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Nobrow in October

It’s been another busy month here at Nobrow HQ, and we’ve got yet more exciting events lined up for this November! Whether you’re US or UK based there’s a score of things for you to get in your diaries, so whack out your pen and notebook and take a look below…

US EVENTS

AJ Dungo connects with the surfing community, in discussion with surfer and Fulbright scholar Jamie Brisick in Los Angeles

Summer may be over, but for any of you in the vicinity of AJ Dungo’s SoCal stomping grounds, you know the waves come year-round for surfing! AJ will be at Skylight Books in Los Angeles on October 11 to discuss in Waves with surfer, author, and Fulbright scholar Jamie Brisick.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, we interviewed AJ here on the Nobrow blog last month. One of the most rewarding parts of publishing In Waves to us has been the enormous response it’s received not just from traditional media outlets like The Los Angeles Times, but the surfing community as well, culminating in a sweeping interview with AJ at the sport’s most iconic periodical, Surfer magazine.

Jamie Brisick is a former professional surfer-turned-author, receiving a Fulbright fellowship in 2008. His recent piece “Surfing in the Age of the Omnipresent Camera” for The New Yorker is worth a read for anyone who enjoyed In Waves’ pensive reflections on life in the water.

Friday, October 11 — 7:30pm
18 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Luke Healy in the Big Apple! A conversation about Americana with cartoonist Malaka Gharib at the New York Public Library

Luke Healy may be an Irishman living in London, but his new graphic memoir Americana reflects on his time spent in the United States, so it’s only fitting that he cross the Atlantic one more time to discuss his book in the country it’s named after. Luke will be at the New York Public Library’s Grand Central location on October 19 to discuss Americana with our friend Malaka Gharib—whose new graphic memoir I Was Their American Dream (Clarkson Potter, 2019) also explores personal identity as it relates to the United States as a concept.

Malaka is the global health and development editor at NPR, and the founder of the D.C. Art Book Fair, held annually at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. Check out The New York Times’ recent in-depth feature profile on Malaka, “How to Draw Yourself Out of a Creative Funk”!

Saturday, October 19 — 2:00pm
135 East 46th Street
New York, NY 10017

Luke Healy in the Windy City! Cartooning workshop at Challengers Comics in Chicago

Call it a U.S. tour! After a quick NYC trip, Luke is hopping on a plane to Chicago to chat about Americana at Challengers Comics + Conversation on October 28, where he’ll be leading a workshop entitled “How to Be the Best Pictionary Player in the World,” a 30-minute cartooning workout that’s sure to get your creative juices flowing, and hopefully spark some great DIY comics! Challengers is one of the most active comic shops in the Chi-town art community, hosting all sorts of events on a near-daily basis to support the local comics scene.

Monday, October 28 – 7:00pm
1845 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647

Nobrow at Comic Arts Brooklyn 2019!

Once again we’ll be tabling at Brooklyn’s premier independent comics festival on November 2, in the strange gymnasium of the Pratt Institute campus where this year you’ll be able to snag a copy of Hamish Steele’s new book DeadEndia: The Broken Halo for the very first time, ahead of its November 5 street date! We’ll also have our full bevy of brand new releases and back catalogue classics in tow, so stop by and say hullo. If you’ve never been before, CAB is a free annual show organized by Pratt and local indie comics staple Desert Island Comics to highlight the best of independent cartooning.

Saturday, November 2 – 11:00am to 7:00pm
200 Willoughby Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11205

UK EVENTS

Nobrow at Nottingham ComiCon

Nottingham ComiCon is set to be a very special one this year – we’ll have our whole set of shiny new releases with us, from AJ Dungo’s moving memoir In Waves to the long awaited sixth instalment in the Hilda series, Hilda and the Mountain King.

Saturday, October 9 – 10am to 5pm
Nottingham Conference Centre, Burton Street
Nottingham, NG1 4BU

MCM Comic Con London

We’re delighted to be representing the very best of Nobrow and Flying Eye at MCM Comic Con in London this year. We’ll be there all weekend, hand selling our favourite titles and offering some exclusive MCM discounts.

Friday 25th to Sunday 27th October – 10am to 7pm Friday and Saturday, 10am to 5pm on Sunday
ExCeL London
Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway
Royal Docks, London E16 1XL

DeadEndia: The Broken Halo Launch at Gosh! Comics

More info to come on this one, but save the 1st November in your diaries! Hamish Steele is back with DeadEndia: The Broken Halo – the long awaited sequel to the first DeadEndia graphic novel. We’re planning a suitably spooky launch London institution Gosh! Comics, so keep an eye on this space…

Friday, November 1
Gosh! Comics
1 Berwick St, London
W1F 0DR


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Eleanor Hardiman on The Sleepy Pebble

A beautiful treasure trove of tales perfect for bedtime, The Sleepy Pebble and Other Stories is co-written by sleep specialist Professor Alice Gregory and children’s author Christy Kirkpatrick, who’ve incorporated mindfulness and other techniques into every chapter.

The book is fully illustrated throughout by Eleanor Hardiman, whose elegant watercolours truly bring this book to life. We sat down with Eleanor to get a closer look at her working process, and to get a behind-the-scenes look at her studio.

We’ll pass you over to Eleanor to tell you more…

Using analogue media is really important to me and my process, and that starts right from the sketch stage. My roughs always start with pencil sketches, I have one retractable super chubby pencil that I love drawing with, it means I can create more flowy shapes and spreads without getting caught up in detail. 

The Sleepy Pebble and Other Bedtime stories took inspiration from old fairytale books in it’s layout and contains a huge mix of different elements, this was the biggest challenge for me! The book includes a set of patterns, spots, character’s, drop caps and single and double page spreads for each story.  All my sketches start as little thumbnails and are then redrawn and finalised at book size to keep everything consistent. There were so many elements on the go I made tick-charts for each story to keep on top of all the artwork in its various stages. Seeing the rough sketches in the book layout for the first time was really exciting, it went from pages of various sketches into something book-like!

Each of the stories were so different and I paid attention to creating different environments with different plants and details for each one. I based the tree story on french lilly filled lakes, and the pig story took inspiration from the Vietnamese mountainous countryside. 

Each of the 5 bedtime stories has a different limited colour palette, so my next step was to make detailed colour plans for each story and element, so that all the decisions are made before the final artwork stage. Watercolour is a very unforgiving medium so it’s saves so much time by planning everything out! I transfer the pencil sketches over to procreate for the iPad pro and plan the colours digitally. The iPad means I can try lots of different colour ways out quickly without painting each option. This process saves lots of time and makes me more adventurous with colour, although I had to be mindful about including colours that are as effective in paint as they are screen. 

With a new book layout full of coloured roughs I was ready to start final artwork, my favourite part! I like to get really settled at my desk before painting, as I’ll be there for a while. I usually have a cup of tea and a good podcast on the go. On my desk I have the sketch, colour plan for reference, a mix of brushes, tissue paper, clean and dirty paint water, masking fluid and a scrap of paper for testing the colour and consistency of the paint. I work traditionally with watercolour, meaning I start by painting the lightest colours, and work my way to the darkest using a combination of washes and thicker paint for the darker details. Simple elements like the drop caps or characters are painted as one final image, however more complex spreads with lots of elements are painted in layers and compiled together on photoshop. This means there is less pressure to paint everything perfectly first time (phew!) and also means elements can be moved or changed individually if they need to. I worked on each story one at a time, this was to make sure they all looked consistent as mixing paint again is tricky, but this also meant I really got to delve into each one, I love each story for different reasons and having this variety was a great part of the project. 

After scanning and combining the different layers of each image I start to edit the artwork digitally. This usually includes small tweaks like adding saturation or contrast to the paintings, cleaning up any marks and neatening any edges. Illustrating the cover of the book was so special as we got to include spot gloss and gold foiling (my favourite!), it also meant I got to revisit the underwater artwork and use all the squiggly coral patterns and speckled pebbles. 

The Sleepy Pebble is out now in the UK, available on our website and in all best bookshops. The release date for the US and Canada is October 15th, and available from Penguin Random House.


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William Grill & Flying Eye at Brooklyn Book Festival

We had a blast with Molly Mendoza and AJ Dungo at Small Press Expo in Maryland this past weekend, but that’s not all we’ve got in store this month for our U.S. East Coast fans!

Tomorrow we’ll be at Brooklyn Book Festivalin New York, with a kid-oriented table at Saturday’s “Children’s Day.” Swing by booth #18 from 10am to 4pm to check out our latest kids’ books like Hilda and the Mountain KingStig & Tilde: Vanisher’s Island, and Kai and the Monkey King.

But our big highlight of the festival: Shackleton’s Journey and The Wolves of Currumpaw author William Grill is making a rare Stateside appearance at Brooklyn Book Fest! He’s signing at our booth from 11am to 1pm, so be sure to stop by and say hi.


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Flying Eye on CBeebies!

This week we were lucky enough to have one of our books featured on CBeebies’ Lunchtime Storytime!

Watch here to see their reading of One Day on our Blue Planet: In the Ocean, written and illustrated by Ella Bailey

Happy watching! 🐠


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Hilda and the Mountain King Launch Events

So as I’m sure all you Hilda Folk are aware, the sixth instalment in the award-winning Hilda comic book series by Luke Pearson is set to be released at the beginning of September!

(And if you haven’t ordered your copy yet, you can preorder directly from Nobrow.net and your book will be shipped up to two whole weeks early 👀)

To celebrate we’ve organised a series of signings and workshops with Luke, where you can meet Hilda’s creator himself and pick up your own copy of Hilda and the Mountain King

Friday 30th August: Forbidden Planet Signing

Join Luke at the Forbidden Planet London Megastore, where he’ll be signing and sketching away from 5pm to 7pm

See more info at the Facebook event here

Address: Forbidden Planet, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR

Saturday 31st August: Gosh! Comics Workshop

This daytime event will be running from 11am to 1pm, and is a family friendly workshop for children aged 5 and up. Luke will be on hand to help you make your very own Hilda adventure!

Address: Gosh! Comics, 1 Berwick Street, Soho, London, W1F 0DR

Saturday 7th September

This is a daytime sign and sketch session at Page45 in Nottingham, from 12 to 2pm

Address: Page45, 9 Market Street, Nottingham, NG1 6HY

We hope to see some of you there, and don’t forget to tag either @FlyingEyeBooks or @NobrowPress in any photos on social media!


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Summer Reading Challenge

Here at Nobrow & Flying Eye we’re so pleased to be part of this year’s Space Chase themed Summer Reading Challenge!

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)

Happy reading space chasers!


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Talking Ancient Wonders with Avalon Nuovo

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!)


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Hilda: A Definitive Guide

Hands up who’s been watching Hilda the series?

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

There’s three titles in this series so far:

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:

And in September 2019 we will be publishing Hilda and the Mountain King, the next instalment in the series that will follow on from The Stone Forest’s chilling cliffhanger ending…


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Calling all aspiring illustrators!

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!


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Nobrow & Flying Eye at ELCAF 2019

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…


SATURDAY 8th JUNE

Tom Haugomat: Colour, Shape, Land, Print: 12.15 – 13.45

Paris-based illustrator and master of colour Tom Haugomat will be heading this workshop, where you will develop your very own set of stencils to create atmospheric landscape scenes.

Through A Life by Tom Haugomat

Speaking Up and Speaking Out: 14.00 – 15.15

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.

Carles Porta, The Silly Ballet: 15.45 – 17.15

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.

Under The Water by Carles Porta

Francesca Sanna: Sharing Your Fears: 17.30 – 18.30

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.

Me and My Fear by Francesca Sanna

SUNDAY

AJ Dungo: Sequential Self Help and Surfing: 14.15 – 15.15

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. 

Jon McNaught: Passing Time: 16.45 -17.45

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.

Kingdom by Jon McNaught

All talks come free with an ELCAF all access ticket


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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.