On the eleventh of September 2017 this cartoon won the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain's Caption Competition and all the entries may be found here. As I type it is 25th October 2017. This is how on the ball I am. It was a wordless competition and the strict rules dictated that the entries must be comprehensible on an international level. So, no letters or numerals are allowed. This means no sound effects, or any other tools available to cartoonists, are permissible. Now then. I have never understood this, to me, modern phenomenon of coulrophobia or irrational fear of clowns. I have loved clowns from a very early age purely because they made me laugh. What's not to love? In the very late fifties or early sixties my father took me to the Bertram Mills Circus in Olympia in London where (and I don't know how he inveigled this) he introduced me to Coco the Clown - personally. As Coco shook my hand, and to my utmost surprise and delight, his hair lifted up! I repeat, what's not to love? I took home a souvenir Coco the Clown plastic mask, but it was quite fragile and didn't last very long, but the memory and enjoyment of the meeting have lasted a lifetime.
I'm not very sure how these illustrations will lay-out on this post. I have noticed, with great annoyance, that one post consisted of words displayed vertically, one letter at a time. One would have to be mightily persistent to have read that, so congratulations to you if you did.
Anyway, the reason for posting the three minor gems of modern visual arts above is because I wanted to illustrate how far I've come with my new laptop and software. As you can see I am still at the toddler stage. Balance is unsteady and there are one or two total collapses, but I'm getting there. Slowly.
The George Orwell is my first attempt at caricature for ages and ages and was drawn for the Cartoonists' Club Caricature Competition. I came third in an admittedly small field, but - well, blimey - third! And this while I'm still finding my legs!
The second pikcha is, yes, yet another return to Universal horror films of the 1930s and a little bit rude, but I was very pleased with the facial expressions. This was for the weekly Caption Competition and I came third in this one too. I cannot begin to tell you how big a boost to the ego that is.
Finally, the mice cartoon (sans mice) was another Caption Competition entry, this time I came sixth, but the important point with this particular cartoon is the circumstance in which it was drawn and sent.
With my old set up I would often scan in pencils from my printer and "ink" using Photoshop on my old laptop. Then, using my domestic hub I would send in my competition entry. The mice cartoon was "pencilled" on my new software (and by god it looks like graphite on cartridge paper). This was then "inked" with a virtual pen nib which just happens to be pressure sensitive. This means the strength of a single line can be varied in one stroke just like reallio, trullio actual pen and ink!
And I sent it from The Lake District while I was on holiday! All I needed was an internet connection. Admittedly, the location meant that the broadband would often drop out, but do you see what this means? It means I pretty much have a portable studio. All I need is a Wi-Fi connection and I can send off drawings from where ever I like! This is astonishing stuff as far as I'm concerned.
My next step is start experimenting with colour. Watch this space.
The little bit of silliness which you can see above, was my contribution to this week's caption competition. The theme was Scuba Diving. Members of my family will attest, with some amusement, that I am congenitally unable to pronounce the the word 'scuba' properly. This is, of course, arrant nonsense and it should go without saying that my pronunciation is the correct one.
That aside, I came joint second with fifteen points; a fact of which I am exceedingly proud.
Now then, nuts and bolts. It is inked over pencils on run-of-the-mill photocopy paper. It was drawn against the clock on a fairly busy Sunday morning, but I knew pretty much what I was going to draw a couple of days beforehand. I was going to draw the diver and shark 3/4 facing the viewer, so that we would see the shark from behind, with the diver slightly facing the viewer. I did a very, VERY rough sketch based on that idea, but felt that it would dissipate the image. I decided on a side-on image and a slow-burn left to right reading of the gag. This cartooning lark isn't just a few seconds slap-dash scribbling you know!
Upon taking cognizance of the subject, the baser parts of my imagination came naturally rushing to the fore. Was there some inevitability for my score? I believe so. It is a universal dictum that all farts are funny. So ner!
This, O best beloveds, was my entry for this week's competition. The execution of the drawing didn't go as well as I had hoped. I had sketched out an idea in pencil (which I now seem to have mislaid) with the intention of re-drawing it separately if I felt it worked okay. The more I worked on the sketch, the more I felt that it seemed to work. The result was I was reluctant to re-draw it, but the dimensions on the piece of paper and the placing of the drawing were not within the usual boundaries I commonly use.
Then, came the inking. O Lor! Then, came the inking! I had heard good things about a particular brand of Indian ink and so I bought myself a bottle. Early experiments with said ink and a dip pen suggested that it was much richer in shellac than I was used to. With great trepidation, because this ink ain't particularly cheap, I diluted it with de-ionised water, thinking this would (quite literally) be the solution to the problem. In short, it wasn't and the result was the scatchy effort above. I even had to go over my signature with a different, more reliable ink. My first purchase of this brand shall also be my last.
The good news is that I got seven points for my entry, which isn't bad at all, all things considered.
Right! I have been intending to post this frajizandajiz. The inspiration (apart from the usual 1930s Universal monsters fixation) came from Kate Beaton. If you are unfamiliar with her work I suggest, urge, beg and implore you to visit her Hark! A Vagrant site and meander around the archives. Two particular favourites of mine are Dude Watchin' With the Brontës and Shallot. I first saw Dude Watchin' in a shop window on Haworth High Street (appropriately enough) and a more succinct summation of authorial differences to the male figure in fiction between the sisters I have yet to find. As for Shallot, well, you will never read Tennyson in the same light again.
The gestation period for my cartoon was very long. The execution even longer. And the final scan and post even longer still, but here we are all finished and complete and as gorgeous as geese. Still quite a few flaws in execution, but as far as producing this little piece goes it has been a joy from beginning to end. I reverted to more traditional methods in the crafting of this cartoon. Pencils, light box and then, pen and ink. The finished artwork was done in indian ink on Bristol board, an absolutely delightful medium to work on.
The other really pleasant part of working on this little project was the research. The online National Portrait Gallery site was invaluable although it has to be said that my renditions are only approximations of their images. Bram Stoker was strange looking cove. The beautiful Mary Shelley looks a little bit like my wife!
For the sake of completeness I shall now include the preliminary pencils in their raw and unabridged detail.
Okay, a very quick update. This was my entry to the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain Caption Competition a week ago. The theme was Reality T.V. I got four points which is a relief as I thought I was heading towards Crackerjack pencil land.
If you are too young to get the Crackerjack reference, shouldn't you be in bed or doing your homework or something?
Mrs. Brendini pointed out that all my aliens look like octopusses (octopus? octopussies? What the hell is the plural?). I put this down to reading too many H. P. Lovecraft stories in my formative years. But his tales are of nothing compared to the horrific prospect of Trump as the man with his finger on the nuclear button. There are worrying intimations of Stephen King's The Dead Zone being echoed in real life here.
Anyway, I'm just clearing the decks for my next post, which I have been meaning to publish for months and months!
How about this? My second blog entry in two consecutive days. Funny ol' world, innit?
This was my contribution to the weekly caption competition under the aegis of the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain and clicking on the link will take you to the other entries. Yes, the other four entries. There were only five of us taking part his week. Upon learning this news i rubbed my hands together with glee. With so few competitors I was bound to get a good many votes. What is about to be narrated to you is what the Greeks call hubris. With so little, numerically, in the way of competition and in view of the fact that this is one of my better efforts, a good proportion of the votes HAD to come my way. It is a statistic certainty.
Well, I watched the early voting and thought, do you know what? There is a very good chance that I may win this week's competition. It never crossed my mind to tot up the other entrants post. No, this was all about me me me. So the morning after voting began I went to work and began thinking about captions for next week's competition. Not only that, I actually made a list; a list of captions whittled down to four in number, that I could draw upon when the request came for the provision of creative spring-boarding.
Well, a number of people did, in actual fact, think highly enough of my cartoon to award it their top score. Once the dust had settled and the count was in I scored twenty. Yup, 20, vingt, two-zero. I can't really remember the last time I had such a high score.
I came fourth out of five. There is a lesson to be learned here, but I'm too egotistical to know what it may be.
I shall now strip away the mystique of the creative process and stick the two preliminary drawings I did for this cartoon. The first one is little more than a crude scribble just in order to get the idea down on paper. As I jotted down the gentleman, I thought he ought to be wearing garterettes. Spike Milligan's Q series (possibly - it may have been There's A Lot Of It About) used to have spoof commercials for Threadgold ThoroughGrip Garterettes, complete with a jingle that I can still sing to this day.
A little bit of self-imposed prudery crept in, I notice. In the scribble, the Wardrobe Mistress is topless. In the tighter pencils she's wearing a bra. Perhaps I felt she needed a bit of support. I also made her more the point of focus in the second drawing.
I knew the girl would have to be pretty and well proportioned so I looked at a load of seaside postcards for inspiration. Doing this made me knuckle down and analyse the cartoon figure in all its proportions a bit more and in this respect I think the most successful figure of the trio is the wife.
I shall be moving on to a particular pet project later this week, more of which anon.