License to Ham

K6SPY ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTYes, his name really is Bond. James Bond.

Some QSLs just design themselves, and this was one of them. When James, K6SPY (yes, that really is his call sign, too) commissioned me to create a cartoon QSL for him, I knew exactly what I needed to do: Go full-on James Bond, shaken and stirred.

I started with the call sign, eventually finding a font I could modify to mimic the 007 logo. The name and QTH are set in a font called 007 GoldenEye. And the background is a stock image of the iconic “gun barrel sequence” at the beginning of every Bond movie.

Drawing James himself was easy: I simply copied the classic Sean Connery pose, arms folded, gun over the shoulder — except this gun is a soldering gun.

Did I mention that designing this was a lot of fun?

 

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A typical ham workbench

W4ASE ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTWhen creating a custom QSL I usually start with reference photos from the client. Bill, W4ASE, sent me shots of his shack and his workbench — without him in them —and almost as an afterthought added that he didn’t want to appear on his QSL.

Normally, I avoid drawing pictures of just stuff. After all, why labor over a drawing of the latest hot transceiver when A) you can get a much better picture of it online and B) everyone already knows what it looks like anyway? Unless it’s home-brew or otherwise atypical, a picture of a ham’s shack without him in it is nothing unique. I like unique.

The picture of Bill’s bench, though, was another matter. Even without showing Bill in it, it said a lot about him: Here’s a ham who likes to work on his own rigs. That’s rare these days.

Even though the picture showed very specific test gear, I cartooned it up everything a little, drawing off-center lines where things were actually square. I also added blocks of color rather than specifically staying in the lines. Not only did it give the cartoon that ’60s retro look I like, it suggested the joyful clutter of a typical ham’s workbench. It ought to speak to anyone who receives Bill’s QSL.

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