Ollie & Quentin Book

Ollie & Quentin Book
125 pages in full colour!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Henley Royal Regatta

I'm off to that most British of 'sporting' events this Friday, Henley Royal Regatta. My two cousins are both rowers and can get me tickets to the very posh Stewards Enclosure where we can scoff cucumber sandwiches and drink Pimms. This is where the toffs, the chinless, the titled, the most beautiful, rich and snootiest of the British establishment collect on a summer afternoon by the river. Everyone's supposed to watch the rowing but no-one does. (Once you've seen one boat row past you've seen 'em all). Last time I went Teresa got into trouble for wearing a short skirt as there is a strict dress code and I haven't been since. I'm going to have to dig out my old scruffy blazer and too-short cream trousers. I'm hoping my Homer Simpson tie will get me past the border guards but it could be a close thing.
Either way I expect to be very hungover on Saturday morning.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tall Tale Features

OMG! I can't listen to the garbage spilling out of my mouth. Thank goodness for the brilliant Tom Racine and Jonathan Lemon who manage to keep this interview intelligible. I'm sorry to all Tall Tale listeners for what must be a very bizarre hour of your time. I'd like to say it was nerves but in truth I'm always like that. It makes sense in my head but comes out as garbled nonsense. Teresa, my other half, says it's my cartoon brain that sees stuff in a weird way and I think she's right. I always seem to misunderstand what people say.

So, for those of you visiting to try and fathom out what on earth I was talking about here are some answers to the questions I either ignored, accidentally lied about, didn't answer or exaggerated.

I'm doing this from memory as I honestly can't listen to Tom's interview. In cringe order: Did I actually talk about amputees at one point? Oh cr@p! What I meant to say was Quentin's ability to hold anything became more believable for me when I saw what people with prosthetic arms can do. How they are able to operate a hand with movements from their... their... stumps. Oh man, stop digging Piers.

Next, my mind went completely blank when talking about my route to syndication. The guys joked about inserting a long pause with the sound of crickets afterwards. At least that would have been funny. I wasn't funny at all. In short, I spent a long time taking a quarterly comic to a weekly one up to a point where I thought the strip was good enough to show to a syndicate. Probably 10 years! That way I established the characters, got the bad jokes out of the way and had a high quality batch from an archive of 200 comics that I could send off to syndicates. So when King Features said they wanted to see a second batch I was able to supply comics of an equal quality to the first. As a bonus I had about 120 strips that could be used in syndication too.

The point I was making about self syndication and charities is quite a good one. I shared the proceeds of my comic with the Royal National Lifeboat Charity. The comic (called 'Stormy Stan the Lifeboat Man') was lifeboat themed and I targeted newspapers that had a lifeboat station in their circulation area. The newspapers were more than happy to support a worthwhile charity, the charity were delighted with the publicity and extra funds and I was happy to use the commitment to a weekly comic to develop my strip properly. Mercenary, I know, but syndication was my life's dream and I was going to do it properly. I have to say the response to my mailshots was terrific and with very little effort I had my comic in a lot of small regional newspapers. My mailshot was a 4 page color leaflet containing about 18 comics with only a couple of lines of type outlining the charity link.

Like pain, my brain has tried to forget much of what I talked about with Tom but I do remember something about webcomics and the ipad. In truth, I never thought about doing a webcomic. I'm old fashioned I guess, but syndication was my single ultimate aim and I was completely focussed on this. Of course, a webcomic is a great thing and I do believe they could do well on the new ipad which I am very optimistic about. But us syndicated strips can do equally well online especially with the weight and brains of our syndicates behind us. The format of our comics is fine on an ipad, just put 4 or 5 of them on top of each other or split them up into a couple of rows. Even sliding them across works as you then don't sneak a peek at the punchline.

Towards the end of the interview my brain had obviously turned to mush as I was incapable of answering the question about the state of the newspaper industry in the UK. I pathetically said it was the same as the US but I'm not sure it's as bad. Yes, advertisers are more difficult to find but newspapers are still very popular. Any trip on a train will see a majority of people reading a newspaper. Many of the London ones are now free but as popular as ever.

I think I did manage to talk about my 'Cartoonslive' endeavor with some clarity. If you want to know more click here. And here's that jigsaw picture Tom was talking about. My other cartoon illustration work is here.

Then the nonsense really started. Tom asked if I was a fan of Superhero comics as I'd made a couple of references to them in my strip. I said yes but I'm not. I'm not looking forward to the new Iron Man Movie, I haven't given it a second thought! I am more influenced by animation than comics but I wouldn't say I was a big movie goer. I like movies as much as the next person but that's about it. They're often too long, poorly scripted and I hate being so darn uncomfortable in the movie theatre. As for the guy who sits next to me with his smelly Doritos Meal and spends half an hour eating it followed by twenty minutes burping it back up... aaargh! Give me a dvd any day. My favorite animations? Wall.e, Wallace and Gromit's 'The Wrong Trousers', The Incredibles, Ice Age 1, Toy Story, Belleville Rendezvous and Monster's Inc.

We talked about syndicates not doing much to promote the fact that their comics have been nominated for a Reuben award and I was wet in the extreme in my reply. Tom's right. I think Syndicates could make more of the fact. Movie posters proclaim "nominated for an academy award" or "winner of 8 academy awards" so why not do the same for a comic? I think it's really sad that a nomination tends to have no impact on sales. Surely an endorsement like that should.

Poor Nobby, I don't really like drawing him, mainly because he's so big compared to Ollie and Quentin and won't fit in the frame easily. However he is very important as he is our reminder that a seagull and a lugworm are trying to exist in our human world.

So what happened? I say stuff to please people and fill embarrassing pauses regardless of content. This interview does give you a good insight into the person I am but don't listen to the answers as they only leave you with more questions!

I wish I'd included Jonathan Lemon more. I'm a huge fan of his fantastic strip and am the proud owner of an original Rabbits Against Magic artwork. He's obviously a very bright guy and I'm going to make sure I don't waste the opportunity next time. I also have John and Anne Hambrock of The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee fame to thank for putting a good word in for me with Tom Racine. I don't think my gratitude came across at all. And I wish I'd acknowledged fellow Brits Alex Hallatt and Kieran Meehan just once while we were on air. We talked about them after the microphone was switched off when I suddenly started making sense again.

Did I say 'submerse'? This is a combination of immerse and submerge. What an idiot!

Finally, I can't compliment Tom Racine enough. His introduction bowled me over. He's a talented interviewer but you probably knew that. I love his bowler hat and microphone logo. I also want to thank him for helping me lose my Skype virginity. Talking to my computer was weird, I normally I just swear at it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Hyperlinks

For a laugh I made this hyperlink comic actually work. Click here to see what happens if you click on the highlighted links. I had two problems when creating this strip. Firstly I lifted the text about Lugworms from Wikipedia but was told I had to rewrite it in my own words which didn't work quite as well. Secondly trying to recreate that strong RGB 'hyperlink' blue color in CMYK was a nightmare and I failed miserably.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday strip in full

Coffee Shop Comic

Good luck to Tony Murphy of the comic 'All About You' who is trying to do something about the state of our comics industry by producing a weekly comic strip newspaper carried in coffee places. It's a great idea and I really hope it succeeds. Tony needs another $2554 in the next 3 days which is a tall order but perfectly achievable if we all get behind him now. If you can, please click here to visit the site where you can become a backer. If he doesn't get the amount he needs your money will be returned. I hope not to see my donation again.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tall Tale Features

A huge surprise and honor. I'm talking to Tom Racine ("The Voice") of Tall Tale Radio and one of my favorite cartoonists Jonathan Lemon of 'Rabbits Against Magic' Fame tomorrow. I will, of course, make a complete idiot of myself as I hate talking on the phone, make little sense and have a habit of saying stuff I really don't mean. I'm a Skype virgin too so plenty to go wrong. I'm a big fan of Tall Tale Features and Tom Racine's interview style and I'm told he will make things nice and easy for me. I hope so otherwise this episode with a relative nobody from the UK might forever be known as the Car Crash Radio Episode. What worries me most is, listening to his other interviews I realize how knowledgeable US cartoonists are about their subject. Brought up on a diet of about 3 different strips I know very little about comics and the history of comics. I know of very few cartoonists and, come to think of it, have no real idea about the lives of seagulls and lugworms either. Fasten your seat belts.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Illusionist by Sylvain Chomet

I'm a huge fan of Sylvain Chomet. I loved his animated movie "Belleville Rendezvous" and am very excited to see the release of his new movie The Illusionist. It tells the story of a dying breed of stage entertainer whose thunder is being stolen by emerging rock stars. Forced to accept increasingly obscure assignments in fringe theaters, garden parties and bars, he meets a young fan who changes his life forever.


There's no doubting my lugworms do look a touch 'phallic'. I have to be very careful how I draw them and where I position them. Here, I was trying to draw a female lugworm with a huge butt but my editor screamed "no" because she looks far too much like... like... how can I put this... a full male package (wearing a wig).

Monday, June 14, 2010

Where do you get your ideas? #987

Ollie and Quentin is rarely a topical comic but seeing as the Volcano Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland may keep erupting for some time I thought I could risk it with today's comic which was written over six weeks ago.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Today's comic doesn't work here in the UK as we don't say Row Zee, we'd say Row Zed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quentin cycles the Tour de France

The real Quentin (my brother, on the left) will be cycling the whole of the Tour De France on June 19th in aid of the William Wates Memorial Trust. He and his friend Colin will depart Holland and cycle all 3,556 km of the 2010 Tour De France route arriving in Paris on July 10th having completed 20 gruelling days in the saddle (ouch), averaging 178km per stage.
The William Wates Memorial Trust helps disadvantaged children through the mediums of education, sports and arts and anyone wishing to know more can visit www.wwmt.org or donate at www.bmycharity.com/V2/qandcolin.
I'm very proud of my brother for doing this and wish him every success. Go Quentin!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Landscape Portrait

So you don't have to hurt your neck or give yourself a nose bleed here's today's comic the right way round.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Goofiest yet!

When I sent the pencil rough off to my editor for this comic I really thought he might send for the men in white coats. This has got to be my goofiest comic yet. I like it and I'm happy with the drawing but boy is it bizarre!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Reuben Entry

Here's Ollie and Quentin's entry for the 2009 NCS's Newspaper Comic Award whose Reuben's ceremony was held last weekend. I know we didn't come first, second or third but perhaps the respectable 248th place was ours and we don't know it yet.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

La Tomatina

La Tomatina is a mass tomato throwing festival in Buñol, Valencia in Spain which happens every last Wednesday in August. There are a number of theories as to how this tradition originated but one of the most popular is that disgruntled townspeople attacked city councilmen with tomatoes during a town celebration and it was enjoyed so much that it was repeated every year since (although banned under the rule of General Franco). Apparently women have to wear white and guys must go shirtless.
I've never been but, boy does it look fun!