Last week The Spinoff released its first ever book. The cover is a crowd of mostly familiar faces, inked by illustrator Toby Morris. See how many you can identify, then read Toby explain who these people are, why they’re there and which was the biggest bitch to draw.
How do you sum up a book that’s most distinctive feature is the breadth of different content inside? That covers politics, pop culture and all the weird bits in between? Fairly early on, we decided the cover of the book would have to represent the range of different voices and subject matters inside, and one of my first ideas was to do a mad jumble of characters as if they’re either at a party or a protest. I wanted to show people who’ve written for The Spinoff, or we’ve written about – a range of politicians, pop stars, beloved TV characters and maybe a few of our writers too – with a few beloved scumbags mixed in for fun.
So here they are:
1. Winston Peters
The deputy prime minister pops up everywhere, doesn’t he? Problematic uncle Win had to be on here somewhere, and eyeing up Clarke’s fish seemed to fit.
2. Green Parrot
Wherever Winston is, a green parrot won’t be far away.
3. Hilary Barry
The Spinoff loves H-Baz. A no-brainer.
4. Alex Casey
A big question about this cover was how many staff members to put on. Too many and it’d feel too in-jokey, but none would be weird too, right? It’s our book. Alex Casey was Spinoff employee number one so she was a must – Senior writer, host of On The Rag and The Real Pod and power ranker #1. A true Spinoff legend. Right at the heart of the site is our love of reality TV, too, so it made sense to have Alex express that.
5. Taika Waititi
Never bought an election, knows how to tell a story in one film and owns zero aeroplanes. Taika is undoubtedly New Zealand’s greatest filmmaker. Had to be on there.
6 & 7. Art Green and Matilda Rice
The power couple of New Zealand reality television. We had to include some recent NZ TV history, and these two spring to mind as our sparkling stars. Alex loves them, cornies love them, we love them.
8. Ricky Baker
Taika’s greatest creation and arguably one of the great characters of NZ film. Ricky’s never say die (apart from when he’s faking his own death) plucky attitude even when he’s way out of his depth is emblematic of the site. Skux and he knows it.
9. Denise L’Estrange-Corbet
Make up your own mind about the misrepresentation of where World’s clothes were made, but personally I’ll never forget her publicly attacking Mad Chapman for reporting the story.
As I was drawing this cover a few people commented that it was a like a Where’s Wally image, just without Wally. When I came to colour it in it was clear she needed to be wearing the T-shirt from the story and here we are. Cough.
10. World label
Look, the LABEL is made in New Zealand OK? Perfectly clear.
11. A landline
12. David Cunliffe
Just a man and a log.
13. Josie Butler
In the world of The Spinoff, Josie Butler’s dildo to the face throw is one of the most memorable moments in recent New Zealand history. Bold, brave and surprising, Josie put the “erect” into “direct action”. (Works better when you say it).
14. Red Peak
Look, we’re as eager to block out the whole flag debacle as anyone, but Red Peak endures. It might take a few more years for the dust to settle and we can all work out what exactly it says about us, but it says something.
15. Clarke Gayford
Drawing likenesses isn’t my natural strong suit, so this whole cover was a lot of work and took forever. Of everyone on here Clarke was the hardest of all to capture. No big ears, no crooked nose, no trademark jawline or distinctive weird haircut – He’s just too handsome. It’s rude really. I think it’d be fairer to everyone and very on-brand for a man of the sea if Clarke could add a scar across his face or an eye patch in 2020. Think about it Clarke.
16. Kim Dotcom
New Zealand’s favourite homeowner slash pro-gamer slash political aspirant slash producer of the worst album of all time. The Spinoff is all about that combo of politics and pop culture, and KDC hits both. Well, he tried and utterly failed to hit both, but he’s fun to draw.
17. Duncan Greive
In his trademark orange jumper and expression that says both “look at what I’ve started” and “what have I started?”
it’s the big boss man himself.
18 & 19. Gilda Kirkpatrick & Michelle Blanchard
If Art and Matilda are the wholesome feel-good shining stars of NZ reality TV, then Real Housewives of Auckland‘s Gilda and Michelle are the heroes of the weirdo alternate reality cursed TV dimension. I drew Gilda visually representing her immortal comeback to gossip line. “You know what I’ve heard about you? Not a fucking thing.”
20. Steven Joyce
The squeaky-pecker-to-the-face heard around the world.
21. Angella Dravid as Orange Election Guy
One of The Spinoff’s most genius and underrated video moments is Angella Dravid’s tour de force performance as the orange electoral mascot in the 2017 series Make Me Tick. Jose Barbosa lists it in the book as one his most memorable Spinoff moments and I laugh just thinking about it.
22. David Seymour
Hi! Hi! Hi! Another classic NZ reality TV-meets-politics moment. David Seymour twerking in dayglo lycra on Dancing With The Stars. I don’t think any of us in The Spinoff office slept for a week after that. I drew David watching himself on his phone, wondering if it’s the worst thing he’s ever done (it isn’t).
23. Max Key
Was Max Mad’s muse, or was Mad Max’s? We miss Max Key as a figure in public life. We do.
24. Jacinda Ardern
If you don’t know who this is you should really read this book.
25. The Rock
The first piece I ever remember reading by Mad Chapman was when she tried to follow The Rock’s diet and workout routine for a week. I remember thinking, “who the hell is this maniac?” These days I sit two desks away from her and still regularly think, “who the hell is this maniac?” A true inspiration.
Rest In Peace. Great thumbs.
27. David Farrier
Apparently Hayden Donnell has been going around complaining that I drew Farrier closer to the Spinoff sign than him. Why wouldn’t I? Farrier’s Spinoff stories, like the investigation into the fake AI Zach that features in the book, or the Bashford Antiques saga, are all time classics. I drew him with a Farriersic Park T-shirt. David, if you want to make that a real T-shirt we can split the profits.
28. Metiria Turei
Did you know Lorde is one of the authors in this book?
29A. Midshelf red wine
Waiter, bring us a bottle of your second-cheapest red please.
30. Chris Warner
Chris Warner is another great New Zealand screen character. Here he is depicted looking at an iPad, in shock as he sees a penis. But whose? Please tell me it is not yours.
Another mythological NZ TV moment. Aren’t we all the eyeball, popping out of the flailing Thingee of life?
32. Rose Matafeo
The world is catching on fast, but we’ve been huge Matafans at The Spinoff since way back. Last year she made us a mukbang video, which is both less dirty and more dirty than it sounds.
33. Gareth Morgan
Everyone’s favourite cantankerous cat hating gaffe machine former party leader. As the only person in New Zealand who didn’t like Paddles I had to draw him near his nemesis.
34. Suzanne Paul
Thousands of luminous spheres. The blue monkey. But wait, there’s still more. Should be in Te Papa.
35. John Campbell
The Spinoff loves JC. Marvelous!
36. Kiwi Onion Dip
Stone cold Kiwi classic.
37. Hayden Donnell
Some guy upset about something again. Apparently his complaints about this cover also include that I made him look mad. Honestly I was going easy.
38. Sir John Key
Chilled out entertainer, former prime pinister at the end of the day.
39. Anika Moa
New Zealand’s greatest interviewer, and up there as a pretty great interviewee too.
40. Steven Adams
41. Chlöe Swarbrick
Chlöe has a long list of achievements already and is a semi-regular contributor to the site, but she earns her place on the cover for her remarkable contribution during the War For Auckland mayoral campaign – in short she made local body elections interesting.
42. Marlon Williams
Another surprisingly hard to draw Handsome Man. We’re huge Marlon fans at The Spinoff office. read Henry Oliver’s stunning profile in the book if you don’t believe us.
43. Toby Manhire
Great job Tony.
44. Mark Richardson
I drew him holding a hammer to indicate he’s on here for his reality TV hosting, but I also drew him holding it weirdly to suggest he doesn’t know what he’s doing and hopefully bug him a little bit.
45. Jemaine Clement
Jemaine’s incredible article reflecting on David Bowie is yet another reason to buy the book which is available now in good bookstores. Or you can get one by joining Spinoff members. Jemaine Clement! David Bowie!
46. Marama Fox
Another classic Spinoff moment. the livestreamed 2017 election debate. There were a lot of incredible moments including Shane Jones’ rambling beat poetry but the greatest image was former Māori Party leader Marama Fox’s double fingers. Throw ’em up!
47. Rosemary Dempsey
The inventor of Onion Dip, as publicly revealed by Hayden Donnell in a sensational investigation that’s also in the book. It’s a crime that Rosemary hasn’t been made a Dame already. A true Spinoff hero.
48. Big Fresh Pear
Another Hayden/Spinoff obsession. Get the Big Fresh vegetables to Te Papa already!
49. Helen Clark
I showed this image to my two sons, aged 6 and 8. They recognised Jacinda, Clarke, Ricky Baker and Steven Adams, and then they looked at Helen Clark and said “is that the lady who complains about concerts at Eden Park?”
50. Hera Lindsay Bird
One of the more incredible developments in NZ literature of the last couple of years has been poetry becoming cool. Hera is a genius and her poems on The Spinoff going viral makes me rub my eyes and shake my head and do a happy double take like Sweep from Sooty. I love that NZ has poets rockstar enough to feel at home on something like this.
51&52. Natalia Kills and Willy Moon
Another great moment in NZ reality TV. A great moment in NZ history really, or a telling one at least. perhaps our greatest collective national sulk. Don’t be mean to us, OK?
53. Mad Chapman
Another staffer who just had to be on there. Also, if there’s a single object that exemplifies the DIY, make it up as we go along, not quite fitting in, are they for real or taking the piss vibe of The Spinoff it’s Mad’s makeshift stryofoam cup microphone she used while reporting live from Auckland Hospital. Seriously, it was majestic – look at it sitting there.
54. Mike Hosking
There’s a Hosking quote on the back cover of the book that says “Crap and a waste of our money”, and an incredible article inside where Colin Mathura-Jeffree reviews his jackets. In fact the index of the book says he’s referenced at least 12 times inside. Who would have thought we’d get so much mileage dunking on a whiny local radio host in the twilight of his career? It’s so easy it almost gets boring. I drew him looking haughty and sour-faced in a stupid blazer that looks like a school uniform, of course. Thanks for all the good times, Michael.