Thursday, 29 October 2009

Win things, again

Double good news today- I have tomorrow off work (although it is only so I can pay a mechanic to prod about at my car), so my weekend starts here! And, I also I found out that once again Reader's Digest magazine has used one of my cartoons for this month's Beat the Cartoonist competition.

To repeat what I said last month: What you do is think of a caption for the cartoon below- the three best get posted online, along with my original one- it's all anonymous so you don't know which is mine- then people vote for their favourite. If yours is the caption chosen you win stuff- it's all explained a bit better at their website.

This is now the third time they've used one of my cartoons- it's quite an honour, but now my self-critical side is thinking that they think my captions are rubbish. Anyway- it's also an excuse to show this cartoon that they used for the comp a few months back.

In this case my original caption (which the readers didn't choose as the best) was, "That's Quasimodo's penthouse apartment- he made a fortune selling ringtones. "

The winning caption was, "I said they would have trouble if they appointed a woman bishop."

Sunday, 25 October 2009

I really ought to be less intolerant

I have realised there is one thing I dislike more than dogs when I’m out cycling- and that's other cyclists. Not all of them, just those who dress up in Day-Glo Lycra outfits, and zip around en masse on their racing bikes. Here I am, pootling around Windsor Great Park of a Sunday morning, enjoying nature’s Autumn spectacle- when a pack of them whizz past, shouting to each other about ‘hydration’ and ‘optimum heart rates’.

You are not part of the Tour de France peloton, somewhere in the Pyrenees. And why are your outfits plastered in sponsor’s logos? Are you really being paid by IBM, Kellogg’s et al to wobble about on your 1cm thick tyres, with your face set in that steely jawed look you copied from the Gillette ‘the best a man can get’ advert you saw last night? In your head you’re Lance Armstrong, aren’t you? It’s not that much removed from running about with your arms outstretched, shouting, “look at me mummy, I‘m an aeroplane-vroom!!”

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Workin' nine to five (thirty)...

Well, 2 weeks back into the world of 9 to 5.30 office gubbins, and I'm just about managing to keep this blog going. I will admit to there not being a lot of new stuff to write about, but I'm hoping once I’m back into a groove the cartoons will start to flow again. I'd forgotten how little spare time there is in the evening after the commute home, the 40 minute bike ride for exercise (anti-paunch measure), and then cooking me tea.

Thing is though, with this postal strike, I think I'd be panicking about cartoons getting lost in the post if it was still my only source of income- yep, despite living in the digital age, a lot of mags still require bits of paper sent in by post, rather than email.

So- I shall not panic too much about this temporary glitch in cartoon production and shall end on a positive note- I was really pleased to find out that Private Eye has used 4 of my cartoons in the new 'Private Eye Annual 2009'- a collection of some of the best bits of the magazine from the past year, it’s available in all good bookshops! I started signing copies in Waterstones the other day, until I was kicked out by the staff and accused of criminal damage. Don't these people know who I am?!

Here are a couple of the cartoons they chose (hope the copyright watermarks don't get in the way too much- I’m still undecided if I should bother with using them- is anyone really going to nick them??).

(I like cats, but I must admit they're born killers)

(This one is dedicated to my friends who have recently become parents- you know this time will come one day... )

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Len Cartoons goes global

Is honesty the best policy if you find some money appearing seemingly out of nowhere? Well- it is when it's paid into your bank account, and therefore could be traced by Mr Taxman. This happened to me recently, and sadly it wasn't a 6 figure sum from a numbered bank account in Switzerland.

Instead I found that The Spectator had paid me for a single gag cartoon when I wasn't expecting it. I assumed I had made a mistake in my super efficient accounting system (bits of paper in a tin), and therefore accepted it was genuine- But then I got their invoice showing payment for 'cartoon in July's issue'.

Now- I knew I hadn't had anything in that what do I do? Am I being paid instead of someone else by mistake? Am I taking hard earned cash from a fellow cartoonist? Do I keep quiet? Can I live with myself for being so dishonest? Mua ha ha! look at this collection of tenners! Mine! all mine! And I did nothing to get it! It's just like when I 'worked' at the council. Anyway- I rang the mag’s accounts department to check, cos I'm honest, like- (oh, and the taxman and his henchmen scare me).

They told me the payment was in fact genuine, and was for the following cartoon that I sent off back in 2008, and had given up as being lost-it had finally found a home and had been published in the Australian version of The Spectator. Len cartoons goes global. Woo hoo!

It’s another example of when I was using Rotring technical pens to draw- bit of a mish-mash of style, I think. The idea came about from bitter experience- I like cycling, but I’m none too keen on angry dogs that don’t like bikes.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Izzy wizzy let's get busy

Rainy day spent indoors today, and for no great reason other than I didn't feel like drawing jokes (OK-I can't think of any at the moment), I've had another go at drawing caricatures- this one is meant to be telly wizard Derren Brown- I don't think he really predicted the lottery result the other week- do you?

A modern day hybrid of Catweazle and Paul Daniels (ask your parents, kids), Derren Brown is also a very talented artist and caricaturist- much better than me..grr! I won't post any examples of his work here in case of copyright infringement- and also they'd show up my efforts.
I'm most envious of Derren's mentalist skills- I've dabbled with studying the techniques he uses, and even attended a course on hypnotherapy. I gave up after accepting I wasn't very good at it. It's probably best I left the hypnotherapy path- I can picture myself listening to a client telling me their fears and phobias, and all I’d be thinking is 'that'll make a great cartoon'.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Guilt trip

I feel a bit guilty about this latest cartoon (which will mean nothing to those without access to British TV)- It's in the current Spectator and pokes fun at celeb royalty, Stephen Fry. The thing is though, despite the sentiment behind the gag, I do actually like the stuff he does. It's just that the joke seemed so obvious that my devilish side took over.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

12 months later

Over the past year I've become really well acquainted with the view of my back garden- the reason for this being that I became a full time freelance cartoonist working from home. I left the cosy world of IT Support in October 2008 (jump or pushed? probably a bit of both) and picked up the gauntlet of self-employment.

It's been an interesting experience. Earning money entirely through your own efforts is so much more thrilling than getting the salary of a cog in a wheel- the downside being the erratic and unpredictable nature of making sales. And as for working from home...yes, you do get to have an easy commute, and you can choose your own hours- but I also now know how a polar bear in a cage must feel as he sways back n forth in the madness of captivity.

So, after 12 months of watching next door’s cat fighting with the local fox, I’m heading back into corporate land to look after computers, and will once again bully people about the size of their email inbox, and be uttering the words 'try turning it off and on again'. I’ll be carrying on with cartooning though- and hopefully I'll get inspiration from the people I work with- such as this (old) cartoon that Reader's Digest used, which was inspired by my ex-colleagues (hello chaps!) and their sadly predictable geek world of goblins and wizards.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Rejection selection again

I think I've touched on this before, but as a kid I was never into comic books, such as Tintin, Asterix etc. I would read the odd weekly comic such as 'Buster', or nick my brother's copy of 2000AD, but as for books I preferred them to be the kind without pictures. There was however an exception to this rule- any adventure book that contained maps and charts (preferably with handwritten annotations and dotted lines showing perilous routes) was a winner as far as I was concerned.

This brings me to this latest cartoon (a rejected one, sadly) based on my favourite series of books from my childhood.

No wonder it was rejected- look at the length of that caption! Also, it relies on people knowing the Swallows and Amazons series of books, and one line in particular.

I'm not going to explain it if you don't already know- buy the book, and transport yourself back to an age of innocence and freedom now sadly lost forever.