Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Moving house

The day nears!

Friday 30th sees us "up sticks" and leave our idyllic village in North Yorkshire for the hustle and bustle of suburban Warrington across the Pennines. We've spent the majority of this week thus far packing our house into boxes - who'd have thought one could accumulate such a vast collection of tat and rubbish over a few years? Anyways, this hopefully explains why this isn't one of my regular posts this week - normal service should resume next week!

Bada Bling!

PS: That's Mr & Mrs Bling up top, by the way. It's been a hard winter in Yorkshire. The kids are in the sack...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Frankenstein's Cat in competition at Annecy Film Festival!

We got some good news today - the CAT has been chosen to compete at the Annecy Festival this year, quite an achievement as we don't have a completed title sequence and end credits yet. Hopefully we'll have that sorted before the festival in June, fingers crossed...

Also, it's ambitious but I'm going to try and produce a new art show in conjunction with the series - 30 paintings for 30 episodes in a pastiche/homage of those old movie posters I love so much. It's a tall ask as time is pretty scarce as it is, but if I can try and forge on it might be a nice gallery event. Plus, if interest is there I'll be looking to get lithograph prints done of them in sets.
I've a particularly squidgy soft spot for THE WOLF MAN. Classic. Once I've got maybe 5 paintings done I'll pop them on here. The house move is around the corner though so don't expect them any day soon! :-)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Dragons and Dinosaurs

Ahhhh, Wales. Land of Rarebits and my mum and dad's static caravan.... I vivisted NEWI in Wrexham yesterday to do a talk and workshop to their animation and illustration degree and masters students, and what a lovely time I had too. Thanks to Jim Walker for looking after me for the day and arranging everything, as well as Des, Alan and Martin too. Apparently Magnus Scheving from Lazytown was there doing a similair talk the other week when Animex was on, and I was unable to attend because of that but hope to be in touch down the line - he's not just the creator of that particular show but he also plays Sportacus to the uninitiated. If you want to know what Sportacus looks like just put "buns of steel" into Google and see what you get - it should go straight to him.

Yes, that's me at the back of the table scribbling furiously as we all got stuck into a few exercises in the afternoon. That's right, the drawn kind rather than anything actually physical. I mean, look at me for goodness sake!

As promised here are some more images from DINOSAURS AFTER DARK, involving Bobby our protagonist getting up to all kinds of scrapes and hijinks with the big thunder lizards. Sliding down the rooftops above the City Hall...

... climbing up the office blocks and jumping off them all! Obviously with most books I'm associated with there's a suggestion of something slightly sinister, and that happens in the book were the dinosaurs then decide for one last game of hide and seek, and if they find Bobby they might... just... eat him! Thanks again to Jon Emmett for such a wonderful engaging text :-)

By the way, before I go. Primeval? Prime Drivel more like. Nuff said...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Prehistory of Mr Bling

It took me ages to break into picture books.

I first started visiting publishing houses in London after finishing work on MARS ATTACKS, and would try and get down there at least once a month to "blitz" the publishing houses. I'd initially made contact via introudctory letters and phonecalls to the companies I was interested in getting on board with - Hodder, Collins, Penguin, Macmillan and the like. Then it was a case of keeping the relationships bubbling away, sending down new samples of my work whenever possible, calling up and in as often was deemed non-stalkery and generally just reminding them I existed.

"I got the same old story from all my peers, there ain't no room around here for a gee-tar man..."

Each of the art directors and editors I met pretty much unanimously said they loved my work. However, the couldn't employ me. It was simply too dark. My influences were Tim Burton and Lane Smith, and consequently I had real trouble "lightening" my paintings. When I eventually sucked it up and tried this approach, I got my first commission from Harper Collins - to illustrate "Dinosaurs After Dark", a text written by the lovely Jon Emmett. It was a story that immediately captured my imagination, following the adventures of young Bobby as he sees a dinosaur creeping past his bedroom window at night. The book is inspired by one of both mine and Jon's favourite books, "Where The Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak.

I'll put up some more of the artwork in the next few posts for you to take a butchers at - the original artwork adorns my children's nursery, although some of it is for sale. We're actually looking to get this off the ground as a kids show too, so watch this space!

Thanks to Glazey for kindly compositing these huge paintings as Jpegs ;-)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Surprise Endings

Well, it was World Book Day on Thursday of this week, and I've been visiting a couple of schools to celebrate said event; Hemlington Hall in Middlesbrough and Selby Abbey in Selby. A big thankyou to all the teachers and kids who made me feel so welcome. Special thanks to the boys in Hemlington who reminded me when drawing Curious Cow that I'd forgotten to add "his dangly milking bits!" I kid you not. Neither me nor the teachers knew where to look!!! :-D

One of the messages I tried to get across to the children was that good stories have surprise endings. In the case of "Frankenstein's Cat" there are two for the price of one. First off is the one below, where when Nine asks the Doctor to make him a companion to his horror the Doctor reveals Frankenstein's Dog, Fifi!

Then at the very end of the book there's a final reveal with the message: "What you get isn't always what you ask for - just bear that in mind when you ask for a puppy next Christmas" The page is turned and there's an endpaper piece of art with Fifi leaping out of the box and sending the three sweet kids sprawling:

I'm making a return visit to Borders Teesside Park tomorrow, Saturday 3rd, doing signings and doodlings again directly connected with World Book Day. If anyone is around it'd be lovely to see you there - shall be in situ with my Venti Vanilla Latte from around 11am.