Mathias, K0WBG, wanted a lot on his QSL — a caricature of himself, something about ham radio, something about Albuquerque, and a Cessna plane with a very specific color scheme from his flight club. Oh, and could I make sure to use a certain tail number?
I squeezed as much as I could onto this QSL card but ultimately had to choose between his caricature and an accurate representation of the plane; I couldn’t do both because their scales just didn’t match, and a postcard is too small to make it work. I ultimately went for the plane, using a combination of lightbox and eyeball to get it right. Ham radio is there through his call sign in the clouds, and that tower on the left is from Albuquerque International Sunport.
Maybe it’s a guy thing, or maybe it’s just my left brain giving my right brain a rest. In any case, I’ve always loved drawing hardware. This one was fun.
I first met Dave through the Atlanta Radio Club a few years back when he was KG4ZGG. He commissioned me at the time to draw him as a penguin (I think it had something to do with Linux). I happily obliged.
Dave is now in England sporting a new call sign, M0IXP. That called for a new QSL as well. He’d adapted the phonetics “Irritated x-rayed penguin” for his call, so it seemed appropriate to bring the penguin out of retirement for this custom cartoon.
This is what I came up with. It has ham radio, it has an x-ray and it has Dave as an irritated penguin. Add a hand-lettered call sign in a font inspired by the cartoon “Ren & Stimpy,” and there you have it. I’m not sure I could explain what I came to draw past that, but it makes me smile anyway. I hope you like it, too.
Jim, N9JO, didn’t give me much to work with when he commissioned this QSL. “I’m a former electrical engineer,” he told me, “and I’m retired.” That only narrowed it down to about half of the hams currently licensed.
Then he sent me a photo he’d found online of some other ham, asleep in his shack, feet up and sending CW with his toe. “QLF” it said. And that, I realized, was the hook.
What’s it like to be retired and hamming? It’s kinda like the guy in that picture — so that’s how I drew Jim. I added some loose hand lettering and bright blocks of color, and this is what I came up with. I can only hope to relax in my shack like that some day!
This is another cartoon I created for Gordon West’s new Technician license manual, illustrating public service. We all know this guy, of course: Club baseball cap, orange vest, and a half dozen handi-talkies hanging from his belt. (The only reason I’ve never been this guy myself is I can’t afford a half dozen handi-talkies — a single dual-bander usually suffices.)
A lot of new licensees joined our ranks for just this purpose. Are you one of them? What public-service groups do you belong to? And how many radios do you carry on event day?
Steve, W7CBA, lives in Montana and likes the great outdoors. Can you draw me being chased by a grizzly, he asked? Sure, I said. And thus began this QSL card.
I changed it up a little, with Steve fleeing in panic while the bears size up his abandoned handi-talkie and backpack. Next thing you know, the bears are going to want to get their Tech licenses. (By the way, there’s a really good Tech study guide that just came out with illustrations by N2EST. I imagine the bears will either find it helpful or delicious.)
For extra points: Who recognizes the source of the above headline? Hint: He wasn’t a ham-radio operator but did have something to do with Hamlet.
One of my projects during Hamtoons’ hiatus was illustrating Gordon West‘s latest Technician Class license manual. I’ll be posting illustrations from it here from time to time.
Sometimes, all I could do was be literal to get the idea across. For example, do you know what a control operator is as defined by the FCC? (Hint: It does not have to do with putting a collar and leash on your rig.)
To get your own copy of the Gordon West study and learn the answer to this and other burning questions found on the Tech test, visit the W5YI website or call 800-669-9594.
Hamtoons is back — but after more than four months away from my drawing board, I was rusty. I needed a running start to get back into it. That’s why I decided to finish this goofy drawing of two happy hams doing the bump.
It originally was a rejected sketch for a QSL. The client wanted something that represented his work, end-to-end software solutions, if I remember correctly. But how exactly do you draw that? You can’t — so instead I presented him with the dancing pigs. It’s just where my mind went. I mean, hey, it’s ham radio, right? And the two hams are end-to-end, right?
He didn’t go for it. Still, I liked the sketch, so I filed it away. This afternoon I finished it for your listening and dancing pleasure. Enjoy.
To those of you waiting on commissions: I’ll be contacting you shortly. Thank you so much for your patience.
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.
Mike, K5MAF, has another hobby in addition to ham radio — he brews beer. And what goes better together than an adult beverage (in moderation, of course) and ham radio?
Mike wanted QSL art that reflected that combination, with roosters both hamming and imbibing. With slight modifications, the art will also appear on his beer labels.
I’m grateful to Mike not just for the commission but for his patience; we’ve been talking about this back and forth for months at meetings of our radio club, the South Canadian Amateur Radio Society in Norman, Oklahoma. Thanks for waiting, Mike. I hope it was worth it.
When 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.