Last week I started placing lilies in my cartoons. You may have noticed.
They are in honor of something personal and I don’t know how long they will be there, but if you scroll through above you can see the last five cartoons that have had the lily or lilies. Can you spot them all?
It’s not a game, but if you want to make it one, check these out and all the upcoming cartoons which may, or may not have lilies.
So New York Comic Con is back! From October 7-10, 2021, the Jacob Javits Center will be alive again. Until recently it has been used for some sad and unpleasant things – you may remember it was turned into a hospital during the very dark days of covid. And until recently it was a center for vaccination shots.
I guess it will feel weird being there and thinking of all that, but in the end, it will be back to what it was meant for – events. Comic Con was cancelled last year, so it will be a big welcome home event this year.
I’m looking forward to Comic Con. And of course, being in NYC in the fall is an added bonus. This past summer there was still a lot missing. There wasn’t much in the way of service and I don’t think NYC is ready for visitors yet. Plus the weather is either 100 degrees or raining every day, which doesn’t help in making it a great summer experience.
That being said, I did spend a lot of time with friends and family and I did a lot of things from going to the Hamptons a couple of times to visiting Little Island, Governors Island, Coney Island (a lot of islands), seeing the fireworks and of course doing the Van Gogh Experience, among so many other things.
I was in New York for a few weeks and last week I went to MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art. While there, it reminded me of this cartoon I published this past year. It’s a guy, most likely the security guard, looking out the window, rather than the masterpieces surrounding him.
Some of you thought it was an artists license, me adding a window next to the art, as if that wasn’t a thing. But it is a thing and I’ve seen it so many times at MOMA.
I took these two pictures last week. And there were so many more instances where I could have taken more pictures. People actually look out the windows at MOMA, right next to the art! I’ve done it myself every time I’m there.
I guess it’s the view – the skyline is a work of art itself, so you sort of gravitate toward the windows, which are right next to the art!
One of my favorite comics is “Off the Leash” by London-based cartoonist Rupert Fawcett. I first saw the comic on Facebook, where Rupert has almost 1 million followers. The comic can also be seen on Instagram and on its own website. But Rupert is also known for other comics work including Fred, a single panel comic which, like Off the Leash, has has been published all over from newspapers, to books and greeting cards.
TOM: Regarding “Off the Leash,” You seem to get into the dogs’ heads, do you study them? Tell me about your own pets.
RUPERT: I’ve never consciously studied dogs but I am a watcher by nature, a people watcher and I suppose, a dog watcher too. I’m someone who is never phased by delays at airports or anywhere else as I know I will be happily entertained watching the people around me, although I have to be careful not to get caught staring too intensely at anyone. We currently have a two year old whippet and two Burmese cats.
TOM: How often do you publish Off the Leash? Do you draw up a bunch at one time or post them as they are completed?
RUPERT: I had a very productive three years of producing Off the Leash cartoons at the beginning but as I have other commitments I now only draw new ones sporadically. As soon as I have finished one I post it which is the great thing about social media for a cartoonist, it is so instant, from the drawing board to the worldwide audience in seconds!
TOM: I totally agree with that, I almost feel social media was made for art and cartooning. I noticed you work in black and white, why that and not color?
RUPERT: Black and white line gives enough visual information for a cartoon. Coloring would be time consuming and add nothing to the joke.
TOM: I like the clean look of your black and white work, too. Who are your cartooning influences?
RUPERT: don’t have any specific ones but I’m probably influenced by everything I see.
TOM: What medium do you use? Digital? Pen and ink?
RUPERT: I use old fashioned ink pens – I’m a bit of a technophobe.
TOM: What was the first thing you would seriously draw? I mean, I would draw Fred Flintstone, I always remember as a young child doing that. Did you draw a character or have a favorite subject at a young age?
RUPERT: As a boy growing up in the sixties I used to draw footballers quite a lot and soldiers. The comics I read as a child featured regular strips based on the war which was still very recent history. I also used to create my own strange characters. I used to get very absorbed and doodle for hours.
TOM: How did you begin your career as a cartoonist? When did you start cartooning? Tell me about Fred
RUPERT: Speaking of strange characters! I created Fred in 1989 and received over 80 rejection letters from publishers and newspapers. But when I had the greeting card range published by Paperlink it suddenly took off and became a big thing. Fred kept me fully occupied for about twelve years.
Fred was a combination of surrealism and suburban Englishness
TOM: Tell us about your studio or workspace.
RUPERT: I work in a fairly small room at home in South West London, it’s my ‘garden shed’ and i have to be prised out of it by my family sometimes. I’m happiest when I’m drawing and in my private dreamworld, just as I was at six years old.
TOM: What famous artist, dead or alive, would you want to paint your portrait?
RUPERT: Lucien Freud (with my clothes on)
TOM: What comics/cartoons do you read/follow today?
RUPERT: I probably don’t look at cartoons any more than anyone else but I always appreciate a good one. Gary Larson is brilliant.
These pictures of course do not do this justice, but the other day we went to the Van Gogh Experience in NYC. It was one of the best things I have experienced. The best part and most unbelievable part was just as we entered, my favorite song, No Regrets by Edith Piaf started playing.
This was not planned. We entered randomly, it was not as if the show was starting, it’s an ongoing thing. The person at the entrance, parted black curtains, and four of us entered, the lights came on and Edith Piaf started singing and Vincent Van Gogh’s work was bigger than life surrounding us. An indescribable moment.
I spent the 4th of July in the city, NYC, we usually spend it family-style, which we did, but we did that on July 3, which was unfortunate, because it rained all day on July 3, but the 4th was perfect. It was 75 and sunny all day.
Every year, for some reason, we do the 4th on the 3rd or 2nd or something like that. So a bunch of us drove out to my cousins’ house (n the rain) in The Hamptons on Saturday, July 3rd, but about 20 of us ended up just hanging out inside the house. I usually sleep over and spend the weekend but some of us drove back to the city that night and then enjoyed the beautiful July 4th in the city.
As is the case often, a couple of us headed to Coney Island, we were late for the Hot Dog Eating Contest, but it was still very fun and enjoyable. From there we stopped at Prospect Park in Brooklyn and then Washington Square Park in Manhattan.
Everywhere was packed, there was lots of music and lots of happy people. People have been longing to get out for so long. In New York, street musicians, or I should say park musicians are a big part of life. It was so great hearing them and then hearing loud applause, which never happens, but everyone is so happy this year.
Back home in Miami, they are facing a Tropical storm, but I think it is bypassing my area. So I’m not that concerned.
July 4th ended with a hug fireworks show in the East River and New Jersey had one in the Hudson River, so the city was surrounded with it.
One things that bugs me is that people in NY say, “Have a happy holiday!” Rather than “Happy July 4th!” Since when is the country’s birthday a politically correct thing? I gave money to a guy on the street and he said, “Thank you, happy holiday.”
Anyway, it ended up being a perfect day, after a soggy time the day before.
Now – the fireworks – the best part. Not so much the fireworks themselves, although, they are fantastic, but it’s the ritual before and after that I love.
About a half hour, maybe 45 minutes before the fireworks, people start showing up at the rivers. They walk to the east and west sides as close to the water as possible – that is where the fireworks are. Soon there are tens of thousands of people, all over the place. The streets are closed, there are cops all over and it’s a big party.
I ended up at the UN area this year. Other years I’ve been in other areas. I was right across from the big red Pepsi sign on the Manhattan side from Long Island City.
And then the fireworks start. But wait. When it’s done – all these thousands of people have to leave. And therein lies the fun. Thousands of people start walking up the streets, in an orderly fashion. Thousands of people! They are walking sort of like zombies – determined, yet slowly.
As they reach the Avenues, cars are trying to drive, but they can’t. :People just keep walking. And there are bicycles, mopeds, scooter and rickshaws in the crowd. Thousands of these people moving methodically across the city. It takes a long time, maybe an hour for this to end. And it’s something to see. It’s unreal to see. It’s so calm and methodical and everyone is in a cheerful mood., It’s a great thing to partake in, if you ever get the chance.
I’ve been in New York. Did a lot so far in a week. The worst part was the flight. From the time I left my house until I got to the door here in NY, it took 10 hours. The flight was delayed and then we didn’t have a pilot! We literally sat on the plane for an hour waiting for him to arrive!
But I’m here and all is well.
Been to The Hamptons with my family and friends, we were at an outdoor bar listening to one of my cousins perform., He’s an entertainer and he was doing his thing out at the waterfront. It was a perfect day.
Did a bunch of other things – ate at one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Brooklyn. Did Hoboken and saw Manhattanhenge.
On Wednesday, a friend and I did the Little Island. It was beautiful and a lot of fun, but the temperature was 96 degrees with a heat index of 105 degrees. Oppressive! I even passed up Mr. Softee – I was too nauseous to eat.
Thursday a friend and I did the MET Museum. It rained all day, so that was a good indoor thing to do.
Been to diners, had an egg cream. Did all my usual stuff.
I interviewed one of my favorite cartoonists, Jason Chatfield, who incidentally helped me immensely with my own cartooning, as I live by one of his statements: “Don’t curate your art to what gets likes. Curate it to what you like.” I live (and create) by that now.
I was interested in Jason’s schedule, technique and so much of his cartoons and comics work and work ethic.
TOM: You seem to do so much, TV, New Yorker cartoonist, daily comic strip (Ginger Meggs) and President of the National Cartoonists’ Society (NCS). What is the schedule like, for instance, when do you do the comic strip? When do you do New Yorker cartoons?
JASON: I have a pretty regular schedule — I work from a calendar instead of a to-do list — I tend to do 6 daily strips at-a-time, then the Sundays (weekend paper strips) on separate days.
I pitch a batch of 10 New Yorker cartoons each Tuesday; some roughs and some finished, and some of them re-submissions with new captions. 99% are rejected. Those are done in a 10-step process that I outline here.
The TV work is usually just a one or two-day shoot somewhere, then the show or commercial runs for years, so that’s not very time-heavy, and my NCS work is just constantly streaming in every day. Some days there is a lot to do, other days less so. Cartoonists are my favorite people, but trying to organize them can be like herding cats. ☺️
It sounds like a lot, but I manage to sleep somewhere in there and take weekends off with my wife and pup.
TOM: I see that Ginger Meggs recently turned 100 — that’s quite a weight to bear — taking over such a well-known strip. How did that come about? How were you chosen to do this?
JASON: When I was a 23 year-old editorial cartoonist in my hometown of Perth, the fourth cartoonist on the strip, James Kemsley, asked me to take it over. That was few days before he died of ALS. He was a dear friend and mentor so it was a very bittersweet honor to inherit. I’d give up the strip tomorrow it it meant having Kems back; he was an impressive guy, always way ahead of his time and always helping other cartoonists. I’m glad I could carry the baton and keep Ginger going past 100 years. (Details on the centenary are at gingermeggs.com )
TOM: As President of the National Cartoonists Society, what is your take on webcomics or comics only published online? They seem to be the most read today, yet I have heard that cartoonists have a problem joining the society.
JASON: We have many webcomic cartoonists in the NCS, and under past President Tom Richmond’s tenure (around 2010/11) the NCS introduced two webcomic categories into our Divisional Reuben awards. (Long form and Short form).
Webcomics are a rich and diverse artform we’re really proud to promote — comics in newspapers are only a fraction of the make-up of NCS membership. Our biggest numbers of entries for the 2020 Reuben awards were for both webcomics categories.
I think I read about 70% of my favorite comics online (the rest in magazines and printed book collections.)
TOM: Do you work digitally or with pen and paper?
JASON: I use both. I learned to draw traditionally before I learned to draw digitally, so the transition was very natural. I use a Wacom Cintiq with an Ergo Arm for most of my work, but I often spin around to my drawing board and use a Hunt 101 Imperial nib on my dip pen for a lot of my New Yorker finishes. (Mainly because people request to purchase the originals… And I like to get inky fingers so my wife thinks I’m doing actual work.)
TOM: What does your studio, workspace look like?
JASON: It changes all the time. I’ve moved so many times the past 15 years my studio has been every kind of room imaginable. You can get a glimpse of my current studio (June 2021) in this video just shot by Wacom for the production of a series of coins I designed for the Royal Australian Mint. They cut the part where my dog sits under my desk while I’m working and farts. Almost constantly.
TOM: What comics/cartoonists influenced you?
JASON: I was a big fan of MAD growing up, so all the Usual Gang of Idiots were my teachers — Sergio Aragonés was my favorite for his pantomime marginals, but Mort Drucker’s hand gestures and caricatured likenesses, Jack Davis’ movement, brushwork and shoes, Al Jaffee’s inventiveness (and snark) all contributed to my weird brain. And then the “newer” guys like Tom Richmond, Mark Frederickson and a slew of other talented idiots followed suit.
TOM: If you could crawl into any strip or panel for the day, other than your own, which would it be, and why?
JASON: Cul de Sac. I would want to sit down and just pick the brain of Alice Otterloop. What a brilliant mind Richard Thompson had, to bring her into this universe. Wildly inventive, funny and smart character writing.
TOM: At what point did you realize you were famous?
JASON: Ha! I don’t think that’s true. I know it sounds silly considering all the things I do being so public-facing, but I now totally get people having a pseudonym. Fame isn’t something I aspire to — I just like to do my work and hopefully have people enjoy reading it. I think ‘actual’ fame comes with more downsides than upsides… unless we’re talking about my local diner naming a roast beef sandwich after me. That’s all upside. (And topside).
I’m heading to New York and environs soon for a bit. Don’t worry, I’ll take you along.
Since the 1990s, I think, I’ve had a “travel list.” It’s a list of things I need to pack for my trips. I’ve always taken a carry-on bag, even in the winter, I am able to manage that in some way and I guess the list helps me from over-packing.
Anyway, I was getting the list out, to check it before I pack and I noticed there is something I have to add to the list. Face masks!
I’ve added and subtracted things to the list over the years, but it felt weird adding masks. I know I can easily purchase some in NY if need be, but I will need one for the airport and plane, so I don’t want to forget them.
Another thing I have added to the list are the workout/resistance bands I’ve been using. I haven’t been to the gym for almost a year and a half, but the workout bands are a great replacement.
I had bought a few different ones until I got what I liked. I use them all the time. They work. And they are so easy to throw into the luggage for traveling.
I should have saved the lists over the years, just to see what was on it in the past, which I have changed out over time.