A splash of colour

Painter Classic and a Wacom pad have certainly transformed the art of idle doodling for me.

Pretty fly

This cartoon is not by me. It is by B.Kliban and is one of my favourite cartoons ever ever type thing.


All change

This weblog has been neglected for some time, but I've got a major life event as an excuse: I've given up the day job. I took voluntary redundancy and am now having a crack at being a full-time cartoonist. Eeek.

It does mean that non-paying nonsense such as this blog are no longer a priority. I will add to it ocassionally though. Here's some cute animals and stuff, drawn in a bid to get a children's book illustration job.


Are these the most incomprehensible song lyrics ever?

While listening to the song Outdoor Miner by Wire, I found myself thinking, "What in the name of heck is he talking about?". I was moved to look up the words on the net and I present them for you here in all their bizarre glory. They're surely nonsense but are strangely fascinating:

No blind spots in the leopard's eyes
Can only help to jeopardize
The lives of lambs, the shepherd cries
An afterlife for a silverfish
Eternal dust less ticklish
Than the clean room, a houseguest's wish
He lies on his side, is he trying to hide?
In fact it's the earth, which he's known since birth
Face worker, a serpentine miner
A roof falls, an underliner
Of leaf structure, the egg timer


Feeling listless

In an age when we are bombarded by pointless lists at every turn, compiling a list of the first ten songs that come up using an iPod's random play function is as valid as any. Here's mine, I didn't cheat:

1. Dont Cry No Tears - Teenage Fanclub
2. I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself - Dusty Springfield
3. 86 TVs - I Am Kloot
4. Main Offender - The Hives
5. Til the End of the Day - The Kinks
6. Straight Face Down - Smudge
7. Common People (Live at Glastonbury) - Pulp
8. It's Not the End of the World - Super Furry Animals
9. Sister, Do You Know My name? - The White Stripes
10. No Fun/Push It - The Stooges/Salt 'n' Pepa (Soulwax mix)

It's a list that I like and, best of all, it's meaningless.


But is it art?

Shameless plug time: I'm currently doing a series of cartoons for the Artyfacts section of the Children's BBC website. They are used to illustrate the lives of artists. So far I've done the Spanish painter Joan Miro and Martin Creed, who got the media in a froth when he won the Turner Prize by turning the lights on and off a lot.

Me so lazy

Feel like I've been a bit neglectful of this blog, particularly after reading the article about blogging in the Observer this week. (Have you noticed that all bloggers seem to link to the Guardian, Observer or Independent? Nobody ever says "Fascinating piece in the Daily Mail today ..." Interesting that.) Anyway, I am in the process of moving house so it probably won't get much better for a while.


Going begging

Interesting to read in The Guardian that John Updike used to badger cartoonists for free artwork as a kid. All cartoonists get begging letters. But I don't think any of those that have written to me will go on to be acclaimed writers, because they usually say things like "i think you're stuffs cool. LOL. can u do me a cartoon i cant pay". The best part is always "it'll be good exposure".


Here's an idea

There's a live-action film of Thunderbirds coming out soon. Wouldn't it be great if in any close-ups of hands they used wooden puppet hands? It won't happen though, there's a limit to how many in-jokes they can put into these nostalgic remakes of old TV programmes because, as Peter Bradshaw points out in his Guardian review of Starsky and Hutch, all Hollywood films these days are aimed at children.


One for trivia fans

I just found out yesterday that the phrase "back to the drawing board" originally came from a cartoon. It was drawn by Peter Arno of The New Yorker in March 1941 and featured a military aircraft crashing into the ground. As the generals and medics rush to the scene, the engineer is heading the other way, cheerfully saying: "Well, back to the old drawing board". You can see it here. The only other example of a cartoon phrase entering the vocabulary, that I can think of off the top of my head, is "security blanket", from Charles Schulz's Peanuts cartoons, but I'm sure there must be many others.


It's all been done

While trying to think up ideas for cartoons, and messing about with words in my head, I came up with the phrase "ebola tombola". I was quite amused by this and thought it would probably be a good name for a spoof rock band. On a whim, I did a search for "ebola tombola" at Google and found that it is the name of a b-side by dance act I've never heard of called Blue Light Fever. So what have we learned? Simply this: THERE ARE NO NEW IDEAS. And the internet reminds us of this constantly. Harumph.


Cartoon Cliches

Radio 4 is repeating Cartoon Cliches this week at 3.45pm every day. It's an enjoyable series of 15-minute programmes on those over-familiar scenarios we see in spot cartoons, such a desert islands, firing squads etc. You can also hear it online at the station's Listen Again page.

More fun with clip art


Fun with clip art

OK, it's a bit like Get your War On, but with less swearing.


"Day job officially becomes job"

Chuckle along as an aspiring cartoonist's lifelong dreams are trampled on at: The Onion. Like a lot of the stuff on that site, it's all too plausible.


Like father like daughter

Interesting article about Sophie Crumb, daughter of the legendary underground cartoonist Robert. She's now 22, which will make anyone who remembers her from Terry Zwigoff's excellent documentary Crumb feel old. Thanks to Linkmachinego.


"I'm Bill Hicks and I'm dead now ..."

The Guardian has an article about the comedy genius Bill Hicks, who died ten years ago this month: Last laugh
If want to know more about him go to: billhicks.com


A class act

The Bash Street Kids are 50 years old and they still haven't left school: 10 facts



A client asked me to draw a cute squirrel for a logo. "We want it to be very cute," he said. After the first rough he said, "make it more cute, more cute". So I pulled out all the stops. He had commissioned roughs from several cartoonists and in the end decided to go with another. So does that mean it was cuter than this? Or did I overdo it? It was probably for the best because the little rodent is rather nauseating.

Perhaps he was rejected because of the "T-shirt and no pants" look (the client's name was supposed to go on the shirt). It is widely believed that this sartorial choice led to Donald Duck being banned in Finland, but that is apparently an urban legend.


Caricatures of people you don’t know. No 3:

Ha ha, he’s doing that thing with his glasses that he always does! Yeah, I really captured him here.


Caricatures of people you don't know. No 2:

There's no mistaking this one. And look, I've drawn him smoking! That's so him.


Caricatures of people you don’t know. No 1:

Oh it’s him all right. Ha ha, look at the hair! It’s just uncanny.


I drew a duck for my son ...

... because he’s 18 months old and he really likes ducks. In fact, his first recognisable word was “Duck!”. And he wasn’t throwing his building bricks at me when he said it. My wife says she likes the way that this duck looks like he’s popping down to the shops to get a paper. Of course, I’ve never seen a duck with a bill as fat as this one, but that’s what I like about him. Therefore, he shall be known as Fat Bill the Duck. Watch out Daffy …

Buy back your childhood with eBay!

Actually don’t bother, because there’s always someone willing to pay more than you for worthless but fondly remembered tat. Anyway you get enough of a nostalgic rush if you just go window shopping, which is what I was doing when I typed “ventriloquist dummy” into an eBay search and came up with these two bizarre toys, both of which I owned as a child.

The character on the left I knew as Mr Paliarchin. He was a popular, mass-produced dummy in the Seventies. I believe it was marketed as Parlanchin, or something similar, but he was Paliarchin to me. I must have read the box incorrectly. You might think it odd, to look at him, but I was very fond of Mr P. He was a close companion for several years, much to the annoyance of my family. My uncle got so fed-up with Mr P’s comedy shtick one Christmas that he ran off with the wee plastic fella. Mr P was later found hanged from the light-switch cord in the bathroom. These days I could probably sue for emotional trauma.

The guy on the right was called Hugo. He was not a ventriloquist's dummy at all; his eyes and mouth remained stubbornly immobile. The point of Hugo was that you stuck disguises on him and hideous scars and wounds. Except of course that you were a child so you stuck them on yourself instead, and Hugo became the world’s most useless ventriloquist doll.

The thing is, looking at these slightly scary looking characters now, I’m amazed that I turned out so normal and well balanced. And it gets worse: I also had a ventriloquist doll based on Frankenstein’s Monster. No, really. But it seems that today’s models are no less scary. Witness the George W. Bush dummy:

For a while as a child I thought I would be a professional ventriloquist when I grew up. How absurd an ambition was that? Now cartoonist, that’s much more realistic …


Kids' colouring books can be fun for adults too:

(With sincere apologies to the original artist. I'm so sorry)