We leave Wulf behind for a week to get the low-down on the Viking sport of Skülf.
At a charity shop today I came across an old copy of the Mother’s Picture Alphabet. I’m always interested in picture alphabets and friezes that go in nurseries (I had a Mr Men one as a child!).
This one, however, is a little extraordinary in that the letter ‘S’ depicts slavery. Now while I applaud the sentiment, and raising awareness of slavery was clearly of the utmost importance back in the 1800s, it really shows how our views of childhood are different now to what they were then.
Imagine what would happen if an alphabet for children today tried to educate on issues of the world! A is for Alcoholism, B is for Barbiturate Overdose, C is for Capital Punishment, and so on…
My daughter was given a few Noddy board books recently. They taste nice, apparently, but they do also have pretty pictures. While looking at these, it becomes apparent that many of the Toyland buildings are impractical. I’m not usually one with much of an architectural opinion, but I feel compelled to comment.
First up is Noddy’s house, which is built solely with toy building blocks, and lacking any form of mortar. Anyone with any experience of toy building blocks will know they spend most of their time toppling to the ground – a strong wind and Noddy’s house would fall apart.
But second, and much worse than that is Big Ears’ house, built inside a very chunky mushroom. It looks like a nice place to live, but building a home in a mushroom would have one serious consequence: it would be a very short-term let. You’d have a few days, at best, before your roof curled up and shrivelled away. And seriously, why fill the mushroom stem with a staircase? I mean, you could have had an external spiral staircase, and used the stem as a downstairs loo with a cupboard for storage space.
Those Toyland designers need to watch Grand Designs.
I’m deep into the artwork for the third yeti book – the Magma Conspiracy. It’s shaping up to be the most exciting of the books, and the art is both challenging me to the extreme, and enormous fun to draw.
I always think it’s nice to see the roughs of artwork, to notice how things change, and get smarter as they’re worked up, and here’s one from the middle of the book (click it for a bigger version). As you can see, the yetis don’t look too much like yetis, and there’s a reason for that. Obviously, to explain would be to give away the plot, so for the time being you’ll have to settle for knowing that at some point the yetis wear big hippo outfits…
I’ve recently come to the end of roughing out all the comic sections of the third yeti book, The Magma Conspiracy. It’s simply amazing how much effort is required to make a comic, and that’s before you’ve even started on the artwork.
To inspire me – and teach me in the art of comics – I’m currently reading Astroboy. I’ve been a huge admirer of Tezuka for a few years now, ever since I listened to Helen McCarthy discuss his work at Streatham Library. The world of Astroboy is bonkers, to say the least, but the artwork is so clean and assured, not to mention incredibly powerful. Explosions explode, speed effects really do convey speed, and composition is nigh on perfect. I think he really does draw the best robots out there.
And so, back to work. Yetis can’t draw themselves, sadly.
So I was lucky enough to spend Christmas in a wonderful castle. Never before have I seen such a tall Christmas tree, and never before have I sung Wichita Lineman around a piano at midnight. There’s a first for everything.
The excitement of an amazing christmas was tempered somewhat by spending new year on my sofa with a takeaway curry. However, I must admit to finding this one of the most preferable ways of spending new year. And if you ever hear someone discussing what wine you should drink when eating Indian food, bubbles works a treat.
And so it’s 2011, I’m deep into editing my third yeti book, and I really should be back at it. So three cheers for the new year and snotty noses.