Mousebeard's Revenge Cover

May 8, 2009 by  
Filed under sketchbook

emflyingIt’s a funny old thing making an illustration for a cover. I’ve been working on the one for the final Mousehunter book, illustrating a really fun scene from quite early on in the story. The nice part of it is that it’s the same scene I read out at the Crystal Palace Festival, so it’s fresh and alive in my brain.

Translating it into an image has been a bit of a blast. There are huge flying mice, with Emiline and Scratcher holding onto them for dear life as they leap out of a window. And of course, way down below is Old Town. It’s great to have Old Town there, as on the previous cover it was just a bit of deck. (There is the port on the new Mousehunter cover, but that’s not available just yet.)

I imagine many writers have ideas for how their covers should look and I imagine many are frustrated by the outcome. But I’m so lucky to get the opportunity to influence them so much. I guess it’s a big responsibility, but hey, I’m always up for a challenge.

I watched Inkheart at the weekend, and there are a few lovely scenes when the writer of the book (a fabulous Jim Broadbent) gets so excited about seeing his creations come to life that he forgets that the baddies he made up are in fact very dangerous.

Well, this cover has felt a bit like that for me. It really feels like I’ve recreated my world in picture form and, it also has Scratcher on it.

So here’s a preliminary drawing for the cover, of Emiline and the massive Beachcomber Mouse. I’ll post the finished thing when I can!

When ideas form…

May 2, 2009 by  
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crowI’ve been really knocked out by this cold, and while I’m trying really hard to work, it’s not making life very easy. It’s only words or pictures, I know, but my brain’s not functioning. So I’m easing myself back into mice and yetis gently. Wouldn’t want to scare them with a sneeze after all.

What does seem to be functioning pretty well is my imagination. I’ve been able to scribble down a few new ideas, some of them with potential, and some of these have been successfully filled out into proper story proposals.

It’s always peculiar where ideas come from, but there’s definitely two stages to it: 1) the spark, the little nugget of a plan that comes anywhere at any time, and hopefully gets jotted down in a notebook, and 2) the sober thinking, cogs clunking around stage, when 1+1 has to equal 2 and so on. It’s stage 2 when more themes/side stories to the idea have to appear, and if they do I know I’ve got a goodie.

When stage 1 hits, I tend to create a new folder on my computer, give it a title, and hope that’ll help stir something. I might just leave it there for months, doing nothing, but I do usually come back to it. This generally happens after stage 2 of the process has taken place, and I’ve thought about it again, and found ways of making it work.

And then, more often than not, I realise it’s a book that someone else should write. Or someone else would write better. But any way, this here is a quick scribble of a crow from my sketchbook.

A baby Yeti

March 16, 2009 by  
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One of my yetis is soon to babysit his niece, something which he’s a bit concerned about. And rightly so, because she’s as much trouble as he is. Still, it will hopefully make for a good story…

The Yetis' New Nemesis

March 14, 2009 by  
Filed under sketchbook

It’s been an exciting return to England, and I’ve only been here for a hazy 24 hours! I’ve just received some brilliant news regarding the Yeti books (not sure I can say much just yet, but will soon), and I’ve also had some terrific Mousehunter post.

Packs of Mousehunter’s Almanac trading cards – which are looking awesome – have slipped through the letterbox, along with copies of the American edition of the book. I can’t tell you how exciting they are. I do have a spare pack of cards, so I might have to launch a competition to win it.

And seeing as I’ve been doing lots of research and many scribbles regarding the second Yeti book while on holiday, I thought I’d post an early depiction of the new baddie. He’s shaping up to be a cracker…


Yeti Comic Sketches

January 22, 2009 by  
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I’m working up a number of ideas for comic sections in the Yeti book. The look of the the thing is still very much early days yet, and so is its shape and form, but I’m keen to push some illustrations into comic/film-like strips within the book.

This is from the start of the story, and is a potential lead into the first chapter. The whole page of comic is here. Like I say it’s rougher than rough, and some of the panels and pacing are awkward, but it’s a start.

And while I’m on the theme, here’s a Cryptozoology set, as seen on BoingBoing, and passed on to me by Rob (who’s one of the few people to actually have read the first draft of the Yeti book). Maybe one day there’ll be a Yeti within the plastic packaging.

The Secret History of Yetis

January 21, 2009 by  
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Here’s top-secret photograhic evidence of the first encounter between the British Army and a Yeti. It’s thought to have been taken in the Himalayas, around the year 1856.

The big yeti

January 6, 2009 by  
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Continuing the theme of Christmas Yeti drawings, here’s one of the Big Yeti being hit by – or rather feeling the effects of – lightning.

And I’m a bit up to my eyeballs in the Mousehunter 3 edit, so I’ll just link to a very cool and concise run through of all that happened in the children’s book world in 2008, over on David Maybury’s lovely looking blog!

I love Snowmobiles

January 5, 2009 by  
Filed under sketchbook

I like gadgets, machines and vehicles, and it’s definitely a perk of the job having to come up with new ones. There are snowmobiles in the Yeti books, and I’ve spent a bit of time drawing them, trying to design a look especially for my Greebo 2000 robots. I always thought snowmobiles were cool, but I never knew quite how cool until I came across a programme on TV all about people who get paid for doing stunts on them.

They’re mental, for sure, but they’ll be brilliant in chase scenes… Watch this and imagine them being driven by evil robots!

A Welsh miner, Yeti style

January 2, 2009 by  
Filed under sketchbook

So here we are back to the land of deadlines, yetis and mice. I’ve been doing a bit of scribbling over the Christmas break in an attempt to stay away from the computer. This one’s a Welsh miner who’s having to deal with extreme cold, hence the warm clothes.