Introducing… Winchester Today’s new Cartoonist
Posted by Andy Goddard
Posted in News
by Kevin Gover, Editor
We have a new member of team here at Winchester Today, and he has just one job – to make you laugh!
Piers Baker is a cartoonist and his task is to bring you short stories about his friends Ollie and Quentin.
Piers told us he always wanted to draw a comic strip: “My grandfather was an illustrator and my dad is a good cartoonist himself.
As a child I used to set myself cartoon drawing examinations in the hope that one day I would be good enough to become a syndicated cartoonist.
“My career started as a graphic designer. I used to design lolly wrappers for Wall’s Ice Cream. I must have designed over 50 wrappers in my time and some of those designs can still be seen in the bins outside newsagents across Europe.”
Piers then moved on to cartoon illustration and spent many years illustrating childrens’ schoolbooks for publishers like Oxford University Press.
“Ollie and Quentin started life as a comic strip I produced for the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution). They wanted me to create a comic strip about a lifeboat man but I needed a sidekick for him to talk to. Ollie the seagull was born.
“The more I wrote the more I realised Ollie himself needed his own sidekick and Quentin (named after my youngest brother) came into being. Eventually the lifeboat man was replaced by Nobby (the dreadful nickname my mother gave me as a child) and the strip became as you see it today.”
“This has been the biggest surprise for me as I always considered myself an artist first and writer second. I write and draw every day.
“I cycle into town and get into a coffee shop before it gets too crowded. I like the buzz of people around me and even get ideas from the odd word or phrase I hear people use.
“Sometimes it’s just something someone is wearing or the way they are behaving that sparks an idea. I then write and doodle for the next couple of hours until I have a decent comic written then cycle home and draw it up.”
Piers says he’s often asked where he gets his ideas and inspiration from:
“Charles Schulz of ‘Peanuts’ fame said the best thing for any cartoonist to do is go out and live. Ideas come from life. He’s right.
“I’m surprised how much of my own life is in my comic. One or two strips a week are things that are happening in my life. Family, kids, health, friends, love, sport etc. Another area is word play and a third is finding a ‘juicy’ topic that gets the creative juices flowing.
“It’s difficult to come up with a joke from nothing, a blank canvas, but if someone says write a gag about, say, a ladder or a unicycle or something it’s much easier. I give myself these ‘juicy’ topics and ‘throw’ them at my characters to see how they react.”
He says he knows his characters so well:
“One character would say something and I’d write the other’s reply because I know exactly how he would respond. I also try to recreate the spontaneity you might get when chatting with friends where a sudden quip makes everyone fall about laughing. I write quickly to try and achieve a spontaneity that surprises even me.”
Piers lives with his two grown up children and his ‘wonderful better half’, the gorgeous Alison, and likes to keep fit and train regularly in a boot camp style fitness club as well as cycling when he can.
Piers has also been given the honour of taking our first ’25 Q and As’ on life here in the South.