Thursday, June 25, 2015

Towy---A New Speacialist Strip

I've produced specialist strips before.

Normally, when doing this kind of work, it is best to have more than a passing understanding of the subject matter in hand; ie: if you wish to do a cartoon about classic cars, it would be a good idea if you have either had a classic car, re-built one or at least attended classic car rallies as a genuine enthusiast.

That said, if your mind is as fertile as mine, and you are willing to research with diligence the subject of your choice, then any specialist strip is not completely beyond your grasp; one such case in point is the Towy strip below---a new strip that I am about to start touting around all the specialist horse and countryside magazines world wide.

Now I have never owned a horse and only ridden one briefly, and even then not very successfully---due largely to the fact that the saddle wasn't properly strapped on---and after a few short minutes in the saddle, neither was I.

Anyway, that was a long time ago and since that day I have had nothing to do with our equine friends---other than to admire them in fields as I pass by on my way from point A to point B via almost every other letter in the alphabet and a few stray Greek ones---but all that was to change when I met Jayne.

Jayne and the real Tywy
Jayne, put simply, is the love of my life and a horse loving fanatic. She has two horses of which one in Towy (or to give her her correct spelling Tywy---the Welsh spelling---I just changed it to Towy so it would be easier to read and definitely less confusing for all you none 'Welshies' out there).

Anyway, after spending much time with these two beautiful horses and their crazy owner, I began to see the comic possibilities in them, and a the gags began to write themselves.

Initially Towy was going to be a full page cartoon with no words, but after completing them I decided to re-do the lot only in the more traditional comic strip format. I did this as space is always at a premium and a big issue for editors, and if they liked the cartoon and were teetering upon the precipice of buying my strip, I didn't want 'space issues' to be the door by which they escaped from. I also changed Towy's colour from black to brown, simply because the horses expressions would've been too confusing if produced in black.

Towy then became the independent, free thinking, mind bending, vet hating, farrier flirting, none-fool suffering, free spirit she is now. She has an owner, although that is a laughable tag, as any horse person will tell you that when you own a horse, the last thing you are is their boss. At best you are their cook, masseur, exerciser, unpaid slave and producer of Polo Mints and other tasty treats; and Towy personifies all these traits and many more in my strip.

Anyway, without anymore preamble, I give you the six sample strips I will be sending out to any and every market available to Towy.


Okay, so on an extra note, and purely for your whole behind-the-scenes-insight-into-a-cartoonists-working-patterns-and-mind-set thing, here's a few of the full page, pantomime (techie word for 'silent strips') pages.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Watercolour paintings

I know, I know, it's been a long time since I posted...AGAIN! And every time I sneak back on here, with an apologetic air about me and always say that 'things will change from now on and that I will make a concerted effort to post every week'.

Well I'm going to try another tack---because I really do love blogging, but work pressures just get in the way---this time I'm going to say: 'Dash it all, I will post when I damned well feel like it and the world and its cartoony expectations can go hang itself...'

Well lets face it, a genuine desire to produce regular posts have gotten me nowhere, so lets see if reverse psychology works.

Anyway, all that said, lets get onto today's post.
Like I said I've been busy with all kinds of projects, namely: my second Sleepy Hamlet novel, plus a new strip proposal for syndication; I've been doing special pieces for family and gift paintings for those close to me.

But more about them later...or if I can be bothered to post it here, which I can't even be arsed to think about yet...(see what I did there? Reverse psychology again. I have a good feeling about this---or bad---depending on which angle you take it from).

But the topic for today's post is a step-by-step breakdown of a painting I recently completed, which will hopefully form part of a larger body of work to be exhibited in a local art gallery, to coincide with the Rugby World Cup later this year.

The painting is titled, 'the Friendly' and acts as both a tutorial and a bit of a background insight into my working practices methods.

Stage 1:

The first thing I do on a picture of this scale is to draw it up, ink it, have it photo copied and reduced and light-box it through to the art paper.
I do this, as a picture that is this involved would be a nightmare to sketch onto the paper, and I would lose sight of what is what when it came to colouring.

Stage 2:

For the actual light-boxing of the cartoon. I placed a piece of 325gsm hot pressed watercolour paper, darkened the room and meticulously re-traced all the lines---stopping every now and then to lift the page carefully to make sure I hadn't missed any lines.

Stage 3:

Once again, due to the involved nature of the illustration, I've masked off the upper layers of the characters. I did this as when I came to painting the sky I won't have to worry about cutting in and around the rugby players.

Stage 4:

I ran a pale wash---wet-in-wet---of cobalt blue. Once that was completed, and still wet, I dipped my artist sponge onto some clear water and began to pull some clouds out from the blue sky. Once again this was done subtly as I didn't want a strong sky to detract from the main body of the painting.

Stage 5:

Now comes the initial gradient for the grass.

At this stage I just wanted to give the impression of fore and background; more detailed work on the pitch would come much later in the painting.

Stage 6:

Once the two layers are thoroughly dry I peel off the masking fluid, making sure that there are no bits left anywhere and that the illustration is clear, clean and ready to proceed.

Stage 7:

At this point I would normally methodically go through the characters, painting one section at a time, ie; all the flesh, then all the tops, then the shorts, socks, etc. But on this occasion I started doing the initial two to three tones on the flesh and then decided to put in the pale back-wash of red for one of the characters.

I have no idea why I did this but it actually helped, acting as it did as a stark contrast for me to work against for the rest of the flesh tones.

Stage 9:

With the flesh tones all done I then continued on with the red teams' tops.
At this stage I had no definite plan for which character would play for what team, so I had to do one, look at the picture, do another, then another and continue that process until the painting had an over-all pleasing colour balance.

Stage 10:

Next came the blue team, and their pale base washes.

Now, I am aware that club kits nowadays have all kinds of markings and sponsorship deals on them. But to have that amount of detail, in a picture with this level of involvement, would've been just too much clutter. So I kept it simple.

Stage 11:

Finally I worked in the dark shadows in between the players and their black boots.

At this point I still have no idea if my painting is going to work or go horribly wrong. So I stop and go off for a read and a cup of tea to clear my mind.

Stage 12:

With my tea consumed, and mind cleared I came back, and over the space of a few hours I built up the layers of deeper shadows on the players; then I moved onto the stadium and the crowds within.

I also worked on the grass; placing onto it pieces of scuffed up turf and dirt from the mayhem of the battle.

Stage 13:

Finally I could place a subtle outline around the characters. I did this with watered down Van Dyke Brown with a hint of Lamp Black.

And with the masking tape removed, the piece was ready to go, and I was ready to move onto the next picture in the series; that one to be titled: the Chase

Hope you enjoyed

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Cartoonstock---Stock cartoons by me!

For about four years now I've had a dry sample of about thirty odd cartoons just languishing on the Cartoonstock website---a site that allows customers to browse the many and varied work from many and varied a fine cartoonist.

So for a while these same old cartoons have been sitting there, selling the odd one every now and again without me even making an effort. So about a week ago I decided that this should change. Especially seeing as I discovered that quite a few of their creatives are making a tidy sum of money and that the website has become quite the 'go to' place for all things cartoon.

So with that in mind---and also the fact that I like to share all I do with you---here are the samples I will be sending off this week. Also by clicking on the Cartoonstock link above, you can see the previously published cartoons that have been languishing up until now.

So grab yourself a cuppa tea or coffee and enjoy what I did for you.

Oh, and Happy Easter

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

the Dalesman, again

A little further on from my belated Christmas message and magazine front cover from the Dalesman magazine, I have another post regarding them.

Most months I receive a request to illustrate humorously a story from that months edition. The stories, like all of my editorial output, are based around something silly, funny, hilarious or downright quirky and eccentric.

This tale falls into the quirky category.

The story, as I was given it, was that Gary Barlow--front-man for Take That----has written and produced a musical based on the hit movie Calendar Girls---which was a true story about a bunch of middle to elderly ladies who produced a tastefully nude calendar for charity; obviously this became a big hit.

So I got the story as the ladies came from Yorkshire, in northern England, the Dalesman is based in that area and Gary Barlow was announcing it's release in the same hall as the WI ladies hatched their plan.

So here you go. More tom-foolery from my pen


Incidentally, come back this Friday if you like single panel gags, I'm posting six of them from the ones I post up onto cartoonstock,

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lost email; a cartoon retrospective

Whilst producing a previous blog post, it reminded me of an email I recently received off a lady who stated how much she would love to see a retrospective table book of my Dandy work...mainly that relating to Ollie Fliptrik.

So I had the idea of laying out this post---very much like the one two posts below, with my thoughts on the pages and what was going on in my life at the time---and also to ask the lady that if she sees this post to please get back in touch with me as I would love to talk some more about a picture she wanted doing.

She was obviously a fan and I normally answer fan mail immediately, but for some reason, I didn't answer it that day and promptly lost the email all together; it is no where to be seen and no matter how much I look, I cannot find it.

Anyway, as I said: if you see this post, please do get back in touch and I WILL reply. I promise.

Also I am planning a series of posts all about my time at the Dandy. My thoughts and the process involved in getting the many pages I produced to them on time.

Now because this will be a massive undertaking on my behalf, and no doubt very difficult to fit in between all my other work commitments, I ask that you please be gentle with me and keep coming back.

Of course you could always join my email list, as many of you already have, and have my posts and their links sent direct to your inbox thus insuring you never miss a single post.

Stay tuned and let us speak soon.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Merry Belated Christmas

Now I know I'm known for my erratic postings (I still aim to resolve this one day) but the lateness of this post is NOT entirely my fault.

Upon first glance a Christmas magazine cover in March is seen as either very late or incredibly early. But it is neither.

I produced this cartoon in time for last Christmas for the Dalesman magazine. I fully intended to publish it here on Dairy of a Cartoonist and Writer but the editor asked me to hold fire as he didn't want anything to go out as a spoiler.

Anyway, one thing led to another and I forgot to post it. But all things being equal, and me being me, here it is. So Merry Christmas to you all and enjoy my bit of magazine frontage tom-foolery----Yorkshire style.

On a final note---and a very nice one for me---the editor emailed me after the ABC figures came out and said that the sales for that Christmas edition were up by a significant percentage point and he is convinced that it was due largely to my cover.

Now that's nice to hear

Friday, January 23, 2015

Aston Villa: Cartoon Mascots

I've been producing the artwork for the Junior Villa Life (JV Life) for a few years--- I even used the characters, and an actual commission, to illustrate one of my tutorials on how I draw a comics page, all of which can be found on my cartoon tutorial page. The main characters are Hercules (the big muscular one), Bella (the leaping lady) and Chip (the techie, speedy one), are the anthropomorphisms of the clubs mascots.

Over the years I've produced a large body of work for JV Life--- some I have enjoyed creating more than others. And today  I would like to share just a few with you, along with my reasons for why they were such a pleasure to produce.

With this page it was simply the weather. I love drawing wind, rain and snow; in fact any extremes of weather. I particularly enjoyed the downward view in panel 7; it was just great when I got the slashing motion of the rain as it pummelled Hercules from above; I think it really added to the overall effect.

Students of the comics page and its colour balancing techniques may also like to know that when drawing murky days and gloomy settings, that darkening the shade of your characters natural colour will all add to the over-all look.

This is the second page from above and the action moves inside. With this page I still kept the dark colours on the main characters to darken the mood.

But seeing as this IS a children's comic, I had to lighten the mood.This came when designing the villain, Captain Splash. What I liked about this particular super Nemesis of the three Villa mascots was his umbrella head; it just made me smile and looked right. Villa though so to.

Normally I dislike producing caricatures in comics pages as it makes them clumsy and cumbersome; the people you caricature never have the same flow as the other cartoon characters on the page and can look a bit stiff.

But that said, my reason for including this page---despite the caricatures--- is simply panels 3 and 5. I just loved the whole shading look in panel 3 and the action in panel 5.

That's it really. Nuff said.

These two are here simply because I loved the action.

Both pages were amongst the very early cartoons I produced for Aston Villa, when the remit seemed to be action, more action and all out action. 

 love doing this, but sadly as they had new masters at the department that commissioned the magazine, they wanted to move away from the slapstick action style that seems to permeate through my style, and move into more story lead ideas.

It's been a while since I drew the last one and I hope there will be more. I think these characters have so much more to give and with the right direction could be so much more than they are at present.

Anyway, I love producing the work and hope that you have enjoyed the snippet trip down my memory lane.

All that is left to point out that all cartoons are the intellectual and actual property of Aston Villa FC, but the fun and love that went into producing them was all mine.


PS: and as an aside, I've just noticed that the first ever post I produced for this blog was about these characters. Click here to view it.

It does seem strange that my blog is now five years old. I must write about that and maybe make a list of some of the highlights...maybe next week. Maybe...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Stealth Road Cameras: More cartoon silliness

Now in all fairness I did say I would be doing more editorials. In all honesty, I didn't think it would be this soon, but I did warn you.

But I'm rather glad that I did, because when I came upon this story from the Mail online site I just couldn't resist it.

Sometimes the headline alone is enough to spark an idea and with this one, the headline was enough. Now I admit I've played around with the actual story---it being about cameras and motorway driving---but the words 'stealth' and 'traffic cameras' were just too much of an opportunity for a mind as odd as mine to miss out on.

Also, this cartoon gives another, perhaps more true bent, as to the style of my cartoon editorial work: mainly that I love writing about life's absurdities more than the hard hitting stuff. I prefer to write about people more than murdering caliphates or twisted politicians, so this cartoon serves more as a guide to what you can really expect from me and my editorial work.

Any way. Enjoy and await more; there really is a whole world of silliness out there and I want to capture it and share it with you.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Muslim Caliphate: Twitter cartoon

Someone threatened to cut my head off last week on Twitter. No prizes for guessing where that came from.

The thing is, I actually had no intention of doing any pictures of Mohammed, I just mentioned my disgust and the Paris killings and then some little spotty faced trainee Jihadist from Peckham, London got all moralistic on me, stating that if I said anything else he would remove my head and ended it with #AllahuAkbar. I replied: 'Thank you for the documented death threat, I'll be forwarding this message to the CIA' and ended mine with #GuantanamoBay.

I've heard nothing since.

But my point is this. I was happy with just a rant and a show of solidarity until that little idiot piped up, now he has me wanting to say all kinds of things, and some of them will be against his murdering little sadistic buddies. So the irony is, his ill conceived rant has actually pushed me into doing the very thing he told me not to...

Doesn't he know how we cartoonists work?

Any way, thanks to our little brainwashed hate campaigner, today sees the first one in my new political and social comment cartoons; maybe with even a little editorial in my own inimitable style thrown in to boot.

So I hereby dedicate this cartoon to P****d off of Peckham


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New look Brabbles & Boggitt, or old look; you decide

To be brutally honest with you, I've been in an almost 365 day 'quandary' session, and it's been driving me insane. It has been almost a year since I finished the first Brabbles & Boggitt tale and nearly a year since I was supposed to start the new one; in fact it's been almost that long that I've been promising you, me and a few Amazon that I will be putting it together and publishing the thing; yet still I have not.

Why? I hear you ask (I have very good hearing). Simple. The first tale was written in a standard comic book format where as the second is being produced in a Sunday strip format, and I quite like it.

So I can either, re draw the first tale, then publish, restart the second tale to fit with the first or hang it all and have the first book forever at size odds with what comes after.

So in my usual manner---and after a year of mental wall blocks---I'm going to throw it to you to decide what you prefer the best, and to help you I have republished three sample pages from the first tale and below it the first three pages of the new story with its Sunday strip format.

Please leave a comment or email me if you prefer, either way PLEAEEEEEEEEAAAAAAASSSSEEEEE help me out of this fix so I can move on with my life...

First 3 random pages from Brabbles & Boggitt, book 1...

 Page 45

 Page 46

...and now for the second book and the Sunday page format.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Like I say, your input is most welcome so please do give it...

Thank you.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Spiders are Back!!

At the time of writing this I am coming out of my final session with the therapist about what the spiders in my back room did to me last Christmas. Below is an account of that day:

Mad Friday, Fighting Friday, Black Friday. All names given to the last Friday before Christmas, when tradition dictates that everyone must go out and consume far too much alcohol for their own good and then raise holy hell, and last night was one such night; not for me, but for certain anarchic members of my household.

I’d come home around 7am from a very hectic night at work and was just about to partake in a relaxing cup of tea when the door bell went. I grunted and went to open it and was confronted by two very burly and stern looking Policemen and a laconic WPC who looked directly at me and then to the ground and said:

“Are these your spiders, sir?”

I groaned inwardly as I looked at the four worst offenders in my fraternity of creepy, unwanted lodgers. The one leered at me though 40,000 drunken eyes, the second was looking up the WPC’s skirt while the third was holding the fourths legs back while he was being sick down the drain.

I groaned again, this time lacing it heavily with resignation: “What have they been up to this time?” The copper frowned and said: “Can we come in, Sir?”

My shoulders slumped, but I stood aside and waved them in, the spiders staggering along behind them. I looked at their team leader and exclaimed out loud:

“My god, is that another tattoo?!” He just grinned and staggered off to his web, looking into the fridge on his way to pick out a pack of dried bluebottles he’d stashed there last August; apparently he had the munchies.

Once I’d got them all settled into their webs, telling them they were grounded, and had provided a bucket for the sick one, I returned to the Police officers who were eying up my large stash of pens suspiciously (the ones I’d been collecting from broken crackers at work). I slumped into my chair and bade them continue with the rap sheet.

It turns out that after I had left home for work the spiders had found my stock of Christmas drink and a bottle opener, and after a crash course on how to open bottles from YouTube, had downed most of the real ales and had decided to go up town for a bit of action and a pizza.

This had involved, and I quote: Managing to get themselves inside two barrels of Doom Bar ale and drinking them dry, abseiling drunkenly on thin strands of web with party hats and obscenely shaped candy canes, while frightening the local girls into hysterical screaming fits, doing line after line of Jäger bombs, picking fights with the bouncers and taking out a local county councillor with a taser gun disguised as a blow tickler; the police were eventually called in when they managed to coerce a pack of nuns--- who were on their way to midnight mass--- into the pub and had them cornered and were force feeding them Black Sabbath songs backwards on the Juke Box. Apparently the screams could be heard all over town.

When the police finally arrived, the leader was making lewd suggestions to a very startled looking Rhinoceros beetle and the nuns were genuflecting like epileptics at a light show.

I looked suitable chastened, promised I’d keep a closer eye on them and the officers let me off with a warning. Once they had gone I slumped into my chair once again and released a slow valve sigh of frustration; then the door bell went again.

I grunted my way to the door thinking, ‘what now?’ only to be confronted by a pizza delivery guy with a double pepperoni and jalapeño pizza. I turned to the spiders who had somehow managed to pilfer my mobile phone and were sniggering while they hacked into my Facelessbook account.

So any odd statuses (well odder than normal) appear on here then blame it on the spiders...Bad spiders, very bad spiders!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A little help please

Its been a few months since I uploaded my first book---the Night of the Village Idiots---to Amazon Kindle, and so far it has had a nice little pile of downloads. But now I am looking to start marketing it more heavily, and this is where you all come in.
What I want is reviews, a new book from an untested author desperately needs reviews so as the browsing buyer can see what others think before purchasing. So what I'm asking---to all my Diary of a Cartoonist and Writer friends and readers---is if there are willing participants out there who like a laugh and to read humorous tales and would like to give my book a go FOR FREE, then please message me, either on the contact me page or by pasting and copying my address which is with your email address and I will send you the file, and all I ask for in return is a review...bad or good, but preferably good.
Your help is very much appreciated.

Friday, October 10, 2014

101 uses for a Dead Mother-in-Law

A oldish project that I've been working on with a collaborator---not something I normally do---is called 101 uses for a dead Mother in  Law.

Yes, I kn ow, not a very salubrious theme, but with the silly ideas and Warner Bros type slapstick humour, I hope to win people over.

Anyway, the first cover is done---I'm sure there will be changes---but its a start. So along with the syndicated strip ideas I will be updating with this project as and when news comes to me.

Monday, September 29, 2014

New comic strip, new hopes and new ideas...

Well, once again, here I am apologising for not having gotten around to posting on this, my launch pad site for the many ideas I have and the projects I undertake that you, my wonderful followers, follow.

As you can see I have been busy, and today I can announce the completion of my first comic strip submission for syndication in over 10 years. And to celebrate this mile stone I've attached the character sheet and all 30 strips, as I have submitted them, for your delectation and enjoyment.

The cartoon strip is titled simply 'Bib'. and below is the synopsis description from the cover letter that has accompanied it to the top three American Syndicates: King Features, Washington Post Writers Syndicate and Universal Uclick.

Strip Synopsis

Bib is a scientist one moment, an impressionist artist the next, (which he slams and criticises vociferously) a child psychologist (holding forth with his own particular brand of views and opinions, from the coal face as it where), inventor, poet, bohemian, food critic, marriage guidance councillor for the two argumentative garden Gnomes outside and on Thursdays, the leader of the crèche escape committee. Other than that he worries the cat next door, has adventures and flights of fantasy using the kitchen pedal bin as the vehicle for his imagination; avoids the attempts of the amorous dribbling baby from down the street, experiments through his department of dubious sciences on his hapless Grandma, the cat next door and an even more hapless travelling salesman, and wages a campaign of evasion against his slobbering aunt who seems unstoppable and indestructible in her quest for a kiss and a cuddle.

In short, Bib is not your quintessential little baby strip. He tears and howls his way through life as his diminutive little body tries to catch up with his overly developed imagination and mind.

I hope you like what you read and please do leave any comments--- and or your thoughts--- on Bib. Also please, PLEASE do keep coming back as I have so much to share and talk to you about.

Thank you

September 2014

Character Sheet and Strips