A Mouse Called Julian is the tale of a mouse who is perfectly happy avoiding other animals. But after a day when he has an unexpected dinner guest, Julian begins to realise maybe having a visitor or two here and there isn’t quite so bad after all…
A big thanks to all the lovely folks at CLPE who we partnered with for this video!
Teachers, look out for more videos and teaching resources for A Mouse Called Julian as part of the CLPE Power of Pictures Programme. You can book to attend a two-day course with Joe & CLPE here!
A Mouse Called Julian is available here in the UK, and here in the US.
Joe Todd-Stanton is an illustrator based in London, England, and Kai and the Monkey King is his latest book for Flying Eye.
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 King, Stig & 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.
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)
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:
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.”