Top 10 of Eric the Circle: How mX powered the world’s first draw-it-yourself cartoon

Ashton BishopAshton Bishop reflects on how his creation Eric the Circle has taken on a life of its own through mX and gives his top 10 of all time. 

I was never going to be a lawyer. Smart enough to get in, dumb enough to do it. And when you’re mildly dyslexic the world of law is an unforgiving place. So I doodled.

From about 1995-1997 when I should have been studying I did little cartoons. It was a bit of a weird choice for somebody with little to no ability to draw.

Unfortunately they weren’t quite off-the-wall enough to be considered artistic, they were just childlike in nature. But they distracted me from the dry subject matter of law, so I persisted.

Out of my collection of weird and surreal characters, Eric the Circle became a constant feature. So I pulled them out to one side in a attempt to get them published as a ‘proper author’. I then started showing them around and the feedback was always, “yeah, that’s OK, but what about this?”

When I showed people they thought mine were ‘ok’, but loved their own – quite the conundrum for a 20 something aspiring artist.

By 2009 (yep, we just skipped a decade) I’d got my ego checked, a team assembled, built one of the world’s first bespoke flash draw-pads and Eric The Circle, The world’s first draw-it-yourself cartoon was launched.

He quickly became the world’s most prolific cartoon with now over 21,450 individual creations and counting from thousands of authors around the globe.

Eric became the daily cartoon in mX and his wares were shared out globally via GoComics.

Fast forward again to 2015 and now mX is closing down. Long live mX. It was really nice to be on the train and hear people laughing at/near/with, Eric the Circle and especially that moment when you meet a random stranger and find out that they’ve created their own.

It was never going to be earth or life changing TED worthy idea, but for people to be able to create and share – I think Eric is a neat concept and a fun character.

So as mX closes I wanted to share back the Top 10 Erics of all time. You’ll note that as the original creator none of mine appear, and there’s something great about an idea that takes on a life of its own.

And I hope Eric the Circle will live on as mX closes. For almost 20 years now the cartoon character has been able to stay topical and relevant across borders and topics.

eric the circle bookIf you want to get onto the site and create that would be awesome. If you just want an aide memoire of his tenure then the first Eric The Circle book has made it to print – Eric the Circle ‘On Love’. If you’re a creator then you never know you may have inadvertently fulfilled that published author dream yourself.

  • Ashton Bishop is head of strategy at Step Change and the original Eric the Circle creator.

Top 10 Eric the Circle cartoons of all time:

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