Friday, December 22, 2006

Thank you DC/Wildstorm and the Albion team.

I was just made-up to recieve 3 copies of the collected Albion today (can I call it a graphic novel?), from DC/Wildstorm - courtesy of Fed-Ex. In addition to being a complete set of the comic, it carries a bunch of extras, a bit like a DVD, and has some wonderful old vintage British comic reprints: Janus Stark, The House of Dollmann, The Steel Claw, Kelly's Eye, (I loved the artwork of Solano Lopez) and others. The introduction by Neil Gaimen struck a chord and his rememberances of comics like Fantastic and Terrific and the transgressive appeal of The Spider seem like a shared collective memory to me, and will, I suspect, to many other comic lovers. As you will have guessed, I raced through it quickly so I can look forward to reading it later (see below about my problems with delayed gratification).

You know, there's just a couple of panels of me in it (see below), but they were kind enough to send me 3 copies. I think I had about 15 of my cartoons in National Lampoon's Favourite Cartoons of the 21st Century, and they only sent me 2 copies. Tight-fisted bastards.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Holidays.

My special holiday greetings go out to the fantastically talented Leah Moore, John Reppion and their team, and to the extremely hard working and very funny cartoonists/illustrators Vlad Kolarov and Buck Jones, wishing you all health, wealth and happiness for the forthcoming year. Lang may yer lums reek! as we say in these parts.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A (comic) book of delights, that's Nick Mag.

I hate posts on noticeboards and websites where people say 'a lot of people ask me' and you think well who? Who are they who ask? I don't know people who ask. Why do they ask you? More often than not they are just making it up, I think. I mean, I've been doing this a long time and the only time 'people' ask me anything is when I'm in the pub and they say 'you're a cartoonist, do you know ...?' and I answer 'he/she is dead'.

However, other cartoonists ask one another things all the time, but usually in a round-about way, so as not to arouse any suspicion. Like this: 'How are you, I hear such and such a publication is now taking emailed submissions; are you aware of this?' This usually means that they have picked up an unsubstantiated rumour, but if you verify it and maybe supply a contact address, they can check it out. I think that the maroons who send out those Nigerian banker-scam 'phising' emails could learn a lot from cartoonists.

Anyhow, I am often asked (I've been asked twice now) 'what do you consider to be the best cartooning publication out there'? Well, in terms of sheer creativity, and energy, and space and for experimentation, I'd have to say, Nickelodeon Magazine (US). Susprised you eh? I've never failed to be astonished by the sheer energy in the magazine and I know of no other publication that so successfully mixes artists, illustrators and cartoonists from the indy and mainstream scenes. In any one issue you might find work by Kaz, Sam Henderson, Johnny Ryan, Charles Burns, Robert Leighton, Aaron Reiner, Dave Pilkey, Raina Telgemeier, etc, etc, etc. It is like, at times, a barely contained whirlwind of artistic styles and talents, which is a big testament to the skills of the editors involved. I just wish we had something like it over here (whisper: the British version blows).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Updated WebComic Nations site with the Tammyclava.

I suspect a lot of the trends of the 60s were inspired by surplus goods. The 'trend' for haversacks as school bags came around quite nicely to use up the surplus of gas-mask bags in the Army and Navy stores. The Tamaclava probably came from a similar source and would have been some kind of Naval thing, I suspect. Anyway, we woke up one day and everybody had to have one. That's about the long and the short of it.

You can read the entire comic at WCN

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Got a new Prospect in the post today

I did some real slap-happy painting with this cartoon for the January 2007 issue of Prospect (Good Heavens, the new year jobs have begun already). I've done a bunch of art-related cartoons over the years, but not too many Magritte's, which is odd because he strikes me as the most cartoony of artists, well, outside the Lichtenstein, Warhol, Blake pop art circuit. I mean, c'mon, that's a skyful of Herge's Thomson Twins, no? Or are the Thomson Twins really an homage to Magritte?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Bunty

Ha, my cousin Allan always made fun of me for reading American comics, and yet all the time he was laughing at my DC/Marvel/Charlton/Harvey, etc, collection, he was collecting The Bunty, a comic for girls and his favourite story was The Four Marys.

Anyway, I have been keeping my Lepertown Comic (sort of comic) up-to-date at Webcomics Nation and I posted this, which I thought I'd put here for anyone who, like Allan, fondly remembers the Bunty, for Girls.

As usual, click the image to see the larger version.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Early Comic work

I got a note in the post asking for some original comic pages from THE PAST (imagine 'the past' is written all wiggley). There are some examples on the web somewhere, but as you know my Online cartoonist site is down and well, I'm not really sure I'll put it back up.

Anyway, this page is one I quite like, it's part of the introduction of the character Skid Kidd (they called him Mike Kidd, but I tried to smuggle in Mark Kidd, so he'd be SKID MARK - didn't fall for it, though). When I started out, I was drawing with a conventional Parker fountain pen with a very rigid, unbending nib. I knew how I wanted the comic pages to look, and had no idea that I was, at the time, continuing the tradition of Clean Line drawing. Herge's Tintin, is perhaps the best example of European Clean Line drawing, but Heath Robinson's Punch cartoons are another and Winsor McCay and George McManus's comic strip work are superb examples of American Clean Line work.

I spent a lot of time with Beano artist Tom Paterson during this period, regularly thrashing him at Pool and Snooker. Around that time we put our own comic idea, Squelch, together, but it didn't work out and Tom sold his main character The Wet Blanket to the 'Viz for kids rip-off' Oink:

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Super Hero Guys

Well, I finished redrawing the Super Guys (see below). I've posted the entire story on Web Comics Nation, but tightened it up a bit and changed the title. Last I heard, only one of us was dead. That was unexpected and tragic though because the guy was around, or under 40 when he died. We lost touch, latterly, but I lived next door ti him for years and we collected comics and things together. He was the one in the Batman suit. I think the others are still living.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I become older on the 28th of November.

It came and went, and I do feel older, but then I always did. I am still in my 40s. I am worried about becoming 50 one day, but then I worried about becoming 14, 16, 18, 21, 25, 30, 31, 35, 39, 40......................

Anyway, the genre of autobiography allows us exorcise some of these demons. I just put another story on my Webcomics Nation page. Here's a taster of page 1:

Monday, November 27, 2006


You know that every 7 years your body and your mind change to an incredible degree? Your entire persona, philosophy, your little personal moral manifesto for wading through this earthly mire changes too, and that's why you should revisit that favourite book, or movie, often, because although it remains the same, the changes in you will alter the way you view the text.

Anyway, as you might have gathered I'm looking through my back-catalogue of work, published and unpublished, as it can often throw up some rewarding ideas (I found one or two full-page, full-colour cartoons from some old Fiestas and Clubs that I'll put online one day). I also came across something more recent, 'Super Guys', that I'm reworking to put on my WebComics Nation page, Leper Town (Liberton, where I grew up).

I wanted to fix the lettering, but I have had to redraw the thing because I coloured the original colour pages - some are half-tone) immediately. I drew the thing about 10x8, for a 9x6 reduction, so it's almost same size. I also drew it on Watercolour paper, and then I just got carried away I suppose and I coloured it with Acrylic inks. Despite playing with the tones and running it through Adobe Streamline I couldn't strip the original drawings down to line, so I've had to redraw. However, I do think the drawing and the script is a little better, so I may be improving with age.

I hope you're picking up the message here; if you do want to colour the originals make a good quality hi-res copy of the line drawing first, or make a copy and colour that instead of the original.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Prospect came today.

My contributors copy of Prospect came today, and I've got it on ice. I look through magazines very quickly at the cartoons, then at the snippets and headlines and then at the letters page and then I put it away until the evening when I will read it from cover-to-cover. I've always done this, grazed first and then put the material away until later. This applies to comics, books, novels, comic books, cartoon collections, even the ones I have cartoon in. The illustrator/writer, Eddie Campbell, has spoken of almost entering a different space and time for reading comic books but with me I think it's a case of delayed gratification. If I delay the full act of reading as long as I can, I can always look forward to reading the thing. I have to delay it this way because the moment I've turned the last page it's as if all the joy is sucked out of me. I visibly deflate and almost go into a state of depression, unless I have more things to read, that is.

I've looked at all the cartoons and I found one or two very funny. I can't laugh at mine (above), because it's mine and the joy went out of it when I finished it. I enjoyed the cartoons by my friends and colleagues Mike Lynch and Srini Bhukya and one that I'm sure is by one of our old friends whom we haven't seen a lot of recently, Ralph Hagen, it's about lawyers discovering America. Very funny gag.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I just adore Ugly Betty

I heard that Channel 4 over here has picked up Ugly Betty to fill its old Friday night 'Friends' slot. This means they now understand you can't just put any old crap on at that time and 'they (the viewers) will come'.

Don't ask me how, but I'm on episode 6 of Ugly Betty, where Executive Producer (babelicious) Salma Hayek makes a real entrance, and it just keeps getting better and better. It's based on "Yo Soy Betty La Fea," the Colombian telenovela "Yo Soy Betty La Fea," but is very, very much like The Devil Wears Prada (very), but with more wit, humour and better cast.

Of course your hairdressing and fashionista community will love it, but even real two-fisted hero types like me just warm to America Ferrera's lovely smile. I think Betty reminds me a little of someone, but I can't say who.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I don't usually like 'ish'.

It's hard to avoid the odd 'ish' now and again. I think it's like 'etc' though, it's okay if it's written - though not in a formal essay or an article - but not used in speech. So I don't mind the odd 'etc' or 'ish' in speech, or on a blog, the register is usually pretty informal on a blog anyway.

So the period the teenage (remember I was about 6' 6" in my platforms and the hair colour makes the features look older) cartoons cover was around 72,73,74, so...73ish.

It would be fair to say I didn't like school, not that one anyway. I think at that time the State schools were staffed by vicious idiots with a deep hatred for human beings and little or no interest in education. I'm pretty sure you didn't need too many qualifications to teach in those days, because one of our teachers had a degree and we knew he had one and I'm sure others would have made it known they had similar qualifications.

I started Secondary at the age of 12 and left at the age of 17, and in that time 2 pupils went on to university and one of those was the daughter of a trendy left-wing professor. For some reason, meglomania springs to mind, the top three ranking teachers in our State-run Comprehensive school wore graduation gowns all the time. How funny is that?

I can now put B.A (English Studies), BA (Hons) and Dip H.E after my name, but that is entirely down to my own initiative and my adventures in further education. The State didn't even notice I could draw when I was at school so when I am invited to school reunions I refuse, but not politely.

Hi, I was in the Neighbourhood

Hi, I was in the Neighbourhood, fixing up the Cartoon Fiend blog (will fix Dave Blazek's pic's this week sometime), where I posted an interview with the ridiculously talented Tim Harries, and I thought I'd just drop in to say hello.

I will swing by again later to post another episode from my horrible late teen/Bowie-fan period, but in the meantime I thought I'd point you somewhere else, you see, while I was fixing the links on the Cartoon Fiend blog I remembered to add Chris Browne's updated blog info. I think there's a sort of magic about Chris's drawings. I can't explain it, really, you have to see for yourselves.

Chris Browne's Blog.

Chris Browne's Sketchbook.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My God, we were weird.

More of that embarrassing teen period:

I think I came to the conclusion I was a living Art Object at about the age of 15. I had my leg in plaster for months (football/soccer injury) and spent a lot of time thinking, and I think I became unhealthily aware of myself. You know, as if my attention was split between doing what I was doing, and watching others watching me doing it. This awareness of me was not coupled with any self-enlightenment, I was very shallow, and seemed only to serve to disrupt my studies. I'm afraid that going out, and being seen, and looking good, took precedence and my schoolwork suffered.

My partner in crime throughout this period was my cousin Allan, now a Social Worker, who went to the same school and then after we were streamed was in the same class as me. I think, looking back, our antics were a little tame, but we caused enough of a minor stir in our environment to keep us amused and interested.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Resurrection, of Mister Squeaky.

Of course when I grew up I knew that the Blue Peter dogs were dying and being replaced by dopplegangers. I also knew the same was true of Lassie. When I was young though, that would not have been a thought that would even have crossed my mind. What also didn't cross my mind then, but has plagued me ever since, is the thought that all my friends then, and later, mainly because they all lived next door to one another and I stayed a little way away, shared secrets that I wasn't allowed to know. It's like that feeling that there's a party going on somewhere and everyone you know is invited, but nobody told you a thing about it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Okay, now I'm starting to get worried.

You may not know this, but I was in a comic once. That is to say, I was still the real me, but there was also a comic book me. The comic book is called Albion, published by DC/Wildstorm, and I was in episode 3, of a series of 6:

Moore and Reppion

Anyway, it's a great series, featuring Robot Archie, Janus Stark, The Spider (I thought he was brilliant) and a host of old British comic book characters and, well, I think they're putting a book of the series together so if you missed it the first time round, and even if you didn't, here's a chance to get the entire thing in one gorgeous, eyegasmic, read.

So, here's the thing, I signed a standard 'image release' form for DC in relation to the comic, which made the whole thing seem even wierder because, well, it's not really me. It's a great drawing, don't get me wrong, but I'm a lot prettier than that (that's me, him, er, me, at the top, click it for a better view).

Or so I thought, until I started working on my latest project 'Johnny *******' (sorry it's a little hush, hush). I was sitting at my desk with Johnny's head (see below) in front of me and my daughter exclaimed 'My God, that same evil stare, it's like twins'. So this (see below) is apparently the dead spitting image of me. I have to tell you, I must be suffering from some kind of facial dismorphia because I just don't see the likeness; well, maybe apart from the 'evil stare'.

Happy Halloween

It's a little early, I know, but I had to do it, so there you go.

Halloween is slowly catching on over here. My kids have celebrated the thing with costumes and parties for years, sending me on annual trips to the bowels of Jenners of Princes Street to pick up skeletons and goblets and cat-shaped candles and other assorted goodies - my favourite was a tiny ghost that vibrated and played b-horror movie music. They've kind of grown out of it now, but still insist on Halloween cakes.

The Indy replies.

"Thanks Rod, I'll pass on your best wishes..."

Well, the Independent didn't take me at all seriously. That was a big mistake, there are one or two things, like the Orphan Act going on at the moment that are making me quite polarised about copyright matters. To say nothing of publications 'buying' my cartoons, giving me tight deadlines and follow ups to make sure the work is supplied on time and pefectly proportioned, and then using them and not seemingly making any effort to pay. I think the Indy is banking on the fact that they are a big fish in a small pond and that nobody from any other country will see the paper anyway. They seem to think that any art is public domain and up for grabs, provided someone slaps on a word balloon and signs the work. I'm sorry, I just don't buy it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Is This Blatent Copyright Infringement?

I read the Independent every day now. I find it more informative and entertaining than the Guardian. The artwork in the paper is shite, but the Gruniad is the same. What especially annoyed me about the Guardian was its habit of publishing no new comic strips or cartoon work, unless it was wrapped around a fawning 4-page review, or a 'scholarly' article about how comic books are now also for grown-ups - but not the grown-ups who read the Guardian, unless they are safely embedded in an article on comic books. How post modern. 'Sigh'. Well, the Independent now has one strike against it for its beautifully illustrated article on the work of Sempe. The Sempe drawings were like a little oasis in the graphic desert of the awful comic strip, the ill-thought out illustrations, and the obvious editorial cartoon in the Indy itself.

It was however, The Independent's weekly Media Section from Monday, October 23rd 2006 that really got my blood boiling. Guy Adams's (proper) Media Diary is the usual irrelevent waffle about the self-absorbed, but it led this time with a little puff piece about poofs, clevery using the word 'gay' in a number of ways (yuh huh). The theme was carried over to the illustration that accompanied the article which was by clearly one of Tom of Finland's iconic gay men drawings. Double Take: It's signed 'Castro'...Oh, word balloons...An Homage..?No, there's the signature 'Tom'. What the blazes is going on?

Well, here's the thing. This 'illustration' is by Michael Heath, the cartoonist and Cartoon Editor of the Spectator, or at least the 'funny' word balloons are. The drawing is actually by the word famous illustrator Touko Laaksonnen, who used the psuedonym, 'Tom of Finland' (May 8, 1920 – November 7, 1991) .

Now, I suppose I am as guilty as the next cartoonist of 'adapting' the work of others, whether consciously or unconsiously. But the 'cartoons' of 'Castro' have galled me for some time. Not just because 'Castro' must surely be the Cartoon Editor of the Spectator's favourite cartoonist (I counted 10 in one issue), but because I think Castro's method is at the very least an unfair use of other people's work.

As you would expect, I take the copyright of artwork very seriously, heck, I survive because of it. For that reason let me do something that the Independent couldn't do because the drawing it produced must have been a high-resolution (300d pi plus, in order to fit on its page):

My own use of this piece of artwork comes under the term 'fair use' in order to show an example of the work of this artist in this article. It is believed that the use of low-resolution images of works of art for critical commentary on the work in question, the artistic genre or technique of the work of art, or the school to which the artist belongs, qualifies as fair use under copyright law.

Of course I may be wrong. Despite there being no copyright information beside the drawing or the article, all the copyright observations may have been made, and 'Castro' may well have donated his fee to the Tom of Finland Corporation, for the preservation of Gay Erotic Art (sort of brings an ironic twist to an otherwise uninspired column, eh?).

Monday, October 23, 2006

Oh God, wait, something else...

I purloined this from Patricia Storm's site, Book Lust (must stop calling her Book Slut). It's the amended cover of the National Lampoon book (master cartoonist Sam Gross was the original editor, but Jay Naughton took over). Patricia's cartoons are, in my opinion, among the funniest ones in the collection:

Kissing Violet Marlowe

This is a true story. I'm pretty sure I was younger, but I may have been as old as 8 or 9. I seem to have been interested in girls from a very early age. Years later, I met the gypsy girl from my past again. We fought all the time.

Burn Out

Hi Tim Harries. I can't understand why there's no link to you here. I was likely waiting to put it on the Cartoonfeind site and of course I haven't put the newer stuff up on that yet. This is a quick note about why that is:

I think I burned out this year. We had a bit of a medical broo-haha which was a great strain, and then my wife, who is a teacher, was on her Summer break, and well, I kind of joined in. Honestly, I was off for so long I was beginning to feel like a politician - except that they get paid for doing bugger all.

I've only really started work again this month, October. But to be honest I think I needed the rest. As a result I am healthier, I think, but as fat as a horse and as poor as a church mouse. I won't be taking that sort of extended break again unless it is forced on me (or unless I become a politician). Circumstances! They do say 'if you want to make God laugh, make a plan'.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Creating History

You know, I've been working on a semi-autobiographical story for a while now, years actually, and it isn't really autobiographical - it just has bits of my experience creeping into it, which is inevitable. It's quite a large work and it features a lot of local history about Leith and Gilmerton, but I'm hoping it'll appeal to a broad readership. It has been through a number of incarnations, but it's finally starting to take shape.

Anyway, I noticed while I was working on it that I am not too happy about engaging with the period I spent my formative years growing up in, the era when I hit puberty, the 1970s. It's odd, the 50s are nicely retro, the 60s are always cool (bit selective memory there), the 70s though, the 70s were, I think, generally naff. Nobody appears to have existed in them, outside the Top of the Pops studio, or that appalling talking Tank-top show featuring Demi Moore's newest husband.

It certainly seems to be an era that most cartoonists want to forget, possibly because all the really cool cartoonists either swaned around Haight-Ashbury in the 60s, or got born in the 80s. I mean, I know nobody wants to admit voting for Thatcher in 1979, but before she came along the 70s were, well, interesting.

Like a lot of the people I grew up with, I changed practically overnight from one of the herd who wore the bovver boy fashion of the day; inspired by the movie version of A clockwork Orange (not having actually seen the movie made no difference), into one of David Bowie's legion of peacock-coloured fans. I think the Bowie thing scared my parents a lot more than the 'yobbo' faze. At any rate, I thought I'd knock off one or two comic pages about that period, even if they are a little embarrassing.

PS: My other theory is that most cartoonists were what we called 'spares', 'nerds' in todays parliance, and they would rather forget that part of their past.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Michelle Urry, RIP.

You know, there aren't many Cartoon Editors left. They were always thin on the ground in the UK and the Features Editor, who was obviously above such lowly things, usually handled the cartoons over here. I remember there was a good man at The Daily Express/Star, called Gerald Lip, but he was one of the few. The Punch cartoon Editor was, if memory serves, Geoffrey Dickinson and then Ken Taylor, and then goodness knows who else - there was quite a few of them. You know, I suspect the job has never been taken seriously over here, but then neither have cartoons.

The US has always treated its cartoonists better, and has always taken the job of Cartoon Editor, and indeed its cartoonists, much more seriously. Even today, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, The Saturday Evening Post, Readers Digest and other titles all have a dedicated Cartoon Editor. Playboy did too, and Michelle Urry was the Playboy Cartoon Editor, and boy was she good.

Michelle Urry liked cartoons and cartoonists. She seldom just stuffed a rejection slip into an envelope and seemed never too busy to write a quick personal note to cartoonists who took the trouble to submit cartoons to her. I have personal experience of her trying to talk 'Hef' into buying a cartoon she liked, but he wasn't keen on. She often went into bat for cartoonists and as a result she had a regular and loyal stable of contributors. And she was, in turn, loyal to them.

Michelle Urry acheived many things in her life, but she will be remembered by many of us a great Cartoon Editor, with a great eye for talent. She could speak with great authority on Jack (Plastic Man) Cole (a yardstick of cartooning knowledge if ever there was one) and helped launch Kliban's cats (still making millions every year in revenue). She launched and maintained many a cartoonists career in this every shrinking marketplace, pointing out that she bought $1,000,000 worth of cartoons every year for Playboy. Somehow I think she will be sadly missed, and she certainly won't be easily replaced.

The New York Times Obituary.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I'm a big Manga and Anime fan. The genre has come a long way since my youth and Gigantor and Marine boy. My current favourite, as both Anime and Manga, is Urasawa's Monster. It's not that new, but the Anime is blowing me away at the moment. The animation is outstanding. It's a horror/suspense/medical drama, and it is superb. Here's a sample Scanlation:

I'm also looking forward to New Line's live action movie of the series.

There are Torrents out there with the complete series, all 18 Chapters, and even translated Anime. We could learn much from the Scanlators (translated, scanned, often reworked so that the pages read left to right) about promotion. The work is made available online for download unless or until one of the main US publishers, Tokyopop, Viz, or Darkhorse options the work to publish it here.

Another favourite of mine, Drifting Classroom is a good example of how this works. The work built up a tremendous following online and was then pulled from the sites because Dark Horse is publishing it in the West. It's not that the work is given away for free online, it's more that the scanlations serve to publicize the work to a broader audience. At any rate, it seems to work.

National Lampoon's Favourite Cartoons of the 21st Century (Plug)

Hi Ciarin, nice to hear from you.

This cartoon was one of my Zingers, you know, the ones I thought would surely sell. Well it didn't, until National Lampoon came along and stuck it in their Favourite Cartoons of the 21st Century - available at Amazon and Play and all good bookstores from the 19th of October 2006. This perfectly formed little gag is also on the back cover of the tome; which is amazingly good value and full of cartoons, including lots by me.

Friday, October 13, 2006

This weekend for sure.

Thank Goodness for Blogger. I'm going to update both this and the Cartoon Fiend blog this coming weekend. My Online Cartoonist site is down and may not go back up, I don't know, I'm in two minds. I may sort out my Blueyonder Broadband space and make that my home. I think it's pretty big.

Be sure to look back in this weekend.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Works in Progress 3: The Bee-Man

The Bee Man is the most labour-intensive project I'm working on at the moment. I actually took a break from it to finish all the Eddie and the Banshee drawings. It's a solid 7 days-a-week project when I work on it. I should be finished in about 30 days, give or take:

Works in Progress 2: Eddie

Eddie and the Banshee is just about finished. I'm going to tighten up the story and finalise the layout and that'll be that; until the Ed's get their hands on it, of course:

Works in Progress 1: New Cartoons.

I've drawn about 50 new cartoons and some have already started to age, which is the problem with cartoons about transient contemporary phenomena.

Blogger Nightmare

What a 'mare Blogger can be at times. I've just spent a fruitless period trying to update my Cartoon Fiend blog, but Blogger keeps knocking back the graphics. I managed to upload some, but I had to resave the jpegs before they would go up (no idea why). I'll try again, and if it doesn't work I'll just host them again. It's a apain.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I mentioned you in Dispatches.

One of my favourite cartoons is an old Punch cartoon by Michael Ffolkes, a couple of soldiers, in the trenches, and one is saying to the other 'I mentioned you in dispatches - I told them you're an absolute rotter.'

My Cartoon Fiend blog got a mention on two of my favourite blogs this week, Drawn and Mike Lynch's cartoon blog. I was so busy trying to upload graphics to the Cartoon Fiend blog I hadn't done my usual rounds which are, Cartoonist Club of GB Q and A forum, Darrin Bell's Toontalk site, the (cough, cough) Wisenheimer, the Comics Journal forum, my email, and then Mike Lynch's blog, Drawn, and Book Lust and all their associated links (all of which keeps me online for about 16 straight hours).

So, anyway, I was sending some email and I happened to catch a glimpse of my site statistics for the Online Cartoonist site (which is still a work in progress), and hundreds, literally, of people had paid me a visit in one day, which is highly unusual. I had no idea what had gone on, until I found those blog entries, that is. Man, it helps to have friends in high places.

Anyway, I did manage to do the rounds today and Drawn has a brilliant piece on some newly discovered drawings from Winsor McCay’s first comic strip, Tales of the Jungle Imps, which the grandaddy of animation did in 1903. Hand-coloured stuff, no less. Sumpteous. And Mike Lynch has outdone even himself, this time, with some brilliant photos of the NY NCS bash from his beloved Overlook.

Violence, Mott the Hoople were wrong!

'Violence, it's the only thing that'll make you see sense'. Well, that was easy for big-haired Ian (a man with wringlets) to belt out at the time, I suppose - but it's getting to be a nightmare out there.

The 55 stabbings throughout Britain over the knife-amnesty weekend weren't highlighted because the figure was unusually high, the stabbings were highlighted because of the irony of the amnesty. There are around 55 stabbings in Britain every weekend.

Just the other night, in Edinburgh, a 33 year-old man was stabbed in the side when he passed a group of youths on Slateford Road. So, there's a fun night out for all concerned.

We now have a situation where it seems that every yobbish youth carries a knife as an 'offensive weapon'; which is leading normally law-abiding, non-yobbish youngsters to carry knives as 'defensive weapons'. Pretty soon everyone will be armed, just in case. I tell you, per capita, if we could carry guns in Britain, we'd have more murders than there are in Iraq; where the average life expectency is around the same age as it is in the Royston area of Edinburgh. And the knife-carrying youngsters are getting younger and younger, with more and more 11 to 13 year olds
carrying the things. Now where can they be getting the impression that violence is the way to solve all your problems?

Damn, but Blogger can be quirky

Well, I haven't slipped, it's just that Blogger can be a trifle duifficult at times. I spent hours try ing to get Dave (Loose Parts) Blazek's interview onto my Cartoon Fiend blog. I tried to upload graphics for two days, to no avail, and then decided to host them myself on my Online Cartoonist site. Anyway, Dave's interview is online now - and it's both informative, and funny.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Da Vinci Code, Poussin, and Arnold Wagner

I haven't read the book, and I won't be going to see the Da Vinci Code movie. It's mainly balderdash and besides, do you really think we Scots want you lot to know that the Holy Grail is buried in the fake wall at Roslin Chapel?

I have very few connections with Roslin, apart from the Robert the Bruce death mask inside the place. My ancestor, McKie, shot the Bruce standard of two crows killed with a single arrow. It's a cute little place, but basing the company that made Dolly the Sheep a stone's throw from the Chapel that boasts the DNA-Helix inspired Apprentice Pillar seems a little, well, stage-managed. Don'tcha think? And isn't it odd that The Queen's bodyguard, at a time of tensions with some Middle Eastern factions, should be a member of the St Clair family, owners of Roslin Chapel?

Anyway, I digress, when I was younger (a long time ago) I read The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and it had the same imaginitive leaps in the narritive as the Da Vinci Code. I was interested in Rennes Le Chateau, not least because a relative has a house in Rennes, but because that really was an interesting little tale, but 'Et in Arcadia Ego', the painting by Poussin was the thing that most caught my eye because I like that strange painting. I mean, a Sheperdess standing beside two men in Masonic poses pointing to the inscription 'I too am in Paradise' - what is that all about?

So, anyway, Celts, and things mystically Celtic, and my chum, cartoonist Arnold Wagner, author of The Idiots Guide to Cartooning. Where does it all tie-in? Well, Arnold told me a while back he was reading up on the Celts, and I just wondered if he had any room inside that head of his for any more knowledge. If you want to know anything about cartoonists, about cartooning, about pens, about nibs, about just about anything in this business you can ask Arnold and if he isn't too busy, and even often when he is, he'll tell you what he knows. He is a mine of information, and tremendously good-hearted about sharing it with you.

So anyway, Arnold's ill at the moment. Despite this he managed to pop round the boards he frequents and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he even updated his blog (he's that kind of guy). Why, he even apologised to me for not getting round to doing his Cartoonfiend interview on account of - his being ill at the moment. I tell you, they made human beings from better stuff in those days.

I'm about as sure as I can be that this is just another little test that Arnold will come through with flying colours, and just to help him on his way I'm sending modern-day digital prayers and good wishes, and ancient Celtic mystical fluences all the way to the US to wish Arnold a speedy recovery. You know, the www is already a lot duller while he's offline.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Time to Vent

I haven't really had a good rant for a while, so I've stored up one or two little niggles. I'm pissed on behalf of the English at the moment, and their hose-pipe bans. The Blair government privatized the water companies and then did nothing when property-developers were allowed to buy reservoirs which has gone on to cause...yes, a water-shortage, in one of the most miserable rain-soaked little islands on the planet.

Looking after the shareholders first, of course, puts added pressure on the profits and the half-wits haven't reinvested in the basic infrastructure so the tatty old pipes loose hundreds of gallons of water a day - so they impose a hose-pipe ban, whilst continuing to charge the same water rates. Man, this is a great country in which to be utterly incompetent, lob a big FU at the people who pay your wages, and still make a chunk of dough.

My other big bug-bear is those bastard loan companies who try to screw the gullible and the poor into signing away their own, and possibly their children's, future. Day-in- day-out they try to sucker people with unsecured debt into consolidating their loans by putting up their houses as security. I've started muting the TV when those ads come on, for fear of putting my head through the screen.

Don't think I'm not as annoyed as hell about the worsening situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, or this Mexican border business, because I am, but I'm trying to remain calm in order to get some work finished. My one glimmer of hope for international affairs is that it is now just as difficult to find anyone who voted for Blair or Bush, as it was to find anyone who voted for Thatcher, and in a few short months her own people kicked her the hell out.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Spectator Cartoons get worse.

Let me make my position clear on this; I know exactly where I fit into the cartoon firmament. I get paid $800 a cartoon, but often work for less, especially in my home country. I've got work in collections and museums. I have nothing left to prove. I have no need to work for the Spectator, and have nothing to gain from criticising their cartoons - but I'm going to do it anyway.

Mike Heath is the Cartoon Editor of the Spectator, so he ultimately must take the blame for the risible crap they publish, but the cartoonists themselves are actually producing the crap and cashing the cheques - so they aren't blameless. Here's a link to the cartoons: Spectacularly unfunny stuff.

Clearly, there's a problem, or two. Well, they don't pay well - that's a given. But I think there's another problem, and that is the closeness of the Cartoon Editor to the crowd at another direly unfunny publication; Private Eye. The majority of the Eye cartoonists stopped being funny years ago, around about the time most of them hit retirement age, and yet they are nodding to indicate they wish to 'stay on'. And all the same unfunny-cartoonists' names crop up with depressing regularity in the Spectator. The effect of this is similar to the problems the British sit-com experienced when Terry and June was given air-time, namely, that aspiring youngsters mimicked what was already being bought. So not only is the Spectator stuffed with crap old cartoons, but it's also attracting crap new cartoons as the 'beginning' cartoonists out there copy both the look, and the parochial humour of the publication.

Here's the sort of cartoon you won't find in the Spectator, that is until one of their favourite 'cartoonists' produces a variation of it:

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Defrag My Puny Brain.

My God! I forgot my password to this blog all day yesterday. I keep all my passwords in my head. For some reason they store in that normally safe area I reserve for literary quotes and allusions 'She was an outstanding light heavyweight with a commanding eye and a square-jaw' (Mulliner Nights, P.G. Wodehouse). But it vanished completely. I was flumuxed.

I am doing quite a bit extra these days, but it can't be work-related. The Cartoon Fiend blog (brilliant interview from Brian Fies, author of Mom's Cancer) isn't really work, it's fun, and although I'm faffing about with Java to turm my Mezzotint adaptation into an actual online book (literally), I didn't write the code, I'm just tweaking the easy to manipulate bits.

So I reckon all the information is just becoming a little more jumbled-up in the old noggin, so I need to defrag it. I'm going to write down everything I know (it'll take hours) and see if that helps compartmentalise everything back into place. Lord knows I'll be forgetting my own name next.


Aubrey Bottinghole III.

Here are a few static Mezzotint pages for you Ludites:

(You know the drill, click to see larger pics)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cartoon Fiend updated!

I've been busy on the Cartoon Fiend blog, where I've added interviews with Peter (Apocalypse Nerd, Hate) Bagge, Rick (Baby Blues) Kirkman, and veteran gag cartoonist Dave Parker.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Cult of Bod!

Man, that Ian Ellery just blew my mind. He stuck a finger up my nasal-cavity reached in and swirled my brain around, like a swizzle-stick agitating the ice in a huge glass full of something like Martini with ice, metaphorically, of course, when he brought up Bod on the UK Cartoonists Forum.

You know, when I was younger, kids TV was pretty trippy. I mean, you think the Teletubbies is trippy? Come of it, they had really weird stuff, back in the day. Now Bod, Bod was weird by any standard, and seeing it now, it seems even weirder. I mean, I'm asking myself just how big an influence on modern culture Bod was. Was Sacha Baron-Cohen (Ali-G) a Bod fan? It sure looks like it.

And then there's Moby, and comedian Harry Hill, there's no way that they 'accidentally' look like Bod, if you ask me, there's some kind of universal media-type Bod cult going on out there.

Feel there is something missing in your life? Join The Cult of Bod - IF YOU DARE!

The Cartoon Fiend!

Okay, here's what happened. I know a lot of cartoonists, and I'm a real cartoon fan - what you might call a geek (for cartoons). I have always been obsessed with cartoons and comics, which is why I became a cartoonist. Anyway, I thought it might be a good idea to start a blog that contained nothing but interviews with cartoonists, so The Cartoon Fiend blog was born, but, and here's the interesting part, they would all answer the same questions.

Anyway, it's turning out pretty well, apart from the anonimity that is. I was being a little bit coy about my identity, playing the Fiend if you will, but I filled in a blogroll thing which gave me a search engine on the site and has something to do with site-watching and feeding and things. And right there beside the 'search button' is a 'profile' link, and I click it and lo-and-behold the the site announces who I am. So, what can you do? I am the Cartoon Fiend - there, I said it.

Rod McKie, aka The Cartoon Fiend, at work.

So far, the Fiend, sorry, I, have posted interviews with Chris Browne, the cartoonist behind Hagar the Horrible and Raising Duncan, Sandra Bell-Lundy, who draws Between Friends, prolific magazine cartoonist Randy Glasbergen, who also draws The Better Half, multi-talented cartoonist and designer, Stephanie Piro, who also works on Six Chix, the prolific, and hugely talented book illustrator Christine Tripp, and enormously funny UK-based magazine cartoonist Kevin "KES" Smith. I'm adding more interviews daily. Including one from the shy, reserved, and seldom controversial (Malcolm) McGookin.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Awards Ceremonies

As a British cartoonist I've always Admired the NCS of America's Reubens Awards Ceremony. It's a real black tie affair, which I appreciate, and then there's parties and dancing (because ladies go to the thing) and Kareoke, and even lolling around in and around a pool afterwards. I tend to contrast it with my dim-memories of the British event. Which I remember as being almost entirely male-affairs, and always in London, during the rain. Of course my memory might be coloured, yellow, because the last time I was there I returned with Jaundice.

Here's the Hogan's Alley photo collection from the Reubens 2004 weekend, and the Reubens 2005.

Anyway, this year I know a few of the people up for the US awards, and I'd like to wish PAT BYRNES, GLENN McCOY, DAN COLLINS, GARY McCOY, TOM RICHMOND, and MARK PARISI well for achieving the great success of being nominated for these awards. Whoever wins, it will be well deserved.

My chum, Dan Collins, who of course is always introduced as 'Hustler Cartoonist Dan Collins' is one of the cartoonists up for the Greetings Cards awards. I try not to refer to him as 'Hustler Cartoonist Dan Collins' because although he is one of Hustler's best, and sharpest cartoonist, that moniker plays down the other facets of his cartooning personality. In addition to working for Hustler, Dan is also an editorial cartoonist, an illustrator, and has a new book coming out soon through Fantagraphics. Dan is also one of America's leading Greetings Card artists. I've likened him to Britain's great Greetings Card artist, Donald McGill, I genuinely think he is that good.

There is, of course, another massive cartooning awards ceremony in the US, The Eisners (I was a huge Will Eisner fan and I still collect The Spirit comics and books), which I'm pleased to say has a Web Comic category. Here's a list of last year's Eisner winners. I think that the excellent Copper, is just about my favourite web comic these days. For a while it was Bee Comix, which I still really, really, like. But the standard is so high these days that we really are spoiled for choice. Here's a selection of some of, in my opinion, the best web comics out there:

The superlative Copper
The groundbreaking Supernatural Law
Ssh, Secret Friends
The massively talented Hope Larson
Dicebox, brilliant
Love Bee
Girl Genius, well, genius
Huge talent, Roger Langridge's Hotel Fred

The excellent Little Dee by Chris Baldwin

Adam Reed's superb Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life
The Perry Bible Fellowship Archive.
Fantastic comics from Raina Telgemeier.

Jason Thomson's marvelous, The Stiff
Just super, Templar, Arizona, by Spike
Astronaut Elementary and other wonderful comics, by Dave Roman
Scott Kurtz's phenomenally popular, PVP

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Little Cenobites mini comic

I'm still waiting for Shoitcrock to get here, but that's hardly surprising as it's parcel post, which takes forever. I've put the mini comic Kim, Dominique and I did, together as an Adobe Acrobat file, which you can download here. Either right-click and 'save target as' into your 'My Documents" folder, on IE, or click and Acrobat will open it online and you can save it. On Firefox you can click it open with Acrobat, or right click 'save link as' and it'll save the file to disc.

Little Cenobites (feat' Little Pinny) and Other Tales, mini-comic.

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine

My goodness me. Talking about smoking cartoons, I drew a cartoon about anti-smoking regulations in 2004, it was about New York and it featured a 'Smoke Easy'. Well, I sold the cartoon to my favourite crime-fiction magazine Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, but it's a bi-monthly publication and it takes a while for cartoons to appear, and today my copies arrived. It's next month's issue, June 2006, so I won't put the cover up as a spoiler, but I'll put a copy of the cartoon here, shortly:

Monday, April 03, 2006

Thank you Stephanie.

My friend, cartoonist Stephanie Piro, sent my daughter Dominique a surprise package today containing one of Stephanie's brilliant tees. That's right, in addition to drawing the syndicated stripSix Chix, and Fair Game, and cartoons for the book Love Me or Go To Hell : True Love Cartoons, multi-talented Stephanie also makes badges and strikingly original t-shirts.

For the first time in weeks my daughter has a smile on her face and a spring in her shuffle.

A quote from Stephanie.
About Six Chix.

Hey Matt

Matt, I sent that one out a month or so ago. Maybe Phoenix used it, I'm not sure. I didn't know people could post. Hope you're well.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Chatter

You might spot a current theme (well themes) on a couple of the cartooning blogs I link to. It's old TV shows and dolls, er, action figures. That jammy so-and-so Mark Anderson has gone and picked up a bug-catcher Spiderman doll, er, action figure, and I want one. Mike Lynch, meanwhile is listing some great old TV shows (my favourites were My Favourite Martian, Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, etc,etc) and Rick (Baby Blues) Kirkman mentioned Captain Scarlet. Well, it just so happens that I have my Captain Scarlet doll, er, action figure, right here beside me as I'm drawing. Yes, I've given up the helper monkey and Captain Scarlet now picks the pens for me. Today he chose a Rapidograph Ko-i-Noor: