Blog: 20th Anniversary Of Londons Times Cartoons. How Did That Happen?

 

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Today is the 20th anniversary of the launch of Londons Times Cartoons and the time has zoomed by most of the time, and felt like walking through thick molasses at other times.  It almost seems like a dream, sometimes mostly entertaining and at other times a vivid nightmare.  In many ways it seemed like yesterday that I was back on my hometown in Ms, broke, without a job and no government assistance. My only resources were my wits and they were running dry.

I had been helping my mom in her final days of  cancer and selling television ads for a small television station whose employees reminded me of the characters in the sitcom WKRP Cincinnati. I’m not sure which one I was but definitely one too.

A friend owned a tin shed on the outskirts oftown; sort of like a small warehouse full of rotting cans of vegetables on makeshift wooden shelves he’d built on the wall in sort of a rural spot between two counties.

A can would explode every once in a while due to its contents fermenting and it being way past its expiration date.  My friend had also installed electricity, plumbing (but no bath or shower) and a phone line.   I bathed in the cold-water only sink.  I washed my stray dog Thor in it as well. Within months Thor found a friendly calico kitten meowing from a low branch outside who I also adopted. Somehow we managed.

Friends would come by and bring me meals or take me out to eat.  Those were exciting, fun, and frightening times.  I was but a tin wall from the outside elements.  For most that time I had no car. I slept on a concrete floor in a sleeping bag.  I bought and way overspent for an IBM Clone PC from a guy near Hot Coffee, Ms who bought old computers and fixed them.

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His garage was full of computers, parts, and tools.  He was asking $800. We settled on $600. I know now it was worth about $150, but for back then it was a bit of a workhorse and I was so naive about technology I hadn’t a clue that he probably would have taken much less for it.

The tin shed had a fenced-in acre and a half yard that overlooked I-59, the main road to New Orleans or in the other direction about 20 miles from The Free State Of Jones.

It was March 19, 1997, and I was a very late bloomer due to a number of issues and events, but the main one being a lifetime of un-diagnosed Autism and punished for it, mainly by family but also by community.  The family press release was very much like Joe Kennedy’s of Rosemary “Severe issues,  she needs to be locked away.”  As we learned much later, she was probably Autistic with mild depression.  She was extremely bright as her brothers.

The big question was,  “Could I ever get past those demons?  Could I ever get past being unwanted and put away in an attic bedroom with each of my friendships parentally controlled” and my being unwanted? Could I get past the pTSD and low self-esteem it caused?  Who was I to think I could be at the helm of a cartoon project (or any project for that matter)?

They say time flies when you’re having a good time. I can remember most of those times not being so fun for me.  In fact I was not sure if I would make it. By then my heart was giving out but I didn’t know it.

I also had vanus (a severe form of flat feet) but had been a long-distance runner and even completed two marathons from Lafayette to Crowley, La. in 1978 and 1979. When finally diagnosed at age 60, the doctors said I had been running (and walking) on “a bag of bones”.  I was fitted for orthotics which I wear daily. Vanus is inherited at birth.  My dad had it, but I was never checked for it until age 60. Lee noticed it first and saw it on a doctor’s site poster when I was getting a brace for tendinitis. The orthotic inserts have allowed me to walk without hurting for the first time, and even do high-mountain hikes with Lee. I’ve learned to love nature and wildlife.

Dial-up Internet was slow.  There was no Google, no Twitter or facebook, nor was there any social media.  There were forums and Yahoo!  Since I was a novice at the Internet, I didn’t know.  I bartered my way through the whole thing.

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I contacted cartoonists who had paved the way long before me.  While I could draw, I couldn’t draw to the level of which I wanted to to project in this project.  I wanted it  to be a “Dali meets The Far Side”,  a cartoon which could be appreciated as art. Sometimes that worked, sometimes not.

I can remember the most generous people with their time were Charles “Sparky” Schulz,  Leigh Rubin (Rubes) and also helpful were Dave Coverly “Speed Bump”, Jon McPherson “Close To  Home”  and several others.   It seemed the bigger they were, the most generous with their help.

So as per Sparky’s suggestion, I wrote the concepts and dialogue, and assigned them to my illustrative partner who rendered them.   He only did black and white for a long time but within a year I talked him into color.  That year a California tee company paid us $10,000 for the rights to 12 color images. We thought we’d arrived.

Though I made a number of barters, I don’t think we made another sale for another 4 or so years so we just kept creating cartoons. I continued to write them and tweak several I’d written years before.  I had a shoebox full from early college days.  My parents talked me out of doing anything with them so I kept them hidden away and finally used them.

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We made a few sales to academic publishers which never paid much but every little bit helped.

I was living out of my suitcase, which was a good thing since every now and again I was evicted. Friend’s couches or extra bedrooms became “my best friend”.  I always had to pay something but never much. I never needed a lot of space; just enough to type and talk on the phone.  God bless those who gave me a chance.

By the year 2000, we had close to 3000 cartoons (mostly color), but the unpredictable and dangerous lifestyle was taking its toll.   I had my first major heart attack in 2001, and another one in 2010 with three surgeries.  In between that time I had a vagus nerve stimulator implant installed to assist my vagus nerve to work properly.

In 2008 I met my later-to-be amazing wife Lee Hiller. She was (and is) a constant support.  She was with me during the 2010 surgeries which were touch and go. All the while she has been developing her own line of designer gifts LeeHillerDesigns.com and taking incredible nature photos (many on gifts) in our National Park in her blog titled HikeOurPlanet.com.  She’s an incredible person and talent.

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Londons Times Cartoons had been the Google  #1 ranked offbeat cartoon for 3 years. It has now been for the past 12+ years (since Jan 2005).  It is usually Bing’s #1 ranked too (though it tends to fluctuate there down to #4 or so). I’m happy with that given that on both engines there’s about a half million competing offbeat cartoons.

We put a counter up on my cartoon site in Jan. 2005 after Google first named it #1.  We were eight years old.  It shows we’ve now had about 8.9 million visitors worldwide.  That boggles my mind still. It is very easy to say “Look what I did all by myself” but that’s not how it  has been at all.  I have been but a cog in the wheel of amazing illustrators, managers, tekkies, vendors and Lee all of whom took the time to contribute to a project that had but a slim chance.   Alone,   I would surely have walked away from computers and try to learn something that didn’t require them.

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This year I learned I also have type-2 diabetes and she has gone right to work on helping me figure out a lifestyle diet that works. While it continues to be vegan, the portions are different as is some of the food variety.  We’ve beefed up the exercise/hiking (or we’ve  “soyed it up” as we don’t “beef” anything).

Today we sit with a gorgeous view of Hot Springs National Park from our office.  We see just about every type of flora and wildlife imaginable outside our window. Hawks and falcons fly by often. Squirrels greet us at the window along with a variety of birds and insects.

All the while we create our gift ideas using digital design on our computers.  While my cartoons are fun to put on items so are my “Famous Historical Quote Designs” which came much later.

We are going hiking later today on our favorite trail known for its deer and woodpeckers (and much more).

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Nature has been very good to  us and provided healing, not always so available in cities (where we have lived most our lives).

A well-known quote in the Autism world  is “The Internet does for Autistics what Braille has done for the blind and sign-language has done for the deaf”.   So I accidentally also found my tool for living, by being a part of the cartoon industry.  I would probably have never learned the Internet; as the Interest wasn’t there.   I developed a bit of interest when I returned to college at age 50 at WGU.EDU.  I learned a lot and Lee has taught me a great deal also.  I would have never have known it to be “my lifeline” as an Autistic.

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I was trying to sum things up and our good friend, Sally Jane Paulson in Norway did so for us with a Harper Lee quote she happened to post today.   I believe it tells the whole story. It’s  at the top of this story.

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Rick London is an author, gift designer and founder of Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts Londons Times.  He is active with outdoors and environmental, animal, Autism and Veteran’s causes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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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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.

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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).

New Shoes, Autism Line Of Gifts And On The Road To Somewhere by Rick London

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When I was about 19, I left home to “greener pastures”….Dallas Texas; and landed at a community college in Richardson, Tx called Richland.  I enrolled for no particular reason than to be away from home and see the “big bad dangerous world”.  With Autism and Asperger’s, I hadn’t a clue why I was attending anyway.

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Though I was taking a full load, and retaining nearly nothing due to my Autism which had never been diagnosed, I also went to Dallas Fashion Merchandising College.  Though it was not an accredited school, it was great fun, and for the first time allowed me to express myself creatively. I was told by my parents and others close to me that it was a waste of time; I’d never learn how to design, and I’d do best to throw in the towel there and focus more on my studies (business) at Richland.  I tried but something kept me going to both.

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I was unable to do lesson plans (at either school) but learned as much as I could from lectures. Fortunately there were some good professors at both and I retained a bit.  35 years went by before I had an opportunity to design.  But everything had changed.  In those days, one was to graduate and take their portfolio to a well-known designer.  I was much too shy for that and my portfolio was an embarrassment.

I was older now, and there was something about electronic designing that appealed to me.  I went through three major surgeries while back in college in my late 40s and mid-50s not to mention a major heart attack I’d suffered before becoming a student. I was determined to learn something before I left this planet.

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As time went by, I learned the process of digital designing. I created gifts and clothing bearing my cartoon images, and also learned I could take old public domain images of famous people and their quotes and create designs with them, something I still enjoy doing.

In 2007, I was approached by a POD (Print On Demand) that they’d made a deal with U.S. Keds and wanted me to design some shoes using both my cartoons and public domain famous people and their quotes.  At first it was fun. Then like so many Aspies it became an obsession and I felt I had to design at least 3-5 pair a day.  It remained fun but grueling.  Lee can tell you when I get started on a project my focus is there and remains there until it is finished or stabilized.  There is almost no tearing me away from it.  But she laughs as she is the same way with hers.  As Gary Larson once said, “These little images in a way become our children”.  And he’s right.  We groom them, we help develop them, we show them how to behave in public and private.  They’re just kids.

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I married my beloved wife Lee who had had a much more positive experience with academia and also family members growing up who could sew beautiful clothing.  When I shared digital design with her, I hardly had to tell her anything.  Within 3 months, she had created about 700 pairs of shoes not to mention Tshirts, mousepads, eco-friendly bags, etc.  Today she has about 30,000+, one of the most beautiful lines I have ever seen of both her nature and wildlife photography and her amazing artwork, much of it reminding me of Peter Max from the 60s but with her own flair. It’s a lot of fun and we’ve got a lot of it hanging in our place.

I guess I had about 3000 or so pairs of my “ShoesThatAmuse.com” when Keds and the POD had a falling out.  I woke up one day and every one of Lee’s and my pairs were gone. No explanation, no apology, just a short note on their blog that said, “We’ll be back with another brand that will knock your socks off (no pun intended).  It would be another 6 years before that happened.

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In a lot of ways I’m glad it did happen the way it did.  Though the brand we use now ZIPz is not as flexible in designing as Keds, the quality far outweighs them, and I like knowing that our lines is going to be something people will be able to enjoy for a long time.

I’ve received emails and mail from all over during that time of people telling me how much fun they’d had meeting people who simply asked about their shoes.   Word of mouth was my best advertising.

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After the trauma of hours/years of work on designing the Keds shoes, I changed the name of the store to RickLondonDesigns.com which encompassed all my wisdom, spiritual, motivational, political, etc quote gifts and the store does okay.

Now, I have just purchased the domain AmusingShoes.com which is what I’ve decided to name them.

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My Autism Signature Series Shoes will be part of my Signature Gift series.  10% of profits will go to non-vaccine/non-cure Autism/Asperger’s causes.  As time goes by and we see a real profit, that will be raised.  For now it is the most I can do to keep the lights on.  Bear with me, please.  Thanks.

Time will tell how they will do.  Generally, when I enjoy creating something, it sells. If it is a pain in the butt, it is as if the public knows and won’t buy it.  There’s no fooling the public.  They know if something is a labor of love, or just an item to put up to make money.  I’m at a point in my life where I don’t need to waste my time making those type items.  If it is not a labor of love, I’m simply not going to create it.  Lee feels the same way with her LeeHillerDesigns.com. I don’t blame her in the least.

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I hope you will drop by some of our shops and find items that you can’t find anywhere else. We’ve done it that way on purpose.  We’ve found ways over the years to keep prices affordable, yet make the items as rare as hen’s teeth.  People generally enjoy them.  And for those who don’t there is a 30-day 100% refund, no questions asked.  Can’t beat that.

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, songwriter and designer. He is best known for his Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts “Londons Times” which have been Google #1 ranked since 2005.  He is married to “his better half” Lee Hiller-London of Lee Hiller Designs who is a popular nature/wildlife photographer and artist as well as hiker and photo poet.  The Autism Signature Series Of Gifts is part of his collection.

Words People Places Things Combined The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoon

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In the real world knowledge is power, and in the cartoon world, to a certain degree, that same principle holds true.  But specific knowledge seems to win the day.

I spoke about my love of the English language, due to all the fun play, that is work, but seems more like play can be done with it.  Puns are my favorite and Shakespeare called puns the “highest form of humor”.  I think they are too…as long as I write them, but don’t you dare 🙂   Am sure you feel the same.

If puns are the golden egg of offbeat cartoons, multiple puns are the Fort Knox of cartooning.  And if there is a way to get numerous word meanings in a cartoon using just a few words, you’ve done your job well.

This cartoon was my first experiment in multiple-punning.  It worked to a certain degree, but due to our culture’s attention span, most viewers might have only caught a few of the puns, when there’s actually about 3 or so…I’m not sure…I think I missed a few too.  🙂

…..Amazon.com, Amazon Rainforest, and Forest Gump (coming down from the sky as if he’s rain).  So maybe three 🙂

For those who want to see all the nifty gift items and tees I’ve designed at my Cafe Press shop, you can………..

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What’s So Funny? by Rick London

This March 19th, Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and funny gifts will be eighteen years old.  From the start, people asked, “What’s so funny?” or “The world is a mess” etc.

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I agree with them, actually, and admittedly as the world gets crazier (or maybe it was always this crazy but social media helps us see it more microscopically), we need to laugh.

Laughter, I read long ago is important for our health.  And it’s not just fringe alternative medical studies that show this to be so.  By 2014, nearly every major medical research center, including Mayo Clinic, have conclusive studies showing laughter improves everything from the way the immune system operates to reducing pain.

Did I think I was going to “save the world” back in 1997, when I launched Londons Times in that abandoned warehouse in Ms.?  Probably so, but I was as naïve and stoked as the next entrepreneur with a unique idea or different vision.  Needless to say, I didn’t save the world, and  not even sure I made it any better, but I did make a contribution.

I made my share of mistakes, but I suppose if I hadn’t, I would never have been able to build it to the scope that it has been built. I was able to recruit some of the best illustrators in the world who understood (and understand) my blueprinted concepts and render them.

I have been able to design tens of thousands of products by learning digital design through tutorials and learned to market them for sale by returning to college at age 50.

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As I look up and read what I wrote, I can easily see it as a “bragging right essay” and perhaps it is.  I am proud of Londons Times and I make no apologies about that.  The work often was 24/7 and sometimes that was nonstop.   Ironically the time since its launching in 1997 is all a blur, as if it has been at high speed velocity. And yet I can still look back at old letters and emails and smile at “that bump in the road” or that “bit of my own ignorance” and wonder what I did, if I did, do, to overcome and learn by it.

Several months ago, as I’ve described in recent blogs, I did some real damage to my upper right shoulder, arm and hand.  I am in physical therapy now and have elastic braces on part of my arm and waist.

I just did a photo-shoot of Lee (using her camera) in her new Oarttee (one of our new associates) “all over print” tee, one of her designs that was beautifully printed and shipped to her.  That was a challenge as I had to hold the camera up high to get a full shot.  (She ended up taking a great many shots using the timer and tripod also) so chances are one of those shots will end up on the Internet.  It’s a gorgeous design created from one of her photos of a bright red/pink camellia (one of my favorite flowers).

Though “partly-brag”, part of my message is to “stay the course”.  I am aware a good many young people follow my cartoons and read my blog, but also middle-age and older people (who may think it is too late to try something they’ve always wanted to do).

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Though I say “Be pragmatic”, I also say “TRY”.  It really is never to late to give it a shot.  Don’t worry about mistakes or the learning curve.  One can be rest assured there will be plenty of that.   And whether (in your mind) if you succeeded or not, you can surely say you tried.

Several decades ago when I was visiting my maternal grandmother Ruth London in the nursing home, I often chatted with some of the other residents, and many had much to share.

I decided to learn something for myself so I asked many of them if they could live their lives over, is there anything they would have done differently.

The common thread was, “I would have done some of the things I always wanted to do but was too frightened or was told it was not sensible”.  I know without a doubt that was the impetus for my trying Londons Times Cartoons; the elderly and geriatric residents of Hattiesburg Nursing Home on Bay St. in Hattiesburg.  They taught me not to regret a chance to try something “later in life”.  I was forty-four when I launched the cartoon.

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What will be your next contribution?

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, designer and musician who is active with green and animal causes.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons And Funny Gifts. 

LTCartoons.com Was & Still Is The Only One To Do This by Rick London

What makes Londons Times Cartoons different than others?

We like to think it is a lot of things; as, a lot of elements go into the cartoon and subsequent gift items on the marketplace (from concept to end user).

In a nutshell (in hopes of not getting too grandiose), we like to be the cartoon that is different in more than just one way than all the others.

For instance, we were/are the first and only offbeat property that is 99% in color, featuring 4000+ images. Though several other offbeat cartoons can boast beyond the 4000 mark, none of them (except us), most are in black and white with a few color offerings.

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In addition, we take great care in how we have our products manufactured, and what we have manufactured.

We are the only “green” offbeat cartoon on the planet (to our knowledge); that is “cruelty free” in the making of our products. For instance, we have a line of ties, which we only make using polyester. There is silk available, but we’ve opted out of using it. The ties appear to be silk in texture, are much more affordable, and no animal loses its home.

Admittedly we have about .07% of gift items (on Amazon) that contain leather, and that is beyond our control (though we are working on finding alternative manufacturers who make the same products in pleather or some comparable material).   This is found on products such as ceramic framed tiles; not on the majority of our items.

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We were/and are the first and only offbeat cartoon to dedicate an entire shop to 100% organic No-GMO tees RickLondonOrganics.com.
We’re very proud of that shop. It is not yet a profitable store, but we feel it is worth it, to have clean materials available to our more health-conscious customers. process.

Yes, we still have tees that are not organic and are made with mainstream dyes, but the largest scope of our following demands that, and we cater to them too.

However, our goal is one day to be able to sell nothing but 100% organic gmo-free tees.

Of course tees are not our only product. We were the first (and still the only) cartoon to offer a line of offbeat cartoon real USPS postage.

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We’re very proud of our stamps. Philatelists love them and collect them. Non-collectors often buy them with matching greeting cards or postcards from our RickLondonGifts.com shop.

zazzle postage squid

Finally, we invented the offbeat cartoon gourmet coffee gift basket which has been available on Amazon since 2006. Though I call it “Ruth London’s Exquisite Coffees”, each basket contains 5 imported delicious whole coffee beans, a jumbo cartoon mug, four matching coasters and the gratuitous gourmet biscotti. Can’t beat that as a gift and it’s exclusively at Amazon. We offer about 1000 different cartoon baskets. It’s a gift that is always remembered (and enjoyed). http://bit.ly/LTGftBskt.

This coming march it will be 18 years since my favorite dog “Thor” and I launched LTCartoons.com in that little abandoned Ms. warehouse. I’ve worked with some of the world’s most talented people who helped make this happen, and learned a great deal. The learning process never ends.

amazon coffee gift basket

Maybe that’s the reason I love doing what I do. Every day is a new challenge and opportunity to create something that makes someone smile or laugh. And though, yes, I do look at it as a business, no amount of money in the world can replace the fact that products that I create make people happy. As corny as that sounds, it’s important.

Thank you and have the happiest of holidays this season.

Sincerely,

Rick

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, and designer.  He is best-known for his founding of Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts.  He also founded several Great Quotes Shops which feature famous faces from the past and some of their most famous quotes on gifts, cards and tees.  His main offbeat cartoon site is Londons Times Cartoons.  He is married to nature and wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller) who is best known for her designer gifts, Lee Hiller Designs.

Border Collies, Stocks, & Humor by Rick London

Border Collie Collectibles         Click To Enlarge

Border Collie Collectibles
Click To Enlarge

 

I love dogs.

I like to make money, though I doubt I’ll ever be a dot.com zillionaire. I have too much of a writer/artist’s heart (whatever that is), and am much more interested that certain details of a graphic are correct, than I am if one of my licensed t-shirts is displayed properly (though I do appreciate the importance of that part of business too). Let me reword that. I don’t like selling things.

I probably am fairly good at selling things (for instance I’m fairly good at bartering which takes a certain amount of sales acumen), and by the same token I understand the importance of the myriad of details that go into an entrepreneurial venture.

I have learned over the years that I have strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others. There are several remedies for that. In the areas of weakness, I should surround myself with people who have strengths in those areas, and be the strength for them, if they have weaknesses in the areas (of which I have strength).

It’s business but it’s also physics. In basic physics one of the first lessons is “action/reaction”.
What people don’t understand is those physics apply to everything. When we empower someone, we become empowered. When we try to undermine or hurt someone, we become disempowered. Don’t believe me? Try it. It never fails to be true. So I try my best to try to empower those around me. I don’t do it perfectly, but that’s no reason not to keep trying. And I allow them to empower me, if they have knowledge in a matter of which I do not.

Which brings us to border collies and investments.
Rumor has it that art and art collectibles have outperformed Standard & Poors for the past 3 decades. That really doesn’t surprise me much, given the reasons people buy art or collectibles compared to the reasons people buy stocks.

I love art and photography collectibles and my wife Lee Hiller (Lee Hiller-London) who is a fine nature photographer and I have posters and prints of our work all over our home. We have some mugs, cards etc. too. We may, or may not ever sell them, but whatever we do, we’ll enjoy them, and have enjoyed them as the years have passed. We had several new ones to our collection each year. Our wall looks like a nicely stocked gallery.
One could do that with their stock certificates (if they wished) but the emotions that stocks and bonds paperwork seem to enhance are not in the same league with arts and letters collectibles on a print, mug, apron or even ornament.

That’s why I don’t “just design a T-shirt when we create a cartoon but a bulk of collectibles, because a lot of people are like me. They often don’t just want a T-shirt or an eco-friendly bag or a mug bearing that image, they want all three and maybe a key chain and/or button to match.

Which brings us to border collies. I love all dogs. But late in life I shared my home with a beautiful bearded collie mix (I think); and learned about a whole new breed. Most my life I’d had hounds, mixes, goldens labs etc.
One of my best friends had a border collie who reminded me very much of my bearded collie in many ways. Both were extremely bright, a bit hyper, goofy and a lot of fun.
My friend was/is also a sculpture. He has made numerous sculpted metal of border collies which are wonderful.

I’ve not kept up with Frank for several years (his late dad was one of my best friends though), but it gave me the idea of collectibles. If it worked so well on “serious items”, why couldn’t it work with cartoon collectibles?
So I created products, and put them in specific categories and pages, so that one could find a tee, keep shopping for the same design on other products, and not get lost.
Here is a “for instance” of my border collie page at one of my online shops. Enjoy and have a great week.

bored.jpg

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, songwriter and designer. He is best known for Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts which he launched in 1997 in an abandoned tin shed in rural Ms.

8 Secrets To Becoming The Most Brilliant Creative Entrepreneur In The World In Less Than Two Decades by Rick London

mar stupid 

                   

   Am I the only one who, the older I get, the more I look for things to do?  I don’t mean go to the mall or neighborhood pub, etc.  That’s not my thing.  I mean in my business.  The funny thing is, every day I wake up there is plenty of things (mostly routine) to do, but the child in me is always looking for something new to create, expand make, produce, sell etc.

 

      About an hour into my morning coffee (I’m a slow drinker), the obsession starts.  “If I don’t create something so new and so different, the world, even my close friends and loving wife, will forget who I am or ever was.”

     Then I come to my senses.  I’m not a pimply-faced 12 year old who wonders why he’s no longer a boy but not yet a man, but it is amazing how fast that feeling can return if I’m not doing something productive.  I give myself permission to play on Twitter and facebook, and of course go mountain hiking with Lee but to me, that’s part of what I call un-work; regenerating or winding down, whatever one likes to call it.  I become a kid again in the forest. I love the flora the smells, the wildlife and yes, even the wildflowers.  If I didn’t  get out in nature far from the maddening crowd at least twice a week I’d explode.  In fact I think Lee has seen me explode once or twice and its so messy.  Fortunately Lee loves it too and it’s not only play for her but a major part of her work. 

mar waldo finds self

 

      The great irony of it all is that I’m into my 15th year of Londons Times Cartoons & Gifts and the large core of the work (not quite 5000 cartoons and about ¼ million gift items) are completed.  It didn’t seem like hard work but I know it was.  Actually more discipline than hard work, but staying focused and with a purpose.  I know that just about anyone could do what I have done (if they really wanted to).  Then I start thinking, “But who would want to”.  Then I remember, “Well there’s other nuts out there”.   In that 15 years at one time or another I was certain I was the “most brilliant entrepreneur in the world”.  Then I went back to school at age 47 and actually met some of the real most brilliant entrepreneurs in the world.  I learned humility. I would never come close to being so, but playing pretend can be fun.   I did learn some things from my amazing classmates and wonderful professors.   

       What Lee does is hard work too and she started Lee Hiller Designs very similarly to how I did, virtually with nothing but a computer, a brain and talent.  She got better as the years passed.  She is in her 5th year and is still expanding and I love watching her work grow.  At first it was almost all nature photography.  Then she started experimented with her art which she’d given up in high school, only to find out it is a public favorite and sells on all types of items worldwide.  Her posters are very popular and several of them dawn our living room walls (next to my silly cartoons), but hey, I do my best.  Lee has about 30,000 products on the market and I remember when she started in late October of 2009.  I couldn’t believe her discipline and work ethic.   It continues and it’s contagious.

      In the strange economies in which we’ve lived the past three or four decades (on and off), I admire anyone who looks at obstacles as something to overcome, work hard, and keep a project or entrepreneurial venture alive.  It’s not magic and it’s not brain surgery.

oct moo it 3drose

 

      For us, this is what it took.  This is not the only way, but if a couple can agree upon it, and live it, they can go far (so can a non-couple)

Tear up your credit cards. Plastic surgery They look appealing when starting up a business, but they are not your friend (unless you own the credit card company) 

1 Pay with cash or debit cards (we rarely even use checks anymore).  We pay as we go. 

2 Advertise for free or cheap.  Why pay for major media or even overpriced newspapers, radio, or tv, when you can often reach as many if not more people consistently using social media.  We use it nonstop (even when we are not at the computer we use pre-scheduling software) which keeps our tweets going.  Many old-school twitterers pooh pooh that idea; but those are the types who often turn into life coaches and other type shadowy types, living on other’s blood and their credit cards, posting their various addresses (of which nobody cares or believes anyway), and don’t tend to do very well financially (or spiritually), which has been our observation. 

3 Never give up.  That’s become so common its cliché’.  I will add, “It’s okay to give up for a little while, an hour, a day or even a week”.  Everyone needs to regenerate and rest.  But know you are going back into the ring with a new plan.

mar horse nay

4 It’s your business.  Use an attorney with agreements/contracts.  If you can’t afford an attorney, use one of the legal sites and get affordable agreements, but understand you are not as well protected, generally, as you are with a good attorney who understands your business needs (or even your business).  But they are better than nothing (usually).

5 Hype yourself.  No, nobody wants to know how ethical you are, brilliant you are, creative you are, moral you are, religious you are, etc etc., at least not from your lips.  If someone else says it about you,  it has a lot more credence. If you say it, intelligent people will tend to find people who really has at least one of those qualities and do business with them. 

6 Don’t be afraid of looking silly.  Why? Because no matter what, at some time or another in any startup, you are going to look fairly silly.  So prepare and realize it’s part of falling down and getting back up (which has happened to me more times than I’d like to count).

new cow capone 7797979797097

7 Use barter, talent and sweat-equity wherever and whenever you can. Your service or product is worth something to someone. Make a list of what you need, but perhaps cannot afford, and contact at least 20 people in that business offering your service or product for their service or product.  Out of 20, I usually have always gotten one positive bite. Different people have different thresholds, but the whole idea of a startup is every bit as much “a numbers game” as it is “a talent game”.

8. Scale down.  Have a car note or mortgage that is giving you nightmares?  This is where the tough decisions have to be made.  Sometimes we can’t have it all.  The good news is that a lot more people are scaling down than moving up; we are not in the “yuppie years” anymore.  We are all surviving the best we can.  So getting a smaller house, apartment or whatever might be the right move.  Lee and I have older cars that have been paid for for years.  We keep them serviced and they run like new.  We got a much smaller place, in a better location.  In NYC, our same place would be about $10,000 per month.  We pay a fraction. We have no car note.  At first it was not easy.  We’d both lived “in the burbs” and had picket fence homes in the past.   This is so much more manageable and anyone “turned off” by it doesn’t have to be a part of it (though most think its a very good idea and area doing similar things) and finding their bills are paid on time and worry of debt is not a big part of our lives.  If we can do that, anybody can. 

  Yes you can find venture capitalists but it’s not always as fun as it looks.  A venture capitalist is involved in many businesses and unless a close friend, generally only looks at the bottom line, not your potential (only you know that), and there are sites in which you can attempt to raise money online. If using one of those sites, offer back credits, not ownership. Own your own business.  That is why you got in it, isn’t it?  Aside from expressing yourself in our economy using commerce, it was for freedom, and nothing offers more freedom than being a successful creative entrepreneur. 

lt peanut surf goober

So with all this pent-up knowledge am I great, ethical, moral brilliant, etc?  Nahhhhh, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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Rick London is a writer, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He founded Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts in 1997 which has been Google & Bing #1 ranked since 2005.   London has shops with funny t shirts and gifts such as Rick London Gifts and also designs Famous Quote Gifts at his RickLondonDesigns.com.  He is married to nature/wildlife photographer and blogger Lee Hiller-London who also owns designer affordable gifts at her Lee Hiller Designs shop.  Together they hike the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas where they live.