Monday, November 13, 2017

A New Sleepy Hamlet Short Story---OUT NOW!

Well the post header just about says it all.

Yes I have produced a new Sleepy Hamlet short story and I've just started letting people know of its existence.

You can go to its Amazon page by clicking on the image on your left or by doing the same on the My Store tab.

Sleepy Hamlet-Invasive Action

When Mrs Markle, the village post mistress and head puritan, discovers an invasive patch of Himalayan Balsam Weed growing on the banks of the River Brimsmal---right on the edge of the grounds belonging to the country seat of Lord and Lady Hamlet---she enrols the massed ranks of the village idiot elite along with the extremely easily led Lord Hamlet, to join her in its removal.

But when Mrs Heppleheimer---an octogenarian Bavarian barm-pot who is the scourge of the village and its surrounding areas---brings along her Himalayan Balsam Weed Eradicator, or 14lb Mountain Howitzer Cannon as everyone else calls it, all hell breaks loose. This crazy old lady blasts trees, plants, shrubs, bushes and at least three quarters of a newly arrived party of spawning salmon out of the water.

Add to this a villager led rush on cotton wool, the belief that the village is under attack by aliens and a village hall meeting that turns into a battle ground between the Lord of creation and the Norse gods, and you have just another typical 24 hours in the life and times of the Villagers of Sleepy Hamlet.

So now that I've told you a little bit about the tale---whetted your appetite, so to speak--- all that's left for you to do is, read the taster sample below then hop on over to Amazon, form an orderly queue, hand over your 99p and disappear into the eccentric world of my mind and the Village of Sleepy Hamlet.

Enjoy, my friends.

 Invasive Action


Mrs Markle, the village post mistress, stomped heavily down the street that ran through the village of Sleepy Hamlet. She cornered violently and turned into her post office causing the little bell to spasm with shock.
“SOMETHING JUST HAS TO BE DONE!” she shouted to Miss Vera, her frightened little field mouse of an assistant. “This simply cannot be allowed to continue; the very existence of the countryside is threatened and from a foreigner. A foreigner, I tell you, and the very worst kind of foreigner ---an invasive foreigner!” She stood, stock still like a frizzy haired Mussolini, hands on hips in the middle of the fruit preserves section with her herculean bosoms quivering like two very angry jellies.
As usual, Mrs Markle had spotted something on her afternoon walk that had offended her to the very core of her being; not a difficult thing to do when you had a fuse as short as Mrs Markle’s and were a puritan, and as such felt it your moral duty to become agitated at least four times a day.
“Well, aren’t you going to ask me what I’m so fired up about?”
Miss Vera didn’t want to ask. She knew that it would lead to an out pouring of futile anger and frustration on behalf of her employer. She knew that if she asked ‘what was the matter’ Mrs Markle would stomp around the store, shouting so loud the shops’ mullioned windows would vibrate, her ears would ring and her nerve endings would jangle. But she also knew that to deny Mrs Markle her valve releasing moment of fury was tantamount to mutiny. So she gulped the gulp of the nervously dispositioned and enquired:
“What is upsetting you, Mrs Markle?”
The sudden outburst sent Miss Vera crashing into a display of Arran Island Knitting Patterns, causing them to scatter.
Mrs Markle ignored her shrew like assistant as she scrambled around, picking up the slippery plastic pattern cases, while attempting to re assemble the stack. Instead Mrs Markle stomped and stamped her way around the shop, snorting like a bull at her inner turmoil.
“HAVE YOU ANY IDEA HOW INVASIVE HIMALAYAN BALSAM IS?” Miss Vera shrugged her shoulders and gave Mrs Markle a weak smile before continuing with her re construction duties.
“DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT HIMALAYAN BALSAM IS, MISS VERA?!” Once again, the timid shop assistant shrugged her shoulders in the universal expression of ignorance.
And with a petulant huff worthy of an over pampered pop star, Mrs Markle stormed off to the back of her village store
Miss Vera, who had tightened her eyes against the tirade, slowly began to open them. Gingerly, she opened the right, then the left. She began to slowly scan the room; all appeared to be quiet on the western front. She looked again---just to be sure---and having satisfied herself that everything was as it should be, she turned her attention to where her employer had been standing but a scant few seconds ago.  But Mrs Markle was no longer there.
She began to scan the shop again, just in case this unlikely vessel for fun and frivolity had decided to hide in the shop with the express intention of leaping out upon the unprepared Miss Vera with blow ticklers a-plenty and party hats set upon her ginger frizziness--- at a rakish angle, of course--- and then fill the previously leaden atmosphere of the village stores and post office with a hearty ‘Hey-Ho!’ an ‘Avast ye swabs’ and positively oodles of joie de vivre. But it was only when she heard the familiar noises of the little hand printer being pumped into action that she raised her eyes heaven wards and sighed.

Mrs Markle had inherited a small hand printing press from her grandfather who had run a successful print business and Village Newspaper many years ago out of what was now the village stores. Mrs Markle lovingly looked after the antique Adana print press and made great use of it for her many leafleting campaigns on behalf of the damned and gossipy souls of her fellow villagers.
Miss Vera put the last few knitting patterns away and followed the ‘chugga-kachugga-kachuga-kachuga’ noises into the back room. When she peered around the door frame Mrs Markle was violently pumping the printer and churning out a hastily prepared leaflet. One of them came out at such a velocity that it cleared the collection tray and flew towards Miss Vera before halting mid air and dropping to a soft landing where it slid along the sparkling storeroom floor to a halt at the sensible shoes of Miss Vera. She picked it up and read.


Free cup of tea and individual
Cherry Bakewell on entry
8 til late

Miss Vera would have liked to tell her employer that the leaflet was a bit over the top and that the language used was a tad emotive. But before she could pluck up the courage to put voice to these concerns, she was being brushed aside by Mrs Markle who had grabbed the freshly printed bundle of flyers and was heading towards the door.
“Mind the shop for me will you, Miss Vera, I’m off to distribute these around the village” and before she could raise a finger of enquiry, the door had been opened, slammed shut again and the booted feet of Mrs Markle were disappearing into the village.
Miss Vera looked at the leaflet again. ‘Oh my’ she thought ‘I just know this isn’t going to end well’

The afternoon rolled on and the villagers began to file into the store in ever larger numbers to discover more about the invasion force that was being unleashed against them. Mrs Markle held court but stayed tight lipped, insisting that yes, they really were under attack and yes she would explain all later and yes there really was going to be Cherry Bakewell’s (the official pudding of Sleepy Hamlet) with their cup of tea and no, Mr Barton couldn’t have an extra one for his wife who would’ve loved to come but was too busy grouting the bathroom walls. She even managed to keep the terrifyingly Germanic Mrs Heppleheimer at bay, who’d turned up prepared for war--- resplendent in her World War 1 helmet topped off with the spike--- and her steel toe-capped fluffy slippers. But to each and every one of them Mrs Markle remained resolute in her tight lippedness, insisting that they all wait until that night to hear all the facts.

If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box, assuring that you'll never miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Sometimes you just have to let go. And this week I learned all about that.

I have been planning for the new year, cartoon and publishing wise, and had what I thought was the whole package sown up. How wrong I was.

I have been drawing, redrawing, writing, drafting and formatting Pixy Wood in one shape or form for over thirty years. I have tried it as a comic strip, a single panel feature, greeting cards, children's books and most recently a webcomic.

But every time some new wall just plonks itself unceremoniously in front of me with out any warning and says
'Hey, I'm a wall and there ain't no getting around me.'
The final straw was when I announced on Facelessbook that I was about to launch the strip in the new year---with what I thought was a bit of forward marketing--- but someone hot footed it over to GoDaddy and registered as a way of ripping my dreams to shreds.

How do I know they did this? Simple. The day before I marketed it, it wasn't taken and when I went to find out what the new site was I was re-directed to GoDaddy where they informed me that an unnamed broker had just purchased it but was
willing to sell me the name for around £1,000.00.

Way to go GoDaddy.

So I am giving formal notice that as of today I will be quitting my attempts at a Pixy Wood webcomic. I have other plans for it instead and will, of course keep you all informed. Just not on Facelessbook, where a greedy broker can cash in on my creativity again.

But that aside, here's the three pages I had completed before the broker put his capitalistic brick wall in front of me.

If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box, assuring that you'll never miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Cartoonist & Writers Diary IV

Once again we delve into my odd world and even weirder thoughts. Today we talk natural laxatives, nuisance phone calls and mine and Stefka's trip to Bulgaria.

Nuisance phone calls, we all get them, we all hate them.
They hound us over energy bills, new phones, insuring our devices or telling us our computer has a virus. But today one called for Stefka. She didn’t want to speak to them and I was feeling a bit devilish, so I took the call.
Below is a transcript of our conversation…and this time it is all correct.
Caller: Hello, is that Mr Stefka?
Me: Who?
Caller: Mr Stefka, er or is that Kondova?
Me: I don’t know. Who do you want?
Caller: Mr Kondova?
Me: No.
Pause to allow the poor dear to collect her thoughts…..
Caller: Hello sir, I am calling from Spot Energy…
Me: Who?
Caller: Spot. Spot Energy
Me: Spot as in a stain or spot as in a skin blemish?
Caller: Er…we supply gas and electricity
Me: Oh right. Sorry. Carry on.
Caller: According to our records you are with British Gas for you electricity, is that right?
Me: No.
Caller: Oh, you aren’t with British Gas?
Me: No, we’re with Bulgarian Gas
Caller Bulgarian Gas?
Me: Yes, they’re brilliant. They give you towels when you sign up
Caller: Towels.
Me: Yes. Big fluffy ones with ‘Buy Bulgarian and let us light up your life’ written on them, and they have the cutest little lightbulb and flame characters. We signed up for three years and got an extra ten towels as a thank you.
Longer pause. More regrouping:
Caller Okay, well what do you look for in your electricity supply?
Me: Oh well, let me see. Light. I look for good light, and switches; they’re also important. Ooo, oo! And I like sockets as I have an awful lot of plugs and they need places to go. Some days I can just spend the whole afternoon putting plugs in sockets. Oh and towels, we look for good quality towels, like the ones from Bulgarian Gas.
Pause again and the sound of a pill bottle being opened and a few being hastily swallowed…she pushed on:
Caller: Are you the bill payer?
Me: No
Caller: Who is?
Me: Stefka
Caller: Who is Stefka
Me: The bill payer.
Caller: And is she happy with what you pay?
Me: Reasonably
Caller: How much do you pay?
Me: 400 Sheckles a month, two Yaks and a chicken…the exchange rate is really very good.
Caller: I wonder if I could talk to Stefka?
Me: No she’s a little busy at the moment.
Caller: What’s she doing?
Me: Washing the towels then she has to go out and catch three chickens
Caller: Three chickens? Why three Chickens?
Me: Because we pay our bills quarterly.
Caller: Thank you for your time and I hope you have a nice day.
Then she was gone. Bless her she was professional thorough. If it wasn’t for the fact that we’re very happy with Bulgarian Gas I think I’d swap to Spot Energy.


I haven't watched TV for a very long time. So when I finally did give it a cursory glance the other day, I was amazed at how many adverts pampered to our various bodily functions; most notably those for laxatives.
I counted at least four separate products who's sole aim, so it would seem, was to seek out and destroy that tricky and recalcitrant little eggs Benedict you had last Thursday week, which is now claiming squatters rights in your lower bowel system .
I kept on thinking: 'That's an awful lot of unnecessary chemicals you are pumping in, just to get something out'.
I have always believed that natural remedies are the best, and in the case of constipation oats, bran and brown bread work well, or if you want an instant fix and total flushing of the system, an unexpected letter from the tax office is, I am reliably informed, amazingly effective.


Meanwhile, over in Bulgaria...

I wanted to go downstairs to order a beer from the bar at the Bulgarian hotel we are staying at, so naturally I asked Stefka how to ask for one.
'Moje li edna bira molia' she trotted out with the confidence of a native. Armed with this essential piece of bulgarian linguistics I set off down stairs, repeating the phrase, mantra like, in my head. 'Moje li edna bira molia, I said: moje li edna bira molia I repeated.
Twenty minutes later, and having made the acquaintance of many and varied happy members of staff who all wanted to know how my stay was going, I arrived at the bar, but now no longer fully confident I had remembered Stef's sentence word for word, but I trotted out what I thought was right anyway.
Ten minutes later I came back up stairs with a very confused look on my face, a third share in the hotel, a years worth of chickens and some kind of contract promising me the hand in marriage of his third favourite daughter...
And I still didn't get a beer.


Whilst stopping for lunch today Stefka said I should have a beer with my meal. When I asked why, she said that up until now I had done all the driving and now it was her turn to give me a rest.
I ordered six beers quickly. When she asked why I said that this was not an experience I wanted to face sober. She, with her usual Bulgarian confidence, flagged my concerns off with a swarthy hand and said it would be good for me to see how a real Bulgarian drove. My only thoughts after that were 'could I fit in another five beers before lift off?'
I could, is the simple answer, but it wasn't going to help was the longer one.
We set off down a windingly treacherous mountain road with adrenaline junkie drops on all sides. My spirits, along with my nerves, were in tatters. But Stef drove on with a confidence I did not lersonally feel, and my fears were suddenly founded when on a particularly tricky set of bends a Bulgarian arm appeared suddenly in front of me.
Stefka announced she was hot and wanted to take her coat off. I suggested---In a voice that was probably a little too high for a non soprano---that she waited to find a lay by; she immediately ignored that as non Bulgarian, and in a few frantic moments of arm flapping, body popping, horn tooting, realigning of the car seat, side mirrors and radio channel's, the jacket was off and in the back of the car and I was a nervous wreck.
'See,' she said 'where was problem in that?'
'None for' us, I replied 'but as for those four cars you nearly hit, the two coaches that are now in ditches and the five lorries taking the fast trip to the promised land, I cannot possibly say''.
You would think that would be enough for one journey, but oh no, Stef was just getting warmed up.
A while later, we were driving calmly along the middle of the road at slightly below the speed of light, when we came up behind another Bulgarian driver, who was only doing the speed of sound.
Now there was about a mile of clear road in front of us which ended with the crest of a hill. Most normal people would've taken advantage of this lengthy run way and taken over with plenty of time and room.
Not Stefka.
Oh no, she waits until she is virtually on the brow of the hill---when there is no possible way of seeing if anything is coming---then drops it down a gear, fires up the dilithium crystals and hits hyper-drive.
There was another car coming the other way.
And no matter how hard I screamed or cried out the Lords name, or how many death bed absolution I requested, Stef drove on with a jutting jaw, white knuckles and hell fires blazing in her eyes.
And with only a single paint job between the two cars we somehow made it through.
When I finally found my breath, a few miles later, I asked her why the hell she didn't break when she saw the other car coming!
She turned and gave me that pitying look again. Apparently Bulgarians only break when they can see the whites of your eyes and the frantic waggling of an epiglotis as it screams 'GET THE F**K OUTTA THE WAAAAAYYYYYY!
When most people get into a car as a passenger they look forward to a rest or maybe a sleep. Not me, I am now wide awake... and I want the toilet again.


In Sofia Airport waiting for the plane and I just ordered something with chicken in it. By the time it arrived after being heated up, it looked like a very heavy Bulgarian with serious water retention issues had sat on. The chicken filler had miraculously turned into Salami and the melted cheese had formed an attachment to the serviette that only a blow torch and a crow bar could release.
I'm now watching a music chanel with the sound turned down while they play a completely none related CD in the background; at the moment Brittany Spears is doing her level best to keep her boobies inside her leotard while Iron Maiden give us the number of the beast...

If you like my writing and my odd-ball imagination gave you a chuckle or two, why not click here and purchase my first novel: the Night of the Village Idiots.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Wha...hey? What's a NoodlePate?

Put simply it's my new cartoon feature. Something that I've been producing thrice weekly on Facelessbook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest and Google+

Technically it's a webcomic, because it's on the web. Un technically it doesn't have it's own dedicated website, because that's expensive and I want to see how it goes first.

So for now it's just a social media thing, but it is picking up quite a pace and is already gaining a hardcore fan-base.

NoodlePates is an old medieval word which basically means a fool, or a general term for the village idiots. Whatever way you wish to look at it, NoodlePates is my vehicle for whatever makes me laugh.

NoodlePates is a spot gag cartoon with the odd regular character or characters. It may develop into a strip, but for now, and while it is gaining a readership I shall keep it as it is.

I will be placing the three weekly comics here---probably on a Friday---but for now, here's a selection of some of my most recent favourites.

If you like what you see then why not follow me on Facelessbook and see them a little earlier.

Anyway, enjoy

If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box, assuring that you'll never miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Big Ol' Bear Winter Prints

There really isn't much to say about this, so I will be brief and let the art talk for itself.

I started this project as an exercise in painting winter trees. Eventually it turned into a series of four watercolour paintings that took my Facelessbook--- and the many closed pages I am part of--- by storm.

Nuff said, now its over to you

The downhill race
The stick collectors

the Gift Givers

the Sneak Attack

If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box, assuring that you'll never miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Cartoonist & Writers Diary III

And here's a little more from my life. My Odd life. My odd life that doesn't seem to happen to anybody else but me.

Enjoy, my friends

Well I'm away for a few days and guess what? Stuff is happening again.
I am staying at the beautiful and picturesque Lake Vrynwy Hotel and it's blowing a freakin' gale out there, and I mean a feeeeekiiiiiinnnnn gale.
So much so that I warned Stefka to be careful when she went out for a cigarette. But she, being Bulgarian and having lived through communism, brushed my concerns aside with a grunt of typical eastern block swarthyness, as chicken-hearted.
I said fine and went into to day room and waited for her to return after having dealt with her nicotine fix.
Two minutes later found me sitting in a leather backed Chesterfield chair, pretending to be a sophisticate, as I sat reading a copy of the Times while swirling a cut crystal glass of Brandy that had been warmed from a poker that sat in the flames of the giant fire---and I would've carried it off if someone hadn't told me I was holding the newspaper upside down.
No sooner had I corrected the paper than the mother of all wind gusts hit the hotel and two seconds later my Bulgarian fancy came flying past the window with a half smoked cigarette in one hand and an expression on her face that led the onlooker to believe that this little impromptu fly-by-night wasn't entirely her idea.
The whole room watched in stunned silence as she flew out across the lake on powerful thermals, like an eastern block Mary Poppins. Only when she was a little cartwheeling dot on the horizon did the whole room galvanise itself into action.
We eventually caught up with her a few miles up stream as she lay tangled like a discarded kite in the branches of a giant Douglas Fir.
Next time perhaps she will take my advice and not struggle with me so much when I try to strap her to the hotel's down pipe every time she wants a cigarette.


I had just sat down to a pleasant cup of tea. I was marvelling at the peace and solitude of a largely drunken town as it slept.
I shifted gently in my seat and something caught my eye.
I double took and what I saw alarmed me.
Black, hairy and seemingly many legged and stuck to the side of my trousers.
I leapt into the air, all thoughts of somnolific locals washed from my mind on a tidal wave of liquid adrenaline. As I batted and swatted at the hairy, and seemingly many legged thing, my knee came up and collided with the table. The cup of very hot tea rose gently skyward and arced lazily above me. It took aim and deposited it's scalding contents and two sugars over over my leg.
I yelled in protest and the hairy, and seemingly many legged thing, dropped from my leg. That was when I seized the chance to end it life.
I leapt up and down several times and cursed it's very existence. The room reverberated to the sound of my crashing thuds and flowers shuddered in their vases, but still I continued with the remorseless onslaught. Up and down I thumped, up and down I crashed.
After a good twenty minutes of this I slowed down. My heart rate slowed down and my adrenaline returned to its pre-cup of tea levels.
And that was when I took a closer look at the hairy, and seemingly many legged thing. And when I did, I wished I had taken a closer look before. If I had, my leg wouldn't be throbbing with what feels like third degree burns and I wouldn't have savagely attacked and dismembered a disguarded fake aye lash.
I really shouldn't be left unsupervised.

If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box, assuring that you'll never miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Multiple Strip Idea

Okay, it's been a while since I posted and I have missed it; I really do enjoy blogging but sometimes
work is just too intense and takes me away. But today, I am writing three or four posts and scheduling them to publish over the next week or two, so please come back and check my site for more updates.

Well post one (this little baby), is all about a new comic idea I've just sent out, and once again I refer all you aspiring cartoonists out there to this sobering, yet salient point that just because I am a professional does not mean everything I do will automatically be selected for publication, Being a cartoonist is not like that. Mostly we pitch and pitch and pitch and pitch until our eyes and hearts bleed and then one day, Bingo! we hit pay dirt.

 But that said, the more you pitch, the more you chase, the more regular will be the times you'll get a win out of that old pay dirt mine.

Damien is an idea I had for the comics market, the graphic novel arena, the weekly newspaper genre and of course the holy grail of all holy grails: syndication.

Note, once again to all aspiring cartoonists: when you have an idea, see if it will offer itself to more than one market, that way you spread the chances of it being picked up. You may have to re-jig the formats, but the idea will remain basically the same and you can just apply your characters, their situations and their personalities to each new field or genre..

So without further ado, here's the comics synopsis, followed by two, two page stories.




Damien is a strip about a friendship of opposites, a friendship between a laid back dude, a short guy with anger issues and a Napoleon complex and an eccentric with his own language and odd little world that only the other two can understand. Their friendship often has to weather many stormy seas as they manage to turn the simplest of situations into the biggest of problems via witty interaction and slapstick mayhem.
 Damien is a buddy strip for the younger reader; an ongoing tale of how true and strong friendships begin and how they endure and morph into the kind of relationship that lasts a life time. Although the Strip is called Damien, it could be named after any of the boys, it’s just that as in real life, the loudest and most obnoxious squeaky wheel always gets noticed, and Damien is that obnoxious squeaky little wheel.

Strip 1 

Strip 2

If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box, assuring that you'll never miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Friday, December 2, 2016

So where do you get your ideas from?

If there is one question that all cartoonists get asked more than anything else its 'where do you get your ideas from?' and frustratingly enough its the one question we really don't have a concise, go-to, answer for. So we tend to roll out stock answers every time the question arises.

Well I've decided that is a bit of a cop out and today---and quite possibly for some time to come---I aim to answer that question as best as I can, and the way I'm going to do it is by example.

I still wont be able to give you a stock answer to the perennial question, but what I can do is show you a cartoon I've already done and talk you through the process from blank page to finished cartoon. Like I said: it's not a cover all answer, but with every example I show you, you will probably get a better viewpoint as to how these mystifying little things get created. And if it turns out to be popular enough feature, here at the Diary of a Cartoonist & Writer, I may very well seek out guest cartoonists to take you through their gag writing process.


Lets move onto our first one.

This cartoon is from a series of single panel gags provisionally titled 'Noodlepates' ( a medieval word meaning, daft, crazy or not quite all there; a very good description of my mind and the crazies that inhabit my cartoon world).

This cartoon came about from a discussion with a lady friend of mine. We were going over the fertile ground of the battle of the sexes and how women have a harder time than men, I countered with Man-flu and she hit back with giving birth.

Now this is a subject over which we men have no real point of reference, so generally they have us stumped. But when she went on to say, 'and it's not just the giving birth it everything associated with it' my ears pricked up and I asked her to elaborate. And that was when she started talking about pelvic floor exercises.

Now I didn't need that explaining to me, so my eyes rolled back, my expression became vacant and the creative ideas began to form in front of my minds eye.

The best way I can describe this part of the process is 'images'--some fully formed, others not so fully formed---fly around my head in gyroscopic formations, while all the time words and phrases start to develop; coalesce; and when a phrase or saying meets with an image they crash together and I have the idea, or the germ of an idea.

In this cartoons case I thought that if the elasticity of childbirth can cause such problems for women who have on average 2.5 children, imagine what it must be like for a creature that does it for a a hen.

Once the concept was sorted I created the first idea which had two hens discussing how they just didn't have a chance to work on their pelvic floor exercises before the next egg came along. Although it was a fun idea it lacked something; It lacked impact, and if there's one thing I want in my cartoons--- at every available opportunity---its impact.

When the word impact came into my head I saw an egg splattering against the wall and every thing started flying into place like a giant tetras game and then wham! The idea above.

Next I put the cartoon up on my Facebook page and got a lot of positive feedback, mainly---I am delighted to say---from women. And when I get that kind of response I just know I have a winner. So much so that this particular gag is now available on a mug from my Redbubble site

Like I say, I have no 'go-to' answer for my gag writing and the ideas I get, but if this helped in any way at all I will gladly do more and add this to the growing list of regular and semi regular features I produce here on the Diary of a Cartoonist & Writer

As always, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask or just leave a comment below---it's how I know you're all paying attention.


If you like what you see, and want to see more, then please sign up to my email list and have every blog notification sent direct to your email box, assuring that you'll never miss a single post ever again.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New Rugby Watercolour Print Tutorial

A new cartoon tutorial on how I created a watercolour for the sporting prints section of my RedBubble store.

I have another print. 

I could just show it to you, but that would be too easy, and anyway, I think you would rather like to see how it was produced; to go behind the scenes a bit and see what my thought process (for what it is), was for this picture. Correct?

Of course you would. But if you don't then take a look at the picture above, soak it in, enjoy it for what it is, and move on knowing that you've done your good deed for the day and made this cartoonist very happy.


Okay. So for those of you who had a good look and thought: 'You know what, I think I'll invest a bit more of my day and quite possibly two thirds of this cup of tea and at least two and a half chocolate hobnobs to see just how he got from point A to point B.'

Part 1

So here we go.

With my watercolour prints---particularly the sporting ones---I tend to take a phrase or saying that is pertinent to that sport or past-time and create a humorous image around it. This particular painting was called 'The Drop Kick'.

Once I had the title I needed to create an image to go with it. After a while sketching layouts it quickly became obvious that the image I was leaning towards was going to be a very busy one; a picture that would incorporate a lot of bodies, sight gags and action.

Now the only way I can do this---without having thousands of indecipherable pencil lines all over my watercolour paper---making it virtually impossible to see where I've been, let alone where I am going---is to draw the component parts of the picture, paste them together then light-box them directly onto the watercolour paper.

Now those more eagle eyed amongst you will probably have noted already that on the finished picture not everything is as it was on the original rough layout. Whereas some characters have been removed, others have been added after the light-boxing was completed. 

I also know that I said to draw a picture of this complexity straight onto the finished page would be just too confusing. But to be honest with you, once the main body of the picture was complete, adding one or two more characters really wasn't going to be a problem. Especially, as I have done here, if they are going to be largely independent of the main scrum of characters. 

But at this stage it is more important to get the characters roughed and down; I can always move them around the page and light-box them in slightly different positions afterwards.

Part 2

To be honest with you I feel like I'm cheating when I light-box my art through to the watercolour paper. But I always try to equate the circle with the square by pointing out that the concentration and constant taping and re taping of the rough to the back of the paper while positioning and re positioning the image and changing the composition all the time is no simple task. And anyway. It was me that drew the rough images and layouts in the first place: it's not like I'm copying someone else's work, right?

Good. I am now happy and have talked myself into a nice place: very important when you are about to take on a project of this magnitude, peppered as it is with the multitude of potential disasters and pit-falls that they all come fitted with as standard.

Part 3

For those of you who have seen past watercolour tutorials, here on the Diary of a Cartoonist and Writer, you will know that once the characters are laid down in clean, crisp pencil lines, I mask some or all of them off, allowing me to drop in the big washes.

In this case I masked only a little before wetting the paper by where the sky was going, then I set to; I laid down the first big wash with a gulp and sigh of both trepidation and anxiety.

I placed a few strokes of Naples Yellow and I was off. Once the yellow was down I immediately added the cobalt blue, making sure not to let it bleed into the Naples Yellow causing it to turn a murky green.

'The beauty of art is that the rules are there to be broken; in fact I actively encourage you to do so'. 

Once it had begun to dry---but was still a little damp---I touched some raw sienna to the cobalt blue mix on my palette and tapped it in gently to a few areas to give the sky a bit more atmosphere: Rugby is, after all, predominantly a winter based sport, so moody or leaden skies are as regular as the fixtures themselves.

Having said that, I didn't want to make the sky so dark as to detract from the main image. If I had been producing just a landscape then the sky would be one of its main players, but seeing as the focus of the picture was going to be its characters, the sky had to take a back seat and take on the role as the support act.

Part 3

Like I say, normally I mask out the characters when laying out a large wash. But in this case---and with all of the confusion of characters---I really wasn't that confident that I would get everything that needed to be covered, covered: in the end I did wind up going over one of the players but luckily I spotted it at an early stage and turned his green hue into subtle shading.

At this point it all looks a little flat and unappetising, but this is normal for one of my pieces. I need to put a weak wash down as my method of colouring is to bring it to life using many layers; often more than is advised.

For example, most artist teachers say to give your paintings component parts three layers: light, medium and shade (or dark). I have often thrown that rule right out of the window I purposely leave open for just such eventualities. I, personally, work on as many layers as I think the painting needs. The beauty of art is that the rules are there to be broken; in fact I actively encourage you to do so. 

Part 4

I suppose I could go through every single stage from here on in, explaining what it is I do.What brushes I use. Which end I squeeze the paint tube from or how many sugars I take in my tea. And if you really want to know all that then it's a mixture of rounds, numbers 1, 3 and 6. A liner brush and a number 7 chisel. I squeeze from what ever part I pick it up from and it's one sugar in my Earl Grey.

But to be honest with you, the boring fact of the matter is: the rest of the process is as un-glamorous as just putting down one layer of colour on top of another until the characters become solid and three dimensional.

I will say this though: when producing a picture as involved and as complicated as this one, strong colours around it's central characters is paramount; it gives a uniformity that's easily broken up when darker characters arrive in the middle, and it is this contrast of colours that will pull the viewers eyes into the paintings main point: that of the drop kick.

But that said, here's a shed load of images showing you the stages I went through and the layers I built up to complete this project.

Typically a painting like this will take around fifteen man hours to complete, but it is rarely done in one sitting. A painting of this complexity needs me to walk away many times and keep on coming back with fresh eyes and a clear head.

Any way, please enjoy the images below and as always, any comments you may have, please let me have them in the comments section below and I will do my best to answer all your questions.

 ...and finally, I used a dip pen (Gilliott 303 nib) and a bottle of Windsor and Newton nut brown ink to give the characters a gentle, yet subtle definition and filled the stands with spectators; signed it and pulled the tape of to give it a nice, crisp border.

The image is then ready to upload to my RedBubble site for all to see and purchase.

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