My new book They Didn’t Teach THIS at Worm School after many years in the making has been released into the world and has been published by Walker Books. It’s a funny feeling having the work out there for all to read after poring over it with the Walker team for such a long time.
Coming from a background in comics, writing a book in prose was not something that I set out to do initially but my wonderful editor Lizzie Sitton who I worked closely with, suggested that we give it a try and I’m so glad that we did. It’s been an exciting and challenging experience expressing creative ideas in a new way. Lizzie came up with the original inspiration of writing a book about an unlikely friendship.
With an unlikely friendship in mind, it seemed natural to work with this pair, a bird and a worm. They become accidental friends after Marcus, the worm, engages in a deep conversation with Laurence as a distraction to save himself from being eaten for breakfast.
For me a worm character was the most natural choice for being the star of a story, I’ve had a long standing fascination with the imagined anthropomorphic qualities of worms in my work and for the past ten years they’ve repeatedly appeared in the paintings that I make. The qualities that I imagine worms to have is that of humility as they are literally down to earth. They dig all day and yet there is nothing about them that is attractive or appealing or seeks praise for the endlessly good work that they do. However, scratching the surface further of this particular worm’s personality we discover that Marcus is not such an angelic creature. His need for survival in a world of predators, in particular a bird called Laurence who looks like a chicken, brings out quirks in his personality. He has to think quickly on his ‘feet’ even if that means telling the odd fib here and there to survive. But despite his flaws, it is Laurence’s kindness and friendship that over rides the need for Marcus to remain in self-preservation mode.
The intention that we had was to make a most excellent story and book, one that would be uplifting, warm and funny. I really do hope that both children and adults will see a little of themselves in Marcus and in Laurence and enjoy the story as much as we’ve enjoyed creating and dreaming about it.
If you read this before 12.08.16 and are in London, you are cordially invited to the book launch at Gosh!
At long last I’m happy to announce that my debut novel for children They Didn’t Teach THIS at Worm School published by Walker Books, will be available from the 5th of August with a launch party at Gosh! on the 12th of August
I’ve been working with Lizzie Sitton my marvellous editor on this project on and off since 2011. She encouraged me to write in prose, it’s been a new development for me and I’m truly grateful for her help and encouragement and for the hoot that we’ve had whilst working on this story.
It feels rather surreal that Worm School (the shorthand name we’ve given it) is now a real life actual book. I’m hoping that both children and adults will enjoy it. If this tale of an unusual friendship brings a tiny bit of momentary joy to a reader, especially in these troubled times, that would make me very happy.
exciting news – I got my mitts on a hot off the press copy of Fable Comics last week. This comics anthology published by First Second and edited by Chris Duffy has 26 aesops fables retold by top notch comic artists including Eleanor Davis, Tom Gauld, James Kochalka and many, many more. I got in there too and am proud to be a part of this lovely book.
This stunning cover illustration is by Israel Sanchez.
The print production of the book is superb, I really like the coated paper stock that they’ve used, it feels nice and makes the colours are popping. I’ve not posted all of my pages but here are two of the five from my re-telling of the story of The Crow and The Pitcher.
The book is available in the US and there will be a very few copies available at Page 45’s extravaganza birthday party this Saturday. I’ll be there along with Hannah Berry drawing and signing and then celebrating with the loveable proprietor Stephen Holland. He’s written a blog post here with all of the information about it here
So exciting news, last year, Jane Ferguson from The Observer asked me to come up with an idea for a comic strip. And so, as part of their new design, my strip ‘Things I Have Learnt’ will be included. I’m totally chuffed to be a part of The Observer and for the opportunity to share my work, ideas and weird sense of humour with this audience.
This compliments my long term projects that I’m working on (a children’s chapter book for Walker books and a graphic novel with J.Cape). The children’s book at the moment is just words, it’s been frustrating not being able to share it with you. Writing a chapter book has been a totally new experience, Lizzie Spratt, my editor has been brilliant. We’re having a real laugh working on this, when it comes out next year hopefully readers will enjoy it too. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it’s about a worm called Marcus and his unusual friendship.
I’m also working on the sequel to Fluffy. This is a very strange writing/drawing experience because it feels like I have Fluffy living inside my brain. If you follow him or myself on twitter, you might notice that he is (unfortunately) a bit unruly. He regularly uploads onto instagram. What I like about the instagram is that I/he(?) can show you snippets of his life in real time from his perspective without having to wait for the book to come out.
I will leave you here, with a sausage. This is a brand new print for Jealous Gallery I wanted to design something that puts you in the right mood for the day. Is he standing on a shape, or a boiled egg or is it a fried egg? You tell me…
Fluffy’s return is not imminent but I wanted to give you a massive heads up about a future graphic novel that will eventually be published by Jonathan Cape! Yay! I’m so excited to be returning to my long lost friends. Fluffy is still very much a blurry dot on the horizon at the moment but we’ll be able to check in with what is going on in his life as he makes his way towards us.
For the past few months I’ve been writing, typing, thinking and drawing copious character sketches for Fluffy and also another exciting project that will be a children’s book published by Walker Books.
I want to talk about Fluffy today. In 2017 it will be ten years since Jonathan Cape published the original graphic novel. It had been originally self-published from 2003 – 2006 in parts as four chapters. When the work was completed I had no intention of continuing the series, there was nothing more that I wished to add. But now, as the anniversary approaches I’ve found myself asking what did happen to Fluffy and his Dad. Did things turn out to be okay for them? How are their lives now that they are ten years older than when we first met them? How have they changed?
In the making of the first book, I self published the story in parts. This was really beneficial in the way that it let me engage with the readers. Fluffy readers were all incredibly amazing people! There was so much generosity with encouragement and support that was very much appreciated. At that time the graphic novel world was unchartered territory and having reader feedback helped immensely in giving me the momentum to make the work.
I won’t be publishing the novel in parts this time around, but Fluffy, who is much more savvy on social media than I am, is a keen wannabe photographer. He will be posting his photographs on his new Instagram account and vocalising his thoughts his twitter and Tumblr account.
I’m sure that Fluffy would love to hear from you so please do say hello!
Love and all good things to you for 2015
That’s life, we all get older – from babies to oldies, day by day we are all getting older. It’s inevitable and us mere mortals must at some point in our lives, accept this reality.
Miraculously the ageing process does not apply to fictional comic characters. Our favourites can be frozen in time indefinitely, Maggie Simpson will always be a baby, Charlie Brown remained a melancholic boy for almost fifty years. Comics seem to have the upper hand when it comes to warping time and creating it’s own laws.
So I was expecting that the comics rule of freezing time would also apply to my own fictional characters. When I checked in with Fluffy and his Dad, I expected everything to be exactly the same. They would look, act and be thinking in the same way. I drew Fluffy, Fluffy looked the same but there was something different about the way he was thinking. I say he, he most definitely seems to be a boy now, I wasn’t so sure before. And when I drew Fluffy’s Dad, he seemed the same, just a bit balder, beardier and perhaps a little bit wider. My characters are ageing…
It’s a bit of a shock for me and also seeing that my little Fluffy is now tweeting and uploading posts with the twitter handle @fluffypulcino.
It’s been quiet on my website and twitter for simply ages! I do apologise. I’m still here and really have had my head down thinking, writing, drawing and making things in the last few months. I’m looking forward to soon be able to share with you some projects that will be coming up.
In the mean time I’ve uploaded a selection of personal projects from the last 18 months or some of it is funny and some more serious. I hope you might enjoy my domestic violence counselling story and also a recipe of my own making that I’m very proud of. My intention is to upload here on a weekly basis from now on and share with you some of the crazy things in my brain. My thoughts, inventions, sketches, comics and musings. Hopefully it will make you laugh or ponder depending on the subject matter.
Thank you for bearing with me.
So a few months ago a friend approached me to take part in a charity fund raising event of music and arts for an organisation called Life. The charity gives practical and financial help to women who are facing a crisis pregnancy and support to those suffering from pregnancy lost. I wanted to get involved for a number of reasons. One superficial reason was an incentive to make work that could be bought and given away as gifts for wedding presents and special occasions. The idea is that it is a give to give gift. You buy the limited edition print for someone and 100% profit goes to the charity.
For the show we made an installation placing the numbered heart prints on the wall so that people could choose their own print. Taking a heart from the wall also altered the look of the room so that by the end of the evening there were many gaps where hearts had been taken to give away.
Late last year I begun a personal project called Bad Mother. I spoke to parents, grand parents, barristers working in the family courts, a social worker and an MP about what the media describes as forced adoption.
It’s a controversial and emotive subject and one that has not had too much attention in the media, for the protection of the children the process is shrouded in secrecy. My desire was that by using comic art I would be able to give all of those involved a voice by changing their identities in the drawing.
The project (an extract below shown as double page spreads reading left side then right side) was not fully completed – I began it and was happy with the work but felt that a longer piece would involve too many ‘talking heads’ that wouldn’t necessarily engage an audience. Here is one of the interviews.
Recently I’ve been researching a project and have become quite fascinated with ‘youth culture’. With the internet, the way that we interact, communicate and process information has been changing rapidly, it’s also become a lot more visible. It’s not been difficult to get a glimpse into how a different generation are responding to the world. It’s interesting and a bit scary.
Youth culture has always tried to separate itself from previous generations by using it’s own language. There’s nothing new here, but it’s still quite funny. Here’s how one sentence has evolved.
Hello! I wanted to share an adapted recipe with you that I tried a while back. The original, traditional, less frightening version is here
- Send an invitation to your guests.
- Take out the pork from the freezer two hours before your guests arrive.
- Panic because the pork won’t defrost.
- Use apricots instead of figs because you bought the wrong dried fruit.
- Stick everything in the microwave.
- Take out the half frozen half cooked pork
- Gag on the smell which will be forever imprinted on your olfactory memory.
- Throw everything in the bin.
- Serve sandwiches instead.
Stand back for adulation from your happy guests?
This was made in the late summer as part of a series of drawings in South East London. This is Lewisham. Lewisham is famous for being a bit of a dive. However I enjoy it and people who dislike Lewisham, if you look closely there are pretty things to look at. In this drawing I wanted to focus on the trees and the architectural detail of the clock tower. In Lewisham the chips are magic.
I’ve been working on a range of nine cards for Blue Island Press – on Saturday I received the proofs, they’ve been printed on very handsome paper, cor. Sainsbury’s keeps popping up in my work, I’m not sure if I should be advertising them so much. If you’re reading this Mr Sainsbury and would like more custom, please reduce the price of your chickpeas – they’re cheaper in the postoffice. Thank you