Monday, March 28, 2011

Some of my favourite picture books (as a child).

My favourite novels were "Der Mond hinter den Scheunen" by Paul Maar and "Momo" by Michael Ende. And then loads more, but those I remember most often.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I suppose all my friends not based in London have seen on the news that yesterday there was a protest march against government cuts across the city.
More than 250,000 people marched, the vast majority of the event was peaceful. You'll probably see a lot of footage of a bunch of black-clad twonks taking the opportunity to throw stuff - maybe also of crying, confused people being kettled by angry police.
Whatever you see in the media, this is what it was about. Peaceful protest of the unions, and the people.

The National Union of Firemen on the march. Photo by Alison Sampson
There was also a massive Trojan Horse traveling from near my home across town, and a bunch of people taking over luxury food store Fortnum and Mason - not stealing the very expensive honey, amazingly, but apparently reading poetry. I could just about agree to call that lot anarchists, if they claim to be (I don't know if they do).
The guys in the balaclavas with the bricks are just idiots, plain and simple.
I'm impressed and glad that a protest of this scale could happen in this city, and peacefully so, for the most part.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Last Chapter...

I'm drawing the last chapter of Sleepwalkers now (this is the last page before the last chapter).
I've just finished drawing all the panels, now I just need to fill them in... I think that's how I will spend my weekend, that and Pizza.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Home Cinema

A friend gave me his spare DVD player. LIDL was selling a cheap digital projector.

 I bought a £3 shower curtain and put it up with two of the bamboo rods I had left over from my christmas treepee.
Then I had my friends around for an indoors Star Wars Picnic.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More Sensible Post Now.

So yes. I've had some sleep, in Hyde Park in the sun, and in my new bed, and I've had a good laugh with my housemate at my TV appearance.
Left to right: Fox, Viv, Joe.
Fox didn't get the bit about nor looking into the camera.
Joe Berger draws very funny things, I'm looking at one of them right there. You can't see it. Hence I win. I keep winning this week.
Yesterday I was handed a heavy transparent star in a box and declared one of the Booktrust ten best new illustrators. It's a very respectable list, I am very pleased to be on it.
I'm also pleased about the other choices, there are some people who I was really hoping would win, and they did. Hooray!
The ten of us are now expected to do serious profile-raising for picture books in an ambassadorial kind of way (is that a word?) which I'll try my best at happily. I'm looking forward to seeing what my best will be. It'll involve events like workshops and talks at book festivals and such...
Hip! Hup! Hooray!
I haven't got a picture yet with the new winners, so here's some excellent 2008 winners plus Sir Anthony Browne, photographed by Sarah McIntyre. I also win for Most Teeth!


So I was elected President of the Galaxy yesterday. Sarah's blog has all the details.
Photo by Sarah McIntyre
I'll be more sensible about it later, right now I shall lie in the sun for a while. And then maybe take off in this here golden spaceship.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Registration Doodles

I tend to doodle all around my drawings while I'm working... I found a few nice ones on some layout pages I was just about to throw away.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ticking along...

I got a new bed yesterday and it's so comfortable that I am finding it hard to stay out of it today... I spent a month's rent on it, so it's no surprise.
Hence I'm not drawing, just colouring some easy bits of the comic.
Finished this one!
Good night.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Getting used to the Commute.

Aaaand I'm off to Plymouth again today. Here I go on my brand-new stripy legs.
I've made it a habit to buy clothes in my lunch break. It's the way that in Plymouth you can actually try clothes on in the shops without queueing up for ages. Mind-boggling to London-me.
I'm also getting used to the four hours on the train, and I'm taking books to study, and my novel notebook.
This time I'm taking my drawing materials and an A3 sketchbook along so I can work on my graphic novel in the B&B. I really want to get it finished soon.

When I get back, I'll buy a new mattress, seeing that I'm spending much of my spare time asleep these days. I'll also buy a projector so I can practise giving lectures with drawing demonstrations. I want to put a good show together that I can easily adjust to different events so I can stop worrying about preparing every single one. It'll still be mostly improvised, of course.
Also that means that I can have a home cinema, with a screen that comes down from the ceiling... I'm really looking forward to my first weekend off, properly off, and I will invite friends around to watch Star Wars. Not the prequels. And no added CGI.
But popcorn!

Music of the Moment: Set The Tigers Free by Villagers

Friday, March 11, 2011

Knocked Out

I just woke up holding an ice cold cup of tea. It took me a while to get my bearings - firstly, I was in Plymouth, teaching, now I am home in London, and secondly: That whole Earthquake/Tsunami thing actually was on the radio as I fell asleep (probably causing me to fall asleep, to stop worrying) - I didn't dream it. And also: I almost missed yet another family Birthday, even though yesterday I picked up those two little guys as part of a present to send (late as always). Which is why I finally woke up from persistent phone ringing.
My hair is as shocked as I am. I am truly sorry. Also very confused about it being dark outside. Also worried about the sudden suffering in the world.

I've never before missed anyone's birthday to to actually being asleep, I have, however, missed at least three this year already due to just being plain rubbish at it. No matter if I set reminders or not.

I think I could do with a weekend off. Not this weekend, maybe next weekend...
OK, new cup of tea coming up.
Huh, I feel weird...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Old Diary Pages

Am still tidying up my files, looking for things I thought were there, finding other things.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cat collage workshop at Discover, Stratford

Wouldliketohave photographed more finished cat playgrounds but they all ran off so fast at the end while I was still signing... 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

We Have Denmark!

"A Place to Call Home" - Danish edition. OHYES.


This is a story fragment from 2001. No idea where it was going to go. But I recognise the place: I lived there then. Also observe odd use of language... my English improved since.

Viviane Schwarz 2001

Two men were sitting on a bench in a train station.
One was thin, the other was not.
One had a suitcase, small and battered, sitting in front of him like a bald and faithful dog. The other had an umbrella, even though the sky was clear, the sun was shining, it had in fact not rained for several days.
They did not know each other.
Jackdaws were hopping on the rails, walking and folding their wings with an air of seriousness and determination.
They made the man with the umbrella feel idle. He frowned and gripped the handle more tightly.
"Are you waiting for the train?" asked the thin man with the suitcase. "It appears to be delayed."
The other looked up, surprised. "There is no train coming."
"Is there not?"
"This station has been dead for years. Look." He pointed to some small shrubs growing between the rails. "I'm just a bit out of breath. Needed to sit down."
"How peculiar," said the thin man. "I thought there would be a train. I must have been sitting here for hours."
The other man felt genuinely moved by this, just the idea of hours lost, watching busy birds. "That's terrible! - Where did you want to go?"
The thin man stopped looking at the shrubs and looked at the other man instead, with great interest, as it seemed.
"On the train."
The other shook his head. "Look, do you want to make a phone call? To tell them you will be late?"
"Tell who?"
"How do I know?"
"I am sorry," the thin man said. "You are confusing me."
"Don't worry. It's easily done."
"I would like to help you."
The thin man, who had not taken his eyes off the other for a second, smiled. His whole face crunched up in surprising ways. But he said nothing.
"Have you got a place to stay?"
"I was not going to stay."
"Yes, but you missed your train."
"But there is no train."
There was a short silence. Then the other said: "My name is Martin," just to say something that made sense.
"Edward," said the thin man. They shook hands.
"Have you had dinner?" Martin asked.
Edward shook his head.
"Come on, we'll get you some." When they stood up, Martin realised that Edward was almost a foot taller than him. The vertical distance made them walk in silence, because Martin did not want to embarrass himself by shouting upwards. The thin man took slow, long strides, looking around at every hedge, chimney and piece of grit. Martin made the metal tip of his umbrella click cheerfully on the pavement, to keep the silence away, but it only broke it up into smaller bits.
Edward began to hum a tune to the clicking rhythm, and then he sang, quietly:
"The birds in the trees
have feathers on their knees
the trees have leaves all over
the leaves are for rustling
the feathers are for fun
The knees are for not falling over."
Martin found himself clicking along, and to break the sudden bond he tried to make his steps fall out of rhythm, but only succeeded in doing something resembling a little jig, which harmonised quite beautifully with Edward's singing.
Edward smiled approvingly. "It's a good evening for dancing," he said. Martin feared that he would now start to dance as well, imagined the flailing of long, thin limbs, the hopping-about like a crow scaring worms, the clapping-of-hands. But Edward just walked on, his attention distracted again by a cloud shaped like a cloud, a speck of bird crossing it, a branch of a tree waving in some way or another.
It was not far to go to Martin's house, one in a long row of houses that had maybe one time all looked the same, but now resembled each other merely in the number of windows and the way they looked very old and solid, even the freshly painted ones, even the broken-down ones. These houses were lined in a long curve along the side of the river, which went on to join the sea a bit further on. There was a very nice view on clusters of fishing boats, many of them with the paint chipping off, half-filled with water and in danger of being tilted and sunk should a seagull choose to land on them. The water was green and littered with colourful buoys. Every house had a garden in front of it, decorated with topiary, or stone lions, or stray shopping trolleys, or a mixture of those and other things. Every house also had a conservatory, each one like a display case for the people living inside to show their wicker chairs, bottle collections, cats and lace curtains.

Big Fat Bear

I was looking through my folder of abandoned stories today, and found this one. Thought it would be nice to show one of the many picture book ideas that went nowhere.
Maybe someone out there wants to illustrate it for fun? If you do, send pictures!

I wish...
I wish I could wake up as a big fat bear.
I’d yawn and I’d be snug in my fur.
I’d be bigger than anyone, bigger than my dad, bigger than my mum, I’d be the biggest!
I’d eat everything in the house, just to see if I can, even the tins.
My mum would tell me to behave.
And I would, but I would behave like a bear, like a big wild bear, ha ha!
I would roar so loud that it rattles the house!
Then I would give her a big bear hug.
I would have a bear bath and build a bear den.
In the evening I would be peaceful, and everybody could snuggle up to me and be warm and safe.
I would sleep a bigger furrier warmer sleep than anybody else ever could.
And then I would wake up as me again.
Or maybe as a terrible dragon.


Check it out, Alex Milway drew me a bear!

Friday, March 4, 2011


I have been studying my way through some books on writing... including the brick called "The Seven Basic Plots", which might kill me one evening when I fall asleep while reading it.
Today I went out to the library because the house is cold and I can't be bothered to turn the heating on. I sat by the window and took notes about my novel, and now I am quite sure I've cracked the plot and worked out how to tidy it up, and how the second half I haven't written yet must go.
When I went back outside the sun was shining. I had a lunch of walnut bread and raw honey, and turned and turned the story in my head. I ironed my pyjamas, mended a jumper and paid some bills, and all the while the story kept turning in my head and I could see no holes.
I think it's time to start writing again! Wish me luck, I'd really like to get this one finished well.

I also upgraded Scrivener, haven't checked out all the new features yet but it looks rather good... I note there is a comic script template included now.
And: Notational Velocity is a very useful program for keeping track of ideas, I recommend it.

Music of the Moment:  Ah-Um  by  Charles Mingus

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Burgle For Charity!

Our immersive games company Firehazard is auctioning tickets for a charity run of HEIST in South London.

If you win a ticket (or a pair of tickets) your money goes straight to mental health charity Mind, and you will be meeting up with your fellow burglars in a friendly pub where you will be issued with gear and instructions. And then you'll have to make your way into an old police station, sneak past the guards, disable sensors, pick locks and get the goods out before you are caught and locked up!
We've run this a few times already this year, and it's always been brilliant fun.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Birds on a Plane

Music of the Moment:  ghostsandshadows by She Makes War

AM Gallery Exhibition is open!

Alexia Anastasiadis painted this one. Everyone tried to buy it, but there was only one.

Red Fox, by me

Red Canary, also by me
These are by Ellan Parry.
There's more, you'll have to go and see.

Music of the Moment: The Ghosts that haunt me by Crash Test Dummies