Friday, 24 March 2017

Madam I'm Adam

When You Got Nothing

My previous blog was all about inspiration and it included an example of where I'd recently found it. But sometimes I find I have the desire to draw, but there really is nothing in the tank. They seldom come fast with me, and from what I'd read this is a common issue with creatives. You can generate loads of good ideas at first, but then you run dry. Of course there are plenty of folks out there that can just crank the work out, and they make it seem easy too!

So, how do you break out of your funk?

By far the easiest thing to do when you're trying to find inspiration is to look at work by other people. I tend to target popular culture and well known works & ideas because it fits in with my main joke driver, WIKT ("wait, I know this"). This is what your mind subconsciously says when you see a joke. It's a powerful idea and it tends to appeal to our sense of nostalgia and belonging.

So earlier this week, knowing I had to get another Area 5.1 cartoon out, I decided to parody one of the greats. Something so well known that even the non-cultured would recognise.

Dancing on the Ceiling

The Creation of Adam from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; my idea was a simple one, create a parody by replacing Adam and God with my aliens.

Starting Out - Overlaying my characters

I considered using my "Zambo the Great" character as god,.. it seemed fitting, but I haven't actually drawn this figure yet. Instead I stuck with the recognisable LGM's and mused that "god created man (alien) in his own image - Genesis 1:27."

[nb. I know, I don't normally quote scripture, but I was feeling googly!!]

After looking more closely at the painting I noticed that the god figure (let's call him Zambo) seems to be held aloft by a number of (what I assume are) mortals. A collection of men, women and children surrounded by some sort of protective cloak. I had to somehow keep that idea.

The Complete Artwork

My answer was to add more LGM's, clearly straining to hold the big guy up, and as they are flying, well they needed rocket boots!! The cape looks a little abstract now, but at the time I didnt really understand what it was meant to be. (A monsterous shell, or a hang-glider perhaps?) I coloured the mortals a darker green to push them into the background.

I think it turned out OK.

Cranking it up to Eleven

Rather than just leave it as a parody I decided to try and make it a jokeMy first thought was to have a frame before this with LGM looking up at the bathroom ceiling and saying something like, "What do you think, too much?"

Clearly the original artwork's location had struck a chord with me!

Shiela had just asked me for advice about a cartoon she was working on, so I ran it by her. It became clear that there was a better line I could use that worked on the assumption that one of them had gotten carried away. It also made more sense why they'd be painting in the first place.

I came up with this single frame idea where the artwork was actually graffiti on a concrete underpass column.

The completed cartoon

The final changes I made were to alter the green on Zambo and Adam so that it was different from my two figures in the foreground. Then in order to get some separation from the background, I added a white outline to the foreground figures. It's subtle but it works well.

Visit the final cartoon here --

Monday, 13 March 2017

When Inspiration Strikes

Fickle Inspiration

Even the most creative people go through dry patches, life gets in the way and the mind gets filled with mundane things that just have to be done. Other-times you feel like you have space to be creative, but you get the artist's version of writer's block. This might feel really bad when you're trying to keep something like a webcomic moving, but it's best to recognise it for what it is and not be so hard on yourself.

Generally speaking it's hard to make ideas happen, and when you do they can often feel contrived and of low value. But inspiration does strike in many ways, it's just the case of recognising when a good idea comes along and finding a way to use it.

When it Strikes

The other week a lady (let's call her Kate) expressed interest in me on a dating site. I'm not single anymore, but I still checked out her profile from a vanity point of view.

NB. A profile generally contains a little bit about that person and some photos. You'd expect to see pictures of that person, but you'd be surprised how often you find holiday scenes, dogs/cats, inspirational posters or bunches of people which leave you wondering which person you should be looking at. I know blokes are as bad, they pose with freshly caught fish, post photos of their motorbikes, tattoos and many of the things the ladies do.

Anyway the thing that amused me was Kate had posted photos of some cakes fresh from the oven, her dog wearing one of those funnel shaped collars, a couple more of the dog and two less than flattering photos of herself. (I've included the first two below)

Kate's Cakes

Kate's Dog

I don't want to make Kate the butt of a joke, but it did make me feel that there was an idea here that needed to be explored. So I looked around for other ideas, pulled them together for this comic and the final picture was added to make the joke (nobody was actually crazy enough to use a photo like this!!).

Funstreak - You Have a Match

I should state for the record Kate doesn't have a verruca or a drinking problem (as far as I know). She's probably a very nice person who just lacks self confidence.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the peep into the world of online dating and find this blog on inspiration useful. Here's the link to the comic..



Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Cartoons - Breaking Up Frames


I recently saw a product from a health store with the bold claim "see the difference in seven days", so I bought some to try.

A week later I was asked, "has it made a difference", and while I felt it was too early to say definitively, I couldn't help but make this joke. Then in the absense of any other Area 5.1 ideas I decided to turn it into a cartoon, but it gave me a few layout problems that I wanted to share.

Designing the Layout

My intention was to go for two simple page wide frames, no background images, just a bottle of medication and my two LGM's (little green men). It seemed simple enough, but the second frame troubled me. I wanted him peering into the pill bottle, but it then felt like I was giving the joke away before I'd really had chance to set it up.

Area 5.1 Original Frame 2

The second problem with this frame is overlapping dialogue, the reader is forced to skip left and right to consume the information in correct order, even though it is arranged to read down the page. I felt that splitting the frame into two was perhaps a better option.

The Final Image

Here's what I ended up with..

Area 5.1 - A Weak Claim
I think the change reduces the chance that the reader will jump ahead. The dialogue still works because the clipped tails point to the next or previous frame providing a reference to who's talking. But, it did mean showing the LGM's facing different directions (or they merge together in the middle like conjoined twins), so a little bit of effort was required to ensure the reader could tell them apart. Traditionally I use two body shapes, but it doesn't work well enough here. Instead I resorted to two distinct styles of eye.

See the web comic here:

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Shooting the Breeze


The cartoon was inspired by an upload from a fellow cartoonist who had in turn been inspired by a scene she'd witnessed in a store (or shop if you're english). The cartoon is called 'Spoiled Princess' (

It's a simple idea, a child wants something that she's seen and like many modern parents her Dad caves in. It got me thinking about what might happen if the child wanted something inappropriate.

The Drawing

I decided to illustrate this using the idea of two parallel father and son scenes with the initial idea of a young alien wanting a Death Star from Star Wars. I thought that if I demonstrated what damage a human boy could do with something relatively harmless (like a BB Gun), then I could leave the reader to imagine for themselves what the alien boy could do with a planet killer.

I wanted to find a way of doing this that didnt use words, so I imagined what a back garden would look like a few days after the boy had taken a BB Gun home. What sort of damage would you see? Initially I brainstormed some ideas and then pulled together a rough sketch of the garden with imported images from the web.  Once planned, I redrew the elements I needed.

Area 5.1 Cartoon - Shooting the Breeze

I was careful to make the two father and son frames to look as similar as I could, while still having them different. I came up with a new design of alien using the same eyes, mouth and ears and coloured them purple so they wouldn't be confused with the original alien design.

See the web comic here:

Thursday, 9 February 2017

How's your Handwriting?

The Idea

A recent social network posting showed a list of top 50 bad habits, and while I didn't bother reading it, I did consider that even aliens might go for this sort of trash too. So I set out to come up with a list related to aliens, and it turned out to be more difficult than I thought.

Here's my list:-
  1. Not washing the probe between jobs.
  2. Preoccupied with cows?
  3. Always holidays in Roswell?
  4. Abduction / Body Snatching.
  5. Obsessed with crop circles.
  6. Buzzing air force pilots.
  7. Ruling primitive planets.
  8. Always whistling the same 5 note tune.
  9. Leaving large drawings and lines in the deserts.
  10. Always needing more space?
  11. Taking Zambo's (God's) name in vain.
  12. Trigger happy?
  13. Prefer to work nights.
  14. No atmosphere at their parties.
  15. Watching too much TV.

OK some of those are just jokes rather than bad habits, but like I said, I (or rather we) struggled a little just to get this many. (Thanks to Julie and Shiela for your help, it would have been a small list without your input.)

Evolving The Idea

It occurred to me these sorts of things are commonly seen in trashy magazines, so I thought it'd be fun to create a parody. This got me thinking about additional articles so googled a bit and came up with the following:-
  • Fake advert for slimming supplement.
  • Gossip section.
  • What your raygun says about you.
But once I'd started drawing it up I thought it would be nice to draw a cartoon from the aliens perspective. I came up with Humanz, a simple stickman based strip, and dropped the raygun idea.

The Artwork

Here's the completed work..
Area 5.1 Bad Habits List Cartoon
There's not actually that much drawing on it, but because of the curve of the pages all the text had to be drawn by hand. It proved difficult and time consuming to get the style and size consistent across each article. It's the sort of thing that would have been simple with decent distortion tools.

When I came to writing in the bad habits I wanted them to be easy to read. (After all this was the primary joke!) So I chose quite a large uppercase style which limited the width of the text. This meant I had to play around with the words a little and even swapped out the atmosphere joke for an Erich Von Daniken gag. Some might not get it, but if it makes them google his name then I figure I've enriched their lives a little.


Tuesday, 31 January 2017

down the hatch!

Going back to my post of the 22nd, in which I was using my new colourful sheep design and completely ruined a joke which relied on a fairisle jumper being very obvious.

I've tried my new sheep design in black and white, using a little hatching. It's something I want to be better at. I keep revisiting this particular file and having another go at the shading. Here's the current version, it's not looking too bad, and I think it solves the aforementioned problem.

I like the sheep as line drawings, it's something I might do again. Could be useful when it's snowing!

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Exploding The Truth - Microwave Joke

Area 5.1 Comic about Microwave Ovens

I had this idea about the notion of never putting anything metal into a microwave oven because people think it would explode. My thought being that the people who think this aren't aware of what the inside of the oven is made of.

Area 5.1 - Expoding the Truth Cartoon

Clearly it helps to have a bit of an understanding about how a microwave works.

OK, disclaimer - if you are going to put metal inside then just read up about what to do and what not to do (unless you want a light-show), and remember running it without any food in (or very dry food) can be worse.

You can't beat a bit of jeopardy!