Sunday, 18 September 2016

Mary Shelley at Universal

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 Bront√ęs 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.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Realitee Tee Vee

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!
Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Scantily Clad Woman in a Wardrobe? Where's the Pun in That?

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.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Weird Fish Competition - A Trawl Through The Entrants.


I'm not too sure what the lay-out of this blog is going to look like, but you should be able to click on the piccies to make them bigger. What the de'il are they? I hear you ask. These were my entries to a recent Weird Fish competition to design a tee-shirt for the R.S.P.B.. I have added a Facebook link here which you may like to explore at your leisure and peruse the other entrants.
I didn't make it to the finals, but I had an awful lot of fun doing these and it made me explore PhotoShop less timidly than I had before. In other words, it was a highly educational, self-evaluating and fun exercise.
The winner happened to be the one I voted for, by Tim Harries and yes, it was a lark running away from a rolling boulder. There were quite a few larks running away from boulders, but Tim's lark is running away from an egg-shaped boulder. That, dear reader, is a mark of genius.
The tee-shirt should go on sale in November this year. I most definitely shall be buying one.
Of my designs, I have placed them in the order of creation and for clarity's sake they were Raiders, Wuthering and Redshank.
Raiders was entirely hand drawn with inked over pencils on a light-box, then scanned in and coloured in PhotoShop. This took a VERY long time.
Wuthering Kites was a scanned-in image of the 1939 film poster and painted over the top by me. An awful lot of letter manipulation took place in this piece and I used about ninety gazillion layers producing it. This also took a VERY long time. I was still learning on the job (I personally think this is the ropiest looking of the three).
By the time I got to Redshank time was running a bit short, but due to everything I had learnt on Wuthering, I worked more quickly on this one. I didn't shilly-shally about with hand-written lettering either and of the three, I think this one looks the most professional. There are a few bits in it that make me wince, but it was all grist to the mill.
I absolutely loved this little project. A real appetite whetter.
A lot went on this week, in terms of me producing work. So, more anon.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Aggressive Doggy

Well well well. With a huge yawn and a stretch that makes the muscles crack, I return to the art of cartooning after months of indolence and prevarication. The arrival of a granddaughter all sparkling and new, and gorgeous, and perfect in every way possible, put paid to a lot of cartooning time.No complaints there, at all. Now, I know I could be accused of bias, but my granddaughter is picture-book perfect. Don't believe me? This view has been ratified by Waitrose till workers and random dog walkers upon witnessing photographs on my mobile. These people have genuinely gasped and said she's perfect and beautiful. I am fully aware that my behaviour borders on the hinterlands of insanity, but I've never had a grandchild before.
So, back into the fray crying God for King Harry and St. George and all that bravado stuff. The aggressive doggy on the top left corner of this missive is my entry for this week's caption competition (other entrants are available). Yes, there are blatant errors of perspective within it, but I still think it's quite an amusing effort. Voting hasn't started at the time of writing, but even if I only get a CJP (a Crackerjack pencil to the uninitiated - it's a long story - CRACKERJACK!), it is good to get the old creative juices running again. I am currently pencilling a little piece inspired by Kate Beaton, about whom there shall be more anon.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

I Think This Is An Appropriate Time To Re-post This Drawing.

His body language alone (apart from his incoherent answers) during the Treasury select Committee questions told you all you need to know about this man. Sitting back with your hands clasped behind your head just shows utter disdain for everybody in the room.
His constant flip-flopping over policy, his half-lies over Europe and his actual willingness to lie to the House over his extra-marital affairs should disqualify him from public office. And yet people think he's wonderful! And no I won't stop using exclamation marks!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

A Study in Monochrome by Brendan Conan McDoyle

I haven't posted anything since January and we're in the ides of March already!
The depiction of Holmes and Watson, which you can click on to enlarge (I think), was done purely digitally. No pencils were harmed in the making of this cartoon. When I work in this manner I become acutely aware of some of my short-comings, but then it's all grist to the mill and is part of my (exceedingly and tortuously slow) artistic development.
Having said that, I think digitally cartooning can impose some of its own problems on the cartoonist. When I work with pencil and paper, I am aware of the finite space and area in which I am drawing. One's spatial awareness can be a little lost whizzing around on a screen, altering image size, joining enlarged lines etc. On top of which pencil pressure is constantly under control. To a certain extent I know exactly what sort of mark on the paper I will be making, light or dark; and where. Again, on a graphics pad, making marks has (for me) an element of unpredictability. Then again, I have been able to do things on the graphics pad in a blink of an eye that would have created far more work in the three dimensional world. If I make a mistake in pencil, yes I may rub it out, but it may leave an indelible smudge on the paper. And a mistake in Indian Ink... well it just doesn't bear thinking about. Whereas on a pad... Buggered up ink line? No probs, Mr. McGuire. The undo button is your friend. Especially if your bladder is full.
I forgot to mention that the cartoon that led to the red marks on your thigh due to you continually slapping it, was provoked by The Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain's weekly caption competition and depicts are rather tense moment in A Study in Scarlet

Saturday, 16 January 2016

David Bowie: Splintered Mirror Memories.

I didn't hear the news until someone told me at work. I was on early shift and the BBC World Service were obviously as equally unaware as I was. Knowledge comes with death's release. Funnily enough I had found a clip of Bowie performing Quicksand with Robert Smith of The Cure just a few days before.
My earliest memory is Tony Blackburn playing The Laughing Gnome on the newly formed Radio 1. I loved it. Any song that mentioned the word belly was a delight to me.
My next memory is Tony Blackburn playing Space Oddity, but refusing to play the last bit because there was some American space mission going on at the time. It was 1969. I wonder what that was all about?
These were all mixed and muddled memories, with an odd dislocation of time and place. Like a fractured mirror reflecting different periods and emotions in my life. The first time I heard Starman was on my transistor radio in my bedroom. It spoke to me in some way. Nobody but nobody wrote songs like that, but it chimed with my state of mind at the time. For some reason I still don't understand, John I'm Only Dancing really struck a chord with me. The music is inextricably entwined with images from a Continental magazine that was published over here under the title of Dracula. It was a mix of horror, myth and science fiction and the mood of the visuals complemented the mood of Bowie's song, if not the lyrics. I don't understand why and I've never really tried to fathom it, but at the time I felt a bit isolated in my own mind from the rest of the world. My life was going through, or had gone through a great deal of change at the time. Other than Starman the Ziggy album pretty much passed me by.
My subsequent aural encounters with Bowie were through the offices of schoolfriends. I have particular memories of the people I was with when we sat down in a cold and sparsely furnished bedroom to listen to Aladdin Sane. Someone's kitchen for Pin Ups. Another bedroom for Hunky Dory. All out of chronological order in terms of release, but this is how I heard them.
Well, time flexes like a whore. The Eighties brought new life in the form of a wife as we danced to Let's Dance with a new-model Bowie. Along with a new wife came a new generation with their own reflections of Bowie.
My children were subjected to all sorts of music during car journeys. Very broadly speaking, they have rebelled against Dad's musical tastes and found tastes of their own, which is only right and proper. Some things stick. A bit of Richard Thompson here. A smattering of Nick Drake there. Steely Dan has passed them by completely, but Bowie...?
In a reversal of roles, my eldest introduced me to Heathen and Reality. And when he, in his turn, got married, his bride-to-be walked down the aisle to a stripped down version of Sound and Vision.
So, do I have a favourite Bowie song? I have favourite Bowie albums, Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane if only for the sake of nostalgia, perhaps. If I have to settle on one particular track, then it would have to be Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?). Mike Garson's piano solo still thrills me to the marrow every time I hear it.