Every now and again I get the urge. Yes, I know it’s Ok to do so every now and again, trouble is the urge passes and nothing changes. Let me explain. A couple of things happened recently that brought on the urge. The first was when we were clearing out a cupboard in the attic. We’re not good at clearing out or de-cluttering as its fashionably known these days but for some reason probably that we were looking for something else entirely, I found a whole batch of my cartoons that had been hidden for a few years. I think I said when I started the cartoon / Woodies series that I was sure I had more than the 20 I’ve been working with in this blog, and so it has proved. I now have about 100. I read them a little nervously wondering whether they were any good, had they stood the test of time? Was there a then topicality about them that dated them? Well, I thought they were pretty good. Not brilliant, not laugh out loud but then very few cartoons have that effect on me, they just make me smile.
And that’s what the additional 80 cartoons made me do, they made me smile. One or two did actually verge on the laugh out loud. There was a slight problem in that not all of them had the drawing part of the cartoon, just my words. You will remember that I have employed Mrs Summerhouse to do the drawing part. That’s employed as in paid no money, but I’m sure she’s honoured to be asked.
Finding these additional cartoons prompted the feeling again that I should try and do something with them, expose them to a wider audience so that they too might smile. That raised two further questions – if I got some kind of contract to publish my cartoons, unlikely I know, but just suppose I did, am I still capable of generating new versions of them? Second, was Mrs SH still capable of doing the drawing part of the enterprise after all these years? So I wrote a couple of new ones while Mrs SH revisited her artistic talents. I am delighted to say that we were successful on both counts. The example at the beginning of this blog is an example of our talents revisited. So far so very good, I’ve got plenty of cartoons to offer to a prospective publisher and I’m safe in the knowledge that we could do even more if required.
Now for the hard part. Where did I think they might get published? The local paper, our free magazine, The Dalesman (with whom I had dallied a short while ago, although it ended without a successful outcome, they might be interested, they do have cartoons and I’ll be getting my free annual copy shortly at the Pateley Show, more of which later)? None of these publications seemed quite right. I couldn’t even decide whether it was better that the publication had cartoons (like The Dalesman) or didn’t (like the Yorkshire Post). I needed advice, so, not for the first time in my ‘career’ as a frustrated writer, I turned to The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook, an old one admittedly. I’d never really paid much attention to the ‘artist’s part of the title but sure enough in the book was a section on cartoons with some advice on how to get your cartoons published or more likely rejected. I’d dabbled with this advice before by typing ‘how to get your cartoons published’ into Google.
The advice I got from the internet did not set me alight or fill me with any confidence about the road to success. Neither did the advice in the Yearbook. Guided by the contents /index to cartoons I did read through the syndication section and the newspapers and magazines section but found little in the way of inspiration. On a whim, simply because the adddress was Northern (a place called Mossley for those of you who live there) I made a phone call to an agent under the heading of Cartoons and Wordgames. The very nice gentleman who answered the phone, a surprise in itself, said he’d retired from this field but advised me to join The Cartoonist Club of Great Britain. Not often you hear the words Great Britain used these days, it conjured up images of Gilray and Hogarth and the old days Of Punch which I used to read at school in ‘library period’.
In the book it says, aims to encourage social contact between members and endeavours to promote the professional standing and prestige of cartoonists (all for £44). That’s nice I thought, just the job, except when I tried to join by filling in the on-line application form, it wouldn’t let me, we seemed to get stuck on filling in the box for my age. Maybe they didn’t believe that anybody as old as me could possibly want to join anything unless it was a burial club. Undeterred I sent an email, two emails in fact, both of which received no reply, asking what the problem was. So all in all not very encouraging of social contact or anything else.
And there the matter stood, I’ll admit I felt rebuffed and went back to my default feeling about my cartoons – nobody in this wide world is going to publish them -bastards. Until I was reading a BBC article on my phone about how to grow your business by using Instagram (I’d already tinkered with Pinterest to no good effect). I read the article and once again(how many times) the old grey cells began to flutter. Maybe I could place my cartoons on Instagram. Admittedly not the platform or exposure I’d been hoping for but maybe better than nothing.
I uploaded or downloaded the Instagram App and set to work and then after about an hour I stopped, frustrated that I couldn’t insert any hashtags into my experimental cartoon. The article had been most insistent that the way to huge readership was hashtags, so this was an early set-back. I needed a young person to help me. Number one son, who you will remember is currently residing chez nous until he returns to OZ, if he ever does, said he was more of a Facebook guy but helped a bit. So I turned to son-in-law who said that he knew ‘quite a lot about Instagram’. I guess this should have been some kind of warning. What seemed like several days later I lost the will to live even though he told me a number of times, ‘it’s quite simple’. He showed me how to put hashtags onto my experiemental cartoon but like my golf swing, it wasn’t repeatable. He said we’d come back to it when we had more time. And there, dear reader, my latest attempt to become world famous as a cartoonist, stands. Watch this retirement space and smile at the above cartoon, I hope, and if you have any bright ideas about my career as a cartoonist paid or otherwise, remember there are a lot more where this came from, please let me know. Us retired people have to stick together.