Happy Puglication Day To Us

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Today is the official publishing date for Pugs of the Frozen North, my third book with illustrator, megastar and international hatstand Sarah McIntyre.  It’s the tale of Shen, Sika, sixty-six pugs, and how they get mixed up in a wild and magical dogsled race to the North Pole. It draws on Sarah’s knowledge of Alaska and Russia, and my knowledge of Wacky Races. Sarah’s written a lovely blog about how she created one of the characters, hirsute heroine Helga Hammerfest…

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And our brilliant puglishing and puglicity teams at OUP have been getting into the spirit, too…

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Sarah also designed these lovely free-standing pugs, which will be helping to advertise the book in shops…

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It’s been great working on these books with Sarah and the OUP team, and I think Pugs is my favourite so far. Thanks, guys!

Also, if you want to check out my old stuff, remember that this is also the publication day for these…

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(Balalaika LP cover photo by Stuart Pyle, graphics by by Jo Cameron.)

Low Flying Illustrator Buzzes Book Fest!

Wait – what’s THAT? Up in the SKY! Is it a BIRD?


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Is it a PLANE?

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Oh, it’s just Sarah McIntyre, being lowered by crane into the Guardian Children’s Book Festival at London’s Granary Square.

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If you think it looks alarming for her, imagine how it felt for the anxious watchers on the ground…

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This was a new event – the children’s books element was part of a larger festival called ‘Curiosity’, and there was LOADS going on. I was so busy watching Sarah dangle from her crane that I missed Emer Stamp, who was on before us – her Diary of a Pig looks great. But I did get to meet author and illustrator Paul Stickland. His picture book Dinosaur Roar is a must for anyone with dinosaur-crazy toddlers, or anyone who’s dinosaur crazy themselves. (Paul also took the best of those dangling McIntyre pictures.)

And we caught a glimpse of award-winning poet Joseph Coelho, but he was in mid-poem, so we couldn’t stop to talk.

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Sarah and I were doing our new PUGS OF THE FROZEN NORTH show in an inflatable igloo. It was basically the same show we did at Edinburgh last week, but with slightly more technical problems to overcome. We had a giant piece of paper to draw our Race to the Pole game on, but no board to rest it on. Luckily the Guardian had provided a seemingly infinite number of helpers, who acted as a human easel.

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We also had OUP’s Sarah Howells to help out – she took some of these pictures, and was able to provide Anti-Yeti Spray when Sarah’s unfortunate Hairy Hands problem flared up again mid-show…

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The audience were a big help, too – particularly the lad who, when we asked what perils our racers might face on their way to the pole, suggested, ‘mistletoe’.  And what would we do without Sarah’s husband Stuart, who is always a tower of strength at these events, carrying things, blowing up inflatable dice, taking photos, etc?

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Actually, we’re going to have to find out what we’ll do without him, because we have a whole Pugs of the Frozen North tour starting at the end of September (details HERE) and I don’t suppose Stuart will be able to make it to all the venues. But we’re getting the hang of this show now, so fingers crossed. The big question is, how on Earth are we going to top Sarah’s crane stunt? Matthew Tobin on Twitter has a Helpful Suggestion…

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Thanks so much to Emily Drabble and her colleagues at the Guardian for asking us to be part of their festival! We hope it will be the first of many!

Lakes International Comic Art Festival

In October this year I’ll be in Kendal for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, where Sarah McIntyre and I will be promoting our new book, Pugs of the Frozen North. The Festival has an amazing lineup of artists and writers, and they have asked some of us to create lakeland-themed postcards. McIntyre and I came up with this view of Traditional Pug Bathing at Friar’s Crag on Derwentwater.

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My parents lived near Derwentwater for many years, so I drew the background, based on old sketches I made when I was staying with them, and then Sarah added the pugs, mermaids and colour. You can see some of the other postcards here, including a lovely one of Castlerigg stone circle by the great Jonathan Edwards, and one by Bryan Talbot whose Luther Arkwright graphic novel was the subject of Jake Hayes’s excellent Tyger Tales blog this week. I’ve not come across Luther Arkwright before, but the drawings look amazing, like this one…

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While we’re at the festival, Sarah will also be doing an event based on her brilliant new picture book Dinosaur Police. And I’ll get to meet one of my heroes, the artist Ian McQue. My new book Railhead isn’t illustrated, but if it was, Ian would be the man to illustrate it (and if I could re-write Mortal Engines I’d change all the airships into mysteriously airborne tramp steamers like the ones which appear in his paintings).

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We’ll be doing an event together about creating worlds through words and pictures, and I’ll be reading from Railhead while Ian draws. His line work is just as amazing as his colour stuff, and he has published two great sketchbooks, Robots, Space-Dudes and Flying Ships (currently sold out, it seems) and Mechs and the City

Do check out the festival website, there will be all sorts of good stuff going on. And, of course, it’s not the only Pugs show Sarah and I will be doing – more details on our Frozen North tour soon!

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