Nice work if you can get it…


At the moment I seem to be doing an awful lot of drawing ( not a lot of awful drawing) under the watchful eye of Alan Fenemore’s big professional camera. There I am, surrounded by lights, fill-in lights, monitors, and small pieces of cardboard to remind me not to get my head in the way.

What we do is this. I meet a client and persuade him that life is no longer complete without a speed drawing mini-film to promote his company, product, service or event. He shouts hooray and the deal is done. I go away and write a script which is so utterly simple that even I understand it. I maintain that any story, no matter how technical or complex, can be told in a couple of minutes if it’s done properly – and boy, do we do it properly. (Yes we do.) Often the client has the nerve to add a bit of what he wants to say, and then I produce a storyboard – a sheet or two of cartoons showing how the programme will run. The soundtrack is recorded, normally at Steve’s Black Frog recording studio, and the result is checked by everybody. When this is all loved (or ok’d) by the client I get under Alan’s glitzy camera arrangement and redraw the cartoons, all in one sitting.

Job done, I buzz off to look for another lucky client, or to the pub, and Alan painstakingly goes through the footage (a bit like Spielsberg) and removes all the bits where I have hovered uncertainly over the paper, or stopped temporarily for a swig of tea, and speeds up the finished result in infinitely varying speeds to fit the voice-over exactly. He prefers to do all this alone, and strangely would prefer it if I didn’t help out. To ensure this he usually starts at about 7am. A guarantee that I won’t be there.

The other day I did one of my conference cartoon gigs for a lovely lot called the Investor Relations Society. During our preliminary meeting, when I said it would be handy to find out precisely what they do if I was to produce about 25 wise and witty cartoons chronicling the event, I happened to mention that I made these speed drawing cartoon films, and wouldn’t it be fab if we made one to put on their website to promote their annual conference. Guess what? They agreed, and the result was a neat little number which looked good on their website, helped to sell loads of tickets for this ultra-classy event, and looked especially fantastic when they showed it big screen to the 500 or so delegates, as a curtain-opener to the great day. I tried to start a ripple of applause, but that didn’t quite work. The lovely organisers of the event were very pleased with everything I’d done, as was I, and the main man’s daughter, who got a Duncan cartoon of her river dancing, was thrilled to bits.

So look at the Speed Drawing link on my website, and find out why I seem to be drawing away under Alan’s camera on a very frequent basis.

It beats graphic design into a cocked hat or whatever the expression is, and that’s been my living, with all the boring, fickle and undeserving clients, since I was a young lad. Give me Speed Drawing films, and conference cartoons anytime. They’re what I really am…