Saturday, 25 September 2010

In Which There Is Art, and I Am Made Very Happy

It's late September again which means the Bath Festival of Children's Literature is here again. This year I shall miss most of it, as I am away next weekend, which is a little sad, as I was going to have gone to see Michael Morpurgo, and Michael Rosen, and Cornelia Funke, but as I still haven't mastered bilocation it can't be done.

Robin Etherington, Garen Ewing nd Dave McKean

Tonight, however, was  this event, which made me go all fangirl  squee when I first saw the programme - Dave McKean, Garen Ewing and Robin Etherington talking graphic novels. To be honest, Dave McKean is the only one of the three I'd heard of, but I am a huge fan of his work and the thought of getting to see him & maybe get some of my books signed was too good to miss.

I was at Bath Guildhall in plenty of time, having spent some considerable time earlier in the day deciding (a) how many books I could legitimately take with me in the hope of getting them signed, and maybe even doodles, and (b) which ones. On browsing the bookstall in the foyer I found that 'Slog's Dad', the new book by David Almond and Dave McKean is now out, so I had to buy that, and I was also tempted to by the first two volumes of Garen Ewing's Rainbow Orchid graphic novel, as I like the look of them.

The Etherington Brothers books are aimed more at children and I did manage to resist 'Monkey Nuts' although  suspect for the average 7-11 year old child it would have vast appeal!
The event was very interesting, all three panellists talking about their latest projects;

 Robin Etherington works with his brother, Lorenzo - Robin does the words and Lorenzo the pictures, and they have the Monkey Nuts books, and a new one called 'The Baggage', about a lost-property worker trying to reunite a very old bag with it's owner - it sounds as though will be good, and more suited to a slightly older reader.

Garen Ewing is working on the third volume of The Rainbow Orchid trilogy, which is set in the 1920's and inspired by adventurers and adventure writers, such as Rider Haggard and Jules Verne - and which he  both writes and draws. The style of his art is linge clair (clear line) , which means that his comics have a familiar look , as it is the style Herge used for the Tintin adventures - I have to admit that it was that similarity which attracted me when I saw the books!

He spoke about his interest in research, for instance, getting the languages right (for a  single frame showing an ancient greek manuscript), and getting things like the appearance of the Natural History Museum in the 1920s accurate, and getting a friend to build a scale model of the bi-plane he chose to use so he could draw this correctly, also. 

Dave McKean spoke about 'Slog's Dad'  by David Almond, which is just out, about the 'The Rut' " exhibition just finishing in London, (and which he confirmed is going to be made into a book, too, which I shall look forward to) and about the other projects he's currently working on - a film (which he didn't give any details about) and the book he is working on with Richard Dawkins, called 'The Magic of Reality' which will be an illustrated book answering questions (such  as why does the sun shine), starting with myths and fables and ways in which people have tried to explain the world, and then giving the scientific explanation.
Dave had some slides of some of the art for the book, which looks amazing; I can't wait to  see the finished article.

All three were asked about getting started, Both Garen and Robin had started with self-publishing and with putting their work up online, and Dave talked about pitching work with Neil Gaiman ("to this day, I'm not sure we had an appointment")
There were then some time for questions from the audience - in response to the 'what advice would you give someone wanting to be you?'

Dave recommended going to art school to (among other things) have time to broaden your horizons and to learn about things  which are not immediately obvious to you, and three seemed to be giving the same advice which is to do what you love, and what is important to you, and to keep doing it, bit by bit. Garen and Robin both also talked about putting work online to get it out there.

I was able to ask about collaboration, and whether there was anyone whom any of them would (in an ideal world) like to work with - Garen talked about the possibility of working with Philip Pullman (and I have to say I think his style would work well if Philip Pullman's 'Sally Lockhart' books were adapted into graphic novels.

Dave McKean mentioned that he and Neil Gaiman were both interested in doing a stage show or musical together, and that he wanted to work more with actors, in lice theatre, and also mentioned wanting to work with Harlan Ellison, and Robin said he wanted to work with Garen Ewing and Dave McKean..!

And there was a certain amount of discussion about the validity of monkeys and zombies in comics.

It was a shame that the event was only an hour long, I would happily have sat listening to the conversation for much longer.

All three were signing afterwards, so I  queued up, and ended up not only with a lovely sketch of Julius Chancer in my copy of  the rainbow Orchid, Vol. 1, but also beautiful drawings by Dave McKean in 'Slog's Dad and 'The Graveyard Book'

I think these are so beautiful in their own right, but I was also mesmerised watching Dave draw them, and make such vivid pictures with so few pen strokes.  It's so unfair that anyone should be so talented *and& such a nice person.

While queuing and watching the artists draw we were also talking, one of the subjects being how most adults will see they can't draw, or make things up, but all children will say they can, and considering when and why that changes.

I am just so happy that I was able to go. 


spacedlaw said...

Not to mention benefit - or wisdom - of including zombie monkeys anywhere.

spacedlaw said...

Could "demnity" (my previous word recognition thingy) be the contrary of "indemnity"?
It feels so like a real word.

Marjorie said...

I don't think it is, but it really ought to be!