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.  

Live A Little & Be Happy (Socrates Recommended It) By Rick London

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I’ve often heard from well-meaning friends, relatives etc., especially since diving into the world of cartooning, “Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should”.

To them I quote Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. (Note: Often Plato gets credit for that quote but I understand it was actually Socrates). Sometimes it’s just okay to try something new, or different, that is unconventional and really not even think twice about what others think….in fact necessary as far as I can see.  To spend one’s life only to please others, or to be “who they want us to be” is the trademark of the unexamined life.  I’m not saying it’s not a good thing to “do unto others”. It very much is, and service is a trademark of character.  And we grow from it.  But we also grow by taking the risk of “being ourselves”.  

And to a certain degree I mean it (to examine ones own life rather than fear it is a key to real success and happiness. I’m not necessarily talking about fiscally, though that can often happen.  The key here is learning to be happy by simply being comfortable with oneself, okay in ones skin). I believed that when I began my “journey of examination” and I believe it still.   I’ve never met a happy person who does a job for instance he/she was forced to do, or inherited but didn’t like it that much and no amount of money changes that.  Once one truly examines ones life, they surely aren’t perfect (I’ve proven that), but they are happy and find things to do, and friends, spouses, etc. that perpetuate that happiness.  

We were taught by our parents and formal education (if we were so fortunate) not to participate in violence, bullying, stealing, to treat others as we’d like to be treated, etc.  And those principles should remain with us for a lifetime.  Those are some of our most important lessons.

But education and loving parents can also have their downside. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against either.   Both teach us, whether it is a written lesson, or a “silent rule” to don’t do it just because you can or is legal etc.

I imagine Evel Knievel  was told many times as a kid not to jump his mini-bike across the creek or he’d “put his eye out” or whatever smite might visit him before reaching the other side.

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I can imagine Thomas Edison’s parents begging him to hang out with the kids and play ball rather than act like a hermit in the garage with all these wires and such.

I heard one talking head on one of the news networks, who made perfect sense, saying that if Tesla, Einstein, Edison, Galileo, et al were all alive today they’d have been given Ritalin in school but would have great marketing jobs after high school or college.

We often hear teachers complain about how out of control their classes are; and in many cases I’m sure they are correct.

But sometimes, it’s the teacher who is out of control, or, really doesn’t understand his/her job.

The Greeks, who (scholars believe) ushered in the newer age of education of which we are familiar today called it “educare” or “to pull out”.  The theory is that the young student already has the knowledge, a good teacher knows how to reduce his/her ego and draw out the knowledge from the already-knowing children.  Education derived from the word educare.

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If you’re like me, you can count on one hand the teachers who taught the educare method.  Most felt they had to stuff the knowledge into us because, after all, we were dumb kids.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for more education (and better education), and feel teachers have about the most (if not the most) important job in the world.  Perhaps if we paid them what they’re worth, they’d all take the time to perform as well as a world-leading surgeon.  Until then, I think we can, for the most part, expect the status quo, blaming the kids and punishing them with Ritalin.

For 30 years or so I’ve been living my life, but in the process examining it too.  Sometimes it is exhilarating, sometimes painful, but always necessary. 

I returned to a good college at age 49 to pursue a degree in Business Internet Technology.  The majority of professors there were quite keen regarding educare (and many of us were “big boys and girls” by that time.  We were still treated with respect as equals.  Ego was cast aside for the sake of learning.

What is the point of my blog.  It is never too late to shift gears, to stop the drama.  We were not created to be unhappy, hateful, violent, ignorant, or any other negatives.  Even actions that extreme can be modified with proper education/educare.

I am sixty now and feel like I’m just beginning to learn about the world.  I’ve changed my lifestyle considerably as has my wife Lee.  Our daily routines are healthy and there’s always something new to learn in what we do.  If we don’t like a certain path part of our work is leading us down, we turn the steering wheel.
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We’re nothing special; well no more special than any other human being (we’re all very special in that way).  If we can do it, so can anyone else.   Please do yourself a favor.  Live a little before you die.  It’s okay.  Really. 

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Rick London is a writer, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for the founding of Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts.  He and his nature photographer wife Lee Hiller-London are living green, vegan, hiking etc in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.