Darryl Cunningham, illustrator and writer, was born and lived in Keighley. His accessible graphic illustrations and writing have helped to raise discussion across a range of science, politics, and particularly mental health, issues.
He studied at the Jacob Kramer Art College in Leeds (now Leeds Arts University), 1980-83, and subsequently worked for 15 years as a health care assistant, including work on an acute psychiatric ward in a Yorkshire hospital. This experience inspired his first book of factually-based comic strips, Psychiatric Tales, published in 2010 by Blank Slate.
The book, well-received at the time, was a mix of personal memoir blended with facts, observations, and illustrations based on Darryl’s time on the wards. The aim was to highlight the impact of mental illness on sufferers and their families and friends and to destigmatise mental health issues.
Psychiatric Tales was followed up in 2013 with his illustrated book, Science Tales, that highlighted controversial science subjects, including climate change, creationism, and fracking. This was shortlisted in the ‘Best Book’ category at the British Comics Awards 2012.
In 2014 he wrote and illustrated, ‘Supercrash: How to Hijack the Global Economy’, analysing the causes of the 2008 banking collapse, and including a biography of the novelist and political thinker, Ayn Rand. This won the ‘Best Writer’ in the Independent category at the ‘Broken Frontier’ Awards and gained a place on the New York Times Bestseller list.
In 2015 Darryl worked with Bill and Melinda Gates on their ‘Art of Saving A Life’ Project. He was part of a group of 30 photographers, painters, sculptors, writers, filmmakers and musicians who worked collectively to raise awareness of the need to vaccinate children around the world to prevent killer diseases, such as measles, tetanus and pneumonia. Darryl produced a range of illustrated guides on health issues (example below).
‘Graphic Science’ (2017) examined the lives and works of seven scientists who in their lifetime did not receive the full recognition they deserved, including the astronomer, Fred Hoyle; fossil hunter and palaeontologist, Mary Anning; and the French chemistry pioneer, Antoine Lavoiser.
Darryl is also the creator of the web-comics ‘Super-Sam and John-of-the-Night’ and ‘The Streets of San Diablo’. He has also written and illustrated two volumes of children’s books, published by Blank Slate Books: ‘Uncle Bob Adventures’.
Darryl still lives in Yorkshire and in 2018 was awarded a honorary Master of Arts degree for his work by Leeds Arts University, one of only two such degrees awarded by the University up to that point.
Artists Website and Blog: Darryl Cunningham