This little piece is one of my earliest "proper" comics. Before this, I'd drawn a few strips taking the piss out of one of my college lecturers, and long, strange, stupid jokey-adventure strip called Herbert the Hippo. That probably tells you all you need to know, but I've come to see highly-derivative genre-hopping anthropomorphic stories as a necessary step in any cartoonists development. That and knob jokes. (Not everyone moves past this step of course and occasionally someone manages to make a career out of it).
I drew this in October 1992, shortly after starting my first job in the Planetary Science Unit (now the Planetary and Space Science Research Institute) of The Open University in Milton Keynes. Until then The Open University was, as it was to many people, that thing on telly very early or very late, featuring people sporting wide ties and bad haircuts. In fact, the OU campus is much like any other university campus, except it doesn't have any students. There are bars, sports facilities, covered walkways between buildings, all that kind of thing, along with a general air of unhurried quiet braininess.
And there I was. I had a job that paid as much money in a month as I used to have to live on for three, a newly built workshop all of my own, and my own responsibilities under a sometimes alarmingly hands-off style of man-management. I'd instituted afternoon coffee in the workshop - at first by physically rounding up the students and the other research assistants - but it was starting to bed in properly. I'd bought a coffee machine especially, and put up a row of cup hooks populated with assorted mugs so there would always be enough to go round even if someone forgot to bring their own. There was an honesty box to fund the coffee and biscuits, and Morsey brought the milk.
By one of those strange engulfing cosmic coincidences, Judy (wife of my new boss Colin) was a friend of someone who was a friend of Richard, my next door neighbour in Hull. When I was offered the job, the PSU had some trouble getting hold of me, and Richard came round with a message to phone them. Richard, while maintaining a house in Hull, actually worked in Northampton where he rented another house. For the first few weeks, I travelled back and forth with him on Mondays and Fridays, staying in the house midweek. It was good fun - we cooked curries a couple of times a week, drank a reasonable amount of beer, and watched The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin together. Richard was an insatiable record collector and I'm indebted to him for playing me albums by Screaming Trees, Smashing Pumpkins, Richard Thompson, The Hindu Love Gods, Warren Zevon and more.
One evening, not even half a mile from the home of Comics Beardy-Weirdy Godking Alan Moore, I sat on my bed and drew Smell The Coffee.
I loved Herbert the Hippo. Schooby doodoo wap wap!
by Pepsi Chevrolet [e] on 21st Nov 2003
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