Pet cat inspires Penwortham-raised artist to create new cartoon series

A Penwortham-raised artist has created a new comic series featuring his beloved pet cat.
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Richard Crookes, who grew up in Howick Cross, has created more than 100 cartoon-style pictures featuring three-year-old pet Ningnong, who lives with him in Thailand, and hopes to attract the attention of a publisher.

The 63-year-old said: “I've had many cats in my life but Ningnong turned up one day on the doorstep and trumped them all really with her super-cuteness. She’s so affectionate and cuddly, but with a real feisty side to her."

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He added: “I started to imagine her voice and her thoughts from the start and had imagjnary conversations with her on a daily basis and when I found a great 'comic' style mobile app I started to put together the cartoons from my photos and build her character.

Ningnong is a 3 year-old cat who turned up at Richard's doorNingnong is a 3 year-old cat who turned up at Richard's door
Ningnong is a 3 year-old cat who turned up at Richard's door

"She seems to have a rather low opinion of her dad (me) and does get impatient with him frequently. She also has film star or literary and philosophical 'moments'. She's very zen and a big fan of the philosopher Alan Watts which does come across occasionally.”

Richard started to post daily pictures on Facebook and said they “went down a storm”, but with fears of copyright infringement he decided to take them down and work on a book.

Richard is now trying the pictures out on where subscribers can view the archive and daily 'Ningnong'toons' for a monthly subscription of $5 .

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Richard’s story

The cat is fiestyThe cat is fiesty
The cat is fiesty

Richard attended Penwortham County Primary and then went onto Hutton Grammar School in 1971, where under the guidance and encouragement of teacher Brian Heap, he published his first set of prints – drawings of Chipping – at the age of 15 , and sold all 200 copies in a short time.

He said: “Art was the only thing I wanted to do from my very early teens but when I left school, I couldn't find a creative job locally and wasn't keen on going to art college at the time.”

After working for a couple of years as a nursing assistant at Whittingham Hospital, he decided to make a break and go solo as a freelance aged 20.

He said: “I started to build up a range of black and white prints of both the Lake District and Bronte country and sold these around the galleries and hotels in the North of England. I also used to hand colour these prints.

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"During this time I did many private commissions of mostly architectural subjects and I was a regular exhibitor at the 'at work' series of exhibitions at Samlesbury Hall near Preston.”

Following this period, he worked in the greeting card industry as a freelancer for many years, leading him to study calligraphy, and for a while he did calligraphic work for the Royal Lancs Regiment, and various universities and city councils for their honorary degree programmes and civic work.

For the last 10 to 15 years he has been working in the new age publishing sector designing book covers and oracle cards.

He moved to Thailand around 13 years ago and now live in a small town about three hours south of Bangkok, working on highly-detailed drawings of Thai subjects.

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