Writer or cartoonist?!

Self Portrait aged 15 (Charcoal on paper)

Back in the day (before I dreamed of being a writer) I dreamed of being a cartoonist (and then a drummer). I had always drawn cartoons and caricatures since a very small kid. It got me into quite a lot of trouble at school – and it in fact led directly to my first expulsion (of four) from boarding school. (But that’s another story for another time amigos!)

Fred - my boarding school housemaster (Charcoal/paper - when I was about 17)

I was brought up on comics. I bought/read them all – Beano, Dandy, Whizzer & Chips, Buzz, Warlord, 2000AD. You name ‘em I read ‘em! Then there were the American ones – the more zany the better; Plop! was a big favourite of mine – along with The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers (…way before I should have been reading that kinda content, I have to admit!).

As an only kid I spent hours and hours and hours reading reading reading……comics. (I did read books of course – but comics were read by the wheelbarrow, week after week after week from about the age of dot (Teddy Bear Weekly was my first comic!) to about 13 when the advent of Punk Rock suddenly helped me to ‘mature’ overnight (ahem!). And then it was fanzines. (Sniffin’ Glue et al).

An English teacher (Charcoal/paper)

The reason I mention this is that I recently tried to do a few cartoons/caricatures. (The idea was for me to create a caricature for a book cover for a forthcoming novel of mine). However, I had my sheets of paper, I had my charcoals and….I just couldn’t do it! Try as I might (and I had about 15 attempts at doing a caricature I could have done perfectly the very first time and in about 15 seconds back in my teenage years) I just could not get it right. I was shocked.

Another English teacher - guess his nickname! (Charcoal on paper)

Admittedly, I hadn’t tried drawing properly (i.e. much more than the occasional doodle) for (literally) years. But the knack had definitely gone!

Yes, I could still draw (after a fashion!) but that instantaneous gift of ‘caricature’ (instantly and effortlessly capturing and distorting the unique essence of a subject) had (has?) seemingly vanished! A similar thing happened when I tried playing drums recently and, after more than a decade of not wielding the sticks was reduced to basic beats and cheesy rolls (ho ho!) where once paradiddles, rim shots and other flourishes had abounded – but that’s another blog post perhaps. This one’s about cartooning.

Malcolm - a Geography teacher (Charcoal on paper)

Shortly after the failed attempt to rekindle the old skill, I discovered a few of my old cartoons and caricatures lurking at the back of a cupboard. So I thought – as an act of pure nostalgia, I’d share some of them with you now.

Liz - a girl from school (Charcoal on paper)

So here goes with the rest of my gallery (…cue the Tony Hart / Vision On music!)

One of my Uni Philosophy teachers (1986)

So, is the cartooning world’s loss also literature’s gain? (ha ha!) I guess time will tell. Otherwise, it’ll be back to the drawing board for yours truly once more (ho ho!).

My Czech ex, Jirina (1996) Charcoal on paper

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2 Responses to Writer or cartoonist?!

  1. Poppet says:

    Love it! Thanks for sharing.

    Some of these are really good!!

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