Every author loves getting emails or letters about their books (even if it’s saying something horrible – at least it means someone is paying attention!) but the best letters and emails are the ones where the writer has been creative! And there’s nothing more creative than a bit of baking.
Ansel (8) and Toby (6) made their very own zombie cupcakes from Monster & Chips! They’re rather fearsome. I particularly like the little feet made from raisins and the rather cross looking fellow above. You wouldn’t want to meet these cakes on a dark night so best eat them up fast! BRRAAIINNNS!
This reminds me of the magnificent cakes made by Polly a while back. Feeling a bit hungry now!
Some exciting Christmas-y news! Every visitor to Santa’s Grotto at Canary Wharf in London this Christmas gets a copy of Monster & Chips! (I think some T&Cs apply but Canary Wharf haven’t got back to me on this yet.) Santa can be found in the marvellous (but not edible – I tried) Jubilee Place grotto every weekend in the run up until Christmas and every day from December 14th onwards. Good little boys and girls only, please!
Speaking of Christmas presents, for the Christmas period you can get 10% off everything in my online shop. Just enter XMAS13 at the checkout (the code is valid right until the end of the month). New additions include signed copies of my Monster & Chips books and also the latest issue of ink+PAPER, the comic anthology that I edit (and have a comic in!).
The manuscript for MONSTER & CHIPS: Food Fright (or MC3 for short) has been handed in, and so I’m taking the opportunity of a brief break to catch up with various things before I’m plunged into rewrites and illustrations.
If you follow Sarah McIntyre or me on Twitter, you might have seen this announcement last week. Our long-in-the-making picture book, JAMPIRES, was on show at the Frankfurt Book Fair. It looks brilliant (though I would say that!) and I can’t wait to be able to properly be able to show it off to the world. It comes out in October 2014 – more on that nearer the time.
JAMPIRES started out as a ‘comics jam’ between Sarah and myself, where we took it in turns to improvise a story in comic form. I’ve been doing a bit of this in some recent workshops I’ve run at festivals and at schools. It’s such a great (and fast) way of putting a story together, with the pictorial elements (from my experience so far) being much better at generating ideas and stimulating the imagination of the participants than words alone. Here’s a lovely bit of imagination from a recent workshop:
Any pictures that get sent to me from workshops will go in a gallery at the Monster & Chips website! I’ll let you know when that’s ready. You can also download the template and send your character to me. I’d love to see what you come up with!
It’s the return of the one-and-only Webcomic Artist Swap Project!
Masterminded by the estimable Richy Chandler, W.A.S.P. is where webcomics creators do the illustration duties on each other’s comics for an episode. I took part last time (even though my comic Tozo was taking a break) and drew a strip for his comic Lucy the Octopus.
But now Tozo is back and I’m really looking forward to seeing how someone else handles him! Richy is recruiting new artists for the next W.AS.P. event – contact him NOW if you’d like to take part: all details at this link.
Richy’s also recently been posting about some of the comics workshops he’s been running. Some great ideas here, which look to be producing some great results too!
Finally, there are a couple of comic conventions coming up next month: the fabulous Thought Bubble in Leeds on 23-24th November, but firstly the Autumn Comiket in London on November 2nd. I’ve a table at both events and am very honoured to have been asked to do some live drawing too as part of their Drawing Parade. It’s completely FREE to enter, so do come along!
On a visit yesterday to the HQ of my publishers, HarperCollins, I bumped into familiar face: Fuzzby Bixington, all dressed up in his apron and ready for customers!
He’d opened his monster diner there for the evening (a plop-up?), with the help of his glamorous assistants, the Fuzzbettes!
It was part of a company event taking place called ‘the Harpers’ where each division show-cased their current projects and handed out awards to outstanding promotional campaigns. The children’s book division had worked tremendously hard in turning a corner of the staff canteen into Fuzzby’s diner for the night. Fuzzby’s footprints led the way:
And there it was! With red-and-white checked table cloths, chips in paper cones, proper menus (laminated for easy wiping off of those difficult food residues) and even squeezey ketchup bottles! I have to confess to having more of my fair share of the worm spaghetti.
I spent the evening doing monster drawings to order for the customers – it was great fun and I got to meet loads of people, including some of those who worked so hard on the digital version of MONSTER AND CHIPS. I even did a drawing for the new UK CEO, Charlie Redmayne, who was previously responsible for JK Rowling’s Pottermore digital enterprise!
Thank you so much to everyone at HarperCollins – they’ve really looked after me this last year or so, and given me so much support. It’s made creating these books such an incredibly enjoyable experience – I’ve loved every second of it!
Thanks to all who turned out in the sweltering heat for my little launch party for Monster and Chips: Night of the Living Bread! Thankfully, we had air-conditioning so it was actually quite pleasant. My dog Treacle came along too, and she was pretty much the star of the show. My lovely friend Kim (check out her Flickr page here) took some great pictures of the night – here are few:
There were chips! CHIPS! Modelled by the majestic Sarah McIntyre in a brilliant comic-strip print dress.
CHIPS! And MONSTERS! Grrrrr!
Friends Alex, Niamh, Sam and Mark. Sam is an amazing artist and animator, and did this bit of Fuzzby fan-art:
Best-agent-in-the-world, Jodie Marsh with illustrator and comics artist, Laura Ellen Anderson. Her Evil Emperor Penguin is one of the stars of the Phoenix Comic (subscribe today!). Also Jamie Littler, whose Cogg and Sprokit comic is another Phoenix favourite, and Jodie’s assistant and general boy wonder Julian Dickson.
More friends and neighbours: Karen and Hannah (or ‘them upstairs’ as we call them), Marco, Faisal and Gianluca.
The wheel fell off my monster alphabet pretty quickly, didn’t it? All will be corrected over the coming weekend and I’ll have a catch-up next week. Meanwhile, my copy of MONSTER & CHIPS: Night of the Living Bread has arrived! It’s a chunky little beast of a book and I’m completely thrilled with it. Those are actual shadows from the lettering you can see, as the cover has lashings of glossy spot varnish on it! It makes a very handsome companion to book one.
It’s officially out on Thursday August 1st (although those who have pre-ordered online will probably get their copies sooner). I’m hosting some drinks at the George Inn, Borough High St (in the Winchester Room from 7pm) on the day to celebrate, so come along if you’d like to say hello and clink glasses!
Book Two of my Monster & Chips series is off to the printers today! Here’s how the cover will look after a few final tweaks. I’m so in love with the cover design of these books – brilliant work by designers Kate Clarke and Matt Kelly.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING BREAD is out on August 1st – I’m counting the days! Joe and his monster mates are off on a new set of adventures with plenty of food-related mayhem, along with one of my favourite characters, cover star Mr Jubbins with his see-through tummy.
We get to see some more of Monsterworld and there’s even a bit of a road trip for the gang. And of course, the Guzzelins provide their usual commentary throughout.
They’re in super-heroic mode here:
Lots of things! I’ve been doing some work with Sarah McIntyre on a mystery project. The mystery has, for a while, been whether it would ever see the light of day at all! But happily the end is (almost) in sight. This is an image that may (or may not) be in the final thing. Dissemblers assemble!
Monster & Chips
I’ve also been busy on the illustrations for MONSTER & CHIPS 2: Night of the Living Bread. The deadlines are TIGHT but I think I’m on course.
I gave a short talk last night to some of the lovely people from the children’s book division at the HQ of my publisher, HarperCollins. They were very polite and attentive as I babbled on about comics a lot. There were chips and wine afterwards too – most civilised!
In other Monster & Chips news, there’s an interview with me in the current issue of TBK magazine and here’s a quick reminder that the competition to win an iPad is still open at the official Monster & Chips website. Create your own recipe and you could win!
Also not in my comfort zone: I was very honoured to be asked to contribute to the new Tiny Pencil artzine, edited by Katriona Chapman and Amber Hsu. It celebrates illustrated work in pencil or charcoal, untouched by ink or any digital shenanigans. Yikes! All my safety nets gone! The pic is a detail of my contribution. Yes, more monsters!
Finally, I was very fortunate to visit the BT Tower this month on one of its rare openings to the public. It was open in aid of a charity event which happened to coincide with our wedding anniversary so we made a day of it. There was a glass of champagne waiting at the top too, appropriately enough, and the organisers had switched on the revolving floor which was a novel, if slightly disconcerting, experience. The weather had been kind so the views across London were spectacular.
I much preferred it to the Shard which we’d visited just before it opened in February as part of a free preview for local residents.
I think the Shard is just a little too high to appreciate the mostly low rise city below it, but from the shorter BT Tower you can see the detail better. I was pleasantly surprised by just how green London is too. Lots of little parks and tree-filled squares everywhere. The city definitely looked at its best.
I’ve been busy writing the second of the Monster & Chips books just recently (amazing to think you can already pre-order it!) so haven’t had time to post any drawings.
Thankfully it’s all done and is now being knocked into shape by my brilliant editors Harriet Wilson and Sam Swinnerton, so I’ll have a little more time from next week to get posting sketches, comics and whatnot.
In the meantime, it came to my attention that over at the wonderful Playing by the Book, there’s a virtual Edible Book Festival in progress. And not only that, someone’s made a plate-load of zombie cupcakes inspired by Monster & Chips! Brilliant!
They look freakily delicious, I must say! You can see a pic in the background from the book – it’s like they’ve just stepped out of it! I’ve pinched the above photo from Playing by the Book – if you’re the chef, then do let me know.
ETA: And the marvellous baker was Polly of The Little Wooden Horse Blog! Do check this blog out – full of very handy reviews of kid’s books. Lots of good reading to be had there.
I’ve actually had a go at making zombie cupcakes myself in the past, as gifts for my publisher. These cakes rather put my efforts to shame!
Oh dear. I think I’ll stick to drawing.
Today is officially the best day ever, as it’s officially the release day for my book MONSTER & CHIPS!
It’s been a real adventure for me and I’ve loved every second – and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have enjoyed creating it. My publisher, HarperCollins, has been brilliantly supportive (editors Harriet Wilson and Sam Swinnerton, designers Elorine Grant and Kate Clarke) and I’ve really felt looked after.
The book is in the shops already (please, please, please buy from your local bookshop if you can!) but the e-book goes on sale today from the Amazon Kindle store, iTunes and Google books. It’s in full-colour and I’m thrilled with the way it looks.
The promotional work the HC team have done has been fantastic – take a look at the brand new MONSTERANDCHIPS.com! As well as info about the book and characters, there’s a fabulous competition to win an iPad pre-loaded with the MONSTER & CHIPS e-book. All you need to do to enter is think of your most disgusting recipe! Stinky coughy pudding? Frog fritters in snotted cream sauce? Vomitburgers? See what you can come up with.
I popped into HC HQ yesterday and was amazed to see the canteen was being set up for a MONSTER & CHIPS-themed lunch for today, including a bit of fancy dress, apparently! I hear chewy worm spaghetti and parp tarts are on the lunch menu today, HarperCollinsers – enjoy!
HC also presented me with a souvenir apron. I hope they weren’t suggesting a alternative career. The apron reads: Monsters need foooooood! Too true. [Spatula, model’s own.]
Phew! All this AND I’m working on Book 2 right now, so more monstrous goodness to come very soon!
MONSTER & CHIPS had its first official outing at the Southbank last weekend, when I held a couple of workshops as part of this year’s Imagine Festival. The events took place just under the Queen Elizabeth Hall, probably better known as the place where the skate-boarders hang out. Part of the space has been walled in to create the Festival Village, which I was sharing with brilliant authors Sarwat Chadda and Clara Vulliamy.
It was my first solo event (although I’ve helped out at others) but there wasn’t any time to be nervous. Both workshops were sold out, so there were plenty of eager faces ready to get down to the serious business of drawing comics.
I started out with a bit of reading to get us into a monstrous mood:
Thank goodness for the microphone – it helps with the silly voices. [Photos pinched from the lovely HarperCollins team’s twitter feed.]
Then on with some character-making with suggestions from the crowd. This tweet pretty much summed it up:
Then it was comic-making time. It was so busy I forgot to take any photos of the comics that the audience made themselves – I really wish I had a record of the imagination, energy, complexity and colour that went into them. So brilliant!
After a bit of book-signing it was back to the writing desk for me: DEADLINES!!!! Thanks so much to everyone who came along – I hope you had fun! And thanks to Nicola, Lizz and the team at HarperCollins for their wonderful support.
MONSTER & CHIPS is officially out on Thursday! Woohoo! All the info here.
My advance copy of MONSTER & CHIPS arrived on Saturday! It’s pretty much a year since I signed the contract with HarperCollins – can’t quite believe I’m seeing the finished book in my hands (apologies for the terrible photo):
And I’ve had some badges made too! Joe, Fuzzby and Barry flavours:
You can buy these from my MONSTER & CHIPS page if you like!
Some more reviews are in: this time from Love reading 4 Kids. This is great because the reviews are from proper young readers – all the more meaningful. My favourite line is from Adam, aged 9, who says: “It is so gripping that you will be attached to it like cheese on toast stuck to the carpet.” Brilliant!
Don’t forget I’m doing a couple of workshops on Friday as part of the Imagine Festival at the Southbank. Book here for your place (ages 7-11)!
I’ve got tons of writing to do, so there won’t be any pics this week, I’m afraid. I’ve also got a huge backlog of diary comics to work through. *wipes brow!* Right – back to work.
Only 28 days to go until the publication day of MONSTER & CHIPS! I’m afraid I’ll be harping on about this quite a lot but I’m so excited to have my first book for sale! I’ll be posting some sneak peeks here but in the meantime feel free to pre-order at Amazon or other online booksellers (though you should always support your local bookshop if you can). I’ve head the book will be on sale in Asda supermarkets too, which is great news. Need to have a lie down now.
[Click for a bigger version.]
I used to hate drawing cars: no straight lines, all subtle, aerodynamic curves. A nightmare to draw in perspective. Good job I’ve given up on reality! I’ll try to get some colour on this later.
Here’s the press release that appeared in yesterday’s The Bookseller Twitter feed!