Frank Boyle (also know as Francis Boyle) was born in Falkirk, Scotland in 1952. From 1964 to 1970 he attended St Modans High School, Stirling, and from 1970 to 1974 studied illustration and printmaking at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee - recalling that "I always loved drawing, and even at primary school took it for granted that I would go to art college." Boyle was a keen cartoonist, but at Art College found himself “pushed into a more realistic style of work by the head of illustration who didn’t like cartoons”.
Boyle was always a great admirer of Carl Giles, but his drawing style was also influenced by Dudley D. Watkins, and his first job, from 1974 to 1975, was in the art department of D.C.Thomson & Co. of Dundee. They were major publishers of comics, but Boyle was still employed as an illustrator rather than a cartoonist, and passed his time drawing views of Loch Lomond for the People’s Friend. In 1975 he moved to London and got a job at D.C.Thomson’s main rival IPC Magazines, where he worked as an assistant on the launch of the comic Action.
Boyle then worked mainly as a freelancer, until taking a job at a community art project in south London where he taught silkscreen printing. Living and working in Southwark, he became more involved in local politics and began political cartooning, recalling that "the people in London were very political, and that gave me the motivation to finally start doing cartoons again. In fact, Margaret Thatcher was the first politician I ever caricatured." In 1981 Boyle published his own comic called Gannets, which dealt with the redevelopment of London’s Docklands, and his strip “In which we serve” ran in the journal of the National Union of Civil and Public Servants from 1983 to 1997.
In 1984 Boyle succeeded Peter Fluck as cartoonist of Labour Weekly, one of his Miners Strike cartoons being attacked by Frank Chapple in the Daily Mail as “outrageous”. He also contributed to the New Statesman, and to Tribune in 1982-4 when Chris Mullin was editor. However, in 1987 Labour Weekly was closed down by the Labour Party, and two years later Boyle returned to Scotland. Here he began working for the Newcastle-based Sunday Sun, and also did regular work for the Glasgow Herald, Scotland on Sunday and a cartoon strip called “Pirate Pete” for the Daily Record. In 1996 Boyle’s cartoons featured in Ken Loach’s film Carla’s Song, and from 1998 to 2003 he also did stand-up comedy on the Scottish circuit under the name Frank Quinn so as to avoid confusion with his namesake Frankie Boyle.
In 1998 Boyle left the Sunday Sun, and in March 1999 began producing his first regular daily cartoon, for the Edinburgh Evening News. Within days the paper was threatened with legal action over a cartoon featuring the Reverend Pat Robertson, the right-wing American television evangelist. Roberston later withdrew the threat, but described Scotland as “a dark land where homosexuals are very strong”. At the Edinburgh Evening News Boyle also faced criticism over a cartoon which the Lord Provost claimed "had an anti-Glasgow agenda": "The cartoon had been sparked by the fact that they had these asylum seekers in tower blocks and I saw a thing on TV with local people saying they were taking their flats. I had this cartoon with these people saying: 'It must be good to get away from religious bigotry' while, round the corner, there were two Rangers and Celtic thugs fighting each other."
In 2002 Boyle published “Hooray for Holyrood” his first collection of cartoons from the Edinburgh Evening News. "The drawings themselves do not take too long to do, despite all the detail," he explained, "it's the idea that can take longer": "Sometimes I'm up until 3am if I can't get an idea or, at the last minute, something might happen that is more topical than the cartoon I've been working on." In 2003 he was voted cartoonist of the year at the Scottish Press Awards, an award he won again in 2006. That year also saw the publication of his second book “Boyling Point”, and the purchase of one of his cartoons for the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Scotland.
Boyle draws with a dip pen using a Gillot 404 or 303 nib with Higgins Black Magic ink on Langton watercolour paper. His major influences have been Carl Giles, Dudley D. Watkins, Heath Robinson, H.M.Bateman, and Ronald Searle. In 2008 a major retrospective of his work was held at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh, where it was seen by 48,000 people. "A lot of politicians actually buy my work, which is nice," he admits, "but at the same time I'm trying to antagonise them and they just brush it off and hang the cartoon on their wall. It's a little strange."
- Stephen Deal "Satire Right Out of the Top Drawer", Edinburgh Evening News, 4 April 2001, p.18.
- Liam Rudden "Boyle Book Will be Talk of the Toon", Edinburgh Evening News, 16 October 2002, p.14.
- Gareth Edwards “Drawing on life's events”, Edinburgh Evening News, 13 November 2006, p.20.
Further examples of Frank Boyle’s work can be seen on his website at www.boylecartoon.co.uk
34 uncatalogued originals [FB0001 - 0034]
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