Parasols: Amiga 500 digital art, c1992

Art, Cartoons, Illustration

ParasolsThe late 80s and early 90s were exciting times in the development of home computing. I bought my son a Commodore 64 when he was about eight and three years later I bought myself (although my son disputes it was for me) a secondhand Amiga 500.

I was already producing traditional ink and wash cartoons for Future Publishing but the Amiga give me the possibility of creating digital art for them. The supreme art programme was Deluxe Paint by EA. This was years before Photoshop and Illustrator became as sophisticated as they are today.

This is part of a cover for Amiga Format created in Deluxe Paint on my Amiga 500, probably 1992-ish. Drawn using a mouse, pixel by pixel and before the days of antialiasing, hence the jaggies.

archy and mehitabel

Cartoons, Illustration

a good friend sent me a book
one christmas it was an old
library book he d bought for
a few cents but he asked me
to ignore that information
even though it was written
in felt pen inside

it was a book by don marquis
called archy and mehitabel
archy is a cockroach of
great talent and industry
each night when the don is
away from his office archy
hurls himself at
the keys of
the typewriter
but the shift key defeats him
the resulting prose
is in lower case and sans

it is a hoot to read
and joy of joys is full of
line drawings by george
of krazy kat fame

if you d like to read more
extracts i suggest archy
interviews a pharaoh
the lesson of the moth
on the don marquis
tribute website

and finally thanks
to john blair moore
for the gift of a
treasured book

Have a happy Christmas and New Year holiday

Cartoons, Illustration

Which is shorthand for I hope you have a happy Christmas and a happy and successful New Year.

I drew this originally for ArtsMonkey’s Christmas Advent Blog but, with just a few tweaks, it serves well as my digital Christmas card to you.

Christmas is Coming

Christmas is Coming,
The Goose is Getting Fat.
Please put a Penny
In the Old Man’s Hat.
If you haven’t got a Penny,
A Ha’penny will do.
If you haven’t got a Ha’penny,
A Farthing will do.
If you haven’t got a Farthing,
God Bless You!

Devizes in Danger

Art, Cartoons, Soapbox

Digger Rage

I produced this drawing in a ‘white heat’ rage when I found out that farm fields around Devizes were now targeted for hundreds and hundreds of new houses. The total figure as it stands at present is 800 new houses.

Devizes is a small market town that simply does not have the infrastructure to cope with this. Since the 1980s lots of developers have targeted Devizes: Lovell, Wimpey, Persimmon, David Wilson, Crest… you name it. None of them have built anything that provides a benefit to the town, unless you include the eastern link road that provided a useful arc of land to fill with houses.

Devizes needs better transport links before it takes more houses. It lost its own railway station (and line) in the 1960s when the Tory Minister for Transport, Ernest Marples, owner of the construction company Marples-Ridgway – which was busily building motorways – appointed Dr Richard Beeching as Chairman of the British Railways Board. Beeching obligingly decimated the railway network which forced transport companies to use roads, and rail passengers onto buses and into their cars.

Fast forward to today. Devizes is only three miles from the Paddington to Taunton line, yet has no station.

The only decent bus service is the 49 Trowbridge to Swindon, which runs until 7.00pm. There is a limited service to Salisbury, a very circuitous and slow service to Chippenham and the bus service to Bath, which used to be good until last year, is now operated by a second-rate bus company using second-rate buses. Use this service at your risk: the drivers regularly exceed the speed limit, the buses are so noisy that ear defenders should be worn and the lack of suspension will jar your back.

Want to go anywhere for the day? You’ll need a car. Note: the whole issue of sustainability will need an entire new blog entry.

How has this threat to green field sites happened? It’s the ‘Con’ part of the Con-Dem Government’s “Thank You” to their rich funders, the construction industry. A “Thank You” that opens the flood gates to unchecked development, sweeps away all planning safeguards and tramples over the rights of everyone else. Rural Tory landowners are rubbing their hands together with undisguised glee. If you’re one of them, stuff the credit crunch and the recession, “You’ve never had it so good.”

It is being dressed up as the way to kick-start the economy and help all the young people get “affordable housing” (young people whose lives are already buggered because they’ve got student loans to pay off).

Build lots more houses? I think not. Please sign the 38 Degrees petition to Save Our Countryside.

Total! badged up job

Art, Cartoons

Total! badged up job
For a couple of years in the early 90s I created pixelly ‘sprite’ illustrations for Total! magazine, dedicated to computer gaming. Here’s the free badge that came with one issue, featuring the constantly bemused Andy and Steve.

The artwork was created using Deluxe Paint… on an Amiga 500!

Cartoon stereotype

Art, Cartoons, Illustration

Just Amazing: the Frenchman who ate everythingJust Amazing. TV Times 1984. More art from the miketoons dusty archives. An illustration to accompany programme details in TV Times. Apparently the man featured in the programme ate bottles, bicycles and even a light aircraft. Cartoon stereotype of a Frenchman? I admit I’ve never met a Frenchman dressed like this.

Thanks to Elliot Elam for pointing out the Frenchman was Michel Lotito – Monsieur Mangetoute!

Art in a Rainy City

Art, Cartoons, Illustration

Manchester Illustrators Exhibition

Art in a Rainy City, 1980s: Illustration in Indian ink for an exhibition of work by illustrators based in the Manchester area. A one night stand with the art buyers and creatives of Manchester. I don’t remember getting any commissions from that evening but it was good to work with other illustrators in putting it all together.

Any other ‘oldies’ remember it?

Unseasonal Greetings

Art, Cartoons

Frozen Robin Xmas Card

I know it’s a warm June day but I couldn’t wait to add this cartoon to the miketoons blog.

A Christmas card drawn in 1988, the first Christmas I was living in Devizes. It shows the old Coate Bridge (demolished to build a new wider bridge a few months later) over the Kennet & Avon canal. Son Owen and friend Neil are on the bridge. Don’t know whether the bovver-booted robin was a reference to Swindon Town football club.

Odd isn’t it. Well, 22 years on it strikes me as rather odd.

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.