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!

Railhead: First Reading

In real life, it seems, trains can’t cope with heat.They have to creep along very slowly or the rails will just melt, like a Twix on a sunny windowsill.(Who knew? And however do railways manage in places like Italy and India and Japan?)

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So an extra big thank you to everyone who braved the heat and the sluggish trains to come to the 1901 Arts Club in Exton Street, London on Tuesday night for the official unveiling of Railhead.The book isn’t published until October, but my publishers, OUP, are keen to let people know about it well in advance. Here are publicists Keo, Liz and Alesha, who set up the event.

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They’d invited along a selection of book bloggers and young reviewers who are going to be acting as ‘Railhead Ambassadors’.Some of them were very excited…

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…while others were really, really excited…

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I think they’d been told to look enthusiastic by Sarah McIntyre, who had appointed herself Ambassador-in-Chief and had her own uniform and everything.You can see more of her photos of the evening over on her McIntyreBlog.

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So I read them the whole first chapter and a chunk of the second. Exton Street is right next to Waterloo, and we had all the windows wide open, so appropriate sound effects were provided by trains tiptoeing gingerly in and out of the station over rails which now resembled grilled Curly-Wurlies. I’ve been making some little movies to run behind Railhead readings, so it was a good chance to try one of those out as well: here’s a version with a bit of text added (it’s still kind of abstract).

Then the audience asked some excellent questions, and went off clutching signed copies of the proof, which I hope they’ll enjoy – it’s a bit worrying, unveiling a whole new world. But I think it’s a good one: I’ve enjoyed pottering around in it for the last few years, and it’s time to let other people have a look.

When I walked back to my hotel later it was still too hot to wear a jacket, and the next day was even hotter – probably the warmest weather I can remember in this country. I plodded through the baking streets to Paddington and got on a train which carried me back to Devon at walking pace. They do these things better in the Network Empire.

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A Prix Enfantasie for Oliver & the Seawigs

Oliver and the Seawigs has won an award in Switzerland! It’s the Prix Enfantasie, organised by Payot bookshops and the Swiss Institute for Youth, and Sarah McIntyre and I are very pleased about it! Here’s her blog, with all the details. And here’s a little video we made since we couldn’t get to the award ceremony. Lots of people know McIntyre for her fabulous illustrations, but did you realise she can also throw a book more than 200 miles with pinpoint accuracy?

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