The Terrible tales of the Teenytinysaurs

Hooray! I’ve been waiting a long time to read The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs, the new book from Gary Northfield (creator of Derek the Sheep and the fantastic Gary’s Garden strip in The Phoenix). Now it’s finally here, and it’s every bit as good as I’d hoped…

Teenytinysaurs is a collection of stories about a bunch of young dinosaurs… Or, really, about a bunch of children, because the things they get up to are mostly children things rather than dinosaur things, if you see what I mean. The characters are kids who happen to be dinosaurs, and they while away their days daring each other to go into the cave where the bogeyman lives, wondering idly what the moon is made of, playing football, and annoying their big brothers.

It’s all very charming, VERY funny, and beautifully drawn, in a deceptively simple-looking style (Gary shares a studio with my Seawigs co-creator Sarah McIntyre, so I know how long these effortless-looking pictures actually took to do). The giant scraper-board underwater scene in the final chapter – all deep-sea dinosaurs and wierd luminous fish – is a masterpiece, but many of the simpler, smaller panels are just as good; I’m always amazed by the subtleties of expression Gary can convey with a couple of lines. He’s a good writer, too. He has that rare ability to include moments that are quite touching in among all the snot and poo jokes and goof-off physical comedy, but without ever getting twee or heavy-handed.

My son Sam (never a big reader) raced through this in about half an hour, and has been re-reading it ever since in the same way I used to re-read Asterix books when I was his age (11). He says, “Cor, it’s a BRILLIANT book, I wish there was a second one out!”

So, whether or not you are/have children, run out and treat yourselves to a copy of Teenytinysaurs: it’s BRILLIANT.

And if you’re in central London on 31st May, there’s a special launch party at Gosh Comics:

The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs is published by Walker Books.

Sci Fi Day in Falmouth

I’ve been busy writing recently, and there hasn’t been much time for blog posts – even the delights of BristolCon had to pass unblogged, although nearly everybody who else who was there seems to have blogged about it, so hopefully mine won’t be missed.  It was an excellent day as always, and I suppose I should take this chance to announce that one of the Guests of Honour next year will be (ahem) ME, which is very flattering and a bit unexpected. More on this, and on the thriving Bristol SF scene, in future posts.

There were further Science Fictional goings on yesterday at University College Falmouth in Penryn, where Rupert Loydell, the senior lecturer in Creative Writing, and some of his colleagues had organised a one day Science Fiction conference. I gave a presentation about how I came to create the world of Mortal Engines. Oh, and there was a visualiser handy, so I did a quick drawing of one of the evil Gollarks from Murderous Maths, too…

I also got to sit in on talks by film studies lecturer Kingsley Marshall on the role of robots in SF cinema and by Chrisy Dennis on space opera – both very interesting, and potentially quite useful, since the main thing I’m busy writing at the moment is a mammoth space opera with a robot as one of the central characters.  Chrisy’s talk was partly illustrated with excerpts from the David Lynch film of Frank Herbert’s Dune, which took me back a bit. Released in 1984, Dune is possibly the worst film I’ve ever foolishly paid actual money to see at a cinema (and I’ve seen Prometheus), but it does have some extraordinary futurist/Ruritanian production design, which had a bit of an influence on Mortal Engines.

As well as a lot of the students from Falmouth’s highly regarded creative writing courses the conference was attended by some of the members of Writing Squad Kernow, a group of talented young writers aged from 13 to 19 from right across Cornwall. One of them, Alice Vickery, came dressed as Hester Shaw…

…but without the hideous facial disfigurement:

After my talk I signed a lot of books. While I was at it, wrter and ‘iphoneographer’ Benamon Tame took this picture of me and did mysterious filtery things to it on his phone to create this image…

Many thanks to Rupert, Sam, Kingsley and their colleagues, and to everyone I met in Penryn.

Oh, and I cam home to find a copy of The Phoenix waiting, featuring Jinks & O’Hare – Funfair Repair, the comic I drew with Sarah McIntyre. Sarah’s colours look fantastic!

While I was in Cornwall, Sarah was at a party in London to celebrate The Phoenix, and she met a young comics fan there who has already done his own Jinks & O’Hare sequel. I wish I could work that fast!

The Phoenix

If you live in the UK and you like comics you may already be of The Phoenix, a new weekly story comic which rose from the ashes of the late lamented DFC (or ‘David Fickling Comic’).  Like its predecessor, The Phoenix is packed with great strips , and has a nice mix of the funny and the thrilling, as a proper comic should.

My good friend and seawig illustrator Sarah McIntyre was a stalwart of the old DFC. Unfortunately she’s too busy illustrating books (some of them MINE) to draw a strip for The Phoenix, but we agreed that she should write a strip for me to draw, and the result is JINKS and O’HARE – FUNFAIR REPAIR, a tale of rum doings at an outer-space fairground. I drew and inked it and Sarah did the colouring, and you can see the results for yourself TOMORROW (Friday 2nd November) when Issue 43 goes on sale. I believe you can pick up a copy at branches of Waitrose supermarket, or from all good comics shops (such as my local one, Gnash Comics in Ashburton). Or you can order it direct from The Phoenix website. And while you’re there, why not try a taster subscription?