Monday, 29 June 2009

Show Me The Money!

Where are the Jackson and Madoff Millions?

I don't normally cover the news, just rant at it, but it's been a helluva week, with two particularly big stories. One of them is the death of Michael Jackson, the other is the 150 year sentence doled out to uber-conman and all round shit, Bernie Madoff (I think that's the first Michael Jackson sentence this week not to also feature the phrase 'King of Pop'). I laughed out loud and did a little dance when Madoff was sentenced today, given as much time in prison as I think Lex Luthor got the last time he was up before a judge. Sometimes justice fails you and shakes your faith in it. This was not one of those times. Frankly, for all the harm he's caused, I think they should keep his corpse in its cell until the 150 years is fully served.

Anyway, what connects both these stories? The answer: Money. Specifically, the location of large quantities of it. Both Madoff and Jackson's millions have been talked about a lot, because there are a lot of people with a lot of reasons for wanting some of it. In the case of Jackson, fans who bought tour tickets are wanting their money back, while there's also been media specualtion about his will and then outstanding debts and what the investors and banks are owed. Of course, Jackson's finances and missing millions have been fodder for the media for years, but only now are things coming to a head. In terms of Madoff, his £150 billion + dollar Ponzi-scheme has left millions of people out of pocket or in debt, and understandably they want it back. Question is, where is it? Here no one is quite sure. Such was the complexity and length of his scheme that it seems impossible that any or many will get their hard-earned money back.

And so it seemed apt to draw this cartoon, designed to represent everything I just talked about and has been discussed ad infinitum in the press. Where's the money? No one knows. It may as well be hiding.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

A Poster By A Poster...

I went to the lovely printing people earlier this week to get a poster made out of one of my cartoons (no, I'm not super-vain; I needed something to cover up a very ugly patch of wall in my room - damn Ikea wardrobe sections!) and due to an error on their part they gave me two. I now have a poster hanging around that I don't need. If you want it then let me know. It's A2 size (so quite big) and looks like this...

So if you can give it a good home (or you also need an unmoveable scuff mark, perhaps caused by the putting together of Ikea furniture, on your wall covering) then tell me in the comments box or let me know on Facebook and you can have it gratis. I have no idea how I'll decide who gets it if more than one person wants it (to be honest I'd be shocked if more than one wants it) - a raffle would be the best way I guess. Or putting all your names in a box and picking one out. Oh wait, that's a raffle too. Well then that's how it would happen. Maybe I'll get Raffles the Gentleman Thief and King of Raffles to oversee the raffle...
Anyway, let me know if you want it.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Riddle Me This...

I was watching Adam West's 'Batman' the other morning (well, 2am is technically the morning) and it featured the fantastic impressionist and entertainer of the 60s Frank Gorshin as the Riddler. Unfortunately some of the riddles in that particular episode were...well, how can I put this diplomatically?...shit. This was very disappointing, as I love a good riddle. They really fire the brain up, and when they're really good the answers can be so clever you go 'Ahhhh! Of course!'. With that in mind, here are some riddles. What do they have to do with cartoons or my random ravings? Absolutely nothing. And that's all I have to say on the subject.

-"Feed me and I grow, give me water and I die. What am I?"

-What gets wet when drying?

-What has four fingers, a thumb, but is not flesh, fish, fowl or bone?

-What is a 5 letter word that becomes shorter with 2 letters added on to it?

-What is so fragile even saying its name can break it?

-What comes once in a minute, twice in a moment, but never in a thousand years?

-I am always there, some distance away, somewhere between land or sea and sky I lay, you may move toward me, yet distant I'll stay.

Just to be a real bastard I'm not going to put up the answers. Bwahahahaa! If you know any of the answers you can put them in the comments box or be equally cruel to others and keep them to yourself, safe in the knowledge that you're very clever.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The blog post that 60% of the time makes sense all of the's Rob's Random 5

1. F**k You(Tube): I love YouTube. It has a lot of great stuff on it (I mostly just watch Mystery Science Theatre and Justice League Unlimited - great shows) but unfortunately a lot of crazy people use it too: people who only seem to be looking for a fight with other people they have never met and are never likely to meet. And so sometimes you'll see the Comments sections below videos filled with people who are just swearing at one another and expressing frankly disgusting opinions at complete strangers. The thing is, sometimes it happens on the least likely videos. Take this one, which is a public information film for Swine Flu. Perfectly reasonable and a very level-headed approach to something that has spun way out of control in the press. But take a look at some of the more recent comments below it and there are all sorts of shocking profanities flying around, for reasons that really escape me or indeed general logic. And it's unecessary. Completely unecessary. And it really makes me mad that manners and politeness and just general decorum and level-headedness are thrown out the window by people just because they're sat at home at their PC and nowhere near the people they're typing profanities at. Does it make them feel big or clever to argue and swear just becasue someone has a different opinion? And if someone has said something hateful or ignorant then why not just be the bigger man and rise above it by keeping a cool head and not replying. And if you really must reply, do it with some eloquence please.
So I say this to those ignorant, hateful people who like to use foul language to insult people they don't know: Fuck you. Fuck you all.

And that right there's irony folks.

2. Transformers: Filthy-mouthed robots in disguise: I remember going with my dad and my brother to our local Woolworths (back when it existed) and us both being allowed to pick one video each to buy (yep, good ol' VHS). My brother, for reasons that will always escape me, picked a video of The Sylvanian Families, whereas I picked 'Transformers: The Movie'; the cartoon film which was also the last movie that the great Orson Welles featured in (and to this day I still feel sorry for him just for that). However, had I lived in Australia and purchased the (now infamous) Australian edit of the movie there I would have been privileged to hear a rather noticeable swear word placed smack in the middle of proceedings. I seriously don't know how this one got past the Antipodean editors:

Still, at least he's not swearing at other YouTube commentators...

3. 'Owling all Night: Who knew Owls could be so noisy? There are a lot of owls around Smedley Towers and they love to 'Twit' and 'T'woo' all night in very loud voices. And they do it at about 3 in the morning. It's kind of the owl equivalent of two loud guys talking to one another across the street:

"Hey! Hey, Eric! Hey! Yeah! You goin' to Fred's party?"
"Are - you - going - to - Fred's - party?!"
"Err, I dunno, where is it?"
"It's in the big tree. Y'know, the one next to that other big tree."
"The one near the big oak tree?"
"No! If I meant the big oak tree I'd have said the 'big oak tree'. I just said 'the big tree'."
"Well there's a lot of big trees round here Dwayne, which one do you mean?"
"The big tree Eric, the big tree. Y'know, the big tree next to the thing."
"The thing?! What, what the hell's that meant to mean?"
"You know, the thing, near the other thing thats next to the big tree."
[Rob opens his window and yells at the owls]
"Whoa, I better scramble. See you at the big tree."

The point is, owls are really loud, and should keep their business hours to reasonable times. Anything after midnight is just egregious. Shaddap and go catch some field mice, ya damn head-swivelling birds!

4. Article: Chris has a great article on wine and Existentialism. Or does he...? (haha, see what I did there? Of course you do. Existentialism in action. My whole article is merely a shadow on the cave wall... Or is it...?!?!? Plato would know...)


Until next week, take care and watch out for the owls...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

It's Only Words...

One of my favourite authors, Jasper Fforde, has the best author's website ever. This is a fact. There are lots of great things to check out and take part in, with my current favourite being the 'Made Up Words' section, in which you can submit your favourite made up words, like 'Puffalope' (one of those padded, puffy envelopes. This is a word I've already used twice today), and 'Eloquacious' (a mix of eloquent and loquacious, meaning "the ability to create brand new words, that sound as if they've always, truly existed, and mean exactly what you think they would"). Check it out here and see some truly great words to put in your next story/novel/board meeting presentation. And if you have a made up word then let Jasper know.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Fresh from the feverish throes of flu (and try saying that fast three times), it's Rob's Random 5!

1. For Tweet's Sake: I don't really get Twitter. I don't hate it, but nor do I love it. It's just not something for me. But I can understand why other people like it. It seems like a good way to stay in touch with people, and also a good way to spread breaking news. Sky News certainly agrees with the last part of that sentence, as you can get Twitter news updates from them (just as you can from any major news network). HOWEVER, I think Sky's gone a little bit 'Twitter Crazy', as I was rather shocked to see it has its very own Senior Twitter Correspondent. This, I think, is someone who reports on goings on on Twitter in the same way a Parliamentary Correspondent would report on the day to day goings on of MPs. What next? Correspondents for Facebook and MySpace? Or eBay? "This just in, Mrs. Price of Croydon bid £22 for a pair of pink bunny slippers." or "We're getting some breaking news that John Smith is no longer in a relationship." It all seems a bit...well, bandwagon-y. I mean, I watch the news to get news; actual, proper, fact-checked and researched news put together and presented by people who are actual proper journalists. If I want to know what shokjok42 or miamigirl666 think of Swine Flu I will go and look on Twitter for their opinion. I get a little bit tired every time the news and public opinion bleed together, as in when they get people to text/email in with their opinion on a story, or when Sky News has that 'What's Popular on the Web?' section that frequently just shows clips of funny cats from YouTube.
2. Foxing Hell: This story made me laugh this week. There's a picture book to be written out of it without doubt. A mother fox that steals shoes for it's children to play with?! The cute factor is off the scale! And if a movie version of the book was ever made, I could imagine Teri Hatcher voicing the fox mother, and Peter O'Toole as a wicked old cobbler with a grudge. Make that, Hollywood!
3. Where's the S.W.A.T Team?: This story is just...well...brilliant. There's a picture book to be written out of it for sure too.
4. Rifftrax: If you haven't seen Mystery Science Theatre 3000 then your life is just a little bit colder and darker than those who have. There are plenty of hilarious episodes on YouTube and they're all well worth your time (I recommend 'Puma Man'). If however, you have seen every episode of MST3K that's out there, definitely check out Rifftrax on YouTube and at, which is Mystery Science Theatre but without the puppets. It's done by the same guys and is every bit as funny. Plus they cover well-known box-office films like Star Wars, Bourne, and Indiana Jones. The Dark Knight and Jaws are hilarious.
5. Publisher excels as sex sells (good tongue twister there): And might this be the weirdest book that you never want to read? Seriously, if this thing can get published there's hope for everyone. It was a tie between this and rash of Australians being abducted by aliens for my 'weirdest story/thing of the week'.

Until next time, goodnight and good gravy.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Face To Face Two Face...

Of all the characters I've recently drawn Two-Face was the one I was most proud of. It took forever to get the right look and colours for him. And while I was messing around with some pictures today I thought it would be good to use his faces in a pop art style cartoon. Marilyn Monroe eat your heart out.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Rogues Gallery #5

The final Batman rogues gallery features two characters I'm not really keen on but who are well-known enough to draw: Bane and Killer Croc. Super-pumped Bane has a real 'mucha lucha wrestler' thing going so I stuck to it, with a minimalist costume. He's all about brainpower and sheer strength - there's no need for an elaborate costume because he doesn't need it. He'll kick your ass either way.
Kilelr Croc often looks super-muscly too, but I prefer to make him more lithe and reptilian (without straying into Spider-Man's Lizard territory). He's an outcast who stalks the sewers, so I gave him a long trench coat (which I think I'll go back and make grubbier) to hide his ugly, scaly body, jogging suit bottoms to make sure he can move freely and quickly, and sunglasses as I like to think living in the gloom of the sewers has made him overly-sensitive to light. Getting the right balance between man and crocodile is tricky and varies wildly in the comics. Sometimes he looks like a scaly-faced man, other times he looks like a giant, full-blown were-croc with the snout and tail. I took the design from the animated Batman series and then added my own stuff from there.

That's all for the Batman's rogues gallery. Let me know what you think of them. Batman himself will appear soon enough - I'm still trying to get him right. But I've really enjoyed drawing the characters so I think I'll move on to other DC comics characters. I'm not sure which ones yet, but I do have my eye on the Justice League...

Rogues Gallery #4

Batman has very few female villains (Catwoman only half-counts as she's not really a villain more like jewel-thief/Batman's bit on the side), and really only Poison Ivy and the Joker's girlfriend Harley Quinn spring to mind. They're a common pairing in the comics, even having their own spin-off. So I drew them. And not in a way they're usually portrayed. Now, every interpretation of Poison Ivy I've seen has her as an ultra-sexy scantily-clad vixen, which I can see the point of - she's meant to be beautiful like a flower. But I looked at the whole thing in a skewed fashion and took the opposite approach: what if she's skanky and rough-looking like a weed? My take on Poison Ivy is what you might expect an eco-warrior criminal to look like, and she's meant to remind you of something growing in the cracks of your patio: tangled hair that looks dragged through a hedge backwards, a scrawny build, and the torn green dress. If I was going to sum it all up, she's meant to look like a botanical witch.
Harley Quinn is also a busty bombshell in the comics and cartoons, and while I kept her smokin' body I decided to make the face look worn and rough in line with the Joker I did: smeared lipstick, pale make-up, crazy eyes: she's been drawn to be the female equivalent of the Joker. I toyed with the idea of giving her face a scar or two (what with the Joker's penchant for knives) but stopped at that. I did tear up the costume a bit - you want it to look like she's been in a few fights, either with Batman or her boyfriend. She's also striking the classic pose of holding an over-sized mallet behind her back.
Next up, I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel with Bane and Killer Croc (I refuse to draw the Clock King!)

Monday, 8 June 2009

Rogues Gallery #3

The 3rd rogues gallery features characters that aren't as well-known to people who don't really follow Batman: Hush, The Mad Hatter and Ra's Al Ghul. Hush is drawn as he appears in the comics: bandaged and in a battered trench coat. Hush hasn't been in the comics all that long, but he's a really great villain becasue he knows who Bruce Wayne is and has a personal vendetta against him. The Mad Hatter is clad in blue, as he did in the animated Batman series, but I gave him a ring-master's costume seeing as how he's the orchestrator at the Tea Party. He also has reddened eyes as I like to think he's constantly high on opiates and other narcotics. Batman's ex-mentor Ra's Al Ghul always has a refined, Eastern dress style, but it's never the same costume, so this is just a mix of how he looks in Batman Begins and the comics.

One more rogues gallery, and then it's onto the femme fatales...

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Rogues Gallery #2

The second in the rogue's gallery line-up, featuring The Scarecrow, The Penguin and Harvey 'Two-Face' Dent. As with the last picture I've taken my favourite bits from each villain's iteration and put them together in my own style. In the case of Scarecrow, I took the sack-cloth mask and hat from the comics, then added that to a suit as the Scarecrow wore in Batman Begins, adding sown up parts and patches and a cord of rope to hark back to the tatty scarecrow costume of the comics. The Penguin (who I've never really liked much) is more Burgess Meredith (who was The Penguin in the 60s show) than Danny De Vito. And Two-Face - who I drew based on The Dark Knight and Animated Series incarnations - took ages to get right, but I'm very happy with both faces. The whole thing about Two-Face is that if you put your finger over one side of his face you should be able to see a lost, innocent man, and if you cover the other you should be able to see pure rage.
As ever, let me know your opinion. A third rogue's gallery will appear soon, but I haven't settled on who to draw in it yet. If there's a Batman villain you like then let me know and I'll stick 'em in there.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Rogues Gallery #1

What's that Rob, you're a Batman fan? Why, I had no idea!

One of the things I love about Batman is the rogues gallery: some of the greatest and most famous villains in comic and pop-culture history. The Joker, Catwoman, The Penguin and more have all managed to jump into the public mind, so that even if you've never read a Batman comic you know who they are. This is my cartoony take on my favourite three: Mr Freeze, The Joker, and The Riddler. They're amalgamations of some of my favourite iterations of the characters, all blended together and drawn in my own style. As always, love 'em or hate 'em, let me know what you think. Coming soon will be another trio of The Dark Knight's villains: The Penguin, Two-Face, and Scarecrow.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The Writer's Roll, Batman & Robin, and...Grrrr...Lady Gaga. It's the Return of Rob's Random 5!

1. The Toilet Zone: This one's for the creative writers out there. Ever read a book that's so bad you've said you wouldn't even use it as toilet paper? Well the Japanese are a wipe ahead of you. Japanese author Koji Suzuki (author of film-fodder story Ring) is having his nine chapter horror story Drop printed on rolls of toilet paper. The tale is about an evil spirit that lives in the toilet bowl of a public convenience and scares patrons and I promise you I'm not making this up. It takes up 90cm of toilet paper and is billed as a 'horror experience in the toilet' (although I'm sure we've all had those before).
Thing is, I can't help but feel that this idea is genius. It's always nice to have something to read on the can. The Sherlock Holmes short stories or Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected are the perfect length to be put on toilet roll and read while you're performing your duty. Obviously longer reads such as Dickens or Tolstoy would be a problem - you'd have to buy a multi-pack of toilet roll just to get one book, with several chapters on each roll (I recommend Roll 4 of Bleak House - it's beautifully written, soft and absorbent).
Right, so I'm setting you a question and a challenge. Firstly, what book/story would you like to see on a roll of Andrex (creative writers out there, would you want your own work put on it if you were offered the chance?), and secondly, can you think of any titles that might lend themselves well to such a print medium. The Rear-der, perhaps? (I also came up with Darwin's On the Origin of Faeces but decided that was a bit too graphic). Ready, set, get punning!

2. Come Fly With Me: If you've never flown with Ryanair I can only liken it to sitting in a particularly cramped orange crate packed with junk mail adverts and people you don't like. It was my first time flying with Ryanair last week and I hated every second of it, from the extensive queuing to the bombadrment of adverts and scratchcards during the flight. The worst thing was when I wanted a glass of scotch to ease my flying nerves and found they sell their spirits in sachets. Sachets. Like you get ketchup in. My god. I realise I sound a bit Frasier Crane-esque here but what next, in-flight wine in little juice cartons with straws? (Yeah I know they already exist, but so do nuclear weapons and cosmetics tested on animals - it doesn't mean we should use them). To be fair, the nightmare of flying isn't all their fault. Airports as a whole seem to be trying to put you off actually getting on a plane. The whole experience made me long for the days when flight and the airport rituals surrounding it weren't tainted by the atrocities of 9/11 and after - a time when you and your dad could go up to the cockpit and meet the Captain and learn all about the controls, when you could use actual metal cutlery to cut through your Boot Sole Bourguignon in your airline 'meal', when drinks came in bottles, when you could take half a bottle of Fanta through security, and when you didn't have to remove half of your clothes and put them in the x-ray machine before being asked to remove your Converse by an all too burly security woman so she can scan them for Semtex. I'm not saying those were the halcyon days of flight. They weren't. But becasue the world hadn't been scared and forced to take more drastic measures those days were just a little bit better, a little bit more friendly than they are now. And sachets of Gin were mercifully nowhere to be seen.

3. Lady Gaga: Put a damn pair of jeans on woman. No one wants to see you walking around in just your knickers.

4. Batman & Robin: Yes I know I bemoaned Robin's existence a couple of week's ago, but DC Comics' new monthly Batman and Robin series, which started yesterday and is written by writer supreme Grant Morrison, may change all that. It features the new Batman and Robin (you mean you didn't know Bruce Wayne was dead?!?!): former Robin/Nightwing Dick Grayson is Batman and Bruce Wayne psychotic son Damian Wayne is the new Robin, meaning we get a Robin who is a lot darker, complex and actually more than willing to kill. No joke. This is a Robin I can get my head around - one's who's even more brooding and mean than the Batman we all know and love: a Robin who's more likely to say 'Holy F**k, Batman!' than 'Holy Venezuela!'. Morrison's Robin is the closest thing to Robin done like he should be - feral, rebellious and able to punch your head clean off your shoulders. Plus, on a non-sidekick sidenote, the series features a flying Batmobile. I'm sold.
If you're looking to get into comics, or just fancy a casual read without knowing anything at all about the world of Batman, this series is perfect for you. And old Bat-fans will be more than pleased with it. I certainly loved the first issue. You can take a look at the first seven pages of it here.

5. Riddle Me This...: I'm currently addicted to, a site that features thousands of free quizzes on a multitude of different subjects, from literature to TV, science to The Simpsons to sports, and all the random, miscellaneous things in between. Think you can name all the Presidents of the U.S? Or maybe every Bond film? Or every element on the Periodic Table? (That last one's a real bastard. Yttrium? What the hell is that?). Then get over there now and you can test yourself against the clock. Of particular highlight are the quizzes: 'Can you name all the countries in the world?' 'Can you identify the company or brand from their logo?' and 'Can you name all of Dickens' major works?'. It's a great way of passing a few minutes/hours/days and gives your brain a good work-out.

Until next week, take care, and remember: a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush, but is only worth about 3 Euros on the currency exchange at the minute.


Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Prof. Hippo teaches 'Expenses 101'...

Professor Hippo doesn't like it when people misbehave. He especially doesn't like it when naughty MPs claim for things they shouldn't, like mortgages that don't exist, duck houses, porn, and church donations. That's very naughty indeed and just as ludicrous as trying to claim money for the time it took to look at the above cartoon, or claiming for a computer so you can check out this cartoon. In Prof. Hippo's school, such a transgression is punishable by a severe caning and writing out 'I must not be a slimy money-grabbing cheat' ten thousand times. If this happened in Parliament maybe MPs wouldn't be so quick to claim for items they shouldn't...

Monday, 1 June 2009

Back from Biarritz and Beyond...

If you're wondering why there haven't been any posts on here for a while it's because firstly my PC exploded (literally. no joke. the power unit went kablammo and took the CPU and motherboard with it) and it's been away at the mender's. My thanks go to the guy who saved my digital cartoon archive - it would have been a nightmare putting it all back on my computer otherwise. Also, I've been on holiday for the past week in beautiful Biarritz and mercifully far away from the internet.

Anyway, now that I've been reunited with the Batcomputer there'll be some new cartoons, the return of the 'Random 5' after it's brief hiatus, and the usual rants and weirdness.