Pigsticks & Harold and the Incredible Journey out now!

Pigsticks and Harold cover

Good grief, it’s been a long time coming, yet here it is: PIGSTICKS & HAROLD AND THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY. Out today! Who’d have thought?

The idea of Pigsticks was born close to five years ago now. I don’t remember many things these days (my children have somehow demolished most of my faculties), but I do remember that date, as my wife was pregnant with our first child. I’d been thinking about creating some stories for very young children so that my soon-to-be daughter could read them. Obviously, I was thinking years ahead – but then that’s what all of us in the slow-motion world of publishing are doing anyway, right?

And so, on this most momentous of days, I thought it would be a nice chance to share some of the slow growth of Pigsticks, from a gentle little idea to an 80-ish page, full colour monster. And one with a TV show in development!

If there’s one of my characters that can be shouted about, it’s Pigsticks the ‘can-do’ pig! So here are some of his early moments from my notebooks:

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The first ever drawing of my pig – which admittedly isn’t much of a pig!

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It’s not very often that you’re able to point to the exact time that a name of a character or an idea comes into being, but this is one. The very page where I first wrote the word “Pigsticks”, and it stuck.

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This was the first story I wrote for Pigsticks, and by this time, the nature of the relationship between him and his best friend Harold was forming.

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Everything changed for me when Viv Schwarz told me to try using a brush pen, which I did with this picture. Suddenly the look of the characters became something unique. It needed work, and I needed to practise with the pen, but I really felt that I was getting somewhere.

And that’s about it, really. We put a lot of work into getting it right, with much debate on format – it was going to be a comic at one point! – but I think the final book is just right. The lovely folk at Walker have really got their teeth into it, and guided me to its conclusion. And I think it’s safe to say that getting involved with Jam Media also shaped its final form for the better. It’s amazing how far these things evolve and grow from their initial conception!

And now I’ve got to get ready for book 2, which is my attempt at a Pigsticks & Harold Miss Marple mystery, with a touch of CSI thrown in for good measure.

Pigsticks and Harold do some gardening

It’s just two days until Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey is officially published, so, to get into the spirit, here’s the dynamic duo indulging in a spot of topiary. Yes, they’re adventurers, but they also dabble in some of the finer pursuits in life as well.

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Pigsticks and Harold at the Storystock Festival

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I had a terrific time this morning at the Saatchi Gallery, reading and drawing Pigsticks and Harold for the Storystock Festival. It was the first time I’d read the book to an audience of children other than my own, and they didn’t want me to stop! I only planned to read a short section, but we blasted all the way through helped in no small part to the trusty Gary Northfield laughing at all the right places. What a guy!

So any worries I had about how it would go down with children have gone now. And it was liked by both the girls and boys. What a result!

Afterwards we drew some pigs and hamsters, and I thought I’d put a few up here.

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This lad could really draw Harold!

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I loved the colouring on this…

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Equally, this one was so bright!

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Now I can’t wait to get out there again and do more drawing!

Moomin Lego!

It’ll be of no surprise to most of you that I’m a Moomin fan. Tove Jansson is a legend. And so, as I was idly building Lego with my daughter recently I found myself wondering if you could make a Lego Moomin. It turns out, with a bit of Fimo and a lot of thought, you can.

my hand-made heads, and Lego bodied Moomin

my hand-made heads, and Lego bodied Moomin

And of course, thinking big, I wondered if I could get a set approved on the fabulous Lego Cuusoo site . It took a bit of time and planning, and learning how to use the free Lego Digital Designer, but I’ve done it. To get a set approved, you can’t use anything other than available Lego pieces, so I had to focus on a set incorporating the more human characters of Moominvalley. All this led me to make Snufkin, and a set depicting this little bridge (The illustration is from Finn Family Moomintroll!) he and Moomintroll always sit on.

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I went a bit Moomin crazy in the end – making the Groke out of Sculpey…

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…And creating a little bug hunting scene for the Hemulen. I think this is my favourite of all the little Lego models I made.

The Hemulen in Lego - the little satchel is perfect.

The Hemulen in Lego – the little satchel is perfect.

It was a struggle searching for all the right bits, but with The Hemulen, I think I lucked out. I love his little shoulder bag!

SO! If you want to see any sort of Lego Moomin kit in the near future, go HERE, join up and VOTE! You never know, we might persuade them to make little Moomin heads too.

Piggy Stardust animated!

I’ve been allowed to use some short animations made by JAM Media – the production company working on the Pigsticks and Harold TV show.

Now this won’t work if you don’t have Flash, sadly, but it’s a marvellous little snapshot of Piggy Stardust and the Hamsters from Mars.

Back to the Future

I’ve been practising with digital brushes in Photoshop, in an attempt to find a fully digital way of making pictures that I’m happy with. I need to play with it more, and a lot! But as I used to make oil paintings, and thoroughly enjoyed doing so, I thought I’d have a pop at recreating something like that.

Anyone who’s visited my house will recognise this, which looks a lot like one of the few paintings I still have left.

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It’s obviously not perfect, but I can see potential!

Viking doodles

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I’ve been practising drawing in full colour, full digital of late. Here’s one of my sketches, with an angry tree bear bursting out of the woods towards a little viking.

I’m loving doing these. It’s a nice break from all the other things I’m working on.

Harold and his family

A little bit of news slipped out this week about a Pigsticks & Harold animated series being in development. It’s a massive thing, for sure, but it’s currently at the beginning of a very long journey if it’s ever to see the light of day.

Jam media (who created the Tilly & Friends show based on Polly Dunbar’s books, among many other great shows) have already made some amazing animated scenes of the pair. Maybe one day I can post them for all to see. They look brilliant, and in a week’s time we’ll be pitching them and the show at the Cartoon Forum.

So, fingers crossed. We’ve worked incredibly hard on this, and maybe one day my assuming pig and unassuming hamster will get their own TV show.

So for now, here’s a picture I’ve done for the Cartoon Forum pitch of Harold and his Family. I love Harold.

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I picked up a pencil!

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That’s what I just did. I love drawing, and I don’t do it enough.

This chap’s from something new. A rough idea that’s taking shape, in and around all the other things that are going on.

Pigsticks on a moped!

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It’s Pigsticks on a mo-ped! Varoom!