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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Hook, Line, And Thinker (World’s Worse Fish Pun Short Story) by Rick London c2011

Hook, Line, And Thinker (World’s Worse Fish Pun Short Story) by Rick London

Now reaching middle-age, reaching minnowpause, a good many folks think I’m mentally eel. My theory though is that I’ve haddock with life, not unlike Salmon Rushdie or Marlin Brando. Mahi oh mahi. Since I’ve always marched to a different drummer, you know, or sang like Tuna Turner. I live down on squid roe. and been a shad bit egocentric, people have tried desperately to save my sole. Holy mackerel, if I could count the times. Those bassturds. They just perch up on their high seahorse and talk down to me as if I’m pond scum. So what’s it all about, Algae? So you feel I’m shellfish and cruel but read between the line, swivel, and hook. Shellfish or sailfish I stood my ground.

For awhile I tried corporate America and I played a rather decent upwardly-mobile guppy. I made a great deal of money but always felt crappie. You may grunter at my humor but who are you to judge? Take your fathead elsewhere. I’m not just another John Dory writer, you know.

So soon, I was swimming with the sharks and swam back to shore. Nay, I was no angelfish, that is for sure, but I was sturdy as a rockfish. Like other baby boomer, I was striving to be an upwardly mobile guppy. I am certain a lot of my problems is that I listened to too many rock bands in my youth and don’t follow direction well due to my being hard of herring. I do have faith; I’m not one of those agnostic fish-types who ponders if Cod even exists up way up in the heavens. If things didn’t work out, I got in my gar and  onto the nearest turnPike and kept driving.  I’d turn on the stereo at top decibel and it didn’t matter if it was Vince Gill or bluegill.   You could say I lived by the sword..fish.  I was looking for new adventures. I would try just about anything…just for the halibut.  Was a bit of a driftfish, I s’pose.  This may all sound hoki but what else can I say?  The corporate world wasn’t for me so I thought I’d start a fish search engine. Wahoo did not last long.

More than once, in fact lox of times, I would start a project early in the yearling, and never finish it. This only served to bait the public into calling me a sucker(fish) or even worse!! I can stand the heat. Nobody can lure me unless I let them. I know how to take care of myself. I left home at age 15 and was an urchin ever since. The streets are hard for a fighting fish but I made it after all. Many times I was on the bream of success and blew it just like any blowfish would do. One time I even trout for major league football (no kidding) during the USA league. They laughed me off the field treating me in a clownfish manner. I didn’t like it at all. I say let them eat (crab) cake.  Bit I made it in the city even though I was a bit roughy around the edges.

There are plenty of fish in the sea. If one does not want to know me is “that’s their net loss”. It’s my own fish philosophy; well I actually plagiarized it from decarp “I swim therefore I am wet.” And to them I simply say “Caviar Emptor”, and yes, even Carp Diem (as obvious a fish pun as it may be…but I digress into deeper waters)…. But in my own way, the world is my oyster and nobody can take that away from me. I continue to have a porpoise in life and really, isn’t that what counts? I could have turned out evil like Jack The Flipper but noo. I became an outstanding citizen nevertheless. They will never make me walk the plankton. Some of my story may be sardinonic but that is the way it goes. It helps me cope through the rough seas. If they think I’m some kind of shrimpleton, they are just being crabby in my humble opinion.

And so the world evolves. And I will think of a new philosophy as soon as I have time to mullet over. But I will. Because I’m the reel thing more real to my mom than Maggie was to ROD Stewart. You can count on that. I may fail a lot but when I throw a strike, no catfish hunter has a thing on me. So when I change no neon tetra light is going to go off. It will be a gradual thing. And I’m not sea lion either. I am truthful; hook line and thinker. This is no moray-eel issue. It’s simply another bottom-feeder situation.

Footnote: No aquatic creatures were injured and killed during the writing of this article; at least not on porpoise.

Rick London c2011
Londons Times Cartoons
#1 Google Ranked Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts Since 2005

 

 

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