Do you ever read a cartoon in a magazine or website and wonder about the person behind the cartoon? Here, cartoonist Mike Flanagan, talks to Sell Your Story UK about his ‘Flantoons’ and how he has become so established in such a niche industry…
So where do you live and how old are you?
In a great little village in Hampshire, top right corner of the UK and I’m 64 (going on 24).
Is being a cartoonist your full time job?
I’ve been a full time cartoonist for 30 years. I was born in South Africa, and have also lived in Australia and in Britain for the past 35 years. I’m an ex art director from big advertising agencies in Jo’burg, Sydney and the UK.
When and why did you start doing cartoons?
I started doing cartoons during science classes at school mainly because the lessons were totally baffling – I had to spend my time doing something!
When was the moment you realised you could sell your cartoons?
I posted some gags off to a small magazine when I was living in Johannesburg. They published three of them, which earned me a grand total of 30 Rand (£3 in real money) which started the ball rolling and now I charge around £60 to commission.
Do you have any formal training?
My parents sent me to art school for three years; great training for partying; this was the swinging sixties remember.
Where have your cartoons been published – Where might we see them?
A very wide range of business magazines, specialist magazines and websites, text-books, you name it. Some of my clients include Travel Weekly, British Telecom and publishers Hodder & Stoughton! A while ago a New York plastic surgeon asked me to do 30 cartoons all based on cosmetic surgery; quite a challenge… After all, how many boob-job gags are there? Only I know…
It mainly comes from the text, the article and the subject matter. I put a humorous spin on an otherwise serious piece of material. People also email me their text and I will come up with a custom-made cartoon illustration to complement it.
Which ideas and cartoons are the most popular?
My cartoons are custom-made to complement an article or product, so I have to take care not distract from the sense of the article or product…. while at the same time make it amusing. I then do a first draft pencil sketch for the client’s approval and if they like it, the finished high res jpeg goes off by email.
Any advice for other budding cartoonists?
Start with a small portfolio, make your presentation as polished and professional as possible. Scruffy scraps of paper are a big no-no, then spend most of your time spreading the word on the internet, and hardcopy mailers to editors.
On second thoughts, pursue another career. The last thing I need is competition 🙂