Sunday, 29 March 2009

Animated Talk...

As you'll find out in an upcoming blog post, I love animation, so I was in for a treat when Chris pointed me to his brother's YouTube page (is it page or account or site? I'm rubbish with YouTube jargon - I usually just watch movie trailers and old episodes of Transformers. Oh wait, apparently they're called channels. Cheers Cass!). Anyway, on there there's some great animation done entirely by his 14 year old bro and it's really wicked. Check out Fred the Cyborg to see some awesome robo-fighting (the bit where he knocks a guy down, grabs the falling rifle and bashes him in the head with it is my favourite bit - love it!) and sets up an intriguing plot. It's a story in parts and I'm already looking forward to the next segment. There's also a cool little vid about Unfair Trade. So click the link below to check it all out and show your support, cos he really is rather talented.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Hy-pathetic-al Questions...

In coming up with ideas for cartoons I usually end up with some odd hypothetical questions. Often a hypothetical question can make a great cartoon (that’s how I came up with, among others, the dragon having a sneezing fit on a date). But sometimes I’ll come up with one that boggles the mind and can’t be answered. At least, I can’t answer them. Maybe you can. Below are some of the many questions that I’ve had scribbled down on bits of paper on the board above my desk over the years. Some of them have a germ of a cartoon-worthy idea in them, others are just the stuff I think of at random while living my life. If you can think of an answer to any of these (or a hilarious response) don’t keep it to yourself – share it with the rest of the class! And if you can think of your own hypothetical question then let us know about that too!

-Why didn’t the Three Musketeers carry muskets instead of swords?

-We all know a Pumpkin Seed grows into a Pumpkin, and a Poppy Seed grows into a Poppy, but what does a Sesame Seed grow into? A Sesame? And what does one of them look like?

-All good Dogs go to Heaven, but what about Dogs that lead good lives and who are Atheists?

-‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’ – okay, but what if a monkey commits suicide in front of his mates?

-How far can infinity expand in an infinite amount of time?

-Who determines how sticky glue is?

-Are the oceans just God’s soup that he wouldn’t eat because he’d over-seasoned it with too much salt?

-A monkey, a hawk and a cat are locked in a room with a chainsaw, a revolver and a banana – which animal comes out alive?

-If a person who always tells lies and who has been lying on a bed of lye calls you on the phone and tells you that they’re still lying on that bed of lye, are they a liar?

-Why aren't cows able to milk themselves?

-Don’t fish have ridiculously high-sodium levels from all that salty seawater?

-Are the other fowl like the turkey and the partridge bitter that the chicken is the most popular bird to eat, or are they relieved?

-What would bananas look like if they were grown in a zero-gravity atmosphere?

-How many numbers are there?

Friday, 27 March 2009

When it comes to making Egg jokes, I'm no shell-out...

Easter isn't that far off, meaning that neither is the traditional slew of egg-based wordplay, the likes of which is certain to make you roll your eyes and shake your head. You know the kind of thing: 'eggselent', 'eggstravagant', 'eggregious', 'eggressive'... And while I normally hate them, I couldn't resist the joke that popped into my head as I sat doodling. 'Why did Humpty Dumpty go to the Dermatologist? Because he had eggsma'. A-hahahahahahahaa... I'll be very sad if I find that I've been beaten to creating that joke. Anyway, I sketched a variation of it down (here it's a guy who has turned into an egg - although perhaps I should have kept it as Humpty Dumpty going to the doc with a skin complaint...), inked it, coloured it and a few hours later here it is. I was going to save it for a time closer to Easter, but I couldn't resist. As ever, let me know what you think. I have to admit, I might change it to Humpty Dumpty instead of an egg-guy...

Thursday, 26 March 2009

I guess it might be called 'Sat-Pan'...

'Peter Pan's Sat-Nav...'

What kind of car would Peter Pan drive?
Yeah, I know, he can fly, but the boy's gotta have some wheels just in case he runs out of pixie dust or his jetpack is at the mender's. I actually put a ridiculous amount of thought into what kind of car he would have. I'm weird like that - I put a lot of thought into the sideways logic of a cartoon. Everything has to have a reason for being there to make the whole things as funny as possible. At first I wanted him to have a big ol' people carrier that had Wendy and all the Lost Boys crammed in, but it proved to be too 'busy' and left no room for the words. Then I thought about him having a thoroughly pimped out ride - because Peter Pan's always seemed like a dick and it made sense for him to be rolling around in an overly-extravagant car. Then I moved to a sports car, but I thought that was too good for him; the kid's not made of money. At one point I did consider a 'home made' car that looked like it had been cobbled together by Pan and the Lost Boys out of wood and bits and bobs, but that idea soon went. At last I settled for a generic red thing, because the car's not really the joke (although the license plate is a crafty Peter Pan reference) and you don't want it to get in the way of the real focus which is the sat-nav. So I made it plain and boring. Take that, boy who never grows up!
On a side note, it's rather difficult to draw Peter Pan - you can easily make him look like Robin Hood if you're not careful. And why would Robin need a Sat-Nav? He doesn't own a car!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


I have a few duck jokes up my sleeve (seriously, ducks are funny) but this is my favourite of them all so it got drawn first. There's also an oblique movie reference in there (I only realised it after I finished the cartoon - but ten points to the person to be able to name that 80's movie, and a further ten if you can name the movie where a duck is killed by a loaf of bread).
I've been working on a duck/bread joke for a while, but it was only last night that this one finally crystallised. After all, when you go to feed the ducks there's always one duck that's greedier than the rest; always trying to gobble up more than its fair share of that stale loaf you've earmarked for them.
Also, what is it about the baguette that makes it the funniest of all breads? Is it it's great, yeasty phallic shape? Or the way it's name sounds? Or the fact that it's the only bread you can sword-fight with? Or something else entirely? I mean, if the duck had a loaf or a focaccia sticking out of its beak it wouldn't be half as funny....

Anyway, first cartoon back, what do you think of it? And tune in tomorrow for an entirely new (non-duck) cartoon!

A Shorter Spell than Expected...

My month-long dry spell has come to an end (last time I actually came up with a funny cartoon and not one of the comic book pages I've done was the Surgeon one on the 20th of February and boy, has it felt like a while since then). Anyway, hoorah! And thankfully much sooner than expected - 'phew!'. The last post was as much for myself as all you lovely people out there: I myself expected not to have anything for a while because the dry spell was going on for way longer than expected. But then I realised that I just wasn't trying hard enough. I had grown lazy and expected ideas to just pop into my head without me trying. And unless I did something about it I'd end up just wasting my own time. Can't have that. As many of you know, I hate time thieves. So I got off my backside and immediately sat down on my backside to draw (I mean who draws standing up?) Y'see, sometimes, when no one else will kick you up the arse, you just have to do it yourself (I'll leave the contortionist-esque physics of that up to your imagination). And kick I did by God, by ordering myself not to go to bed until I had squeezed three new - and, importantly, funny, cartoons from my brain.

It was five in the morning before my head made contact with a pillow.

Still, the job got done. Three lovely new cartoons, two of which have been drawn, inked and coloured in today, after a refreshing sleep. And I have to say, for three in the morning work they're pretty good. But as ever, I leave the final opinion to you folks out there. One will be up tonight, the others will be up over the coming days.

Anyway, the whole thing taught me a lesson - if you do anything creative, whether that's drawing, composing music, writing stories, coming up with jokes, riding a unicycle while juggling jugs, anything that involves you making something new, you can't be complacent and expect it new ideas to fall into your lap. You've got to go and look for them yourself. Nicole has a good article on her blog about this ( in relation to writing. There are lots of things you can do to stir the creative juices, from going for a walk to going on a rollercoaster, just remember that you have to do it yourself. No one else can.

Right, I'm off to go think up a decent joke about Baristas and Barristers. Thanks for checking out the blog again, and hope you enjoy the cartoons that are coming up.

Rob x x x

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Too Closed for Comfort...

Just to let you know there'll be no more blog posts for a while.

Thanks for checking out the blog x x x

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The Most Nihilistic 100 Word Story you're likely to read for a while...

A few months ago a sentence popped into my head for no reason: 'At the end of the Universe all that was left was a tin of peaches'. I liked it. It was a bit 'Douglas Adams' in its oddity. The idea was that a time-traveller dsicovered this and lost all hope in humanity, since despite all its endeavours it was never going to amount to anything or be remembered for anything but that tin of peaches. And then he was torn between whether to tell anyone in the past or not. I mean, how would you feel if you found out that every endeavour and dream was pointless? That your existence and the existence of everyone who would ever be was just...meaningless. And how would you feel if you were the guy who found this out. Would you tell everyone else?
Since then I've been trying to write a story based on that one sentence. I wrote about ten different versions but I liked none of them becasue they all, however long or short they were, got bogged down in the jargon of time travel and veered away from that central, nihilistic point. So tonight I tried to just capture that hopelessness in under one hundred words - and its my favourite draft (and I stress draft on purpose) so far. If nothing else, it's been a fun little exercise in getting to the core of a story. So here it is: 'The Sum of It All'...

The Sum of It All

In the far future, at the end of the Humankind, there was nothing left but a tin of peaches.

Peterson’s Peach Segments in Syrup. Best before end 1990.

Nothing else.

The Time Traveller stood in the dirt of an Earth stripped bare of everything and stared at the battered tin.

And then, because he couldn’t stand what he saw, and what it meant for the hope of humanity, and because he couldn’t face the strain of telling everyone the truth when he travelled back home...

...he shot himself right there. Next to last and only remnant of all Human endeavour.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Make Over

I was looking through my back-catalogue of cartoons and noticed that some of the older ones are looking a tad shabby. So I've decided to re-draw and re-colour some of them so that they fit in with the newer ones. (Yeah I know some people might say it shows how your drawing and style has improved over time, but I'm a perfectionist and need everything to be right and look good).

And just see how much better the new, re-drawn/re-coloured ones are compared to the old ones:


Much better, I think you'll agree.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

The Top Five:

Cartoons and Music:

I love cartoons. I love music. This list is a compilation of those times when the two come together to form something so perfect it sticks in your head. I can still remember what I was doing, where I was, and exactly how I felt when I heard/saw all of these. There's no higher compliment I can pay them than that.

You might expect this list to be filled solely with Disney movie clips, but this list isn't just about awesome animation and skin-tingling music, it's about how well the two stick together. Whether the music suits the animation and vice-versa, and whether the two together can become more than the sum of their parts. Something that is more than just ink and vibrations.

So, here's my list, my top five, and feel free to add your own favourites to the comments box... (I've included links if you fancy viewing them. I didn't embed the vids as it was taking too long)

- Hellfire from Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Not a well-known song but by God it raises the hairs on the back of your neck. Nasty bad-guy Frollo sings to a fireplace about fancying gypsy Esmerelda (and who could blame him, the animators made her hot), but crushes on ladyfolk aren't allowed by the Church, oh no.
Both the animation and music are incredibly gothic, dramatic and (it'll make sense when you hear it) churchy. 1:31-1:41 are, quite frankly, spine-tingling: as ghostly flames wrap around him and choral voices hit a roof-rattling crescendo. It's like the voices of Heaven and Hell are signing with him, howling with him, and dragging him down into the Inferno. Plus there's some fantastic brooding animation, particularly when the guard opens the door. And lets face it, who hasn't sung to a roaring fire at one time or another?

- Transfomers Opening Titles (Season 2): Alien robots kicking the shit out of one another? What music do you put to that? Ass-kicking 80s electro-synth, thats what! Electronic-style lyrics play over some cracking and immesnely dynamic (but now slightly dated) animation of Transformers transforming, and in 30 seconds you immediately know what the next 30 minutes is going to be about. That's why it's on the list - for the sheer economy of it all - managing to set up the scene and get you excited about it AND have you bobbing your head to that electro-synth beat. I still feel like an excited five year old when I hear it.

- Tom and Jerry: The Cat Concerto: This is, frankly, (and pardon my French) fucking brilliant. This is the synergy between animation and music at its best. You can't beat it. You can't. Combining animation and music to make the jokes (the only music you hear is that played by Tom on the piano), you have to marvel at how the writers and animators and musicians planned this one out. The music doesn't just fit with the animation, it's integral to it. This harks back to a time when animation was a spectacle and consequently so was the music that went with it, not just shit sound effects and guitar strumming like you get on a lot of today's kid's shows. This is art people. And if you don't enjoy this then you have no soul. No soul at all.

- The Circle of Life, 'The Lion King': Show me a more uplifting, emotional, gradiose start to a piece of animation and I'll eat my hat. You cannot top The Lion King. Not only is there a piece of music that evokes the Serenghetti dawn and the majesty of a coronation, but it interlocks perfectly with the action on screen: see the baby giraffe 'blinking, step into the Sun' as the exact words can be heard. And the start is fantastic: a lone African voice singing with the rising Sun as instruments gradually join in, just as the animals gradually congregate at Pride Rock. And then there's a grand crescendo as the music lifts up with little Simba, and then it abruptly stops, drowns in black and reveals the title. Oh, and I forgot to say, the animation is magnificent: Table Mountain, marching ants silhouetted against running zebras, cute lion cubs being lifted over a sea of animals - neither the animation nor the music let each other down, and even before minute five of the film has begun you're buzzing. You're watching one of the last great Disney animations ladies and gentlemen, drink it up.

- Batman: The Animated Series. Opening Titles: This is how to introduce your protagonist, your show, and make the audience's pulse race even before the title has rolled. The start of the animated Batman cartoon is a little story in itself: robbers bust open a bank, escape with the loot, are met with the shadowy figure of the Batman on the roof, have the shit kicked out of them, and are left to a bewildered police force. No words, no sound effects, just Danny Elfman's score jazzed up. Cymbal crashes represent punches and a malevolent string and brass score represent the seediness of Gotham City and the darkness and hope that Batman brings to it. Much of the elegance and drama comes from the animation, which is of the old Superman cartoon series style: art deco but steeped in the shadows and night of Gotham. Combined with the music it makes for an incredibly evocative piece. The dedication put into the titles makes it like a little cartoon within itself, and yet its just an appetiser before the rest. Never before or since has Batman been so economically or dramatically summed up. He's a shadowy figure who stops crime. That's all he'll ever be. That's all you need to know. Now on with the rest of the show... Perfect. Absolutely perfect. If you watch only one of the videos on the list, watch this one.

(PS: Raymond Briggs' The Snowman isn't featured here, because it doesn't need to be. It is THE PERFECT blend of animation and music. It lasts for only half an hour. And for exactly half an hour you will be amazed and filled with child-like wonder. That's the reason it isn't on this list - it's so eye-wateringly perfect that nothing else compares to it. Not Batman or The Lion King or Tom and Jerry. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.)

Things I Draw When I'm Bored...(2)