Thursday, 13 December 2012

Something About Pirates

Quetsion: When is comic book not a comic book?
Answer:   When it's a picture book that is at heart a comic book? Hmmm!

I've been temping at a book shop over Christmas. I thought it would be a great opportunity to see how books are sold, who buys them and whether kids are there and influence the purchase. I've spent most of my time at the till so I've not seen much of the selection process, just the result, (Boo! Hoo!). The Pirate-Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door, passed me by during the day and I immediately recognised the artwork. Later I caught sight of the authors name and it was none other than author/artist Jonny Duddle. This set bells ringing and after work I put my generous staff discount to good use and bought both of his books.

Both of Jonny Duddle's picture books are exceptional and they are a great introduction to comic book language for children aged 4 -7 (and older). It is a blend of traditional picture book and comic book using panels and speech bubbles to assist in delivery of an exciting narrative. I thought it was a great blend of the two media and I'll be doing some of this in Tooth and Nail.

I was first introduced to Jonny's tips, tricks and skills as an illustrator in ImagineFX . I really like his style which is why I had to purchase both books and why I am eagerly awaiting The King of Space.  I'll be following it's progress very closely. Oh and his latest book The Pirates Next Door, has been winning all sorts of awards and prizes.

Friday, 7 December 2012


Over the past few weeks I've been looking at the complexity of panel layout within children's comics and graphics novels. I found a real gem in Korgi Book 1 by Christian Slade. Its an all ages graphic novel told exclusively through image. I confess I would never have picked it up if it were not for research purposes, wink, wink,  but thankfully I did.

Christian's line work and composition are fantastic. What he excels at is his use of parallel lines to describe form and movement. This adds a real energy to every page. Nothing feels dead or static. More uniquely and more importantly to comics is his use of this technique to guide your eyes in reading the panels and moving your eye to the focal point within a frame or page. I have not seen this done before in comics in this way and found it quite exciting and fun. The pacing of the book is great as well. There's a full review here.

As mentioned previously I've been looking at some DFC strips compiled for graphic novels. I've also been reading Marvel's, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.What they all have in common is very simple panel layout. This is quite different to graphic novels aimed at a more mature comic reading audience. It's less playful and inventive but when it comes to communicating a story directly and with absolute clarity, quiet panel layout really cannot be beaten.