Friday, February 27, 2004

Website update 

It's still very much a work in progress but I've done enough fiddling about with my website now to expose it to my enormous worldwide audience of about half a dozen. Mainly I've added a few sample images from the various small press books I've cobbled together over the last six years or so and (hopefully) improved the overall presentation. So take a look and let me know if it doesn't work at all with your browser (I won't know what to do about it but you can tell me anyway).

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


The other night I had a dream about my paternal grandfather, who died nearly 17 years ago (I can remember roughly when it was because the funeral was on my 19th birthday). I don't, in all honesty, remember him especially well though I do think of him whenever I'm doing an injustice to his chosen trade of carpentry. Whenever I butcher some innocent piece of wood to botch together a shelf I offer up a quiet apology to his memory. He took a pride in doing things right and the highest accolade that could be given to a thing in our family was for it to be described as having been made "to Grandad's standard".

As a child my brothers and I would sometimes be farmed out to one or other set of grandparents for babysitting duties (Nanna and Grandad in Croft on my father's side, Grandma and Grandad in Huncote on my mother's) and if we were at Croft we would sometimes get to attempt some bit of amateur woodwork in Grandad's workshop. I don't recall ever making anything of any note - I think most times I would make a boat that was little more than a block of wood sawn to a point at one end and with a pathetically shallow dip gouged out of the middle - but I remember it with fondness and the smell of sawdust always takes me back there.

I can't remember a thing about the dream I had, only that Grandad was there and I was pleased to see him.

Thursday, February 19, 2004


So anyway, a week or so ago, probably after listening to some of The Magnetic Fields' excellent 69 Love Songs, it occurred to me that I'd really like to get a ukulele. Not a George Formby-style banjo ukulele you understand but an Oliver Hardy singing Honolulu Baby-style ukulele, the sort that looks like an acoustic guitar that's shrunk in the wash. That, I thought to myself, would be a quirky and individual thing to do (in a self-consciously attention-seeking and rather pathetic sort of way). Then later that same day there was a report on Radio 4's Today programme featuring The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and rattling on about how ukuleles are the coming trend and soon every home will have one. Darn.

Still want one though. But I should probably try to resist the temptation of the rather gorgeous hand-made shiny nickel-plated resonator kind. For now at least.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Victory is mine! 

Hah! I have finally successfully fitted my new dynamo to my bike. It took a nearly two month long war of attrition to do so but it's on and it seems to work. Hurrah! For the record let it be known that normally I would not take quite so long to complete what ought to be a simple task but due to the absence of a solitary tiny grub screw (and the absence of any decent instructions that might have suggested that said grub screw should have existed and, indeed, formed a vital part of the electrics of the whole set-up) it took me a long while to realise what was wrong. Further obfuscation was provided by the various bits and pieces that were included but which serve no useful purpose whatsoever. However, having finally worked out (through various bits of Googling) that the problem was all to do with my back light not having a negative earth (don't ask me what this means) I was able to rig up a grub screw-free solution using a spare bit of wire in a suitably Heath Robinson style. Sadly no coat hangers were involved.

The make of this particular model of dynamo is "Basta" and I have my own theories as to why this should be.

In other news I have (pending a suitable sigh of approval from the client) finished a tiny commission to draw a televangelist-style character as a figurehead for a regular column in a magazine about new technologies in the church. Again, this should have been a simple (and swiftly despatched) task but due to said client foolishly failing to specify a deadline (due to a genuine lack of urgency) the work behaved as my O level physics teacher long ago informed me that gases do - it expanded to fill the space available to it. Still, it turned out okay I think. Assuming the client, the estimable Brian, has no objections then I may post up the end result later.

I've had a couple of larger commissions come through for Horrible Histories in the past week: a poster about the Wars of the Roses and a comic strip on the same theme. Good to have a couple of meatier jobs after a run of spot illustrations (not least financially). The comic strips can drive me a bit mad when I do them but they're a bit more challenging too and probably better for me. Like a proper meal after living on snacks for a while.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Buy the Beano 

That utterly lovely fellow, Gary Northfield has a new strip, Derek the Sheep, premiering in The Beano this week. Buy several copies. Tell all your friends and make them buy several copies. Write to the editor saying how good it is (and while you're about it put in a good word for the godlike Hunt Emerson who draws Little Plum these days). The UK comics industry may be virtually non-existent but if folk like Gary and Hunt are getting into print in as traditional (and successful) an organ as The Beano then there's still a faint glimmer of hope.

Friday, February 13, 2004

An Unexpected Chicken 

I was poking around in some of the dustier folders on my Mac the other day looking for pictures to send to the lovely Mr Tom Gauld to use in Listen-related publicity or somesuch and I was pleasantly surprised to find this chicken. So I dusted him (or her - who's to say) down, gave him (or her) a lick of paint and Bob's your Auntie's milkman.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004



Have I mentioned before that I'm supposed to be writing a piratical comic strip script to be drawn by Mark Stafford? Mark is the most criminally underemployed cartoonist in the country, as scarily talented as he is ludicrously neglected by art editors. He's also a fellow Sentence/Listen contributor and one of the collaborators on last year's wall comic at the ICA's Comica event. Anyway, my hope is that I can cynically piggyback on his genius by writing some half-assed story that everyone fails to notice is sub-par because they're too gobsmacked by Mark's gorgeous artwork. This is, I feel, a good plan. Finding time to knock the story into shape is proving something of a problem but I finally made a tiny start last week and knocked out a rough draft of an introductory chapter. Should be able to rewrite and send it on to Mark at some point next week. All very much a long term and speculative endeavour that may well lead nowhere but I'm still fond of the basic story idea (which I won't go into here) which has been kicking around my brain for some years now. I originally intended to draw it myself but couldn't face all that bloody rigging.

Oh, and the working title is "Arr!" Any better suggestions do please get in touch.

Friday, February 06, 2004


Went to smelly London yesterday for a meeting of (most of) the Test-Tube Comics crowd, purportedly to discuss our forthcoming second publication Listen (the follow-up to Sentence), but actually mainly to gab on to one another about general stuff and cartoonists' stuff in particular. I'm seldom more content than when talking about pens. This used to worry me, but no longer. Anyway, at some point in the evening Mr Stephen Marchant drew the caricature of me you see below. I don't think it looks particularly like me so it's almost certainly very good.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Slow progress 

Well Monday turned out to be a bit of an "I can't draw" day (they happen from time to time) so that was a bit unhelpful. Yesterday was, thankfully, an "I can draw tolerably well" day so I got a bit more done on the jobs in hand but also tried to bend my brain around understanding HTML so that I might eventually have a website worth visiting. As usual I'm taking a very bumbling approach to this task - examining odd sections of online HTML guides for beginners, viewing the source code of pages when I see something I like the look of - rather than trying any kind of sensible orderly method of learning. As such we might reasonably expect a marked improvement in daveshelton.com in about a year or so's time I should think. Shortly before I absent-mindedly forget to renew my rights to the domain name and lose it to a Formula 3000 racing driver or a country rock bass player in fact.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Situation vacant 

Walking home from this morning's swim I passed by Subway, high street purveyor of baguette-based snacks, and noticed a job ad in the window. They are mainly seeking "Sandwich Artists" apparently. I'm almost tempted to knock up a folio full of sandwich-themed art and apply.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Well I'm more or less back on track work-wise having finished the last lot of googly-eyed historical works in the nick of time. The next two Histories jobs have already arrived though (a cover and some more spot illustrations) and I still need to get on with another small commission and a bunch of unpaid stuff that I want to do. Still, busy is good.

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