Category Archives: Parodies

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

They All Know Him.

If you know me or follow me on Twitter (@TeenWolfToo) you’ll already be well aware of my obsession with Citizen Khan, the BBC sitcom set in Sparkhill, Birmingham – described by its lead character Mr Khan (Adil Ray) as “the capital of British Pakistan.” Citizen Khan follows the trials and tribulations of Mr Khan, a loud-mouthed, patriarchal, self-appointed community leader – “They all know me!” – and his long suffering family.

When series 1 started last year Mr Khan made a cameo appearance in The Dangerous Life Of A Paperboy in The Dandy.

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Unfortunately, The Dandy wasn’t happy with the portrayal of a Pakistani newsagent, so I edited the strip making him look a little Jewish!

ImageThe strip is also notable for a bargain bin full of copies of Freak Out, the first horror/comedy by funnyman Dan Palmer (my cousin, see here for details) and images of Chesney Hawkes and Baninja from Andy Fanton‘s The Carrotty Kid both appearing in the newsagent.

I tweeted Citizen Khan star Adil Ray (@adilray) the cartoon of Mr Khan suggesting that he branched out into “Khan-toons” and pitch Desi The Menace to The Beano. I was really pleased that the cartoon proved very popular with the shows fans when Adil and Mr Khan himself (@therealmrkhan) retweeted it.

Yesterday I was doodling Spider-Man while working on some scripts and I hit upon a very silly idea which refused to go away until I drew it.

Citizen Khan

“Spider-Khan, Spider-Khan, community leader from Pakistan!” 

Citizen Khan series 2 is on BBC One at 9.30 every Friday night, the DVD of series 1 is available now.

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Filed under Citizen Khan, Comic Strips, Parodies, The Dandy

Return Of The Living Justin Beaver.

I love old horror movies, so Halloween is a great time for me – the TV schedules are full of shoddy 80s slasher movies, classic Hammer Horror and 90s sequels featuring the cast of Dawson’s Creek. The green flavour Jaffa Cakes return to Asda (I don’t know what flavour they are, but the box is green and I love them more than I love Macaroni Cheese, which is a lot). Plus, Ghoulies Go To College and Ernest Scared Stupid drop to under a fiver on Amazon.  It’s also a great springboard for inspiring comics.

This is the best one I’ve seen this year, The Devil’s Steps by Dan Berry

Halloween also inspires some really fun puzzle pages and madverts for me, as my last few blogs have mentioned. But last Halloween I finally got to sneakily bring Justin Beaver out of retirement for a puzzle in The Dandy!

Justin Beaver

Justin Beaver was my very first published strip. It had ended on it’s 10th week. I thought there were 12 strips due, The Dandy had only actually commissioned 8, but I managed to push it up to 10.

The 12th and final strip would have seen how Justin turned out years after his fame had faded, essentially becoming a cross between an angry has-been  and the desperate ‘I’ll do anything’  Kerry Catona/Peter Andre type. As the script concluded it is strongly hinted that Justin goes ‘off the rails’. The last panel was set in the future and would have seen is Manager Tiny (from The Beezer) find him dead-eyed, washed-up and tragically slumped… over a cash register working in McDonalds.

There were three versions of the Halloween Fansylvania puzzle drawn. One with Justin Bieber (which is what the editorial team had asked for), one with Justin Beaver and one where there was no solution to the maze and either version of Justin ended up perishing at the hands – or fangs – of the vampire who – for no reason at all other than it amused me – bares a striking resemblance to a 1980s Real Ghostbusters toy I used to have…

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The Dandy, always willing to go with the funniest option, went with the latter. Letting me kill off my first creation in a very satisfying conclusion.

Death is, ater all, the ultimate punchline.

That was deep. That would make a good Fred Basset cartoon. One were the humourless hound finds Mr Brown’s bland lifeless body slumped in his chair, finally out of his boring unfunny misery.

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God I hate that dog.

To end with then, here for the first time is the unused Justin Bieber version of Fansylvania!

Justin Bieber

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Filed under Comic Strips, Ghostbusters, Justin Beaver, Parodies, Puzzle Pages, The Dandy

Night Of The Living Ted: Part 2

Previously on Neighbours: Two pre-teen film nerds (Dan Palmer and myself) ripped off a comic strip and made a movie about zombie teddy bears. 23 years later, one of the nerds is drawing comics for a living and brings the film to life once again in one of his comic strips: Tiny’s Temper

A few months after Tiny’s Temper ended, The Dandy were looking for Halloween ‘madverts’, I pitched a few (including a Transylvanian Families toy ad like the previous year’s My Little Zombie) and I included a Zombears film ad as filler in with the pitches, doubting they’d let me recycle the idea (more on my approach to pitching another time).

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Dawn Of the Ted: The Zombears return in a full page ad.

To my surprise The Dandy ordered a full page Zombear ad, and the art even ended up on the cover! This is my absolute favourite issue of The Dandy, as it features the ad and the debut of my Astronut strip (you can see him in the top right of the cover too).

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The 2012 Halloween Dandy, featuring Desperate Dan, Nuke Noodle, My Dad’s A Doofus, Astronut and a Zombear invasion!

Astronut was partially inspired by a series of puppet films fellow Dandy artist Andy Fanton and I made when we were both 16 and at school together. Fanton & I made 5 Space Man Jim films, part 3 of which (Space Man Jim 3: The Time Toilet) was bizarrely also mentioned in the same Tiny’s Temper strip as the Zombears!

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Tiny stomps off in a strop, past the poster for Space Man Jim 3, Pastamouse (a spoof of Ratatouille) and Paul McCartney riding a dinosaur.

So the cover of the Halloween Dandy featured two drawings inspired by my childhood and my closest friends, as well as a little zombie by the aforementioned Mr Fanton, some awesome cover art by Jamie Smart, (whose Bear comics inspired me to put ink to paper and fill it with swear-laden speech bubbles for the first time) and my favourite Dandy character, Nuke Noodle – who himself returns this very Halloween, drawn by myself….

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Andy Fanton & I remained friends and worked on loads more projects, most recently The Punslinger – a strip written and drawn together for The Dandy.

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Dan Palmer remains my cousin, and still makes horror comedies on the cheap. His latest, the blood-splattered Stalled, (Warning: not for kids!) is in US cinemas now and is still touring the international film festival circuit where it has won several awards. Fanton & I both provided artwork for it.

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Stalled: He’s in the perfect place to have the crap scared out of him!

So kids, there you have it, all you really need to succeed in your career aspirations, as Fanton, Dan & I proved, is a really dumb idea you sort of stole, a bunch of slacker friends and nothing better to do for 20 years. Oh, and don’t ever throw away an idea – you never know when you’ll be using it again.

The Zombears will return…

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Filed under Comic Strips, Halloween, Madverts, Parodies, The Beano, The Dandy

Night Of The Living Ted: Part 1

In the late 1989 my pervy Uncle John (we’ve all got one) borrowed a VHS video camera off a friend. Since this blog may be read by children I won’t even begin to wonder what he wanted to borrow it for, but lets say it was to film kittens.

Uncle John had the camera for a couple of weeks, in which my infamously movie-mad cousin Dan made more short films than there are Police Academy sequels. One of these was a very low budget remake of 1987s The Monster Squad. Though I think the only monster on show was portrayed by my Uncle John with ketchup on his face. In one memorable scene he leapt off the roof of the extension onto the concrete below. He was killed on impact.

Only joking! But that would have been an easy £250 from Beadle and his wonky house on You’ve Been Framed.

One November weekend Dan, who would have been 13, brought the camera over to my house and reluctantly agreed to film my very first (though sadly not my last) foray into film making. I was 10. I based (i.e stole) the ‘story’ from a recent strip from Marvel’s Real Ghostbusters spin-off comic, ‘It’s Wicked’.

 It’s Wicked was a very short-lived vehicle for the English Slimer comics (he was the cover star for all 11 issues) and it featured lots of silly spooky strips, including a Ghostbusters spoof called Ghost Hunters, centering around two nerdy kids repeatedly failing to ‘bust’ ghosts.

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In one story (issue 3, I believe) the kids’ Grandpa told them a story about disused toys coming to life and seeking revenge (which obviously struck a chord with Pixar, who went on to make the popular film series ‘Storys About Disused Toys Coming To Life’). The Ghost Hunters story was called Night Of The Living Ted and featured zombie bears, or “Zombears”.

Our film re-imagining revolved around a yellow knitted bear coming to life when it fell in ‘toxic waste’ (a rotting Halloween pumpkin, which had been left to mulch in the garden) and ‘killing’ various people who looked remarkably like Dan in a series of different hats. The zombear was seen off by my Uncle Ian, who told him very sternly to “Be’ave!”. It was a masterpiece, sadly lost when Mum taped over it with some late night muck off Channel 4.

Dan & I made a few more films on video cameras throughout our teens and he eventually went to film school where he made Attack Of The Killer Toon From Hell, The Donkey Avenger, Timepants and had a tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in Edgar Wright’s first film A Fistful Of Fingers.

Anyway, to cut a long story even longer and pepper it with even more unnecessary punctuation and sentence breaks – like, for instance, this one – over 20 years later I’m working for The Dandy and drawing Tiny’s Temper. Since you’re reading my blog you may be familiar with Tiny’s Temper, but for the uninitiated it was about a little kid whose unpredictable fiery temper manifested itself as a giant red and blue monster, who would cause chaos by acting the berk. Think Calvin & Hobbes, but replace Hobbes with one of the maize-snack-mad Monster Munch monsters and extract all the humour/skilful storytelling. And draw it a bit shoddy.

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Temper is all dressed up and ready to party in the second Tiny’s Temper strip.

In one strip, based on my own childhood, Tiny wants to go to the cinema to watch a horror film, his Mum won’t let him as it’s scary, but Temper dares him to go and see it. They argue for so long that the film sells out and so he ends up watching a kids film about a talking mouse – which Temper is terrified of… as they say on terrible movie posters: “with hilarious results!”

In real life the film I had wanted to see was a Nightmare On Elm Street sequel (which I DEFINITELY didn’t just sneak in to instead, Mum). In the strip I obviously had to make up a film, so thought I’d bring back Zombears: Night Of The Living Ted to make my friends and family laugh.

Tiny's Temper

Tiny tries to convince his Mum to let him see a movie, while eating a traditional slap up feed of bangers and mash in the 11th Tiny’s Temper strip.

I even included a cartoon of the original little yellow Zombear in the title bar…

Zombear

Zombear: He’s dead now.

But this wasn’t the end of the Zombears… tune in tomorrow for the Return Of The Living Ted!

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Filed under Comic Strips, Parodies, The Dandy

My Little Madvert.

Good evening.

Two years ago I drew my first parody ad for The Dandy. It was my success in Madverts which led me to try drawing Puzzle pages, and if it wasn’t for them I’d still be working in retail.

I owe my new career to a little dead horse. Here’s why…

After The Punslinger ended in The Dandy I had no work left on the ‘to do’ pile, my last round of (admittedly poor) pitches had all been rejected and so I sent off the last 3 Punslingers with a note attached asking for tips on pitching successfully. They suggested I tried pitching a spoof advert, or ‘Madvert’ as they call them. So on 20th September 2011, I sent this:

“Here are some Madvert ideas: – My Little Zombie Full page retro Hasbro style Children’s toy advert for a zombie version of My Little Pony, featuring detatchable limbs, a scratch and sniff saddle with real stinky smells, glow in the dark zombie eyes and a deranged lust to eat the living. The perfect toy for girls AND boys! *batteries not included, as she is undead!”

I sent this with two other ideas, one for a spoof generic movie poster called ‘Kids Movie: In 3D’ and another for a Pop Star finishing school.

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Just over a week later I sent in my very first Madvert. The idea was inspired jointly by the fact that I’d been selling my girlfriend’s collection of My Little Pony toys on eBay (don’t worry, she knew. I’m not evil) and my life-long love of horror movies. I was spending a lot of my time immersed in Applejacks and Princess Ponies, researching their names and release year etc, so I had just about had enough of the the rubbery equine berks. The first of many Madverts was born, and it was great fun to draw.

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I was quite surprised they printed this, as it’s quite gory, but compared to the ultra-violence in The Beano‘s Meebo & Zuky it’s quite tame. Plus, it’s a zombie horse.

Every single line of this is hand drawn, there was no computer trickery other than a bit of tidying up. It took a ridiculous amount of time to do, as I recall. About 18 hours I think, as my knackered PC was struggling with the detail. If I could re-do it I would probably do it very differently, but I’m still fairly happy with the end result and I got a lot of positive feedback from it.

I’m a big fan of Halloween, it’s like my Christmas. I was so happy to have some work in the Halloween issue. I did more the following year and was meant to be in last year’s Halloween Beano too, more on that in another blog…

This Madvert set the tradition of my horror themed work, which continued with a Curse Of The Cher Wolf puzzle a few months later and carries on up to this day with Zombears: Night Of The Living Ted, Fansylvania (featuring Justin Beaver), World War Zzz, Horrorscopes and this recent Jedward/Walking Dead mash-up.

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This year’s Halloween Beano should be packed with my diabolical doodlings, including a brain-bashing zombie smack-down puzzle page, which sees the undead take to the wrestling ring, and two horrifyingly hilarious Madverts. Here’s a taster of one…

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The Halloween issue of The Beano will be on sale either the 23rd or 30th of October in all good newsagents!

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Filed under Madverts, Parodies, The Dandy