A Patient Veteran, A Beloved Wife, A Sweet Irish Setter And Now My Life by Rick London c2016

By now most know Lee’s and my love for animals.  For much of my life, that meant domestic animals such as dogs and cats, and the occasional iguana or hamster, but for the most part dogs and cats and horses.

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I had surmised by the time I was ten or so that I may be the biggest animal-lover in the world, thanks to my late friend Dickey Randolph who, though six years older than me, took the time to teach me about dog care. I got my first Irish Setter from him.   And though I will never forget Dickey’s kindness and goodwill (we stayed friends until his untimely death several years back), I know now it was dogs and cats I loved.

I mention that as, I’d never had anyone explain anything that important to me in detail, that stuck with me throughout my lifetime, and became one of the most important parts of who I am; and most likely began my quest as being a vegan as I am now too.

Part of that “memorable miracle” with Dickey was that I was a disabled, but not diagnosed child with Autism (and now of course an adult with autism).  I was quite hyper, didn’t make good eye-contact, and my attention-span was dismal.

He didn’t care, nor did  it bother him in the least when he returned from Viet Nam, a multi-decorated hero, and very good man.  His guidance led me to the curiosity of nature and animals, and Lee took me to further explorations into the forest to see it in all its glory and how animals behave.  I never get bored with that and it has a very healing nature, very similar to the dog I got from Dickey, “Rusty”.

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I didn’t hate cows, pigs, sheep and chickens, but I dined on them.  Along with overcooked veggies that was my staple until college, at which time McDonald’s took over as “the family kitchen”.  I look back and wonder how I ever lived through that, and in reality, almost didn’t.  I was still 35 years away and two major heart attacks from “seeing the cruelty” in what I was doing.

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Having owned one of the first health food stores in Ms. with a $10K loan from the now defunct (like my health food store) Bank Of Hattiesburg, with a preacher from Glendale, Ms. who was later bought out by an ex-math professor at USM, I had an early curiosity of health foods, yoga, running etc.  It never occurred to me that something as simple as animal protein (including dairy and eggs) was not only holding me back, but eventually killing me, and how I didn’t die on at least 4 occasions has stumped all my surgical specialists.  I am a blessed and grateful man.

I went full-fledged into that business.  Most of my “education” came from salespersons with high-school degrees and books written by outdated writers.  Food science was moving forward as fast as one could turn a page.  The animal sciences were not far behind.  I was dedicated to trying to eat right, take the right herbs and vitamins, run marathons, and you name it.

I have since learned that cooked vitamins might as well go in the toilet.  To my knowledge there is only one firm that makes 100% organic vegan raw vitamins and that is “Garden Of Life” which we buy in powder form from Amazon or Ebay.  It is amazing and one can tell the difference immediately from the ones we see advertised on tv often which have had all/or most of the nutrients and more importantly live enzymes cooked out of them, so they are useless.

I learned that herbal tinctures, in most cases are far better than the tablets or capsules as far as potency. I also learned that organic and wildcrafted are every bit as important.  In addition I learned that “organic” in China would not pass for edible in the U.S. (for herbs and vitamins).  There’s still much more to be learned.  Not all of it works. Some of it is nothing less than miraculous.   More learning.  It’s neverending.

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Click To Enlarge

Enter Walmart, a new “box store” to the town and exit my store, an old overpriced relic.   I sadly closed my doors in 1981

So I spent some time educating myself regarding food sciences and animal science.

I was married in June 2010 to my beloved wife Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller of Hike Our Planet)who became a vegan one year later. I had already read the health benefits and how it helped the planet but that still wasn’t, for whatever reason enough for me. However I did go mainly vegetarian for a year before my conversion to veganism.

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It was impossible to watch Lee’s positive changes and not want that for myself.  I didn’t know if it could happen but I was surely willing to try.  She’d lost about 90 or so pounds and about 20 years of age.  I was astounded and still am.  But that was not her goal. It just happened.

She was very patient with me as my evolution kept going with at least some dairy or cheese and finally I said, “I’ve had it”. I thought she’d be surprised but she was not in the least.  She said, we’d both cook alternate days and eat as much raw as we could, and that is just what we did.  I had no idea I would not only actually like it, but crave it, and the thought of my old “food” never even crosses my mind.  I truly don’t think my body could absorb it.  Lee kept looking and feeling better and her mood became very kind. It was not an act.  I’ve seen lots of acts.  This was a natural evolution.  I wanted that too. (Still working on it  LOL).

The life changes are dramatic.  Forget the goodness to the planet, and though I am tickled to death that it happens, there is nothing that would take me back to my old eating lifestyle. I say that because there is no such thing, really, as a vegan diet. Veganism is more of a learning/lifestyle philosophy.

A Robin Williams Tribute Cartoons from 2003 by LTCartoons.com

A Robin Williams Tribute Cartoons from 2003 by LTCartoons.com

Well, Lee retained the good looks, common sense and brains, and I got to feel human maybe for the first time.

Because nobody gets it perfect (I was told that would happen by Ed Begley, Jr.) on Twitter….. (It’s a long story)….I’ve decided not to become a militant vegan, and that fits me well. While I would love the planet to all turn vegan, I also know as Ed told me, “It ain’t gonna happen”.  I would love to live the rest of my life on the planet not killing any animals, but again, it’s not going to happen.  Even in the making of my computer animals are killed.  Lee and I kill insects for instance on our hikes, our ride to the grocery, etc. but not on purpose of course.

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Click To Enlarge

So I wish the Gandhi-wannabes good luck, and let me know how that turns out.  When curious persons are ready, they usually ask us questions. Lee has come up with the idea to have them start with a Meatless Monday which is now a worldwide movement.

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As time goes by and they are still interested, I often direct people to YouTube to watch Sir Paul McCartney’s “Glass Walls”.  Any time I’ve growled or gotten snarly, they ran they other way and ate more meat, with guilt, more meat, nevertheless.  They didn’t want to be much like me and who was I to blame them.  So I changed, and hopefully so did they.

armadillo tee

Meantime I’ve put together a collection of my favorite animal cartoon gifts and tees and I have a lot more in the store collection.  A percentage of each sale benefits various animal and/or vegan causes.

Also for yet even more entertainment, there’s plenty on my cartoon website.

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Happy laughing…and eating….and hopefully shopping!

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for launching Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts from an abandoned tin warehouse in rural Ms.  He is married to his best friend and hiking buddy, his beloved bride Lee Hiller-London who owns the nature photography blog Hike Our Planet. Though of course cetaceans are animals (Dolphins, Orcas etc.) Rick keeps a separate section for his ocean mammal friends (gifts).

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Gnu Age Hipsters The Story Behind This Londons Times Offbeat Cartoon by Rick London

Maybe it’s the Asperger’s in me, or maybe I’m just plain weird, or possibly both, but the one thing I love the most about the English language, aside from puns (as long as I wrote them) is combining words that might not otherwise be combined.  And sometimes that involves puns (or pun-like words or phrases) such as “Gnu Age Hipsters”.  Shakespeare was what I call “an extreme editor” and one of his most famous quote was “Brevity is the soul of wit”. 

Even during his fifty something odd years on the planet (back in the 16th Century) he understood human nature enough to know that an audience much preferred a short joke than a long joke; in other words attention spans were short, even back then.   So one of his most important quotes, “Brevity is the soul of wit”, was truly one of his most important, at least to him, and to those of us who think of his writings when we write our own humor.  Should I use 20 words when I can say the same thing in three or four words?

Believe it or not, the majority of humor writers use 20, thinking that if they have more to say, it is somehow “more valuable”.  Shakespeare knew nothing could be further from the truth.  A person not trained in the “art of humor” knows how to tell a long joke and eventually get it right”.  A person trained in humor writing,  even if self-trained as I am, knows painfully well, I’ve lost them if they have to read more than just a little. 

And ask my wife Lee, that is not easy for me.  I don’t write emails….I write essays. But I’m getting better.  At least with the cartoons it forces me to whittle down all the words that come to my mind, and think of the 0-20 or so words that will make it funny, with the most minimal of text.

I knew what I was going to say with Gnu Age Hipsters before I even “fleshed it out” for our team artist German Garcia to render it.  German has worked with me long enough now to where I no longer have to “blueprint” the cartoons.  When we first started, I had to write little details like “one of the gnus is carrying a skateboard”…”one of the gnus is wearing a way to Hawaiian shirt and the other maybe SW/Arizona/Mexico, and one has it’s shoe tongue flapped out.  

I no longer have to write any of those details.  German just knows.   And he often does it now better than I could ever think it up, and that’s a lot of fun to see his surprises as he is a master artist, and also a master creator. 

Dictionary.com cites a gnu to be:  A large dark antelope with a long head, a beard and mane, and a sloping back.

Dictionary.com has 3 definitions for a hipster. The one of which we think the most is: “A person, especially during the 1950s and 1960s, characterized by aparticularly strong sense of alienation from most established social activities and relationships; a beatnik or hippie.”  But another common definition that comes to mind is “A usually young person who is trendy, stylish, or progressive in anunconventional way; someone who is hip.”   It also notes the original hipsters were beatnick-types out of the mainstream who often played jazz.

German was able to combine all 3 definitions and create the ideal hipster; one to which we could all relate (or not relate). 

Finally the term “New Age” which as always been a bit obscure to me. I never really got what it meant other than when yoga and meditation became popular, full moon meditations, and all kinds of fun leftover hippie things that some of us brought with us from the 60s well into the 70s and 80s. 

But Dictionary.com defines it much like one might define a Unitarian Universalist Church, “Of or relating to a movement espousing a broad range of philosophies and practices traditionally viewed as occult, metaphysical, or paranormal.”

Though I never looked at New Age with such a broad range of thought processes, as I found much of it to be “neatly-packaged reworded but “more hip” versions of the original monolithic religions, I felt, “Okay, if the founders of the New Age movement want it to seem more creative, novice and different, then that’s their business.  They’re the ones marketing it and making the cash on it. 

So…..I combined the three, the best I could, knowing good and well I would probably make someone mad, and I’m sure I will.  But I also knew from my wife’s chuckle, I might just make someone, maybe even more, smile and get a good laugh, and nobody really gets hurt.  I like that. 

I guess in a lot of ways, I am a Gnu Age Hipster.  And there’s nothing anyone can do about it. In fact, I dare you to even try.  Now, pass me my books on Sulis and Damara (to quench the thirst of my inner-child), and some silly Stephen Richards (regurgitated/edited from some ancient master philosopher) quote such as, ““Minds are like flowers, they only open when the time is right.”, and some short grass or herbs to quench my gnu, new age, and hipster appetite.” 

We have Gnu Age Hipsters on backpacks clocks, pillows, Tshirts, and all types of gifts. 

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best known for his Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons which he launched in 1997 and licensed funny gifts from Rick London Gifts.  He also likes to blog 🙂  His illustrator/associate German Garcia is a cartoon and fine artist in his own right and has worked for DC and Marvel Comics. 

 

 

 

 

If I Had A Hammerhead Shark The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoons

By Rick London

 

Though I launched Londons Times Cartoons in 1997, most of the first two years of it was practice or trial and error.  It was also mostly in black and white, though, by the end of 1998, we had a few hundred color black and white ones under our belt. 

Even though Gary Larson had, with his “Far Side” paved the way, was the trailblazer “off all things absurd” in cartooning, for many of us, we were still taking baby steps regarding subject matter and “just how absurd we could actually be.  After all, many of us, though all black sheep of families, lived in town where our “normal” family members lived, and was sure to tread carefully so as not to embarrass them. 

As word had gotten back to me from mutual friends I’d embarrassed them from the start, all I could think was, “What the hell. Go for broke. Who cares what they think anyway.  They probably don’t *get* them anyway.  I tested that theory once and gave one of my married relatives a Seinfeld parody cartoon including Kramer with both of them in divorce court. It was a play on the words “Kramer Vs Kramer” being “the ugliest divorce imaginable. 

I was quite proud of the cartoon.  The last thing on my mind was “how my kinfolk’s marriage was doing.  I had the cartoon framed and gave it to them for a holiday or birthday, I forget which one now.  Word got back to me they were “livid”. And “how dare me play with something so sensitive as their marriage”.  

Well that was the first I’d known that “things were shaky on that side of the family, but I had to shake my head, just because they didn’t get that it was a “play on words” and had nothing to do with their marriage.  I thought it was a most thoughtful and creative gift.  They didn’t agree.    I learned at that moment, “You cannot please everybody”. 

So the year 1999 came around and everyone’s mind was on Prince’s ability to party and the following New Years when every computer in the world would break. Not too many were thinking of my cartoons and their themes.

And since they weren’t looking that closely, I decided to try some “Larsonesque” ideas, such as bringing fish and other animals to life and putting them in settings they might not otherwise be; such as sharks in a nightclub…..playing folk music.  

I held my breath and asked Rich (our manager at the time) to upload it and waited for feedback.  There was no Google yet (though word was out that this really neat search engine called “Google” was about to launch and it did that same year. Of course there was no Twitter or any social media for that matter.  Hence there was no instant gratification.   I had to send the cartoon out in emails (that I had captured on my website from writing a newsletter). 

I also sent this one and about 10 others out to “name-brand” celebrities and asked for feedback; reviews of sorts that I could upload to my site.  Oddly enough, several celebs wrote back.  There was not one bad review and all allowed me to include them on my site. Some of them I still display. 

I grew up not far from the Gulf Of Mexico (or “The Gulf” as we called it in south Mississippi).  We spent a lot of time swimming, skiing and fishing so we certainly saw our share of sharks.  Luckily, the merely swam with us and none of us were ever attacked (though we would occasionally read or see on the news of such attacks).  

Another common love that I had with my friends was the love of music.  Folk and protest songs were some of our favorites; Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Pete Seeger, Peter Paul and Mary and you name it, we loved them. 

Suddenly (again thanks to Gary Larson), I realized it was okay to combine some of the most unexpected things and turn them into cartoons.

This is but one of them; “Shark Folk Singers” or “If I Had A Hammerhead” by Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons.  I hope you enjoy it. 

Though we’ve been selling them for about 16 years, they continue to be one of the most popular of all our images. 

If you feel like seeing them on Tshirts, mugs, aprons, posters, greeting cards, gifts, etc……

Check out RickLondonGifts.com

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Orca Captivity The Story Behind The Cartoon by Rick London

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From The Londons Times Cartoons “Story Behind The Cartoon” Series 

All who know me know I love animals.  I’ve loved them since I was a young child.  And not just cats and dogs but animals living in the wild.  I spent a great deal of time outdoors in my youth, and that love of the outdoors and nature never left me.  

I’m fascinated with how nature works and continue learning about it, and the animals who are a great part of it, and I learn something new every day.

But just being there and observing is not enough. I grew up near the Ms. Gulf Coast and watched cetaceans such as dolphins and sperm whales merrily swim the beautiful waters. And though I don’t believe we had Orcas, I always imagined what kind of wonderful time they had in the wild.  After all most of these creatures swim between 30-100 miles a day just for minimal health. 

I still remember in my youth hearing about Seaworld and other such cetacean captivity environments and never could get answers as to why that was allowed to happen.  After all, these creatures communicate with a loud shrill sound, and such sounds bouncing off concrete walls seemed it would be aggravating. I would later learn it drives them insane, depressed, and suicidal.

I decided to research on my own (animal sciences) and sure enough Seaworld and other such wild animal prisons are truly nothing more than torture prisons.  I felt powerless to do anything, however.  I wrote letters to them and they would politely write back that they treated their animals with the utmost of care (yada yada yada).  I knew better. 

When I learned that I had “cartoons in me”, I decided I would do a series of Orca and dolphin cartoons which I’ve done and will continue to do.  And though that is just a drop in the bucket as far as letting Seaworld and others know they are running archaic businesses that need to be closed, every little bit helps. 

When such places opened 1/2 century ago, they were useful.  They were created to show people and allow them to observe sea creatures they would otherwise never see.  

However animal science has shown that such captivity is cruel and unusual punishment and these creatures are extremely intelligent and desperately need to live in the wild.  Seaworld has decided to ignore that science for the sake of profits. 

In addition, there are plenty of other venues now that don’t harm the animals in which people can observe and study them in their true habitat.   The entire “mission statement” of Seaworld and others like it is obsolete.  

I will be running more Orca and dolphin cartoons over the years and tweeting and mailing them to Seaworld.  Chances are they will not do a lot of good….on their own.  But if enough people send letters, cartoons, drawings, pleas, etc., finally they will have to listen.  Already their stock is plummeting.  That is a start.  It is just a matter of time before they are out of business.

The question is, will they go gracefully (its almost too late for that) but there’s still a small timeline, or will they go out of business kicking and screaming with a legacy of cruelty and obscene torture?   Only time will tell.   

Meantime, here’s a good chance to laugh at their latest tv commercial created to “change our minds” about them.  Didn’t work for me. Did it you? 

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, songwriter and designer.  He is best known for his Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts.  He is married to Lee Hiller-London aka Lee Hiller who is a popular nature and wildlife photographer as well as gift designer.