

      I am still in touch with John’s children- who are great! His son is very like him in the way he moves and carries himself and he is also, like John, a bit of a drummer too.

      I still miss John. He was such a nice man. And such a great illustrator.



  3. anneke baving Says:

    Hi Christopher,

    What a sad story about john,i didn’t know he was diabetic, we met in 1986 and wrote letters until 1988, so i didn’t know him that well, but he was a speciaal man and i have lots of nice memories about him.
    How sad that his wife died too.
    Good to hear that his children are oke,do they life whith their family ?
    If you ever find a catalogue, please let me know, i’ll be happy to buy one.
    In the mean time i’ll be searching myself for the catalogue and read your blog.

    best wishes,

  4. Richard Says:

    Hi Christopher,

    Don’t know if you’re still keeping this blog live! I was prompted to search for info on John as we are (finally) about to get three of his paintings properly framed. I knew he had died (sadly) and knew of the retrospective, both retrospectively, f you see what I mean. We only met John a couple of times through our friend who was at art college with him and bought the paintings from him at his graduate show at Grays (early 80s?). They are unsigned and untitled, but immediately recognisable – works of genius even then, in our humble opinions! One spawned a music production which my wife (now a teacher) did with children and young people years ago.

    I’d be happy to send you photos of the paintings if you’re interested.

    All the best,


  5. sharrock Says:

    Hi Richard,

    Yes I am (just about!) keeping this up and running. I have been a bit busy recently so I am afraid I have neglected it and haven’t posted any more of John’s work.

    The paintings by John sound interesting and I would happily post photos of them if you care to send them to me. It was very perceptive of you to get some of his work so early on!

    I’ll send you my email address.

    Best wishes


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