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An Illustrator Walks Into A Bard…

March 24, 2015

I’m not a big Shakespeare fan, but I like his plays the same way I like poetry. I may not understand it all, but I love the sound of the words. They stir the emotions, cast a spell.

Movies have famous lines (There’s no place like home, I coulda been a contender, Make my day), and so do Shakespeare’s plays. Here’s a semi-famous one from Macbeth being parodied by yours truly:

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Guy ordering his dog out of the house, out damned spot, parody of Lady Macbeth line in Shakespeare play Macbeth

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In the play, it’s Lady Macbeth talking. She’s goaded her husband into committing murder, and now she thinks she can see blood on her hands.

This got me thinking about how we all conjure up spots. A lot of them are things that keep us stuck in place. I decided to write a LinkedIn post on the subject, which you can read here. I used the illustration for the post header.

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Header image for LinkedIn post about ways we sabotage chances for success showing guy ordering his dog out of the house, out damned spot, parody of Lady Macbeth line in Shakespeare play Macbeth

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One of the most famous lines in Macbeth is spoken by one of the witches:

By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes.

No, she wasn’t referring to an illustrator, she was talking about bad ol’ Macbeth himself, who by this time is a murderer many times over. I decided to place the line in a more humorous context:

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anthropomorphic fire hydrant with itchy thumbs looking with disgust at approaching dog, parody of witch's line Something wicked this way comes in Shakespeare's play Macbeth

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According to an old superstition, if your thumbs itched, something unpleasant was about to happen.

I decided to use this idea as a stepping off point for another LinkedIn post. The premise: trust your gut feeling that something’s amiss with a client relationship, and
take steps to correct it.

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Header image for LinkedIn post about client situations where need to trust your gut showing anthropomorphic fire hydrant with itchy thumbs looking with disgust at approaching dog, parody of witch's line Something wicked this way comes in Shakespeare's play Macbeth

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At this point, of course, you’re asking yourself: Why’s he gone off on this Shakespeare kick?? There must be a story behind it.

There is. A case of one idea sparking another, which is always the case in illustration.

A local theater company is staging a parody of Macbeth, and they said: “Yea, forsooth! You’re a dear sweet chap, we’d like to give you an ad in our program.”

After researching famous lines in Macbeth, I saw where I could take two of them, and create a 2-panel cartoon. Here’s the B&W ad:

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ad for community theater program parody of Shakespeare play Macbeth Out damned spot and Something wicked this way comes

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Are you a fan of The Bard? Do you have a favorite Shakespeare play?

Ever felt a pricking in your thumbs? Maybe when you were playing with your pet porcupine?

Why are so many dogs named Spot??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2015 6:01 PM

    Mark … Aside from your amazing illustrations, you made me realize for the first time where Ray Bradbury got the title for his book, “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” That is so cool. Sorry, Squirrel!

    Yes, I do love Shakespeare. His quotes are probably the most quoted … except those from the Bible. 😉


    • March 29, 2015 8:55 AM

      Thanks, Judy! I’d forgotten about that Ray Bradbury title. I read a lot of his stuff back in high school, and it always used to stand my hair on end. I’d begin every story with a feeling of dread– which was usually fully justified!! He had a unique prose style with a strong dash of the poetic. Much like yourself… : )

      You’re right– it’s surprising how many stock phrases come from the Bible. I heard the parable of the Rich Farmer last week– the guy that had the bumper crop harvest, and built new barns to store it all. Thought he was set for life, and was gonna Eat, drink, and be merry. Alas, he had to cash in his potato chips that very night, and they buried him in his party hat… : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 29, 2015 12:53 PM

        There’s a message there, I’m sure (about the farmer cashing in his chips and leaving Vegas).

        Thanks for the compliment on my writing. I greatly admire Ray Bradbury. 😉


  2. March 25, 2015 3:37 AM

    I’ve never heard the phrase about pricking thumbs. In germany we have ‘green thumbs’ which is similar to the english green fingers and we press thumbs to say ‘I keep my fingers cross to you.’
    Thumbs up for your post- that works in both languages 😉


    • March 30, 2015 8:45 AM

      My dear Professor Tutti! I always learn so much from you– danke!! “Pressing thumbs” to wish someone good luck was completely new to me. I was just reading a bit more about it— some fascinating history there! I’m going to start using the gesture over here. And if anyone gives me a hard time about it, I’ll have two fists all ready to box their ears!! Yes, I think it will work out very nicely… : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 31, 2015 12:22 PM

        Dear Professor Armstrong, now I’m really glad that I didn’t translate my last “blue” post or you would name me wisenheimer again :mrgreen:

        Nevertheless I’m glad that we’ve met! From a certain level of crazyness it is not easyly possible to find a buddy with similar disorders 😉
        Isn’t it most amazing how different gestures in countrys are?! Thanks a lot lot, for sharing the link, that is truely very interesting.
        There is for example a typical american gesture the ‘T-cross’ to indicate stop. Does that come from sports?


        • April 3, 2015 8:57 PM

          My dear Tutti!! You are a natural wisenheimer, you can’t help it, it’s part of your charm. And you’re right: having similar mental disorders is essential for true friendship. It’s exciting for me to meet someone else who’s “off the scale.” And I mean way off the scale… : )

          Yes, here in the States, using one’s hands to form a ‘T’ is the signal for a “time out.” I can’t say for certain that it originated with American football, but that’s where you see it most often: either a coach or a player will use the gesture to signal the referee that the team wants to stop play and take a time out. It’s become a universally understood gesture here. You often see it used during an argument when voices are raised, or when too many people are talking at once: someone will make a ‘T’ and say, “Whoa, whoa! Let’s calm down here…”

          Now I’m making a ‘T’ because it’s time for me to stop typing and have some ice cream with bratwurst sprinkles… : )


        • April 6, 2015 1:48 PM

          Dear Oversea-friend, I hope you’ve got my bratwurst-chocolate-eastereggs in time! Pondered very long, what I could send for more intercultural exchange.
          May the bunny-power with you 😉 Happy Easter to you dear Mark!


        • April 8, 2015 4:16 PM

          Dear Most Cherished Friend From O’er The Briny Deep And Through The Black Forest: Danke, danke, and more danke for the delicious Bratwurst Chocolate Eggs!! As soon as I saw the Easter Bunny wearing lederhosen and singing Ein Prosit at the top of his rabbity lungs, I knew those eggs were from you. I ate them all at once, and passed out with a big smile on my face… : )

          Hope your Easter was wonderfully joyous, my dear Tutti!!! : )

          Liked by 1 person

  3. March 25, 2015 7:07 PM

    “Such stuff as dreams are made on” [The Tempest]
    Your well of creativity is deep, my dear friend!
    Wishing you a wonderful rest of the week.
    Excellent ad! 🙂
    I can imagine clients lining up!!!!


    • March 30, 2015 9:03 AM

      My dear Marina!! You’re right, as usual: clients did line up when they saw my ad. They all asked me: “Where can we buy Marina Kanavaki art prints?? Life will be beautiful with a Kanavaki hanging on our wall!!” Yes, we have very astute art patrons over here… : )

      Wishing you a blessed Holy Week! And now I must grab a snorkel and dive into my deep well of creativity– ker-SPLAT!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 30, 2015 5:23 PM

        No no no no no no no… I am pretty sure I heard them crying out ‘we want Mark -the illustrator genius!!!’ 😉


  4. Steven L Campbell permalink
    March 26, 2015 11:06 AM

    I will never be able to watch Macbeth again without laughing at the otherwise serious scenes you used in your illustrations. Hopefully, theater management will allow me to leave on my own accord. 🙂


    • March 30, 2015 3:12 PM

      Haw!! Your quip made my day, sir! It also made me let out a huge guffaw, which is always good for my system. : )

      Having the support of a superb artist and writer like yourself means a lot, Steve– thank you. Wishing you a blessed Holy Week, a Happy Easter, and a big Chocolate Hellhound in your Easter basket!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  5. March 28, 2015 11:41 AM

    Some good client tips, Mark.

    I did enjoy the Bard and studied his stuff at university. But still, whole sections require slow reading to understand the meaning.

    I’m surprised you didn’t choose Hamlet’s soliloquy, “To be, or not to be..” 🙂 I loved “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and “The Tempest”. Last year, we saw Midsummer’s in ballet form which was pretty cool. However my blog post with those photos was on a different topic and I appropriated the character of the donkey-ass:


    • April 3, 2015 9:15 AM

      Hi, Jean! Thanks as always for pedaling over. I definitely miss a lot of the dialogue when I watch one of Shakespeare’s plays. I think it’s because my brain is trying to translate his “Old English” into contemporary English, and is having a hard time keeping up! I’m always grateful if the theater program has a plot summary that I can read before the play begins… : )

      I got a (donkey) kick out of your Badass post. I can see I’m not the only blogger being inspired by the Bard! : )


  6. March 31, 2015 6:34 AM

    Oh i love this! especially the prickling thumbs one. I love quotes and how lovely to turn them humourous 🙂 thanks for the giggle this morning 🙂


    • April 3, 2015 9:23 AM

      What a delightful comment– thank you! Very nice to meet you, thanks so much for stopping by. I’ve always been a big fan of quotes and one-liners. In a way, they’re like cartoon captions in search of an image– the kind of challenge I really enjoy. Thanks again for your cheery comment! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lily permalink
    March 31, 2015 4:59 PM

    Hahaha, Spot, the poor dog – whatever did he do! 😛

    I also think lots of dogs are called Spot because it’s a fact that all Spots are adorable… or maybe it’s all dogs that are adorable? 😀

    I do like a bit of poetic Shakespeare, although it does remind me of English lessons back at school!

    Ahh how I’ve missed your posts, Mark! And they’re just as entertaining as always 🙂


    • April 2, 2015 5:48 PM

      Ah, dear Lily– I’ve certainly missed you, and I know I’m badly overdue at your blog. I shall make amends!!

      I like your Spot Theory. It may even explain the spots on my shirt. Or perhaps I just need a bib when I’m eating soup… : )

      You’re right– there is something about Shakespeare that suggests a high school classroom. Yes, I cut quite a dashing figure back then, in my doublet and bombasted hose… : )

      Again, great to see you, and thanks so much for your cheery comment!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. April 5, 2015 2:28 PM

    nice post


  9. Robin King permalink
    May 24, 2015 3:51 PM

    Hi, Mark!!! LOL!!! Shakespeare could’ve done MUCH better in his career if he’d had you by his side! LOVE your ad, your take on the famous lines. And your LinkedIn posts! WOW!! So good!!!! I may have to memorize the “5.1 Ways We Sabotage Our Chances For Success” bec it’s SPOT ON (::giggles::).

    Seriously, though: Wow. WOW. BRAVO!!!!!! You posted this back in April. How was the production?

    And HAAA! re the many dogs named Spot. I never understood that one. Not a lot of cats named Stripe. Or Spot, for that matter.

    I hope you got some new clients from that ad! They’ll be lucky to have you!

    Anyway……it’s great to see you! I’ll be back here soon!!! Don’t grab any porcupines while I’m away.


    • May 28, 2015 10:08 PM

      Shakespeare? Poor Will! They had to reset his tombstone, because he rolled over in his grave when he read this post! Oh, wait– how could he read it if he was dead? Ah! There are more things in heaven and, er, under the earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Cap’n Hornblower… : )

      Thank you, my dear Tuna, for that rousing series of accolades– I blush with pleasure, I do, I do. I know you had some trouble posting comments here. You wound up with semi-duplicates which I took the liberty of consolidating– hope that’s OK!!

      The Macbeth stage parody was pretty funny. I think my favorite part was when one of the characters “trumpet-synced” Herb Alpert’s The Lonely Bull. What that was doing in there, I never figured out!!

      The preponderance of dogs named Spot remains a mystery. Especially since many of them have multiple markings, and should, of course, be named “Spots.” : )

      The response to the program ad was underwhelming, but I did get a crank call from a porcupine who just wanted to needle me. Ah, well… : )

      Great to hear from you, and thanks a million for all your kind nouns, verbs, and adjectives!! : )


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