My Old Friend Aqualung The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoons by Rick London

aqualung

I loved Jethro Tull…..and I still love them, though I’ve not heard them in quite awhile; though I did listen to “With You There To Help Me” on iTunes yesterday, just because I like to hear some of my favorite old JT songs every now and again.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who, upon first hearing of the band, though for sure that guy with the flute’s name was “Jethro Tull”.  I later found out it was/is in fact “Ian Anderson” and felt like a nut for many years….okay still do.

And I just learned today how they got the name “Jethro Tull” straight from the horse’s mouth…okay flutist’s…Anderson says, “Our agent, who had studied History at college, came up with the name Jethro Tull (an eighteenth century English agricultural pioneer who invented the seed drill). That was the band name during the week in which London’s famous Marquee Club offered us the Thursday night residency.”

What was it about Jethro Tull that was so special?  They used phenomenal engineering to enhance the music, though it was not only engineering. I noticed upon seeing them in concert several times that the music was every bit as stylish and listen-able as it was in the studio.

I also remember the novelty of when I first heard Blood, Sweat, And Tears and Chicago and their risk-taking adding brass to their repertoire.  The same is true of adding wind instruments (flute) to Jethro Tull. It was new, it was different, and the fact that they made music, a lot of music that remained classics makes me still want to listen to them.

And why this cartoon?  Well the entire song is about being good friends with an inanimate device, an aqualung (used for deep-sea diving).  I imagine it is probably symbolic for someone who provides oxygen but that’s only a guess.

In any case, I envisioned what it might be like if the two ever parted.  And this was the result.

To see (or buy) this image on over 100 items such as tees, cases, mugs, home decor, and much more…..

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist, and gift designer.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts.

Spam Spam Spam The Meaning Behind This Londons Times Cartoon by Rick London

 

 

spam FB

 

Before my discovery of the Internet, television was one of my greatest escapes.  I even worked in that “industry” for a decade or so.  For those who have not worked in it, please take my word, it is nuttier in real life than it appears on the tube.

But occasionally, there is a moment of sanity.  A slice of solace. A bit of serenity; that is, a part of television that not only mocks the industry itself, but all authority and anything of arrogance.

That something for me, in my young adulthood, was Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  To me, John Cleese was a genius (and still is).  In his prime, during this production of his show (and subsequent films), nobody could do it better.

Even Lorne Michaels, producer of SNL gives Cleese and Monty Python credit for being “the trailblazer to the absurd. Perhaps one of Cleese’s most popular sketches (aside from dead parrots and wearing women’s clothes) was the Spam Spam Spam skit.

And though his version was decidedly about the atrocious meat called spam, this cartoon attempts to take it a step further; predicting his behavior upon receiving unwanted email.

Hope you enjoy.

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer. He is best known for his Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons And Funny Gifts.

 

Invasion From A Very Hip Planet The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoon by Rick London

facebook hip planet

Being a child of the 60s didn’t necessarily make me interested in popular culture.  But it turned out to be “one of my favorite hobbies”, that is, to look at each era, the 60s, the 70s, etc.

And though it appeared to us, even this many years later, those of us who were involved in “building the 60s” that is, the fun and creative side of it, the music, the art, etc. it was by far “the most hip” or at least the most original.

I say that without rose-colored glasses.  The 60s children, the hippies, the wanderer, the explorer etc. had plenty “of issues” that didn’t work, and some that were downright unhealthy.

Most of us were able to “get rid of the baggage” that didn’t work, and move in another direction.  And though I (still feel) the 80s and part of the 90s yuppie movement was also not without its flaws, it turned out to be a positive thing as, whenever a country, community, family, etc. turns out “too far left” or “too far right”, it is automatically going to be more flaws.  It swung the pendulum further right, and it continues to swing (left to right and vice versa) each decade or so.  That’s actually healthy for any country, though many don’t view it that way.

Too far (of anything) creates an unhealthy extreme, and it is virtually impossible, unless someone really examines their lives, impossible to see one’s own participation in helping steer it “too far left” or “too far right”.  The road in the center is the sanest, but often also the loneliest as there is a tendency to feel one is “abandoning their cause”. Not the case at all, however. It is a sign of maturity and healing. And yes it is the “Road Less Traveled” in real life.

So you might ask, “Who needs healing?”  Everyone does.  Anyone who has “made it” through these eras to the other side did not get through them without scars.  There was much confusion and disdain.   Babies are not born with hate or prejudice, yet we were able to pick that up along the way (yes whether on the left or right).  We learned along the way to be paranoid, to mistrust, and, as Rod Serling and later Scott Peck came to realize, scapegoat others (whether in groups, individuals etc).

One finally has to ask, “Did that ever serve me well”?  If so, “Is it still serving me well?”  My guess is probably not.   Have a great millenium and laugh a bit.  Say hello to your neighbor.   Learn to speak your mind.  Learn to draw healthy boundaries.  Learn to love.  We all deserve love.

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and funny gifts.  He is involved in autistic/Asperger’s, children’s, animal, and environmental causes.

Fruited Plane The Story Behind The Londons Times Cartoon by Rick London

 

I imagine I am not the only one who heard this as a kid…..I wasn’t sure what “fruited plain” meant, and since it seemed like everyone else did, I didn’t want anyone to think I was ignorant.  So through most of elementary school, I was fairly sure this was to what the song referred.  Sorry. I guess it wasn’t.  🙂 

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & #Funny Gifts.  He is active in autism/Asperger’s, environment, animal and children’s causes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bedtime For Gonzo Journalism The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoon by Rick London

aug 444 bonzo FB

I was a big Hunter Thompson fan, which also means, of course, I was also a big Ralph Steadman fan (the illustrator of his Fear & Loathing Series). 

As mentioned in earlier blogs, I had big reading problems, and never even read a book cover-to-cover until my late 20s.  One of those books was the late great Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear And Loathing In Los Vegas”.  It is an amazingly sardonic satirical piece 

The book is incredible. The film, though,  included one of my favorites, Bill Murray, was disappointing. 

Many “60s druggies” felt the book was glorifying drugs, but actually many scholars believe quite the opposite, that it mocks the very drug culture of which Thompson was a part. And I saw it as that as well.

Though the book is full of mocking; not just the drug culture, but the whole idea of “hippies”, journalism (of which Thompson’s
alter-ego, Raoul Duke who is contracted by “Sports Illustrated” drives with his attorney Dr. Gonzo to Los Vegas.

On the roadtrip, “Gonzo Journalism” is created. Until this day we’re still not positive of what Gonzo Journalism truly is, but we know it may just be a ploy to keep us curious throughout the book, and we discover early on nobody quite knows what the story angle really is (including the journalists). We do, however, stay curious all the way to the end. It has so many discombobulated twists and turns, it’s very difficult not to be at least a bit curious. 

There’s a lot more super hyper action in the book, but nobody bothers to share what it is. We just know the book is about human appetite and instant gratification; Maslow’s Heirarchy Gone Wild, if you will.

Even better news to my friends and fans, other than my reading skills being lacking (and I don’t say that proudly), a lot of heartache would have been saved had local schools and parents known enough or cared enough to help learn of and/or diagnose my condition (autism). But so it goes.

In addition, I couldn’t hear very well…or see very well. I have to hand it to one smart teacher who noticed that (when I was 13 years old) and I
was able to get glasses. But the hearing issues went on and on; and continue to.  I was fairly sure I read, and heard “Bonzo Journalism” for many years. 

And of course we all remember President Reagan’s “Bedtime For Bonzo” film from his early career as an actor. How the Academy overlooked that one, I’ll never know.

Kudos to illustrator Tom Kerr (our collaborations are always special to me) for recreating “a tribute of sorts” to Ralph Steadman.  If I’d not known of our collaboration, I know I would have thought this, in fact, was also one of Ralph’s creations.  

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts which he launched in 1997.  London is also active in various causes including autism/Asperger’s, animals, children, and the environment.

Title, Tagline and the Journey of this Blog (Blogging 101) by Rick London

  • Note for blogging101 co-bloggers: This blog’s title is Blogging 101: Why Am I Here and it’s tagline is “Art, Autism, And Amnesia”
  • Note for all other visitors: It’s just another blog from me. 🙂

 

I feel honored to be a part of the WordPress 101 Blogging University project.

My name is Rick London and I am a 60 year old autistic author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer.  I am married to my best friend @LeeHillerLondon (who will also be taking the class) as well as the Branding 101 class of which I hope to be a part.

I mention the autism as I was not diagnosed until age 60, about 3 months ago.  I have much to learn about writing, though I’ve been doing it for about 32 years.

I guess I am best known for launching Londons Times Cartoons (LTCartoons.com) in an abandoned tin shed in rural Mississippi in 1997.  It became Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and offbeat cartoon gifts, a ranking it has held since January of 2005.

I have published about 4500 cartoons but written many more than that. It is a team effort. I create the concepts, write the cartoons, and assign them to one of my three team illustrators. I then design the gift items digitally.

Finally, I have decided to go public, just this year, with the fact that I was a neglected/abused autistic child, never diagnosed, but obviously very different, and hidden away, isolated from my other two siblings in an attic bedroom.  I was scapegoated.  I am public not for sympathy, but because I now know how prevalent such family dynamics are, and I’ve already been told in my last few months of blogging about it, that my story has helped several families.

I have written all kinds of “flights of fancy” and slayed some dragons.  It was my wife’s idea to “get back to basics”, and this seems the perfect place to do so.  When I’m back to basics I am centered, and open to learn.  And I hope to accomplish those things.  Thank you.

 

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

bezos

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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Slug Traffic Cop The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoons by Rick London

new book slug hwy patrol

I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit to the fact that Gary Larson with his “Far Side” cartoon was the trailblazer (as far as I was concerned) at “making insects and other animals) more human (and vice versa).

Sure, plenty of cartoonists did this “fun cartoon trick” long before Gary did, and even during his cartoon, but nobody did it with quite the fervor that Gary Larson did.

Most know, but a few still don’t, Gary Larson majored and got his degree in biology.  He’d thought about teaching and then changed his mind, thank God.

Though I followed The Far Side it’s entire (nearly 15 year run), and it had a vital impact into my thinking process and which way I wanted my humor to turn (I was younger, more immature and “still exploring” at the time).  Then I was invited by some Ms. friends who lived on Capitol Hill in Washington at the same time I did to see a Far Side Exhibit at the Smithsonian.  They had to drag me there even though I loved the cartoon. I guess I didn’t think I was going to “see anything new” that I’d not seen in the newspaper.

Was I ever wrong.  Whomever put that exhibit together knew exactly how to whet and satisfy the appetite of any/every Far Side fan.  Each Far Side was blown up into an 8-10 ft poster on board and hung from the ceiling. It was as if one was walking around inside the Far Side Cartoon and even talking to the odd characters whether they be human, animal, bacteria or space alien.  That exhibit was 34 years ago and, aside from a trip to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fl., I can’t remember any collection of art that had such a life-changing impact.

However it is easy to “take for granted” people of whom have walked this crazy walk with me, many creating their own properties whether they be cartoons or other types of art.

Most know my story of being so naive at the start back around 1997, I contacted some of the biggest names in the industry.  And they were all good to me.   Dave Coverly of Creator’s Syndicate was particularly generous as was Charles “Sparky” Schulz (Peanuts).  Am back in touch with Dave, his cartoon (to me) easily rivals The Far Side but has a “different flair” that is clearly Dave’s own “fingerprint” in his Speed Bump Cartoon.  Dave was generous enough also to leave a positive testimonial on my latest book “Useless Humor” which is (for now) available at Amazon Kindle but soon will have it in other bookstores.  It is our best book I think; and my first to have a mix of cartoons and “useless quotes”.

I’d be amiss not to mention some of the people closest to me such as my beloved wife wildlife/nature photographer Lee Hiller London who is like a “human thermostat”. I can get an idea (often while we are hiking in the forest) and run it by her, and she gives an honest assessment immediately.  I have decided to make cartoons public or toss the ideas away based on her opinion.  Sometimes (on rare occasions) I go ahead with them simply because I like them (and her taste might be different) but she is generally right on target as far as “what is funny to the public” vs “what is funny to just Rick”.  🙂 Lee is also an amazing designer of both gifts and casual clothing and accessories.

Also my long time associate and co-creator Rich Diesslin has steered me in the right direction more than once.  He was with LTCartoons for over a decade and we still work on the occasional project together.  We’ve butted heads, made gains, losses etc together, and stayed friends. He has 3 excellent cartoon properties of his own. I’m in awe of his ability to both create and use left-brain management skills.  Thanks Rich for all you’ve done and continue to do.  Rich also managed LTCartoons the first (most vulnerable decade) and did it well and with integrity.

I’ve been fortunate over the past 3.5 years to work with Tom Kerr who many consider one of America’s finest caricature artists and editorial cartoonists as well as childrens book author.   His latest book is in Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Library and deservedly so.    Tom leans more right than I do, but it is that “slight friction” (I’m more to the center) that makes our collaborations work, and they work almost every time.  Tom knows how to make me look good and I appreciate that.  His blog Despicable Jerks is also well worth reading.  You will laugh. Guaranteed.

So what does all of the above have to do with this snail traffic cop cartoon?   Not a lot, but it may give you a subtle hint into how my mind operates.   As if you really wanted to know.  🙂

Thanks again for 18 years of support.  I am truly humbled and grateful.

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.  

The Story Behind Brookus Brotherus Cactus by Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons (Rick London)

A little bit behind this cartoons:  See below it…………..

I was fortunate to have neighbors growing up whose parents had retail businesses.  So when I went away to college and needed jobs, I didn’t always have to wait tables, though I often did.  More often than not I found myself working in mens fashion in large department stores in Dallas or later in Washington, D.C. (when I was in between jobs).

One thing I didn’t expect after leaving my tiny little burg of my birth, was the seriousness in which people took their retail merchandise.  The proper mens shirt/tie combination was closer to a deity than “an outfit”.

Others looked at some of the more elaborate brands as if they were created in a lab by Einstein, Hawking or even Al Gore.

I don’t mean to sound haughty or erudite (and of course anyone who uses the word “erudite” obviously is; but I digress.

My point I want to make is, I was in my early twenties.  I liked nice clothes, but I didn’t see a big mystique in something that was made with polyester and/or cotton and a needle and thread.  Correct me if I’m wrong but things happening at NASA aroused my curiosity more so than things happening at Neiman’s.

I spent most of my days after school, or on days I didn’t have classes at Richland College at a downtown Dallas store called Saenger-Harris, which competed with Neiman Marcus, and I think is now defunct, but it was very nice.  But not NASA.

However, it was a Saenger-Harris that I learned about color and how to match ties and shirts and pants and even sports coats or putting them together for displays in suits and how to “pick up the colors and make them shine” in that display window.

I would crack a bit of a smile if I “did it right” as I knew that put my name on the list of possibly getting a raise (if I did it often enough).  Others (and I’m not making this up) would actually applause, as if the mannequin was a live actor who had just won an Emmy.

Needless to say, I did not end up working in a physical retail store in my adulthood (except on rare occasions when I needed jobs between media and/or writing jobs) which much closer matched my skills (what few I had).

Ironically, I actually am in retail (to a certain degree) though I don’t work with the public. I actually design clothes and gifts, using my imagines and/or concepts that are digitally designed onto clothing, mugs, etc and sold through online retailers.

And again ironically, much of what I learned 40 years ago, is useful today in dealing with wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers who sale my licensed goods.

I’ve come full circle and in many ways I am, again that 20 year old kid, wondering just how I was going to “conquer the world”, something I never quite fully did, but I’ve had a really fun time trying.

Though “Brookus Brotherus Cactus” is now about 15 years old, it remains a very popular gift and tee item for collectors or gift givers.  If you want to see how it looks on one of my items…..

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