LTCartoons Is 22 Years Old. This Is How You Do It by Rick London c2019

These days, I probably move a little slower, my hearing is not as good, and my fashion statement includes 2 pair of navy sweats that fit fairly well.  

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I launched Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts on March 19, 1997 (22 years ago).  Most of you know the odd story of how I decided and where I got started.  Without going into detail, I’d not recommend my beginnings to anyone, but if you are working without much cash, and zero community support,  sometimes it’s the only way.  Bare bones.  

22  years later I look around at my positive environment; an attractive yet modest mountain residence overlooking Hot Springs Mountain and the cascade waterfall.  I turn around and there’s my beautiful supportive humble wife, Lee (Hiller-London) who I’ve said from the start is the “real talent in the house”…and that is true.  Her nature photography and  are truly worth seeing as are her designer gift shops. (Hike Our Planet and LeeHiller.Com). 

I love Hot Springs.  It felt like the home I never had.   Once the residents get to know you awhile, they are your neighbors, friends, and supporters.  This is a magic place, and with so much easy-access to natural beauty, one can’t help but be inspired to create.  

Lee agrees. She is a native of Portland, Or. and has an amazing work ethic which is contagious.  At this point in any creative venture it is easy to become burned-out, bored, anxious, wanting to go back to school, wanting to commit to a newer bigger better project….yada yada yada.  But I procrastinate and the years pass. 

However, I am on the first draft of my autobiography.  For some reason, I’ve been stuck on page 90-something for several months.  Am not sure why, but writer’s block happens, especially when I’m wearing numerous hats.  I will have it published by next year.  I have talked to several people who make movies who have seen the “elevator pitch” of my story and are interested. 

As a human with feelings, I believe it to be a story that should be told.  As an autistic, diagnosed at age 60, but abused to the point of cPTSD as a child by being made to live in an attic (“bedroom”) away from the rest of my family,  I believe it is a  story that must be told.

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I’ve never really talked about the creative process (when I used to write a lot of blogs).  Maybe this is a good time to do so.

First and foremost, I don’t have a clue how creativity works.  I have, however, learned how it works best for me.  I have tried a lot of different things over the years.  I have observed that what works for me does not necessarily work for everyone else, and vice versa.  But many of my kindred creative friends/spirits pretty much have adopted similar elements in their own endeavors.  

I have noticed a lot of people are very competitive in the cartoon and comic gift business but I don’t use that approach.  I love watching people be creative and successful.  I look at it as an “inspirational roadmap”. 

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I also believe the more that become successful, the more interest people take in this “therapeutic millisecond” called “comics”.   It’s therapy for us too.

I say us because LTCartoons.com is a team.  Not all cartoonists draw their own cartoons.  The one I learned about first was Walt Disney through an early caring “phone mentor” Charles “Sparky” Schulz of Snoopy fame.

It’s a long story.  We love doing it and I’ve worked with numerous talented illustrators nearly a decade such as Tom Kerr and Sergey Rudenko. While I can draw a little, not well enough for the vision I had/have for LTCartoons. So we’re a team of a writer/concept man and illustrators. 

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In my early days I worked with illustrator Rich Diesslin for about a decade.  We continue to associate for the occasional deals that come our way.  Rich also managed my site.  I was a latecomer to the Internet and didn’t know html from IBM. Rich has three cartoon properties of his own now with some great “creative real estate” there. 

These illustrators are amazing talents and I get the special privilege of working with them simply because I can “think of funny things”.  Thinking of funny things was how I survived growing up with Autism, and not understood by many.  Now I don’t have to use it as a defense mechanism but as a creative outlet that keeps me productive and is often useful (friends tell me).

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Another “trick” to the trade is keeping ones body and mind in as good a shape as possible.  We don’t use drugs (except the ones I have to take to stay alive…I have congestive heart failure, type 2 diabetes, peripheral neuropathy …My “hidden Hippa” looks like an organ recital.  Drinking is also a no-no as is tobacco (even vaping) in our lives.  Lee and I even gave up coffee (our last holdout) several years ago and never looked back.

I will admit to non-perfection in that I often find myself home from the grocery with tons of organic foods and several 2-litre bottles of Pepsi Zero but other than that……

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We’re both vegans and have been about 8 years or so;  Lee a year longer than me.

I don’t mention all this for bragging rights or to be condescending, but as a prelude to the fact that my creative abilities have increased, rather than decreased over the years (I’m told). 

One is never too old to start that creative venture they’ve been hiding away for years or even decades. 

The moral of my story is, “Don’t necessarily do what I do”.  I may change some or all of that in the next decade.  But for now, I easily see, as hokey as it sounds, the more I do it, the more something that might be described as a “creative channel” opens and I pull out a pen and pad and write it.

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(Above Cartoon is a collaboration with Rich Diesslin)

As Lee might tell you, it’s often during a hike that one “comes to me”.  So nature plays a big part in freeing me of cobwebs that so easily block that creative channel.

I know it is cliché’ to say but thank YOU for LTCartoons.com.  I never thought I’d be doing what I’m doing.   It has been your support and encouragement that has been a major factor in “my little project” turning into something I enjoy doing.

I remember early steps including surfing the web and researching even though there wasn’t much there.  I also found masters in the trade (Sparky Schulz was but one of them), and absorbed all I could.  

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If you want to turn your new hobby into a business, the net is full of wonderful articles and the SBA offers excellent webinar classes that offer a lot of useful information.   

Ready to do a creative project of your own?   To borrow a phrase “just do it”.  And then keep doing it.   Find your own right way.   Lee does hers different than I do and that works for her.  In time, you’ll “find your groove”, if you’ve not already.


Rick London is a writer/cartoonist who lives with his wife Lee in the Ouachita Mountains Of Arkansas.  He considers his home Hot Springs.  He launched Londons Times Cartoons & Gifts in 1997.  It became Google #1 ranked in 2005 and has been ever since.  His offbeat cartoon website has attracted 8.9 million visits since 2005 and his Rick London Gifts Funny Giftshop remains #1 ranked.  

Can’t Beet Some Movies Or Music The Story Behind This Londons Times Offbeat Cartoon By Rick London

Words.

English language.

Don’t ask me what it is that fascinates me so much with the English language but it is more like “a friend” than “a thing to speak”.  Why is that?  I’ve theorized numerous reasons.

I guess I’ve come to the conclusion that when working in the arts, language is one’s finest arsenal.  The ability of ones work has a direct correlation with ones ability to master the English language (if the artist/or writer lives in America). 

I’d every bit as much enjoy spending a night reading a thesaurus or dictionary than Fitzgerald or Faulkner.  

The English language is extremely generous in its flexibility, its puns, its double entendres, etc.

Why does that fascinate me?  When I first began to learn the “cartoon business” if one can call it a business, I contacted some of t he greatest cartoonists on the planet; Charles Schulz, Dave Coverly, Leigh Rubin etc. I guess my autism came in handy in that I didn’t realize one was not supposed to do that.

I also contacted some others who were not quite as far up on the ladder wrung as they were. Most of them wouldn’t give me the time of day.

But Schulz, Coverly, Rubin, Jon McPherson and a few others chatted for hours with me.  How did I find them?  With some it was not easy. With others, their friends “gave them up” but it took some time talking to them before they came to the conclusion I was no stalker or worse. I simply wanted to learn the business. 

All of the great ones had vocabularies similar to Shakespeare.  I wanted that for myself.  They taught me that reading, (even dictionaries) was a way to accomplish that, or not necessarily accomplish it, but get better at it.  And if one was better at it, one had a leading edge over the competition in cartooning. 

I didn’t realize how important that was until I learned that on any given day, there are approximately 100,000 cartoon properties on the Internet competing with each other. 

So, though I can draw (a little), I cannot draw to the level of what I wanted my cartoon to be.  Sparky (Schulz) told me that about 30% of all the cartoons we see in papers are team efforts, and suggested I write them and “blueprint them”, that is, explain them in detail to the team artist.  If that team artist is good, he/she will understand your vision.  I went through about 100+ illustrators the first few years.  It went from “artistic differences” to “I want to own the entire cartoon; you only write it” etc.  But my mentors suggested I carry on and continue finding talent.  They told me the more cartoons I had, the more likely I was to find better talent.

And that became the truth.  

A funny thing.  Dave Coverly is syndicated by Creators Syndicate and considered one of the best if not the best offbeat cartoonist who draws his own cartoon (in the world). I always got along with Dave; and he knew I had launched Londons Times in an abandoned tin shed in my own hometown because nobody would rent or sell to me.  They thought I was nuts (and starting a cartoon at age 44 didn’t help deter that theory).  Dave didn’t care.  He loved talking about things I also loved to talk about….creative ideas, cartoons, humor, dogs, cats, nature etc.  We could chat forever it seemed.  

About 2 months ago, a familiar name appeared on Twitter.  It was Dave. I’d not talked to him in about 18 years.  We chatted online a bit and I told him about “Useless Humor” (our 18th Anniversary book) which contained quotes and cartoons I’d written.  On a whim, I asked if he’d write a testimonial for me to use on the book.  He wrote a beautiful quote which is on the cover.  

One of my favorite of our cartoons is “Beets”, not because I like beets so much, but because there are so many ways to use the word, which is what I demonstrate in this cartoon (above at the top).  I hope you enjoy it. 🙂 

SO……….Not bad for a tin-shed cartoonist who didn’t know better how to do it right (or wrong) who recruited several teams of some of the best cartoon illustrators available anywhere.  I still think that.  

Or better yet, there is no right or wrong way in cartooning.  Just stay the course, keep the faith, and never give up.     You will want to many times.  Just don’t. 

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best known for his Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts which he launched in 1997.  It has been Google #1 ranked since 2005 and Bing #1 ranked since 2008.