Posters, Bullies, Success, The 60s, And “It’s A Wonderful Life” By Rick London

 

Click To Enlarge Londons Times Cartoons

Click To Enlarge
Londons Times Cartoons

       More than once I’ve been asked “Why did you get into the cartooning business”?  Soon it will be seventeen years and though I still love creating cartoon concepts, writing them and collaborating with our creative team, the business into which I’ve morphed is hardly the cartoon business (only) anymore. It’s still fun, but like most creative businesses, as it goes, there is more legal, administrative, marketing etc., than creative.  Don’t get me wrong, those are some handy skills I picked up along the way; some better, others worse than others, but all have turned out to be nifty to know and implement. 

      I had some terrific mentors, both real life and in books.  One of the real-life ones was Charles “Sparky” Schulz (Creator of “Peanuts”),  who warned me that as time went by and I was one of the lucky few who would still be in the business past one year, then I’d find myself more in some kind of accounting/admin/licensing business with a little time for creativity I’d have to find (or make for myself).  He was a real jokester so I imagined he was pulling my leg.  He was teaching me a “reality bites” lesson.

     On the other hand Walt Disney with whom I never got to speak or meet, taught me many things via books about him and his autobiography.

     Like me, he could draw, but not to the level of which he wanted his characters.  Plus he was into the new “special effects” called animation.

Rafael And Quote: Lady W/Unicorn Click To Enlarge. Designed by Rick London

Rafael And Quote: Lady W/Unicorn Click To Enlarge. Designed by Rick London

     In my case, I had loved cartoons like the Far Side, Speed Bump, Close To Home, and Rubes, and though I prefer that type of absurd offbeat humor in my frames, nobody, to my knowledge had ever used a type of “fine art” mixed with “the absurd”.  That was and remains my vision.

      I thought I was chasing windmills or had some pie in the sky idea (as most if not all in my hometown proclaimed) but Sparky told me that was not a problem whatsoever.  He said, “Find and hire fine artists who don’t mind rendering other people’s cartoon ideas.” Easier said than done of course. But in time, it was done.  

    I can’t count the number of illustrators who came and went, for a variety of reasons, but I awakened one day and sixteen years and 5000 or so cartoons later, not to mention ¼ million licensed items I was living a life owning the #1 offbeat cartoons and gifts in the world.  And I’m still here, to some delight’s and other’s chagrin. But, just like I was taught by Sparky Schulz and some lesser known genius/good men and women, “What other people thought of me was and is truly none of my business.   And I truly don’t care.  I’m a nice guy. Not a saint, but not a devil.  I clean my side of the street only.  I still respect the law.  I respect my elders and children. Both should have civil rights and cared for no matter what their family’s station in life.  In fact animals should have rights and fortunately in most states do. I’d like to be my friend if I wasn’t me, and those who don’t care for me, well their loss. 

Click To Enlarge Londons Times Cartoons c2013

Click To Enlarge
Londons Times Cartoons c2013

     I still shake my head and cannot believe all that has happened, has.  But it has.  Every day I wake up with items all over the world that say “Londons Times”.  It is like some kind of dream.  People email me for autographs. Large and not so large nonprofits, churches, charities, schools etc.  contact me for signed prints for their silent and regular auctions.

 

Ironically, I used to resent, so horribly being treated as an outcast in my own hometown for my way of thinking. Even from some family members (Especially so).   Now I thank the good Lord every day for those wonderful souls who thought I were so evil at th time None of this would have ever happened had they treated me humanely.  I had no idea they were jealous of my gifts and talents. I didn’t even know I had them and they dared not tell me as I might “actually move ahead”.  Of course they wanted me to move ahead; just not too far ahead. 

Still back home and reeling from caring for my ill mom, I was visiting a young friend who’d graduated from a nearby college. I was in the next room and I heard him tell his parents he wanted to “be free and try the things Rick is trying.  I felt terrible for him, when they responded “You can’t. You don’t have his talent”.  First of all, I was about 41 years old, and it was the first time I’d heard from anyone I had talent. That part felt wonderful.  But that part was squashed when I realize the way I had to find out was by some bad parents squashing their grown but troubled son’s dream by demanding that he not explore his own talent (everyone has some talent) and all it need be is developed.  What they were saying is, “We’ve paid for your college. We’re finished helping you.   Now go find yourself by putting on a suit and getting a boring 9-5 job that you’ll hate with a passion.

I truly thank God for creating all kinds of people, smart and kind, and even the mean, talentless, ignorant with whom I’ve had to deal. I used to wonder why they existed. Of course I’m grateful to Him even to be alive given all the health issues I’ve suffered and there have been a myriad of them; and yet He keeps me rebounding and creating. 

He brought the woman to me in my life who is my wife and has made me very happy.  We are regaining our health together communing with nature while hiking, enjoying the little things, forget keeping up with the Jones’ or Smith’s or even Mr. Potter. To us, anyone who “wants us to keep up with them”, might as well be Mr. Potter.  We no longer “go there”.  Our lives are much more valuable for that kind of junior high nonsense.  For us every day is “It’s A Wonderful Life”. 

Now I know of their great value; not just to me, but of nearly all the creative people with vision of whom I’ve been friends and/or friendly.  It seems to be a major motivator to prove “creative vision above ignorance”, and creative vision seems to win out every single time. They teach us our most valuable lessons (without even meaning to of course).

Sikh Golden Temple With Proverb Deisgned by Rick London c2012. Click To Enlarge

Sikh Golden Temple With Proverb Deisgned by Rick London c2012. Click To Enlarge

Which brings me to posters. I began to look at posters as more than just art around the late 60s and early 70s.  I can remember some of my earliest being by Peter Max. If I’m not mistaken one of them was Dylan with the rainbow hair.  Ironically my wife’s artwork very much reminds me of Peter Max; had Max combined nature with his musical expression.  Lee’s colors are similar but her characters are of her own creation from sea turtles and seahorses to birds and deep in the sea wonders.

When I was in college in the 70s, I lived in (what was then a very nice building) called Elam Arms in Hattiesburg, Ms at USM.  I loved that old building which I think now has either burned or was torn down.

Rick London c2011

Londons Times Cartoons
Click To Enlarge

While other kids were putting plaques, awards and such on their walls, I was adding posters.   This was one way we all learned who the other “leftover hippies” were so we could “hang out” and we did; and often admired each other’s posters.

Now, I find that some of the favorite items I sell, whether they are in my cartoon shops or famous quote stores are my posters.  I get a nostalgic thrill when they sell.  And so that everyone can afford them, I try my best to construct a deal with the manufacturer to mark them down as much as possible.

This is one of those weekends.  Until this Monday September 30th at 11:59pm Pacific Time, all posters are all 50% off in all my stores whether they have funny posters or serious posters or even my famous love quotes posters shop. Use coupon code FALLINTOSAVE at checkout for your 50% savings.   If I were a customer of mine, or a student back in college, I’d buy ten or more of them.  But that’s just me.  Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist. He is best known for his Londons Times Cartoons which he launched in a tin shed outside his hometown of Hattiesburg, Ms in 1997. It has been Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoon and funny gifts since 2005.  London is married to popular nature/ Wildlife Photographer Lee Hiller-London and they both happily live as vegan hikers in the Hot Springs National Park Mountains Of Arkansas 

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Johnny Depp Jack Sparrow Flies South Rick London Explains Inspiration For This Londons Times Cartoon

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

The more years I get behind my belt (even though I’ve traded in my belts for suspenders), the more I realize I do a lot of things in the course of a day (even though at times it may not seem so). When I returned to school in 2002, I had to work out with the university a schedule that allowed me to go full time, but at a slower rate than the majority of students.

I had to prove there was a reason for that privilege and was able to do so.  Aside from having CHF (congestive heart failure) and was just 5 months into recovery of a major heart attack and surgery, along with several other major health issues, they acquiesced.  I taught myself to study and the results were amazing (at first). The school is a very good one, and the professors some of the best I’d ever seen anywhere (and I’d been to public extension classes and lectures at Harvard, MIT, Yale and several others.  The curriculum was based on several departments from MIT and the Profs were from numerous Ivy League schools. 

That surely didn’t mean I was smarter than anyone else, but proved I could be intimidated with the best of them.  And I often was; yet I learned what college was really about and how pragmatic lessons applied in the real world; something I never learned in my early college life career at state and community colleges. Until this day I am not sure if it was me, and my own lack of direction and majority, or the ineptness of the professors working in state #50 in education for so many years it was every other state college’s favorite joke. I imagine it was a bit of both.  In any case, I was fortunate enough to have intervention with truly educated people who cared, and made sure I didn’t miss out on that opportunity. Like GW Bush who played video games at lunch time while President (really), I watched VHS that I rented from the video shop down the street. 

It was not a big chain so went under almost as fast as it opened. Then I got so busy in school; even made A+ in Advanced Matf and aced the final assessment. I only offer that bragging right because anyone who knew me over the years remember I thought it was indeed a day of celebration if I made a “D” or “C”  in any kind of math.  But it was proof to me what can happen when a professor who understands math-phobia students and, in fact prefer them.

  An A+ in the course and a 100 on the final test.  Aced that sucker. Yeeehahh. My parents were both deceased, sadly.  First thing I wanted to do was run to them and say, “See, I’m not as dumb as everyone thought…the teachers are though”.  But it was 40 or so years too late. So I’d show nobody but myself and a few friends that I could make good grades until 2 more surgeries occurred which knocked me out of school, and watch videos in between.  Then I stopped school and videos to recover; mostly watching Nickelodeon and the News.

I watched FOX, CNN and MSNBC.  Having worked in Washington News, I knew keenly that was the only way to even get close to any kind of accuracy; since all of them stuck to their slant; and generally somewhere in the middle of the 3 slants was “the truth”.  I still know that for sure; though everyone argues that their “favorite news is most accurate”.  I always shake my head and smile.  Very few of them have worked there, nor has a clue how Washington works; and it’s not like I’m an expert. But I do have a clue. So fast forward to 2009, and I met my beloved wife Lee Hiller. 

She knew I was missing something but not sure what.  We talked a long time and it occurred to her “Movies”.   I’d not watched a movie since the VHS video store closed.  I asked her if movies looked very different.  “Well sure, they’re invisible…they stream”. “Oh like trout. I love to fish” (I was not yet a vegan).  “No you’ll see”.  We started renting 1-2 films a week and some were wonderful.  I was in heaven and hooked.  Nearly four years later we still rent films from Netflix and Amazon.  Not as many as when we started but sometimes two a week. I still love it.  Not every film produces a cartoon in my head.  This one happened to.  We saw Harry Potter, The Narnia Series, Lord Of The Rings, numerous animated Pixar and Disney films, some romantic comedies and a series of very fun Pirates Of The Caribbean starring Johnny Depp. I feel certain my love for the film was for different reasons than my beloved wife, but that’s fine; what woman doesn’t have a crush on Johnny Depp.

I was much more impressed that Keith Richards was not just alive but full of energy. As my health improved after yet another major heart attack, Lee and I began walking and finally mountain hiking; not just small foothills, these are very steep gorgeous Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas which is 3 sides of our yard.  We still hike it regularly. The first animals to greet us out the door are generally a large flock of house sparrows which (have very good taste) and live in the bushes of the gorgeous Arlington Hotel.  Of course Johnny Depp’s name in the Pirates series was Jack Sparrow. 

I wondered during one hike if sparrows fly south for the winter.  Then the fleeting thought got sillier and I wondered if Jack Sparrow flew to the Caribbean for the winter. Then a cartoon was born.  That’s the way they happen sometimes and this was one of those times.  Before it was complete I explained it to Lee and she had a “Are you okay, Honey?” look on her face which she often does when I explain a cartoon concept I’ve just created  I don’t blame her. It must be a bit odd to hear that from a 59 year old man.  But an eleven year old man? Sure, a few times it would seem fairly normal but now? I should have gone to medical school like Mom wanted. But if I had I’d never know anything of sparrows, pirates, and the Caribbean. 

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————- Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and designer.  He is probably best known for his offbeat cartoons “Londons Times” and Funny Gifts which have been ranked number one on the net since 2005 by Google and 2008 by Bing.  He is married to nature and wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London.  They spend a great deal of time as “Stewards Of Hot Springs National Park”; the 2nd oldest National Park in America.

The Real Story Of The Invention Of The Internet….As Told by The Real Inventor & Cartoons/& Their Inspiration by Rick London

By Londons Times Cartoons Click To Enlarge

By Londons Times Cartoons Click To Enlarge

     Sometimes people believe the story behind this cartoon and more often than not, they don’t.

     Perhaps the year was 1999. I was taking a sabbatical from cartooning but still talking about it with people because I was mainly looking for people who could lead me in the right direction.  My venture was only two years old and my site contained less than 1000 cartoons. Some of them were fairly good, but remember I was 44 and quite immature for my age, okay immature for a 25 year old’s age, but hey, I was becoming in my mind “The King Of Cartooning”.

     Along the way, online, I  met a very nice guy, a Dr. Vinton Cerf who lived in Washington, D.C as I had done for 12 years.  Vint was a Sr. VP at MCI when it was still open.

     Back then, if I remember correctly broadband was not available, or if it was it was in limited places.  Vint had AOL Online and he had my team draw a graphic of a skeleton with cobwebs sitting at his pc with an alert on his monitor “Welcome To America Online”.  Back then, that was very funny as AOL, Compuserve, NetZero and the  rest were quite slow at connecting, and felt even slower once broadband arrived.    A copy of it still sits on my site in the computer cartoon archives.

     I remember feeling a bit bad at the time because a childhood friend from 1st and 2nd grade, Bob Pittman, after founding and selling MTV, became CEO of AOL for a good many years.  I hope he never saw it but one never knows. I never got an ugly call from him and Vint was happy. He loved to joke about how long it took him to get on the Internet using his trustworthy, but very slow AOL.  

Custom Cartoon for Dr. Vint Cerf, Father Of The Internet by LTCartoons.com. Click to enlarge.

Custom Cartoon for Dr. Vint Cerf, Father Of The Internet by LTCartoons.com. Click to enlarge.

     Well there is more to the story.  Vint was just a sophomore at Stanford in 1969 when he came up with the idea of TCP-IP, the protocol which eventually became the Internet.  Professors and others talked him into selling the rights for awhile to the Pentagon and they called it “Arapnet”.  It was mainly an email communication device between different governmental entities.

     In 1974, Vint learned that will a bit of work, it could go public, but it would take a Congressional vote.  He approached a young (then Congressman from Tn. Named Al Gore who liked the idea and called it the Information Superhighway. 

     That same year he pushed it through Congress and the world had the Internet.  There was not a lot to it except email, bulletin boards and some domains.

     Ten years later an MIT professor named Tim Berners-Lee invented a software called the WWW which would drive the Internet into places we never dreamed imaginable. 

      Suddenly it became a major media and communication device.  The best features at that time were Yahoo!, Hotbot, email, and some bulletin boards.  There was no Google, online college, social media, or anything else that has driven it to become the most important media of our time. 

     Hence the silly little cartoon at the top of the page.  Compare it to the one we did for Vint, and you can see we’ve come a  long way baby along with that little invention of his The Internet. 

    And by the way all these years the joke was NOT on Al Gore. His exact words were, “I created the incentive to invent the Internet”, and in Washington political terms, that is exactly what he did.  Though I’m not a big Al Gore fan, I surely do get a good chuckle when some know it all jokes about Gore and the Internet and has snide know-it-all chesire grin to go with it.

By the way Dr. Vinton Cerf was selected as creative director for Google which is where he remains for about a decade now. Way to go Vint.