When Death ComesThis is a cartoon I was asked to do for a publication in Australia as a tribute to the recently late poet and friend John Pfitzner.John died in his sleep very suddenly a few weeks ago, and his passing has left all those of us who knew him reeling.I worked with John in my first full-time job in Adelaide at Openbook Publishers, where he was the senior editor. I was very junior at the time, but always found him to be a very warm and friendly person, with a terrific sense of humour.A couple years ago we connected again on Facebook, and it was great to hear his story of becoming a poet and getting published. He talked of his evolving spiritual journey and also said he enjoyed my cartoons very much. That was the last contact we had, although I often heard about his poetic endeavours through relatives back in Australia.Then, a few weeks ago, I got the shocking news. He had been at a Monday night discussion group with friends; talking, laughing and probably reading some of his new poetry. The next morning he didn't wake up. It was just one of those things.Those of us who are still coming to terms with his death can be grateful for the small but significant body of poetic work he left behind, especially for the window it gives into the heart and soul of a truly alive human being.One poem that is especially poignant is the one I paraphrased in the above cartoon. The full text of it is below. It speaks for itself, and gives great comfort to think that while his death was sudden and unexpected, he was totally ready for it.We will miss you John. Thanks for the time we were able to share with you on this earth, and for leaving so many heartfelt words behind to inspire us. Rest in peace.~ ~ ~ ~ ~When death comes1.When death comes,like a tradesman turning up at the door,apologising for not giving advance notice,or perhaps for having kept me waiting,I want to greet him as someone I've got to know over the years,whose sometimes crude methods I haven't always approved of,but whose crucial role in my life I've come to appreciate –without his work over eons,higher life forms couldn't have evolvedand I would never have been born.I don't want to make things hard for him;he'll be flat out, with bigger jobs to attend tothan disposing of me.2.When death comes,like a transcontinental train pulling in to the station –which I'll board without any carry-on luggage –I want to sit with my back to the engine,watching the receding scenery,enjoying the view before the darkness of the tunnel.I don't want to waste timespeculating about possible destinations.3.When death comes,like removalists parking their van in the street,come to take everything away,I want to already have given a fond farewell to a lifetime of acquisitions,happy to entrust them to others,knowing that not all will be loved and kept.I don't want to find, when everything else is gone,that my innermost cupboard is bare,swept clean of the abilityto be astonished, to be moved, to be human.- John PfitznerOctober 2012(An obituary for John by the South Australian Society of Editors can be found here.)
Ex-PopeA cartoon to mark the last day of Pope Benedict XVI's 'reign'. It must suck to be fallible again.Read the story here, and then tell me if you can spot the error in the cartoon.
Love FoolTo all the lovers – old and young, married or single, gay or straight – have a very happy Valentine's Day!Ignore the commercialism as much as you can and celebrate the love of your life.
OvergrownThis is not necessarily the funniest cartoon I've ever drawn, in my opinion, but it is kind of metaphorical for my life at the moment.Sometimes in life, you come to a point where you realize that it's time for a real change. You know you could go on doing the same thing you've done year after year, but you look back and see that it could become like this overgrown jungle of activity that has no order or purpose. It's life yes, but not one that's truly fulfilling.If this cartoon was to go on for one more panel, you might see Jeff taking a machete out of his briefcase and hack up all the overgrowth in his office and throw it out the window. Then he'd leave and never go back.I'm looking forward to this year more than any I have before. There are some exciting opportunities opening up for me right now to do more with cartoons than I ever have before and others that will stretch me in new ways.It's not necessarily going to be as safe and predictable as an 'Office Plant of the Month' subscription, but I know it's going be fun.
How's your year shaping up so far? Whatever your activity, whatever your bent, be sure to bring the wow.
As I get older, it seems like every year flies by quicker than the last. I don't think I'm alone in this experience! Let's take a hint from 2012 and see whether we can also take the time to slow down and enjoy life before it all flies by for good!
Wherever you are around the world, here's wishing you a happy 2013!
Fellas, can you relate? And ladies, feel free to adjust the name in the second speech bubble to accomodate your own particular inclinations.
Happy New Year!
Well, it's almost Christmas, so it's about time for a Christmas cartoon. Definitely one for the Joss Whedon fans out there.
This idea actually came out of a conversation that my son Ari and I had in the car the other day when we were spitballing for Christmas cartoon ideas, so he deserves a big writing credit. (The royalites are in the mail son!)
Have a superb Christmas everyone!
With the clock ticking down till 21 December 2012, global craziness is building about the Mayan calendar's "prediction" that the end of the world is nigh. High time I posted the above cartoon. After all, it's only got a life span of 14 days left before we realise (once again) that 'time' as a concept is entirely arbitrary and we actually live in an ever-present now.
Still, the Mayan calendar hoo-ha does prompt a good question ... If you did know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the world was going to end on a particular day, how would it change how you lived now?
NOTE: This cartoon is my own take on what's been a very popular topic with cartoonists in recent years, particularly the great Dan Piraro, author of Bizarro, who penned this very well known cartoon take on the Mayan calendar. His words in the accompanying blog post are great food for thought also, so do give it a read.
The HobbitWell, once again, New Zealand has Tolkien fever. What started over a decade ago with the release of the first of the Lord of the Rings films (which if you don't know by now were made here) is building to another crescendo today with the world premiere of the first in The Hobbit series of films.(Side note: I refuse to call it a trilogy, because it's not! The Hobbit is a single book and is just being split into three parts so they can get the most out of the story … right?)People living overseas might not quite get how insane the New Zealand media goes about these films. For a start, there's going to be almost four hours of live coverage of the red carpet event today, and no doubt many more pages to add to the glut of articles and information that's already clogging the newswires.This mania certainly happens partly because these films are just do damn good (IMO), but the phenomenon is also part of this strange mindset Kiwis where we don't seem to rate our own success or talent unless someone from offshore does so first. (Flight of the Conchords anyone?) Peter Jackson winning all those Oscars was possibly a clincher, but the self-doubt remains.On top of the expectation pile is the NZ Tourism campaign. While it's a pretty safe bet the films will do well, that's not stopping the NZ tourism industry from holding its breath to see if its 100% Middle Earth campaign will actually bring enough punters to our shores to justify the cash outlay for the ad campaign.All I can say to that, and anyone seeing the films is, believe the hype. Come and visit! I've lived here for 14 years now and still love the place. All the locations you see in the films are so accessible and beautiful; you should come and see them for yourself if you can. Then stop by Auckland and let's have a beer.Until such a time, happy Hobbit day!
Comic Jams II
The above cartoon is the second panel in another Comic Jam that's just been completed by me and a bunch of cartoonist friends on Twitter. While a reasonably serviceable gag on its own, you have to see the full 10 panel comic to get just how cool these things are. Click here to view it!
To read my lyrical waxing on the wonderfulness of Comic Jams, read this previous post. When you're finished, be sure to check out the web sites of all the other fantastic cartoonists from around the world who contributed to it. (See links below!)
@puckhogg4 - http://www.offseasoncomic.com/
@powertheatre - http://powertheatre.com
@thehistorytwins - http://www.thehistorytwins.com/
@noahdent - http://noahdent.tumblr.com/
@manydullknives - http://manydullknives.smackjeeves.com/
@bnystedt - http://www.atommag.net/
@jonscrazytweets - http://jonscrazystuff.blogspot.com/
@mcmoondog - http://slymoon.blogspot.com/
@starrelish - http://www.katdaycare.com/
@brybox - http://brybox.com/battlecroc/
Personal BrandingAs it's been such a busy week, I decided to dust off an old cartoon which I drew about two years ago for a motivational business booklet, and add some colour to it.I was reminded of it this week following a visit by a Coke van to my work office which gaily printed everyone and their friends a personalized can as part of their 'Share a Coke' campaign.Despite what you might think of Coke as a drink or a brand, they've certainly got it right with this campaign. There's nothing that we as humans like to see more than our own name.Are we all just narcissists at heart? Or is recognizing and valuing our personal identity a fundamental part of what makes us human? Food for thought perhaps.Meanwhile, here's some good food for thought (especially for my cartoonist's brain) on personal branding and what it is not, from Tom Peters.
The ol' day job has been extra busy this week. Can you guess why? Here's a hint.
History shows that since 1875, at last count, 2,671 people have swum the English Channel. In that same time, only one dedicated Shopping Channel has ever been launched in New Zealand.
That's pretty ambitious. "Titanium balls" is the phrase that's been used to describe what was needed to get it off the ground.
Love it or hate it, The Shopping Channel is here, and it's certainly been fun to be involved in its launch. Hence the cartoon.
And who knows? In 50 years' time, you may be able to purchase 'The Collected Works of Jim' in a massive hardcover coffee table book format from the Shopping Channel.
That's my ambition anyhow.
Happy birthday!Today is my birthday! But it is not just my birthday. I share the date with my son, who was born 12 years ago today. He was the best 26th birthday present a guy could ever get. I've always said it's great to share a birthday with him because it means that everyone focuses on him getting older, not me.I drew the above cartoon for his birthday last year, but just this week I heard a quote that encapsulates it, and the way I feel about him, beautifully and perfectly:“The iron in your blood, the calcium in your bones, the oxygen in your lungs each time you take a breath – all were forged in stars that lived and died before the Earth was born. You are stardust made flesh. You were literally made in heaven.” (Marcus Chown in the New Scientist)Happy birthday dear Ari! Happy birthday to us!
HerbaceousMy son sometimes gives me cartoon theme challenges. This week it was 'time travel'. I'm pretty happy with the result! It was fun to draw anyway. Especially the dinosaurs.So what geologic time period is this? Jurassic? Mesozoic? Cretaceous? No. It's the Herbaceous, of course!
Sad dayKiwis will understand the phrase 'turned to custard'. For everyone else, this will help.September 11 is always a sad day. Like everyone else, I remember exactly where I was on that terrible day when the Twin Towers fell. As the day wore on, it really felt like the whole world was turning to custard, forever.Today I add my thoughts to the millions of others that will recall the horrible events of 11 years ago. If we need to eat a bit of comfort food to get by, so be it. From here, let's keep taking care of each other, and working on making sure it never happens again.
Had to be done. It seems so obvious, another cartoonist has surely drawn this idea already. Anyone? Let me know if you find it.
Meanwhile, keep up with the progress of the Mars Curiosity Rover and it's fascinating mission here.
This one's for you @MegsStuart. Happy birthday!
OlympicsI freakin' love the Olympic Games.Since I was a boy living in Brisbane, Australia and experienced the Commonwealth Games in my home city, then seeing the spectacle of the 1984 Olympic Games (the first in my memory) I've held an undying fascination for the Olympiad.I love watching it on TV. I love seeing all the sports, familiar and unfamiliar. I love following all the athletes from my adopted country and barrack loudly for them when they compete. I keep track of the medal table and analyse the records and the stats. I love the drama of the competitions and seeing the glory and the heartache of the world's best athletes giving their all in their chosen sport.I also love to see almost every country in the world getting together in a stadium and battling things out at sports, rather than on a desolate plain somewhere with guns in their hands and hatred in their hearts.For two fleeting weeks every four years, it seems that humanity does actually live up to its potential and celebrate the fact that we are all one on this planet while simultaneously acknowledging that we are all different; from different countries and with different skills, talents and abilities.It's been an extra enjoyable event this time, with a good result for New Zealand, achieving arguably my adopted country's best result ever. The good natured ribbing of Australia (my country of origin) as they struggled to match previous medal hauls was fun too.Now, with one day to go of the 2012 London Olympics, I'm feeling the same gentle, happy melancholy I do at the end of every Games. However, the fleeting nature of the Olympics, like a bubble that bursts so soon after it's been created, is what makes it so special. (That's the point of the above cartoon, if you hadn't worked that out by now.)The idea of four years until the next event always makes me reflective. What will happen in the world between now and then? Will we, as a planet, ignore yet again the lesson from the Olympic Games that there are better ways of resolving our differences than by armed conflict?