Saturday, 31 January 2009

New, Improved...

Friday, 30 January 2009

What shall we do with Political Correctness?

It's not often I can use a cartoon from the back-catalogue to so aptly illustrate a piece of current affairs. Especially a piece of current affairs that really pisses me off.
You see, I read today that the charity Bookstart has changed the words to 'What shall we do with the drunken sailor?', eradicating all mention of his lack of sobriety. Yes folks, it's now 'What shall we do with the grumpy pirate?' Whats shall we do with the fucking grumpy pirate indeed...
And this is how it now goes:

What shall we do with the grumpy pirate?
What shall we do with the grumpy pirate?
What shall we do with the grumpy pirate?
Early in the morning
Hooray and up she rises

Hooray and up she rises
Hooray and up she rises
Early in the morning
Do a little jig and make him smile

Do a little jig and make him smile
Do a little jig and make him smile
Early in the morning

Fuck me.

Of course, Bookstart insist that it has nothing to do with political correctness. Whoa there Bookstart! No one was accusing you of that! You mentioned political correctness, not us!
Whatever the reason (and of course it's some ridiculous PC element thats caused it, we're not fucking idiots), it's not right. Why change it? Why? Has this seemingly innocuous nursery rhyme secretly been turning generations of children to booze, churning out alcoholics and drink-soaked adults? Or has it been giving sailors and the proud men and women of the Navy a bad name? Fighting a war with a rifle in one hand and a bottle of rum in the other, shooting wildly at passing seagulls before passing out on deck, is that it?
I could moan on for pages and pages about my hatred of the PC society we live in, but I won't because chances are you feel just as bewildered and incensed as me. Plus I want to go and have a drink. I just posted this to show you what a fucking insane world we live in, and to warn you that there are idiots out there who think changing words in nursery rhymes is perfectly reasonable. Credit crisis, war, famine, poverty, disease, suffering... and some people still decide that its a constructive use of time to sanitize children's classics that should remain untouchable. It drives me insane. What next? 'Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, Humpty Dumpty carefully climbed back down the wall using a properly braced ladder under the supervision of a health and safety inspector'?

Here's the article. Read it and then feel your blood-pressure soar.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Coming Soon in Fed Up February...

January's grinding to a close and soon it'll be time for February. I was going to say 'fabulous February' but its really not a fab month in any sense: it's still cold, dark, way off summer and worst of all contains the most gut-gurningly evil day on the planet: Valentine's Day*. Gah! Look out April, February just became the cruellest month.

Mercifully though it's only 28 days long - ha ha ha haa! take that, month! - and during it I'll be doing my best to brighten it up as much as possible. There'll be lots of great cartoons, some baffling waffle on my behalf, votes aplenty and a poster giveaway. And keep an eye out on Facebook for my 'Too Close to Valentine's Day' event. And it's all free, so what more could you ask for? What? A lottery win? Well week's numbers are 23, 1, 15, 11, 48, and 674.

*By the way, I don't hate love or relationships (they're great), I just disagree with it being forced down my neck in the middle of a month when going out for a romantic meal involves dressing up like an eskimo and trekking across an icy town to a crowded restaurant full of couples who hate the fact that they'll have to pay double for a crappy plate of pasta and then go home and be forced at arrowpoint to have sex by Cupid, even though she has a headache and he has an early meeting in the morning. Hmph.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Draw Pard'ner...

Don't ever tell me you can't draw.

I hate it when people say they can't draw. It's like saying you can't ride a bike. 'Course you can, you just might need to practice a bit first.

Everyone can draw something. Some people can only draw stick men and thats fine, in fact thats brilliant - some of the funniest cartoons I've ever seen have been nothing more than stick men. Other people are amazing at drawing only one thing and have become masters at it. I knew a guy who could and still can draw a giraffe that'd knock your Serenghetti socks off. And then there are those people who are brilliant at everything - the people I'm in awe of. But it's not like there's a set level of drawing at which you can officially draw. I always disagree with people who don't draw because of lots of people who are better at it than them. If you applied that 'logic' to everything else then no one would play Sunday morning football in the park or sing in public or cook, or, well, do anything really.

The point is this: whatever your skill, be it stick man or Sistine Chapel, you can draw. And you should draw more, because not only will you get better with practice, honestly its, well...its fantastic.

Drawing cartoons specifically for individuals is one of the real pleasures in life - whether its a scribble on a napkin or a nicely inked pic of a private joke, there's nothing that makes me feel better than giving someone something to smile about. I don't put the ones I do for people up on the blog cos I think they're a personal thing, and anyway I never keep copies of scribbles I've done for friends (that's right, if you've got one then you're the only one!). And I love receiving them from others too: even the odd biro-drawing is enough to make my day better. We did it all the time at school: just doodling crappily drawn cartoons on bits of paper and passing them to each other in class to alleviate boredom. It was fun, it was personal, it was great. Certainly better than learning about Sales Revenue Maximisation.

You see, a scribble for someone doesn't have to be well-drawn, doesn't have to be funny, because above all its a reminder of something - a moment in life - just like a piece of music, a smell or a photograph. But its better than that because its even more personal. The amount of times I've been sorting through drawers or flicking through old books and laughed as I found a scribble from a friend or a hand-drawn Christmas card. There's something unique about it, something personal - knowing that someone took time, whether it was a minute or an hour or more, to put pen to paper just for you.

So here's the deal: don't ever tell me you can't draw. Ever. And then take five minutes out of whatever kind of day you're having to go and get a pen or a pencil or a felt tip pen or a crayon or a feather dipped in ink and something to write on (heck, some of my best work is on the back of beer mats), and draw something for someone. Anyone. Your best friend, your worst enemy, your partner, a family member, even someone you haven't seen in years and who you think has forgotten about you. Draw something, whatever you want or you can or you think the recipient might like. And then sign it, because I guarantee that it'll be better than you think and you should be proud of your own work. Whatever it looks like and however funny/unfunny it is, it'll mean so much to whoever gets it that they won't care. Even that wobbly lion or crooked stick man shows someone that you're thinking about them. Really, it means a lot. And in return you get the electric satisfaction of making someone smile and knowing you can after all draw.

So what are you still doing here? Get scribbling!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Five New Cartoons

Earlier this month I sent out postcards featuring one of 5 new and never before seen cartoons (and if you still haven't got yours then you either live overseas or your mailman has nabbed it). I also promised that I'd put them up on the blog so you could see what other people got.

And if you see one you like and want but don't have, then let me know through the comments or Facebook or text and I'll happily send it out to you. Or, if you want a one to send to a friend of yours, I'll stick in in an envelope for you so you can scribble your own message on it for them.
The deadly rivalry between the Hammerhead Shark and the Nail Fish...
"Oh great, he's only gone out and gotten himself drunk!"
"Well mightier than the Sword sure, but the Sword-fish...?"

Karate Chops...

"That had better be your tentacle Murray...!"

Friday, 16 January 2009

Hell's Kitchen

Right then cartoon fans, hope you're all well. Just to let you know to tune in to the blog on Sunday night to catch a sneak preview of my new comic Hell's Kitchen - the first six pages will be up for you to have a look at before the whole issue goes up online in about two weeks time. Its pretty good so far as I haven't yet tired of drawing animals or writing speech-bubbles, so catch it while the quality's high! :)

[UPDATED: Sorry, the sneak peek at the comic has been delayed due to a naughty scanner (Grrr!). I've been shaking my fist at it all afternoon but it still won't work.]

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Graphic Scenes...

I've long wanted to draw a graphic novel, or at least a very big comic, but have been lacking a story that was a) good and b) easy to draw. Well all that's changed and I've started work on a comic serial based on a story I wrote years back that's going under the working title 'Hell's Kitchen'. Details soon, but I can tell you that it won't be anything too fancy - just pencils and a black ink because it means the artwork's quicker and maintains an easy style. I'm still debating whether to but it up on the blog or give it away free in papery form...Either way, the first 'issue' will be along in the next few weeks.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Mister Jackson's right...

Where have all the good men gone? And where are all the Gods? Where's the streetwise Hercules to - wait, no, hang on, that's 'I Need A Hero'...right, anyway...back to the original point...

Mister Christopher Jackson - friend, Frasier fan, and all-round fine fellow (ahh, I adore alliteration) - has written a really nice piece on the demise of the gentleman that I'd like to point you to. It also gives me an excuse to publish this archive piece of Too Close For Comfort which was published all the way back in 1886 in Punched magazine by my great great grandfather Sir Oswald Gravyboat-Smedley the Third when he drew the cartoon series. Sir Oswald Gravyboat-Smedley was, of course, the first Smedley to draw Queen Victoria riding a donkey on Blackpool beach. He was also famous for providing illustrations for the short-lived publication Corseted Women Weekly, and for inventing the luminous top hat (for well-dressed gentlemen who found themselves down mine-shafts). He died in 1898, drowing at sea whilst attempting to swim The Channel while wearing an anvil.

Anyway, Chris' article on the demise of the gentleman, 'Where have all the good guys gone?' is at the link below and I urge you to read it because it's very good and, as a fellow gentleman, I agree with every word of it.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Postcards! Postcards! Postcards!

Just to let you all know that (if I've got your address) you can expect a lovely limited edition TCFC postcard through your letterbox any day now. There are 5 different ones, all randomly sent out, and in a few weeks time I'll be putting them all up on the blog for your delectation (ooh I like that word...must use that more often), then they'll eventually end up in the currently compiling Too Close For Comfort Volume 2.
And if you still fancy getting one gratis then just drop me a line by some means and give me your address.

Hope 2009's treating you well!


Thursday, 8 January 2009

A load of bull...

Cornered Beef...

It's weird how the simplest and most innocuous things can inspire you. This cartoon for instance (the first of the new year), was created after I made myself a corned beef sandwich (there was sadly no other meat available to put between bread at the time. Probably for the best - cornered ham wouldn't have been at all funny). The cartoon's not the finished article - just something I hastily scribbled this afternoon and then filled with test-colours. But as ever, let me know what you think.

Friday, 2 January 2009



Right, okay, first post of the new year, a whole new year, yes, good, very good - but blimey where did that come from? Anyway, no need to panic, deep breaths, keep a straight head, loose lips sink ships and all that... sorry, I'm blabbering...where was I?

Oh yes! 2009...Well now I've shaken off the New Year's hangover I can have a final look back before continuing. Onwards and upwards, or, at least, onwards and sideways.
2008 was certainly an eventful year - laughter, tears, good times, heartache, heartburn, lots of brilliant people, a couple of royal douchebags (yeah I'm looking at you Time Thief from the Live! Theatre and a certain Crummy professor!), plenty of new places visited, kites were flown, kitchen floors were sat on, gallons of milkshakes drunk, creativity by the bucketload, and me going 'Top Notch!' a lot. All in all, a very good year.

So, what does 2009 have in store?

Well I'm going to be doing some travelling, drawing as many cartoons as possible, trying to invent my famous mittens for men, and then starting my job. An actual 9 to 5 job with a suit and a phone and an office and everything. Ooh I'm growing up...'gulp', and I'll admit, it'll probably affect the blog more than a little. It's to be expected. But, anyway, before I start that life of tax and bills and TGIFs there's plenty of year ahead - time to fall in love, fall in holes, make new friends, reunite with old ones, think up a new catchphrase to replace 'Top Notch!', figure out the secret of the Colonel's secret recipe of spices, have even more milkshakes, be as best a person as I can possibly be and hopefully make you fantastic people smile with some great cartoons. There'll be sharks, ghosts, glasses half-empty, more sharks, karate chops, zombies, glasses half-full, Victorians, and lots lots more. I hope you like them, cos I'm certainly proud of them.

So 2009 is going to be a year of big changes. One thing is for sure though: there'll be plenty of cartoons along the way. And if I was the kind of guy who made resolutions that would definitely be the one.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and, above all, Top Notch year.

Lots of Love, Rob