Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Flying home for Christmas...

...What could be nicer?







No rotund, scarlet-clad philanthropic benefactors were harmed during the making of this cartoon. So, chill!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Hey, Wayne (but not by Constable)...!




Thought I'd take a break from the UCC designs for the moment, and post my entry for the recent Caricature Contest over on the Cartoonists' Forum.

Poor Wayne Rooney - he's not had a great time of it lately, and this probably won't do anything to lift his gloom. But I had fun with it.


Sunday, 28 November 2010

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Grim Hoodie...

Hoodies get such a bad press, don't they? I'm not sure this goes any distance to redress the balance, but it was another fun design to draw for the U.C.C. cause. I guess I'll get back to the 'funnies' eventually, but these are most enjoyable to do, and after more than 30 years in the comics biz, rather cathartic. Another one soon.

.




Oh, I nearly forgot. I wasn't 100% happy with the scaling on the 'biker' design I posted the other day, so I made a few changes to balance the bike with the rider. In the bad old days, this would have meant starting from scratch with a complete redraw and inking. Today, by the wonders of modern technology, it took about five minutes using Photoshop. Whether you love or loathe these new methods, that's pretty impressive in anyone's book. Here's the 'fixed' version...





Monday, 22 November 2010

Now, if there's a smile upon my face...


...it's only there trying to fool the public.

Somehow though, I doubt if the tears of this particular clown are his own. Another U.C.C. design, available soon (I'm assured) at a website near you.




Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Queasy Rider...




Yes, yes, I know - he's not wearing a helmet. Are you gonna tell him...?

Monday, 15 November 2010

Back...

Apologies for Bloggage Neglect just recently - this was due to circumstances almost entirely within my control (sloth, lethargy, etc.), coupled with an exceptionally busy spell and an unexpected bit of poor health, now all on the mend.

I've been enjoying a few more of these U.C.C. challenges throughout though, so I make no further apology for bunging them up here. If you're enjoying them, look in over the next couple of days, and I'll post more.







Monday, 25 October 2010

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Muscling in...

The first couple of decades of my career were moderately predictable, with little deviation from a select few paths (kids' comics, newspaper editorial cartoons, and feature illustrations just about covers it). However, for the past few years, through increased use of the Internet and my website in particular, I've discovered many more cartooning opportunities than I ever gave any thought to beforehand, and I love the diversity of new challenges that regularly come my way as a result.

The latest of these has been unfolding over the past couple of weeks after I was contacted by the head honcho of a new Internet-based clothing company, soon to be launched, supplying gear specifically aimed at the body-builder market. I was initially asked to draw one design (above), but it was so well received, and so much fun to do, that before we knew it, my one design had become half a dozen, with more to come.

Of course, being a fitness fanatic myself, and having the body of a bronzed Adonis, certainly helped, along with a full-length mirror for reference purposes. Oh, all right - it's one of those fairground mirrors that sucks stomachs in and puffs chests out, and my exercise regime involves lifting heavy sandwiches, pushing my luck, and stretching the truth, but I got the job done, and here's the proof...

If you want to find out more, and if you have a Facebook account, drop in on
U.C.C. (Unapproved Clothing Co.) for upcoming news of all their gear and the impending launch.








Friday, 8 October 2010

Karacktiteshure (bless you!)...

We've just had the latest Caricature Contest over on the Cartoonists.co.uk forum, with none other than the face of TV football, Adrian Chiles, providing the inspiration for this month's sport. I thought it was an inspired choice, and a gift for caricaturists. You can judge for yourself, but there was no doubt about the runaway winner this week from Hugh 'Shug' Raine, who left all the others trailing in his wake, with a huge 50 point tally.

Thanks to Scotty, my co-admin on the Competition forum, I intend taking part in next month's challenge (Sir Alan Sugar is Shug's choice), so I'm looking forward to that. Normally, because I get an advance viewing of the entries, I exclude myself from competing, but I still enjoy taking on the challenge in the background. Scotty has decided not to play this one, so we'll change things around a little this month.

Here's this month's effort...






Monday, 4 October 2010

Glad Tidings...

Okay, so here it is - the moment you've all been eagerly awaiting for the past twelve days. We have reached December in the Sheep Calendar, and the caption that has given rise to speculation and eager anticipation throughout the globe...

Okay, so Martin guessed it with the first go. I didn't promise you Mastermind, did I? Here it is...


DECEMBER




Congratulations, Martin - a signed print shall be winging its way to you presently, in time for you to flog it on ebay before Christmas (good luck with that :-/).

And thanks to all who kept it alive with their guesses. There were some highly entertaining suggestions (for a variety of reasons), including a good few I received by text and email. But for me, in the end, when all is said and done, at the end of the day, taking all into consideration, and any other cliché I've missed, I have to award the prize for the most amusing alternative to Jim Barker for his suggested scene of an old sheep celebrating the New Year 'Bells' with a young sheep, and the caption of "A Ram, A Lamb, A Ding-dong". That was truly inspired, Jim, and a print shall also be in the post to you shortly.

Thanks to everyone for looking in and taking part. I hope to have more silliness anon.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Almost there...

Here we have it - the penultimate in the Sheep Calendar series. Tomorrow, the great anti-climax will be revealed when December's image takes the stage, and I announce the winners of signed prints for guessing its title, and also for the funniest guess. We actually do have a winner for the first category, but the second one is still in the balance, if you'd like to post a suggestion before tomorrow's reveal.

Okay, here's November, meanwhile...



NOVEMBER

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Olé...!

Day Ten in the sheep calendar series. Don't forget, I'm offering a signed print of December's image to the first person to guess what the title of that month's image might be. I'm also offering the same for the suggestion that makes me laugh most. It'll be November tomorrow , but for now...


OCTOBER


Friday, 1 October 2010

Ram Already...

Day Nine in the sheep calendar series. Don't forget, I'm offering a signed print of December's image to the first person to guess what the title of that month's image might be. I'm also offering the same for the suggestion that makes me laugh most. It'll be October tomorrow , but for now...


SEPTEMBER


Thursday, 30 September 2010

Woolly Wails...


So - we're now passed the half way mark in the daily sheep calendar series. Don't forget, I'm offering a signed print of December's image to the first person to guess what the title of that month's image might be. I'm also offering the same for the suggestion that makes me laugh most. It'll be September tomorrow (okay, so if I'd timed this better, it would have been October), but for now...


AUGUST





Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Mean Meh-chine...

The sixth in the daily sheep calendar series. Don't forget, I'm offering a signed print of December's image to the first person to guess what the title of that month's image might be. I'm also offering the same for the suggestion that makes me laugh most. It'll be August tomorrow, but for now...


JULY




Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Balloony Tunes...

The sixth in the daily sheep calendar series. Don't forget, I'm offering a signed print of December's image to the first person to guess what the title of that month's image might be. I'm also offering the same for the suggestion that makes me laugh most. It'll be July tomorrow, but for now...


JUNE

Monday, 27 September 2010

All Greek to me...

The fifth in the daily sheep calendar series. Don't forget, I'm offering a signed print of December's image to the first person to guess what the title of that month's image might be. I'm also offering the same for the suggestion that makes me laugh most. It'll be June tomorrow, but for now...


MAY




On reflection, I think we missed a potentially much funnier "Lamb Baa Da" with this one, but as the competition suggestions roll in, I can see there's great potential for a few years of follow-up calendars here.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Woolly Wheelies...

The fourth in the daily sheep calendar series. Don't forget, I'm offering a signed print of December's image to the first person to guess what the title of that month's image might be. I'm also offering the same for the suggestion that makes me laugh most. It'll be May tomorrow, but for now...


APRIL

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Armitage Sheep Shanks...

The third in the daily sheep calendar series. Don't forget, I'm offering a signed print of December's image to the first person to guess what the title of that month's image might be. I'm also offering the same for the suggestion that makes me laugh most. It'll be April tomorrow, but for now...

MARCH




Friday, 24 September 2010

Day Two in the Sheep Shed...


The second in the daily sheep calendar series. Don't forget, I'm offering a signed print of December's image, all glossy and everything, to the first person to guess what the title of that month's image might be. I've now also decided to offer the same for the suggestion that makes me laugh most. It'll be March tomorrow, but for now...


FEBRUARY

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Feeling sheepish...

Apologies to anyone who has been popping in recently, only to discover the same old rubbish that's been here for the past couple of weeks. I have no real excuses other than lethargy and... well. that's about it really.

BUT... I hope to make amends, and in as much as anything you believe on the Internet is concerned, I pledge... yes, pledge... that I'll post a new bit of rubbish every day for at least the next twelve.

And I'll even throw in a theme - the following is the first of a set of fun drawings I did for a calendar. It was a private commission by friends who have a healthy(ish) affection for sheep, and the ideas were conceived over several bottles of... well, see below...


JANUARY




I thought it might also be fun to have a little competition running alongside this, and so the first person to guess what the title of December's image will be (clue: it's the only one that's actually relevent) will win a signed print of that image, providing they're happy to trust me with their postal address. You'll hopefully get the idea of the thought process behind this over the next few days. Keep guessing - I won't say if anyone gets it right until the end, and if no-one does, I'll award the prize to the one I like best anyway.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Kerrikachoors...

Well, how do you spell it? It's possibly the most commonly misspelled word in the business, mostly by prospective clients, but I've also seen quite a few caricaturists seemingly having problems with spelling their own product, which surely can't be great for business. Then again, if so many clients can't spell the word, maybe it doesn't matter that much?

Anyways, as promised, I can now reveal that the two pen and ink charactertures in my last blog, were indeed the first and last ones, as John Fisher correctly identified... eventually! The second and third were produced entirely using a Cintiq, from start to finish. I'm glad it wasn't too obvious, and I'm not sure what it proves other than both methods can yield very similar results in terms of line quality. And that, I guess, is what I wanted to show. I love using my Cintiq, but I can't and won't say that it produces better results than pen and ink. It does have many advantages in my opinion, but a god pen and ink drawing will always be a joy to behold and produce.

And while we're talking caracatures, the second Chracerature Contest over on the cartoonists.co.uk forums has just ended, with some truly splendid interpretations of this month's 'target', the flamboyant Gok Wan. Go have a look, and if you fancy joining in the next contest, feel free - you have until 11pm (UK time) on October 5th to email me with your entry. Full details
here. This month's winner was a first-time poster on any of the forums, so it's anyone's game if you feel like taking part in the fun.

I enjoy organising the thing, and so I don't take part in the contest itself, but that doesn't stop me from having a go. Here's what I came up with this month...



Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Old versus New...




The digital revolution began for me about 15 years ago, when my kid brother practically forced a proper computer (I'd only ever possessed an Amstrad word processor up to that point) on me that he had 'built' from spares. He actually drove nearly 300 miles to hand it over, so I felt obliged to at least let him set it up and switch it on, even if I was as convinced as I had always been up until that point that there was nothing a computer could do that would improve my life. I was a card carrying Luddite, and fiercely proud that I was using practically the same tools of my trade as those whom I followed for at least a century before me.

That all went out the window with that first boot-up, and I've never looked back since. It's taken most of those fifteen years, but these days I am now fully transformed into a digital cartoonist. Gradually over those years, I have put aside my coloured inks, my black ink, my mailing tubes and my address labels... and now, even my pencil and paper, as I use a laptop PC, a Wacom Cintiq tablet, and the Internet, to provide me with everything I need to create and supply work to practically anywhere that wants it, faster than I'd ever have dreamed possible just fifteen years ago.

I love the doors this has opened, and the extra dimensions it has given me with which to ply my trade. And I'm happy to evangelise these benefits to all who will listen. There are some who won't, for a variety of reasons, and I fully respect that, having been where they once were, and still retaining a love for those tools of the trade I've left behind, but will never totally abandon. But I do believe that in order to stay alive in this business, you need to be able to provide what today's clients want, and that really boils down to quality merchandise (as always), but in digital format, and instantly delivered.

Occasionally, however, you do come across the attitude that what you're producing in a digital format can't possibly be as good as the 'classic' tools of the trade. That somehow using the new tools dulls your edge, or can't deliver the same quality. Of course, there will always be those will produce work on a computer that completely backs up this viewpoint, and I've seen many flat, horrible examples that taken in isolation would put me off digital artwork for life.

But like most innovations, these 'new tools' take a little time to master, and with time and knowledge, can prove not only a match for all the old ways, but provide infinitely more possibilities thrown in. Leaving the latter aside for a moment, and concentrating on the "match" claim, above and below are four caricature commissions I have worked on in the past few years. All are coloured using Photoshop, but two were initially drawn on paper using a pencil, followed by dip pen and ink, whilst the other two were drawn entirely using digital technnology (I resist using the term 'hand-drawn', becasue they were all hand-drawn - new tech replaces the tolls, not the artist).

See if you can tell which is which (comments welcome - answers when next I blog)...






Friday, 27 August 2010

Who... ?

Over on the Cartoonists Forum, we recently enjoyed our very first monthly Caricature Contest, where all-comers are challenged to caricature a well-known figure, and the results are voted on by the forum members. The first 'victim' was Matt Smith, the latest actor to take on the role of the eponymous hero in the BBC's Doctor Who series.

As you can see here, the contest produced a very healthy response, and a terrifically diverse range of caricatures from all who entered. The worthy winner came from the pen of Hugh 'Shug' Raine, beating Paul Mahoney into second place, with Steve Ward and Rich Skipworth sharing third. We're currently building up to our second contest, with the subject of Gok Wan having been chosen by Shug, as is the previous winner's prerogative. If any budding or established caricaturists fancy participating, then have a look at the contest guidelines, and join in the fun.

Since I am currently organising the contest, and that involves receiving the entries before anyone else sees them (they are all posted more or less simultaneously after the deadline), I have banned myself from taking part. But I couldn't resist joining in the challenge, and this was the result...




It wasn't wasted however, as I'd been asked to contribute a cover for the PCO (professional Cartoonists' Organisation) magazine, 'Foghorn'. So, with a little addition here and there, the latest copy hit the virtual shelves recently looking like this...






For the uninitiated, 'Foghorn' is a truly splendid bi-monthly production, featuring the produce of some of the best of British cartooning talents. And guess what - it's completely FREE to view online. You can even subscribe to receive proper high-quality printed issues should you prefer a more tactile, sensual experience. Details available here.



Saturday, 21 August 2010

Monday, 16 August 2010

Little Willy won't..

...go to the Hamilton by-election.

His own party told him not to. One of the better thought out Tory policies, I thought. This one also features another cartoonists' favourite, the enchanting Ann Widdicombe, prior to becoming a blonde bombshell...







Saturday, 14 August 2010

Just William!

As promised, more Hague memoirs... (another soon)...





I've no recollection of what this was about, but I'm sure he paid paid dearly for it.



Thursday, 12 August 2010

Another tearful farewell...

Here's a bit of self-indulgence I somehow managed to persuade my erstwhile employers at the Daily Record to publish in 2001. Again, similar to the John Major scenario, I was probably one of only a handful of Scots sad to see the resignation of William Hague as leader of the Conservative Party following his General Election defeat in 2001. He was great fun to draw and provided loads of ammunition for cartoonists, and I knew I was going to miss him.

This was further rammed home by his bland successor, Ian Duncan Smith, whom I later heard the great Gerald Scarfe somewhat bitterly describe as the only politician he could not draw. I'll dig out some more Hague cartoons later, hopefully, but here's the one I drew on that 'sad' day he was lost to the cartoonists' pen (he's back now, of course :-) )...







Monday, 9 August 2010

Blue Peter...

For anyone outside the UK, I have to explain that 'Blue Peter' is one of our longest-running and most popular children's television programmes, so old that I used to watch it as a kid back in the 60s. It's a kind of a magazine programme for kids, with pets and 'how-to-make' items, interspersed with various features that the good ol' BBC deem of interest to, and suitable for, this nation's children.

Naturally, having run for so long, It has gone through a goodly amount of presenters over the years. Most 'grow up' and move on to present more adult TV programmes, some just move on and are never heard of again. But every now and then, the show would be rocked by 'scandal', usually involving the misdemeanour's and private lives of its presenters.

The following cartoon was drawn in 1998, after one such presenter was caught using cocaine, and dismissed. The BBC decided to air an excruciating 'explanation' to its younger viewers by its Head Of Children's Programmes at the time. The cartoon uses one of the show's most loved catchphrases as its caption.

Blue Peter survives to this day, as does the presenter in question, Richard Bacon, currently hosting a weekday afternoon radio show... for the BBC.


Friday, 6 August 2010

Thick Skin.


I've had a lot of mileage out of this one, although none of it for financial reward. It was conceived as a very quick (10 minutes max) response to a debate on a cartoonists' forum revolving around the sensitivities of cartoonists, and what upsets us. It has had many outings since then, usually in personal emails to colleagues who are in need of a comforting word and a little reassurance, having been at the wrong end of criticism that some people seem to think is fair game when it comes to dealing with cartoonists, using language they probably wouldn't dream of using towards most other professionals.

It's not that we're a vain lot, though some undoubtedly are, as in any field. Nor are we above criticism. And what doesn't help us is that our focus is almost always on making people laugh, so actually a client being merely "pleased" (for most professions, the ideal outcome) probably isn't good enough for us deep down, and a client actually being displeased can come as a double blow to our pride and professionalism. Nothing short of a bout of hysterics followed by astonishment that you'd done the job so much better than they could have imagined will truly suffice.

But inevitably, we usually have to settle for a little less, and develop these thick skins. Normally, they're only needed at home, and are worn in relative privacy at the other end of a critical phone call or a disapproving email. But those of us who swim the shark-infested waters of live caricaturing gigs need to wear ours in public. Live caricaturing can be the most rewarding of jobs for many cartoonists in terms of instant laughter and praise from a live audience, sending one's ego through the roof. But even the best of the best will, at some point, encounter adverse reactions, and I have to say that on the rare occasions this has happened to me, it has always been from the female of the species.

Men are very difficult to insult in terms of their looks, and consequently (generally) much more fun to caricature. If you're a smart caricaturist, you learn very quickly that the fairer sex are a completely different kettle of fish. Sometimes, you have to capture their smile within a nano-second, as they sit grim-faced and terrified at what you're about to do to them. Many will openly ask you to "make them look beautiful". My stock answer is usually that I can't improve on what God has already done, which occasionally gets a blush, but more often than not, a "blow it out your ass" wry smile. Either way, it helps to ease the tension a little.

I learned at my very first gig, a wedding at Banbury Cross, that you can be too 'honest'. One 'woman of a certain age' sat for her caricature with a beautiful smile throughout, and was utterly charming, relatively relaxed, and quite chatty. Consequently, I took a little longer to complete her picture, but I was quite pleased with the result. The 'reveal' is usually the best part, and most people take it in very good spirit, and are generous with their appreciation. This lady maintained her lovely smile ("Result!", thought I), then followed it up with, "Wonderful - it looks just like my mother!". I zipped up my thick skin and contented myself with the fact I had at least captured the family resemblance. But that pivotal early moment taught me that for some sitters, the removal of ten years and ten pounds will gain you a friend for life... or for at least long enough to make your escape at the end of the night with your fee. A valuable lesson indeed!


So - now you know all my secrets, if you would like to hire me for your event, drop me a line or give me a call. More details on my website (see my 'lynx' on the right).


Wednesday, 4 August 2010

I am an Animator...

See?...



Okay, so it ain't exactly Disney, Pixar or Aardman, but it's my very first effort having been nursed into the process using Photoshop's animation facility, and I was well pleased that I got it to work.

The cartoon was originally drawn as a static gag for the Cartoon Caption Competition, but having had my initial animation lesson the day after I drew it, I thought it would be ideal to practise on, and so it eventually ended up as above. I couldn't resist posting it in its animated format for the competition, and despite it causing a fair bit of controversy (it was the first time any animation had been used), it actually won, which I was delighted and astonished at in equal measure.

My first feature-length animated film starts tomorrow...and probably always will.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

David Wasting Paper


David Paccia is an American cartoonist who runs a blog mainly comprised of interviews with cartoonists from around the world. He sends out the same set of pertinent questions to each cartoonist, and publishes their replies along with a few samples of their work (like the one above), and a brief biog of each subject.

I'm delighted to be David's 149th victim, and the latest to be included on his blog, which you can find here, sitting proudly on top of my good friends and splendid fellow Brit cartoonists, Matt Buck and Noel Ford. There are some other very notable scalps that David has bagged over the past year, and if you're at all interested in what makes cartoonists tick (and who wouldn't be? :-P ), then it's well worth a trawl through when you have some time to kill.

Thanks, David!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Random oldie...

First in an occasional series of random favourites from my editorial cartooning days...




Princess Margaret taken ill...



If ever there was even a glimmer of hope that I'd some day be on the Queen's Birthday Honours list, this (among many others) would have put paid to it. The world's most famous dysfunctional family have always been excellent pickings for editorial cartoonists however, and for that alone, I have a very soft spot for them.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Hot Stuff...


This was one of the most enjoyable commissions of my career so far. When Nick Moore from Dr Burnorium's Hot Sauce Emporium initially asked me to envisage the character to front his business, I came up with the above sketch to hopefully satisfy his search for a malevolent travelling salesman type. I always have enjoyed the opportunity to draw malevolence, having been largely (though not completely) denied it throughout my career in children's comics, so I was very keen to have a go at it. However, from experience, I'm always aware that what the client asks for and what they actually want are not necessarily the same thing, and so I tend to hold back on drawing anything to extremes for a first draft.

I was reasonably pleased with the initial offering, and the hint of a darker side to the character, hoping that Nick wouldn't think I'd pushed it too far. He replied with fulsome praise for the drawing, but a passionate plea for much more evil, and his quite brilliant and inspiring vision of how to achieve it. This was music to my ears, and I didn't need to be asked twice - Nick left no doubt that he wanted me to really go for it, and I enjoyed every second of the project from there on in, as did he.

The result was the following three stages of the evil Doctor, who you can find fronting the Hot Sauce Emporium website at http://www.hotsauceemporium.co.uk/ (warning - site does contain some colourful language). Nick was the kind of client cartoonists like me love to deal with - enthusiastic, hugely appreciative, focussed, driven, clear, and above all, mad as a hatter! He also sent me samples of his wares... his catchphrases of "Let's get out there and melt some faces!" and "Your Pain Is Our Pleasue" are entirely appropriate.


Pencil...




Ink...





Colour...