Wednesday, 30 December 2009

King of the leaves

I showed this to
two people who
couldn't see
anything in it
beyond a bug
on a leaf.

Is it me, or is it

Friday, 25 December 2009

It's all in the mind...

... but it's
the thought
that counts.

Santa will
bring me
some new
so I can
get this
blog going


Friday, 20 November 2009

Poet quoet

The absence of drawings on this blog recently is probably more distressing for me than it is for anyone else, but it looks as if it may continue for a while. As a substitute, and for a change, here's a quote from my favourite dead poet, Ted Hughes. It's about writing but it applies equally well to drawing, and neatly ploughs over acres of theoretical claptrap about how to write - or how to draw:

… imagine what you are writing about. See it and live it. Do not think it up laboriously, as if you were working out mental arithmetic. Just look at it, touch it, smell it, listen to it, turn yourself into it. When you do this, the words look after themselves, like magic. If you do this you do not have to bother about commas and full stops or that sort of thing. You do not look at the words either. You keep your eyes, your ears, your nose, your taste, your touch, your whole being on the thing you are turning into words. The minute you flinch, and take your mind off this thing, and begin to look at the words and worry about them… then your worry goes into them and they set about killing each other. So you keep going as long as you can, then look back and see what you have written. After a bit of practice, and after telling yourself a few times that you do not care how other people have written about this thing, this is the way you find it; and after telling yourself you are going to use any old word that comes into your head so long as it seems right at the moment of writing it down, you will surprise yourself. You will read back through what you have written and you will get a shock. You will have captured a spirit, a creature.
Ted Hughes

Thursday, 12 November 2009

He played an étude...

...and lost.

Notice: Due to
Health and
Safety Chopin
will no longer
be played at

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The James Gang

This is a 3D drawing. If you click on it you'll find that it magically comes towards you so you can see it more clearly. I hope I haven't let this technical effect get in the way of the story.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

To bacco and beyond!

This pipe dream is another old drawing from around the time of the previous two old drawings.
Using a charcoal pencil with coloured pencils caused me some misery. My Derwent pencils are a joy to use but they tend to obliterate the drawing, so it needs 'topping up' to give it some weight. If there was any subtlety in my line it was gone by the time I'd finished with it, and I'd end up with something remarkably unsubtle like this, which also seems to have suffered from not enough fixative.
Lesson: don't do it.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

The birds on the baize

To 'celebrate' Hallowe'en here's something that has nothing to do with it. This is from about the same period as the last drawing, but has nothing to do with that either.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

A laugh in blue and yellow

This drawing is probably from around the turn of the century (this century). It represents an absence of colour-sense, or maybe just an absence of sense.
Sorry about the lack of work here at the moment. Things will change soon (or so I've been told by a cricket).

Monday, 5 October 2009


Nonstick is coming unstuck (but not like Billy Pilgrim).
Discerning viewers, if there are any left, may have noticed a gradual decline in the quality of posts on this blog; an absence of snappy ideas and well-honed puns - to wit: no wit. There are many reasons for this (I can think of three already) which I won't go into. It seems sensible, therefore, to take a break before things get any worse (pages from my sketchbook may have been next), and think about a new plan. For a while I'll just post the occasional drawing and see where it goes from there.
Thank you for visiting Toys'r'ubbish.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Star wars

This is the third in my series of drawings from my 'Nonstick Possibles' folder that have stayed there, unblogged, for a year or two in the hope of being rethought and redrawn. I liked the idea of this one but felt the drawing wasn't right for it.
Sometimes an idea is not quite enough on its own and needs something added to it to give it a more interesting dynamic. You can usually do that with a title, but often it has to do with the drawing itself.
This one implies the star has been shot out of the sky (hence 'star wars'), but the 'extra' would have been about the context, ie. a beach, where starfish hang out. I may still redraw it and see if I can get something more engaging out of it.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Chick lit.

Another old Nonstick
drawing that didn't
get posted.
I seem to remember
I thought this one was
a bit too 'editorial'.

Friday, 2 October 2009


An old drawing
drawn when
I was drawing
one drawing
a day.
I can't recall
exactly why I
didn't post it,
but you may
be able to tell
by looking
at it.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Max: missive 5

The end.
I could go on posting these Max sequences until I get through the entire book, but I think I'd better put him back in his cage for a while and post something else. Blogs, after all, need variety - so I'd better go and find some.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Max: missive 1

Max again. This time he's trying to write a letter, which would seem fairly straightforward. Notice I'm posting these two at a time otherwise this sequence would last ten days, which is stretching it a bit too far. The final drawing, however, is well worth the wait.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Off the shelf: Bob Gill

I have a link to Bob Gill in that I was taught by an ex-student of his, and also by his ex-wife, Bobby. He's probably therefore my strongest influence.
These slipper-carrying dogs come from a job he did for Pirelli in 1965 when he was based in London and a third of Fletcher, Forbes, Gill. They're scanned from the book, 'Forget All The Rules You Ever Learned About Graphic Design. Including The Ones In This Book,' published by Watson-Guptill in 1981. Its dedication reads:
'If this book helps only one
designer get only one original
idea, then all the months
I spent putting it together
will not have been worth it.'
The book was my bible for a while (at a time when graphic design was treated as part of the cosmetics industry). It was full of the kind of unexpectedness that snaps you (temporarily at least) out of automatic thinking patterns. Gill's idea was that if you ignore what you already know and focus exclusively on the problem you're working on, redefining it according to its unique attributes, you can't help but come up with a unique solution. He illustrates this with his own work.
These dogs have the caption:
Original problem:
Counter display for slippers.
What can hold a slipper and be fun to look at?
So you could call them a bad illustration of his 'method'. However, the idea is terrific and one of my favourites and, no matter how familiar to anyone who's ever flicked through a book on the history of graphic design, it's still worth seeing again.
There are a couple of interviews with Bob Gill here (Eye) and here (Graphis), and a biography here (Art Directors Club).

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

It's only a mouse... won't hurt you. In fact it's not even a mouse. It's just an old drawing which was once ironed onto a shirt, just above the pocket.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Max: Dressing up 5

Paint? What cunning plan is the Hamster up to now? Find out same time, same place, same - tomorrow, when all will be revealed...

Friday, 18 September 2009

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Max: Dressing up

Time for another slow motion dose of Max. This sequence was my favourite when I was small, because of the transformation at the end, but we'll get to that... in five days.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Off the shelf: W Steig

This drawing, 'Ma'aruf, the poor cobbler, is tormented by Fatimah, his shrewish wife.' is by William Steig and appeared in the New Yorker in 1989, in a series called 'Scenes from the Thousand and One Nights,' introducing colour to the editorial pages of the magazine for the first time since 1926.
Steig started as a cartoonist for the New Yorker in 1930 and produced over 1600 drawings and 121 covers. In his sixties he added a new career as a children's book author and illustrator, and is perhaps most famous for the story of Shrek! He died in 2003 at the age of 95. A full biography can be found on the William Steig website.
Steig's career covered 70 years and he produced an extraordinary range of work, some of which I find difficult to appreciate, and some I like very much indeed, such as this drawing. It's scanned from 'The World of William Steig' by Lee Lorenz from 1998, which collects together the full gamut of his work. Many of his New Yorker drawings can be found at Cartoonbank.
Ma'aruf the Cobbler is one of those stories from The Thousand and One Nights that never really caught on in the West. The plot is roughly as follows: Ma'aruf escapes from his nagging wife to a faraway city where he pretends to be a wealthy merchant awaiting the arrival of his caravan of riches and is offered the daughter of the Sultan's hand in marriage. After many adventures, including being found out, the discovery of an underground chamber full of treasure, the reappearance of his nagging wife, a magic ring and Jinns galore, the invented caravan actually turns up, and they all (except the baddies) live happily ever after.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Field guns

With plenty of hammunition.

There are eight million cartoons about swine flu, and this has been one of them.
Bang on time as usual.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Max: Duck supper 6

When I called this Duck supper, I meant Duck! Supper!
So ends a Maxism. Pretty much straight slapstick in the end, albeit in slow motion. Perhaps this isn't entirely typical of the Max canon, but I thought it would be a good one to start off with. More to follow soon, but not soonami.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Max: Duck supper 5

You would have thought that he would have plucked it first, but apparently that's not what hamsters do.
Last one of this sequence tomorrow - the denouement. The suspense is building to fever-pitch.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Max: Duck supper 4

After four days a duck finally appears. I can't help thinking there ought to be adverts between these drawings.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Monday, 7 September 2009

Max: Duck supper 2

Hmm, he's lit his fire and got his pan ready. What's he doing with that gun?
Tune in tomorrow for another exciting episode of 'Max and the Duck Supper'! (I wonder if the title is giving away the plot).

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Max: Duck supper 1

This is no.1 of a series of six, where Max is in cowboy mode. Sit back as Nonstick goes into slow motion.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Off the shelf: Giovannetti

If any book has influenced me to end up as a cartoonist it must be this one, 'The Penguin Max', published in paperback by... Penguin, in 1962. It belonged to my dad and it sat on a shelf behind glass, in his bureau, among various highbrow books on Plato, Emerson, Shakespeare, etc. It must have been a gift from someone as my dad was hardly a cartoon fan - it was the only cartoon book in the house when I was a young child.
If I was careful with it and had clean hands I was allowed to sit quietly and 'read' it, usually at Christmas. In it's pages were silent stories of a hamster called Max trying his hand at various activities, usually getting over-excited and ending up the worse for it, though now and then coming out on top. Many of the stories, and Max himself, made me laugh out loud, and still do.
'Max' is by Pericle Luigi Giovannetti. I can find nothing about him on the internet, and yet he created one of the best characters in cartoonland. In the front of the book is a biography of Max:

Max was born in Punch, London, in April 1952. Before his tenth birthday he had achieved an international reputation and is particularly well known in Great Britain, the United States, and Japan (where he passes under the name of Mr Makkusu-san). After service in the R.A.F., in which he reached the honorary rank of pilot officer, he transferred to the Royal Navy and was appointed mascot to H.M.S. Birmingham in 1953. In 1957 he was an honorary member of the Mount Kenya Expedition and that year, in order to underline his neutrality, joined the Swiss Air Force as heraldic beast of Jet Fighter Squadron No. 21. In 1958 he was placed on Enzo Ferrari's desk.
Max receives and deals with innumerable letters from his public in almost every country of the world. In addition to the present volume he has also published Max, Nothing but Max, and Max Presents, which he edited. Max receives minor assistance, such as drawings etc., from Pericle Luigi Giovannetti, who lives at Ascona in Switzerland.

... and that's it. If anyone knows anything more please let me know.
I should warn you that this blog may, for a while, become the Max Appreciation Society. Over the next few days I'm going to post, perversely perhaps, a single drawing a day of one sequence. Then follow that up occasionally with other sequences. I know it would be more intelligent to post whole sequences at once but each drawing is worth seeing large and you won't have to click on it to see it properly - and it will take up more days for this blogger, who is struggling to find new things to post from an ever-dwindling supply of material... So there.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Off the shelf: Sempé again already

As a sort of fill-in today, due to lack of preparation, here's a drawing which shows another aspect of Sempé. It comes from 'Displays of Affection', published in the UK by Methuen in 1982, and it probably has one of the longest captions in cartoon history (translated by Edward Koren):

'It would have been wonderful if you were a poor and sick artist when I met you. I would have taken care of you. I would have helped you all that I possibly could. We would have had discouraging times but we would have had wonderful ones, too. To the best of my powers, I would have protected you from the daily problems of life so that you could devote yourself completely to your art. And little by little you'd have become known. You would have become a great artist, admired, respected, adored; and one day you would have left me for a younger and prettier woman. It's for that I'll never forgive you.'

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Off the wall: J O Héron

My brother picked this up somewhere on his travels when he was in the Navy. He thought it would appeal to me, and it does - it's been on my wall for years. It's called 'Comment naissant les bateaux' or 'How the boats learn to float' and it's by Jean Olivier Héron, part of his Metamorphoses series. He has a site selling his work here, but there's precious little information about the man himself and some of the page links don't work.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Off the shelf: Peynet

This drawing is from the book 'L'amour' by Raymond Peynet, published by Penguin, in paperback, in 1964. Peynet's work is just a little bit too soppy for my taste. When I did a lot of work for women's magazines, some years ago, my own drawings were once described to me as 'twee', but this guy was in another class altogether. Peynet's famous couple, Les Amoureux, is shown here sheltering from harp strings, and I have to admit it's the only drawing in the book I can appreciate without the aid of a sickbag. Tellingly his early work as an advertising designer involved illustrating chocolate boxes.
Here's a biographical sketch from the front of the book:

'Raymond Peynet was born in Paris in 1908. His first cartoon was published in the Boul'vardier, an English journal intended for English residents in Paris, when he was only twenty-two. He continued to illustrate books and publish cartoons until the war, since which his drawings have appeared in Ric & Rac, France-Dimanche, Ici-Paris, Le Rire, and, for the past ten years, in Lilliput, Men Only, and other journals in England, Germany and Denmark. He has also designed the décor fro a number of theatrical productions, including Love's Labour's Lost in French, and both décor and costumes for ballet, apart from numerous poster designs for films and advertising... Raymond Peynet married the original and only 'Elle' - an art student named Denise - and they live happily ever after, with their daughter, in a flat in Paris and a restored chateau in the south of France.'

Of course he didn't actually live forever, happily or otherwise. He died in 1999, three years after his wife. He's not on Wikipedia (the English language version), but you can read a more up-to-date biography in this Obituary from the Independent.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Analog dog

A canine
of non-
I don't
his name;
I didn't
ask him.