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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