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Lucy Knisley


DUMMY THOUGHTS [Apr. 17th, 2014|10:04 pm]

So I have two more ideas for online strips right now. It will also be time to really knuckle down and get on my book project again. I have enough strips to do a compilation book but my next "big" thing needs doing and time is a wastin'.
The big book is perplexing. I am having doubts as to how to format things and may ditch an entire section of it altogether. Everything is always in flux it seems with the new book.
As for it being my "last" book project if no pubs bite, it's possible. I am 43 years old. I can see finally coming to terms with my comics simply being a legacy for my kids type of thing if no one gives a shit about publishing this book. Still I need to get it done first.
I am somewhat excited for TCAF in a few weeks. Especially picking up Box Brown's Andre the Giant biography and looking over some other cool new shit. It always kinda bites me in the ass that I haven't tabled since 2009 but really, I don't HAVE any new things to sell and the show is so much bigger than a small potatoes kind of guy like me. Other folks who have fallen out of comics seem to be fine with it but it's hard for me. Fucking dreams and shit.
So it's the night before Good Friday 2014 and the bald guy is feeling old. I came across a gal I had a young man's crush on via Facebook, and now it's 25 years on...well that's one of my ideas for a strip. "Missed Opportunities" I think I'll call it. Will likely have a Star Trek reference in it I'm very fond of from a film most people diss the shit out of but I have a great fondness for.
What else? I ordered a 602 page book online called "Slovakia: Fall in the Heart of Europe". It seems more and more that the best comics are NOT coming via Diamond's monopoly but through folks offering their wares on the Internet and the like.
Does anyone read Livejournal anymore? Ah well. I vented some spleen here.
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designing seawigs [Apr. 17th, 2014|09:25 am]


Big congratulations to Lucy Yewman, age 6, for winning Moontrug's top prize for describing and drawing her own Seawig! This one's a corker! Keep an eye on Moontrug's website as she's always running good competitions.

I just remembered, for a dinner at the Bologna Book Fair last year, I designed this Draw-Your-Own-Seawig sheet for all the adults to draw at the table. But I can't remember if I posted it on my blog, so here it is, if you'd like to give Cliff a Seawig! You'll make this Rambling Isle very happy. WHAT can you pile on his head? Use drawing, magazine collage, whatever you like! Download the PDF here.

And I'd love to see yours! If you get a chance, tweet me your results (I'm @jabberworks), tag me on Instagram (jabberworks) or post them on my Facebook Author page.
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TYPICAL BEDTIME [Apr. 16th, 2014|08:48 pm]


One of those routines I will miss greatly...
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top tip for putting together a picture book [Apr. 16th, 2014|08:21 am]

My desk is a sea of paper, so yesterday I tried to tackle some of the mess and found these thumbnail roughs for You Can't Scare a Princess!, my picture book with Gillian Rogerson. Thumbnail roughs are called that because often they're very small, just a doodle that lets my editor and art director know how I plan to lay out the page before I draw a more complicated full-size rough in pencil.

If you know the book, you'll see that, except for pages 20-21 (the treasure digging scene), I pretty much followed these layouts in the final artwork.

Top tip: the grid here looks a bit dull, but if you've ever tried to get a picture book published, you'll know this template is solid gold. It takes most aspiring writers and illustrators ages to figure out this basic layout. If you go into a shop and count picture book pages, they'll vary slightly, which is confusing. That's because publishers have a little leeway with how they engineer the endpapers, so you might get some extra pages. But if you want to get published, this is the most cost-efficient way of cutting one big sheet of paper into a book, so an editor will be far, far more interested in your book if you work to this format.

In some ways, it can make your job easier, because you think Here's the set number of pages I have; how am I going to fill them? I often print out the grid and write the story right into it. Don't forget, you'll need a title page and a page for all that small-print information, so the words in your story may not really start going until page 6.

Often a paperback will have two more pages than the hardcover version because the endpapers aren't glued down to the covers. Here's There's a Shark in the Bath; you can see the paperback, top, has an extra page. In the hardcover version, bottom, this page would be glued down to the cover board, which holds the pages into the book.

You don't have to stick to the template exactly, with the title page on page 5. Sometimes people put the small-print information at the end of the book, and often the story starts right in the front endpapers, not after the title page. (I like to use the endpapers to set the scene for the book.) But if you stray from this format, it's good to have a well-thought-out reason why you've done it. Board books are usually shorter than this, since the pages are thicker. If you want to see the variations, get yourself down to your local bookshop or library and start counting pages.

Some useful terms:

Double-page spread: When you open a book and two pages look up at you, this is a double-page spread. You can either have a picture or pictures on each page, or you can have one big picture spanning both pages. These spreads can be very effective; think about the size of a child. When they're reading or being read to, the picture wraps around them, plunging them into the world you've made.

Gutter: This is the middle of the book, where the pages come together. Try not to put any very important things here, such as eyes, or text, because they might disappear down the gap.

Endpapers: the pages holding the book into its cover. These might be made of a single-coloured piece of paper with nothing printed on it (the cheapest method), decorated with pictures in one colour of ink (mid-price) or full colour (the most expensive).

Pagination: Anything to do with pages. Traditionally in a 32-page picture book, the front cover is page 1. Left-hand pages are always even-numbered, right-hand pages always odd-numbered.

Bleed: When you do the final artwork, you'll slightly need to extend the edges of the picture (let it 'bleed') if you're doing a picture that goes right to the edge of the page. So paint your picture a little longer and wider than the page itself, or if you're laying out the page digitally, give extra room around the edges. Talk with your designer; the bleed will be anything from 5mm - 15mm each side. This is in case the printer doesn't cut the paper exactly right, there won't be white bits showing on the edges of the pages. Or if there's a problem fitting text, your designer will have a bit of wiggle room to move things around. (I must confess the term 'bleed' made me smile while I was working on the shark book.)

Right, hope that might be helpful for a few people! I wish I'd been given the 32-page template when I first started making books; it would have saved me a lot of time. You can find a few more tips over on the FAQ section of my website.

Other news: this year's Manchester Children's Book Festival is all Sea Monkeys! I was thrilled when they asked us to give the entire festival a Seawigs theme. If you're near Manchester on Sat, 28 July, do drop by, learn how to draw your own Sea Monkey and have us sign and draw in your book! (Booking details here).

Last thing: one of my university friends posted this video on her Facebook page (via Sploid) and it is so, so wonderful. It follows the adventure of two elderly ladies, An and Ria, as they take go on their very first flight. One of them has a laugh that's so contagious, I was laughing out loud while I was watching it.

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auto, but not erotic [Apr. 15th, 2014|08:25 pm]


Yesterday after work I was going to change the alternator belt on the car, but the engine was too hot when I opened the hood, so I just left the hood open and went off to fight with rose vine and asiatic bittersweet. Now it says something about a job when rose vine is more appealing. After working for about two hours, I was too exhausted to deal with the vines anymore, so went back to the garage. Changing the belt turned out to be a really easy job and in no time I was done. I was going to do more, but I was unable to get the wheel off the hub on the passenger side, so I decided to try again when the wheel was hot from driving.

Tonight I did manage to get the wheel off. Of the 4 bolts I needed to loosen to fix the brakes, only two wanted to budge. I was afraid I might break them, so I gave up for another day. After a fairly epic battle with rust and tight spaces, I did get the strut on that side changed. The old strut was completely shot, I pushed the old one down with my hand and it just stayed down. They're just not supposed to do that.

Unfortunately, when I was working on the strut I found that the link between the strut and the sway bar is also shot. Changing that will almost certainly require pulling the strut out again. At least next time the rust will be broken and all the parts recently lubricated.

I don't know when I'll get to the other side of the car. Tonight I sprayed various bolts in hopes of making the process easier. Tomorrow is a meeting with the realtor and a condo meeting, so that's out. Thursday we're meeting [personal profile] derien's uncle for dinner. Friday after work will probably be yard work at the condo. Maybe Saturday, but it'll have to be after we have moved the berry canes, which is priority one for Saturday.

Other than that, nothing is happening, nothing at all.
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sea monkeys invade worth abbey [Apr. 13th, 2014|12:01 pm]

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This weekend the Federation of Children's Book Group conference had an infestation! Two Oxford University Press publicists, both named Charlotte, both have mothers who can knit and both mothers made wonderfully cheeky Sea Monkeys. Here's Charlotte Armstrong, with the Sea Monkey who kept cracking jokes, asking how to get this lady off its bum.

We had several people ask where they could get a Sea Monkey, and the answer is... you can knit one yourself! Or find a friend who can! Free pattern on my website, developed by my studio mate Deadly Knitshade; do click over if you want your very own Sea Monkey.

When Philip Reeve and I first started doing Oliver and the Seawigs events, we focused more on how we met, and decided to start writing books together. But these days we're having more fun talking about the actual story. Here we are, enacting the scene when Mr and Mrs Crisp meet at the top of Mt Everest.

Photo tweeted by @FCBGNews
Click here for more under the cut!Collapse )
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SPACES IN BETWEEN [Apr. 11th, 2014|08:17 pm]


The drastically revised and redrawn strip I kept yammering about. Trying to work these feelings out is constantly a challenge.
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sightings in the wild [Apr. 10th, 2014|09:58 am]

I've been starting up a new picture book here and trying to meet some tight deadlines, so I haven't had a chance to visit this year's London Book Fair. But I was thrilled when writer Jeff Norton tweeted the first sighting of a Cakes in Space bag! (I don't even have mine yet! But I think it's what that little red slip from the Royal Mail must be about; it's been languishing in the banana bowl for a couple days.)

And here's a lovely Sea Monkey Vampire from Sarah Yewman drawn by Lucy, age 6. I tweeted back that this character really needs its own story, and my Oliver and the Seawigs co-author Philip Reeve added, 'The tiny vampire sea monkey on Vampire Sea Monkey's staff also needs its own story'. So we'll see if this happens...

News from Philip, the book cover for the third book in the GOBLINS trilogy has just been released! These books are terrific, a real spin on the way Tolkien portrayed goblins as all bad, with lots of funny bits, although I cried at one part in one of the books. (But I won't tell you which - spoiler!). Goblin Quest launches with Scholastic UK on the 5th of June, with decorative illustrations scattered throughout, by David Semple. Here's the Goblins website.

One of my favourite things that happens on the Internet is when the Goblins start blogging, and they're back!


Also, Reeve & Son have been making a COOKING video:

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(no subject) [Apr. 9th, 2014|05:47 am]

I know I should be posting here more - not just for the sake of posting, but because I really need a forum in which to vent and work stuff out. My latest sense of being overwhelmed has to do with work and being told that I can't be an advocate for everyone. Well, I know, but shit, point out to me who the hell IS supposed to be and I'll make them do their job. Most recently I had a girl nearly crying and breaking herself out in hives over doing a test that really shouldn't be all that hard, but she had asked for help to prepare for it and had been told that Moose or I were the only people allowed to help her, and then just wasn't able to hook up with us and make that happen, and suddenly she was told she needed to test. Initially my boss said he would come back and see how she felt in twenty minutes, but when he came back he said, "you have to test, now." He said I'd heard only her side of the story, but I told him no, I had spoken to other people already and they had said the same thing - nobody else was allowed to practice with her, they had been told not to and that she was allowed to practice with me or Moose only. Everyone else is allowed to practice with each other, why can she be singled out and not allowed to do so by one particular manager?

That whole thing came to a head right at the end of the day, and I came home so frustrated and worn out. And during the day there were text back-and-forths with my cousin, Pen, over whether her father can make it to the shindig we're planning to commemorate my Mom. I think her stepmother is throwing monkey wrenches for the attention, and that we should continue on with our plans, but Pen is hosting and it IS her father. I really should have phoned her last night, but I was so exhausted I forgot about it.
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playing with pens [Apr. 8th, 2014|08:21 am]

Here's today's morning doodle, taking a line for a walk (inspired by Paul Klee and Jon Burgerman).

News: Random House in the USA sent me a copy of the proof for the US edition of Oliver and the Seawigs. I'm thrilled it's coming out in America! I wondered if they'd make lots of changes, but it looks pretty much the same, but with 'Mum' changed to 'Mom', and they've given it a series name of 'Not-So-Impossible Tales'. Here's a link to the publisher page; if you live in America or have friends there, it would be awesome if you could spread the word! :)

And hey, monster making in The Guardian with my fab friend and JAMPIRES co-author David O'Connell! Discover ten tips for drawing your own monster, and if you're aged between 3 - 13, you can enter their monster competition!

...Read more here!
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