Cartoonist draws fresh career plans after daughter's bone cancer battle

Darlington and Stockton Times: Private Eye cartoonist Mike Barfield from Helperby with some of his posters which feature in his exhibition Private Eye cartoonist Mike Barfield from Helperby with some of his posters which feature in his exhibition

A PRIVATE Eye cartoonist whose daughter is recovering from bone cancer has published a children’s book combining science and humour.

Mike Barfield, whose TV writing credits range from Spitting Image and Have I Got News For You to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Location, Location, Location, said he hoped Swat! A Fly's Guide to Staying Alive would inspire youngsters.

The 50-year-old, of Helperby, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, said: “There’s nothing like it in the kid’s book market.

“There’s lots of serious books about science and lots of illustrated books with jokes in them, but none that combine the two.”

Mr Barfield, a botany graduate, said his fascination with house flies had been sparked by his son's interest in carnivorous plants and how the insects had evolved in close proximity to man.

He said: “It used to be thought that flies were jolly little creatures that occupied the same world as us, people had no idea that they carried cholera and typhus and how dangerous they are.”

The book marks Mr Barfield’s first work, except his Private Eye Apparently cartoon, since last July, when his 12-year-old daughter Alice was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer.

Alice’s chemotherapy treatment finished last week and while she will continue to receive immunotherapy treatments, Mr Barfield said the book represented a chance to rebuild his career after nine months in which he cancelled work to be with his daughter.

He aims to develop a show based on the book, which will be published by Brambleby Books and available in book shops and on Amazon from April 19, for schools, libraries and theatres.

As part of a drive to resurrect his profile, Mr Barfield is also launching an exhibition of 30 humorous nostalgic posters, combining his interests in typography, graphic design and informative adverts, at the Sky Gallery in City Screen, York, on April 15.

He described the posters as funny, silly, surreal, and profound.

He said: “I won’t make any money out of it, but people will have a laugh.”

For details about Mr Barfield’s work, visit mikebarfield.co.uk

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