We Ran the World

Art, Cartoons

Here’s a little taster of We Ran the World, a collaboration with writer Andy Oldfield which was originally published in The Damage*, a short-lived rival to Viz.

We Ran the World was a dig at the so-called glories of the British Empire, little Englanders, xenophobes… as well as the then-current Thatcher government. The strip normally occupied the centre spread of The Damage but this special edition ran to four pages. Andy would fax the scripts to me and I would squeeze in as much of my own daftness as there was room for.

We Ran the World - Twilight of the Gods - page 1
We Ran the World - Twilight of the Gods - page 2
We Ran the World - Twilight of the Gods - page 3
We Ran the World - Twilight of the Gods - page 4
The artwork was drawn to A3 size on bleedproof layout paper, inked by brush then coloured with Pantone and Magic Markers. All the brush hand lettering was on a separate overlay to preserve clarity of the text.

*The Damage was originally called Brain Damage but the name was changed after pressure from a campaign group representing the parents of brain-damaged children.

I’m biased. I thought The Damage was a far better comic than Viz but the public preferred the very British humour (dare I say ‘toilet’ humour?) of the Beano/Dandy styleViz strips to the more adventurous stuff in The Damage.

Meat

Art, Illustration, Soapbox

Meat

At various times in my life I have been vegetarian, sometimes reluctantly through pressure from family members, other times willingly. More recently, I’ve been eating meat occasionally – bacon, pork sausages, chicken and, less often, beef – and always with the magic words organic or free range to lessen any guilt trip.

I’m a guilt-ridden semi-reluctant meat eater. I feel it’s wrong, but I like it.

This week I’m reading A C Grayling’s book Ideas that Matter. It’s his ‘personal dictionary’ of ideas worth knowing about in the 21st century. Each short essay is informative and illuminating.

Grayling is vegetarian and his piece on vegetarianism made me laugh out loud and then re-examine my own attitude to eating meat.

He says there are three arguments why you shouldn’t eat meat. Economic (the weakest argument), health and (strongest argument) morally.

Here’s what he says on health:

…more compelling, is the health argument, which turns on the consideration that meat contains saturated fats and lots of bacteria, and if it non-organically produced then it contains antibiotics, vaccines and growth hormones, which with the fats and (despite the antibiotics) the bacteria find their way into the human mouth as it fulfils its function as a graveyard for the corpses of slaughtered beasts.

…What butchers call ‘fresh meat’ is nothing of the sort, but is in fact carrion, because meat is only soft enough to cut, cook and eat when it has begun to decay. That we eat rotten meat is a fact amazingly disguised in the case of game, hung for extra lengths of time to get even more rotten than other meats. Rotting is effected by millions of bacteria swarming in the meat, their task is to pre-digest it for us by eating it first; the gamey smell of hung venison comes from the excrement of the microbes smeared all over it- everything that eats must excrete, and the meat is both dining room and toilet for the microbes.

…Perhaps you like filling your mouth with rotting flesh full of injected hormones and vaccines, pullulating with microbes and covered in microbe diarrhoea. All these things, plus a carcinogenic finish of heat-damage caused by the cooking process, add up to a tasty morsel, after all, and who can deny it?

Thank you. I think in future I’ll ignore the tempting organically, lovingly, free-range, happy animals descriptions and try again to be a contented vegetarian.

Roger Frames: rediscovered pencil rough

Art, Cartoons, Illustration

Roger Frames - Batfink and gargoyle - 1st rough
While rummaging through a pile of old pencil roughs (I call it my filing system) I discovered, or rediscovered, this first pencil rough for a Roger Frames cartoon.

It was for the third of three cartoons where the theme was Roger acting out a Batman fantasy triggered by his favourite ‘Budjit Game’ of that month.

As you can see below I changed the drawing completely for the final version, much simpler and more dramatic, prompted by Art Editor Ollie Alderton’s valuable contribution.

Roger Frames - Batfink and gargoyle - 2nd rough

Here’s the final printed version.
Roger Frames - Batfink and gargoyle - printed proof

A week of catastrophes

Cartoons, History, Soapbox

The massive earthquake off the north east coast of Japan and the ensuing apocalyptic tsunami was a double catastrophe of lost lives, lost homes and lost infrastructure.

Five days on and the relief work is hampered by the ongoing nuclear crisis at Fukushima with the threat of a radiation catastrophe.

Failsafe. There’s a word to contemplate. Are the assurances given so far about the reactors’ containment and ultimate safety hollow? When things go wrong in this industry, secrecy, half-truths, wildly optimistic pronouncements are wrapped around the feeble and often mistaken choices made to put things right.

I firmly believe that my father’s death in January 1961 from cancer (he was 40 years old) was caused by Britain’s worst nuclear event, the Windscale (Sellafield) fire and leak, three years earlier.

Needless to say, I am deeply suspicious of the nuclear industry. Nuclear Power? No thanks.

This cartoon by Low had a profound effect on me as a young nascent cartoonist. It seems appropriate this week, over 60 years on.

Baby Play With Nice Ball? Cartoon by David Low | Evening Standard, August 1945.

Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle ‘What? Already?!’, 90th year exhibition, Wilhelm Busch Museum, Hannover

Art, Cartoons

Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle – self portrait, originally uploaded by mike(toons).

2010 has been a year of rediscovery for me. And the greatest of these has been of Ronald Searle’s work, made possible by exhibitions in London and Hannover in honour of his 90th birthday.

The fact that I could still draw, after a decade of beating ever increasing amounts of type into smaller text boxes (sometimes laughingly described as graphic design), was also a rediscovery. The joy I felt at sketching these drawings by Searle was astonishing. I burst into tears at one point. Something had been re-established in me.

These sketchbook drawings are not intended to give a wider public much information about Searle’s work. They were really just for me. A way of connecting. Better sources for actual examples of Ronald Searle’s work are the Ronald Searle Tribute and Brian Sibley has written several pieces about him. Worth a look.

And if you can, get over to Hannover before 30 January 2011 to see the exhibition!

Exhibition sketchbook: Perhaps His Majesty's Minister is not aware of the grave displeasure with which the Primrose League views the Government's sunflower scheme.
Exhibition sketchbook: Perhaps His Majesty’s Minister is not aware of the grave displeasure with which the Primrose League views the Government’s sunflower scheme, originally uploaded by mike(toons).
Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle - And this is Mr Eccle Shave. He wants a bloody revolution.
Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle – And this is Mr Eccle Shave. He wants a bloody revolution., originally uploaded by mike(toons).
Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle - Layman's Guide to the Warrior's Anatomy & Artist's Anatomy
Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle – Layman’s Guide to the Warrior’s Anatomy & Artist’s Anatomy., originally uploaded by mike(toons).

The right hand sketch (above) is missing about 30 arrows linking the artist’s attributes to his head, which I lazily omitted to draw.

Exhibition sketchbook: Some corner of a foreign field that is for ever England... (Telescopic photo taken through the open window of the ladies room of a well-known Port Said hostelry)
Exhibition sketchbook: Some corner of a foreign field that is for ever England… (Telescopic photo taken through the open window of the ladies room of a well-known Port Said hostelry), originally uploaded by mike(toons).

Exhibition sketchbook: Clown by Ronald Searle (1971)

Exhibition sketchbook: Clown by Ronald Searle (1971), originally uploaded by mike(toons).

I love the contrast between the sober normal world seen in the businessman’s clothes hanging on the pegs and the ludicrous clown in a purple striped dress.

Exhibition sketchbook: two cartoons for Le Monde by Ronald Searle

Exhibition sketchbook: two cartoons for Le Monde by Ronald Searle, originally uploaded by mike(toons).

The cartoons done for Le Monde, over the last 15 years or so, show that Searle’s powers are undiminished. These are my two favourites but there were many more in the exhibition. Top: “Au suivant!“, bottom “Foubelle“.

Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle - owl in ink and scribbled colour pencil
Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle – owl in ink and scribbled colour pencil, originally uploaded by mike(toons).
Originally posted on miketoons.blogspot.com – Thursday, 9 September 2010

Roger Frames buys Budjit Games

Art, Cartoons, Illustration

Roger Frames - masthead

I’ve been scanning in old art commissioned by Commodore Format magazine in the early 1990s. At the time, Future Publishing was probably my best client and I was producing artwork for many of its magazines.

The regular project that I enjoyed the most was illustrating the pages where the low-cost (Budjit) computer games were reviewed by the fictitious young, accident-prone kid – Roger Frames.

Issue #1 of the magazine saw Roger in basic black and white line but very soon – by issue #4 – a couple of full colour illustrations of Roger’s antics appeared every month. This increased to as much as four illustrations in some issues.

I’ve chosen a few of my favourites: some are scans from the printed magazine because the artwork was either not returned or been lost.

Roger Frames - snotty nose

Roger Frames: Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside

Roger Frames: Commodore 64 sand sculpture

Roger Frames: Computer Sand Sculpture

Roger Frames: All at sea

Roger Frames: All at seaRoger Frames - Hospital VisitRoger Frames: Hospital Visit

Roger & Debit watch the Chancellor's Budget Speech

Roger Frames: Roger and Debit watch the Chancellor’s Budget Speech

Roger Frames: Arrested for Begging

Roger Frames: Arrested for begging

Roger Frames - Asleep in the sun

Roger Frames: Asleep in the sun

Roger Frames - Sunburn

Roger Frames: Bad Sunburn

Roger Frames: The Untouchables

Roger Frames: The Untouchables

Roger Frames - Batman and the vicar

Roger Frames: ‘Batman’ and the vicar

Roger Frames - Batman and the vicar

Roger Frames: ‘Batman’ and the vicar

Roger Frames - Hanging on

Roger Frames: Hanging on

Roger Frames - Beach Treasure Hunt

Roger Frames: Beach Treasure Hunt

Roger Frames - Bath Tub Sub

Roger Frames – Bath Tub Sub
Originally posted on miketoons.blogspot.com – Tuesday, 2 November 2010