Yi Zhang, K8QR, wanted to combine his love of ham radio with his interest in hot-air balloons. What better way to connect them than the world’s longest wire antenna? As an added touch, to acknowledge his Columbus QTH, I added a banner for THE Ohio Station University. He does much of his operating from the school’s club station, W8LT.
In addition to being a good ham, K8QR has the patience of a saint; we’d been talking about this commission since last spring. I hope the finished QSL was worth the wait.
You’re probably wondering why the girl in my latest custom QSL looks like she belongs in an Archie comic — right?
There’s a story behind that.
A few months back, Vartan, N2ZEB, asked me to draw a QSL for him with a pin-up girl in it, Vartan’s other hobby being pin-up photography. For inspiration, I went back to one of my artistic heroes, long-time Archie Comics artist Dan DeCarlo. He drew Archie and the gang for more than 40 years and very much defined their look. If you’ve read an Archie comic any time from the 1950s to the 1990s, you’ve almost certainly seen DeCarlo’s work — or, at least, work by other artists trying to imitate him. The illustration of The Archies singing group that graced their first album is classic Dan DeCarlo.
What most people don’t know about DeCarlo, though, is that before Archie, he earned a living drawing girly cartoons like the one below for “gentlemen’s magazines.” Yes, really.
DeCarlo’s pre-Archie cartoons are fairly tame by 21st-century standards, but the girls he drew were undeniably sexy. Ever wonder why Betty and Veronica were so stacked? It’s because DeCarlo had a lot of practice drawing girls that way. For Archie, he actually (and appropriately) reined it in a little bit.
And that’s where I was challenged — I’m so accustomed to drawing “cute” that “sexy” isn’t quite in my artistic arsenal. I’m happy with N2ZEB’s QSL as far as I could take it, but, honestly, it ended up looking more like Betty all dolled up than the kind of girl that would provoke wolf whistles in one of DeCarlo’s classic pin-up cartoons. At least you can take her home to meet mom. You might even be able to talk her into getting a Tech license!
Chris, VO1IDX, wanted to squeeze a lot onto his custom QSL card: his farm, his chicken coop, his children, his antenna, and, of course, himself. Since simple is better at postcard size, I pared it down to Chris and his antenna, with the chickens surrounding his call sign. Chris then asked that a ham radio — a ham that’s literally a radio — be added. I did, and, voila, there you have it. (The chicken atop the “O” egg is wearing headphones and a boom mic, because what would a Hamtoons QSL be without a cute animal on it wearing headphones?)
Chris, W7BMD, is a Seattle physician who, according to his QRZ.com page, specializes in “bone strength, bone density, osteoporosis and fractures.” He’s literally a bone doctor — hence, his call sign phonetics, Whisky Seven Bone M.D.
Chris wanted all of that referenced in his QSL card, plus a picture of his home QTH. The challenge was tying it all together.
I started with the call sign itself. Why not build it out of bones?
Next came the house. Chris sent several reference pictures, and I illustrated a cartoon version of it, with a cartoon version of Chris himself in the foreground.
Then there’s Seattle. What’s more symbolic of Seattle than the Space Needle? I drew that, too.
But … how do you tie it all together?
Chris solved the problem with a fanciful suggestion: Connect one end of his wire antenna to the Space Needle itself.
It works for me. Any ham would want that kind of elevation for his antenna.
Some QSL cards — like this one — are pretty straightforward.
Eric, KC3GUY, kept it simple: He wanted to be seen climbing his tower, with a hex beam atop it. Initially Eric wanted to be shown holding a handi-talkie, but when we realized that it was hard to see at that size, we substituted a wrench that symbolized his profession as a heavy diesel mechanic. This is the result.
With fall upon us and much of the U.S. still experiencing warm weather, it’s easy to forget that parts of the country will experience serious cold within a few months. One of the coldest places in the country: Buffalo, New York.
Phil, K2QWK, lives in a suburb of Buffalo and wanted a QSL that commemorated exactly that quality about his QTH. He also wanted his ill-tempered cat on the card as well. (If you were that cold for months on end, you’d probably be ill-tempered too.)
To do that, I made an ice sculpture out of Phil’s call sign. I added snow, lots of snow, with a few snowflake “dingbats” placed in the bottom line of type. And to top it off, I dressed the cat (scowling, of course) in a stocking cap and a scarf.
This brings up an interesting question: If you experience severe cold weather where you live, what do you plan to do to “winterize” your antennas, towers and feedlines?
Ted, N7XTM, has two passions: his radios and his rottweilers. My job was to combine them into a single card.
For reference, Ted supplied me with pictures of his dogs and pointed me to his qrz.com page, where there was a photo of his Cushcraft R7000 ground-mounted vertical framed against a gorgeous Arizona sunset. I stitched the two together into a single cartoon. I hope it does the real thing justice.
Here’s another cartoon I drew for Gordon West’s latest Extra-class license guide. It speaks for itself — especially if you have a tower but don’t like climbing it.