Londons Times Cartoons Celebrates 14th Anniversary

                                     Some Early Londons Times Cartoons: (Click Thumbnail to enlarge)     


Every time an important anniversary arrives one tends to reflect. Especially when they get older and more forgetful like me, and appreciate the moments we  *can* reflect and it is at least semi-accurate.  Today is one of those days.  My wife Lee and I were so busy last year putting together our 13th anniversary book, a whole year went by and we were just getting it off the ground.  But March 19th, 2011 was our 14th anniversary. I remember working with a local artist when I still lived in my hometown of Hattiesburg, Ms named Richard Larson.  He understood my warped sense of humor and writing well, and since he was a fun guy to work with, and his last name was “Larson” (same as my favorite cartoonist ever “Gary Larson”), I figured it was “fate”.   Richard was from a small-town nearby named Picayune, Ms. We worked well together for about  a year or so.

      Like all creative endeavors, we had our differences, but we did profit from our creative endeavor.   I was the concept/creator and writer, and Richard the artist.  My vision of Londons Times would be offbeat, but not in cartoon style art; more of a combination of fine art and cartoons, and in color.  Richard did not like this idea and rebelled for about four months.  He finally decided to give it a try and within 3 months we sold the rights to 12 images to a San Diego T-shirt firm for $10,000.  They were all in color but I was kind enough not to say “I told you so”.  He wouldn’t have minded anyway. We’d both been starving artists and writers for so long; getting  $5000 each was like winning the lottery.  I was sure we had won it.

    Then I remembered that man plans, God laughs.  I had written another thousand or so cartoons, and Richard’s wife became pregnant.  Not only that, but she was a stable nurse who found him a job at a small local bank. It was either her and the baby and the bank job, or the iffy cartoons.  I understood completely and, though sad, I tried to keep my head up. I asked friends what I should do, and every one of them said (not in the same wording) “Throw in the towel, and consider it an interesting experience, and go find a 9-5 coat and tie job”.  I remember the feeling of nausea coming over me. I had done that for many years in jobs I didn’t hate. Hate is too mild a word. I despised them. I abhorred them. I needed them to support my artistic venture.

     By the end of that year Richard and I had created about 200 cartoons together and made one very nice sale.  We also had a very good time doing it.   I was sure we could get a book contract for a compilation cartoon book but every NYC agent we wrote sent back a polite form letter. The fact that the timing was not right for them to consider us “was no reflection as to the validity of our work”.  Then one came that was personal. It was one of those same form letters from a very large New York agent that said, “That’s all I need…another failed cartoonist”.  I could feel that sinking feeling. I wanted to throw the letter in the trash so as to pretend it never was written. In my heart of hearts,  I felt she was right. She’d seen a lot more than me.  But wait.  We’d created 200 cartoons.  But now I had no artist/partner but I had a free website from a firm called “Hostway” with more free pop-up ads than I had cartoons.

I didn’t know a lot about the Internet, was not working, just writing cartoons and living in a tin shed (I’m not kidding).  I read a book called “Internet For Dummies” and learned as much as I could.  Keep in mind this was 1997.  There was no Google, no blogging, no social media, really not a lot but Yahoo! and forums. On Yahoo! I was able to locate some of the top cartoonists in the world (Including Charles Schulz).  Over the next few months I talked on the phone to Charles “Sparky” Schulz, Leigh Rubin, Dave Coverly, and Jon McPherson. I learned all I could.  I put up ads on forums in searh of cartoonists. I left no-holds barred and wrote nearly 2000 more cartoonists nonstop.   At one time I was assigning them to 12 different illustrators who were now on my creative team from Russia to Ohio and every place in between.  Suddenly, very slowly, we were building an inventory. 

In 2001, I had about 4000 cartoons up. The way I stayed alive was bartering our skills to small and large businesses who were beginning to use cartoons on their web sites and humorous logos, etc.  I bartered everything from organic grass fed beef, emu, fishing tackle, vitamins and herbs, sporting equipment, clothing etc.  The illustrators would take either a part of the barter or I would pay them the wholesale value of it. Most took the barter which was better for me too.    The only market out there other than barter was publishing and syndication. We were “way too different” for newspaper syndication, so mainly college textbook and trade magazines kept us going.

In September of that year came my major heart attack.  I was forced to stop the cartooning  (doctors orders) but I didn’t listen. Not only did I keep going full-speed ahead, I enrolled in college full time to learn business; and in particular business online.  It was a great experience but for the most part I let the cartoons go. I left the website up, and “took orders” from webmasters and textbook publishers but mainly studied, and enjoyed the natural beauty of my new home, Hot Springs, Arkansas with my favorite dog ever, a bearded collie/polish lowland sheedog mix “Thor”.

Three years passed and I began receiving emails and phone calls from churches, synagogues, charities, schools, and all sorts of nonprofits wanting signed copies of our cartoons for their auctions and fundraisers. I thought it was a joke until one a friend asked me if I’d checked our Google ranking lately. I had not. I was the #1 ranked offbeat cartoon on the Internet.  I was “stoked”. I started writing cartoons like I had in  my young early days which was not quite as easy because now I was studying like a banshee (Just how do banshees study anyway).   I found yet more new illustrators.

Now there was Google, social media, POD (Print On Demand), Online Branding, article marketing, bookmarking and all kids of other goodies we didn’t have early on.  I learned to use them all.

Suddenly I had close to 5000 cartoons, a book (thanks to my wife Lee’s publishing and designing skills that she learned while building her designer gift shop Lee Hiller Designs and her nature/wildlife blog  Hike Our Planet, and nearly 1/4 million products in five online shops such as funny tees, funny cards, funny mugs and many other products. Even funny doggie sweaters.  I also branched out and learned how to digitally design shoes and launched Shoes That Amuse in 2007 which are the world’s only famous love quote shoes.  AP Wire and USA Today did a story on it. It features shoes with graphics of famous authors, philosophers, etc and their famous love quotes.   I have also branched out into love quote tees, bags, mugs and the like.

To some it was all an “overnight success”. I assure you it was not even close to that.  I was confronted with dangerous situations that I know I would never do again.  I did what I had to do to survive. I never knew in a million years it might be a well known cartoon, much less the #1 ranked on the Internet.  All that was beyond my control and decisions made by others.  But I am grateful to “those others” for recognizing and liking the work that I do.

Now I get to also have fun and take off for a  mountain hike with my wife Lee whenever I feel like it.    I get to do at age 56 what I never thought I’d ever get to do. I am a full-time tourist if I want to be. Though Lee would probably say I’m still a bit of a workaholic, I’m nothing like I was ten years ago. I have mellowed out a lot and I enjoy the creative process. I don’t think much about deadlines. I create when I get the urge to create. Life is actually fun for perhaps the first time ever.  Maybe it takes what it takes for that to happen.


Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, designer, and musician.  He is the founder of the #1 ranked offbeat cartoons on the Internet, Londons Times. He also founded many funny gift shops such as Rick London Shops,  Rick London Collection, Rick LondonWear and  He loves hiking, wildlife and nature, and playing the guitar (but not very well). His goal is to take guitar and singing lessons this summer.

Some Recent Londons Times Cartoons (Click Thumbnail To Enlarge)


One Comment

  1. Posted April 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Baby! Can’t wait to see those 3D Electronic Hologram Cartoon for your 25th Anniversary :o ) Love your DW Lee xx00xx

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