Category Archives: Cartoons

Things for which I am grateful #365/365.


Some folks might think this is a bit of a cheat. I started with my kids and I’m going to finish with them. In my defence, I have two of the little rascals so I’m counting it as one post apiece.

There is nothing more precious to me on this Earth than my two daughters. Anyone who has children will know that something changes inside of you – chemically, biologically – and nothing else seems to matter.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to every parent, and true, the pesky varmints do get on your nerves a lot of the time. And yes, they bicker constantly. And they manage to talk in a stream of consciousness James Joyce would be proud of. But, when all’s said and done, they don’t outweigh all the adorable moments. I simply couldn’t live without them.

It’s been an epic year of blogging. Thank you for sticking by me and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Right, I’m going for a lie down.

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Here are my 365 things that I am grateful for:

1 My daughters

2 Water

3 Poetry

4 Baths

5-7 Notebooks, pens, pencils

8,9 Butterflies and moths

10, 11 Softball and baseball

12 Fresh coffee

13 Sound / masts

14 Indoor toilets

15 Stepping Hill Hospital

16 Birds of Paradise

17 Roget’s thesaurus

18 Mother Earth

19 Clingfilm dispenser

20, 21 Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy

22 Jorge Luis Borges

23 Classic cars

24 Curry

25 Tim Berners Lee

26 Charles Bukowski

27 Yorkshire

28 Shiraz

29 Food

30 Katell Keineg

31 Tao Te Ching

32 A roof over my head

33 Peat fires

34 Street art

35 Friends (as in – mates, not the T.V. show)

36 Wilfred Owen

37 The Penguin Café Orchestra

38 The fry-up

39 Wolves

40 W.B. Yeats

41, 42 Cherry blossom trees and haiku poetry

43 Bread

44 Boules

45 Maps

46 Refuse collectors

47 Candy Chang

48 Sparrows

49 The tomato

50 Studio Ghibli

51 Oliver Jeffers

52 Johannes Gutenberg

53 Tom Waites

54 The cello

55 Mothers’ day

56 The Phoenicians

57, 58 Bacon and brown sauce

59 Tulips

60 Fish and chips

61 Giselle

62 Airfix

63 Firefighters

64 Rain

65 Libraries

66 Raymond Carver

67 Toulouse-Lautrec

68 The Goldfinch

69 Wings of Desire

70 Silence

71 Elizabeth Barrett Browning

72-99 Ireland

100 Talking Heads

101 Sylvia Plath

102 Yorkshire Sculpture Park

103 My mum

104 Modigliani

105 Kurt Vonnegut

106-128 Electricity

129 The pop man

130-147 Comedians/comedy

148 Commando magazine

149 Pastry

150-156 Social media

157 David Bowie

158 Football

159 D-Day

160-194 France

195-230 Novels

231 Graphic Design

232 Viva! Roxy Music

233 – 274 Art

275 Betty Blue

276 Writing

277 Joy Division

278 – 287 Scotland

288 – 324 Italy

325 – 352 Photography

353 Leeds Utd

354 Love

355 Universe

356 Advertising

357 Pan’s Labyrinth

358 – 363 Democracy

364 Miscellaneous

365 My daughters II

If anyone wants to read any of the previous posts simply type the title into the search box on the right. (It’s underneath the ‘topic’ cloud.)

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#148/365 Going Commando


Not that kind of commando, you smutty lot.

Commando, the kids comic.

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I didn’t get many hits when I did a post on the Airfix soldiers of my youth a few weeks ago, so I’m not counting on this one receiving very many either. I reckon you P.C. lot frown upon things that have a violent bent – and quite rightly so. I don’t let my kids play with TMDs. (Toys of Mass Destruction.) That said, my youngest – whose birthday is coming up – did ask for an AK47 and a visa for Ukraine for some reason.

However, growing up in the 60s and 70s was a very different ball game and it was considered the norm.

I used to buy Commando magazine every fortnight and relished the tales of bravery and courage under seemingly impossible odds. Come to think of it, that’s all they were ever about – chisel-jawed commandos outwitting dastardly Nazi dummkopfs. Or, Spitfire Ace, down to his last bullet and some harsh language, versus the entire German Luftwaffe. (Guess who won?)

I loved the artwork. (Not dissimilar to the illustrations on the Airfix packaging.) The covers were illustrated in glorious colour, whilst the story strips were in bold black and white.

I used to have hundreds of these magazines. Wonder what ever happened to them. I bet some would be worth a few bob nowadays.

Of course, I think it’s completely perverse to glorify and glamorise war these days. But, like I say, ’twas a different world.

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On a separate note – thank you to all you lovely readers from all around the world who have helped There Is No Cavalry reach over 100,000 hits! I am extremely grateful.

 

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Waltz with Bashir.


I watched this rather haunting movie today, called Waltz with Bashir. It was written and directed by Ari Folman about his own experiences as an Israeli soldier in the 1982 war with Lebanon.

The basic premise is that Folman has no memory of the events surrounding the massacre of Palestinians at the hands of the Christian Phalange in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

Years later, Folman is plagued by hallucinations and nightmares, but can’t decipher what these might mean. So he embarks on a journey of self-discovery by contacting members of his old army unit to try and piece back his memory of the horrific event, and the role he, and his unit, played in it.

It’s spine tingling stuff. Exquisite animation makes it all the more surreal and poignant.

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And while we’re on the subject, head over to Amazon and buy my book please. It’s called Love is Blood. Thank you.

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Top 10 bestest kids’ films of all time – ever!


So, just to recap: We’ve had love films, sci-fi and war movies.

Next up – kids’ films. This could be the hardest one of all as there are so many brilliant movies out there aimed at Tranquilityslayers. Particularly from the studios of Pixar, Dreamworks, Aardman and Ghibli.

It’s a toughy as I could pick ten Studio Ghibli movies in a heartbeat. But where would that leave that dastardly Gru of Despicable Me fame?

If you’re a grown up and you don’t have Walletsuckers then you might not have seen most/any of these flicks. But, I can assure you, there’s nothing childish about them. If you love a good movie, then you’ll love these.

I’m not sure my kids will agree with me. But what do they know.

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A classic tale originally penned by Rudyard Kipling. Mowgli – a man-cub, is brought up by wolves and then ordered to return to the man-village for his own protection because Shere Khan, aka “Stripes”, is the tiger who wants a piece of him. Or, more accurately, several pieces. But Mowgli wants to stay in the jungle much to his escort’s dismay – Bagheera the panther. Cue – Baloo the sloth-bear, who has got to be the coolest bear that there ever was. Some banging tunes that I can still sing all the words to today. Much to my kids’ embarrassment.

shrek_01You could pick any one of the five Shrek movies in the franchise, as they are all cracking yarns. I think my favourite would have to be the second when Latin Lothario, Puss in Boots, makes an appearance, voiced by Antonnio Banderas. Eddie Murphy is brilliant as Shrek’s unwanted sidekick. While Cameron Diaz plays the ass-kicking Princess Fiona. Great characters and great to see that ugly is the new beauty.

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Another character voiced by Mike Meyers. I love the Dr Seuss books. Fantastically surreal tales with exquisite rhymes. Myers does justice to the mischievous feline with just enough adult humour thrown in for good measure. Thing 1 and Thing 2 are on hand to add mayhem and contradiction into the mix. Which is precisely why I now refer to my two children by those monikers.

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What happens to superheroes when their services are no longer required by the govt.? They’re put on the scrapheap like the rest of us. But the govt. didn’t manage to put the villains on the scrapheap. Cue – Mr Incredible making an unsuccessful middle-aged comeback. Cue2: Mom and the kids have to save the day. And the world.

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What happens to dysfunctional experiments that have gone wrong? They’re locked away by the govt., of course. (Again.) Until the earth is about to be destroyed by an evil alien overlord who wants his quantonium back that has turned the would-be-bride, Susan into Ginormica. Then, said ‘mutants’ are released to do battle with the alien invaders. Reluctant heroine, Susan, has to galavanise the hapless crew together to defeat the despotic Gallaxhar.

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Again, you could pick any one of the wonderful Aardman-created Wallace and Gromit movies. I’m going to plum for “A close shave”.  W&G have to foil a dastardly plot by the evil robodog to turn sheep normally bred for wool, into dog meat. Dum, dum – duuuurrrrhh.

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At the heart of most of these movies is a great idea. And here’s another – a parallel world inhabited by monsters who access our world via kids’ bedroom closets in order to steal their screams. Which they need in order to convert into energy to power their world. Monstropolis is turned to chaos when a human-child gets into their world thanks to the evil ‘Randal’ who wants to kidnap kids to extract more energy from them. Fortunately, Sully and Mike, (John Goodman and Billy Chrystal), are on hand to bring normality back to Monstropolis. And who could forget the company motto: We scare because we care.

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Wall-E could conceivably make it into 3 out of the 4 categories: kids, romance and sci-fi. I love this movie. Probably because I can empathise with the low-tech, no-hope, love-struck, fool of a robot who will do anything for the love of his life – the high-tec probe sent to earth – Eve.

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I could fill all ten slots with the movies from Studio Ghibli. But alas, I shall have to pick one for representative purposes. Spirited Away is a surreal tale about a girl who gets transported into a spirit world and must battle said spirits in order to escape and save her parents from being permanently turned into pigs. Exquisite animation. It was this or Ponyo.

despicable_me_final_posterYou guessed it, my number one – Despicable Me. Supervillain – Gru will do anything to steal the moon. Including adopting three orphaned girls. But his heart is melted when he actually begins to care for them. Lovely co-performance from Dr Nefario voiced by Russell Brand. Not forgetting high praise too for Gru’s adorably mischievous Minions.

There we are now, not a nauseatingly disproportionate princess in sight. Well, Princess Fiona is a little bit disproportionate – but in a good way.

Notable worthy exceptions: Toy Story; Up; Chitty, Chitty, Bang-Bang; Willy Wonka; Nanny McPhee; Brave; Tangled; Megamind; Ponyo… I could go on.

What’ve I missed? Let me know your favourites.

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Perfection


To achieve perfection takes trial and error.

If others are involved in your task, they may see your experimentation as indecision.

Ignore that gnawing urge to placate them for an easier life, and press on with your goal.

Only then, will you hope to attain something that you can be 85 – 90% satisfied with.

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The Boating Party – with Eoin Coveney


Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Well, it’s been a while…

Welcome to the first Boating Party interview of 2013.

The Boating Party is a series of interviews with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, illustrators, designers and the like.

In times of economic hardship, the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are the most important aspect of our civilisation. Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy. Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society.

To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

And perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where’s the creativity that will solve the world’s problems? Including economic and scientific ones?

First up, in this luckiest of lucky years, is Graphic Artist, Eoin Coveney

Eoin Coveney

Eoin Coveney

What’s your greatest personal or career achievement?

Working with, and being mentored by, the late Will Eisner.

What’s been your greatest sacrifice?

I really can’t think of one. Maybe I sacrificed some of my social life working in a solitary environment?

To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

I owe Steve McManus of 2000AD for giving me a meeting many years ago even though it was against their policy.

Who and what inspire you?

European masters of the graphic novel such as  Moebius and Cam Kennedy.
Music and cinema also.

What was the last thing that inspired you?

Drawing a 6- page comic strip written by Gordon Rennie. It was a politics / zombie satire which was a joy to work on.

What makes you unhappy?

Lack of enthusiasm.

What makes you happy?

Trust.

What are you reading?

Nothing right now. My last was “A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson.

Who, or what, are you listening to?

Lots of dark ambient right now.

What’s your favourite film?

Impossible to narrow it down. “The Host” is pretty close to perfect.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I’d probably be too worried about getting stuck there so I would stay here given the choice.

What frightens you?

Laziness.

What do you do to relax?

Noodling around on my microKorg.

What do you do when you’re angry?

Scream into a pillow.

What can’t you live without?

I would say music.

What’s your motto?

Keep on learning and improving.

What’s your Utopia?

Probably West Cork in August.

If you only had one year to live what would you do?

Six months frenzied work, three months of traveling and another three months of relaxing with friends and loved ones.

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

Probably Damien Hirst because he doesn’t feel the need to manufacture and craft his own art.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Howard Marks.

 What are you working on at the moment?

“American Caesar”, a graphic novel written by Neil Kleid.

What is your ambition?

To work hard on cool projects with brilliant people.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I’d like to turn down the dial on human greed a good few notches.

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

Fiancée, parents, 3 close friends… no celebrities!

What would be on the menu?

Greek food.

What question would you liked me to have asked?

“What’s it all about?”

Thank you, Eoin.

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Artist’s statement:

I have been illustrating professionally for 14 years. 
For the first ten of those years, I worked mostly on
 the pre-production phase for many of Dublin’s top
 advertising agencies. Producing
storyboards & visuals for hundreds of campaigns.


In 2005  I joined the Illustrators Guild of Ireland,
 and since then have broadened my range of styles 
and disciplines. These days, my work is split pretty
 evenly between illustration for ad campaigns,
 book covers and interiors, press and magazine
 work as well as pre-production work.
 Private commissions also undertaken.

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I have a dream too, you know.


True, it may not be as ambitious and world-changing as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s. But it’s a dream nonetheless.

To be honest, I wasn’t going to post about it until I felt I was in more of a position to realise this dream. But short of winning the Euro Millions Lottery, it aint going to happen without some serious philanthropic backer.

So, what is my dream?

Well, it’s to build a School of Arts for under-privileged kids.

Kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds in large inner-city estates. Kids who might not ordinarily get the opportunity to explore the more creative aspects of their nature.

What good would that do society? We’re in a depression, don’t you know!

Problems in every field of human endeavour are virtually always solved by creative thinking. Even the great Albert Einstein said so himself. Creativity allows us to look at problems from different angles and apply new thinking to solve problems.

Moreover, I don’t see it as a school that produces an unprecedented amount of artists. But an unprecedented amount of creative thinkers – whichever vocation they choose to pursue later in life. Whether it be mathematics, science, business, computers, product design, or economics.

And yes, a few more more artists too. And what’s wrong with that? Art is seen as a dirty word in this country. If I tell people I write poetry, they shift uneasily in their seats. If I said I write poetry in Ireland the response would be a polite smile and a nod toward the back of the queue.

Do you think the first rocket flight to the moon was dreamed up by a scientist?

Sure, scientists and engineers made it a reality. But it is creative people who come up with the ideas and the original solutions of how they can be achieved.

What will the kids do?

The school will develop and encourage creative thinking and self-expression.

It will foster, nurture and encourage exploration of the arts in all its many and varied forms including: painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, poetry, literature, screenplays, theatre, drama, dance, music, design, digital arts, film, photography, humanities, languages, and the classics.

Where is this school?

I quite fancy the idea of transforming a derelict Victorian mill. There’s something quite ironic about that. Though it certainly wouldn’t be a prerequisite. (Salts Mill in Bradford is a good example.)

Initially, an inner-city campus close to urban populations that have a high level of low socioeconomic families. Basically, anywhere across the Manchester – Huddersfield – Halifax – Leeds belt. It’s also sufficiently ‘central’ enough to accommodate children from further afield.

It would also be good to have a rural retreat – somewhere like the Lake District, Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales, where children can attend week-long courses/classes which double up as a holiday.

I would also like to open an international sister school in India or Sri Lanka where people from distinctly different cultures can share ideas. These schools could also participate in exchange programmes. (Then subsequently, even further afield: China, South America, South Asia.)

What about science subjects?

This school wouldn’t be a replacement for existing schools and their curricula – more of an extension to them.

Would it exclude people from non low socioeconomic backgrounds?

Not at all. But opportunities for middle-class families in other schools are much more accessible, regardless of ability.

Intake for low income kids would be based as much on desire and enthusiasm to participate rather than ability. There would be a limited number of places for more affluent children. Sort of like Eton – in reverse.

What kind of courses will it run?

Day-long workshops for visiting schools.

After-school classes.

Week-long courses. (Which would include accommodation for traveling students.)

Weekend classes.

Full-time sixth form courses. (A-levels.)

Masters and PhD courses.

What ages are we talking about?

Key Stage 2, up to, and including, sixth form.

Undergraduate, Masters and PhD courses.

What else does the school have?

Apart from studios and classrooms?

There’d be accommodation for students who are visiting from further afield.

Cafe / restaurant.

Gallery to promote and sell students’ work.

Gallery featuring independent contemporary and traditional art.

Masterclasses from guest lecturers.

State of the art library. (Both on and off-line.)

Book shop.

Art-house cinema.

Who will pay for it?

Well, that’s the biggest question of all.

A like-minded philanthropist would be nice.

Arts Council grant.

Lottery funding.

A percentage of Masters and PhD students’ tuition fees could go towards funding.

Sales from restaurant and galleries.

Fundraising / donations.

An Ideal World School of Arts.

Salts Mill, Bradford.

David Hockney at Salts Mill.

Salts Mill interior.

Studio space?

Any constructive criticism and advice about how to get something like this funded and off the ground would be greatly appreciated.

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