This shows some of the more refined – and more secretive – past-times of Vikings. Many thanks to the pupils of Earlsfield Primary School for helping me come up with the idea!
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.