Thursday, April 30, 2009

Belated Forum Photo

I just got a picture of everyone from the Open Illustration Forum in Falmouth. Here we are! It's a bit late to post it but I had such a nice time - and, let's face it, how often do I get to name-drop like this. Oh, I don't like name dropping. So I won't. I'll just face-drop. Look!
Oh, I rather liked all these people! Don't we look nice, too...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


This is what I've been drawing the last few nights. Turns out night time drawing is good for insomnia. It's so big that at some point I decided to cut it up and work on it in sections. This is just the middle bit.

river in progress

I hope it'll be something nice when it's finished.

Have to put it away for today though because I need to collage an exploding suitcase and paint some replacement cats for the endpaper of the sequel to "There are Cats in this Book".

I like what this plant is doing.

determined flower

determined flower

Walked underneath this on my way back from the post office. Never noticed it before. I wonder if it will make it all the way across the road...

By the way, you may have noticed that I am still blogging even though I said I'd take some time off.
It's just because I met about four new real life three dimensional people in the meantime who greeted me with "Oh hello, you are Viv, I read your blog", and they were all nice.

The Mole and the Music

I have fond very early memories of the little Mole being projected on super 8 in the kindergarten. And he was on TV seemingly all the time. Maybe he was on Betamax, that would explain...
In any case, it's fun to see where I got my brain from. Some of it, anyway.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Comics Workshop

Here's a lovely report from the Crystal Palace Children's Book Festival by Candy Gourlay - mostly about the utterly brilliant comics workshops. Check out how convincingly I am pretending to be on the DFC!
And the comic with the two guys in the woods has one panel by me. You can probably tell which one. I got to read it out loud, which was fun actually.
I do remember those kids actually, they were rather brilliant I thought. They already look like comic artists. Hope they'll all keep drawing!

I should have blogged about this myself, really, but I neglected to take any pictures... I laughed so much at this workshop I had to go and hit my head on the wall at some point, which I didn't think people actually do.

Oh... and here's David O' Connell's post about it.
And here is Alex Milway's.
Gosh, this one well-documented event! I'd have scratched my nose less if I'd noticed the density of cameras.

Yes, I was wearing my Yak T-shirt. Yaks yaks yaks.

Aaah and just as I am writing this, another post comes through from Sarah - and that one features lots of shorts of the little red book with ALSO cats in, so go and look, quick!!!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Books and Yaks

I did my first reading! Huzzah! Of "There are Cats in this Book". And it sort of worked. I even got everyone to blow on the book (at the point in the book where the cats get wet and need drying off).

I'd got up unreasonably early and accidentally dressed as a time lord, which sometimes happens. Some odd combination of bags and shoes and coat, hard to explain. I always know I've done it when children start following me around just to see what I'll do next. Never mind.

Anyway, the Crystal Palace Children's Book Festival was great, I met a whole bunch of lovely people, I forgot to take pictures of the exhibition, and most importantly I got this book:
from Charis, who is seven years old and really knows how to make great books I say. It's got wool in and a blanket and everything, I'd show you more if I wasn't so tired. Tired I am because I spent close to three hours trying to get back home from Crystal Palace, and the trains did not cooperate at all. I traveled with Sarah Mcintyre and Charis, and we kept ourselves entertained with show tunes and drawing. I inexplicably did a short performance of Olive Oyl's song from the Popeye movie, which I didn't even know I knew. I seem to be unable to control my mouth after giving talks & readings... I'd started talking obsessively about yaks at some point in the afternoon, as in "I really must go home soon because I want to draw some yaks, I can just imagine some yaks I want to draw... or Bisons..." - so I drew one on the train, and Sarah drew a portrait of me.

Yep, that's where my head was at. And that's the shoes I somehow believed went with that coat when I left the house.

OK, excuse me while I draw some Bisons. Or some big animals with horns, anyway.

Huah... yawn.

Hm. I had one of these nights where I have to get up after midnight and draw stuff. Now I am having one of these days where I have to get on the train on the morning to go and read stuff out. Shall be taking my sketchbook to do more drawing though, I need to get some stuff onto paper. Shall have a rare second cup of coffee first because I accidentally snorted the first one up through my nose earlier (not laughing, just badly coordinated). See you in Crystal Palace possibly.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Viv's holidaying in the real world!

Hello there!

If you're not reading as much from me as usual it's just because I am making myself stay away from the computer for a while (except for absolutely necessary work, and email). A bit like cutting out dairy.
It's just that I noticed the ideas I wake up with and want to implement at the moment have shifted from writing the next scene in a novel or making a new animal from socks to replacing all the system noises on the computer with Holly from Red Dwarf. Which is VERY frustrating considering I have a whole list of great projects on at the moment, comics and videos and novels and, yeah, some paid work, too!

So here's a quick non-exhaustive list of stuff I've done meanwhile:
- realised I used to walk everywhere and started doing so again. Which means I now walk past vegetable shops on the way home from work. Which means I could do casual grocery shopping. Which means I cooked some real food. Which made me go "a-ha" and cancel my pool membership, which is supposed to keep me exercised, because to be fair one rarely swims past useful shops.
- tried again to teach myself to breathe properly, keep my head up and suck my stomach in when walking about. Walking about is very useful, I wonder when I forgot.
- drew a lot of hamsters. I mean, A LOT OF HAMSTERS.

Here are some hamsters. They are method-acting for a scene in a book & really giving it some welly.

If you don't hear from me, I am drawing hamsters, most likely, or walking about. Send me a mail if you miss me... Internet holiday! Whee! Meeting real people for coffee! SItting on the grass eating actual food! Whoo hoo!

I'll be back.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Crystal Palace Childrens' Book Festival Ahead!

I just realised that it is high time to point out again that the Crystal Palace Children's Book Festival is coming up. If you have children, cart them there. If you live far away, start walking NOW so you'll get here by Friday!

Here's the flyer (needs clicking on to read).

There will be amazing stuff to see and do, readings and art and workshops... check out the official site!

Me-stuff: some original artwork from the sequel to "There are Cats in this Book" will be on exhibition, and I'll do my very first reading. I never do readings. I'm doing a reading now. Oh yes.

Sounding funny

I spent some time over the last week recording songs into my computer, just for fun, and because I want to get over being scared of being recorded. I am deeply convinced that I am a very silly-looking and silly-sounding person, mostly because, well, people say so, actually. I don't know how often someone has told me that I "could have a beautiful voice if I wanted", as if they sell them by the pound in paper bags somewhere.
Anyway, so I've been listening to myself singing, because that seems less stressful than talking. And I can tell you by now that I am no good at it, but that it does sound funny. - I used to be sad that people kept laughing at me all the time, and I imagined being serious, one of these beautiful respectable serious people that everybody falls in love with, and I'd be all prosperous and such. And that if I were just serious enough people would walk up to me and say: "Viv, have lots of love and money because I cannot help but give all I can to such a deeply sincere and respectable individual as yourself." But, you know, the other day I pictured this scene and it suddenly struck me that it was a deeply silly thought.
So now I shall get back to doing something more constructive - drawing hamsters with tea-cups on their heads, in fact. Which is a job I am very much qualified for.
What on earth would I be doing if I were a serious person?

Thursday, April 16, 2009


My birthday present from my flatmate arrived!!!
It's a picnic hamper for six. Apparently it originally came with a Roll-Royce.


I mean, if you bought a Rolls-Royce in the fifties, you'd have this in the boot.
The Wedgewood set of plates and cups and saucers is almost complete, but they kind of feel brittle and scared so I shall take them out and replace them with a mixed collection of pretty plastic crockery.
I'll keep the original beakers though. They are a nice brand:


So while it is bucketing down outside I am making plans to turn this into my ideal special occasion kit... I used to do a lot of moomin-style emergency pic-nics, but somehow London defeated me that way, it's just so much easier to grab some food from a café here.
I really miss it though, used to be my solution for all troubles. It's good to have the tools again at least.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

First Flower!

This morning the first flower opened on my balcony.

first balcony flower

It's not edible, but I like it anyway.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bear and Monkey


...oh, time to sleep now. Enough bears for today.

More Bears



Am drawing bears tonight while watching a movie. Here's one...

it's a bit of a stupid day... I was going to do some shopping and posting and banking but obviously after the Easter weekend so did everybody else. So I just went home an thought about music. I am thinking a lot about music at the moment. I'm not very good at music but I like thinking about it.
Tomorrow I'll go to town and see friends and museums, and after that I'll start on a brand ne picture book. Can't wait actually, I feel like doing a whole lot of drawing.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


I found a scrap of paper with an intro for another song I wrote years ago. It remember cutting it because, well, it totally spoiled the song.
But it's quite funny.

The more we learned about the moon
and the planets of our system
the less appealing they appeared
if they'd be gone, we would not miss them.
the moon is dry and airless
the rest is gas and grit and ice
and frankly, we couldn't care less.
They're just not very nice.

The song, incidentally, was otherwise quite good... I must do something with all these old lyrics.

Some More Old Words

Today I dug out my book of poems and lyrics... two of them, actually. Now I'm transferring all the ones that I typed on the computer over the years into them by hand, because I might want them in a few year's time and then who knows what will have happened to the files... and also copying them by hand helps me think about what best to do with them.

Above are two poems from 2004 and 2005. I blogged both of them at the time I think, but the blog got eaten by hackers and re-started since. - I rather like them, they remind me of how I felt at the time but still make me laugh. I think that was the point, actually. Not many things are as funny as being sad, oddly, as long as you're allowed to be sad at the same time.

Chocolate Farmyard

I did not expect to get all this for breakfast.

easter haul


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Silly Girl Jill

I wanted to look at some old things I wrote today, and found that for years I had been using a completely stupid file format. So I opened them all on my old computer and re-saved them. It's amazing how much writing a person can rack up in ten years... even so, I think there must be some still missing... but anyway, I found a whole lot of stuff I had forgotten about, especially a load of old song lyrics for puppet shows and such. I can't quite remember what this one was for, there are several versions. It's nice and horrible, and a variation on a classic tale or two.


Of Silly Girl Jill and the Fox

Spare a thought for Silly Girl Jill
The wind blew hard and it blew her ill
It blew away her poor little head
So she couldn't see her way and she couldn't eat her bread

And a fox came along and he said oh dear
Have you lost your head, have a new one here
It belonged to my mother but she needs it no more
For she walked quite without it up to heaven's door

So Jill stopped pining for her golden locks
And she put on the head of the lady fox
And she saw the fox boy and a pretty fox was he
And he asked her Jill will you marry me

Spare a thought for Silly Girl Jill
The wind blew hard and it blew her ill
It blew away her poor little head
So she took the head of a fox instead

Jill and the fox with their teeth so bright
Killing fat chickens in the dark of the night
And one fine day they had a pretty little cub
But he didn’t have a fox head so she ate him up

Oh Jill said the fox what have you done
You silly girl, you went and ate my only son
Give me back my mothers head, you lousy thief
You do nothing with it anyway but bad mischief

Spare a thought for Silly Girl Jill
The wind blew hard and it blew her ill
It blew away her poor little head
And the night was cold and the sky was red

Jill ran away from the foxes den
And she ran through the forest like a headless hen
And she ran till she heard without ears a cry
It was her old head singing in the brambles nearby

Jill, Jill, silly girl Jill
Where did you go when the wind blew ill
And Jill put on her head, and Jill she cried
for her belly was full but her hair was white.


I found another version where it's not Jill, but someone called John Robin, but the end is missing off that one, sadly. I quite wanted to know what happened to John Robin.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Researching Characters

I've been working on the comic this morning... right now I'm sorting out the characters.
Sometimes I know what someone is like straight away. Sometimes I don't at all. Mostly it changes when I'm writing.
In this book I know that there will be a number of heroes, and I am developing each one until I really love them. - Yesterday I noticed I was thinking of all the people I've known and liked in my life, and I started sorting through my box of photos to remind me of them... I was thinking of things I liked about each person especially much, and if someone in the story could be like that. It made me feel rather nice, actually.
I'm also collecting other sorts of reference, pictures and memories... my pin-board looks fun at the moment, here's a bit of it.

I'm very pleased with the bear, that picture was the last bit I needed to imagine one of the characters.
The other pictures happen to be: one from a fun afternoon dressing up as various wrestlers (here the Ultimate Warrior, I can only recommend dressing up as him and crashing through the flat every now and then) and one of my friend Inga Kristin making a film on the tube. Both actually relevant to the story.

I like the way that I seem to have things to say in this book that I have been thinking about a lot over the years without realising, and now they are kind of ready to be said. I wonder how much of that will come through in the finished book. Hopefully it won't be noticeable, but just fun.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Release The Hounds

I had a brilliant evening! Went to a Gala pre-performance of "Gallathea" by "Release the Hounds", and it was the most enjoyable piece of theater I've seen in years. Wonderful actors, great costumes, best on-stage shipwreck representation ever. I wish I had photos to show you. Keep them in mind and go and see whatever they do.

Got photos of myself though:


dapper hobbit

I won a green lollipop in the cross-dressing competition. There wasn't all that much competition, admittedly. I was planning to dress regency, hoping to look like Mr. Darcy. Of course and as I well knew, the best I can do is Bilbo Baggins. With shoes, admittedly.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Here's the best part of yesterday: ARTICHOKES!!


I experimentally poured oil on them and cooked them upside-down for the first twenty minutes, which is not a bad idea. Makes the oil go into the heart.

And today I did some drawing at the Rye café, but not much because it was too noisy. They have a horribly buzzing fridge, and LOTS of small children, but most importantly annoying music at just the sort of volume where it's neither loud enough nor quiet enough to ignore.

Coffee and Work

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Wow! Check out the mad white tufts, I'm turning into some superhero or other!

Bears and Sounds

A-ha! My scanner works. Good. Here's a bear.

Today I get to do everything I like best. That's the plan, anyway!
So far I've had coffee, gone out and done some drawing, and now I shall cook some artichokes at home, eat two straight away and take the third one to the park it it's sunny. That's all I can think of at the moment, I'll see what I do next.

I'm rather happy because the promo video thing for "There are Cats in this Book" has somehow turned from a horror into something nice... I found it really hard to read the book out, and the first take was awful. Luckily, I have friends who are good at things, and so one of them recorded a whole bunch of takes, 80 percent of which must be me saying "Argh this is rubbish, aw, can't we just have more tea and biscuits and do this later..." - but via the medium of magic he edited it together so I sound like a nice person reading a nice book. I think I shall build him a shrine or a statue or something.

OW and just then I got up to get the phone and didn't notice my foot was dead and twisted my ankle. OW! Argh this hurts. Hope it'll stop presently, aieh... ow that's not what I like best, oh failure...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hello from my Shiny New OS, world!

Well! It's quite a sunny day, and I spent all of yesterday upgrading my operating system to "Intrepid Ibex". For no good reason. It took me until two in the morning, and now everything runs very well indeed. Half the night was taken up by making dual monitors work, and then late this morning I got up, looked at them, felt very pleased I'd managed it, and unplugged one because actually I've been meaning to get rid of it for some time. I don't really need two screens any more, but I do need some more desk-space. But I didn't want to give it up because it didn't work, you see, but because I didn't need it. I mean, I want to know that I can plug it back in if I need it.

It's amazing how one always learns something new, trying to make computery things work... there's always these things I keep reading in forums and I have no idea what they mean until it happens. Like "you might accidentally hose X". What? I vaguely wondered about the meaning of that for a long time. Yet at some point last night I found myself saying confidently and cheerfully: "Argh! - Hosed X again."
Somehow it's quite satisfying to actually find out what things like "kernel panic" or "dependency hell" mean, and all these other demon overlords whose realm one enters when first buying a computer. I am kind of grateful to my dad who first got me into this sort of thing simply by buying a very expensive computer and then telling me I was the one who had to actually switch it on because "you learned that in school" (which I hadn't, funnily enough, and I stared at the box half a day and phoned the Microsoft helpline before I dared pressing the ON switch).

Anyway, quite enough of that now. I'm off to buy my first bag of compost, for the balcony garden. And maybe even a tomato plant. I need to touch some stuff that isn't keyboard.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Today I decided to upgrade my operating system - not for very good reasons, mainly because everything was running a bit slow and I'm sure much of that was down to forgotten tinkerings I've done while trying to make something or another work.
Of course the upgrade didn't work - failed spectacularly, in fact, I am quite impressed. Now I am re-formatting the whole thing and getting cute messages like "It is likely that something bad is going on". Yes, well perceived, thank you Linux. worse things happen at sea, though.
In any case, this seems to be the perfect opportunity to tidy and dust the studio, because it's too boring to watch all those files filing past...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gus,and comic potential

I'll start working on the "Sleepwalkers" comic for real soon. I'm still casting some of the characters... today: Bobo the Dog. I want him to be a neighborhood dog, so... I might base him on Gus the Bookshop Dog in Review. Or maybe I'll draw Mr. Benji instead. Both of them make me laugh whenever I see them.


Sadly, Gus was extremely depressed today. I'll go back and draw him when he's feeling better about the universe.

So instead of drawing dogs, I went to a local cafe and looked over the roughs for a comic project with Alexia. I think I shall just sit down and get on with it... must work out how to draw pandas first.


Thursday, April 2, 2009


Today I tried to get myself reading out a book put on record, to be turned into a thing on the web. I hate reading out very much. I hope there's a way to make it work, and also that I can come up with some genius promotional ideas that don't involve me actually talking to people...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Girly Day

It's sunny today! It is!
So I got my coffee from the cafe next door, and this time I asked them about it (noticing that it has chunks of coffee bean floating in it) and they said, yes, I do get the freshly ground special nice coffee for special guests and yes, it is specially strong. Ah.
So I managed to drink the whole cup, which is a first, and I laughed at today's Nemi cartoon in the free paper. Whatever the quality of the rest of that paper - I've become fond of Nemi over the years.
nemi april 1
Then I burst out of the cafe, fuelled by near-critical levels of caffeine, and decided that I might as well turn some of my lecturing money into shoes.
Shoes, shoes... mm... I hate shoes, you know. I love not wearing them. But every year there comes a day (and normally it's about a day before my fabulous tall beautiful stylish friend Inga Kristin visits in the Spring) when I realise that a) I have Hobbit legs and b) high heeled shoes aren't technically shoes. They are heels.
Then I buy them and wear them twice and then I give them to Charity.
So... time to shave all the bobbly bits off my socks. Boot season is officially over!

Oooh and Inga Kristin is visiting tomorrow, I just remembered, hope we can go to the park and have a pic-nic...

Another London Planet

Hm. This planet is wonky.