Friday, February 29, 2008

Did I dream this?

OK, I think I read this news story on the back of someone else's Newspaper, but it just hit me that it was actually very strange: A guy got arrested for punching someone who told him to get off his jet-ski, which he was riding in the streets of a flooded town, while other people were quite busy trying to rescue their belongings from their homes. I guess he figured it was practically his duty to take advantage of the situation, seeing he had a jet-ski to hand and it's quite the opportunity.
Anyway, did that really happen or did I just make it up?
It's really bugging me now!

Forms, forms...

You know what's boring? Trying to sort out my Public Lending Rights... the people working there are so nice and keen to send me money, but for some reason it's taking me ages to get the forms right. When I finally get some money I'll throw a party with it or something.

What's exciting is that the new TV I have is watching all the programs for me and I don't have to, I just make it record that looks interesting, and then I can delete it again without ever having a look at it if I like, all at the pres of a button... it's very Douglas Adams somehow, having a machine that watches TV for me.

Things You Never Thought You'd Say in a Meeting

"To be honest, I am feeling quite strongly that the giant robotic owl tower should be axed from this book. It feel a bit... forced."
"It's true. Maybe we should get back to basics a bit. And the whole eternal night thing might just be a bit abstract."
"Yes, what we need is emotional content..."


In fact "What we need is emotional content" is probably the one thing I say in EVERY meeting, I always try to do it in a Bruce Lee sort of voice but no one realises I think.
So, anyway, I axed the Giant Robotic Owl Tower, but it MIGHT make an appearance one day in another story because I do sort of like it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Huh! Back from a meeting and tomorrow I'll blog some pictures, because we carved so much out of the project that now I have some lovely reject pictures to show.

Otherwise... I woke up from an earthquake the night before last and thought I saw someone standing in the room, wobbling the floorboards, and I shouted MOOPALOOP! - No idea why. I was quite surprised to find the next morning that the earthquake HAD happened.

And in the free newspaper on the tube I read that they can now fix certain kinds of blindness by implanting a tooth in the eye, carved specially to hold a tiny man-made lens. And also there's a popular new frageance to be had for £75 a bottle which smells of all bodily secretions at once, and coconut.

And I got a new high res widescreen computer screen this morning which has a built in TV tuner. Goodness me... I'll never physically move again...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Finishing a Story...

I'm just getting ready for a meeting tomorrow - finishing a thumbnail-dummy and script for a new book. I'd have finished it yesterday but I decided to clean up[ and re-arrange the studio instead. Now it looks like a good sunny day, perfect for writing hopefully funny things about hamsters.

I got some nice reviews in the mail today, all for "Timothy". One of them called the artwork "Informal", I thought that was a nice comment...

And I got a contract in the mail, too. Huzzah!

I was thinking about how slightly frustrating it is that I can never blog very much of my work-in-progress because I don't like giving too much away before publication, but I got loads of stuff from finished projects - should I sometimes blog some old development work? I always think some of these heavily used dummies and annotated lay-outs are fun to look at...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Last Night's Owl

This morning I got up feeling tired and found the desk covered in owls.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Amazing Screw-On Head

So... one of my favourite comics has been animated! And one may pre-order the DVD on Amazon.
I've looked at some clips on YouTube and it looks amazingly much like Mignola's artwork, but I am not sure as yet that I like it... it's strange to see these little guys move and talk. Hmmm.
Very exciting though!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Peter Lustig

I was just researching something on the web when I came across this guy... I'd completely forgotten about him. He was the presenter of my favourite childrens' program when I was small. He lived in a converted construction trailer in someone's front garden, with a stairway made from chairs leading to a pretty roof terrace, and every week he explained some part of the world. Like why dogs have four legs, why the rain falls, where the night comes from, how holes get into the cheese, and he'd make things and take things apart... it really shaped my idea of what being a grown-up entails (which might explain a thing or two).
I think he went to sea and into space as well...
And every episode ended with him saying "Are you still there? Turn off the telly!"

So I printed off a picture to pin up in the place where I'd considered putting a small wall-mounted TV. He's explaining how a phone works here.

Alexis decided he'd better add some bits, and did. Now you can REALLY see how it works.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Enough with the reading in bed... today I got up, had a coffee and a hot bath, packed lots of tissues and took the train to the comic shop. I tried not to sneeze on anyone. Somehow I don't really mind having a cold. I don't really like the sneezing and aching and being stuck in bed, but I find every time I get a cold it transports me back to some special place where I spent every cold I can remember. I dream about all the books I read tucked up in bed, and read some new ones, and I make up stories and worry about nothing. And when I get back up and shuffle around tentatively the world always seems fresh and wonderful, and such a treat... I don't know why, but the experience of having a common cold is the only thing I can think of that is completely consistent in my life. I like that, even if there's nothing else good about it.

Here's who came back from the comic shop. I love this guy...

Monday, February 18, 2008


I spent the morning in bed with a cold reading UnLunDun by China Mieville - fresh from the library, I'm the first person to be taking out this copy. It's absolutely wonderful! It took a few chapters for me to really love it - so there's a second version of London populated by all the lost and unwanted things from London, hmm, ok - but now I am about halfway through and everything that I didn't much like in the beginning has turned into complete joy. All the bits that I thought were there just because they "looked good" are seriously coming to life.
It's like all the classic children's fantasy I loved as a kid, and some that I only imagined and wished it would materialise in book-form.
I worried it might be a bit long and dragged-out, just from the thickness of the book, but now I think it's epic and generous, with a real sense of building a world. Hooray! So many pages left! Mmmm.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

some children

I'm just working out how best to draw noses really, so they aren't doing very interesting things on the whole. Just showing off their noses.

Friday, February 15, 2008


I've got to draw toddlers today, and it's too grey and cold to go to the park for observational drawings. So I would like to use some reference books instead, but the main one I want is stashed away - probably behind the old bath-tub in the bathroom which is being renovated.
I might just get some chocolate and sulk and then do the best I can with the books I can find...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hairy Days

I just gave myself a very 80's haircut...
All the ladies seem to have straight curtains of long hair these days. And they have secret ways of keeping them out of their faces with tiny little hair clips or just some sort of Hair Zen that might involve constant secret head movements.
My hair secretly wants to be curly and doesn't want to do do dramatic curtains, or if it does it doesn't look like it from where I'm standing, so I tried my hand at cutting layers.
Now I feel I must get some ripped t-shirts and layer multi-coloured net stockings. I might.
It looks very harmless, even if I do my Serious Face, which might be a good thing.

Also, am writing a new picture book, that's in a hairy phase too. Not to worry, always happens, be glad you don't live in the same house as me until I sorted it out.
Always the same: first have a funny idea and be excited about it. Then write it down and notice it's nonsense. Then spend a couple of weeks searching for the hidden goodness (I know it's there! It was so obvious at first!) then find it and be glowingly happy, then the editing process, during which confusion and worry reign for an unspecified time period, and suddenly the glorious day when it all makes sense for everyone involved and I get to celebrate by buying a new dress.
And then there's hoping and praying they like it in America, and if it makes them laugh, all is well.

At the moment it's in second draft. The beginning is funny, the middle bit is sheer madness and the end is a bit dull. That's quite good going I think.

Pina Bausch

I went to see Pina Bausch yesterday, which was amazing. I even enjoyed the intermission, when the stage was neatly covered in a layer of soil by stage workers with rakes. It took six very big containers of soil...

One of the dances was "Cafe Mueller" (there's some bits of it at the link above) which I'd never seen. The film "Talk to Her" begins and ends with characters seeing a performance of that dance, and seeing the film years ago I had not realised how much the dance connects to the story.
I like things like that.

I read that "Cafe Mueller" was inspired by childhood memories of observing adult relationships, and that was just what it felt like, oh the fuss the fuss the fuss and over and over again and will they fall to pieces but it seems so important.

Pina Bausch herself was indisposed so there was an understudy, but I didn't really mind (I think I would have been amazed out of my mind if she'd actually been on stage).

Monday, February 11, 2008


Yesterday was another surprise Spring day, which was bad for my sisters' toads because they woke up early in the pond and died, but good for me because I went for a walk to Old Kent Road and bought a cheap colour printer. I haven't had a colour printer in years (they are such evil things, making horrible noises and eating money and breaking whenever one needs them), but I decided it would be nice to be able to print off pictures to stick in scrap books, and also include some print-outs of digitally coloured work in my development sketchbooks.
Then I cut my hair to feel like I saved some money, and in the evening doodled a page of assorted creatures while watching Highlander and talking to my sister on the phone about toads and stuff.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


I just painted a map of the middle east, and now I want a big bowl of salad before I have to actually work on a Saturday (no!) drawing lots of very small monkey-like creatures (can't complain actually).

I really have to draw some children soon, I'm starting to notice that there's a book coming up I have to draw with a real child in it and I haven't drawn a human being in months, I think. Aieh. And he needs to be very lovable, four years old and generally just so. It makes me slightly nervous... ah well.
I wonder if I should get a model? Surely I can borrow someone's four year old boy? Hm. Maybe it's time to go drawing at the playground.
After the monkeys.

Friday, February 8, 2008

And here's the Rest.

I just realised I have to stop drawing piglets and get ready to draw monkeys over the weekend. And Fish. This is getting a bit multi-tasky!

Hmmm just noticed, when I get back to this I'll have to do another set of younger piglets, he's mostly a bit older than planned here. Always happens.

And by popular request...

... it's Piglet on the Nose-Ukulele!



Piglet at the Pool

The little guy is surprising me, I didn't expect him to go to the pool when I was starting to draw him. I've also got some pictures of him playing a ukulele with his nose, but they aren't dry yet.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Pencil Piglets

I really have to look up how pigs' trotters work.
Enough for the day, anyhow! I'll ink some tomorrow.

There Are Cats in this Book

...I just added a quick promo page for the Novelty book I'll have published later this year... does this look ok?

Elsewise, I am drawing more piglets this evening.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008



Too much coffee, not enough food, lots of business and work and I never post enough drawings. Today and tomorrow are dedicated to producing some all-new illustrations, at last...
Sorry to anyone who I've been distracted to, I think someone could have lost a leg and I wouldn't have noticed in the last couple of weeks. I mean, I could have lost a leg and just wondered why I kept falling over on the way from the post office to the art shop to work.

By the way, I took my laptop to be checked and they said it was collectible, and in fine condition. The think that made it seem a bit run-down was a remnant of Norton Anti-Virus hiding behind stuff and slowing everything down. Now it's all zippy again.
Hmm, I like my Mac.


...for The Big Picture illustrators award I am.
Toot! :)

P.S. a-ha, here's the complete long-list, and some links to more info.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Guys! Guys! I'm so excited! Has anyone else tried "SeaMonkey"? It's amaaazing! It's a web browser and editor and publisher at the same time! And it works! So... I can open my website in it online, change bits and click a button and they are changed!!! That means I can maybe be bothered to keep updating stuff now, and add new bits, and all that! Who hooooo!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Charity Work...

Hah! I have managed to do two of my three tasks for the day... some dread paperwork involving many numbers, and then after eating a plate of fried egg I wrote the story I promised to do for a National Year of Reading project. It should become part of a book that comes out in August (already! That would be the fastest-published thing I ever got involved in). I'm rather pleased with it... I'll put a copy in the box of collected stuff for my future book of collected stuff.

Now all I have lined up for the rest of the day is to draw a big page of hamsters. Will I? Won't I? If I do, they'll go to the Booktrust online illustrators' gallery along with some other pictures...

Tomorrow I'll go to the mac shop and find out if my computer can be upgraded to current industry standard or if I have to get a new one (wouldn't that be exciting) - I've given up on trying to make all-real illustrations (analogue illustrations?) and decided to get a computer set-up that's good enough to take all the hand-made hand-drawn hand-painted goodness I can produce and put it together with minimum fuss... I am spending hours every day faffing with my trusty old laptop anyhow, grumbling about wanting to stop working digitally, grumbling about not being able to make out the colours on screen, and the last two books I did kept a bunch of designers very busy because they had to scan and piece together all the bits of original artwork for me - so I figured: if I feel good about producing non-digital artwork and having it pieced together by other people while I watch and say "left! right! down! blue! delete! no!"... well, I might as well do some of the assembling myself. As long as I still get to have lovely real pieces of artwork, like this here stuff:

The main reason I got cross with the work on "Timothy" was that my scanner and screen weren't good enough to deal with watercolour, so I had to colour everything digitally which I found rather hellish. But hey, hm, watercolour vignettes made into full page illustrations on a big lovely screen, what's not to like?

(I do change my mind about these things all the time... but normally when the decision isn't accompanied by throwing things or mad cackling it's a sound one. Getting a decent computer work station together... seems very sensible. Yes.)

Friday, February 1, 2008


After a few days of trying to make illustrations completely without using the computer I gave up (yet again)... I just can't seem to do backgrounds non-digitally. Ah well. Here's a cute piggy.
If I keep making digitally adjusted-assembled artwork I think I need to invest in a new external monitor. >Sigh<