Saturday, November 24, 2018

Adam & Eve get their first calendar

Adam & Eve, the two unlikely stars of my larger comic panel NoodlePates, have just become the cartoon my followers most want to see. When they aren't there, they miss them and when they are, they just want more!.

Adam & Eve really is a simple concept. The panel strip documents the daily doings of Adam & Eve as they reach middle age and the realisation that the magic has well and truly gone from their marriage.

It's a family strip with a twist, their only other companions are a resigned snake, who is an unwilling companion to their troublesome lives and God, an inventor who is already beginning to have serious regrets.

For years I had tried to come up with clever cartoon ideas and concepts but always drew a blank, and met with a massive wall of personal frustration and an industry wide indifference. But when I threw these two marital misfits into a cartoon one day, something happened and my readers were not slow in letting me know about it.

When it comes right down to it, relationship jokes, the battle of the sexes, family complications and laughing at those less maritally fortunate than our selves, have always been, and probably always will be, the one thing virtually all of us have in common.

 I get it. I know. I can't see Adam & Eve becoming the next big syndication gold mine; let's face it, there won't be that many editors willing to run a strip with a religious theme, no matter how mild it may be. But as an Internet cartoon and with CreateSpace and other such publishing platforms and the increased support of the public, you never know what trouble we may be able to cause between us.

So for the foreseeable future I will be making Adam & Eve my regular comic feature, and I hope you will wish to join in it's merry band of fans and followers.

That said, and this only meaning to be a short post, I will shut up and let you view a few sample pages of the first ever Adam & Eve calendar.

And if you would like to purchase one, email me and I will see what I can do.


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, November 14, 2018

Caricature Commission- Tutorial

I was actually supposed to be putting up another tutorial on another caricature, but that will have to wait. I hope you will think it worthwhile as that one is about how I ended up doing a caricature painting of Frank Bruno, the one time World Heavyweight Champion. And because it was for charity I'll also be touching on my thoughts on working in this field and its value, plus some of the abuses perpetrated by some less reputable people out there.

Anyway, onto today's tutorial.

I have been producing watercolour caricatures for over thirty years now. Admittedly it hasn't been my primary source of income, but over the years I must've produced a couple of hundred private commissions.

I've always found that they make excellent Birthday, Christmas, Wedding and retirement gifts

This caricature was a retirement gift for a chap called Kevin, who works for a customer of mine, the Dalesman Magazine

Now for those of you who have seen my other tutorials on a variety of themes, you will know how I like to break the process down into stages--- just in case there are any of you out there who may just want to have a crack at doing one themselves.

So if you're not too bored of seeing all these stages by now, then sit back and lets go through it again.

A caricature for Kevin

Right. First off I get the photo sent to me along with as much information about the study as is possible. In Kevin's case he was an avid walker of the Yorkshire Dales.

He also liked taking groups out, loved his football, wrote a supplement for the Dalesman called 'Down out Way and was a very keen gardener.

Armed with this I produced a rough of Kevin and the scene I thought would work well, and emailed it to the client. They loved it and gave me the green light.

Normally the first stage I show in these tutorials is the pencil art and the masking, but for some reason, best known to the God of cartoonists, I either forgot it, or misplaced it...either is more possible than you would think. Sometimes the thing will even dissappear while I'm using it as reference: don't ask, I really don't know the answer.

But here's a picture of my rather messy watercolour plate, which, for some reason, I did remember to take a photo of. Obviously the God of messy watercolour plates was on the ball that day and is probably the one responsible for the poking sensation in my ribs that only went away when I picked up the camera..

But in the absence of a photo here's what I did: I pencilled the art onto a heavy watercolour paper (you need a heavy paper so as to soak up the large washes without too much crinkling), then I masked out the main character and anything else I didn't want to have to fiddle around when putting the background washes down.

NOW we can move onto the pictures again.

I mixed a pale blue wash using Cobalt blue and the lightest dab of ultramarine for depth, wet the paper with clean water, allowed it to dry to a sheen then placed the blue to about three quarters of the way down to the horizon. (note: when working on a wet surface, the colour you chose will be a lot lighter as its being diluted. Watercolour paint always dries lighter anyway, but when being placed over a damp surface it dries EVEN be aware and compensate on your mixes)

I then mixed a little bright orange and cadmium red and watered it down and placed that beneath the almost dry blue. This little touch of pinky red gave the painting a nice, fresh, cool morning feel to the painting.

For this picture, and I've no idea why it was so important, I painted all the flesh tones in, all the way up to their final stages.

Because I was obviously in the zone, and wished to complete every stage of the painting to its end before moving onto the next bit---something I never normally do--- I just plodded on; finishing skin tones, grass, walls, fields... well you get the picture; sometimes it seems the only discipline I have is the lack of one.

I guess the beauty of having completed each stage so thoroughly is that when it came to selecting the colour of the characters, it became really easy to see what would work in making them pop out against the rest of the painting.

All in all, I was really very happy with the overall balance of composition and colour for this picture, and it remains, to this day, one of my most favourite caricature paintings.

Once I feel I've finished the painting I walk away---have a cup of tea, go for a walk, cook some food---anything that clears my mind for about an hour. Then I come back with fresh eyes and see what I may have missed. In this case it was the extra dark shadows.

Then it's just a case of inking the characters, lettering where needed, tear the masking tape off to reveal those nice, crisp lines, package it up and dispatching it to the customer.

Then onto the next job.

I hope this, like all my tutorials help you in some way, or just entertain. That said, I hope to see you all back here soon on the Diary of a Cartoonist & Writer.

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, November 9, 2018

More from the NoodlePates

I've been drawing these little cartoons on my Facelessbook page for almost three years now, and they've began to get more than a little traction. So much so that I've been asked to, and have produced, the first collection of over 150 of my favourites.

This book Out of the Primordial Ink Pot is available on Amazon with the artist copy direct from myself, and can be purchased by emailing me through my Contact page

Anyway, without further ado, here's a selection of some of my NoodlePates cartoons.

As ever, 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.

Monday, November 5, 2018

101 Uses for a Dead Mother-in-Law, times Two

Times two?!

Yes, that's the amount of times I had to scan, clean up, place squarely within the page and save in psd, JPeg and finally that's how Amazon want it. Making us suffer is a 'thing' for them...or so it sometimes feels.

Actually it was really 202 times.

Why? Simple, because I lost around ten years of work from my hard drive when it crashed and burned. This involved everything I had done, up to and including the scanned and cleaned up pages for my new book, 101 uses for a Dead Mother-in-Law. And no, I didn't back it all up. Why? Because I am a numpty. And that's how 101 pages turned into 202.

And all this in a month that had me writing and illustrating a corporate Christmas Children's book---more about that on a further post---a range of twenty Christmas cards---also more about that on another post---plus two caricatures, one of Frank Bruno, the brief world heavyweight champion boxer---while the other was a private gift for a retirement present, and yes, you've guessed it: more on that in another post---and on top of all this I had to write, draw and colour a dozen or so cartoons including my Facelessbook cartoon, NoodlePates and chase a variety of computer experts who all made valiant efforts to retrieve my files. All so far have fought the good fight, but sadly retired to their respective corners to admit defeat.

So you can see, I was more than a little excited at the prospect of spending long hours---most of them deep, deep into the night--- re scanning, re cleaning, re placing and re naming 101 cartoons.

And that wasn't the end of the pain. Oh no it wasn't. I then had to re do the front and back cover---the inside and end pages, with all the legal bumph--- plus find the typefaces I had originally used, and subsequently lost when my hard drive went south of the border without leaving a forwarding address, while replying to the many heartfelt messages from oodles and oodles of Facelessbook friends who never tire of calling me anything from a silly ass to...well, a lot worse.

I wont repeat it because its not only an accurate assessment of my mind, but certain words may upset Auntie Google. And we don't want to upset Auntie Google do we, no sirree. Auntie Google can do things to your ratings that'll bring tears to your eyes.

Enough with the Auntie Google.

Anyway, the upshot of all this baloney is, the book is completed, posted to Amazon---after having ran their own personal gauntlet of techno pain and agony---and today it all goes live. So if you have any compassion in your bones, or your soul was touched on any level by this heart wrenching, tear jerking tale, then please run over to Amazon and get yourself a copy of this highly entertaining read.

If nothing your purchase will help foot my mounting techy costs and therapy bills.

What, you still need convincing? After all that? Oh okay, here's a selection of what you can expect from 101 uses for a Dead Mother-in-Law.

Enjoy my friends.

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, February 27, 2018

It could've been me...

Image result for matt cartoons
Matt's look at Brexit


I already had a blog post for today, but when I saw the British Daily Telegraph's headline this morning, I had a change of plan.

Today, their daily pocket cartoonist Matt celebrates 30 unbroken years of brilliantly masterful political cartoons.

I like most people who have been a fan of this gentle, humorous and wonderfully witty cartoonist, cannot help but fall in love with his work. And to have kept up the high standards that he has set for himself for so many years is, in itself, an achievement that so few are able to attain. I, like many other cartoonists, read his daily doodlings in awe, and on more than one occasion I have openly wished that I had 'thought of that one'. A feeling I am sure that has been shared by many another professional cartoonist.

I guess the beauty of Matt's work, for me, is in the fact that unlike so many of his contemporaries he doesn't set out to offend, but chooses instead to gently mock. I have never known him to be outwardly acerbic but instead chooses to make his point with taste, tact and wonderful, wonderful wittiness. To my mind the only other cartoonists to achieve this have been Giles of the Daily Express and Mac of the Daily Mail.

But did you know, it could very well have been me?

Let me explain.

Image result for matt cartoons30 years ago I was living in a shared house outside London and trying to break into the UK mainstream national press. I had been pounding those streets, once a week, for what seemed like an epoch when one day I made contact with a delightfully helpful lady called Chanel Macamara. Chanel was the cartoon editor of the Daily Telegraph Syndicate. She had reviewed the small package of comic strips I had left with her office and liked them enough to put them into a development programme.

Part of the deal was I had to produce 100 comic strips, which was their way of proving I wasn't just an eighteen strip wonder. It was a lot of cartoons, but this was a big chance. A seriously big chance, and I was going to grab at it with both hands.

Anyway, to cut a very long story short, the phone, that everyone in the shared house used, was cut off due to the landlord not paying the bill, and at some point between my last trip up to London, and the phone being cut off, the editors of the Daily Telegraph contacted Chanel at the syndicate and said they desperately needed a pocket cartoonist for their front page and could she recommend someone. Chanel said we have just the guy for you and immediately set about contacting me, sadly she called me on the day that the phone was cut off.

When she couldn't get hold of me via phone she began ringing around the pubs, shops, restaurants and any kind of business they could think of that may know me, leaving messages to contact them urgently: they could not stress the importance of the word 'urgent' more if they tried.

Sadly for me I had no idea about these storms that were crashing around in my name as I had locked myself away in my flat and was ploughing through the 100 comic strips that were required; trying to beat the deadline given me and trying to prove how trustworthy I could be.

Image result for matt cartoonsBy the time I completed them and went up to the syndicate's offices, the Daily Telegraph had given up waiting and made alternative arrangements in the form of Matt.

It would appear that for the sake of an unpaid phone bill, it may have been me that was being celebrated this week. Me that would've had a cherished career working in the national newspapers and me who would've driven into work every day with a huge stupid grin on my face that never would've faded.

Of course I am aware that if my situation had been a Hollywood movie, the ending would've been a lot more magical with some kind of cautionary note as I arrived at the syndicated offices just as the editor was going to call Matt. The phone would've gone down and I would've been awarded the plumb job; my landlord would've been a Russian agent who would've recalled to Moscow where he would've ended his days filling salt sellers in Siberia; the syndicate editor would've been a love interest whom I would've married and had a plethora of kids with and lived happily ever after in a modest mansion in the Hollywood hills.

Instead I missed out on a dream job that was taken by possibly the greatest editorial cartoonist this country has ever seen and who has spent the last thirty years doing a far better job that I ever could.

So I think with all things considered, the world got the Hollywood ending it deserved, not the one I wanted.

Congratulations Matt, all your accolades are well earned and your work is not only inspiring but exemplary and I bow to you.

All cartoons © 1988-2018 Matt of the Daily Telegraph

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, November 30, 2017

Cartoonist & Writers Diary V

No Spring Chicken

Today I decided to go and have a wander through my woodland to see what Autumn was doing to the leaves, when all of a sudden, about 20 yards to my left, I espied a magnificent pheasant who was just standing watching me.
He stood fixedly against a backdrop of golden brown hues as a gentle breeze ruffled his feathers. He looked majestic. He looked regal. He looked at one with his world.
Slowly I took my camera out, zoomed in and reeled off a few shots. The pheasant, sensing I was no threat, started walking over to me, cawing gently: I couldn't believe my luck.
As it got closer I continued to take photo after photo after photo and still it kept on coming.
When it actually came up to about two feet from me I switched to the video, making the most of the 'Attenborough' moment; still it continued cawing and rooting around as I calmly assured it that I meant no harm.
It froze, fixed me with a gimlet eye then my whole world turned to spit and feathers.

The pheasant went ballistic; rising into the air like a seriously miffed Phoenix with open wings, and oh boy those wings were big, bigger than I thought they would be. I tried to fend him off but he was having none of it. I was on his land and he was going to evict me.
I screamed and flapped and swore, and at one point I think I even told him this was my land and I had the deeds to prove and and he didn't?
Not being able to follow my cutting legal logic my attacker carried on his relentless assault and within a short period of seconds he had gained more land than the British army did in two weeks at Passchendaele.
I realised that if I didn't do something fast I was about to crash into the road and ran the risk of getting flattened by a passing car, and it was only the thought that my death certificate would read: Death my pheasant attack that I was spurred on to greater things. So I picked up a stick and started beating him back.
After what seemed like an age and a battle that would've inspired the gods to poetry I eventually pushed him over a precipice that led to the lower quadrant of my forest. He hovered in mid air, beating those fearsome wings, cawed one more time, his eyes raging with the fury of his dinosaur ancestors then turned and flew down to the woodland below.
I rested against a tree, fighting to get my breath back while he just looked up at me with an expression that said:
"Kicked your ass didn't I?!"
As I walked away, a little shaky, I thought:
'I don't believe it, I've just been mugged by a bird'. Is this even possible?

Dear reader, this is a cautionary tale. Nature is red in tooth and claw out there and should be taken further than simply at face value. 

It's all well and good when you are driving aimlessly about the countryside from the security of you towns or cities, and when you come across pretty birds wandering about, you automatically 'coo' and 'ah'. But don't be fooled by these little subversives. Don't let their rustic and seemingly harmless demeanour fool you, these little thugs are the skinheads of the countryside and have the skill sets and dead eye expressions that wouldn't look amiss on a Taliban enforcer.

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, November 24, 2017

So where do you get all your ideas from? II

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.

So in this, the second post of my new, semi-regular feature: So where do you get your ideas from, I intend to have a crack at answering this question, one cartoon at a time.

I still wont be able to give you a definitive answer to the perennial question, but what I can do is show you a cartoon I've already produced and talk you through the process from blank page to finished illustration. 

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. I may even seek out guest cartoonists to take you through their gag writing process.

So without further ado, lets get into it.

Once again I'll be using one of my NoodlePates cartoons to illustrate the process. NoodlePates is a regular cartoon feature I draw and post mainly on my Facelessbook page and update here from time to time on, the Diary of a Cartoonist & Writer.

As winter turns to spring, a young man's fancies turn to NASA...they don't? okay so it's just me then is it?...Again...and yes I do know it's Autumn and not spring so I guess the whole analogy thing fell down---thank you for letting me know.

Ahem...let us begin again.

I was staring out of the window looking not unlike an inmate from 'One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest' (see why I chose the first analogy?), when my mind started to wander. This feeling, or sensation, is how I personally recognise the arrival of the 'gag writing muse'.

I stay perfectly still and I let it randomly select a subject---ching---then a scene--ching---then comes the anomaly ching-ching

Now it's the anomaly that ultimately gets the gag, because it is the discrepancy in any situation that will usually lead to the oddity that leads to the gag. But that said, you cannot have an anomaly without first having a subject and then a scene. So the anomaly is a little like the straight guy in a double act; without the straight guy, the comedian is simply not as funny.

Clear? Good. Lets move onto dissecting this baby.

I was looking out of the window, as stated before, and my mind turned to what's up there that we cant see, y'know, what is floating about that we put up there. Then my mind started thinking about big brother and the state spying on us via a billion and one satellites, then I got a little paranoid and fled to my lead-lined cubbyhole with the kettle and 4,000 tins of peaches, sardines and assorted crisp packets. After that I donned my tin foil hat and proceeded to eliminate myself from the internet...AGAIN!!!

Okay, maybe that didn't happen, but paranoia is a powerful thing when you have an over active mind.

No, what really happened was my mind shifted from  what's up there to who put them up there: NASA...Ching! the subject.

Then I thought about what NASA is most famous for: Rocket launches...Ching! Now I have the scene.

Then all that was left was time to start looking for that elusive Ching-Ching moment--the anomally.

In this case I imagined the rocket ready for launch. Then I thought about the pilots sitting in there, all nerves and expectations. Then my mind moved onto their training and the millions that NASA had invested in them, and finally I thought about the tech guys.

Now when these brianiacs came into my mind I started to remember the theory I have that incredibly clever people often ruin their brilliant ideas with an act of breathtaking stupidity by adding something very dumb---last minute and without telling anyone---just because they can.

Then I though: what if in that super-heated moment of numptiness/brilliance they added a reverse stick.

Then I thought about the poor astronaut, completely unaware of this new addition and still looking around the cabin in an attempt to calm his nerves.

Then I imagined him spotting the gear shift with the big 'R' on it.

Then I thought: What would I think if I were in his position and suddenly presented with an object that wasn't mentioned on any of the days of rigorous flight school training?

Then I realised exactly what I would think. I would think:

"Hmmm, I wonder what this does?" 

And in an equally crazy moment of human numptiness I would hit it. Just to see what it would do.

Then...Ching-Ching! We have just hit eureka, Huston. I have my moment. I have my anomally, and you have a new NoodlePates cartoon.

Like I say, this may not be how everyone reaches their gag nirvana and it isn't how I always reach mine. But more often that not, this is how it happens for me.

Hope you liked what you read, if so please leave a comment and keep coming back as I will be doing more of them.

Hopefully, and if I can talk any of them into it, I will be coaxing other cartoonists to let you in on their eureka moments.

Speaking of NoodlePates, next week I'll be putting up some new samples and talking about an exciting new project for me that hopefully you will like to. So see you next week.

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, 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.

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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.

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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.