Random Jottings & Return of The Gag Machine

Monday, so time for one of those general rambling blog posts, which isn’t about any of the big issues of the day but my outlook, plans for the week, and where I am.

First of all: still in lockdown. Admittedly, it’s largely because my ordinary life wouldn’t look hugely different to non-lockdown life, though it is the kind of day I would probably nip out for a coffee and perhaps a book. The R rate around here is supposedly still high, though I don’t know what that means. I checked a map on The Guardian which shaded the various areas in degrees of purple showing how bad they were. St Helens had the deepest purple on the map. A 100% rise in cases in the past week… I then delved into the figures. There were 6 cases last week, only 3 the week before. This compared ridiculously with places around Essex where there were substantial declines but still cases in the many hundreds. All of which makes a case for ignoring the shading and looking at the raw data.

Second, there are plans for a podcast this week, so I’ll be pencilling one day aside for that. Every other day will be writing in the day, drawing in the evening. Or that’s my plan.

Which means today is the day I want to get back to drawing some cartoons. I’ve submitted a few more to magazines, though haven’t heard back, but I aim to continue sending them. I received a compliment from a knowledgeable stranger this morning so that fills me with a little more of the confidence that had been so badly lacking. Plus, I opened my emails to discover that I’ve been gifted some coffees by another reader. I really can’t express how grateful I am, especially when I have so few readers. I’d much rather have a few who really enjoy this blog than many who treat it casually, and you can’t show your appreciation better than the coffee route…

Lastly, my weekend was a wipe out. As often happens when I stop working, I completely crash. I’ve been writing every day for months, drawing non-stop since the lockdown began. This was my first “holiday”, by which I mean I played some games (Journey to the Savage Planet) and binged on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. After my rewatch of Community, I needed a new comedy and this is now my current favourite. Very different to Community, much less ambitious with a broader sense of comedy, but not in a bad way. Perfect binge material.

One of the things I did do during my holiday was to reinstall Microsoft’s Visual Studio onto my PC. I’ve been planning on tinkering with a piece of software I’d written a few years ago which I’ve recently been finding useful. I called it “The Gag Machine” and I was pretty proud of it at the time. It’s designed to throw up random words/situations/gag styles, to help get the brain working. It looks like this. The big box of random words is probably its most useful feature. I find lots of good cartoon ideas lurking in there (click on image to make it bigger)…

In the spirit of madcap professor types, I’m definitely in the “not quite perfected it” school of invention. Opening up my long Word document, I see I have the last “ideas” I wrote down before my break. It doesn’t give me a lot to work with this morning…

King Wobble Burp

Beard Meanings

War Fairy

Carboard Cyril

Sphincter energy

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Why Dunciad.com?

It’s a cool domain name and it was available. Yes, I know. Available. Crazy, isn’t it?


Yes. It also helps that it’s also my favourite satire written by Alexander Pope, one of the most metrically pure English poets who also knew his way around a crude insult or two. If you’ve not read it, you should give it a try.

So this is satire, right?

Can’t deny it. There will be some. But it’s also an experiment in writing and drawing, giving work away for free in order to see how many people are willing to support a writer doing his thing. It’s the weird stuff that I wouldn’t get published elsewhere in this word of diminishing demands and cookie-cutter tastes.