Originally I made a 17 minute video about this, but then I quickly realised nobody is likely to watch something that long, and honestly I don’t have the time over the next few weeks to make lots of shorter, 2-3 minute videos, so here I am writing about it instead!
Lunar Jetman is, in case you aren’t already aware, a computer game which started life on the ZX Spectrum back in 1983. I owned both the computer and the game and for a long while it was my favorite. Separate to that, at some point in my childhood I started drawing a little space character which I named 7V, simply because when I drew his face I could see a number 7 and the letter V in the shapes!! Keep both these random, unconnected facts in your mind and I’ll come back to them later.
In the meantime, some more context.
Fast forward to early May 2019 and I find myself watching some videos by YouTuber Summer Silvery. Summer was showing her process for drawing cartoons, very similar to the process Felix Schlater goes through for creating his drawings. Both of them use Procreate on an IPad Pro, both have an Apple Pencil. I have never been very good at drawing, but I have always loved Art and have wanted to create my own cartoon for some time. My education in cartoons, specifically the animated kind, dates way back to when I was knee high to a grasshopper! Tom and Jerry, Daffy Duck, Roadrunner, Captain Caveman, and of course The Simpsons….to name but a few. All of these shaped my childhood, and to a certain degree, my adulthood also!!
So it was, in May 2019 I found myself having a lightbulb moment which connected 2 items from my past, along with an Ipad Pro, an apple pencil and procreate. I realised from watching Summer and Felix that the ability to pinch (zoom in) a digital drawing offers an Ipad Artist a great advantage over more traditional drawing methods. That of being able to work on fine detail with extreme accuracy down to the pixel level. The other advantage for someone with my rather questionable drawing skills (!!), was the ease at which the tool helps and even enables the creative process. Hold the stylus down to create a perfect circle, or a straight line, for example.
At the time I didn’t have an Ipad Pro, so instead I downloaded ‘Art Flow’ for my Samsung Galaxy S9+ (the screen of which is not far off that of an ipad mini as my kids tell me fairly regularly!!). Armed with a stylus and my new drawing app, I set to work and came up with my very first, modern day cartoon.
Remember a few minutes ago when I told you to remember that I loved Lunar Jetman as a kid and I used to draw a little character called a 7V? Well, here is where those 2 memories connect with me having watched Summer and Felix create their respective Ipad Art and realised what was possible. Here he is, in all his digital (and quite basic!) glory!! Except this time I decided to give him a back story and some relevance, and change his name!
I give you, Lunar Jetman 🙂
This is what I imagine Lunar Jetman looks like, when he takes off his helmet! Random I know, but it’s how my brain works!! My version of Lunar Jetman is an homage to the original game with its 4-bit graphics and 2d, side-on imagery. I love the fact that what you see in my cartoons, comics and animation, is the progression of both the character, my own drawing skills as well as my proficiency in the various digital drawing and animation apps. This first cartoon above (Lunar Jetman v1.0) was nothing more than me playing with the drawing app and revisiting my memory of this little character I used to doodle as a kid. But it got me hooked!!
Using the stylus with the app on my phone, playing around with colours, shapes, I loved it. There is no goal, no master plan I want to achieve. It is simply me drawing for its own sake. My sense check, my quality control measure that I employ to judge whether a drawing should be published, is simply to see if it makes me laugh. If a drawing, cartoon, comic or animation makes my face light up with anything from a rye grin to a full on cheshire cat cheesy smile, or even a roll on the floor belly laugh, I publish it. Completeness is not my game. Perfection irrelevant and comparisons not even in my vocabulary!
And so, onwards.
Next up I figured out how to play with shapes, although I hadn’t as yet worked out how to fill the shapes in with colour, which is why everything has the same colour as the background!! In this one, our little friend was busy minding his own business when a pesky bunch of aliens cut him up! Lunar Jetman was naturally a tad unhappy!!
Then I did discover how to fill in shapes, and well, this was what I came up with!!
One interesting development outside of my drawing happened while I was staying in a hotel en route to a weekend away. Every hotel room has a pad and pencil on the desk, usually I ignore them, but now I have started drawing I wanted to leave my little lunar jetman cartoon anywhere I could and try to get the #lunarjetman tag followed however I could. I have never been this bothered about doing similar for my youtube channel, but this little fella is something personal to me and I love the process and what it is becoming, So, as I departed the room on my way to check out, I left the cleaners a little thank you note, in the shape of you know who. This is now something I leave as my calling card in every hotel room I stay in!!
note to self – get some business cards printed with lunar jetman on them to leave as calling cards!! (watch this space…..) – copyright me!!
From there, well, it all started moving quite fast really. I moved off 2d images on blank backgrounds and into pages filled with imagery, then some more stories, more complex layers, and after buying an Ipad pro, Apple Pencil and Procreate, some more detailed cartoons. And most recently, the very first animated Lunar Jetman Cartoon.
You can see a selection of these below, or visit my cartoons page