Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Tuesday already...

Slightly non-stop week so far. Over at CapX, I've written 1400 words about Donald Trump who appears to know how to use social media correctly and benefits from advances in broadcast technology.

Meanwhile, over at TW&TW a piece about Boris and Jeb Bush and this last weekend's interesting developments.


Sunday, 21 February 2016

My new EU Referendum cartoon

Perhaps it's not a good cartoon. Zero retweets probably evidence of that. But this took too many hours to draw for me to throw it away with a forlorn sigh and determination to do better tomorrow. Maybe its just unfunny (wouldn't be my first or last) or perhaps people are in favour of this lot taking us out of Europe. I'm still undecided but, I have to admit, if I were to gather a room full of my least favourite politicians, six of these would feature (I don't dislike Boris who, I admit, does make me laugh). Tomorrow I'm going to spend writing and will attempt to write for the rest of the week. Drawn too many cartoons lately that have taken hours to finish.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

A Michael Gove Cartoon

A quick cartoon, drawn last night when it was first rumoured that Gove was about to do the dirty on Cameron as the PM still negotiated with the Europeans. I think this is my first attempt at anything like this, influenced by this Martin Rowson cartoon.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Just a Joanna Lumley cartoon...

Bananas, Politics, and Samsung Monitors

Over at TW&TW I'm talking about the EU referendum and bananas. To summarise: I have no bloody idea which way to vote and, when I do, it will be based largely on ignorance and gut instincts. The below graphic, incidentally, is probably my favourite of all the David Camerons I've drawn.

Meanwhile, over at CapX, I've been talking about the struggle the Republicans now face with Obama's nomination for the Supreme Court. Yet again, it proves how much more interesting American politics are to the anodyne version we have here in the UK.

Meanwhile in the non-virtual world: I need to get some of my recent cartoons finished. Because I've been drawing them for myself, they've not been getting finished. Next few days I think I'll make that a priority.

At some point I also have to think about doing something about this dreadful monitor of mine. I say it's dreadful now but it's been a great monitor. It's a Samsung SyncMaster 226BW but it's now approaching 10 years old. It has already died once but I fixed it by replacing its capacitors, the only time I've ever breathed live back into a piece of hardware through a soldering iron. That was a few years ago so the capacitors must be doing a good job but perhaps too good a job. I should have replaced this monitor before now. Its colour gamut is way off meaning that how I see my cartoons is very different to how other people see them. They perhaps think I'm colour blind or like extremely strong colours. I don't. It's just that this monitor makes everything duller, darker, and less vibrant. It also doesn't make for a good writing environment and I'm sure it can't be good for my eyes. Need to replace it but not sure if I can afford to. I could do with somebody from Acer or iiyama offering send me a 27 incher to review but I never get any offers to review things or when I do it's always something lousy such as thermal socks. Somebody emailed me recently asking to send me thermal socks and when I said 'please do' I never heard from them again. My feet have been cold all winter too. Damn marketing people waste so much of my time. Every day I have half a dozen of the buggers slip through my spam filters to tell me about a bloody gallery opening or a new restaurant in London. I often reply in a slightly sarcastic way but they never respond. Sometimes I wonder if they're really even people.

I'm rambling when I should really be working.


Friday, 12 February 2016

Hunt, Junior Doctors, Hand cramps

Before I sit down and do some proper work and write something, I'm typing this straight into the editor window, so forgive the typos and the poor grammar. I just want to record the fact that this cartoon too far too much effort and even as I look at it now, I realise I still need to finish it. The right side edge of the top panel is straight where I split it from the one below it. Should have drawn over it to give it that rough edge look. Originally drawn side by side, I thought they might look better stacked. Now I'm not so sure. But I'm not sure about much.

I'd drawn an earlier filthier version of this cartoon, in which Hunt engaged in some proctology, complete with sharp finger nail. It was badly received by all who saw it, though I quite liked it. More problematic was my drawing of Hunt. When that was brought to my attention, I was determined to fix it. And so began a mammoth session yesterday drawing and redrawing Hunt. By the end, I was getting hand cramps. I think, to be honest, I became Hunt blind. I had to publish this today just to stop my working on it. I'm trying to draw a cartoon a day but this one alone has taken two.

Today, I have to go back to the ugly murk of web building but hopefully get an article written later in the afternoon if my energy and/or interest doesn't wane. Bit of a miserable day so far...

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

A Jack Straw Cartoon

Not entirely happy with this one. I thought the joke would be better when I thought of it and I didn't really get to add extra jokes. The Tony Blair face in the tree didn't quite work either, though I think this is the first time I've ever tried that trick of turning a face into a tree and hoping to keep it recognizable. I could probably have worked more on this but I don't like the previous day's work from intruding on new work and the cartoon I subsequently thought up seemed so much better until I drew it and showed it to people to a lukewarm response. I'm such a lousy judge of my own work.. What a wasted day...

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Drawing a Brexit cartoon

Quick update before I sit down to do my day's writing. I've two new articles over at TW&TW. The first is a piece about Chris Christie's hit job on Marco Rubio. The second is a review of the Martin Rowson workshop/lecture from last Thursday.

I also have finished a new cartoon using the tricks I learned at the workshop. Not sure the result is much different to how it would have looked if I'd drawn this last Wednesday but getting to the finish was a lot quicker. With the exception of Cameron, who I drew the normal way but with the new improved thicker neck, I drew these with more emphasis on picking three key features. Gove: jowls, eyes, mouth; Osborne: nose, mouth, eyebrows; May: nose, mouth, eyes. Normally, I'd tinker around for hours. By concentrating on just three features, I got to the finished result in *far* less time. Started this about 5pm last night. The drawing was done in about an hour, added IDS whilst watching a movie last night, but then painted it all in about an hour or two from 11pm to 1am. Probably three or four hours. Does it look too digital? That's my only thought...

I say it might not look different to my style pre-Thursday but that's obviously a lie. The other thing I learned was to see if I can stretch for more than one joke. Here there are countless. That's another of tricks I picked up from Rowson's lecture. I guess it comes from Hogarth but Rowson does it himself. Not many cartoonists seem to pick it up but I like the fact that the more you look, the more laughs you find. Of I hope you do.

I also decided to try to be more complete in my finished cartoons. I need to start putting more work into good backgrounds. Here it's just a wash of colours but I want to move away from just drawing figures with an empty background.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

On visiting brain doctors in Chester and @MartinRowson in Sale

Chester just isn't built for big people. I realised this about the time I demolished a display of Jonathan Dimbleby books in the city's cramped Waterstones. The destruction didn't bother me too much. Richard & Judy's blurb for the book says 'fascinating', which is a whole word more than I got for the book written by the UK's top Richard Madeley lookalike... Besides, Jonathan is only my fourth favourite Dimbleby (after David, Richard, and Alphonsus (no relation)). I did, however, feel bad for the young toddler whose mother scolded him for toppling the pile. I wasn't about to disillusion her and admit that my right elbow was the guilty party but I think I had good intentions. That child will grow up with a lifelong phobia of Jonathan Dimbleby and that's not a bad phobia to have. Hell of a lot better than an old friend of mine who had a phobia of tomatoes. Not sure if there's a tomato-based form of Tourettes but he would scream 'c**t' every time he saw a red vegetable in a sandwich.

But I digress...

I was in Chester because my sister had an appointment with a neurologist for her condition which continues to baffle medical science but could well be some magnificent fuckup with her sympathetic chain. The NHS have taken 20 years to spot what might be this magnificent fuckup in her sympathetic chain hence our travelling to Chester for expert advice. I've taken to joking that her sympathetic chain ends somewhere around me but that's clearly not true. My middle name is 'Sympathy' which also, quite possibly, is the name of one of the minor Dimblebys.

I joke but it's been a hell of a week, most of which has been spent accompanying my nearest and dearest as they have had hospital appointments of one kind or another.

The oddest day was Thursday, which is saying something given that I spent this morning sitting in a hospital reading Christopher Hitchens's account of having his balls waxed. Yet Thursday was one of those surprising and wonderful days that defined my week, month, year, and decade, depending on how you view the day I spent in London meeting a publisher who agreed to publish my book. That day was a sublimely good day but not a surprise. It also subsequently become tinged by the sadness of what happened to poor Stan Madeley. The status of 'best day of my life' was up for grabs and Thursday definitely grabbed it by its ears and rode it like an incontinent pig.

I went to Sale to attend Martin Rowson's cartoon workshop and lecture and it all turned out rather amazing. I'm trying to finish a proper full length review of the talk but, as you know, I rate Rowson as one of the best cartoonists in the country. Dare I say the best? Well, sod it. Some people rate Shelley higher than Byron but I prefer my poets madder and badder rather than happy, clappy, or all skippy through the dandylions. Rowson has a dark vituperative edge which elevates him higher than the rest. He's Byronic in his anger, satire, and wit. Byronic too in his kindness when it comes to treating a humble writer/cartoonist to a curry. Yes, that's right: I felt a bit John Cam Hobhouse as I had a curry with Martin Rowson. One day I might actually be able to put that experience into words and explain how much it meant. What I'll say is that he taught me a lesson in how to say 'fuck you' to the world and 'fuck you' to critics. No longer will I be plagued by the words of the 'Welsh Rockweiller' who greeted my book with possibly the shittiest review that Amazon has ever seen. Fuck you, Welsh Rockweiller! Fuck you!

The actual workshop also gave me a new way of approaching caricature and I intend to get at least one cartoon finished this weekend. Sadly, the use-by date has passed on a nice little drawing I'd started of Julian Assange pissing on the head of Philip Hammond so it will be something new I work on tonight as I try to stay awake for the Republican debate. I might not. I'm spectacularly knackered.

This coming week, I also have to try to write some new articles and attempt to 'place' them which means hope that somebody will buy them. I've had real strangers write to me in the past week saying how much they've enjoyed the pieces I've been writing. Short of getting paid for what you love to do, praise is possibly the best part of being a writer and/or cartoonist. That and being able to sleep late on a Tuesday...


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Crashes, articles & a reasonable phobia of @MartinRowson

The blog's server's been crashing nearly every sodding day recently and I've struggled to figure out the problem. I think it's something to do with the memory but I really haven't had the time to work on it. So, instead, I reboot knowing that the site sometimes goes hours without it being available. I did a system restore last week which means that a few things disappeared, so this post is a ramble plus a few of my newest cartoons and links to articles I've had published elsewhere.

In other news: heading off to Manchester on Thursday to attend a Martin Rowson cartoon workshop, which is beginning to worry me. Love Rowson's work and love his attitude. I bought a ticket thinking it would be a case of turning up and laughing. Now I might have to work, it all seems high pressure. Cue dreams in which I see Rowson looming over me shouting 'fuckwit' whilst stabbing me with a quill because I dare be digital-only. Determined not to wimp out, though my day out comes wedged between two outings as I take various people to hospitals. I will try to use my time wisely and get something written/drawn.

Not many highlights of the past month. Fell off my bike twice. Had one article in the list below retweeted by Richard Dawkins. Jeb Bush stopped wearing his glasses about a day after CapX published my article in which I suggested that Jeb Bush should stop wearing his glasses.

Had an idea of a book I'd like to write about American politics but don't have the time. It occurred to me that in the past six months, I've written about 70 articles, all of which have been 1000+. That's the length of a book. I know the words are in me. Just have to find time to make them book shaped.

Anyway: some of my recent prose.

What just happened in Iowa? at TW&TW.

Swastika-shaped thinking at TW&TW

Will Trump trump Kelly or Kelly trump Trump? at TW&TW.

Don't write off President Bloomberg at CapX.

Praising Ameritude at TW&TW.

The Remarkable Soundscape of Sarah Louise Palin at TW&TW.

It's the Stupidity, Stupid: Why Jeb Bush is fighting the wrong fight at CapX.

Why does American celebrate the best while Britain celebrates the brash? at CapX.