“The UK has produced most of the world’s greatest cartoon illustrators and I wanted to try and be as good as them.”
We’ve been loving the hilarious Mike Jupp Party Animals Jigsaw Puzzle collection. The characters, colours and stories make each puzzle so much fun to complete. To find out more about where the party animals came from, we decided to ask the marvellous cartoonist behind the comical creations, Mike Jupp, a few questions!
Tell us a bit about yourself, Mike. What do you like to get up to?
“These days I spend my time working or sitting in my favourite bar drinking a pint of cyder, enjoying a cigar and chatting to folk! In my youth I was trained in Judo (BJA & BJC), Karate (Shotokan & Wado ryu), Diving (British Sub-Aqua Club), Competition pistol and rifle shooting (NSRA & NRA) and trained as a professional wrestler ( by Butch Mason & Bruno Elrington). I still drive the ‘Nimrod’ car that I designed back in 1969. My interests are most things that end with the word ‘ology’. I used to have a wife… but I still have 2 beautiful daughters. I also have a Doberman Pinscher… and an S-Type Jaguar.”
What inspired you to become a cartoonist?
“Because I don’t take most things seriously, and I couldn’t do much except draw, I decided to become a cartoonist! The UK has produced most of the world’s greatest cartoon illustrators and I wanted to try and be as good as them. Superb draughtsman such as; George Studdy, Roland Emett, the Heath Robinsons, Mabel LucieAttwell, Lawson Wood, Karl Giles etc.”
How long have you been an artist?
“Professionally?.. Since I left college (The West Sussex College of Art & Design, Worthing). I started in advertising design for a local Chichester newspaper then after a couple of years was accepted by an American Incentive company in Park Lane, London. After that I went Freelance. My Freelance work was in advertising and publishing and my agent was Andy Archer (‘Archer Art’), one of the top two Illustrators Agents in Great Britain (The other being Chris Meikleljohn).
Archer Art had some of the best contemporary artists on their books, Terry Pastor, George Underwood, Philip Castle, Nick Price etc. Through publishing I was sent to Holland and then to America to Art Direct TV cartoon shows. I was lucky enough to be sent to The Mill Valley Animation Studio in Novato, Marin County, California… The studio was owned by Gerry Smith who introduced me to his buddy George Lucas! Because of that, I managed to get my own TV series (The Dreamstone) commissioned by Central Television. Since the late 1990’s I’ve concentrated on cartoon illustrations for Jigsaw Puzzles. For some strange reason, folk seem to like them!”
We’re loving the “party animals” jigsaw puzzles, what inspired you to draw them?
“For the last 30 years I’ve compiled and hosted pub quizzes for a hobby. A while back, I learnt where the expression ‘P*ssed as a newt’ originated. It has NOTHING to do with cute little amphibians, but a lot to do with German and British sailors drinking together and getting drunk in neutral Swedish bars during WW2… Hence, Drunk (pissed) as a neutral! Anyway, I envisaged a drunk newt (as you do!)… Then luckily realised there were three other popular sayings about drunken animals and that they covered the four seasons!”
Which of the party animals is your favourite and why?
“That’s difficult!… They’re all so different. I suppose if I had to keep just one it would be ‘High as a Kite’ because of the amount of work that was involved. But I do like the bat! I try and create scenarios that have just happened, or are about to happen! In the case of the bat… he’s blindly crashed-landed through half a forest, skidded to a halt… but managed to not spill a drop of his precious drink!”
Will you be creating more party animals in the future?
“I hope so!.. It’s the word ‘future’ that worries me as I’m not sure of how much of that I’ve got left?… My biggest (professional) problem is that I have a super-ego when it comes to my work. I cannot bear to think of producing something folk wouldn’t like…so the perfectionist in me has created a rod for my own back… and my illustrations take forever!
That sounded very pretentious…but I know what I mean!”