Welcome to my blog! Here you'll find many samples of my finished art, conceptual work, unpublished material, and other miscellaneous jobs. You can find a complete list of my published books at this link.

I currently have signed copies of THE GREAT MONTEFIACO, WHACKO THE CHOOK, THE PUMPKIN EATER FROM PONDICHERRY, and THE SHIKKER COLA COWS available for purchase. For more info, please contact me at whackothechook@internode.on.net


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DUCK THE WONDER DUCK aka NOT THIS LITTLE BLACK DUCK

Not This Little Black Duck is written by Circus Carnivore and Whacko The Chook author, Mark Svendsen.
When he first sent me this story, back in about 2006, it's original title was 'Duck The Wonder Duck'. It was far wordier then with a few extra plot points. Originally, Mark intended it to be a short paperback, accompanied by a series of black and white sketches, much like Pet Palace, a book I illustrated for Lothian's Start Up series. So I did up a quick character sketch, and that's as far as it got for a year or so.
Mark was unsuccessful selling it in this format, so it was shelved. A year or so later, when I was in my annual lull, I was looking for another project to keep me occupied. I found this text again, and proposed to Mark that it be shortened dramatically and turned into a picture book. We set about editing it heavily and I worked out the basic structure and layout, which pretty much remained intact throughout the edits to come. I fine-tuned the character designs...

At one point I thought about having a frog narrating the story...
... He would have been in every picture, but I felt he drew attention away from the main character and we'd lost some of the simplicity we were striving for with this book. He still remains in a handful of pictures though.

I then did up storyboards...

 Then from those I did tighter roughs...
We then sent it out to various publishers, but as is the way, rejection letters came back from every direction, and when we ran out of options it was shelved for another few years.

In the meantime I'd developed a fruitful working relationship with Koala Books and decided to submit it to them in 2010. They accepted it almost immediately. Once I'd finished See You Later Alligator I jumped straight into Duck The Wonder Duck. The title was later changed to Not This Little Black Duck, which works, and the text was tweaked a fair bit, but nothing much changed from my original roughs.

I decided to do a series of coloured storyboards...


My approach to the colour was different to that of most of my previous books, which were dominated by a lot of white space. I wanted to fill every inch of space with colour, because I felt that the duck characters, which are mostly white, would be lost on a predominantly white background...
 ... It was my thinking they'd stand out better on full colour. Most of the backgrounds have since been changed digitally in favour of white, at the request of the distributor. A decision I begged to differ on, but admittedly, I think the pictures look okay either way. Here's how the finished art originally appeared:

Here's one of my early concepts for the cover:
And this one was a collaboration with the designer:

Not This Little Black Duck will be out soonish...

Click here to read an interview with Mark Svendsen.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"WHO FLUNG DUNG?" Review, The Paul O'Grady Show

Back around 2007 (maybe 2006?) I was contacted by someone from The Paul O'Grady Show asking for a few image jpegs from my book Who Flung Dung?, as it was going to be reviewed by a group of kids on air. They said they'd send me a dvd of this episode, but nothing's arrived so far... I'd never heard of this show, as I don't live in the UK, by my sister-in-law was living in Colchester at the time, so I got her to tape it for me and post it over. So here's my copy...
video

The kids, Matthew, Kimberley and Isaac, make me laugh every time I watch this, I thought they were great. Children give such raw and honest appraisals, and it's so wonderful to hear how much kids enjoy this book. I get feedback about this one more than any other. I'll do a post about it one day...