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back from christmas land

Here's the card I designed this year for Write Away, a literary consultancy I've been working with fairly closely this year. The woman who runs it, Nikki Gamble, and I met up for coffee near Spitalfields market just before Christmas and hashed through what has been a very eventful year, full of exciting forays into both the worlds of children's books and comics. Both of us were very tired but happy with all that's happened. Then my internet router crashed, which gave me a few good internet-free days over the holidays.



Christmas was very relaxing this year. For a variety of reasons, we didn't have any family obligations, and Christmas Day weather was fine, so Stuart and I filled our rucksacks with champagne and rode around on our bicycles visiting different friends in the area. Then the downstairs neighbour discovered we were going to be cooking Christmas dinner just two floors up from him, and proposed we combine the cooking, so we only had to cook half a roast dinner and had a very merry evening with them.

Here's a picture of the candlelight choral service we went to on Christmas Eve at Southwark Cathedral, with fab music, that didn't get out til one in the morning! Everyone got to hold one of these super-long lit candles through the whole service and mine went very soft and bendy and I made some fantastic shapes out of it while it was still lit. My dad has a terrible habit of not being able to leave lit candles alone, I think it's genetic.


And this is my power work station on the train back from visiting Stuart's dad on the south coast during the weekend. I penciled almost a whole Vern & Lettuce episode, not bad. (The hat was knitted specially by Knitfish in Vancouver.)


The low point of the holidays was one freezing cold night, cycling back from a party through a long, rather dark railway tunnel. Two guys were walking along the sidewalk and just as I cycled by them, one of the guys, who was talking on his mobile, suddenly leapt into the road. I ploughed straight into him and did a spectacular flip off my bike. Apparently the guy was unhurt, because he continued his phone conversation, while his friend apologised profusely. I was lying on the road with my skirt in disarray, stunned, with an aching leg and right arm, but no idea if I was very badly hurt and totally confused by the guy still talking on his phone. Then Stuart rode up behind me in a total panic, having seen me hurtle through the air and thinking I'd killed myself.

I've very seldom in my life been at such a loss as to what I was supposed to do next. Get angry? See if I was hurt? Apologise to the guy for hitting him? Get his contact details in case my drawing hand was mained for life? Yell at him? Pick up my bike? I couldn't think. So, mostly just to give myself a bit of time, I burst out crying like a five-year-old, which was very embarrassing. After Stuart and the guy's friend had faffed for about thirty seconds, with the guy I'd hit still talking on his phone and totally ignoring me, I stood up, picked up my bike and tried to muster enough dignity to cycle home, with my gears rattling like the ghost of Jacob Marley. Then I sat on the sofa and had a cup of tea and felt very weirded out by the whole thing. I wonder what they guy on the phone was talking about that made him not switch off even when he'd sent some chick flying through the air. So bizarre.

I see The Economist Christmas issue has devoted three full pages to Tintin and the upcoming film directed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson in its article, Tintin: A very European hero. The article says that most Americans are clueless about Tintin, which surprised me, since the library in the suburb where I grew up had a good stock of Tintin and I thought a lot of Americans would at least know vaguely about the books. Maybe my library was a bit special.

And another plug for Vern & Lettuce on the Forbidden Planet blog - thanks, Molly!

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( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
jabberworks
Dec. 30th, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
Happy new year to you, too! :-)
bandersnatch_02
Dec. 30th, 2008 04:51 pm (UTC)
Bad news on the bike thing! I was once crossing a road in Portland, OR when I realized I wasn't going to make it so I doubled back to the kerb/curb and a cyclist who was whizzing along the street slammed into me (he had been plotting a course behind where I was walking, so when I doubled back I went straight into his path...) We both went flying, and I ended up cracking my right tibia (just a hairline fracture, but still!) he dusted himself off and rode away quickly. In my case I think the blame was about 50/50, but yours sounds more cut and dried -- how bizarre that the guy didn't get off the phone at all!

Cool news about the Tintin thing -- I am currently reading a book called The Art of Herge, which includes lots of pre-Tintin sketches, even some childhood doodles and early sketches.
jabberworks
Dec. 30th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
Yes, they gave Tintin a lot of coverage! I hope the film makes people interested in looking at other kinds of Bande Dessinée. Tintin seems to be the first of its kind that people encounter, and questions about Tintin have come up on every DFC panel I've done so far. It's such lovely work.
mr_sadhead
Dec. 30th, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
Best of times, worst of times. The roast dinner sounds fun, the bike accident doesn't. I am glad you are unharmed and recovered.
Americans not know Tintin? Why. Why, the neighborhood gangs in our area used to fight in the street about whether it was proper to say TIHntIHn or Tahn-Tahn.
jabberworks
Dec. 30th, 2008 06:22 pm (UTC)
Yes, those fights were bloody, weren't they! Must be a Seattle thing.
ericastratton
Dec. 30th, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
"Stuart and I filled our rucksacks with champagne and rode around on our bicycles visiting different friends in the area."

That is a pretty awesome idea.

Sorry about you flying through the air. And as to him not getting off the phone, all I can say is that people are strange.
jabberworks
Dec. 30th, 2008 06:24 pm (UTC)
Hehe, I wish we could've flown through the air with our champagne, then we would've been proper Santa elves!

And yes, people ARE strange. I think some of them have their brains plugged in through their mobiles. I wonder if they're still able to think when they're nowhere near a phone mast.
channingkennedy
Dec. 30th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
"Americans can access Tintin at their local library" :: "Britons can access proper dental care right next to the store that sells non-bland local cuisine"

In other words, no, most Americans aren't familiar with Tintin in the least, besides a vague casual awareness. It sounds like your library was pretty special, but he was probably very well hidden even there. I actually only really learned anything about Herge by watching a PBS special at my mom's house over holiday a few years ago, and I only did that because I'm a nerd.

Sounds like that guy was a ghost!
jabberworks
Dec. 30th, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC)
Hmm, maybe Tintin t-shirts were a sort of high school thing to say, look, I'm SO worldly and European, but not so much it hurts. I don't think I ever saw a Serge Gainsbourg t-shirt (that would've hurt a little bit too much).
harveyjames
Dec. 30th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)
Chris Ware sez:

"Tintin was fundamentally too sexless to really catch on in America. There are hardly any girls in Hergé's stories, and there's also a peculiar sense of responsibility and respect in Tintin that is antithetical to the American character, or at least that of the budding individualist nine-year-old boy who just wants to set things on fire and has been weaned on much more outrageous stories. I'm not even sure if it's fair to say that there is an analog in American culture to Tintin, actually.

I read a few serialised episodes in a magazine my mom subscribed to for me when I was a kid and it made me feel really, really weird; I didn't like it at all. I could tell that it was "approved" and "safe" and it immediately bored me, because it didn't seem to have anything to do with what I thought of as the "real" adult world, which was for me at that time superpowers and crimefighting. (I like Tintin now, of course.)

Incidentally I stole the idea of using very carefully composed naturalistic colour under a platonic black line more or less directly from Hergé, as there's a certain lushness and jewel-like quality to his pages that also hints at the way we gift-wrap our experiences as memories."
jabberworks
Dec. 31st, 2008 08:31 am (UTC)
Hey, thanks, that's a very interesting quotation! I like the phrase about how Tintin's look 'hints at the way we gift-wrap our experiences as memories', I think there's a lot of truth to that.
chamonkee
Dec. 30th, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
It's good to see you back online! As for the giant ass on the mobile phone, well karma will get him, as he was being a dick and ignoring you his phone was giving him brain tumors!
I just can't wait for the tintin movie! Now both of my childhood greats are now filmed! The other being Asterix all the film film sequels to it weren't very good.
jabberworks
Dec. 31st, 2008 08:32 am (UTC)
Yes, I have a couple of the Tintin animations, but I don't remember them very well, except that I wasn't particularly excited to go back and rewatch them numerous times. I wonder how this film will work.
nice_cup_of_tea
Dec. 30th, 2008 06:55 pm (UTC)
Hugs
Oh how awful, I think I would have yelled at him, but would most probably burst into tears like you :-) I really hope that you're recovered well, the adrenalin alone would have been enough to shake you up....

Anyway, southwark cathedral looks gorgeous, as do you in the fab red hat!

Wishing you a good slide into 2009 (as they say in Swiss German!)
jabberworks
Dec. 31st, 2008 08:34 am (UTC)
Re: Hugs
A good slide, that sounds right! It could either mean slide as in a very cautious 'sidling up' to the new year, or slide as in those long curly-whirly things that came down from the top of the Tate Modern and dumped us breathless on the floor. Which will it be?! :-D
_w_o_o_d_
Dec. 30th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
I can't believe this guy just ignored you !! I just can't believe it.
jabberworks
Dec. 31st, 2008 08:35 am (UTC)
Shocking, isn't it!

Happy new year to you! I guess it's probably as cold in Brittany as it is here, stay warm!
ellenlindner
Dec. 30th, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC)
****UNPRINTABLE WORDS****
Are you kidding me? OMG, Sarah, I am so sorry you went through such an ordeal! I am also very, very glad that you weren't hurt. What an ****more absolutely unprintable words****!!!! How could his friend realize what he's done but not the actual perpetrator? AGGGH!!!! Hope any residual aches and pains are subsiding....see you soon, chica!
jabberworks
Dec. 31st, 2008 08:36 am (UTC)
Thanks, Ellen! I think I'm fine, just a sore elbow and a bit of a scrape on my leg. I'm amazed at how far I flew through the air and how little I actually got hurt! I think I was maybe too surprised even to tense up.
ztoical
Dec. 31st, 2008 12:08 am (UTC)
I'm surprised by the Americans being clueless about Tintin thing - nearly every American I know knows about Tintin but then most Americans I know I meet while studying comics in new york so I guess they would be more likely to know then others. Not a fan of Tintin, as a child the animated tintin show just frightened me [can't remember why but still can't look at Tintin without feeling slightly freaked out]

O and if I'd been the guys friend I would have taken the mobile off your man and chucked it against the wall, what a twit.
jabberworks
Dec. 31st, 2008 08:38 am (UTC)
That's an interesting response to Tintin! :-D I liked the artwork much more than the story when I was a kid, but I sort of grew into the stories. I do think the artwork works even better when it's blown up very large, like at the National Maritime Museum's 'Tintin at Sea' exhibition. (That would've REALLY freaked you out!)

See you soon!
(Anonymous)
Dec. 31st, 2008 02:09 am (UTC)
Sorry about the awful spill. Hope you aren't feeling the aftershocks. Sometimes the pain doesn't come until a day or two later.

Thanks for the wonder Christmas Card. I'm showing it to everyone. We're real proud of you over here in Michigan!!

Love ya,

Ruth
jabberworks
Dec. 31st, 2008 08:39 am (UTC)
Thanks, Ruth! And I hope you've managed to keep the river at bay! (Hopefully no kayaking in the kitchen.)
Happy new year to you both!
jinty
Dec. 31st, 2008 11:42 am (UTC)
Cor blimey!
Glad you weren't too hurt with the accident - and I echo what everyone else is saying about that guy who didn't even get off the phone! Well weird.

By the way, I got a lovely Christmas surprise - that you already knew about! So great to unwrap my long flat parcel on Christmas day and to find your lovely CAPTION comic inside - nicely framed by Richard! Thanks for your part in such a lovely surprise...
jabberworks
Jan. 2nd, 2009 12:13 am (UTC)
Re: Cor blimey!
Oh my goodness, hooray! I'm so glad you liked it! :-D Happy new year!
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )