Monthly Archives: November 2013

Stop. Hammer time.

Working for The Beano (and previously The Dandy) has and always will be such a privilege. There’s nothing like the feeling you get from telling people that’s what you do for a living (after you explain the fact that people CAN draw comics for a living). It’s a childhood dream realised and something that I’ll always be proud of.

This week, however, I am especially proud – because my artwork made the cover! Connect Thor, a daft puzzle page in which the almighty God of Thunder turns into the almighty God of blunder, is featured in the lower left of the cover.

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There’s nothing as amazing as seeing your own art in printed form glaring out at you from the newsagent’s shelf. I managed it a couple of times with The Dandy (and bought multiple copies to prove it!) but hitting the front cover of The Beano is like getting a number one hit single. I just hope it’s not a one hit wonder!

Funnily enough, Connect Thor is actually a redo of my first ever puzzle for The Dandy, which I pitched on the off-chance when it was proving harder to get strips accepted. It was my first ever puzzle page – and it shows. Printed in late 2011, the art is broad and clunky, there is no shadowing, no layers, it’s made up of one solid drawing and the puzzle is remarkably easy! The ‘new’ version is made up of about 15 layers of art. Here’s the original.

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I pitched a second go at it to tie-in with the new film. in the newer version the puzzle is quite tough, the art is far better and I’ve fleshed out the premise a bit. If you want to see how far my ‘art’ has come since the early days this is a fine example. Here’s a snippet:

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I’m also pleased to say there is a second puzzle in there by me: Boy Band In Space. I’m uncharacteristically pleased with the final result on this one (though I think the contrast on my monitor might need adjusting, as it came out much darker than I thought). It’s a dumb puzzle with a silly premise, which always makes for the best puzzle pages.

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Finally, The Beano have let me loose with one of their oldest characters (and my personal favourite) Minnie the Minx. She’s the star of my new mini-strip (a Minnie mini!) Breaking Dad! Each week there’s a different pun on the title (last week was Shaking Dad, this week it’s Raking Dad) and the strip sees Minnie inflicting all manner of injuries on her long suffering Dad. Don’t worry, It bears no resemblance to the TV show which gave it it’s pun title.

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The strip runs for another 4 weeks and eagle-eyed Mum & Dad Breaking Bad fans (don’t watch it kids, there’s no cartoons or songs or anything!) will hopefully get a kick out of the forthcoming ‘Mistaking Dad’ episode…

If you’re not a fan of me, it also feature’s Andy Fanton‘s Ninja Nuns, Jamie Smart’s Roger The Dodger and a brilliantly weird Billy Whizz by Wilbur Dawbarn. The Beano is available in all good newsagents, WH Smith’s, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Co-Op and the little corner shop up the road from me priced £2.

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Filed under Comic Strips, Puzzle Pages, The Beano, The Dandy, Uncategorized

The Pitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy.

Yesterday I showed you a few of my unsuccessful pitches to The Dandy, as well as Chesney’s Hawk and The Tragic Roundabout which I made up for a laugh (though I did sneak Ches into a Justin Beaver strip once).

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Justin Beaver & Chesney Hawk, from the final Justin Beaver strip, ‘Beaver’s Got Talent’.

 Today, I’m continuing to celebrate my failures – with part 2 of my unsuccessful pitches. This time only one of them is fake, can you spot it? Enjoy:

 The Rockstarrs: Strip about a family of musicians, Dad is a Heavy Metal guitarist, Mum is a Disco Diva, the son is an Emo and the daughter is into dance music. The strip would revolve around frequent family feuds resulting from their musical differences.

Discount Dracula: Revolving around the terrifying tales of the evil Count, who due to the high cost of living, has had to take a job in his local 99p shop.

I maintain that this is the best idea I’ve ever had and will be pitching it for the 4th time later today.

Polar Bear Jones: Jones is an ordinary Polar Bear looking for food, the only problem is he’s doing it in Emily’s house and he’s not welcome. The strip would revolve around Emily, a young girl, trying to get rid of her unwanted houseguest. (Based on an old online strip I did).

Action Neighbours: Strip about 2 aging 1980s male action movie stars who have moved in next door to each other, sort of like a cross between the films Grumpy Old Men and The Expendables. The two neighbours do not get along, and use their stunts and skills to try and out-do one another at every turn.

This idea was based on the following strip, from my 2007 MySpace blog ‘I Done A Comic’:

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Dead Ted & Eddy: Light- hearted buddy strip about two best friends, the only difference here is that they’re both zombies. Think Dumb & Dumber, but Dead & Deader!

 Olympic James: A sporting strip along the lines of Owen Goal/Ball Boy, but with a young lad who is trying every Olympic Sport he can. The strips would revolve around James’ attempts to master a new sport, and the resulting chaos is would cause. An old fashioned strip with an Olympic twist.

I’m pretty sure they did this strip or something like it. Not that I’m bothered, as it was essentially Sport Billy.

Sniffer Dog In Training: Strip about a misguided Sniffer Dog who is meant to use his advanced, highly trained nose to sniff out crime, but uses it instead to sniff lamp posts, other dog’s bottoms and his next meal. Much to the annoyance of his hapless handler who gets a telling off from the Chief at the end of each strip.

Will.I.Am Shakespeare: Adventures of the Black Eyed Peas rapper turned classic play-write. Each strip would revolve around Will.I.Am rapping the plot of a Shakespeare play in modern vernacular. Word.

Laura Howell’s Will.I.Am The Conqueror currently uses a similar joke to much funnier means in The Beano.

Madvert: The Amazing Spider-Gran: Spider-Gran, Spider-Gran, does whatever a Grandma can. Knits a web, any size, bakes a cake, bakes some pies – lookout! Here comes the Spider-Gran! If you think this idea has got legs (ho ho!) I could develop it into a strip, but I think it would be a brilliant Madvert.

In fact I did try to pitch it as a strip, with Beano superfan Harry Rickard on writing duties. I produced some sample art for our pitch, sadly it was rejected again, but the art was later used in a jokes page along with more of my sample art. The design of Gran herself was reused in the board game ‘Gran Theft Auto’!

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Peter Tayto Chips: Mini strip about a magical talking bag of Cheese & Onion crisps who mysteriously comes to life and has all kids of crazy crisp adventures. I can change it to Salt & Vinegar if the readers would prefer. But not ready salted.

Stand Up Chameleon: Strip about a laughter loving lizard, telling bad jokes about reptiles “What happened to the frog who parked on double yellow lines? He got TOAD!” “What reptile lives in the Sydney Opera House? The Lizard Of Oz” etc.

 Moronic The Hedgehog: Maze based on the Sonic The Hedgehog games, where the aim is to guide a very stupid hedgehog through a trap filled maze away from the evil Professor Robottomburp.

Scarecrows: Strip involving 2 scarecrows telling bad jokes about birds, hay and being a scarecrow. One tells the jokes, the other looks on with contempt. “Why did the scarecrow win an award? For being out standing in his field” “How do you get a Scarecrow’s attention? Shout “Hay!””

When I Was Your Age: 3 panel strip about a mad Dad and a bemused son. Dad is always claiming things were all much harder when he was a lad, “When I was your age we didn’t have all these TV channels, we only had one channel. And it only broadcast a blank screen. AND that was a repeat!” “When I was your age I didn’t have a school bus, we had to walk 17 miles to school. Barefoot! In the snow! Even when it wasn’t snowing!” Etc

Olympic Maims: Puzzle Page revolving around the possible comic injuries (not too graphic, obviously) each of the Olympic events could see. 3 puzzles to the page, surrounded by images of athletes injuring themselves. The puzzles would be a ‘Who threw the javelin’ string puzzle, ‘Avoid the injured hurdlers’ maze and a ‘find two the same’ shark-infested swimming pool.

 Walt Dismal Presents: 3 Panel mini strip featuring parodies of Walt Disney’s most beloved characters, with a different parody each week, featuring: 

  • Bumbi – The little deer with chronic wind, who out-stinks his skunk friend.
  • Dumpo – The elephant with the enormous backside.
  • Cinderfella – At the stroke of midnight, Cinders turns back into Darren, a heating engineer from Birmingham.
  • Peter Pants – Peter thwarts the evil Captain Hook, with a wedgie.
  • Lady & The Trump – A date between the classy Lady and downtrodden Tramp goes awry, when Lady let’s one rip!
  • Hairy Poppins – The Banks children don’t much care for their new babysitter, a 6 foot ape in a dress.
  • Winnie The Poop – Christopher Robin should watch where he steps in the hundred Acre Wood…
  • Lunchbox Of Notre Dame – The bells the bells! He’s got a hunch that must mean it’s lunch.

I pitched that one about a week before The Dandy‘s Twisted Fairytales strip started. Great minds think alike. Though they included Cinderfella and Winnie The Poop, sadly they didn’t adapt Dumpo.

That’s the end of part 2. Don’t forget all these ideas (except one) are genuine pitches I sent to The Dandy between June and August 2012. All characters, concepts and stories, no matter how dreadful, are copyright me 2013. If you steal them and make a million pounds off them I want at least a fiver and a copy of the 3rd volume of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series on DVD as compensation. I’ve already got parts 1 and 2.

I’ll reveal the fake pitch in the next post, along with a few more ditched pitches…

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Filed under Comic Strips, Justin Beaver, Madverts, Parodies, Pitching, Puzzle Pages, Spider-Man, The Beano, The Dandy

Life’s A Pitch.

Here’s a few of my rejected pitches from The Dandy. Obviously, they’re all fantastically brilliant ideas – they probably just didn’t have enough room to fit them all in. *Ahem*.

I think if you include a couple of crappy ideas it will make the good ones seem even better, hence why some of them are dreadful. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! Some of the pitches have accompanying art, some don’t. Hidden in the list somewhere are a couple of ridiculous fake pitches I’ve made up for a lark. See if you can spot them…

Bill The Budgie: 3 panel mini strip inspired by Garfield/Snoopy etc in which increasingly frustrated pet owner, Howard, insists his pet bird is hilarious in order to try and get a TV show/movie and fame. Bill has other ideas, refusing to be funny, and by behaving exactly as a bird does – just chirping. (This was based on an old comic strip Andy Fanton & I did when we were 16!)

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Come Dine With Dandy: 3 Panel Mini-strip featuring Dandy characters old and new serving up a (not always delicious) meal for a cartoon version of the Editor, with funny results – Desperate Dan promises an exotic sounding ‘Ringlets of tender Boeuf incased in an exquisite golden baked savory case’, only to find it’s Cow Pie. Brassneck will promise Nut Cutlets, only to reveal it’s Nuts and Bolts cutlets etc.
 
Lucky Happy Cat: 3 panel mini-strip about a Japanese Maneki Neko cat (the happy waving cats seen in takeaways etc), only this cat brings nothing but bad luck and no-one is pleased to see him. The cat himself remains unharmed, but those he comes into contact with suffer all manner of misfortune, much to their confusion and annoyance.
 
Popstar Wars: Full page strip similar to that of the Little Celebs, where the main characters change, featuring a town/street full of popstars who are all out to get to number one and get one over on their famous neighbours. Stories might include Katy Perry bragging about charity work only for Lady GaGa to donate all her mad clothes to a charity shop. Beyonce being all over the celeb magazines annoying Cheryl Cole, so she goes out trying to get ‘papped’ – only to be snapped in embarressing situations. Katie Price’s quest for another celebrity boyfriend ending up with her marrying Jedward etc etc
 
Dr. Beaky: Animal Doctor: 3 panel mini-strip about a duck who is a doctor. The strip revolves around ‘Doctor Doctor…’ type jokes, only with animals at the centre. A pun-centric strip about a ‘Ducktor’ diagnosing ‘mallardies’. Such as the dog with measles that turns out to be a dalmatian, he tortoise who wont shell out for treatment, a cat that barks who turns out to be a fish, a mouse who claims he’s got an unusually long tail – but takes 3 hours to explain the story it turns out he had a long tale instead and so on.

Windy Pops: 3 panel mini-strip about a flatulent father embarrassing his two kids by purposefully breaking wind at inappropriate moments, such as weddings, school plays, Christmas dinner, at funerals etc. Dad is a fun loving character, and would be the focus for the laughter. The two kids frustration would be the driving force behind Dad’s bum-gas bomb, and it would all be in good fun. Though possibly not good taste! 

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Tom Bowler: 3 panel mini-strip about a useless magician whose tricks always blow up in his face, much to the amusement of his crowd.

Scampers Through The Universe: Full page strip about an ordinary house-cat, named Scampers, whose cat flap transports him through time and space, where he fights crime, aliens and foes throughout history, all before dinner time. At home Scampers is an ordinary house cat, in space he is a humanised Captain of the Galacticat – a solo spacecraft he flies to adventure… and BEYOND!

Note: This strip was pitched before Star Cat in The Phoenix (which has a faintly similar premise), and was repitched again a few months later as…

Scampers Through Time:  Full Page Strip, whenever Doug strokes his cat Scampers the wrong way, they travel through time. The only issue with this is that Scampers doesn’t care and Doug is an idiot. This strip would be in wacky and fun in tone, being based more on the fun that can be had rather than the educational nature of it. In the first strip, Doug ends up in Victorian London. He can’t get his mobile to work, so goes into a phone shop. The phone shop turns out to be Sweeny Todd’s barber shop and Doug is in for a close shave. Meanwhile, Scampers is chasing what he thinks is a mouse, only for it to turn out to be a disease ridden rat.

 Scampers Through Time is quite similar to Nuke Noodle, which started in The Dandy a few weeks after I pitched this. Nuke Noodle was different, however, by cleverly being funny – something I omitted from this pitch.

House Bunny: 3 panel strip about a cute rabbit looking for a place to live. The bunny looks around celebrity homes and famous buildings, before getting booted out by their owners or falling foul of their reputation – Yvette Fielding’s house is haunted, the bunny gets lost in Posh Spice’s shoe cupboard labyrinth, is made to walk the plank at Johnny Depp’s house, is literally booted out of Wayne Rooney’s house etc.

Jack Sparrow: 3 panel mini-strip about a brave sea-faring sparrow, who has to fight off the evil seagulls, battle ferocious waves and travel the world in search of his beloved ‘treasure’. As the strip progresses to a conclusion, we would find his treasure is actually a bird table in some-one’s garden. Jack Sparrow is inspired by the character from the Pirates Of the Caribbean movies.

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Chesney’s Hawk: 3 Panel mini-strip about a little lad and his wise-cracking pet hawk. Chesney uses his well-trained hawk pal to get out of trouble, such as when the school bully strikes, hawk flies up behind him and gives him a wedgie! The lad and his bird will be best friends, and everyone loves hawk who is a sort of local hero character. Like ‘Kes’, but he doesn’t die at the end.

Fan Girl: Full Page Strip. Fan Girl is like everyone’s sister growing up – she is psychotically besotted with every boyband, teen heart throb and movie star around. The difference here is that she thinks she has super powers, and it is her duty to protect her beloved stars from the nefarious evil doers of the World. The stars themselves are scared of Fan Girl and will do anything to get away from her, usually putting them in more danger.

Doctor Whoops: 3 Panel Mini Strip. This strip would revolve around an extremely accident prone version of Doctor Who, with him ruining alien plots and thwarting bad guys entirely by accident. I see this as a kind of mash-up of Doctor Who and Calamity James. Extremely silly and full of violent slapstick.

Mouse Matt: 3 Panel Mini Strip. The adventures of Matt, the amazing boy who can turn into a mouse. Except he can’t, he only thinks he can, and everyone around him knows it. Matt will try to needlessly help out in any situation by turning into a mouse, and failing miserably. In the first strip, there is a bank robbery. Matt claims he will turn into a mouse and scare the robbers down an alleyway. Instead, the police trip over him as he’s crouching down. The last panel is him in jail saying “I’ll turn into a mouse and escape through these bars!” He is an idiot.

Hostbusters: Madvert, play on the Ghostbusters brand, but capitalising on the irritating omnipresence of today’s TV hosts. The Madvert would feature normal people trying to go about their life but being interpreted by various TV hosts, much to their dismay. The dialogue would read “Are you plagued by Ant & Dec in the night? Do experience feelings of Noel Edmonds in your basement or attic? Are you troubled by Brucie while you’re trying to do the washing up? If the answer is yes then don’t delay, call the professionals: who ya gonna call: Hostbusters! They ain’t afraid of no host”.

Transyvanian Families: Madvert parody of the inexplicably popular range of girls toys, featuring small woodland creatures going about their business in a small town. The Madvert would feature a typical Hammer Horror castle, which opens up to reveal all the fun things you can do inside (like the larger houses in the actual toy range). The castle will include a mad scientists lab, a dungeon, a graveyard, trap doors, torture chamber, kitchen complete with witch’s cauldron, haunted paintings and and artifacts room full of mummies etc.

Curse Of The Cher Wolf: 3 Panel Mini Strip. Mini strip revolving around chart topping headache on legs, Cher Lloyd. The premise is simple, she’s a werewolf (ala MTV’s Teen Wolf revamp, Twilight etc) which makes appearing on TV shows and doing gigs rather problematic for her. The werewolf side comes out whenever Cher is angry or in trouble, or just at inopportune moments. The first strip would see Cher appearing a chat show, the host, Johnathan Ross, asks Cher about her single, the other guest (Ricky Gervais) says he doesn’t like it and it’s rubbish. Cher ‘wolfs out’ and eats Ricky whole. The last panel is the wolf with Ricky’s legs sticking out of its mouth scowling at Jonathan, who says “Errm.. I thought it was gweat!”

This was the second time I’d pitched Curse Of The Cher Wolf, demoting it from full page strip to a mini strip. It was rejected again, then 2 months later it was accepted as a puzzle page instead!

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Stopshop: Madvert mickey take of Topshop, but aimed entirely at lollypop ladies.

Downton Alley: Mini strip series about some posh tramps living an unlikely aristocratic lifestyle in an alleyway. 

Blue Ray: Mini strip about a miserable sod whose quest for everyday happiness only brings more woe.

The Tragic Roundabout : The roundabout at the annual magicians fair has gone haywire and mangled all the magicians in it’s magical mechanism in this Where’s Wally type puzzle. Help find all the body parts in the wreckage. Kids will have to find Harry Potter, Gandalf, Paul Daniels, Derren Brown etc in a full page drawing.

All these ideas, except two, are genuine pitches I sent to The Dandy between May and July 2011. All characters, concepts, artwork and stories (no matter how poorly thought out) are copyright me 2013. If you steal them and make a million pounds off them I want at least 10 quid and a bag of fun size Mars bars as compensation.

Did you spot the fake ones? I’ll reveal the answer tomorrow…

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Filed under Comic Strips, Madverts, Parodies, Pitching, Puzzle Pages, The Beano, The Dandy

Here Comes The Pitch.

Pitching is a big part of being a Freelance artist. If you can’t successfully pitch an idea you won’t get any work! Pitches vary from a script to a short synopsis, a black & white rough drawing to a fully realised piece. It really depends on what you’re pitching, and who you’re pitching it to.

Some artists like to fully visualise their pitch, others will just send a simple pencil sketch. Since I mainly work in puzzles (and have done so many before) I can usually pitch a puzzle page with a two or three line synopsis followed, upon commission, by a full script – yes, they’re scripted! Hard to believe, I know.

If you want to pitch to The Beano, (and you can – it’s open to anyone), I’d advise sending a sample of your idea alongside your pitch, with a synopsis of further strips you envision doing. Don’t be discouraged if they turn it down either, just keep pitching until they get tired of you and just say yes to shut you up! I’ve repitched some ideas 3 or 4 times before they’ve been accepted.

Here is the first strip I ever sent The Dandy, it was called Andy Social and was based around social networks. It features myself and fellow Dandy artist Andy Fanton, they say draw what you know. It was based loosely on a strip I used to do online, but crucially I forgot to make it in any way amusing.

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The next strip I sent was an Easter strip, which I think was called Easter Enders. Again, it’s not really funny. The bird in the strip resembles Mr Peepers from my distinctly non-child friendly webcomic, Ray The Otter.

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After sending a bit more artwork I decided to stop drawing the pitch and just send ideas, I was working 2 jobs and didn’t have the time to fully realise every idea. I asked The Dandy to pick the ideas they liked and I’d draw the sample from that. As you would expect, it took me a while to successfully pitch my first strip and to be honest I can’t remember where the idea for it came from, I think it was one of those “That’s funny, that would make a good comic strip” things you say to a friend. I pitched as part of this list of pitches:

Street Dance Lance: Step Up/Got To Dance inspired strip chronicling the misadventures of a clumsy street dancer attempting to hit the big time.

Shane The Sheep: Shaun’s brother, and literally the black sheep of the family. Shane didn’t go to drama school and is fed up with people asking about his famous brother.

A Bear Behind: Kind of like the Phantom Pharter strip, but with a mooning bear forever ruining people’s holiday snaps etc

Dentist The Menace: Pretty self explanatory.

The Prince Of Fails: The adventures of the accident prone heir to the throne.

Justin Beaver: The hit singing sensation of the forest just wants to be left alone, but his fans won’t let him. Trampling through the woods and wrecking his peace and quiet in all manner of stupid ways.

Pineapple Dance Studios: Fruit-based reality show with terrible puns such as Fruity Spence.

Astonishingly, they weren’t interested in a fruit-based reality show, but Justin Beaver was initially chosen for a sample strip. It was (amazingly) picked up and ran for 10 weeks. I say amazingly, because looking back on it the first strip is very badly drawn. I hadn’t been drawing for a few years and had clearly forgotten how to use a pen.

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A Bear Behind was also on the list. It was repitched again with sample artwork at their request and became a mini-strip, running for 12 weeks. It is one of my favourite series of strips I’ve ever drawn.

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Tomorrow I’ll post a list of my rejected pitches. It might be part 1 of 37, there are A LOT!

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Filed under A Bear Behind, Comic Strips, Justin Beaver, Parodies, Pitching, The Dandy