The successful career as a cartoonist I never had.


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Ever since I can remember I have doodled…and when I was too young to doodle I scribbled and even before that, I dribbled (actually that last one probably isn’t relevant…sorry).  This habit continued throughout the whole of my school career and beyond.  I did listen at school mind you, most of the time, except of course when my maths teacher felt it necessary to try to force us to learn how to correctly calculate and size up underwear for bacteria.  I didn’t even realise algae wore bras.  See, I did listen sometimes…didn’t I?

Suffice it to say, I would have had to be pretty bad at scribbling for it to have been worse than my ability to either listen…or to write gags.  And so it was that I began to develop my own style of drawing and also began to script some single panel gags and the odd comic strip.  Over a number of years I continued to draw and, over time, I adapted and improved slightly.  I never did submit any of my cartoons which explains partly why you’ve never heard of my cartoony exploits, well that and the fact that I never did achieve a standard which I was fully satisfied with.

I never was able to get the pictures on the paper to meet the standard of the pictures in my head.  I was never able to portray quite the emotion I wanted or the feeling of movement and was never able to do so with so few lines as you’ll see in some of the greatest cartoonists’ works.  After a while I grew somewhat despondent about this and, having never been trained to draw and also having watched too many years slip past me, I decided to finally send my drawing board into retirement.

As anyone who has ever drawn, painted, danced, sung, acted, knitted etc. will testify, once the creative hunger hits, it stays with you until it is satisfied.  Whilst I was considering giving up drawing I revisited an idea I’d had several years earlier to write a novel.  And, though I still only write for fun and not for profit, I am much happier with my writing than I ever was with my doodles.

I recently stumbled across some of my old pictures and the other day showed a friend of mine who said that I should have done something with them.  ‘Binned’ is what I assumed she meant but, either way, I have decided to inflict them on others in my blog so…here goes.  This is a small selection of some of my work. (Some of the black and white versions here were coloured later on with an art package.)

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I always liked the “No, I didn’t say ‘Twang’.  I thought you said it!” gag, one given to me by my brother Jim.

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For those of you who ever considered becoming a writer, painter, musician, the standard you need to reach is the one you set for yourself.  Be realistic about it (and its’ ability to earn you money if need be) but, at the same time, set your own bar.  The one person you need to impress is yourself and, if you’re not happy with it, if the hunger is still there then keep at it, but if you never seem to be able to paint that desired master piece, then perhaps, after you’ve given it long enough, you should consider putting down the brush and picking up a pen, or gently rest the violin back down into its’ case and throw a lump of clay onto a table instead.  For me, that time wasn’t wasted.  It helped me gain enough life experience to be able to learn to say what I really wanted to.  And I may not be the best writer in the world, who am I to judge, but at least I know that I tried, failed, regrouped and tried again…and what do you know, nowadays I’m still doodling in children’s books but this time they’re the children’s books that I’m writing myself and, cos I’m all growed-up now, these days I get to call them illustrations.

If you have any, questions, feedback or views, please feel free to leave them in the comments section or, alternatively, contact me via

ned@thewayofthesquirrelbooks.com