|See Jack and Runty Run, Run, Run...All
the Way to Cartoon Success
Cartoonist Ryan (Beairdo) Beaird of Jack Flash Entertainments is creator
of the popular Jack and Runty cartoon series chuckled at worldwide. Beaird
has been a professional cartoonist since the mid-2000s, with his work initially
appearing in numerous newspapers throughout the United Kingdom.
He created the comic strip 'An Ideal World' which consists of a town
of criminals living together on the edge of society. He is also working
on an animated version of his comic (2010). In 2010, he started a new series
called 'Jack and Runty', about a stand-up comedian and his comedy writing
dog. Beaird is inspired in his work by Jim Davis and Seth MacFarlane, and
like to give his cartoons a "shock factor." He furthermore an artist for
birthday cards for Flash Jack Greetings.
IAP: Are you Jack, or Runty, or both?
Beaird: I suppose there is a little bit of myself in Jack and Runty
but I would say they are more based on friends. A little bit of each friend's
IAP: What's your age, hometown, school?
Beaird: I am 32-years-old and was born in Basildon, Essex, and attended
a cCatholic school called St. Anslems. It was a school with a lot of kids
from Irish families as most Irish emigrants ended up living in the East
End of London after the war before moving out to Essex for a better life
as my family did. I now live in a small seaside town called Leigh on Sea
just east of London after living in Glasgow and London for a few years.
IAP: What's your art background? When did you get into cartooning
Beaird: I have never studied art at college and studied economics instead
going straight into banking and finance in the city of London. All that
I have learnt in those ten years has helped with the business side of Jack
I am completely self-taught and have no art training what so ever. My
grandfather from Ireland is a landscape painter and as a kid I would sit
and watch him paint. That's probably where it all comes from.
I have self-taught myself the guitar many years ago and was in a band
called Tensheds with my good friend Matt Millership which is going strong
before moving onto cartooning as my passion and only creative outlet. I
still sometimes play the guitar to unwind but it's not something I feel
the need to do as a career.
IAP: what's the genesis of J&R? how did strip get started? Where
do you get your ideas? what are your deadlines? How did you come up with
Beaird: The strip has been two years in development. I quit the banking
sector in late 2008 and have spent the last two years developing the characters
and the website www.JackandRunty.com.
I work daily on strips and manage to get two drawn a day early in the
morning, which leaves me the rest of the day for all the admin, accounts
and marketing etc which takes up the most time.
I used to work for State Street bank in the Canary Wharf Tower (Docklands)
two floors above the Daily Mirror, a national newspaper in the UK.
I emailed the cartoon editor Ken Layson (editor for Andy Capp) wanting
to show him some of my cartoons. He said as I was already in the building
and past security he would have to see me calling me a cheeky sod with
a lot of balls.
I went down two floors in the elevator to the Mirror offices on my lunch
break and met Ken who gave me a tour of the Daily Mirror. He introduced
me to various journalists, sub-editors and also the now famous Piers Morgan
who was editor at that time. I remember him laughing at my cartoons but
sadly no contract was offered there and then!. Hopefully if Jack and Runty
becomes successful he might interview me on his program on CNN one day.
In that short hour, Ken taught me more than any cartoonists would of
learned in years. I saw how a cartoon editor worked and from that I now
am in the position to understand what editors need giving me an advantage
over other cartoonists. Ken gave me some great leads in the industry and
we would often meet for a glass of wine to discuss my progress etc. Having
Ken look at my early work helped me develop a style, as the tips and pointers
he gave at the start of my career was a huge blessing. After that day I
knew it was something I wanted to do as a career and have never looked
Jack is named in memory of my Scottish grandfather and is a family name
as my aunt is called Jacky and my father's middle name is Jack. Runty is
the nickname of an old friend. Runty is such a catchy name and the drawing
just fitted to the name and it stuck.
IAP: Where do you get your themes, ideas?
Beaird: It could be walking down the road seeing something and then
it pops in your head and you write it down before you forget. My Blackberry
is full of ideas that I can't decipher.
IAP: Do you bounce these images off your significant other, yer goldfish,
puppy or anybody(thing) else before sending them out to editors?
Beaird: I won't usually to be honest. I don't have the time. Plus I
have faith in myself that what I have created is good enough. I think when
cartoonists/artists show others what they have done before the general
public they are insecure in what they have created. It is the old insecure
artist needing acknowledgment thing.
Part of the enjoyment of being self syndicated and not contracted to
the likes of Universal Press Syndicate / King Features is I don't have
an editor telling me to - move that arm there, change that word, change
the color of Jacks pants etc. Creative freedom is what excites me the most
about syndicating myself.
IAP: Where is J&R distributed? what are the challenges cracking
into the paying media? What are editors' reactions when they first see
Beaird: Jack and Runty was released globally to editors beginning of
March this year. It has been received well, since we have managed to secure
five newspapers in one week from New Zealand, India, South Africa and in
It has been two years in development as I wanted to get the characters
right and the website looking better than anything out there. I would say
editor's reactions have been very positive so far as Jack and Runty wasn't
being read by anyone at the beginning of March and at the end of March
it is now being read by over 250,000 people worldwide.
IAP: how do you keep the strip fresh and vigorous?
Beaird: Well, two years in development has meant that the characters
are how they are supposed to look. The style of humor is what I want it
to be and I now have a specific style of drawing. I also have two years
of jokes in the drawer so I'm not worried about running out of ideas.
IAP: Are Yank audiences different that UK readers; do you have to adapt
your humor for different outlets, depending on location?
Beaird: I don't get this whole American/British difference in humor.
I have friends from Germany, Italy, Australia and we all have the same
sense of humor. Stupidity.
The reason Jack and Runty appeals to international editors I suppose
is because it is slapstick humor. Which is deliberate on my part. The likes
of Laurel and Hardy, Mr. Bean, The Simpsons to name but a few work well
because it is easy to understand. Seeing Homer or Oliver Hardy get hit
over the head with a frying pan will make a kid laugh in India to South
If I started mentioning political, international topics in my jokes
I don't think it would have a wide appeal. An editor has told me they thought
I was American and not British because the strip looked American? I can't
work that one out but I'll take it as a compliment.
IAP: What's it take to be a cartoonist, to be a great cartoonist?
Beaird: Ask Jim Davis that one!. Then when you find out send me his
IAP: How do you work? Is this all computer or hand drawn? Do you have
a studio? where is it (at home? or do you jog to your office easel or motorbike
there?); how much time do you spend on each strip?
Beaird: All the strips are hand-drawn in pencil first and then the outline
is inked. I don't want to get into the whole drawing direct onto a computer
using a tablet as I eventually want to sell the originals for lots of bucks
when they're famous!. It is also nice to give out to friends and families
to frame and put up on their wall. I get up about 6 a.m. walk into my studio
which is at the back of my apartment and draw up two strips in pencil before
checking emails etc. I'll scan them in and then add the color and speech
IAP: Should a cartoonist laugh as his(her) own work? If so, what does
that mean? If not, what does THAT mean?
Beaird: I do laugh at my own strips, which is important. But I prefer
other people to laugh at them!.
IAP: Who is your favorite contemporary UK cartoonist? Irish cartoonist?
Beaird: I don't really have a favorite cartoonist as such. I love Bill
Watterson's ("Calvin and Hobbes") style of inking. Gary Larson ("The Far
Side") and Mac, a UK cartoonist in the Daily Mail, I admire as well.
I am a huge admirer of Jim Davis ("Garfield") from a business perspective.
I have been a Garfield fan since I was a kid. I would collect all the books
and that's probably why my style of drawing is slightly similar to Jim's.
As an adult who spent ten years in finance I have learnt a lot from Jim
on marketing and the whole business side of cartooning.
IAP: Do cartoonists get any respect from other "fine" artists?
Bill Watterson famously said once that art is art whether it is commercial
cartooning to Van Gogh's sunflowers. It is a completely different field
to fine art. It should be respected because it is hard to make someone
laugh using a pen and a bit of paper. I tend not to analyze art or comedy,
break it down. If something is good or funny it just is. I think cartoonists
get respect when they are world famous like Jim Davis or Charles Schulz.
IAP: Have you been to Ireland? Still have relatives there?
Beaird: I have been to Ireland many times, Dublin mostly. I lived in
Glasgow for two years and we would get the ferry over to Belfast for weekends
away. I loved Dublin as it reminds me of Glasgow. I love small cities with
lots of history and culture.
Sadly the last of our family passed away recently (my great uncle Dermot)
who lived in Cork. My grandfather and his brothers are all living in the
UK now so we are part of the huge statistic of Irish emigrants not living
in Ireland. Maybe I will return one day as I miss the rain and cold! Ha.
IAP: What was your grandfather's name. What did he do when he came to
the UK? When was that? Is he still alive?
Beaird: My grandfather is Peter Couch a fantastic landscape painter
and musician. He was born in Cork and moved to England (London) shortly
after the war when he was five. He is still alive and I often go round
there for a beer and put the world to rights. Something about the Irish
and a beer we seem to be able to do that at 3 a.m.!
IAP: What does your family think of your cartooning.? Anybody else your
family in the arts? Parents supportive?
Beaird: My family are very supportive. They have watched me over the
years getting better and better and now start to see the fruits of my labor
take off. My father will be happy when I buy him that yacht I keep promising.
IAP: Do you do other art jobs, other cartoons, other strips?
Beaird: Nope, This is all I do, and love it. I gave that old working
in banks thing up a long time ago. And haven't looked back
IAP: Where do cartoonists go on holiday: the Lake District? Monaco?
Beaird: When I lived in Glasgow my favorite pubs was Molly Malone's.
A fantastic Irish bar that had celis every night and the Guinness was shipped
over from Dublin so you knew it was good compared to Irish bars in London.
I love my Rugby and am a England Rugby fan, I received a lot of grief
from my Grandfather and Mother when Ireland beat England to stop us winning
the grand slam this year. We are all talking now!.
As for holidays I have friends in Milan so will go and stay over in
Italy for a few weeks when I can. I love Italy and Italians. They are very
similar to the Irish in that family is important and are a proud nation.
IAP: Do you like film cartoons, such as those up for the Academy Awards
(The Illusionist and others)
Beaird: One of my friends worked on The Illusionist adding the
after effects to the film such as smoke, steam etc. My favorite Sylvain
Chomet animation is Belle Vue Rendezvous. I also think Miyazaki
Spirited Away is one of the greats, I am blown away by hand drawn animation.
I like computer animations like Pixar's Up, as well.
IAP: What's next?
Beaird: I want to get "Jack and Runty" established in about 50 newspapers
by the end of the year and to then have them translated into different
languages such as Portuguese, Italian, and French and start to build the
community up on Twitter and Facebook. My dream is to have them translated
into Mandarin and to be published in China.
I have really hit the ground running so far and am hoping it just takes
off in a big way. It is an addiction in getting them into as many newspapers
as I can and read all around the world.