Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mr Mayo's radio show / The Hoovers

For those who might be interested, I'll be appearing on Simon Mayo's BBC Radio Five Live show tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon at 2:30 pm, 909/693 MW. Probably be talking children's books, animation, Bob the Builder, Frankenstein's Cat and all other fun stuff I hope. Either that or he'll ask me if I'm as hairy as people say I am...

Truthfully, really looking forward to it as it's a show that i listen to all the while when I'm working. Only wish I'd been able to make it onto the show on a Friday for the film slot where Mark Kermode turns up to review movies, bearpit that it is.

I meant to post these pictures a little sooner from the KNOCK! KNOCK! BOO! SCARE! project that I was working on with Ian Culbard. These were mood pieces done during the time that I was out of work, post Mars Attacks before commencing designing Bob The Builder. It was a period where I spent time developing my style and painting technique into something that vaguely resembled a more professional look. Hopefully it worked. As mentioned previously in the blog it certainly helped me secure the job on "Bob" as the little boy in the paintings isn't a million miles away from the yellow helmeted one.

Below is another painting from the KNOCK! KNOCK! BOO! SCARE series of stories, in particular from The Hoovers, a tale about a vacuum cleaner that comes to life and devours a family. Any similarity to actual vacuum cleaner brand names is purely coincidental. Honest. The manuscript for this, my first ever story written in ryhme, is below. Hope you enjoy.


On a cold dark night while the moon is bright
We spy a sleepy street
Behind each curtain one cannot be certain
Who or what we’ll meet

Take this one with the lights all on
A warm and peaceful sight
You’d never guess the horrible mess
That took place there one night

As Dad watched the news Mum had a snooze
Jim drank a strawberry shake
Jess sat by the cat on the colourful mat
Chomping chocolate cake

“Goodness Jess, what a mess
You’re such a mucky pup.
Crumbs here and there and everywhere
We’d better tidy up!”

There was a roll of thunder as Dad looked under
The stairs to find the broom
But the broom was broken so he pinned his hopes on
A battered and bent vacuum

With the lightning flashing, the thunder crashing
The rain had filled the gutter
Dad flicked a switch and without a hitch
The machine began to splutter

As the storm wailed the power failed
And the lights began to flicker
The vacuum cleaner looked a little meaner
And let out a sinister snicker

With a mischievous moan and a life of it’s own
It crunched up the crumbs from the cake
Revealing a grin it flew to the bin
Sucking up dust in its wake

An old worn out shoe, a used tub of glue
Yesterday’s cold fish and chips
Some fluff and some string, a limp onion ring
Finished off with fresh apple pips

Swallowing everything, gulping down anything
Eating as much as it pleased
First soup and a roll then a meat casserole
Followed by French wine and cheese

Though the wine was fine, the cheese divine
It wanted a tastier dish
With a growl and a grumble and a deep tummy rumble
It moved onto bigger fish

It grunted a groan and devoured the phone
Before swiping Dad’s jacket and hat
On it’s rambling rampage it gobbled the birdcage
Then sucked up the cat and the mat

As Dad stood perplexed it swallowed him next
With a snigger and slobbering slurp
Mum went after him followed swiftly by Jim
And it belched out a terrible burp

The mechanical lout then spun about
Heaving it’s sack through the air
Jess faced the fat beast all ballooned from it’s feast
And threw it a challenging glare

Without a sound she stood her ground
And faced the greedy thug
As it charged at her it didn’t matter
She simply pulled the plug

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Skeleton in the Closet

Taken this opportunity to post some scans from "The Skeleton in the Closet", a picture book written by the wonderful Alice Schertle that we did for Harper Collins US. Never got picked up as a co-edition with a UK publisher, which is a shame, as I'm often asked for a copy of it at book signings. The story follows a little boy who wakes in the night when he hears something knocking at the door. The first half of the book is quite creepy as the skeleton stalks up the stairs, saying his coming for "skeleton clothes" which the boy assumes means skin. By the time a goggle-eyed skeleton steps into the room, it's clear he's here to raid the closet, and sets about donning all manner of garment.

I loved illustrating this book as Alice's text was awesome, the most wonderful rhyme a child could wish for.

I mention this now as I'm doing a book signing this weekend at Borders Teesside Park, Stockton. I shall be in the store from lunchtime onwards on Saturday and will have copies of Skeleton with me for signature. Do come along if you're in the area.

Bada Bling!

Monday, August 21, 2006

We apologise for the interruption to your regular broadcasting

How do, all. Yup, been away in wet Wales with the family Bling on holiday. A lovely time was had by all as even the land of the leek and it's torrential downpours couldn't dampen our giddy spirits and happy hearts. Much unwinding was done, indeed I managed to not turn on my laptop to do any writing once, having been cold turkey on the novel writing for over 10 days now. Back to the task tonight though.

As such, I have a bunch of work deadlines to crunch through but shall be back to more regular posts as soon as time allows.

Thank y'all!

Bada Bling

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Crackin' train journey, Gromit!"

Yesterday I spent 7 and a half hours on the train lines of Great Britain, thanks mainly to having been invited down to meet with the lovely people at Aardman, in Bristol. Imagine the joy that burst forth from my chest when getting onto the train at York I found myself sat next to a shaven headed oik with the tinniest R'n'B pumping (or should I say crackling) out of his ipod into his jug ears. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I could have danced. Thankfully, he got off in the Midlands, hopefully to go and submit the good folk of Derby to his not-so-unique brand of poopy music. The rest of journey was an uninterrupted pleasure, there and back, as I was able to crack on with my writing, turning in about 7,000 words.

Big thanks to Dean @ Aards Features for giving me the "special tour", which I was assured was a rarity. The last person he'd done the tour for was some time ago, and happened to be Mike Hodges, director of such wideranging classics as Get Carter and Flash Gordon! So felt suitably VIPped up :-) Got to see some of the rushes from the new Creature Comforts USA series which possibly looks even better than the UK stuff. There's a wealth of loony voices for them to play with there, and they have a crew of something like 30 animators working on it, unbelievable.

Twas a splendid trip (thanks Cath!)

I've attached the picture from A CLOSE SHAVE up top as the soap box is my first ever job in animation. Nick asked me to make a Daz-esque box of soap powder called Sud-U-Like. That felt like a heck of a lot of responisbility for a work experience grunt, but I rushed down to the supermarket and stood there in the detergent aisle, garnering strange looks and looking like a proper plum as I sketched washing powder boxes!

I was made up when the Soap Box featured on one of the official postcards from the film.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Oink x 2

Just trawling through the back catalogue of "a freelance designers pitch portfolio" and dug up these two charming wee porcine fellows, who you can no doubt guess the names of. I was asked to pitch in my take on the characters, keeping the retro feel that they wanted. Sadly, the production company went with big emotive eyes in then end, whereas I felt that beady eyes were (and should have remained) synonymous with the piggy fellows. Ah well, you don't always get them all.

Very busy week doing lots of writing, plus things are really kicking off with Frankenstein's Cat. Am waiting for the nice fat juicy workload to wing it's way to me at present :-)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

WYRDWOOD - "Grandfather knows best"

Next chapter up for those who are following the tale of Emily Feylock and the Skinny Twig Man.

On the subject of writing, cracking on at quite a pace with the latest story. Since the weekend I've been managing to get 3,000 to 5,000 words down a day, some achievement for me. That's something like a chapter, a chapter and a bit, a day. Sitting currently around 43,000 words.