‘Wilf – a Life in Pictures’ is a fictional biography of an English newspaper cartoonist. Wilf’s career began in the early ‘60s and lasted through to his early retirement in the ‘90s. Throughout his working life he maintained friendships with a group of fellow cartoonists. Through this invention ‘Wilf’ examine how codes of illustration and visual styles change over time and chart the development of a mass graphic language – showing how it felt, as well as how it looks at certain moments in time and the thoughts of the group of cartoonists on their personal and professional relationships over the period.

Pyman describes the book as ‘a biography from a parallel universe where history is informed by the present’. Sixty of Wilf’s cartoons spanning a thirty year period are represented together with invented archive material and examples of his peers’ artwork. The book resembles an artefact from a Blue Peter time capsule that has been sealed in and allowed to age.

The work is of now. A key subject of the book is the decline of a common newspaper culture, where editorial and strip cartoons detailed domestic responses to global events. The cartoons reference political scandals and minor historical incidents in a mix of nostalgia, reality and the familiar, chosen with a politicised form of hindsight. Pyman is interested in the way ordinary voices come through because of the power of what they have to say.

James Pyman studied in Sheffield where ‘Wilf’ is partially set. His first artists’ publication Rememberdogs was commissioned by Imprint 93 organised by Matthew Higgs. He went on to produce 9 Panel Grid a series of artists’ comics. He has shown in numerous mixed exhibitions including EASTinternational 2003. He won the PizzaExpress Prospects Drawing Prize 2003, and had a solo exhibition at Cabinet in November 2003.