Here it is: the cover for our new graphic novel The Red Shoes and Other Tales to be published by Papercutz in October! It’s going to be a nice quarter bound hardcover in full colour and contains our interpretation of the Hans Christian Andersen classic.
We’re really excited that this year will see the release of our new graphic novel! The Red Shoes and Other Tales will be published in October 2015 by Papercutz. The book includes our interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic along with two other short tales. There will be some really exciting events at prominent festivals to mark the release, but more on this soon…
Papercutz is the publisher of New York Times best-seller Lego Ninjago, Nancy Drew, Geronimo Stilton, The Smurfs and other fine graphic novels for all ages. Check out papercutz.com to see all their exciting titles! The book will be available in the US and UK through their Macmillan distribution, as well as via Diamond Comic Distributors. As a first glance, here’s a pencil drawing from The Red Shoes and Other Tales.
The Red Shoes pencil by Metaphrog
Special thanks to Creative Scotland who provided substantial funding last year for us to create new work, one result of which was this book. Keep your eyes peeled on this blog for more info over the coming months. You can also email us on email@example.com and request to be on our mailing list to receive more information as release date approaches and keep informed of our festival and in-store appearances.
We have been fortunate to receive funding from Creative Scotland to create new work this year. One of the things we have been working on is a new graphic novel which will be published by Papercutz in 2015. Papercutz is the publisher of New York Times #1 best-seller Lego Ninjago, Nancy Drew, and other fine graphic novels.
Some pages from this new book will be exhibited, in an exclusive sneak preview, at The Lakes International Comic Festival 2014, where we’ll be guests, doing a talk on self-publishing and the Louis graphic novels, some drop-in workshops and more!
In this blog we’ll talk a little bit about the creation of the Time To Shine: Graphic Novel, which we produced for Creative Scotland. We were approached by Creative Scotland well over a year ago, and were asked to place a bid, for the work of creating a graphic novel which would support Scotland’s new arts strategy for ages 0-25.
Cover spread for Time To Shine: Graphic Novel
The idea was to produce an entertaining and accessible story which would appeal to a wide range of ages and backgrounds, a story to inspire young people to get involved in the arts and a story that supported and underlined the key themes of the strategy itself.
First we read hundreds of pages of documentation, research carried out by Creative Scotland with young people and adults, and the strategy document as it continued to evolve. We digested and condensed all this material into a story.
Time To Shine: Graphic Novel research material
John wrote a script – we discussed and developed the story together while walking around the park while John was writing the script. From this, Sandra created pages of layout. The layouts had to be approved before we could get started on the actual finished artwork. We also attended focus group meetings with young people at Young Scot, where we discussed the story and received feedback, particularly on the dialogue. We were pleased and encouraged that the young people liked what we’d written and drawn.
Time To Shine: Graphic Novel script and layout
Sandra also drew some thumbnails at various stages to work out how best to tell the story. We had a limited amount of pages to fit everything into, and also a very limited amount of time to complete the final artwork – 64 pages in under 4 months from planning to finished pages!
Time To Shine: Graphic Novel thumbnails
Here are a couple of page extracts from the graphic novel.
Time To Shine: Graphic Novel page extract
Time To Shine: Graphic Novel page extract
We also had fun with the design of the book and tried to incorporate and represent as many different artforms as possible. These are peppered throughout the story, but also in the actual design of the book. See if you recognise the artists and artforms we referred to in the following spreads.
We’re delighted to be able to share the news of our commission to produce a graphic novel, by Creative Scotland. This morning saw the launch of Time To Shine: Scotland’s first youth arts strategy.
Time To Shine: Graphic Novel is a part of the strategy along with an animation produced by The Gates Film and The World of Arthur Cox. You can view this animation, along with more information about the strategy on: creativescotland.com/time-to-shine
Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop stated she hoped the strategy would “enrich young people’s lives through the arts and creativity.”
We were originally commissioned over a year ago to produce a work of graphic fiction which would inspire young people and encourage involvement in the arts. The story had to encompass the key themes of the strategy.
The challenge was to create something which would appeal to children of all ages, and we also wanted the story to stand on its own as a good read – something entertaining! Our task was made easier by the fact that the subject – the arts – is something we have felt passionately about all our lives. We drew inspiration from the many graphic novel workshops and talks we do in schools, and were also advised by young people from Young Scot and Creative Scotland.
Page extract from Time To Shine: Graphic Novel
It is a story of transformation, in which the arts empower people. We also raised questions such as what is art? and, can you make a living from the arts?
Sam is 14 and he likes all the usual things any teenage boy does… football, music, girls… and avoiding Declan and his gang! He likes to ‘parp’ a bit on his trumpet but it’s his sister who’s the talented one. Jen is 17 and plays guitar in an all-girl band. When their school organises a talent show, Jen’s band are favourites but a last minute hitch means the keyboard player can’t play, so how will the day be saved!?
This original story forms part of Scotland’s arts strategy for ages 0-25 and captures the spirit and energy of young people and looks at the world of arts through their eyes. The arts have the ability to inspire individuals and have a positive impact on communities. Time To Shine: Graphic Novel looks at what barriers may stop engagement in the arts and its positive benefits by exploring three key themes: Let me in!, Help me shine!, Take me there! If you would like to find out more visit: www.creativescotland.com
Page extract from Time To Shine: Graphic Novel
Here is the online version of Time To Shine: Graphic Novel.
We are honoured to have been a small part of this exciting strategy, and will be posting more soon, with extracts and a bit more behind the scenes information.
Can’t believe another year has gone by already! It’s been another incredibly busy twelve months – hardly had the chance to take a breath.
As well as travelling regularly for author visits we had the opportunity to create illustrations for manifold projects.
This year saw us commissioned to create a graphic novel, and we spent the summer and most of the autumn working round the clock to produce it. At this moment we still can’t say much more about it, but it should be released in 2013.
Our short story The Photographs was published in New Writing Scotland 30, the first ever piece of comic form fiction to be included in the anthology.
New Writing Scotland 30 was included in the annual literature round-up in The Skinny.
She also had the pleasure and privilege of creating illustrations for an iPad game, Book of the Dead: Afterlife for Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, as part of the British Museum’s touring exhibition Pharaoh: King of Egypt.
All these projects were highly enjoyable!
Author visits took us all over Britain and even as far afield as The Netherlands!
Several events were highlights:
The Netherlands trip saw us invited to Eindhoven for two days of talks and workshops at the vibrant and bustling International School.
At the Eindhoven International School
It was a pleasure to speak at the Advance Higher Creative Writing Conference at Edinburgh University – our workshop was filled with highly-motivated and bright-eyed students. Also speaking there were Alan Bisset (as keynote speaker), Roy Gill, and the wonderful Cathy MacPhail (we just thoroughly enjoyed reading her book Out of the Depths).
And, it was an honour to be invited as keynote speakers at the National Literacy Network Meeting at Stirling University, where we spoke to over 70 delegates. It was an opportunity to discuss comics and graphic novels and their increasing popularity in our culture and indeed in the classroom. We wrote a blog summarising our thoughts on comics in the classroom here.
We also visited Wales for a fun two days of workshops with KS2 pupils, and returned to Taunton for the third consecutive year for a talk and full day of workshops.
Workshops with KS2 pupils in Newport
For the past few years we’ve been participating in the Aye Write! festival, and this time we also had the pleasure of meeting the incredibly funny and hirsute Philip Ardagh (The Grunts) and the equally funny Jonathan Meres (The World of Norm). Here’s a drawing Sandra did recently of Mr. Ardagh on tour, although even the keen-eyed reader may have difficulty spotting him. And we’ll be back for Aye Write 2013! This will be our fourth year and we’re really looking forward to it!
In a Dumfries’ school for events during the Scottish Mental Health and Film Festival, and kids showing their comics at Gallashiels Museum
Most recently we were part of the first ever Book Week Scotland, which took us to various places, including a school, a library, CRISIS centres and also a prison! We met people from all walks of life.
Every year, children’s authors and illustrators gather for a Xmas lunch in Edinburgh. It’s a great way to catch up and to round off the year, and this time was no exception. Sandra took the picture and you can see Keith Gray, John Fardell, Linda Strachan, Vivian French, Alette J Willis, John Ward, Keith Charters, to name a few, as well as the top of John’s head somewhere in the middle.
Children’s authors and illustrators – Xmas lunch 2012
And we couldn’t resist re-posting these photos Sandra took after one of the previous Xmas lunches a few years ago in Edinburgh.
We’ve had an incredibly busy summer working on a big commissioned graphic novel project and we haven’t really seen the time pass. More about the graphic novel project soon – we’re still in the middle of it and all we can say at the moment is that it’s about art.
We’ve also been gearing up for several exciting events.
They really began last Saturday, a lovely sunny day, when we travelled to Galashiels for a workshop session.
The Gala House Museum and Gallery building itself is amazing, and the rooms are filled with modern art as well as historical artefacts. We had a little time to explore and check out the exhibition of British Comics that is running throughout August.
Children love comics, especially when they have the chance to create their own. We had the pleasure of working with parents and young people between the ages of roughly 5 and 15, all extremely enthusiastic and engaged.
They produced some fantastic work including the witty comic shown below (which was drawn by a 12 year old!).
The organisation was excellent, and the room was ideal for inspiring ideas for characters and comic stories.
We do a lot of comic workshops and talks in schools and libraries, but working in museums is a bonus, and it’s a great way of encouraging young people to return and get involved with art. It really gives them fuel for their comic ideas (like when we recently delivered a workshop session at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery and felt like we were in an episode of Scooby Doo).
Now we’re preparing for several interesting future events: including a presentation at the Advanced Higher Creative Writing Conference in Edinburgh on the 7th of September, where Alan Bissett is the keynote speaker; a talk for teachers at the National Literacy Network Meeting in Stirling on the 8th of November and also a children’s comic workshop at Dundee Central Library.
It’s exciting to share the possibilities that the graphic novel medium offers.
We’ve just completed an illustration job for a series of chapter books aimed at children age 7-12.
Sandra had great fun creating over 240 different images for the Pig series, a set of six, funny and touching stories, written from the point of view of a 12 year old boy.
The books, out now, are written by Barbara Catchpole and published by Ransom Publishing.
‘Meet Peter Ian Green – PIG for short.
All his friends and family call him Pig. Even the teachers. Pig is 12 and is small for his age. He has sticky-out ears and bright red hair which is also sticky up. He attends Coalpits Road High School (or ‘The Pits’ as it is known locally) and lives with his mum. Pig is small for his age, but says his mum is huge for hers. She is a single mum, but Pig says she looks more like a double mum or even a treble mum.
These engaging stories – all written by Pig himself – will appeal to all readers who have experienced being a child in a world that is sometimes a bit too big for them.’
It’s been a busy last few months, juggling different projects and continuing to deliver comic workshops and talks. We have had the pleasure of working on a few illustration jobs: for a series of chapter books due for release soon by Ransom Publishing, and also for educational resources online and in print. Here are a couple of sample illustrations, and some of this work can be viewed on our online portfolio …we’ll reveal more in due course.
We’re also beginning to embark, as we type, on an exciting, new graphic novel project, due to be released in the later part of 2012. But it is top secret for now…
Last week, we visited a local school, in Glasgow, where we had fun helping P5/P6 pupils develop comic characters.
We always feel recharged working with young and enthusiastic people. But this was a change for us, being so close to home, as we’ve been doing a lot of travelling around the UK, and even beyond. Below are just a few of the many places we have visited.
Group photo after one of our workshops, at Mearns Academy
The past few months also saw us visit Airdrie library, touring the excellent observatory, as well as returning to Springburn Academy, Hillpark and participating in the Aye Write! festival for the third year in row (where we had the pleasure of sharing jokes with Philip Ardagh and Jonathan Meres). We also returned for a third time to Bishop Fox’s School in Taunton for their annual conference day.
Other highlights included: a visit to Newport to talk to Primary School boys; a trip to the Eindhoven International School in The Netherlands (read the blog here); flying to Guernsey earlier in the year for a marathon series of events and also to Leeds for Thought Bubble and the Graphic Novel Awards, as Louis – Night Salad was a nominee (read the blog here). We also had the pleasure of participating in World Book Night events at Polmont library, where graphic novels were celebrated and we talked and shared a panel with David Bishop, Emancipation Studio and Rough Cut Comics.
John zooming around before our event at World Book Night
More enriching experiences included visiting Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow to deliver a comic workshop to a small group of inmates, and a visit to Kaimes School for special needs in Edinburgh – we wrote a blog for the Scottish Book Trust here.