This month’s cartoonist is NAF
NAF’s cartoon (above) appears on page 32 of our February issue. A selection of his cartoons for Prospect will be published on First Drafts over the next month. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
First, give me your autobiography in 100 words or so Raised by a loving family in Edinburgh, I studied biological sciences before embarking upon a career as a zookeeper. I looked after primates and snakes (a classic combination) but ended up slaughtering more animals than I kept alive so, tired of playing God, I ran away to South Africa to work on a game reserve. The game reserves were full, however, so I hit rock bottom and with nowhere else to turn and with nothing to lose, I became a cartoonist. I still survive in this sleazy profession, occasionally supplementing my income by playing the banjo.
Can you tell us how you got the inspiration for your cartoon in Prospect this month? Well, the idea came about after I realised that some people are unaware just how quickly mice can infest a house and thought wouldn’t it be funny if the first sign of the mice’s occupancy was “Mouse FM.” The idea of mice broadcasting their own radio station is funny, isn’t it?
I know it’s a terrible question to ask a creative person, but where do you get your ideas from? They can appear in dreams or whilst you are in the bath but generally happen after four or five cups of coffee and ten cigarettes.
How do you work – alone, hunched over a drawing board? On computer? Nine to five? I try to vary it. You can go stir-crazy in the house so a change of scenery is good for body and mind. We all tend to work alone I think… we’re pretty lonesome characters.
How do you cope with the rejections that accompany cartooning? Pah! I love it!
Do you ever laugh at your own cartoons? Yes. I’d be a bad cartoonist if my own cartoons didn’t make me laugh. I’m not saying I belly-ache after a cartoon writing session but a good one should bring a smile to your face.
What other cartoonists have influenced you, or do you most admire? I started cartooning because I adored Gary Larson and have always been a fairly surreal cartoonist as a result. There are many I love, too many to mention.
Out of all the cartoons you’ve ever drawn, do you have a favourite? I have loads of favourites but this one that sticks in my mind:
What cartoon do you wish you had drawn? Gary Larson’s little boy trying to get in the entrance for the School For The Gifted. He’s pushing a door that says “pull.”
Have you ever regretted having a cartoon published? Any complaints? I have never regretted a cartoon being published as it usually means I will get paid. I like getting paid because I can buy food and things. However, I have had complaints. One sticks in my mind. A doctor so-and-so was unimpressed with the Oldie magazine’s cartoons and, in particular, NAF cartoons. His letter of complaint included the comment ‘NAF by name and NAF by nature’. I called my Mum and dictated a letter down the phone. The following month in the Oldie’s letters page was a letter from my Mum defending the immense talent and all-round genius of her son, NAF, against the likes of doctor so-and-so’s opinions.
Are there any topics which you don’t think are appropriate for cartoons, or is anything fair game? That question applies to all the arts I think. I am sure a BNP newsletter would quite happily publish a neo-Nazi cartoon that the Times wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. It all depends on the artists’ morals really. As for me, I’ll draw anything for hard cash.
How has the profession changed since you started? When I started in 1997 all submissions were made by post. It was a long, drawn-out process which nowadays takes seconds thanks to the internet.
What would you change about the profession if you could? A better canteen and better childcare facilities.
Do you think the internet has been good or bad for cartoonists? It’s made it easier for magazines and newspapers to source cheaper and cheaper cartoons and cartoonists which generally dilutes things and means overall quality has gone down. But it means we can find clients a lot easier. So, it’s good and bad. If you ask the adult film industry the same question you may get a slightly different answer.
What advice would you give a cartoonist starting out today? It’s the best thing in the world to say you’re a “cartoonist” and, being a very shallow and vain man, that’s important to me. If it’s not important to you then get a job in investment banking or toilet attending. Do it for the title, not the money.
If you weren’t a cartoonist, what would you be doing? I am not sure but I imagine it would be in the arts or something humour-based.
The main occupational hazards in journalism are alcoholism and RSI. What are the risks for cartoonists? To be honest, I am a massive drinking, partying, hedonistic, childish fool but I don’t know if that is a trait shared by all cartoonists. Most people who rely on their creativity for money tend to have a tendency to overindulge.
What do people tend to say when you tell them you’re a cartoonist? Usually, “no way” or “oh my God, really.” I’ve said already, I am in it for the cool job description.
What do cartoonists talk about when they meet up? They tend to moan about being a cartoonist but they all love it really.
What’s the best thing about being a cartoonist? The fact that I get paid to make people smile keeps my “karma card” topped up.