Being a cartoonist means freedom to skive.
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Lost In Translation, Skiving and Sketching

I'm writing this on the first day of spring (should I capitalise that? I never remember.), and it is a grimbly grey Monday and ideal for working. However, we have had some unseasonably warm days this month, so I have downed tools for some proper skiving (English English for not working when you should be). One sunny Friday, Duncan, Billie and I took the ferry across to France (a five minute ride) and walked from Hendaye, around the estuary to Irun to have lunch before taking the bus home. There were some lovely views across the Bidasoa to Hondarribia, a bar that we could stop at for a beer and plenty of pee-mail for Billie to get his nose into. A very industrial section was transformed by an enormous stretch of boardwalk, paid for by the EU. It was a definite highlight and I don't know why. Perhaps you can write back and tell me.

There's nothing quite the same as a long letter in the real post from someone, but it is such a rare occurrence that I content myself with long-ish, newsy emails from friends and family. My dad surprised me with one of those this week. Surprising because he has occasionally hand-written letters to me, but I thought his typing was limited to slow, single-finger pecking and that emailing was limited to informing me of the arrival of my tax statements, or his dealings with car insurance companies.

But it seems that he has discovered how to type faster and also THE INTERNET. Not only was I informed about the post that had arrived for me and updated on how the garden is growing (Mum and Dad have about half an acre, which gives me extreme garden envy), but Dad raved about Austin Kleon and his newsletter (which is well worth a read, though it takes you down a rabbit hole of literary and online creativity).

There is something about creative endeavours that keeps you mentally sharp and maybe even living longer. I've been reading about Al Jaffee, the MAD fold-in cartoonist and Judith Kerr, the children's book author and illustrator. Both are working in their nineties!  And this month I discovered the work of the Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama, who is in her eighties. If she is new to you too, you can see some of her work on Pinterest. Many of the obits I read in the New York Times Book section recently were for writers who died well into their eighties and beyond. It gives me hope, because I have a lot more ideas it seems than time to get them on paper.

One of those ideas I am working on is A Basque Diary. It has been a joy to live and work in the little town of Hondarribia, in the Basque Country in Spain. I wanted to create a souvenir of our time here, as we leave in the summer to head back to New Zealand. So, I'm drawing a series of cartoony sketches that I hope to put into a book later this year.

Finishing these personal projects is difficult given the deadlines of my regular work, like my daily comic, Arctic Circle. It has been syndicated for nearly ten years and I am getting quicker at creating it, but it still consumes about half my working week. It helps that I no longer need to run each rough strip past my editor.  Instead, I rough out the cartoons, ink them and send them off. Most of them get through, but this month this one didn’t:

Two countries separated by a common language: in the UK we talk about a rubbish tip, not a garbage dump. I knew that. I hadn’t realised that Americans don’t talk about tipping something out either. Another one in the rubbish bin/trash can….

That's all from me, but here are some things for you to answer this month:


1. Why are boardwalks so lovely to walk along?
2. Who are some of your favourite artists/illustrators?
3. What would you like to be doing in your nineties?

Ta ta for now

Copyright © 2017 Alex Hallatt's Cartoons and Writing, All rights reserved.

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