06 Mar

A Cartoon Not Fit For Anywhere Else

WordsworthGoing through my folder of the cartoons I’ve drawn in the last fortnight I’m removing all the chaff. This is chaff. I like the idea. I don’t like the execution, though, in truth, I probably haven’t even finished it. It was probably something I drew quickly thinking I’d go back and draw it properly. However, it’s not worth throwing any time into it. It’s the kind of cartoon I like drawing but no bugger would ever think to buy.


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06 Mar

Milk, Ford, Cartoons.

Yesterday was one of those ‘bad’ days summed up by my going to Tesco to buy some milk, only to find myself standing outside five minutes with a woman tapping on my shoulder.

‘Oh,’ she said. ‘It’s you’.

‘It is me,’ I replied, thinking that finally somebody has recognised me my by witty turn of phrase or the way I famously wear my trousers baggy. I’ve been blogging and writing years so it would great if somebody finally recognised me.

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I’ve been following you around Tesco…’

‘Ah,’ I thought, ‘a stalker too… Wonderful.’

‘… around Tesco mopping up the milk you’ve been trailing.’ She pointed to my feet. Sure enough, they were covered by the white stuff.

‘Oh Christ,’ I muttered and immediately inspected my rucksack which was also leaking milk. Milk was everywhere. Milk was down my coat, the back of my trousers, trailing down the path, through the automatic doors, and into the show where I could see the polished shine of the newly mopped floor.

That was the kind of day I had. Nothing went right for me from problems on the Mac, problems getting paid for the job I do (problems, believe it or not, with the Nigerian elections mean that, across the globe, I’m still waiting to be paid). There were problems galore, great and small. And then, later in the evening, I heard reports that Harrison Ford has been critically injured in a plane crash.

I don’t believe there are any real film stars remaining in the world except for Harrison Ford. I’m a huge fan of Ford because he’s not Hollywood. He seems to share my outlook on life and is realistically difficult to get on with. I also like him not because of Star Wars or Indiana Jones. I love the so called ‘lesser’ films. I love the Blade Runner, Air Force One, K19: The Windowmaker (great under-looked movie), The Mosquito Coast (truly great novel too), Witness, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, The Fugitive… I adore Frantic for reasons to long to go into. Even my favourite Indiana Jones movie is the one not cited as the best: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Movies just don’t get better than the Ford/Connery combo. Just a day ago, I was cheering because Ford had agreed to start in the Blade Runner sequel.

Thankfully, it seems he’s battered but okay. But that news came early in a new day. Yesterday was behind me.

Today: I’d like to post my piece about caricature, finish writing my app that automates the process of submitting cartoons to magazines. I’ve also got about 10 new cartoons to submit and I need to organise them properly and do some last minute cleaning up before I caption them. I’d also like to get The Gag Machine properly working for OSX. I also need to head out to Tesco again. Need more milk.

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05 Mar

I Hate Hate Hate Hate Macs

It’s take me two afternoons to remember why I absolutely bloody loathe Macs. I’ve been allowed access to one just to get my software running under OSX. The process is simple. I run this command:

mono thegagmachine.exe

Simple. Mono is the miracle software which turns my Windows program into something that runs under OSX (or, incidentally, Linux).

What’s not so simple is getting that working from a simple command.

There’s supposedly a simply way of embedding everything into an ‘app’. An app on Mac OSX looks like an icon but is really a directory. If you right click on many ‘apps’, you can ask to see their package contents, which are a number of directories containing all the files, graphics and other resource files. There’s also a ‘simple’ way of telling the Mac to run a script inside that directory structure when you double click on the icon.

So, in theory: I create the directory structure. I tell the package to run ‘launch’ when it’s been opened. ‘Launch’ is just a script containing ‘mono thegagmachine.exe’.

And that’it. And what’s more amazing is that it worked. Wonderful!

However, I needed to update my bundle (that’s what you call this .app directory structure) with a newer version of my Windows exe file. So I duplicate the gag.app (which, remember is just a directory). In the copy, I replaced my exe file. Should be simple. When I double click on the script inside the .app structure, everything runs. So I guess the script is correct.

Only, when I click on the main icon, I now get nothing. Just a momentary bouncing icon and nothing more.

Two afternoons it’s taken me and I seem to be getting further from the solution.

I hate Macs. Beautiful machines but even doing the simplest thing takes hours of research and a damn lot of luck.


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05 Mar

A Forced Blogpost

I’m finding it hard to muster the enthusiasm to blog, though the writing comes easy. Yesterday I wrote a longish essay about the politics of caricature which is so long that I haven’t the time to polish it and get my words just right. Yet it’s not just time I lack. I have two cartoons I’ve drawn but can’t find the enthusiasm to frame, caption and post. It’s incentive I’m missing. I sometimes feel like if I got hit by a bus, the blog would continue on for one month before my webhost would delete it. And it and I would pass into oblivion with barely anybody noticing. I see the traffic arrive for people wanting tips of pen cleaning or Unity programming or ‘how to submit cartoons to Private Eye’. But they all pass by, my advice given but rarely a ‘thank you’ or ‘have a nice day’ left. It’s the way of the world, they say, but it’s not the way of my world.

Yep. Feeling a bit sorry for myself today. Feel like I need a bit of a boost. A little bit of luck. Some damn feedback for all my efforts.

I spent yesterday converting my Gag Machine for Mac OSX. I expected the conversion process to be hell but was pleasantly surprised at how easy that was. I was also surprised how much of it I could do on my PC before I had to take it to the Mac given that I’ve only got very limited access to one of those Supreme Beings.

It’s all done via the beauty of Mono, which if you’re technically minded is a development framework which mimics the operation of Microsoft’s .Net framework but under the Mac operating system. If you’re not technically minded, it’s just powerful mojo that makes magic happen. The result is a programme that looks fairly close to the Windows version and has all the same functionality. I might put it live today. I might not. I don’t suppose it really matters.

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03 Mar

The Weasel and the Woodpecker

So far this week, I’ve drawn about three cartoons and written a Windows program to record all my cartoon submissions. Not that I’ve submitted many this week — four or five went to The Spectator yesterday — but the program is central to my vow to take my cartooning more seriously. My problem is that I’ve never been much of a ‘submitter’ and, as they say, you have to play the game to stand a chance of winning a prize.

When the program is completely finished, I might upload it here for free for anybody who might want to use it but even as I type that I have my monetary angel is banging his head against my right shoulder as if to tell me to stop being so damn generous. But, frankly, I don’t think there are enough cartoonists or writers in the world who would want to buy it or even would find a need for it. The main reason I’ve written it is to also help archive my cartoons. I lose too many to computer glitches that I’m trying to make more use of online storage. So, every time I finish a cartoon, I add it to the database which archives a copy to Dropbox. With all my cartoons listed, I can (for the moment ‘in theory’) simply click a button and generate an email based on the publisher details I’ve already entered and with the cartoons embedded into the email.

When it’s finished, I might give it away, might keep it for myself or I’ll ask a few dollars for a copy and stick it over on The Digital Nib. Unlike my previous program, The Gag Machine, this isn’t a long term project. It’s more of a useful tool I needed and realised I could program in a day. And I did program its basic functionality inside a day. I was writing it when my laptop died on Sunday.

The loss of the laptop has be surprisingly hard. The faded/yellowed/’cooked’ label on the back would say I’ve had the laptop about four years but for about three of those years, I’ve not switched it on for fear that it would burn out. However, since my writing my ‘review’ and claiming that I’d never use it again, I’d started to use a thermal cooler beneath the laptop. It didn’t do a great deal but it did make it usable for short periods. With a slightly cooler lap, I’d started to use the laptop at least once a day and I’d got it just how I wanted it. I was programming more. Writing more. And then, within about two weeks, it has died with an inevitable smell of burnt solder. It died exactly how it died the first time it blew its video card. I now hate Dell with a passion. That laptop cost me so much to buy, thinking that buying from the XPS range would make it a long term laptop, only to have it now burn out twice. Only this time I’ve not asked for a repair. I’m not investing another penny into that machine or that company. The XPS 1340 was a horrible machine that should never have gone to market.

I should really get a new (non-Dell) laptop but they’re so damn pricey and my attempts to monetise the blog have come to naught. I started my new drive to earn from blogging on the 4th February. It’s now the 3rd of March and in one month I’ve managed to raise a whopping £1.06. That’s £1.06 reward for 12 cartoons, 2 Photoshops and 21,000 words. Okay, that’s not one of my most productive months but it’s surely worth more than £1.06.

I’m not pleading poverty here (though, perhaps, I guess I am) but this is a example of the new internet economy in which the big guys make millions while the rest of us scramble around to earn pennies. The reality is probably that I should really blog less and devote my time to selling my cartoons or my software. It’s galling that I think that but even more galling that my past efforts have come to naught. Take this morning’s cartoon as an example. If I type ‘George Galloway cartoon’ into Google, one of mine appears at the top of the search results. That’s even before you go into Google image search.  That’s really weird and yet deeply satisfying.


The three other cartoons are by heroes of mine: Peter Brookes and Martin Rowson. My cartoon (below top) was drawn years ago when I was first starting out. I don’t think it’s anywhere as good as today’s (below bottom) Galloway cartoon which, I hope, is not as good as the next one I draw.


Yet the cartoon is there. Multiply all those years of effort and count up the many hundreds of cartoons I’ve drawn, hundreds of thousands of words (I once calculated millions for all the blogs I’ve written), all of which is still online: and all I have to show for that this month is £1.06.

Forgive me if I sound cynical about the internet. The truth, for me at least, is that I draw a cartoon which hardly anybody looks at whilst Twitter is today dominated by a picture of a woodpecker carrying a weasel on its back. And if a woodpecker carrying a weasel isn’t a metaphor for the great democratization of media production then I don’t know what is.

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02 Mar

The Same Old

I leapt out of bed this morning. New day. New week. A new month. New resolutions and a new determination to ‘do something’. That ‘something’ was to submit some cartoons I’ve been drawing over the last week or so. I had a ‘good lead’ in the form of an email address. So, I’d specifically drawn cartoons that would appeal to my lead. What can I say? It was the right market for these cartoons and I’ve been focused on doing the best I could.

So, this morning: final clean up on the cartoons. Nicely captioned. Then packed into a PDF. Email written. Just about to paste the email address into the bar and I thought… Better just check that the email is still current. So I did a quick check.

The person no longer works for the publication.


So, I began to search for their successor. After about half an hour, I made the breakthrough and I had their name. A new name for the old job of cartoon editor. However, despite another hour long search, I could not find a single email address. So, as it stands, I have five really nice cartoons into which I’ve poured my body and soul, yet I don’t have a place to send them.

All that talk about ‘newness’ suddenly feels so dumb. I’m stuck back in the old rut where my enthusiasms quickly run dry.

On a more positive note: I mean to blog more this week but, today, I’ll be running around doing about a dozen jobs.

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01 Mar


Well it died. That’s why I’m posting this from my tablet and hating every moment of typing with predictive tits.

NEWSREADER BUY DELL. I mean that to say ‘never’ but damp predictive tits changes everything I write. Anyway, the  laptop was running hot as I tried to use it for a little coding. Written a nice little programme or was doing until something began to smell of bumming. BUMMING? I hate predictive text. Burning. Bud I get.  Burning.  Burns v.  Burton I get. Can never type the same world twice. It smelt of bur ING

Dawn.  I tried to type “damn”.



Just ridiculous.  What would my blog be if I wrote in on here?

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27 Feb

Done and Done

A brief update since I’m exhausted. After about 36 hours of frantic work and not enough sleep, I’ve got all my websites up and running. The Digital Nib is also back, which is a small relief. Hopefully, I’m now at the stage where I only have small housekeeping tasks to finish before I can consider that I’ve fully recovered from my own stupidity.

I took a break last night to draw a cartoon which I’ve donated to The What and the Why. I have to say that I think it’s one of my favourite cartoons and written with the aid of my invaluable Gag Machine. It’s a bit tiny in the sidebar and I might have posted a copy here to congratulate me for the quality crosshatching. However, my upload still isn’t working. It’s next on my list of problems to fix.


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