To celebrate the launch of this next exciting instalment, on Thursday 8th September from 7.30 to 9pm, Hilda’s creator Luke Pearson will be joining us at Gosh! comics.
Luke will be in conversation with author, cartoonist and comic book aficianado Gary Northfield, discussing his creative process, the upcoming Hilda animation (as much as he’s allowed to) and whatever else might crop up in the evening. It’s a not to be missed chance to peek into one of UK comics’ most verdant creative minds. And a chance to get a copy of a Gosh! exclusive Hilda & the Stone Forest bookplate edition!
The Facebook event page can be found here. No need to book, no tickets required: just bring yourself down for 7.30-9pm on Thursday the 8th September, seats first come, first served for what promises to be an informative, entertaining evening.
I have worked for the Fairtrade Foundation for the last three and a half years, writing learning resources for teachers to explore with their students about where their food comes from, how closely we are connected to people all over the world by the food we eat and how choices we make as consumers affect the producers at the other end of the supply chain. Put simply, I write about some of the ways in which the world is unfair and some of the ways we can try to make it fairer.
Before that I worked at Comic Relief for four years, again on the Schools team, encouraging young people to get involved in Red Nose Day and Sport Relief, raise money and help people struggling in the UK and the world’s poorest countries.
I am a big fan of elephants, dogs, dinosaurs and beautiful books.
As I said, I worked for a maritime museum – and not just in the publishing department but in the galleries themselves for a number of years. I have stood beside a replica of the James Caird for many a day so I am well-versed in the life of Shackleton. In fact, I rather big-headedly wondered if William Grill could even have any information that I didn’t already know – and my goodness he did!! The detail in this story is incredible and the language evocative. A handy glossary differentiates your conning from your cross-bracing and however much you think you know about Shackleton’s attempt to cross Antarctica I guarantee that you will learn something new.
My second book was Professor Astro Cat’s Intergalactic Activity Book. While Shackleton’s Journey is wistfully sketched and beautifully described, Professor Astro Cat whizz-bangs from the page and gets you up and involved from the get-go. I may not have mentioned that I actually ran a detective agency in my youth – the Clueless Detective Agency – you may have heard of us? My co-founder Agent 33.3 and myself, Agent 21.5 were quite the problem-solvers of our little village in Kent (a high point being when we found a shoe without an owner – although I believe that case is still unsolved). Anyway, I digress, but it is a relevant digression because Professor Astro Cat tapped straight into my 9 year old detective brain – once again I was learning Morse code and the NATO phonetic alphabet and was given Astro Cat’s decoder to translate curious extraterrestrial text! It was amazing! There is so much to do in this book!!
I have made a star gazer, learnt some Russian, measured wavelengths using chocolate and a microwave (who knew that was possible?!) and I have designed a gym for cosmonauts to use on space stations (you’re welcome NASA). The best things I learnt were that I am essentially made of stardust which is very cool and if I move to Pluto I might just have superhuman strength. I honestly think this might have been the most fun I’ve ever had learning anything. I should add that I also nearly fell off my chair and I spilt a bowl of cereal whilst wearing three pairs of gloves – ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ I hear you cry – well, you will just have to read the book yourself to solve that case.
If you are a blogger, librarian, bookseller, illustrator… or straight-up, die-hard, all-round Nobrow/ Flying Eye Books fan and you would like to write a guest post for our blog, please get in touch at [email protected]!
In the first in Alexis Deacon’s epic supernatural historical trilogy, Geis : A Matter of Life and Death, the story begins as the chief matriarch is drawing her last breath… but who will be worthy to follow on her rule? Fifty souls are summoned in the night, and so begins the first task of their extraordinary trial… Here Alexis introduces some of the key players of this incredible adventure.
Nemas – The youngest of three brothers from an influential family, Nemas is accustomed to being last in the pecking order. When the contest begins he is surprised to find that he has talents few others possess. With the possibility of stepping out from his brothers’ shadow at last within his reach, Nemas is determined to prove himself worthy. But just how far is he prepared to go to do it?
Niope – A supreme master of a long forgotten art, Niope is a Sorceress of Death. Where she came from and who she is remains a mystery, but this much is clear: she is a formidable force. Niope has promised to run the contest to find the island’s new chief but in truth she will respect no power but her own.
Io – The daughter of the Kite Lord, a high commander in Chief Matarka’s army. Io is surprised to find that she and not her father has been summoned to the contest. Though small and inoffensive to look at, Io is far from weak. She is resourceful, well trained in her father’s craft and compassionate to a fault. Even Niope is impressed. Io may well be the strongest contestant but is she strong enough to save the others from the danger that threatens them all? Can she overcome the sorceress by herself?
Ben – An experienced member of Chief Matarka’s court, Ben is a shrewd politician and a skilled orator. Time and experience have made him cynical of government, however. Now he cares for little outside of his home, his children and his loving wife.
Nelson – A man of science and medicine, Nelson has a great reverence for all living things, knowing how slender the are threads that bind them to this world. He is strong willed, knowledgeable, kind and a good friend to all who know him well.
Eloise – What survives of the ancient craft of magic is practised by wizards like Eloise. She is not as powerful or as learned as the sorceress but she should not be underestimated. Though Eloise may appear bluff and impassive, she has a great heart and would lay down her life if those she loved were in danger.
Artur – The chief accountant of Matarka’s court, Artur has not seen much of the world outside his office in many a long year. When he was a young man he served in the army before adopting a sensible, reliable trade as his father advised. Content to dream of secret liaisons with the kitchen maids and count the pennies piling up, Artur thought the days of action had long since passed him by. But now a new danger has come, throwing everything he cares for into peril. Does even the smallest ember still remain of the distant fires of youth?
It’s party time! Wiz and Mug are back for another amazing adventure, and Secret Headquarters is ready to celebrate with none other than Sam Bosma, creator of Fantasy Sports. Don’t miss your chance to hang out at one of the best comic shops in Los Angeles with one of the most exciting cartoonists out there! Drinks, new books, and your own signed copy of Fantasy Sports 2 – What more could you need??
Gather round, everyone! Powell’s City of Books is hosting a special Kids’ Storytime with the one and only Keith Negley!
This Saturday, Keith will be reading from his latest picture book: the stirring, funny, and sweet My Dad Used to Be so Cool. Follow along with Keith as he tells you about a tattooed dad with a rock star past, and find out the heart-warming reason behind why he decided to give it all up.
Afterwards, be sure to stick around for your chance to get your book signed by Keith!
Orlando, FL –
At the end of last month the ALA Annual and the ABA Children’s Institute welcomed the award-winning artist William Grill for a week of panels, signings, and fun at their annual shows! William sent over some pics of the cool things he was up to during his visit to Orlando and we thought you might want to take a look:
Here’s a message from William:
Stepping out of the airport I was instantly greeted by the warm Orlando air, reminding me that it was Summer, something that I’d forgotten about back in London. Like the weather, the librarians, booksellers, and illustrators I came across all greeted me with the same warmth and enthusiasm.
It was a pleasure to chat to people from all over the country that had come together to get excited about new books. As an illustrator you rarely get to meet the people who actually help promote your work through shops and libraries, without them we’d be stuffed!
Having made a book that is rooted in American culture I’m glad I could make a connection with people of the same background, especially those that live near New Mexico and have heard of the story.
The most memorable part of the trip was discussing how to make books more appealing for reluctant readers with illustrators as well as librarians. This is what really drives me to keep making books and seeing what you can do with the format. It’s encouraging that the US is conscious of this, and it’s something I hope to continue being a part of.
Lastly, it might look fun to pretend you’re being scooped up by an excavator bucket but those things are ridiculously dirty, be warned.
For more on The Wolves of Currumpaw, be sure to check out our webshop!
Also, don’t forget to check out The Wall Street Journal’s review and Publishers Weekly’s interview with William!
Pencils at the ready, we’ve a very exciting competition to announce! We’ve teamed up with the coffee maestros at Timberyard to give you a chance to show your work at their inaugural Art Exhibition. This is a brilliant opportunity for your work to be a part of a exhibition in a busy Central London coffee shop… and as if that wasn’t enough, you could also win a selection of Nobrow books worth £100!
A few words from our friends at Timberyard-
“A show of vibrant contrasts and stimulating styles within three categories, each shown in adjoining rooms at TY Seven Dials in Covent Garden, Central London. The inaugural TY Art Exhibition will provide a platform to display artworks in a variety of mediums, formats and genres by amateur and emerging or established contemporary artists.
The TY Art Exhibition is a concept conceived and curated by Joe Faulkner, a barista by trade but also a talented photographer, who wants to encourage people from all backgrounds to engage and take part in art and photography at any level. TY is excited to collaborate with Hotshoe Magazine and Nobrow Press who will both be lending their professional guidance and gifting competition prizes this year.”
SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN!
For the first round of the selection process, amateur artists are asked to submit a digital image of their artwork online. For the next stage of the application process judges will shortlist entries for exhibition in The Communal Space and The Ground Floor at TY Seven Dials. The exhibit will be on public view for a period of 6 months (when not in private use). Submissions open on 1 June 2016 and the deadline for entry submissions is 31 July 2016. Finalists will be selected and the winner will be determined w/c 22 August 2016. Artists will be contacted and asked to deliver ‘exhibition ready’ artworks between 22-29 August 2016. Hanging will commence on 29 August 2016 in time for launch and Special Preview on 1 Sept 2016.
All shortlisted artwork will be hung as part of the new TY Art Exhibition (you will need to supply exhibition ready, printed and framed artwork). The exhibition will be on public display for a period of 6 months in The Communal Space and The Ground Floor at TY Seven Dials. All shortlisted artists will be invited to join us at the Special Preview on 1 Sept 2016.
We are also gifting this awesome selection of Nobrow books to the winning artist!
By now you’ve probably already been introduced to Marcel, our favourite New York pup! He loves to go for walks with his human, checking out the sights and sounds of his beloved neighbourhood. Did you know a lot of the best spots in Marcel’s city are based on real places in New York? Here are five, real-life locations that inspired scenes from Eda Akaltun‘s Marcel.
AMNH has an iconic dinosaur exhibit at its entrance hall, a dramatic representation of an imagined prehistoric encounter: a Barosaurus rearing up to protect its young from an attacking Allosaurus. The Barosaurus skeleton, which is the tallest freestanding dinosaur mount in the world, is composed of replica bones cast from actual fossils.
Entering the museum to see and maybe even taste those bones is Marcel’s biggest dream, one that he imagines will never come true as dogs are not allowed. When the new human manages to sneak him in, Marcel ends up having one of the best days in his life and the event changes the course of their relationship for the better.
2- West Village
This is Marcel’s home with his human. He feels safe and loves it here, and gives the reader all the reasons why it’s so great in their area. He particularly likes that there are no high rises around and the abundance of activities that are available.
Marcel is a very particular pup who loves the high life – he enjoys smoked salmon and listens to jazz! It’s only natural that he needs pampering spa days like the rest of us and his favourite one happens to be in downtown naturally.
4- Ruff and Sons (in real life: Sadelle’s – this is where the photo was taken. The name was inspired from a NY institution Russ & Daughters)
Only the finest nosh for this pup! He loves this spot and introduces it to the reader as the best bagels in the city. The human happens to agree as she’s leaving it with a bag full of goodies!
Ahh the Washington Square Park! This is where Marcel’s favourite jazz band ‘The Bone Daddies’ play. It’s also one of the best and most iconic parks downtown and has a great dog play area.
New York city has inspired countless artists, and we hope that Marcel inspires you to see the beauty of your own neighbourhood!
Be sure to check out the rest of Marcel’s adventures in Eda Akaltun’s Marcel, available now in our webshop!
And who knows where this adorable pup’s adventures will take him next…
Did you know that sharks can detect electrical currents from other creatures? Or that some are covered in loads of tiny little tassels? Owen Davey demystifies these boneless fish in his beautiful new book, Smart About Sharks. This week is Shark Week, so to celebrate this and the release of his book, we asked our new shark expert, Owen Davey to share the favourite facts he learned putting it together!
1. The largest shark to have ever lived (the Megalodon) is thought to have been 16-18 meters long and weighed the same as 30 Great White Sharks.
2. Sharks can detect heartbeats using their Ampullae of Lorenzini (freckle-like dots on a shark’s nose),
3. Sharks can’t chew. They have to swallow their prey whole, crush it, or bite chunks off.
4. The Epaulette shark can actually walk on land using its fins.
5. Sand tiger sharks gulp in air and store it in their stomachs so that they can float just above the ocean floor silently and sneak up on prey.
Dive right into this underwater world and grab a copy of the book here!
Last month, we released the first book by Luke Healy, How to Survive in the North. In his stunning debut graphic novel, Luke weaves together the true life historical expeditions of Ada Blackjack and Robert Bartlett, with a fictional tale of a modern mid-life crisis; creating an unforgettable journey of love and loss that shows the strength needed to survive in the harshest of conditions.
Here at Nobrow, we are so lucky to work with so many incredibly talented illustrators, but it’s not all sketchbooks, Wacoms and days glued to computer screens for these guys! Largely inspired by his own book, Luke Healy set off on a journey of survival of his very own and being the master storyteller that he is, has chronicled his adventure so far for you…
In 1914, Captain Robert Bartlett walked 700 miles across the frozen Arctic ocean. He was attempting to reach civilisation and, by extension, rescue the crew of his ship, who were otherwise helplessly stranded on the frigid, desolate Wrangle island. I wrote a book about this.
Just a few weeks ago, I crossed the 700 mile mark on my own long hike. But I wasn’t dealing with freezing temperatures, and the tirelessly shifting Arctic sea ice. I was dealing, in fact, with quite the opposite. A forest fire. And as I ran from the fire, wishing for an end to the heat, and the dryness, and the whole damn desert, little did I know that I would soon be slogging through a whole set of icy wastes. Just like the characters in my book.
This summer, I’m attempting to walk from Mexico to Canada, along a 2660 mile wilderness trail that runs through national and state parks, paralleling the West coast of the United States. It’s called the Pacific Crest Trail. You might have heard about this trail from the Reese Witherspoon film Wild, or the 2013 book it’s based on by Cheryl Strayed. That’s how I heard about it.
I’ve never been much of an outdoors person before this trip. In fact, researching Captain Bartlett’s walk for two years, while I worked on my book How to Survive in the North, is probably what made me curious about my ability to do something like this. I had just finished up writing How to Survive when I first heard about the PCT.
As I worked to finish drawing the book with Nobrow, I knew I was going to attempt the hike. I set the date, and got hiking. I was even on trail when the book was released just one month ago, somewhere near mile 450.
The PCT starts in the desert, right on the USA/Mexican border, an emotionally charged place, for many reasons. But it’s also charged with something else; heat. It couldn’t have been more different than the conditions on Bartlett’s hike. The first section of the PCT, miles 0-700, are classified in all the guidebooks as “The Desert”.
And it truly is the desert. Cacti, rattlesnakes, a troubling lack of water. Everything you picture. But it also has things you don’t picture, things you don’t expect. Sometimes the trail journeys up to higher elevations, and that means lush pine forests, and vibrant wildflowers, and occasionally even snow.
I got snowed on for the first time only two weeks into my hike, on top of Mt. San Jacinto, a peak that hits almost 10,000 feet. It’s considered a fairly small mountain in California, but it’s nearly three times taller than Ireland’s tallest peak.
I remember thinking “How did they do it? How did Bartlett walk through the snow for 700 miles?! How did Ada Blackjack survive this kind of cold in a tent for two years?”. The desert heat was one thing, but to be cold and numb for such a long time, was something I knew I wouldn’t be able to deal with.
But still, as I pressed on, I kept the 700 mile mark firmly planted in my head. That’s how far Bartlett went, that’s the end of “The Desert”.
But the desert wasn’t going out without an event. As I neared the 700 mile mark, a wildfire ignited only a mile or two from where I was standing. I hiked 28 miles in one day to escape the smoke. It was the scariest day of my life. As I limped into Kennedy Meadows, a little general store perched near the 700 mile marker, hikers applauded from the porch through the night’s blackness.
I couldn’t help but smile. I had walked 700 miles. I had matched Bartlett’s distance. Even if I had to turn around and go home tomorrow, the trip would have been a success.
Still, my ability to empathise with the characters from How to Survive was only just beginning. As the trail climbed out of the desert and into the High Sierra mountains, I began to see more and more of my dreaded frenemy. Snow. And lots of it this time. Not just the half-inch sprinkling I saw on San Jacinto, but whole fields of the stuff, feet deep, left behind by a good winter.
And boy was it tough to deal with. As the passes and peaks climbed higher, some over 14,500 feet, the snow grew trickier and trickier.
I remember making an edit late in the process of drawing How to Survive. The earlier drafts had the characters simply standing on top of these fields of snow, as though it were a field of white carpet. But close to the end of production, I thought “That’s not right, their feet should be sunk into the snow”. I was thinking back to my time living in Vermont, where walking through snow only happened after a fresh snowfall, before the plows and street sweepers had come through the town.
Well it turns out I was only half right. In the afternoons and evenings, you did indeed sink through the snow up in the High Sierra. In the mornings, however, the snow was frozen solid, into huge sheets of ice. It was hard, and slick like wet glass. Especially when the trail climbed above the tree-line, and I was left in these desolate, exposed, snowy stretches, clutching my ice axe, microspikes fixed to my shoes, praying I didn’t slip and slide off a cliff, did I think: “I get it”.
For four or five hours per day, I understood, really understood, what it must have been like to be stranded on Wrangle Island, or working my way across the sea like Bartlett and Ada Blackjack.
I ran out of food, I slipped and injured myself, I was plunged into ice-cold rivers. My tent collapsed in a snow storm as I counted the seconds between the lightning flashes and the thunder booms. Flash…1…2…Boom…Flash…1…Boom.
I could barely handle it psychologically and physically for two weeks. I can’t even begin to imagine how the real-life subjects of How to Survive lived that way for over two years.
As I write this now, I’m sitting in the town of Mammoth California, 906 miles into the trail. I’m almost done with the High Sierra. Almost done with the snow. And my appreciation for Bartlett’s journey and Ada’s fortitude has increased exponentially with every step across an expansive snowfield or icy cliff.
I can’t imagine the difficulty and danger of Bartlett’s own hike. I can’t imagine the pressure he felt, not only attempting this incredible, near-impossible journey, but having the lives of dozens of people depending on him.
I’m glad I can understand a little better what Bartlett’s journey felt like. I’m excited to continue my hike. But you can bet your bum I’m glad that nobody’s life is depending on it.
If you’re feeling inspired to buy the book, you can grab a copy here (and we ship worldwide) or from any great bookshop. If you’re feeling inspired to set off on an epic adventure of your own, good luck!
Have you heard the news?! That’s right, HILDA IS COMING TO NETFLIX!!
We are so thrilled and proud to announce that Luke Pearson’s blue-haired explorer is set for her biggest adventure yet, making the leap off the page and onto all kinds of small screens, thanks to Netflix and Silvergate Media.
Here are a few words from Luke: “I’m obviously very excited to be able to finally say this is happening. Alongside drawing a new book I’ve been working with Silvergate on this for a while now and can confirm that it’s in unbelievably good hands. An inordinate amount of love and attention to detail is going into this thing and I’m looking forward to sharing the result in a couple of years’ time.”
And from Nobrow co-founder Sam Arthur: “Hilda has come such a long way since we started work on her first book with Luke in 2010. It’s the most wonderful and exciting thing to know that she will now reach an even wider audience with this TV series. We are delighted to have found such excellent partners in Silvergate Media and Netflix, who are going to do an amazing job of bringing Hilda to the screen.”
The news was broken by The New Yorker last week along with an interview with Hilda’s creator, Luke Pearson and you can read it here!
The official press release from Netflix says: ‘A production of Silvergate Media, the makers of Octonauts, in collaboration with Mercury Filmworks, Hilda transforms the Eisner-Award nominated graphic novels by Luke Pearson and published by Nobrow into an incredible animated adventure for older kids. The series follows the journey of a fearless blue-haired girl as she travels from her home in a vast magical wilderness full of elves and giants to the bustling city of Trolberg, where she makes new friends and discovers mysterious creatures who are stranger –and sometimes more dangerous– than she ever expected. Netflix members worldwide will be able to join Hilda on her thrills and escapades beginning in 2018.’
‘Hilda is starting to shirk her responsibilities, seeking days filled with excitement instead of spending time at home… and her mother is getting worried. While trying to stop Hilda from sneaking out into the house spirits’ realm, the pair find themselves flung far away into a mysterious, dark forest – the land of the trolls! Will they be able to work out their differences in time to rescue each other and get back home? And are the trolls all as sinister as they seem?’
For all the biggest Hilda fans, we also have HILDA TOYS! These are limited edition, high-quality vinyl art toys and make perfect desk companions and shelf inhabitants! Make sure you get one now, before they run out!
Meet Marcel, he’s a New Yorker through and through. He’s jetting in to London this weekend to celebrate the launch of his new book. Come and join him for a morning of storytelling and crafts with his creator, acclaimed New York illustrator Eda Akaltun.
Listen to Eda read Marcel’s story and then create your very own cityscape collage for Marcel to make his home. Marcel is sure to steal your heart and ignite your imagination!
Each child attending this workshop will not only go home with their very own cityscape collage but guests will also be presented with a fabulous goody bag filled to the brim with Marcel treats. Books will be available to purchase on the day which Eda will happily sign and dedicate for you.
Time: 11am-12:30 Date: Saturday 25th June Address: MOLLY MEG 111 Essex Rd, London N1 2SL Phone: 020 7359 5655
This is a FREE event suitable for 3-8 years (all materials will be provided)
Last month, we were thrilled to release the second book from Kate Greenaway Medal winning William Grill, The Wolves of Currumpaw. Where Shackleton’s Journey took us on an epic expedition to the icy antarctic, this time we’re following Ernest Thompson Seton’s true life tale of hunters and the wolves they were hired to trap, set across the vast plains of New Mexico in the dying days of the old west.
After a busy month of launch events, we finally managed to sit down with Will to ask him a few questions for you!
1. Why did you decide to write (and draw) about Lobo and Seton’s story?
As well as being an emotive story, I was struck by how Seton’s tale says something relevant about our relationship to nature today. For me, his experience with Lobo is a good allegory for how regrettable our selfish treatment of nature may be. The tale unfortunately ends with Lobo’s death, but what Seton goes on to do afterwards can be seen to redeem his actions in some way.
2. How do you feel attitudes have changed since Seton’s time?
I think now there is more of an appreciation for nature and we have a deeper understanding of ecology, a concept which didn’t really exist in the late 1800s. In Seton’s time, animals were treated more like a resource and anything that was a nuisance was removed. Thankfully this attitude has changed a great deal, as we understand that many animals like wolves play a vital role in the food chain and deserve to live freely.
The main focus of my story was to show how one man’s attitude towards nature changed, influencing the early conservation movement and the way we treat animals. In a wider sense, I also wanted to show that these destructive early attitudes affected not only wolves but caused extreme suffering to Native Americans, however I am aware that my book in no way represents the full oppression and devastation inflicted upon Native Americans by the European settlers. That would be a whole other book, one that deserves a full story to itself.
3. How did your own research inform your adaptation of Seton’s original story?
I think the story has a lot more impact when you know the context to it and what attitudes were like at the time. In a visual sense, travelling to Corrumpa Valley in New Mexico allowed me to take lots of first hand sketches and photos which influenced much of the artwork. Since wolves are no longer present there, I spent a week at a wolf sanctuary where I was able to draw wolves all morning. Simply drawing wolves at the sanctuary gave me lots of good reference for different postures and expressions which I tried to incorporate into the book.
7. It’s almost a year since you won the Kate Greenaway prize for Shackleton’s Journey! How did it feel to win? Do you have any plans to go into fiction, and can you tell us anything about what might be coming next?
It completely took me by surprise and still feels unreal to think I was chosen. It’s hugely encouraging to have the support from all the judges, although it now adds a little pressure to live up to the previous book!
I would like to venture into fiction at some point, although I’m enjoying non-fiction a lot at the moment. I think it would be interesting to try my hand at a darker subject matter in the future too. What really interests me though is blending genres and producing a book that is unusual. It’s hard to say what’s next at the minute as there are a few ideas floating about. I’m thinking it could be set somewhere green though, in a jungle or a forest perhaps.
8. What’s in your sketchbook at the moment? Can we take a look?
My sketchbook is in a display case at Waterstones Piccadilly right now for another three weeks so you can see them for real! I don’t have much else current but I visited Kew Gardens a while back and did a few chalk drawings there.
Having spent quite some time building (and writing about) my treasured collection of Nobrow and Flying Eye Books titles, choosing my favourite is a very hard decision indeed. However, if there was a gun to my head (an unlikely scenario, I know, but it is always good to be prepared) then Simona Ciraolo’s debut Flying Eye Book Hug Me would have to be my top choice.
Hug Me brings together an unbeatable combination of quirk, humour and heart to tell a story of Felipe, a cactus in search of friendship and, of course, hugs. This adorable starting point alone makes Hug Me a strong contender for the top spot and add in the book’s warm, rustic aesthetic, surprising and hilarious plot twists and heartwarming happy ending and you have, in my opinion, the perfect picture book.
So we have established I am a fan of Simona’s debut title (I think that is pretty clear, right?) and so it will come as no surprise that when her second Flying Eye Book was released, I was excited to say the least. At this time, knowing there were people like me eagerly awaiting her next title, Simona herself was feeling the pressure.
“You can’t help but fear that there’s perhaps a higher expectation towards your second book: someone who liked the first might draw comparisons between the two and, well, find it disappointing! But really what made working on the first one a lot less daunting was that things moved so quickly I hardly had a chance to dwell over it.”
– Simona Ciraolo
Whatever Happened to My Sister?, Simona’s second title, looks at a girl’s bemusement at seeing her older sister growing up and is not Hug Me 2 in any way, shape or form. The biggest changes between the two books is aesthetic. Simona’s second book relies more heavily on smoother, watery textures as well as a moodier colour palette to capture the feelings of change and confusion in the air. This noticeable change could be seen as an obvious way of avoiding comparison but it was in fact purely down to the change in subject matter as Whatever Happened to my Sister? was actually in development before Hug Me was created.
Although, I don’t believe in the “a bad sequel can ruin the original” train of thought, I was a little apprehensive as to how Simona could ever top Hug Me. However, thanks to Simona retaining her clever wit and illustrative charm, I was just as impressed with Simona’s second offering. And after much examination, I found the two titles not to be so different after all. Simona may have jumped from succulents to sisters with her main characters but her core themes moving from making friends to drifting apart from family is a much less dramatic leap. In this way, Whatever Happened to my Sister? is Hug Me’s spiritual successor.
And Simona’s next Flying Eye Book takes another natural step to look at ageing and its effect on relationships. The Lines on Nana’s Face sees signs of old age turn into wrinkles of wonder as a little girl learns about the important moments in her grandma’s life. As ever the concept in this new title is prominent. Simona’s illustrative talent is immense – her spontaneous, energetic use of line and texture is almost reminiscent of Quentin Blake and her use of calm colour is warm and uplifting – she believes having a story you need to tell, or a powerful idea, is most important of all.
“Being a competent artist is a great help to the extent that it makes it easier to create a readable narrative and an object that’s pleasant to look at, but should not in itself be the most important aspect of creating a book. That being said, I do believe there’s an intrinsic value in the beauty of pictures and their striking ability to reach places that are difficult to get to with words alone.”
– Simona Ciraolo
As for what could be next for Simona, the possibilities seem endless. A cacti-led take catching up with a fully grown Felipe (a part of me will always secretly be hoping for this) or something entirely new and different? With each title added to the Ciraolo library, I am more and more confident the next will be a success. Each title seems just as witty, intelligent, emotive and beautiful as the last and I can’t wait to watch as Simona’s glittering career unfolds – a picture book legend in the making I am sure.
This is a guest post from Greg McIndoe who blogs at Headless Greg.
The fifth annual East London Comics & Arts Festival is our favorite comics event, and this one’s going to be the best yet! In addition to hosting genuine superstars like Adrian Tomine and Richard McGuire, this year’s ELCAF features a slew of events led by some of our favorite Nobrow artists.
Here are the events we’ll be checking out this Saturday:
Robert Hunter is a London-based illustrator who works with traditional drawing and printing techniques to produce his otherworldly picture narratives. Rob has published a number of books including The New Ghost, and a collaboration with Maccabees singer Orlando Weeks called Young Colossus. Join him as he talks about his most recent foray into animation accompanying his illustrated picture book retelling Rudyard Kipling’s classic Jungle Book.
German illustrator Dieter Braun will join ELCAF to talk about the creation of his recently published english edition of Wild Animals of the North. An illustrated study of the Northern Hemisphere’s wild animals, this biologically accurate encyclopaedia is the first of a series of books for children.
June 11 / 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
FREE with ELCAF ticket
Join illustrator Vincent Mahe in a game of exquisite corpse using a template based around a level in a building. Draw, paint, add characters and help to populate this building, which will grow over the course of the workshop, creating a giant vertical Leporello.
Visual storytelling can be simple and a lot of fun. Join illustrator Paul Paetzel from Edition Biografiktion in this exciting drawing workshop – using a character based on yourself, put your alter ego into a variety of backgrounds and see what kind of story evolves. The results will be sights seen through the eyes of our comic heroes.
Lorena Alvarez Gómez is a Colombian illustrator based in Bogotá, Colombia. She alternates her work as a freelance illustrator with writing and drawing her own stories, and her interest in colour language and its formal qualities result in bold and unusual palettes. Lorena will talk about personal projects and the process of her first comic book with Nobrow titled Nightlights – a story about how our fears can hold us back and distort the way we see our reality.
Join Berlin-based Danish illustrator Mikkel Sommer as he makes a colourful, 3D diorama (otherwise known as a miniature theatre) based around the theme of a ‘London Jungle’. He will be needing your help to draw, cut, paint, fold and glue, because in reality, he has no idea what he is doing. People of all ages are welcome. Kids even more so.
London-based children’s book writer and illustrator Alexis Deacon will be discussing his work at ELCAF this year. He has twice been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal, and is a two time recipient of The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award. His well-loved picture books include Beegu, I am Henry Finch and Slow Loris, and he was one of Booktrust’s ten Best New Illustrators in 2008.
This ELCAF is really going to be something special, and there are so many more fun events and guests for you to see! Make sure to check out the ELCAF website for all the sweet details. We’ll see you there!