I’m sure we can all agree that the artwork for Ancient Wonders, our latest non-fiction Flying Eye title about the mysteries and marvels of the Ancient World, is absolutely stunning.
Fully illustrated throughout by Avalon Nuovo, you can feel the awe-inspiring nature of everything from the Pyramids of Giza to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon emanating through the pages. The depth and sense of scale that Avalon creates in her illustrations is incredibly impressive – bringing a monument to life that hasn’t actually been seen for thousands of years is no small feat!
To celebrate the publication of Ancient Wonders we decided to dig a little bit deeper into Avalon’s working process, and she let us in on some of the secrets behind how she puts together her illustrations.
Avalon was also generous enough to send us some of her work-in-progress videos, which document her entire drawing process. See below for a time-lapse of one of her double page spreads coming to life!
So how do you begin your illustrations, do you use one program for every element?
For the roughs, I always work in Photoshop on a big Cintiq monitor. The roughs of each page are really more about design than they are about drawing, so I’ve found it really important to do the roughs on a large screen, where I can view each spread at the same size as the printed book while I’m drawing. If I don’t, I often make something that looks nice at half-size, but when it’s enlarged to actual size, it might look totally awkward!
I tend to make the rough illustrations really, really detailed— they’re in black and white, but I basically paint in all of the darks and lights and make it look pretty finished. Sometimes it feels like a lot of work for something that really only a handful of people will see, but it’s so helpful to to be super clear when showing the designer/editor what exactly what it’s going to look like, so that we can do all the decision-making before the final illustration.
It’s also a lot more enjoyable for me to make all those decisions in the sketches, so that when I do the final illustrations, I get to sit back and let my mind wander and just enjoy the drawing (and some music/podcasts/netflix to keep me company!)
And what do you do when it’s time to move on from the roughs?
Once they’re all approved, I turn the photoshop files into flat JPEGs and send them to my iPad. I use Procreate on my iPad Pro to make the final illustrations, and as you can see from the time-lapse videos, I basically use the rough sketch as an underlay.
I usually draw over all the linework first with the sketch at low opacity underneath. After that, I keep the sketch layer turned off while I fill in the color, but I continue to use it as reference for all the lighting and darks/lights that I’ve already figured out in the rough sketch. I send it back to my computer when I’m done, change the document from RGB color mode to CMYK (Procreate only support sRGB at the moment— hopefully that changes soon!), and it’s done!
What makes you prefer using an iPad over a computer?
I could definitely do the final artwork on my computer, but using my iPad really just became a habit because— aside from the fact that I LOVE the workflow in Procreate— I had to do a fair bit of traveling for Christmas holidays and other jobs while I was working on Ancient Wonders, and working on my iPad meant that I could be working on final illustrations pretty much anywhere.
That’s made for some really nice memories associated with the book, personally— when I look at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon spread, I remember working on it while watching an (American) football game with my family in northern California while visiting for Christmas, and when I look at the Inspiration: Artemis spread, I remember making it while on a trip to Finland to meet my partner’s family for the first time!
And what about the analogue vs. digital debate, are you firmly a digital person?
I actually really love working with analogue media— I’m a really dedicated sketchbook keeper and when I’m making illustrations just for fun, I still find it most satisfying to use ink, gouache and colored pencils.
I have two desks in my home studio— one with my monitor/computer, and one that has a tilting top for good old-fashioned drawing. I haven’t used it a lot these days though— ultimately I’ve realized that because my work is so detailed, it’s more realistic to work digitally for my professional work.
As a result, I haven’t used traditional materials much lately— nowadays my drawing desk is where my partner sits so that we can keep each other company while we both work late into the night (or, now that my partner has finished their thesis, so that we can still hang out while I work and they play Skyrim!)
Invented by Luke Pearson, beloved by us, Hilda follows the adventures of a fearless blue-haired girl as she travels from her home in a vast magical wilderness full of elves and giants, to a bustling city packed with new friends and mysterious creatures
And whether you’ve been following the Netflix series or not, you can follow along with Hilda’s adventures in our illustrated fiction series!
These tie-in titles expand on Hilda’s adventure’s in the show’s first series, giving you a new insight into both Hilda’s world and her own thoughts and feelings
This makes the books perfect for either a lover of the animated series, or someone only just setting out on their first Hilda adventure
Each book is beautifully illustrated by Seaerra Miller, who captures all the citizens of Trollberg perfectly
And if you didn’t already know, Hilda actually first began as a graphic novel way back when we published Luke Pearson’s Hilda and the Troll! Have a look at a page below and you can see how far Luke Pearson’s drawing style has changed
Since Hilda and the Troll we’ve published four more graphic novels following her journey:
Released earlier this year to widespread acclaim, In Waves by AJ Dungo is a rare work of non-fiction that is as moving as it is fascinating. A dual narrative, AJ weaves together a history of the great heroes of surfing with the deeply personal story of his relationship with his late partner Kristen, and her prolonged battle with cancer.
We sat down and talked to AJ about the years he spent working on In Waves, and to get something of an insight into his working process.
How did you first decide you wanted to become an illustrator?
When I was in community college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was just taking general courses. The only class I was taking that I really enjoyed was a printmaking class. During this time I stumbled across a book on illustrators that Juxtapoz published. I was just so enamored. I learned that it was a broad genre that covered all of the kinds of images that I really gravitated to.
The artist that really stood out to me from that book was James Jean. I started collecting his books and just fell deeper into this new genre I never knew had a name. His book of Fables covers was a revelation. It was so revelatory to me because he included process shots alongside finished pieces. My mind was blown that these intricate images started as scribbles. I dove deeper into his catalog and saw all the work he had for all kinds of clients. Because of him, I started to read more about illustration as a profession, and that’s when I decided that I wanted to become an illustrator.
In Waves is incredibly visually distinct, with the beautiful limited colour palette and the switch between the browns and oranges of the history of surfing, and the greens and blues of the autobiographical sections. At what point did you decide to format the book this way, both with the colour palettes and merged narratives?
Thank you for the kind words. The merged narrative had been an aspect of the book since it’s inception. It was the prompt that Sam, the CEO of Nobrow, gave me when we started this project together.
On a study abroad trip with my school, I presented Nobrow with a project about surfing. When Sam approached me to make a book together, he referenced my surfing project and wanted to make a book about the history of surfing. Eventually he wanted a story with a more personal connection. So I told him about Kristen and how she introduced me to the sport. That’s when he suggested I try and merge the two; the history of surfing alongside my personal history with surfing. A request that I thought was ridiculous at first because it seemed impossible but one that I’m so grateful for today.
In regards to the color, I had always known the book would be a limited palette due to the tight deadline. It was the practical choice since I had so little time to work on the book. Sam later insisted I add another color, some sort of spot color. That’s when I decided to use the color as a system of placing the reader in a certain narrative. This choice both fulfilled Sam’s request and added a layer of subtle organization to the storytelling.
How much does the final version of In Waves differ from your initial idea?
Not much. The only thing that I wanted that changed was the beginning of the book. In my mind I knew how the story would start and how the story would end and that was with the chapters “the kiss” and with “bushwick request.” I thought it was a powerful way to drop the reader into the thick of the story without much explanation. But a fantastic editor at Nobrow, Ayoola, suggested swapping the beginning out with the chapter that opens the story now, “last summer.”
It made more sense, it brought all the elements of the book to the reader in a subtle way; Kristen, her illness, and our connection to surfing. In the end, I think it worked out for the best. Thanks Ayoola!
This book is clearly a complete labour of love, was it difficult to work on such personal subject matter so intensely?
When Sam asked me to make a book with him and Nobrow, it had only been three or four months since Kristen had passed away. It was very intense. I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t think the timing was right. I had just started a full time job, I was doing freelance illustration on the side, and now I had to tell Kristen’s life story and the history of surfing within a few years. It was a Herculean task.
Not only was it difficult emotionally but I think logistically it was pretty hard. I would work from 9 to 5 then stay at the office until 10 or 11 pm working on the book. My commute was over an hour long and there were many nights I fell asleep on the ride home. Also every weekend was spent working on the book.
I became notorious for cancelling plans and being absent from events because I had to work on this book that meant so much to me. As hard as it was, it was worth it. It was a unique way for me to process my grief, I think the self induced isolation was good. This project allowed me to immortalize my best friend.
All of Kristen’s family and friends have clearly been amazingly supportive about the book’s publication, were they very involved in the making of the book?
Yes, they are incredible and I consider them my own family. Initially, they weren’t involved. I was so secretive about the whole project the entire time I was making it. I never showed anyone anything, it was important to me that everyone read the book in it’s finished state to absorb the story in its entirety, which I think is the only way it makes sense.
After submitting a draft to Sam, he thought the chapter where I met Kristen for the first time was too clichè and would benefit from an outsider’s perspective. Which I thought was weird because it was exactly as I recalled. I had wanted to include Kristen’s family in some way and this was the perfect opportunity. With a voice recorder ready, I interviewed Kristen’s mom, brother, and cousin. It was during the interview of Kristen’s cousin that his wife recounted a story that Kristen had shared with her. It was about how I met Kristen and it was told in a way that I had completely forgotten about. It was much less cliché and much more humiliating haha. I must have buried that one deep in my subconscious. It was so great having their input because it gave the story more depth and dimension.
I love that their voices are a part of Kristen’s story because I’m just one aspect of her life. To have them included gives the reader insight into the depth of the love Kristen’s family had for her.
Are there any artists or illustrators who have influenced you and your work the most?
This question is always so hard to answer. There were artists that I had in heavy rotation during the writing of the book. Adrian Tomine, Jillian Tamaki, Craig Thompson, David Mazzucchelli, Connor Willumsen, Sam Alden, Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Olivier Schrauwen, Alison Bechdel, Katsuhiro Otomo, Yoshihiro Tatsumi.
The author William Finnegan’s book “Barbarian Days” was a huge inspiration, he writes about surfing in such an intimate and transcendent way.
Are you working on any other long-term projects at the moment, or do you have anything in mind for the future?
Right now I’m just doing freelance illustration and weirdly enough I’m working part time assisting James Jean. In terms of long term projects, I’d love to make another book but I think I need to live a little before I start another one. It’s definitely always in the back of my mind though.
And very importantly, do you still get the chance to surf much?
I try to get out as often as I can. If anyone wants to paddle, hit me up!
AJ Dungo is based in Los Angeles, and In Waves is his debut graphic novel.
Copies are available from our site, or in your local best bookshop. American customers can also purchase In Waves from the Penguin Random House site.
We’ve got a bunch of Flying Eye titles available at your local library ready to be read as part of the challenge, from Professor Astro Cat to The Secret of Black Rock.
If you’ve not heard of it before, the Summer Reading Challenge takes place every year during the summer holidays. You can sign up at your local library, then read six library books of your choice to complete it.
And best thing is, it’s completely free!
To see if your local library is taking part head over to the SRC website here
We’re also giving away some special books to those who take part, just take a photo of a Flying Eye book one of your family have read as part of the challenge in your local library, and tag @FlyingEyeBooks on Twitter or Instagram.
And whether you’re a librarian, a care-giver, or a parent looking for some extra activities for your kids this summer, we’ve got you covered. As part of the programme we’re giving away these free Space Chase themed work and colouring in sheets, which you can see below
(For the large versions just email [email protected] with Summer Reading Challenge in the title)
We have the pleasure to announce ourselves as a supporter of Pathways, an exciting new initiative for diverse, ambitious and talented artists who believe they can be the next generation of children’s illustrators.
Pathways is exclusively for those from ethnic minority and disadvantaged backgrounds and is open to both those with no formal illustration training, and well as to undergraduates, graduates and postgraduates.
The programme is a two year course, during which you will be taught by tutors from BA and MA illustration courses from ten affiliated Universities. A wide range of world-renowned illustrators, editors, art directors and designers will also be taking part as mentors – that includes some of us here at Nobrow & Flying Eye! Members from our very own editorial and marketing teams will be working with Pathways to help you get the very best start in the world of publishing.
Check out their website for further details, and don’t forget – applications close September 2nd!
It’s our favourite time of year again here at Nobrow and Flying Eye – ELCAF 2019 is upon us!
Celebrating the very best in illustration and comics the East London Comics & Arts Festival is now in its 8thyear, and this year’s programme is bursting with talks, workshops, screenings and masterclasses.
The festival takes place at the Round Chapel in London, and will be open 12 to 7pm Friday 7th, Saturday 8th, and Sunday 9thJune (head on over to the ELCAF website for further details).
Take a look at our pick below to see when and where you can catch the best of the weekend…
Francesca Sanna of The Journey fame joins Rui Tenreiro, Samandal, and Warren Bernard for this panel talk about what role comics and illustration have to play in the 21stcentury. Head over for what will no doubt be a fascinating discussion on how powerful a tool illustration truly can be.
Finally, an opportunity to achieve your lifelong dream of taking part in a cardboard paper puppet ballet! Illustrator, animator and graphic designer Carles Porta will be heading this workshop, teaching you how to bring your dancer to life through stop motion animation.
Francesca Sanna will take you behind the scenes of her latest picture book Me and My Fear, which is a heart-warming tale about sharing and overcoming the things that scare you the most. As well as talking about her illustrative process Francesca will be talking about the months that she spent working with a research group from Birkbeck University, and how their work influenced both the story and design of the book.
Come along to hear some insights into AJ Dungo’s In Waves, his debut graphic novel that covers the topics of love, loss, and the solace of surfing. As well as covering the book’s life from concept to creation, AJ will also be talking about the role of comics have to play in escapism.
ELCAF 2019’s artist-in-residence Jon McNaught joins us for this very special talk, which has Jon talking in depth about Kingdom, his latest comic. An illustrator with an approach and aesthetic like no other, Jon will also be talking about printmaking, poetry, and the use of comics to explore distance memories and the passing of time.
All talks come free with an ELCAF all access ticket
If you’re in New York on April 6-7, come visit our booth at the Society of Illustrators MoCCA Fest 2019! We’ll be selling books on Saturday from 11am to 7pm and Sunday from 11am to 6pm at Booth C141 and 142. Kingdom by Jon McNaught, which The Comics Journal has called “a pleasure,” and Hilda and the Great Parade, the second TV-Tie in to the Hilda animated series on Netflix, will both be making their show debuts at MoCCA.
It’s only a week until the guide to everyone’s favorite mysterious creature publishes: The Secret Lives of Unicorns. In all our excitement to bring more facts about unicorns to the world, we sat down with Dr. Temisa Seraphini, the writer of The Secret Lives of Unicorns to ask about her personal history with these magnificent creatures. Read on for first-hand stories of encounters with unicorns, historical details, and tips for what you can do to protect this endangered species today.
Flying Eye Books (FEB:): What made you want to start studying unicorns?
Dr. Seraphini: I’ve always been fascinated by odd creatures – by odd, I mean that they are odd to other people but no odder than most things. I like things that seem to defy logic and puzzle expectations. So from a young age I collected books on monsters, tomes on zoology, encyclopedias on ornithology, and ancient codices of forgotten animals. My local library was small but I was quite determined. What I discovered was that the unicorn was far more present that I ever imagined. It existed throughout history and across cultures in symbols from Ancient Babylon, legends from the Ancient Greece and was even sighted by Genghis Khan. They popped up everywhere. Their image was repeated, and repeated in places that were completely disconnected in space and time. The image of the unicorn still features on many coats of arms across the world—including that of the United Kingdom. It’s also the national animal of Scotland. Who wouldn’t want to start studying something so utterly mysterious?
FEB: Where were you when you saw your first unicorn? Can you tell the story of that time?
Dr. Seraphini: It was in the Sherwood forest in Nottingham, England. On Saturday mornings I used go walking with my grandparents in the woods. They packed a picnic filled with treats and after lunch they’d fall asleep under the trees, as grandparents do. Once they were sound asleep I would trot off to do some investigating on my own. I used to collect funny shaped twigs, the woods were the best place for finding new ones. I was running about quite happily until I tripped and fell over some protruding roots. I had scuffed up my legs badly and was on the floor weeping when a young unicorn appeared. It licked the wounds before galloping off. It happened very quickly but I still remember how large and curious its eyes were.
FEB: Why is it so hard to find a unicorn? Have humans ever tried to keep them in zoos?
Dr. Seraphini: They are incredibly shy and don’t tend to venture into human spheres. From around the 5th century and throughout the medieval period they were viciously hunted and caged. They were deemed symbols of purity and much of their anatomy was used for medicine. Their numbers dwindled and for a very long time they almost completely disappeared. Academics across the world believe that unicorns began accessing a space called the ‘Realm Beyond.’ It’s a haven for all magical creatures, we’re not sure how it was created or when, but we know it exists and we know it is as fragile as our own natural world. With the efforts of the SSU—Secret Society of Unicorns—we’re trying to encourage unicorns back into our wild spaces.
FEB: What do people need to know about protecting unicorns? Are they an endangered species?
Dr. Seraphini: Yes, they are. Today the greatest danger is that their natural habitats are disappearing. These are the wild windy moorlands where their berries grow, or dense forests of North America where they have roamed for centuries. They are incredibly fond of spaces of extreme beauty. The best thing we can do to protect them is learn about their habitats and how to maintain the spaces that they love to live in.
FEB: What is the most magical thing you’ve seen a unicorn do?
Dr. Seraphini: A young unicorn taking flight for the first time. It’s not magic in a sense that it is supernatural but the moment itself was magnificent! It was magic in the way that nature can be magic. Much like seeing a spectacular view that takes your breath away.
FEB: What advice do you have for budding unicornologists?
Dr. Seraphini: Keep tracking, keep learning, keep fighting for their habitats. And never stop believing in magic, without it the world is a sad sort of place.
There you have it! You can find out even more next Tuesday, April 2, when The Secret Lives of Unicorns is available everywhere books are sold! Dr. Seraphini will be hosting a live Instagram Q &A on April 2, so follow along there for details.
Since yesterday was the first day of Spring, we’re celebrating with this interview with Sandra Dieckmann, the creator of Leafand The Dog That Ate the World. Both of these gorgeous books are available wherever you buy your books. Read on to discover how Sandra was inspired to turn a dark season of her life into a tale of resolve and strength in The Dog That Ate the World.
1. How did The Dog That Ate the World start?
The first time I thought of the story for The Dog That Ate The World I was lying under a tree in a park near my house watching the sunshine come through the tree branches above, celebrating being alive and warm. It was all roughly there, beginning to end. I don’t think it could have formed as a story in my mind if I hadn’t gone through a particularly dark time beforehand. I struggled through crippling anxiety and health problems for many months and connected that day to the the saying that “depression is a big black dog.” I imagined it swallowing the sun and everything alive, but that I would come out the other side stronger than before.
I thought about the power we give to thoughts that are counterproductive and destructive and shared a little sketch of handing the dog a flower. I wrote: ”If the big black dog comes to bother you don’t fight him, invite him! He’ll soon become much smaller even if he never leaves your side.”
In the book the dog disappears through taking everything in existence but mainly also because no one gives him any power by thinking about him or physically fighting him.
2. What and who in your life inspired the different characters and the overall arch of the story about building community in the wake of intense greed?
The Dog The Ate The World is a cyclical story of a community that lives peacefully, but is segregated into different groups of animals, until one day the dog appears in their valley. He swallows everything and everyone and does not stop, while growing to incredible proportions. The animals must band together and rebuild their lives. There is music when words fail, growing together as friends and rebuilding lives in uncertain times. It’s a story of rebirth and dark and light.
In a big way it’s the story of the world we live in. It is not a classic hero story where good defeats evil, but it is a story about overcoming darkness by living well and also about balance. The dog eats and eats without being satiated, which brought up the theme of blind consumerism. In my eyes it is also about the strength we all carry inside to make the best of a bad situation: be it a mental health crisis or living under a disagreeable government. The children of the world (the bunnies in my book) are faced with an incredible threat but respond peacefully. These characters were inspired by an early sketch I had made responding on the current political climate in the UK around the Brexit Vote. The calm, wise fox leads with little words and speaks through his music to pull the community together. He is the pillar of the animals in the valley and gets swallowed first by the dog, making everyone spring into action. Hans Christian Andersen said it best: “Where words fail, music speaks.”
The other characters I imagine all have their roles in the community and help rebuild it together, even though they lived very separate before this difficult time. The ferrets are silly and fun, the badger is the support system, etc. and all together they form a brilliant band. They dance by fire light and get on with living a good life. Hopefully everyone will find a different angle on this story. You will also notice a lot of mushrooms. It’a a surreal fable so you know…
3. After the success of Leaf, how did you feel putting together your second book? Was your process any different?
The Dog That Ate The World is more of a concept book than Leaf. Leaf grew together out of different stories and that was a marked difference between the two in the beginning. It was a little daunting to follow Leaf so soon after but also freeing in a weird way as I had been really pleased with the response to my debut, and I felt like I could try something a little different. The Dog That Ate The Word is a story very close to my own heart and in my mind this book looked darker, far too dark for a picture book so we worked really hard on balancing the dark and the light without losing my vision.
My brilliant editor Harriet was imperative in this task. I initially also thought about trying to work with simpler shapes and less detail but my usual way of working in detail automatically crept back in. In early idea sketches and roughs the dog was a very flat, black shape and the idea was to have him grow throughout the twelve spreads until he disappears when he has consumed everything. This we kept as a visual tool. In an early version of the story the dog swallows the mountains too which break his teeth. He started off looking quite silly but we later decided to make him more wolf-like.
4. What’s your ideal drawing space and what kind of snacks/beverages does it include?
My dream studio would be a light space filled with plants, big windows, and french doors leading into a garden which ends at a stream or lake. That would be bliss. I have worked in a shared studio for many years now with different illustrator friends and that has always been pretty ideal. My workplace, Studio Mama Wolf moved venue several times. Once we even had a studio/shop open to the public. That was especially good when we had short dance sessions to loosen up and laugh together and stuffed ourselves with morsels we had brought in to share. Space and food has always been best shared!
5. When did you start creating illustrations? What has kept you going?
I went full time as a freelance illustrator in 2012. Before that I mostly illustrated nights and days off for a couple of years, while I worked part time and built up my contacts and portfolio. Etsy was a big part of getting established, and my shop there has always been busy and a lifeline in supporting myself as an independent artist. I have always been in love with drawing from a very early age and still have paintings I did when I was four years old. When I was young I explored the countryside and forest in rural Germany as I wasn’t allowed to watch more than an hour of telly a day, spent loads of time reading, drawing and making things, and in the end just never stopped. I think at every stage of my life drawing has been my soul’s soothing balm.It’s been my retreat, my way to communicate feelings and cope with life in general (apart from crazy deadlines of course).
Hello, dear reader, we’re very excited to share some news with you..! We are thrilled to announce that DreamWorks Animation have optioned the motion picture rights to the Brownstone’s Mythical Collection series by Joe Todd-Stanton! We can’t tell you any more than this for now but rest assured that we will share all further details as soon as we can!
Brownstone’s Mythical Collection follows the stories of the Brownstone family and their adventures through ancient mythologies. Two books have been published in the series so far. In Arthur and the Golden Rope(2016), unlikely hero Arthur journeys to the land of the Vikings where he meets Norse gods and monsters. In Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx(2017), an anxious Marcy travels to ancient Egypt to save her adventurer father and overcome her deepest fears. The next book in the series will be based on Chinese mythology, and is publishing in Autumn 2019.
Winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2018 forThe Secret of Black Rock, Joe Todd-Stanton said upon hearing the news: “Knowing this studio, which was such a huge and positive part of my childhood, have even read my book is mind-blowing. The fact they are interested in possibly adapting it is on another level. I’m really excited to see what happens. “
Sam Arthur, publisher and C.E.O. of Flying Eye Books commented “DreamWorks have a knack for picking up on great content – Joe Todd-Stanton’s star is rising!”
Skyward: The Story of Female Pilots in WWIIis Sally Deng’s debut book, which published earlier this year. What started as a scroll through Pinterest developed into this beautifully-illustrated passion project about three young women who wanted to reach great heights—Hazel is an Asian American living in San Francisco, Marlene is a young woman living in the English countryside, and Lilya is from a small town in Russia. Here Sally tells us all about the fascinating stories she learned while working on this book and answers questions about her creative process, how she conducted her research, and her chocolate-filled studio space.
Sally: “I was looking through Pinterest in college and found a vintage photo of Hazel Ying Lee—the first Asian American female pilot in the United States. I didn’t think it could be real—how could a woman, especially a Chinese American woman, be allowed near a plane during that time? I spiraled into an internet research hole and came out with a whole series of paintings and drawings inspired by these pilots.”
Nobrow: What kind of research did you do while creating Skyward? Did you get to meet any WWII vets?
Sally: “I checked out quite a few books from my university’s library, and had to dig into out of print books about female pilots from other countries. One of my professor’s mothers was a WASP pilot, and he had hours and hours of recordings of her talking about her experience. One of her stories made the book: she was in her plane, and the oil started to leak. She needed a quick fix, so she took off her shirt to clean the oil off the plane.”
(Note: this is referenced in Skyward on page 54, when Hazel has to make an emergency landing and wipe down the windshield with her blouse.)
Nobrow: Are the stories of the three girls based on anyone in particular? If so, who?
Sally: “Yes. The Asian American pilot is based on Hazel Ying Lee, and Lilya, the girl from Russia, loves to draw, which is also what I love to do. Each one is sort of representative of me in some way.”
Nobrow: What’s a favorite story that didn’t make the book?
Sally: “There was a young girl in America who wanted to be a WASP pilot. She had scheduled her physical, but knew she didn’t meet the minimum weight requirement, so hours before her physical, her mother took her to a nearby diner and she ate until she couldn’t eat anymore. She barely passed the physical, but she did eventually become a pilot.”
Nobrow: Which character in Skyward was the most difficult to create?
Sally: “The character that was the most difficult to draw was Marlene. The English women pilots that I saw photos of always looked so beautiful, like models, with their amazing hair and makeup. That’s totally not me, but I just tried really hard to make Marlene look cool.”
Nobrow: In your research, what little-known facts about the female pilots of WWII did you find?
Sally: “I learned a lot of things. First, doctors in WWII didn’t know much about the female body—all the requirements for passing the physicals were in accordance with male bodies. Also, a lot of flying was learned on the go. The pilots didn’t have time or proper training to learn how to fly each air craft. The UK pilots (the ATA) had manuals they would tuck in their boots, basically ‘Flying This-Type-of-Plane 101.’
In America, many of the women who were pilots came from wealthy families who could fund their pilot lessons, but for those who weren’t, they had to go back to civilian life with little hope of having the money to continue flying on their own. In a lot of their interviews, the women pilots didn’t want it to end. They wanted to keep flying.”
Nobrow: What’s your ideal drawing space and what kind of snacks/beverages does it include?
Sally: “I just moved to a bigger shared studio space, but it doesn’t have windows like my last space. So windows and plants make the space ideal, and I always have chocolate around—it’s probably a vice.”
Nobrow: When did you start drawing? What’s pushed you to keep going?
Sally: “Ever since I could remember. My parents told me I started holding a pencil at 3. My parents really supported me from a young age with drawing. When I was a bit older, I couldn’t sit still, and I kept bothering them, so they sent me to art lessons. When I was trying to choose between colleges, my dad saw that I was hesitating between a studio art school and a regular liberal arts college. He encouraged me to go to the art school. I’m really lucky in that way.”
We’re so happy to announce that you can now stream the all-new Hilda series on Netflix! Yesterday, creator of the original Hilda graphic novel series Luke Pearson announced the original music by Grimes featured in the title sequence of the Netflix series.
This morning, the Nobrow team in New York screened the first two episodes for 125 kids from Brooklyn schools at the Brooklyn Public Library. The response was a lot of laughter, and questions about “what happens next?”
Sam Arthur, CEO and Co-founder of Nobrow, was excited to say: “Seeing Hilda develop from first sketches to first comic, to first graphic novel series, to TV show airing worldwide on Netflix has been a huge privilege. I’m so proud of what Luke Pearson, Nobrow/Flying Eye, and Silvergate Media have achieved. The last 10 years have been an incredible ride, and I have a feeling it’s just the beginning.”
Check out hildabooks.com for information on getting your own copies of the graphic novels or the first TV tie-in book, Hilda and the Hidden People. And don’t forget to get settled in to watch the entire first season!
Summer’s almost over and kids are headed back to school, and with that, there are new friends to make, and new stories to hear. In Me and My Fear(out now in the UK, US & Canada), a young immigrant girl starts school in her new country and has to face the challenges of making friends, learning a language, and overcoming her companion Fear, who perches on her shoulder every day—trying to keep her safe.
Me and My Fear is based on research that creator Francesca Sanna did in classrooms—asking children to draw their fears and encouraging them to talk about what made them afraid. To accompany this book, we’ve created a classroom guide, complete with activities and levelling information for teachers, students, and librarians to use for this upcoming year. You can download whichever version applies to you at the links below.
We hope that Francesca’s experience working with immigrant children will provide depth to your classrooms and conversations this year!
“I am a very anxious person, and at times when working on this book, my fear would grow too big and grip me too tightly. I would not have succeeded without the precious help of many people. Firstly, I would like to thank each and every child I met in schools and libraries, who was willing to share their fears about being the new one, the different one, the one from another country. They helped keep my own fear from growing too large.”—Francesca Sanna
Praise for The Journey
Many of you know Francesca from her brilliant debut picture book, The Journey. With six starred reviews, and acknowledgement on Best of lists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the New York Public Library, The Journey moved readers with the illustrated story of a family forced from their homes, gently introducing children to what it means to be a refugee. Now, Francesca brings us into the story of one young girl, overcoming her struggles to feel at home in her new country.
“This heart-stopping, visually sophisticated story of a happy family suddenly forced to flee their home because of war evokes the dark danger of fairy tales to present the stark realities and enduring hope of modern refugees.”
—The New York Times, Notable Children’s Books of 2016
“Direct in language and lush in colorful illustration, this poignant picture book for readers ages 6-10 nurtures compassion for real-life refugees.”
—The Wall Street Journal, The Best Children’s Books of 2016
“The Journey offers a beautiful message to readers — young and old alike — about the difficulties of finding a new home, and the value of welcoming strangers once they arrive.” —The Washington Post
“A necessary, artful, and searing story.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“The innocent voice and dramatic graphic-style illustrations tell a harrowing, haunting, yet hopeful story of a family’s search for a place to call home.” —School Library Journal, Best Picture Books of 2016
“Given the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and immigration debates in the U.S. and abroad, Sanna’s story is well poised to spark necessary conversations about the costs of war.” —Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
Nobrow and Flying Eye Books will be attending the American Booksellers Association’s ABC Children’s Institute from June 19-21st and the American Library Association’s Annual Conference from June 22-25th in New Orleans! Here is a rundown of all that we have going on.
Children’s Institute Events
On the opening night of Children’s Institute (June 19th), we’re throwing an exclusive HILDA Netflix Screening Party at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in room Grand B. We’ll kick things off at 9pm with popcorn and Hilda swag. No need to RSVP but if you’re a bookseller, sign up here to receive a Hilda Display Kit for your store! Don’t forget to pick up a copy the TV Tie-in Hilda chapter book: Hilda and the Hidden People.
Friday, June 22nd at 10:30am: Hamish Steele will be on the Library Con Panel “Reaching Diverse Voices,” with Mariko Tamaki, Danielle Paige, Ridley Pearson, and Kami Garcia, in the Morial Convention Center Room 348-349. To attend this event you must be registered for ALA and sign up here.
Saturday, June 23rd: We’ll be in our booth # 2158 all day (9am-5pm) with giveaways!
3:45pm: Hamish will be back at our booth in the exhibit hall for a signing (it’s booth #2158—don’t forget!).
Monday, June 25th at 10:30am: Don’t miss our exclusive screening of the HILDA Netflix Original Series in New Orleans Theater, Section C, in the Morial Convention Center. This screening will offer librarians a chance to see the first two episodes of Hilda months before it airs on Netflix! The series follows the journey of a fearless blue-haired girl as she travels from her magical home in the wilderness, filled with elves and giants, to the bustling city of Trolberg. Don’t forget that this is also your sneak peak at Hilda and the Hidden People, the first Hilda illustrated chapter book and companion to the Netflix original animation.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay abreast of all the updates! We can’t wait to see you!