Friday, March 4, 2016

Meet Mike McCartney - A Special Dog Cartoonist

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The Cartoonist at Work

If you're anything like me, you first discovered Mike McCartney's wonderful cartoons at a dog show. He has an uncanny way of capturing a breed's personality and the cartoons can be found on so many useful items. His cartoons have grown to include mixed breeds - look under Mutts. From the world's worst kept secret of dog fanciers, and my first McCartney item (a Yorkshire Terrier mouse pad if you're wondering) his work has expanded to include dogs of all descriptions doing virtually every dog sport in their own special way, as well as some other fun cartoons.

An artist all of his life, and pretty darned serious about it when he hung out with other talented classmates in the 6th Grade, he finally accepted that he is a cartoonist. Dogs, however, are obviously his passion, even when he was packing the car and driving to Art Shows far and wide. 

In 1979, when he and his wife, DeDe, moved he got a job at a shipyard. It lasted a year before he was laid off. With a wife and two children, he knew he had to find an immediate way to earn a living. In 1991 he began drawing caricatures of people for $4. (If you're reading this and have one of those, I want to know about it!) at Festivals. After more than 25 years there are still people who remember him from those days. Other work during this period included a brief time drawing animals for a greeting card company and another drawing designs for a bar napkin company. 

The dog cartoons had their roots with his mother and her Great Danes. He drew Great Dane cards for her birthday and Mother's Day.  His mother suggested he come to a Great Dane show she was attending and draw caricatures. 

"I thought I was going to draw the people but they wanted me to draw their dogs instead," he recalls. "All of a sudden they wanted shirts, they wanted mugs, they wanted anything with their breed on it." At that point, he knew he had something. The McCartneys attended an all-breed show where someone asked, "if I could draw a Whippet. I didn't even know what a Whippet was."

It became a family business. The first product was black and white cards. He, DeDe and their kids, Butch and Stevi, cut costs by sitting around the table folding and packaging cards. He about started with learning about more breeds and then had to figure out which breeds were more popular and would sell more cards. The business grew from there with DeeDee handling the business end. Today he has wholesalers all over the world. 

Seeing one of his shirts on someone at the top of a mountain in Washington State, he was surprised but all he said was, "Nice shirt."

You don't have to go to a dog show to buy his wonderful cartoons on an array of items. Just visit his website, McCartneysDogs, and surf around. You can choose by Breed (or Mutt) to see the items available in what may be more than one cartoon design, or you can choose by item. They make great gifts for dog loving friends of all stripes.

 I've usually picked up some items in various breeds to give as holiday or birthday gifts. Now you don't even have to leave the house to buy some great items.
"I have yet to see all four corners of my website," he told me.

Always inspired to start new projects in the future, finding time to carry them out will probably take a bit of doing!

Thanks, Mike McCartney, for sharing all of your wonderful dog cartoons with us. 

* All cartoons shown here are Copyright Mike McCartney.  You may share the entire blog post but NOT the individual cartoons. Thank You.


Gordon Brice said...

What a wonderful blog, Darlene and what an inspiration Mike McCartney is. He struggled and won the battle and deserves the success that he and his family worked so hard for.
I have seen some of his terrific cartoons before on your Timeline and also posted (Oops!) one or two, along with another of your Facebook friends, on your Timeline. Sounds like you have at least two criminals on your friends list.....LOL! Actually, it was decided that it was good publicity for Mike's work.
Thanks for sharing this blog with us. I'll take another look at Mike's website, but resist the temptation to share any of his amazing cartoons.

Darlene said...

Thank you so much, Gordon! He really is an inspiration and a really nice guy. I have finally gotten to "meet" him for this blog post. It was so much fun to devote a post to someone whose work I have loved for years. So many people have publicists seeking out bloggers to interview their clients. That didn't happen here. I always pick and choose but this time I approached Mike. He is so down-to-earth, it was a pleasure. It was also nice to find out that someone whose talent I have admired (and purchased items) is just as nice as he is talented. As large as the company has grown, he still does it himself. His wife had her own business now, a small shop and specializes in two food items. She still critiques his cartoons and makes suggestions. :-)

Sharing his cartoons, which clearly say Copyright on them, on Facebook is one thing, someone taking photos, illustrations, articles, etc. from an online or even print venue and putting them on their own page without permission or payment, is stealing. All material is copyright to the author, artists, photographer. When contacted, their excuse is that it's an "honor." No, we have awards and payment. It is how we earn a living. Would they like it if we came into their place of business and took something without paying for it? If it's not removed immediately, or payment isn't made, then they will hear from an attorney for breaking copyright, which is stealing. That is why artists, photographers and writers have to google their own name periodically, to catch the thieves who are too stupid, or just don't care, to find out what Copyright means. Can you tell that it makes me cranky?! I'm not alone. Most of us are quite generous when there is a request and we don't charge non-profits. Don't follow the rules, meet a lawyer. Or, I think it's Barrister in the U.K. :-)

You're safe! LOL And it is good publicity. If you go to his page on Facebook and use the Share button if you like something there, it will show up with a link to his page which is especially helpful. I'm always grateful when you share something I've written. :-) Thank you!!

Enjoy the webpage and share from his FB page. :-)

Chris Walkowicz said...

He's a great illustrator. Had him do one of each of my dogs from the time I first met him. Thanks, Darlene!

Darlene said...

Thanks so much for commenting, Chris! I never thought of asking him to one of Neezie back in the day.
This was definitely my pleasure.

DKSwrites2 said...

What a WONDERFUL article- and artist! Thank you for this wonderful read, Darlene Arden!
In fact, thank you for all of your wonderful blog posts. This is one of the best pet blogs I've followed...and this is one of my favorite pieces- Dogs and art...ranks way up there!

Darlene said...

Hi DKS, thank you so much for your comment. It has absolutely made my day! I don't know you but I'm so glad you like my blog and especially liked this post. It was wonderful to finally meet the man whose work I've so loved for so many years and introduce him to even more dog lovers. I'm so happy to hear that this was one of your favorite pieces!

Angela Kinder said...

This was... awesome! Seriously, I've never met a dog artist quite as talented as he is. Those cartoons really cracked me up, especially the "My Dog Can't Hold It's Licker".

Cathy Keisha said...

Love those cartoons! I wish he did cats too. Thank you for sharing his story and art work.

Darlene said...

Thank you for commenting, Angela. He is brilliant! And he's such a nice guy. Those of us who have been around the dog fancy for a long time know his work and love it. I sat here one day thinking it's great that so many dog people around the world know his work but what about the people who don't? He has added mutts so it's not just for people with purebred dogs. I really wanted to everyone who reads my blog to have an opportunity to "meet" him and see his work, surf over to his website. I really haven't seen anything to touch his dog cartoons. He keeps adding more items that people can choose. I debated using "My Dog Can't Hold Its Licker," with one other and, honestly, in the end, how could I resist? LOL

Robin said...

These cartoons are adorable! I love the way they illustrate the notable characteristics of each breed. These cards would be a great way to teach people about the different breeds of dogs. :)

Darlene said...

Hi Cathi Keisha, Thanks so much for surfing over and taking time to comment. His dog cartoons are remarkable. I, too, wish he did cats as well but there are so many dog breeds I don't know how he has found the time to do as many as he has, let alone add another species! Dog people are really specific about what they want and they love his work. I can only imagine what he might have done with cats! Perhaps someday, a cartoonist who is as good with cat breeds as Mike McCartney is with dog breeds, will come along. Meanwhile, if you have friends with dogs and you're stumped for a gift, you can always surf over to his site and surprise them with something fun and practical. I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much, even if he doesn't do cat cartoons!

Darlene said...

Thank you for leaving a comment, Robin! I don't know if anyone ever thought of using the caricatures that way. You're right, he does capture the essence of each breed. I'm so glad you enjoyed "meeting" him and seeing some of his cartoons. It was really hard to choose which ones I would use on my blog! I can get lost on his website for a very long time. :-)

Shannon Adams said...

Love his work!

Darlene said...

Shannon, You've said it all in just three words. Thank you! I do, too, and I so wanted to bring his work to those who don't know his work! He doesn't have a publicist. This was my determination and finding out if he would agree to this! I'm hoping more and more people will feel as we do. He is always adding new breeds and he has add "Mutts." I have loved his work from the time he made it to the East Coast dog shows! That's quite awhile.