Bloggomania and cow gum.


I’m moved to draw the above by postings by this chap which are well written and entertaining, worth a look. Jon Beckett

I’ve been busy re-discovering fun of glueing. It may be worth recounting here exactly how I do my drawings. They are drawn straight onto layout paper which is kind of paper that will allow you to see the page below, not tracing paper but similar but a lot more opaque. So quick first rough is done on this and then the second done over the first and so on until I get to the final drawing. So it’s done in layers, a sort of photoshop type of working that I’ve been using for years. All those years ago photoshop was just somewhere you could buy a camera.

My methods are born out of doing layouts and visuals for advertising in my early days and storyboards for tv commercials. The paper is cheap and the method of working is good with markers as layout paper is made for markers. Once the final piece is done , I’d then glue this layout paper to board, this was later changed to paper as the drawings would need to be rolled onto a drum scanner. In those days all I did was the final drawing and the only equipment I needed were the pens ( I use something called a Pentel Sign Pen, not expensive ) and the magic markers ( which were and still are ). I no longer use magic markers as most of my work is black and white, anything with colour on it will have been done digitally these days. Today, one is expected to scan one’s own work, and of course to produces digital files to supply the artwork. When I tell people that I used to send my original drawings on the train to be collected by the client at the other end, they give me that quizzical look as if I should be looking for my carer.

Below is the first rough for the drawing above, in this case, simple idea and drawing and I have drawn that doctor patient thing a few times in my career, so no messing. One rough and then the final from it.


The glueing of the final drawing was usually done with “Cow Gum”. It was not as some people might think, made from cows, but was invented by a Mr P B Cow. It was essentially a rubber solution glue which one spread over the back of the paper, and if you wanted a very firm hold over the receiving card too. Placing the final piece onto the receiving card could be tricky as any misplaced paper would stick quite firmly and air pockets could be a problem but practice made perfect and most things could be repaired.

Cow gum no longer exists, it was replaced to a great extent by spray mount adhesive, which used the same sort of adhesive: sprayed! This was supposed to be progress, but of course health and safety soon got onto the idea that this might not be that healthy and someone else invented glue booths to take excess spray away from your nearest and dearest, or anyone in the wrong place when the button was squeezed. I dislike the stuff, lamenting the demise of Mr Cow’s fine product, itself no doubt a major hazard of some sort, as were those magic markers. A few hours working in a windowless room with cow gum and magic markers and you’d think you’d been using magic mushrooms.

Well, good news, thanks to the internet I’ve found a replacement product for Cow Gum, and it’s called Studio Gum! It has the same sort of design on the tin and I’ve been joyfully mounting a load of drawings this week. Cow Gum used to give off fumes and was best used in a well ventilated room, this new stuff is just as noxious! I’ve had to choose a dry day when all the windows could be open when applying the solution.This new stuff performs very much like the old cow I used to use, so now am working on a series of drawings that can be properly finished off at last. One of the key things about cow gum was you could make what was called a ‘cow gum rubber ‘ by spreading a bit on a window and then just rolling it up, this is then used to take any excess gum off the drawing or surrounding paper, that’s what that big lump of stuff looking like ectoplasm is on top of the tin!

I’m hoping to put together some little movies in the New Year to demonstrate my working methods, so that others can try them out. “The Joy of Cow Gum”, I bet you can’t wait.





Look out for forking lifters.


Listening tonight to the radio I heard someone saying that Monet spent ten years working on some of his paintings, well this idea is at least ten years old and was intended for a campaign on safety at work. I’ve resurrected it as it was a good idea then, and a good idea now. If it’s good enough for Monet then it’s good enough for me.

There was a time not that long ago when I worked at a factory where a young lady used to drive the fork lift. She was a bit of an expert but as mad as a hatter. In the male dominated world of fork lift driving she was a bit of an unusual item, and it was her habit to wind up the lorry drivers that looked concerned about her approaching their trucks. She did this at some speed, as if she had no control over the fork lift whatsoever.

One of them had the temerity to ask her if she was ‘used to driving that thing’. Her reply got him even more wound up. ” Dunno mate, am just on day release!” she shouted to him as she reversed erratically towards the factory entrance.

She was actually one of the best forking lifters around.



Signs of trouble or mirth?

I’m keen on signs that don’t quite seem right and here are some I’ve caught up with recently. Hairdressers have a habit of giving their businesses comic signs and this one caught my eye in Victoria, London. For anyone outside the UK, Ryan Air is a local budget airline with a reputation for charging for blowing your nose, so this link does not seem such a good idea.


I’ve been walking past this shop for the last couple of years and perhaps just as well, I’d rather not run into Kim until I know exactly what she nails.

Kim nails

I’ve also got a thing about the overuse of exclamation marks and this sample really does take the biscuit, or the raw fish. This is the local Sushi bar – it’s only food, uncooked.


Then there’s this. For those cyclists amongst you , you can be sure you’ll be safe in Cheltenham. We have designated cycle lanes. This one is about 15 metres long and by the time you’ve got on your bike at one end, it will be the bitter end at the other, so best get off. Stay safe.



Rough seas again, eighteen days later.

So here we are eighteen days later and ‘Rough Seas Rough’ got a little more finished, but not completely. Sometimes there’s a temptation to over finish, and when does a cartoon become an illustration. For me they are always cartoons these days. I’ll work on this drawing and it will be interesting to see if it gets better or worse.

This drawing reveals my fear of small boats out at sea. I used to go on holiday to North Wales and could never understand the attraction that people had to set out to sea in what seemed to me to be extremely small boats. At least these two have their lifebelts on, but one suspects the motor has failed and he’s not making much headway with the rowing. Let’s be positive, someone in the lighthouse will have called the coastguard and ruddy-faced lifeboatmen will soon be on hand to rescue them, so that they can do the same thing tomorrow. Heave to!


OooopsHealth and safety, there it is in a nutshell. There’s nothing really very funny about slipping with a hot cup tea but somehow a cartoon makes it seem ‘different’. A little like the violence on Tom and Jerry, it’s not quite the same. I’ve done a lot of cartoons on ‘health and safety’ over the years and this one dates back quite a few years, so many that I forget who the client was.Probably a building company that used to commission cartoons about safety for them. I hope that they had some effect or someone’s slipped up.