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.  

ad cartoon ikea smallFB

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.

vegan huntingFB

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”. 

mat ar cow capone

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. 

kenny rogers

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).

salad bar exaFBfixed

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……

aug 444 bonzo FB

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.

vacuum

(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.  

cafepress2 prozac

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.  

Living Our Dreams. How Did Londons Times Cartoon Turn 17?

“….And please remember to set your watches forward one hour”. One hour?  I just fast forwarded mine 17 years.  And where did those years go?  Londons Times Cartoons is 17 years old this March 2014. Holy Smokes. Where did the time go?  Where in the world did it go.  I know I fought some battles and faced some challenges along the way (that seemed like I was walking through a long bad dream), but looking back, it seemed like last week that all this started.

cafe press beavers

The last thing I remember after the workplace still looked like Scott Adam’s cartoon “Dilbert” was being downsized from a cubicle and pc to an abandoned warehouse; living on occasional donations of food and small bills from friends.  I received no governmental support. It was March 1997.

Rick London c2011

Click To Enlarge

Shifting career gears and goals from producing/editing/marketing to “writing cartoons” at age 44 was not something that Dale Carnegie might have recommended in “How To Make Friends And Influence People”. In fact if I had to write a book about it’s humble beginnings I might have called it, “So you’ve burned every bridge but your dog still loves you”.  And he did.  As did my new calico kitten which wandered up to the warehouse on day. This caused my loyal dog of many years to reassess his reasons to love me but I found “Pat” the cat a new home rapidly and Thor the dog loved me again.

When I launched Londons Times Cartoons, I virtually had nothing.  My car died and with no job I could unwisely spend what little cash I had on another piece of tin, or put it into technology which would help me “build a cartoon empire” (whatever that is).

Thor was with me for nearly ten years of my journey.  What a wonderful administrative assistant.

My skills were very limited.  I can draw a little but not to the level that matched the vision of the cartoon of which I had in mind.  This cartoon would have an offbeat nature ala Far Side, yet not the cartoony look of Far Side (or other cartoons for that matter). If I could eventually create it, my feelings were there was nothing else like it on the market.  I talked to masters in the cartoon industry. I was too naïve to know to leave them alone.  The bigger these icons were, the more friendly and open they were.  Charles Schulz recommended I recruit illustrators who were also fine artists who might do so on spec. He admitted it was a long shot, but long shots do happen, especially in the cartooning industry.

 

 

 

As time went by, I wandered and called around with my shoebox full of cartoon concepts. Sure enough, a bite.  Problem…he didn’t want to do color.  Color was part of my vision but I gave in and figured I could get them colored later.  As time went by a Ca. tee shirt company offered us $10,000 for rights to 12 images (if they were in color).  My illustrator/partner decided color would be good. And from that moment on about 99% of our cartoons were done in color and still are.

dec 333 cuckoo FB

I slowly moved “up the creative corporate ladder” which meant moving eventually to my own place to my favorite mountains in Arkansas; a place surrounded by the most gorgeous natural beauty in the world.  As my instincts suggested, it would be impossible to hike those hills, and not be inspired to write some unique panels.  At one point I was working with eight different top illustrators and writing from 30-100 cartoons per day (not all great albeit but usually 3-5 were marketable).

There’s a lot more to the story. I pretty much took a permanent break around 2001 to return to college and study business as it applies to the Internet at Western Governors.  The professors were fantastic and I learned things that were pragmatic enough to bring into the workplace and facilitate the same or next day.

mag atty at claw

I never thought during my pursuit of my own happiness I’d meet the woman of my dreams, Lee Hiller-London , whom I’d eventually marry and as it turns out she, too, loves to hike in the same mountains, and is a wonderful artist and photographer and is building her own brand based on her art and nature/wildlife photography.  We both love what we do and never get bored.  When I was young I used to jokingly say that might happen to me one day; but I never really believed it.  Lee and I have been married since June 18, 2010.

We’ve changed our lifestyles dramatically.  We’re vegans.  We mountain hike 3 or so days a week.  We’re out in nature all the time.  We’re active with animals and the environment.  We have a good life.

I guess there is a moral to this story; several actually.

We are not our last mistake nor are we an accumulation of all the mistakes we have made.

It is never to late and start right where we are and begin working on our dreams.  I was 44.

There will be obstacles and naysayers, lots of them.  And that’s all they are; and best left ignored, or not ignored but looked at as teachers.

There are those who say “Never quit no matter what”. I say that’s foolish. I say quit every single time you feel fatigued, tired, uninspired, etc. It can be from 5 minutes to 5 years (or more).   In my case I needed more knowledge, hence school.

Oh, in the middle of school, I started receiving emails, mails, phone calls etc from every major charity, religious organization, private school, animal cause, environmental cause etc. all wanting autographed cartoons.

november 999 kneeds small

I thought it was some kind of joke.  Finally friends started congratulating me. Why?  For having Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and gifts.  Several years later also Bing’s #1; and have remained #1 on both search engines since Jan. 2005.

I guess my point is, if I can launch a creative venture mid-life, anybody can.  Please remember 17 years has gone by like a flash so if you plan to start, please get started.

fasdfsdf

Click To Enlarge

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Rick London is an author, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for his #1 ranked LTCartoons.com offbeat cartoons and funny gifts Londons Times Cartoons. He is married to popular nature photographer Lee Hiller London who runs the popular blog Hike Our Planet.

Just Say No To Life Coaches & Just Do It & Other Roads To Happiness by Rick London

Another year has just about ended, and I feel good, even though I feel bad too (I will explain that in a moment).

Lee and I were watching a Netflix Pixar animated film the other night and I ran straight to bed and didn’t get up until the next day. That was 6 days ago and I’m just starting to feel better. I won’t go into the torrid details, but let’s just say they were mostly “toilet details”. Not so great.

Click To Enlarge

The weather has been cold and damp. And then there’s the tummy ache (not too long after recovering from tooth surgery). I’ve not been able to hike (or even do Tai Chi).

So its during times like this that I slow way down and be grateful. So how do you be grateful? This is not a one size fits all “be grateful” world, I have found. I may be grateful about one thing, that would make someone else bored, and vice versa.

Not long ago, I learned from men and women much wiser than me, that a lot of being grateful is taking action doing what I love doing. For many, I know, that is easier said than done. Many my age, or older, or younger, have never “done” what they love to do, and have acquiesced to the fact that it “ain’t gonna happen”. Either a well-meaning parent forced them to major in business when they were more cut out for creative writing, Maybe they set up their own obstacles. Maybe they looked at peers who were “already legends” and said to themselves “no way”. There are a million excuses and I bet I’ve used 999,999,999 of them. What’s my excuse for not using a million? I couldn’t think of the last one. 🙂

But doing what one loves to do does not necessarily mean “your career”, though of course its nice(r) if that be the case. Kafka was an insurance clerk while he authored his books. In other words if one starts where they are, rather than trying to conquer the world the first week, month or even year (though it could happen), and stop worrying about what others think of “their new hobby” or whatever one wants to call what he/she is learning, then one is well on the right path.

If there is not enough information on the Internet on how to launch and run whatever venture in mind, there are always Internet classes (or local college classes); I took Internet classes at a real accredited four-year college and was very pleased with how pragmatic the education was. That was not the case in my earlier years of college at state universities. It was not all their fault. I was a late-bloomer; after years of being a blooming idiot.

Can’t afford college? There are plenty of grants, scholarships and loans for adults returning. That’s how I did it. But academia is not for everyone. There’s mentorships. A lot of well-trained professionals will take you on if your story is convincing and you only ask for a little of their time.

Most books in libraries are now online, and there are plenty of used books for pennies on the dollar at Amazon and other online bookstores.

Click To Enlarge

Our generation was flooded with clichés’ which meant well, but didn’t tell the whole story. “Just say no” and “Just do it” were but a few. Both were easy to repeat, but for many they were not so many upon which to take action.

I think they should have been written more like, “Just say no to drugs, alcohol and/or promiscuous sex. It will not always be easy. There will almost always be peer pressure and the need to fit in. This is only a temporary situation. In the long run, if you say “No” to these powerful negative forces which can impact your life forever, you will be forever grateful and happy that you “Just Said No”. I think kids and even adults could much more have easily understood those steps.

I would have written Nike’s “Just Do It” to “Just Do It A Step At A Time. Don’t jump into anything without knowing what it is. If you are planning to run, don’t run a marathon the first day. Learn how to train for a marathon first. If you are starting a business, learn a bit about it. Don’t worry about the results. In fact don’t worry about anything. Just do what you have learned and if that doesn’t work, learn another way to do it. The information is out there. And now with the Internet, it is out there at the click of a mouse. If you “Just Do It”, you’ll be happy doing it. But if you’re always focused on the finished line, you’ll forever be sad”. Of course Nike would never be able to fit that into an ad, nor would the ad be feasible.

Click To Enlarge

I ran two marathons in the late 1970’s. On the 1st one, I was focused on the finish line. I barely finished. It took 4.5 hours and over 2 months to fully recover. The next year I trained the same way, focused on the scenery and other runners and had fun, finished in a little less than four hours, and less than a week to recover.

I find the same is true of anything in life. And if you can do whatever it is you want to do with a friend, its that much more fun. I am fortunate that my wife Lee Hiller is my best friend and I love her dearly. Though are businesses are not identical, much of the way we create our products and market them are the same. We are both nature/wildlife lovers so we both have yet more fun while she’s working in the forest (with her camera) and I’m running around like a kid chasing animals. We teach and learn from each other on a lot of topics.

Today there’s a new breed of snake-oil salespersons known as “life coaches”.  They charge anywhere from several hundred to thousands for their videos, audios and ebooks, claiming to have “the answer to life”. Trust me.  They don’t.   They generally steal, edit, and regurgitate great quotes from the early literary and philosophical masters and take credit.  Some are so brazen, they don’t even edit and still take credit. In any case Wordsworth negated everything they do before they even existed with his famous quote, “To begin, begin”.  It’s really no more complicated than that, and don’t let anyone tell you it is. It’s simply NOT.

If “doing what you love” at mid-life can happen to us at mid-life, it can and will happen to you. Simply start where you are and “Just do it…but remember….first you…etc etc then you etc etc” 🙂 and enjoy! The best is yet to come.

Click To Enlarge

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

I’m a goofy vegan mountain man trying to do the right thing and occasionally I hit the mark; more often I don’t.  I love my wife nature/wildlife photographer Lee Hiller London who  creates the blog Hike Our Planet.  I enjoy cartoons, and founded Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts which have been Google’s #1 ranked on the Internet since 2005. I like to design clothing and shoes and do so at Wisdom Shop which has gifts with famous wisdom quotes and Shoes That Amuse, which has shoes and gifts with famous love quotes.  Oh, and I recently opened a shop with a lot of famous caricature cartoon gifts and clothes called The Rick London Fame Shop.  If you shop with me, happy shopping.  Every one of our 1/4 million items are vegan-friendly and come with a 100% 30 day money back guarantee.