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Marcel Takes New York!

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New York, NY–

Start spreadin’ the news! Eda Akaltun, creator of Marcel, is hitting the Big Apple for three days of fun events featuring New York’s favorite French Bulldog, Marcel!

It all starts at 11:30am on Sunday, November 20th at Brooklyn’s POWERHOUSE. Stop in for a very special story time session! Eda will be performing a live reading of her debut picture book, Marcel, and it’s sure to be a fun time. Stick around after the reading to meet Eda and get your own signed copy of Marcel!

Then at 10:30am on Monday, November 21st, Eda will be taking her storytelling talents to FIKA at the TurnStyle concourse below the iconic Columbus Circle! Come by and check out this vibrant Manhattan scene, sitting in the heart of New York’s incredible subway system. (And while you’re there, why not check out our very own kiosk popup shop?)

And finally at 4:00pm on Tuesday, November 22nd, the folks at Teich will be hosting Eda for an interactive and fun reading experience based on Marcel!

That’s three stops on Eda’s Marcel tour, and three chances for you to meet Eda and to hear all about that street-wise city-dwelling pup Marcel! We’ll see you there, New York!

WHOA WHOA WHOA SPECIAL UPDATE!
We got so excited about meeting all of you, we’re going to be kicking off the Marcel Tour a day early! Join Eda at 1:00pm on Saturday, November 19th at Books Of Wonder for the November Picture Book Bonanaza! Eda will be joining the lineup of picture book authors, ready to show off their great new work. Hope we can catch you there!

 


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Check Out Our First Pop Up Shop!
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Hey New York, we’ve got some exciting news for you! Nobrow and Flying Eye Books have opened up our very own limited engagement pop up shop… in the heart of New York’s subway system! That’s right, from now until November 21st, you can find us in the TurnStyle concourse beneath Columbus Circle, Monday thru Friday.

Come check us out! You can take the A, B, C, D, or 1 train to Columbus Circle and find us on the TurnStyle concourse, or if you’re coming from above ground, just take the stairs down from 57/58th street & 8th ave.

We’ve set up a lovely little kiosk, stocked up with some of our favorite titles from Nobrow and Flying Eye Books, and we’re ready to sell them to straphangers, pedestrians, New Yorkers, and tourists alike!


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🐶 Beep Beep, Woof Woof, it’s Dogs in Cars! 🚗
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Yahhooo, Dogs in Cars is here! Count to 100 through the many breeds of dogs from French bulldogs to Great Danes, as they wreak havoc upon the streets in their recognisable locomotives! In this hilariously illustrated introduction to the world of dogs and cars, Emmanuelle Walker and Felix Massie pay homage to these glorious animals and their moving machines.

To celebrate its release, we caught up with illustrator / animation director extraordinaire, Emmanuelle Walker to talk about collaborating with Felix on this cool canine car compendium, illustration, animation and more…!

1)What came first – the words or pictures? How did you and Felix collaborate on the project?

What came first was a spreadsheet. A spreadsheet including a list of A to Z breeds, and car brands – because yes, the number of dogs corresponds to the number of each alphabet letter, which also corresponds to the name of the dog breed and the car brand! A=1 – Alpha Romeo/Afghan hound, B=2 – Bentley/Beagles, C=3 Citroen/Corgis, D=4 – Delorean/Dalmatians, etc.

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I then gave that list to Felix as a base for the text, and it evolved from there. He picked the breed and the brand that he thought served the story the best. He added to the dog and car list too if he thought there was an even better option.

He did a first draft, and that’s really when I started working. Over time some of the rhymes slightly changed, but the idea stayed the same.

2) Which is your favourite spread from the book and why?

The dog I had the most fun drawing was probably the Old English sheepdogs, because I love drawing hairy things, could you count all the hair on that spread?

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I like all the book spreads, but the special one is probably number 10, where I drew my dad in his blue Jeep and myself as a child with our 10 Jack Russells (even though we never had a single Jack Russell!).

3) Do you have a dog? If so what kind and what are they called? If not… what kind of dog would you most like to have?

No I don’t, unfortunately. My favorite dog in the world is probably the whippet because of all the crazy positions they can make thanks to their long limbs. If I had a garden big enough (or if I had a garden at all) I would have one.

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4) Could you tell us a little bit about your illustration process?

I usually do some sketch research first. There were so many different and sometimes similar breeds, so I had to find a way to simplify them and understand the shapes.

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To have a better general overview of what the book was going to look like, I did some super quick thumbnails of the spreads.

Then I prepared a template document in Photoshop because I wanted all the cars to be proportional to each other when you flip the book pages. So the small cars are tiny on the page, versus the trucks for example. Once I had the template I picked the illustration I wanted to do the most on that day. I started with the 13 Maltese.

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I then roughed the car first, then the dogs and background with a thin black line. Once I was happy with the rough I made a colour-test layer to decide what the colours were going to be. Sometimes it’s a quick process, sometimes it’s harder to find something that pleases me. At this stage it’s only refining that’s left but that’s the longest and most tedious part!

Once I was happy with the colours I started selecting the different zones of the illustration with the freehand lasso tool. Basically, every colour is a different layer so I can easily change things if I need to.

And for the rest of the pages, I balanced everything depending on the number of dogs on the page. So if I had to draw a lot of dogs for one page, I would then pick one with less dogs, and so forth.

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5) You work now as an animation director, what do you enjoy most and what are the challenges involved with making a children’s book outside of your day job? 

I can’t really pick a favourite between directing, animating, and illustrating, I need the three to feel balanced. Animation is great, and bringing characters to life is extremely satisfying, but it can be very tiring to draw the same drawing over and over, (and then retracing/cleaning up everything afterwards). Illustration is great, you can take all the time you want to create one single image but it doesn’t move! And finally directing means that you often get to work on bigger projects, with a team to help you, but it can be stressful and the clients are not all always easy to manage. Luckily I work with great producers who take care of them most of the time.

Because I don’t have a regular schedule or regular clients, my days are always different. I have some super busy months where I stay at the studio until midnight, and other times, I can go weeks/months without working. The main challenge I’d say is not to get too stressed in the down times and try to travel a bit to work on personal projects (that will often bring you more work), find some inspiration elsewhere for other projects, and disconnect for a while.

Thank you so much Emmanuelle! Drive away with a copy of Dogs in Cars now!


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Hilda and the Stone Forest Launch Party at Gosh!
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Yes! Everyone’s favourite blue-haired heroine is back for her fifth adventure, Hilda and the Stone Forest!

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.

Find Gosh! at:
1 Berwick Street
Soho
London

See you there!

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GUEST POST : Katheryn Wise’s Picks for Summer!

As part of a new series of guest posts on the Nobrow blog, we have invited bloggers, educators, creatives and Nobrow fans to write about their favourite Nobrow and Flying Eye Books. First up we have Katheryn Wise, from the Fairtrade Foundation, on Shackleton’s Journey and Professor Astro Cat’s Intergalactic Activity Book

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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.

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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]!


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Storytime with Keith Negley at Powell’s!
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Portland, OR–
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!

Kids’ Storytime with Keith Negley
Saturday, July 16 @ 11:00 AM
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W Burnside St.
Portland, OR 97209


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An Adventure in Orlando with William Grill!
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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:

wgALA1Here’s William hard at work at one of his signings, carefully drawing in a copy of his newest book The Wolves of Currumpaw.  The lines to get to William’s table were pretty long, but he made sure to say hi to everyone and send them off with a quick sketch.

wgALA6One of the perks of being a renowned author and illustrator is meeting all of the dedicated readers from around the world.  Here’s William spending time with a young lady excited about her growing collection of William’s work.

wgALA7And here he is sitting with Bobby Byrd, one of the publishers behind Cinco Puntos Press and a big fan of William’s work!

wgALA3But it wasn’t all panels and meet-and-greets.  Here he is up to a bit of mischief outside of the WonderWorks Museum of Orlando, which we’ve just learned has Laser Tag.  If only we’d known sooner!

wgALA4William got into a bit of trouble on this mini golf course, but fortunately for him, he’s as skilled in the art of negotiation and charm as he is with a coloured pencil.

wgALA5Adventure can be found anywhere!  At least that what William was shouting before he found himself trapped in this backhoe.

All in all, it was a very fun and very busy week for us at ALA and the Children’s Institute!  We were so lucky to meet so many brilliant authors and fans at these wonderful shows!

Thanks so much to ALA and the Children’s Institute, as well as the beautiful city of Orlando for having us!
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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!


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Marcel’s Guide to New York!

Hello friends!

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.

1- American Museum of Natural History 

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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

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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.

3- Doggy Day Spa, inspired by Biscuits and Bath

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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)

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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!

5- Washington Square Park

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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…

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Get Smart About Sharks with Owen Davey!
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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!

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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.

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2. Sharks can detect heartbeats using their Ampullae of Lorenzini (freckle-like dots on a shark’s nose),

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3. Sharks can’t chew. They have to swallow their prey whole, crush it, or bite chunks off.

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4. The Epaulette shark can actually walk on land using its fins.

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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!


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Hilda is coming to Netflix!!
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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.”

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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.’

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That gives you plenty of time to catch up on Hilda’s first four stories; Hilda and the Troll, Hilda and the Midnight Giant, Hilda and the Bird Parade and Hilda and the Black Hound! And… coming this September, Hilda’s FIFTH adventure, Hilda and the Stone Forest! Here’s what to expect:

‘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!

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Create your own Cityscape with Marcel!

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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)

If you would like to join us please email [email protected] – Places are limited.

Follow Marcel on Twitter and Instagram and buy the book now!

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Exploring the Wolves of Currumpaw with William Grill!
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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!

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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.

Nobrow_Blog_Wolves4.    Can you tell us more about your process? What comes first, the drawings or the words?

They come hand in hand for me, it feels natural to make a list of important events while sketching out what spreads could look like. This helps me to visualize the book as a whole before I commit to the project. Colour is hugely important as it sets the tone of the book. I like to work up lots of colour swatches in the rough stages and see what colours work well together. Less is more as the saying goes, I think around six colours per book – more than that and things get messy!
Everything is hand drawn, the only digital aspect is moving spot illustrations on the page or adjusting colour levels slightly. This sounds nerdy, but I like Faber-Castell polychromos pencils, they have good strong pigments and a nice finish to them.

5.  How long have you been working on The Wolves of Currumpaw? What were the most challenging and most rewarding parts?

About a year and a half, on and off, although the idea to re-interpret Seton’s text has been lingering in the back of my mind for longer. The most challenging thing for me was reducing the text to its most essential ingredients – this led to using small panels which felt quite new to me. Some of the large landscape pieces took repeated attempts which could be frustrating! Getting them right was a big relief.

6. When did you decide to be an illustrator, and who are you most influenced by?

When I was five I wanted to be a builder, I suppose it comes back to making things. I knew I wanted to draw for a living during my foundation year when I was about nineteen. Influences change all the time, but a few consistent people would be some of the Fauvist painters, Saul Steinberg, and the work of Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden – their works have a really strong design aesthetic and have always had a particular charm to me. Recently I’ve been enjoying a lot of folk art, and stumbled upon the incredible work of Jivya Soma Mashe at the V&A Museum of Childhood.

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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.

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Thank you Will! Get a copy of the book here!


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Greg McIndoe examines Simona Ciraolo’s picture books
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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.

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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

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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.

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“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.


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WOO-HOO! IT’S ELCAF TIME!
ELCAFblog

East London!  It’s almost time for ELCAF!

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
June 11 / 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
£5

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.

Dieter Braun
June 11 / 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
£5

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.

Vincent Mahe
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.

Biografiktion – Paul Paetzel
June 11 / 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
FREE with ELCAF ticket

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
June 11 / 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
FREE with ELCAF ticket

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.

and here’s what you’ve gotta see on Sunday:

Mikkel Sommer – London Jungle
June 12 / 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
FREE with ELCAF ticket

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.

Alexis Deacon
June 12 / 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
£3

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!


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WE’RE MOVING! GOODBYE SHOREDITCH, HELLO HACKNEY!
movingblog

 

As of Monday 16th May we will be moving our London office to 27 Westgate Street, London, E8 3RL. We are making the short trip east and a little north of Shoreditch to the London Fields area in Hackney, very close to Broadway Market. After almost 8 years in Shoreditch we are sad to be leaving but excited to be starting a new chapter somewhere new. Please note we will not be having a shop space in our new location, but our shop is still very much online as well as your local book store! This move does not affect our New York office or any of our distributors, which will all remain the same.

(Illustration by the brilliant Ben Newman, thanks Ben!)