Reproduced with the kind permission of Dude magazine
We catch up with cartoonist Peter Plant in his studio for an exclusive and impromptu chitchat.
Dude: Peter, what influenced you to become a world-famous cartoonist?
Peter: My dad, One day I went to him and asked where I came from, He handed me a felt-tip and told me to go and draw something. The rest is history.
Dude: Who was your greatest inspiration?
Peter: George Feyer, an almost forgotten Canadian cartoonist who could draw as fast as you could talk, Artie Shaw, a bandleader who achieved perfection in his music and beat Frank Sinatra to Ava Gardner, and David Ogilvy, the original adman who taught me everything there is to know about copywriting.
Dude: Where did you go to school?
Peter: We lived in Toronto, I went to the local high School where I avoided getting beaten up by the tough kids by drawing funny cartoons of them which they thought were so hillarious they made me hang out with them. To impress the girls I learned to play drums and formed a seven- piece dance band called the Crazy 8 which played high school proms and other local gigs. Out theme song was ‘Moonglow’ because I loved Artie Shaw’s version of it. I don’t remember too many girls getting hysterical over us though. Maybe we should’ve been a rock and roll band called The Dynamos or something.
After high school I headed off to University in Winnipeg to take Architecture except when I found out Architecture didn’t mean just drawing pictures of exotic houses with a lot of greenery around them all day I lost interest and started hanging out at a trendy off campus coffee house drinking coffee, listening to folk singers playing my guitar and performing comedy routines on open mike night. Needless to say I flunked out of University big-time which probably wasn’t a great loss to the world of architecture.
Dude: Where did you go from here?
Peter: I got a job in an advertising agency writing copy for brochures and leaflets on an old Smith Corona which, in case you don’t know is a typewriter.
The Work was pretty boring until one day they shoved a bottle of roll-on deodorant in front of me and told me to write a 30 second TV commercial for it. so I did. Would you like to see it? (taps ipad)
Dude: (laughs) Very good,
Peter: then they threw a chocolate bar on my desk and told me to write one for that (taps iPad)
They watch Peter’s TV Commercial for Rowntree’s toffee crisp
Dude: (laugh’s) I Like it.
Peter: it should’ve won a Binky, then I wrote this one (taps iPad)
Dude: (laughs) So you were now a fully fledged copywriter.
Peter: I guess I would’ve been if I hadn’t got fired.
Dude: you got fired?
Peter: Yeah to make some extra money i’d got a job as a DJ in a discotheque which kept me up till 3am That and because I had also taken up with the go-go girl meant I was getting to work at the agency in the morning later and later until one day I walked in at noon and found a note in my typewriter from Fred my boss “if you arent looking for a job you should be because you’ve fired. Best widhes Fred.” Fred had a twisted sense of humour.
Dude: You got fired?
Peter: I bid hasta la noches to the discotheque and the go-go girl and took off for London, England where amid the red buses, black taxis, pubs, bobbies, bowler hats and Big Ben I met two ditzy girls who were looking for someone to share their flat and moved in with them. After making friends with a slightly miffed cat I started cartooning life around me and when I began I to miss the buzz and excitement of the advertising world i grabbed my three commercials, walked into an agency and asked them if they needed a copywriter. an hour later I found myself sitting at a typewriter writing a magazine ad for a hair removal cream called Veeto. But it would not be long before my new job got a lot ore interesting.
Dude: How so?
Peter: The next day, having writing my Veeto ad, I was sitting at my desk doodling when suddenly burst into the room a guy in suit introducing himself as Ron the account director on Wilkinson Sword, one of the agencies biggest clients, looking desperate. he told me Wilkinson Swords advertising manager was displeased with a tv commercial for the CLOSE and easy disposable razor they had presented to him and was threatening to fire the agency. Could I, he wondered, come up with a fresh idea by Monday. As he left i grabbed my guitar and started fooling around with a tune and some lyrics that popped into my> I recorded a demo and drew a storyboard and by the time I finished presenting them to Wilkinson Sword on the Monday their ad manager was beaming and the account was saved. Ron slapped me on the back and we all went to lunch. here’s the finished commercial. (taps iPad)
Dude: What was happening with the cartoons?
Peter: I was working on a strip about, guess what, two ditzy girls and a cat who shares a flat with a struggling cartoonist, I called it Knickers because you had to fight your way through a jungle of ladies’ lingerie hanging in the bathroom every time you wanted to have a shower. Unfortunately editors thought the title was too risque so I changed it to panties but they didn’t like that either.
You can read The entire sexually- explicit suspense-filled story of how the strip and it’s new name became successful (here)
Dude: Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?
Peter: No, because every night, in the wee small hours, the Goddess of inspiration comes to me and tells me what she has seen and gives me many ideas. Like one night she told me she saw a man in an overcoat out on the observation deck at Gatwick Airport flashing jumbo jets as they taxied to and from the runway and gave me the idea for a little cartoon called Flash Filstrup. Another night she told me she saw two pigeons sitting on top of the 07.22 to London as it pulled out of her local station that morning and gave me the idea for a strip about a pair of ornithological commuters. Another night she told me she saw a woman drop a cat into a wheelie bin on the ten o’clock news which gave me my first gag for the book 101 ways to get rid of a cat. Another night she told me she saw my girlfriend falling butt over brolly for a swarthy. good-looking tennis bum right in front of me at Wimbledon one afternoon and gave me the idea for the song “Game, set and Match”
Dude: As a world famous cartoonist what are you most proud of?
Peter: Getting my first cartoon published. It (see right) appeared in the first and only issue of a Canadian men’s magazine called Success. I got paid ten dollars and figured I could now call myself a cartoonist. And also when I got Bogart into a national newspaper. Then there was the day I was summoned to Buckingham Palace by her Majesty the Queen to draw a caricature of her.
Dude: Wow. Really?
Peter: Actually no. Just kidding. But she knows i’m just at the other end of the phone!
Dude: Thank you for talking to us, Peter.
Peter: You’re welcome. hey you want to listen to some Artie Shaw?
Above Peter at wheel of luxury sports car. At right with assistant Ralph