Several of my cartoon QSL commissions have involved mobile or portable operations, even backpacking and hiking — but this is the first one designed especially for Parks on the Air (POTA) contacts.
Don, WA4FL, is a retiree who spends part of his time in Florida (hence, the cool call sign). He enjoys combining QSOs with camping, so he wanted a card that showed him doing just that, with POTA acknowledged and a park animal “causing mischief.” Done and done. Besides, what would a Hamtoons QSL be without a cute animal wearing headphones? That’s why I went all-out and gave him four squirrels, two with headsets, one playing with his pipe, and one at the wheel of his Ram van (probably looking for a headset of his own). What can I say? Drawing cute animals wearing headphones makes me happy.
I also suggested modifying one of my standard report forms for POTA information, and this is what we came up with. Don liked it. I hope his fellow hams who receive one of these QSLs like it too.
My latest cartoon QSL commission is very Australian — and an homage to an Aussie cartoonist I’d never heard of before.
Bob, VK2ADF, recently retired as a military police officer wanted an “outback” theme “like the Ettamogah Pub.” Sounds fun, right? But being an American, I had absolutely no idea what the Ettamogah Pub was, so I had to look it up. That led me to Google, Wikipedia and ultimately to the work of the late Australian cartoonist Ken Maynard.
Maynard, I learned, was also an ex-cop — just like VK2ADF — who made his reputation drawing for The Australasian Post. Maynard’s style could best be described as a cross between Don Martin and Jack Davis; think Mad Magazine with an Aussie bent, and you’ll have the general idea.
The original Ettamogah Pub near Albury, New South Wales. Used under Wikipedia Creative Commons.
The nexus of Maynard’s cartoon universe was the Ettamogah Pub, apparently the place to be if you lived in the outback. Several real Ettamogah Pubs exist today in Australia, Maynard’s work was so popular.
The Maynard connection led to the QSL design: VK2ADF in a military-police car, accompanied by a dog (Maynard loved to draw dogs) with the pub on a hill in the background, repurposed as a shack. Aping Maynard’s style was a challenge but well worth the effort.
Ryan, K4BFH, loves his Ford Mustang. His XYL loves training horses. Could I combine the two on a QSL?
I enjoy drawing cars, so I got to work creating a simplified version of his Mustang. This particular car, though, presented a special challenge: How do you illustrate a black car using black outlines? My solution was to lighten up the black slightly and then define the edges of the car with shine and shadow. It works well enough, in a cartoon sort of way. That’s Ryan at the wheel.
Ryan’s wife appears in the background. If the horse’s pose looks familiar, there’s a reason — it’s the same pose used by Ford for its classic Mustang badge. The font used for Ryan’s callsign also comes from that logo and badge. This QSL is all Mustang, all the way.
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.
If you like chasing counties, you’ll like this QSL card.
Ed, N8OYY, told me he enjoys “county hunting all 3,077 U.S. counties and driving from county to county making contacts from my SUV.” He wanted something to illustrate that, showing his specific vehicle, a Kia Sorento. I suggested conveying the idea with a faux map of various counties and his SUV wandering through it. Ed liked the idea, so I went to work.
The map I drew isn’t an exact representation, but it tells you what you need to know. The SUV, however, is definitely a Kia Sorento. (I’ve liked drawing cars since I was a kid, so it was easy to do it right.) I then added the call sign in 3-D and a burst with the words “county hunter!” … and there you have it.
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.
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.
Here’s something different (for me, at least): a single-sided QSL card.
Even if one of my QSLs is meant to be sent as a postcard, I usually design them two sided: color on the front, black and white on the back. I like working with a big canvas.
Matt, N9YBK, however, was on a tight budget. He’s a former cop who works as an IT professional, freelances as a photojournalist and has eight kids. I get that. Contrary to popular perception, we cartoonists have to watch our pennies, too. I did my QSLs on the cheap for years.
My solution to Matt’s budget dilemma was to forego color and consolidate both his cartoon and the report form on one side of the card. The cartoon combines two aspects of Matt: his trusty camera; and his dream police cruiser, a Dodge Charger. Matt liked his card. So did I.
This is not the short story by Stephen King; rather, it’s just one serious ham with a serious lawn mower. The squirrel is safe.
Both Jack, WA5TQB, and his daughter Dana worked with me to create this card, with Dana sending photo reference of Jack — on his riding lawn mower, operating mobile. All I had to do was cartoon it up and add typography. If you must mow your lawn, fellow hams, then this is the way to do it.