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The Doodler's Blog

Scribblings from the Artful Doodler

Walker Stalker London 2019

It’s been almost two weeks since my buddy Jon and I had the Doodler stall at Walker Stalker Con, the convention for fans of the hit TV show The Walking Dead.

I had attended this event for the previous three years as a customer and the seed was planted for having a stall when meeting actor Michael Cudlitz and giving him one of my Walking Dead caricatures. Cudlitz, ever the gentleman, showed so much enthusiasm for my work and said to me, “Man, you should have these on a stall, you’d sell loads. Next year get booked up!” It took a couple of years but I got there.

The one thing I realised with my group caricature was that half the actors were getting killed off and my picture was out of date very quickly. Hence came the idea of Dead Famous, collectible postcards of TV show stars in zombie form.

So along with those postcards, my comedy books and my caricature clipboard, I was well prepared for one awesome weekend.

And that it certainly was.

I set up the pitch on the Friday and quickly realised I needed a big “Zombie Caricatures” label on the front of the stall. Knocked that up on Friday night and was all set to go for the Saturday.

Everything sold like crazy and the caricatures were non stop, so glad was I to have Jon there handing cash and sales.

At certain points during the weekend my queue was getting as long as some of the stars and I had to keep apologising for the insane wait time.

It’s fun as a caricaturist to be able to add mould and blood to a picture, it’s not something you would often get away with. Indeed since that weekend I’ve had to retrain myself not to add these details to drawings at weddings, that would be BAD.

At one point I dropped off Dead Famous postcards to a few of the stars, didn’t meet most of them as like myself they were insanely busy, but I did get to meet Khary Payton who plays King Ezekiel. Lovely guy, very warm and friendly giving a hug to all who he met. (Doubt most royals would do that) When I explain my exasperation with characters being killed off he said, “I’m hanging on man!”

Thanks to all who I met that weekend, you were all lovely. I think I’ll be keeping the zombie theme for all conventions now and certainly hope to return to Walker Stalker next year.. see you there!

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The Doodler watches.. After Life

Anyone familiar with my work, especially the caricatures and cartoons I post on twitter, will be aware that I’m a huge fan of the creations of Ricky Gervais.

Saying that, not just his creations but his general outlook on life, an appreciation for making every second count and for treating this insane world we live in the way it should be perceived, with warmth and good humour.

He could be easily labelled as cynical or rude from those missing the point, his humour and writing having a blunt honesty that often gets misconstrued. But for those that get it, and that is the majority of us, his writing has a positive message while addressing those uncomfortable issues regarding life.

After Life was released on Netflix this week to huge acclaim and quite rightfully so. Ricky’s latest tale is that of Tony, a reporter working for a local paper in a small town who has recently lost his wife and is now grieving and suicidal. Tony is pulled back again and again from the brink of suicide by the necessity to care for his dog. Not an immediate subject matter for comedy you might say but humour is always best found in the darkest of places.. in fact it’s probably the best place for it.

Tony soon realises in his suicidal mood that not wanting to carry on has provided him with a super power of sorts, in that he can say and do exactly as he pleases. We are treated to many scenes throughout the six episodes that have us wishing we could do the same in our day to day lives. A scene featured in the trailer of Tony addressing an obnoxious schoolboy calling him a “paedo” is a perfect example. “If I was, you’d be safe you tubby little ginger c***.” Truly beautiful, Dickens would be proud.

As the series progresses we get to meet those around Tony, his abuse suffering colleagues who obviously love him, a warm hearted prostitute who befriends him, his dementia suffering father cared for by a hard working nurse, his deceased wife played by the amazing Kerri Godliman, so many characters the list goes on, but all with a different facet to living life. Each of them the way they are for different reasons but no one truly bad. I find this while working in my own life as a caricaturist, people are caricatures not just physically but with their personalities too. I can often expect abuse at a party from the loud mouth drunk guy but find I’m often surprised by their warmth when I actually get to draw them. It’s easy to judge someone but if you wait a while almost everyone has a good side to reveal.

Tony himself is an example of this, surly and somewhat rude despite the humour of his comments, but you see his suffering and as the series progresses you feel more and more for him.

With truly stellar performances from every member of the cast this dark comedy really pulls at the heart strings in that unique Gervais way… and always with his comedies, the final episode of the series is a payoff with lessons to be learned and tears to be shed.

One lesson I learnt was that Kenneth Branagh would make a far better caricature if he wore big red glasses. Fact. You’ll have to watch the series to make sense of that last point.

Go Ape with Zox

Ever since my little girl was born I’ve been exploring extra ways to use my art.

As well as my Dr Ripper and Co books I’ve been working on all sorts of crazy projects, one of which is Zox, an awesome creation from the Kuiper brothers from LA.

Zox straps are elasticated wristbands/bracelets that feature art from different artists across the globe. They are reversible so you can change your strap to feature a different design. They are also limited edition and every strap is numbered on the inside which makes them very collectible.

I’ve since discovered a whole bunch of collectors out there with box loads of these straps, and these wonderful fun loving folk in the Zox family are affectionately known as “zoxers”

You can check out the Zox site and see what they have to offer at Zox.la

Not only that, but now I am proud to announce my first design is now available to buy!

To get your own little ape design to sit on your wrists, visit the link below while stocks last!

Happy Zoxing!

Purchase Go Ape here!!

Seren Tippity reads

I love the little community that’s grown around my books.

Most of the advertising for my books is through self promotion on social media so I have a little following of readers rather than a vast horde of Dr Ripper fans.

But sometimes, just sometimes you find someone goes that extra mile and helps spread the word on my behalf. This was the case a few days ago when @serensketches from Periscope decided to read the story loosely based on her, Seren Tippity & her self inflating aviation titties from Dr Ripper’s Sinister Shipmates. Yes, my books are quite adult in case you didn’t know.

If you’d like to hear the full tale read by the girl herself you can do so here.

Seren is also an amazing artist, specialising in awesome colour illustrations of nature. Follow @serensketches on Periscope to watch her live or get her art on all sorts of products at SerenSketches.com

It’s great fun as a writer to hear someone reading your work.. particularly with the fact that I would become tongue tied trying to read my own stuff.

It has been suggested to me by another scoper that we get everyone to read their tales.. what a lovely idea!

Up for it folks?!

The Doodler reads.. “Back, Sack & Crack (and Brain)”

I met Robert Wells recently at a local comic festival and am very pleased to say I bought a copy of this graphic novel.

Back, Sack and Crack (and Brain) is a very honest, brave and downright hilarious slice of life tale about one man’s suffering at the hands of an unsympathetic medical world.

Robert tells the tale of a young man with a whole collection of mysterious & embarrassing illnesses, most notably testicular pain that renders him almost unable to function in modern day society.

That description would give you the impression that this would be a bleak and dismal book to read, but Wells has a unique light hearted approach to these difficult subjects that have you sniggering to yourself whilst wincing and holding your nether regions. Maybe not a book for reading in public places then.

With crisp and stylish illustrations throughout, this novel has the feel of a Daniel Clowes book with a gritty subject matter.

Couldn’t recommend it enough.

You can find this graphic novel on Amazon

Dr Ripper’s Sinister Shipmates

So I just last week published my third comedy horror book, Dr Ripper’s Sinister Shipmates.

It’s been great fun producing these little rhyming comedy tales and packing them with crazy illustrations and I shall be selling them at different events across the uk this year. First up will be the Medway Comic and Screen Festival on 24th & 25th March and then the week after at Steampunk Village at the Festival of Steam and Transport on 1st & 2nd April. Come along and get a caricature and a book of fun creepy illustrated poems!

Next up I plan to write a story for all ages set in the same world and featuring my daughter Skye. You can get exclusive access to my sketchbook and ideas for this by becoming a patron for my page at https://www.patreon.com/ArtfulDoodler

My books are available on Amazon (Dr Ripper & Co) or signed copies in the Doodle shop at http://www.theartfuldoodler.co.uk/shop.html

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Adjusting to the Little Doodler

Wow, parenting. They always say it can take a lot out of you but I doubt any parents to be are really prepared for the onslaught of sleepless nights, smelly nappies and ear piercing screams that become a regular part of life.

For someone that spends half his week working from home I had been under the assumption that my wife would look after the baby in one room while I would work in the office. She of course is completely able and happy to do this while I work but the slightest whimper from the baby and I find myself running to her aid, which is rarely needed.

Commissions and my ongoing third book Dr Ripper’s Sinister Shipmates are something I tackle when the baby sleeps, that is after I have spent 15 minutes, sometimes more,  admiring her little sleeping form. I was saying the book would be released in time for Christmas and I still think there is hope, though I say that with less certainty every day.

There is of course also the distraction of horror stories, subtley provided by doctors and health visitors.. and the odd unwise google search. “Don’t let the baby sleep on the sofa as they will suffocate” “make sure they get tummy time 15 minutes a day or they won’t grow properly” .. these are things that haunt me all day as I draw!

The other distraction is the lovely part.. the fact that our little one is at her best from 5am to 9am, where I spend that time making her giggle and pulling stupider faces than my natural one all morning. All good fun but not aiding in sleep.

Forgive me if you see me at events and my hair seems thinner, my eyes more bloodshot or I slur the occasional stupid comment.. I’m not drunk or having a breakdown, I’m a new Dad.

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