Walking the walk

An art critic puts his money where his mouth is and learns how to draw.


Warning: pen talk ...

I've been experimenting with brush pens for the first time. A few years back I used to draw very precisely, over pencil lines that were later rubbed out. But in recent years I've drawn more loosely, on a piece of paper over a rough placed on a lightbox, but I carried on using the same technical drawing pens (Rotring or similar). They're good for precise work but the results are not always great with looser stuff. Anyway, brush pens were recommended to me by a couple of fellow cartoonists and I'm very happy with the results so far. They're more fun to use, though you do have to get used to drawing quite a lot bigger.

Thanks to Darren at the always excellent linkmachinego.com, for a very nice link today.


Days and confused

Cartoons changed my perception of self the other day. No, really. I was looking through a compilation of Oor Wullie and The Broons strips from the 1960s (despite the name, and my middle name Alexander, I'm not Scottish, but I was raised in the North East of England and the two Sunday Post strips were popular at the time) when I found a strip for the Sunday following the day I was born. Trouble was, the date listed would mean I was born on a Wednesday and not, as I had always been told, a Thursday. Further checks on the net proved that my birthday was, indeed, a Wednesday. So my Mum always told me “Thursday’s child has far to go”, but it turns out that I’m Wednesday’s child ... “full of woe”! Still, it’s probably the natural state of mind for us struggling cartoonists.


Cartoon Museum update

Well, after a visit to the Cartoon Museum, my earlier doubts have been dispelled. It’s very well done, and it's great seeing so many varied examples of cartooning on display. And there certainly seems to be plenty of people interested. Apparently they’ve been getting 450 people through the door on Saturdays – quite impressive, particularly for such a small venue. I think also that an important aspect of the museum is that it raises the profile of cartooning in this country and provides a focal point for the public and the media. So get along, support the gallery, and let’s hope its great start continues.

Here's the website again


The most pretentious album sleeve-notes ever written?

From Worlds of Possibility, a Domino Records compilation. I’m still trying to work out if it’s a joke.

“Perhaps this is a return to just saying things. That sounds like it’s in the area of right. Good songs build rooms in time. Think of “Tacoma Rain” or “Woodchilde Masquerade” and no one’s even written them yet, for goodness sake! Yes there are second aspects to all this. Good times will turn lies into truth, and the advantage still pours haltlessly into the hands of the untrue, boring and useless but we’ll keep at this basically moral work, until those garnet palisades are flush with exits and our eyebrows have become like snowy ledges because there is nothing like your love in all this world.”

An over-reliance on italics to really stress things is never a good sign.


Carry On Parenting

While reading a Postman Pat book to my young son, I came across the words "the vicar is excited". So, more to amuse myself than anything, I found myself emitting a Kenneth Williams-style "ooooh!" after I read that line. Unfortunately, my son, who is three, thought this was possibly the funniest thing he's heard in his life and has been coming out with "oooohs" at every available opportunity ever since. This was some weeks ago now. Apparently he's even been teaching his pals at nursery to do it. I am a bad parent.


Museum piece

I'm going to be in London next week and will take the opportunity to visit the Cartoon Art Trust's new Cartoon Museum, the opening of which you may have seen covered in the national media (I think it's undeniable that it got far more publicity than is usually afforded to cartoons as a result of the Muhammad controversy).

I have mixed feelings about it because I find that when you view a lot of cartoons in one go they stop being funny. That's often my experience at exhibitions I've been to in the past. Also, I'm not sure about the use of the word "museum". I think "gallery" may have been better. They could have stuck "national" on the front to give it gravitas! Anyway, I'll reserve judgement until I've been.


What's in a name?

I'm collecting dreadful names of local bands. These are the best ones I've heard so far.

Mental Floss
Seventh Hell

How bad must the rejects have been when the best name you can come up with for your band is Publicity?


Give 'em a cat cartoon

People love cat cartoons. And I find I do more gags about them than any other animal. Maybe it's because cats are a lot like humans: i.e. lazy, selfish and devious. And I say that as a cat person. These were recently in Reader's Digest.