For some reason, most of the Santas I've drawn this year have been grumpy or slightly dodgy. Next year, if you need a moody Father Christmas, I'm your man.
"Cartoon legend" is no overstatement. Hanna-Barbera cartoons were loved by kids of many generations. I will give my "Hanna-Barbera: Tunes From The Tunes" CD a spin in tribute! (They're all on there ... Top Cat, Yogi Bear, Flintsones, Wacky Races, Hair Bear Bunch, Hong Kong Phooey, Scooby Doo, Banana Splits ...)
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera are so linked with these Saturday morning cartoons from the 1950s onwards that the fact that they created Tom and Jerry back in the 1940s is sometimes overlooked. That's quite a body of work!
Here's a Christmas cartoon for you. Except, well, it wasn't really intended as a Christmas cartoon at all. It was sold to Reader's Digest back in June and they held on to it for the current issue because, I suppose, snow=Christmas. I remember colouring this at the height of the summer heatwave and I swear it made me feel cooler in my stuffy attic room.
Last week I attended a Christmas bash held by Reader's Digest in London. I was a bit under the weather and tragically I had to forego the free booze and canapes in favour of mineral water! But it was great to catch up with some cartooning pals, and chat to a few I hadn't met before. It is written that when two or three are gathered in the name of cartooning, they shall moan and complain about the business. So there was a fair bit of that, but in a good natured way. Probably because of the free booze.
Anyway, he has now joined the "blogosphere", as people insist on calling it, with The Fate of the Artist. A blog in which the author appears as himself. His only concern is that he will now put into his blog what he once put into one-page diary strips. Let's hope that doesn't happen. Thanks to Linkmachinego, as ever.
Coming soon: Andy Capp runs for leader of the Labour party.
It's one that I dashed out in a bit of a hurry to make up a batch. So it sold, of course. I was a bit embarrassed by its slapdash look when I first saw it in print. But it's an OK gag, so I suppose I just about got away with it.
Get one for the Oldie in your life ...
This one was for the music column, which was always a bit anarchic so there is nothing to indicate why the cartoon is there! It's not even Valentine's Day. Anyway, I include it here because unlike most cartoons from this period (I was 27 when I drew this and had not yet started submitting gags to magazines regularly) it doesn't make me cringe too much. It took me ages to figure out what's written on that guitar ("* Play at eleven", obligatory Spinal Tap quote).
For any international readers who don't get the joke, five portions of fresh fruit and veg daily is the official recommendation from the UK government's health experts. I believe it varies in other countries. I heard it was 15 in Japan. I can't even name that many ;- )
Oh, OK, there isn't one, they're all the same. And the kids are noticing. When my four-year-old saw a poster for Open Season the other day, he said, "Daddy that looks a bit like Over The Hedge". But he still wants to see it. And I just read that there's a new film out this week called Barnyard, which features ... a bunch of wacky CGI animals. Joy.
I was very pleased as it's the first time I've appeared in this magazine. I've tried many times, as you can see here ...
Most of the cartoons in the book are of the "sick humour" school of cartooning. I had quite a few on file to choose from.
An ideal stocking filler! Amazon.co.uk has it
then set fire to it ...
It was quite a spectacle. The Waste Man, as it was called, was part of a film being made with local people called The Margate Exodus. More here.
Here is some of their handiwork:
The Battle of the Cartoonists was fun too. Teams representing Private Eye, The Guardian, The Independent and that laugh-a-minute publication the Financial Times, each produced a banner on the day's theme of "Amazing Space", as the event was held in the marvellous Somerset House. These were then put to the public vote, with The Guardian emerging victorious.
It was a very well-attended, well-organised day, with beautiful sunny weather (the kids were playing in the fountains!) There are Big Draw events throughout the UK in October. See their website for details.
Underground comics artist Joe Matt has gone and got himself a Myspace page, which is pretty surprising if you've read his work as he portrays himself as something of a technophobe. The profile in itself is very entertaining, a cut above the usual Myspace stuff. Matt draws the aptly named Peepshow autobiographical comic, which is so revealing in terms of detailing his personal obsessions that he makes Robert Crumb look like he's withholding. And the good news is that the ludicrously over-due issue 14 is out soon. The last one was 2002!
Purely for fun, I’ve had a section on my cartoon website for some years now called Other Roystons, with links to other people with my less-than-common firstname and to websites for towns and villages called Royston – of which there are many, mainly in the UK and North America.
As a result I get occasional emails from Roystons from all over the world, and from people who live in Roystons! One said, tongue firmly in cheek (I hope) “I wept with joy to find others with this fine name ... you have given my life new meaning.” Another person sent me a photo of a puppy called Royston, and then another one when it grew up.
But this month I got the best one yet: a gentleman from Lynchburg, Virginia, called Royston Jester. What a great name that would be for a cartoonist. And it's Royston Jester IV, in fact. It's also ironic because I am editor of the monthly newsletter of the Cartoonists' Club which is called ... The Jester.
The case for staying in bed: It's warm. And comfy. I'd have to find my glasses in the dark. It probably won't seem that funny in the cold light of day anyway.
The case against: You will never remember the idea. It never works.
Curiously I didn't write down last night's idea and yet I did remember it (didn't seem that funny in the cold light of day). Could this be because I also thought, "I could do a blog entry on this cartoonist's dilemma" ? Hmmm.
The furore over editing out scenes of Tom and Jerry smoking reminded me that my four-year-old son never sees these cartoons, as we tend to only let him watch CBeebies, the BBC's station for pre-school kids (no pester-power adverts, you see!) which, sadly, is all Bob the Builder, Tweenies, and the like. So I sat him down and we trawled the net for some of the Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes cartoons cartoons that I remember from my youth (thank you You Tube)
The biggest hits by far were the Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons. It's staggering to think that these 50-year-old cartoons can still make a four-year-old and a 38-year-old cry with laughter. Get them watched know folks, before the Powers That Be decide to edit out all irresponsible scenes of anvils being dropped on to heads from a great height.
Out-of-the-blue emails can be a good source of commissions for me. Did I have any waiting for me that I didn’t know about, I wondered. Also, many of my regular clients communicate by email. Did they have any cartoon jobs for me? I could hardly phone all of them on the off-chance.
Things then went from bad to worse. I started having internet connection problems, so not only could I not get emails, I could not even connect to the web. At one point, even the telephone helpline was “temporarily out of order”. They were, of course, sorry for the inconvenience. That’s OK then. Back online now though and the few days of missing emails have been sent on. And although I should be thankful it happened at a quiet time of the year, there were a couple of jobs waiting to justify my frustration!
I didn't quite go so far as to take a baseball bat to it (as in the film Office Space) but it was still very cathartic.
There is one I'm fond of though. It was one of the first gags I had published. It was in The Times's Saturday supplement Metro (now defunct) circa 1998. Of course I'd draw it completely differently now (hopefully a lot better!) but it's still an OK gag I think. Note to DC Comics: please don't sue. I'm not planning on putting it on a T-shirt.
It was probably the first rejection slip I ever got. I was 19 years old and, being a teenager, was depressed by it and never sent them anything else! But what's interesting to me now about it, after years of bog-standard "sorry, no thanks" rejection slips, is the fact that it's a proper letter and is incredibly positive. If I got a rejection letter like this now I think I'd be pretty happy about it!
There's real fear in those eyes.
Here's me at Myspace
Now, not being as great a reader of Terms & Conditions as I should be, I didn't know that putting your work up on Myspace effectively granted them a licence to exploit it, potentially for profit. But as soon as I became aware of this appalling situation I found out that it had been changed, and all rights now remain with the artist. So who managed to get Myspace to make this amazing U-turn? Who d'ya think?
This gag appears in the new edition of Reader's Digest in the UK. It was in one of my sketchbooks for a long time before I got around to drawing it up, possibly more than a year. I simply didn't think it was that strong an idea, but that may have been because it was just sketched vaguely, with the characters in indistinct "olde worlde" garb. It was only when I started to develop it visually, using pics of the Magna Carta signing as reference (thank you Google Image Search), that I could see it was beginning to work. It's always bizarre how cartoons come together. Sometimes the complete opposite happens, the cartoon forms visually in your head at the same time as the gag.
I only drew it up to make up the numbers in a batch of cartoons, but of course it was the only one that the Digest bought. This happens a lot, as any cartoonist will tell you.
Another common type of email is the type that potentially offers work to the cartoonist while giving away as little information as possible about the potential project. These are genuine and unedited, only the names have been cut:
"am looking for a catoonist for my book. think we can find out if you fit? Regards …"
"Hello, Could you please contact me regarding our need for an illustration/cartoon characters. Thank you …"
"i found your name looking for an illustrator for a childrens book I have written can you tell me what sort of costings it would be for around 10 picturesor how you work out you costings. thanks looking forward to hearing from you"
I'll cover the people that demand all the secrets to becoming a top cartoonist (like I'd know!), usually in an email dashed off in 30 seconds, some other time ...
So then I got this idea about driving a cheesecake truck,
cuz I figured at the end of the day,
I could take some of the leftover cheesecakes home.
And I love cheesecake.
So I went to the cheesecake company
and they asked me if I could drive a truck and I said yes,
and they said 'You're hired!'
So the next day I got in the truck with all the cheesecakes
and I drove about a block and I just had to have a cheesecake
so I pulled over and opened the truck
and I got a cheesecake, and I also took one for later,
and I took one for my friend Farmboy,
and I took one to bring home,
and by that time I had eaten one of the cheesecakes
so I took another one.
Then I figured I might as well stop at my house
to drop off all the cheesecakes,
so I take five cakes to eat on the way,
and I drive another block and a half to my house.
Now it's lunch time so I eat ten cheesecakes,
and a cheesecake for dessert.
I should point out, by the way,
that all of these cheesecakes were very delicious.
Anyway, I decided that the only thing to do
would be to eat all the rest of the cheesecakes
and hide the truck somewhere
and leave town.
And I miss everybody a lot
but I'm not really sorry
because they were very delicious cheesecakes.