His excellent cartoons on The Guardian have become a weekly staple, and after the success of his first book The Illustrated History of Football, David Squires has got a new book out The Illustrated History of Football Hall of Fame. We caught up with him to talk about Twitter, his bad shoulder and poppies.
What was the reaction like for your first book?
It seemed to be well received, unless the publisher was hiding any bad reviews from me. It was really lovely that some people got in touch with me to say how much they enjoyed it. Stuff it… we live in the age of Donald… It was the bestest book ever written, everyone says so.
You live the other side of the world, what’s the secret to absolutely nailing the minutiae of English football?
I definitely spend too much time on Twitter. My morning routine involves a trawl of the news sites and then a scroll through my social media timelines, which helps to give me a sense of what people are talking about. It can be misleading sometimes though; there have been occasions where I’ve been tricked into thinking that the whole world is discussing a certain subject, only to later discover it’s only the hot topic in my lovely echo chamber.
And what did you think when you saw your drawing of ‘Poppy Man’ come to life at Leicester at the weekend?
I was more surprised that anyone had remembered my cartoon than the realisation that someone had gone The Full Poppy. One of the side-effects of the world going insane is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for cartoonists to exaggerate human behaviour. Nobody ever thinks of us before they stitch hundreds of poppies into a beekeeper’s smock in an act of solemn fuckwittery.
Also, with all that going on, just where do you find the time to produce a book as well?
The Guardian cartoons (for the UK and Australia) take 2–3 days and the rest of the week was spent working on the book. I started on Hall of Fame immediately after finishing The Illustrated History of Football. It’s not exactly hard physical labour, but I do have a bad shoulder as a consequence. Hopefully, I’ll sell enough books to be able to commission a statue in honour of my bravery.
This is the so-called “difficult second album”; did you feel more pressure putting this one together?
I didn’t feel too much pressure, as it’s really a continuation of the first book. As with any long-term project, you start off thinking you have loads of time and cruise through the first few months, taking lots of strolls in the park to get your head right and producing about a page of work a week. Sometimes I need the adrenaline rush of realising I am six months behind schedule and am in deeper shit than Sunderland (perhaps that’s what they’re doing?). What I found difficult this time was that the world was changing so much as I was working on it. I sometimes like to include references to the modern world, outside of football, but it was hard to keep up. I started writing Hall of Fame in June 2016, and since then we’ve had Brexit, Trump and another UK election. Also, there were occasions when I’d sit down to draw a cartoon about, say, Giacinto Facchetti, but be aware that the world seemed to be on the brink of nuclear war. That made me a bit more relaxed about the deadline too.
What was the favourite thing you uncovered in the research for this one?
Perhaps it’s common knowledge, but I wasn’t aware that Paul Breitner starred in a German spaghetti Western called Potato Fritz.
Looking further ahead, we would very much like to see you do a daily cartoon for the World Cup, what can we do to make this happen?
I’ll be doing a couple of cartoons a week for The Guardian during the World Cup, but a daily one might be a push. Bad shoulder, remember.
‘The Illustrated History of Football: Hall of Fame by David Squires is published by Century, £14.99 (Out on Thursday, November 2nd)’.