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sainsbury's children's book award


Today The Bookseller announced the winners of the new Sainsbury's Children's Book Award! Congratulations to all of them, Fiona Watt & Rachel Wells, Michelle Robinson & Jim Field, and Sarah Courtauld! The team at Sainsbury's, writer Phil Earle and I worked together to come up with an award logo:





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oxford story museum jampires!


Jampires are coming to Oxford! Booking details here! Lovely poster by my co-author David O'Connell:



In the meantime, I'll be up in Kendal in the Lakes District, at the Lakes International Comics Festival. Come say hello to me during my signing sessions and get your book doodled!



Oo, and the British Comic Award have announced their longlist! Have a special look at the Young People's Comic Award category, some great books in there.

monster in a bubble car


Latest drawing:



Our monster's driving a Brütsch Mopetta, which I first saw in this picture in Object's Top 20 Bubble Car list. What a lovely little car, what a fine little pipe chappie.



Gosh, it makes a good wind-up toy noise, too:

the giant earwigs from mars


So the results are in! The winner of this year's Medusa Malarky Story Starter competition is... Madam Kangaroo Nuggets! For the Summer Reading Challenge, I was asked to begin a story in comics format, and people could continue the story either in comics form or with words only.

Here's how the story started:



And you can read her version of the rest of of the story here!
. . .
“The giant earwigs from mars to invade planet earth, of course!” replied Saul. “We certainly don’t want that to happen, do we Medusa?” Medusa looked shocked, this was the second time giant earwigs had invaded planet earth in her entire life. And it certainly was not a nice experience. Her father had saved earth last time, now it was her turn. “Well get on with it” hissed Sue, and Medusa ran to her space rocket (every normal person has a space rocket in their back garden, don’t they?). She slipped on her space suit and held her breath “3, 2, 1, BLAST OFF!!!” And they shot up into the air, whooshing past the clouds, speeding past the moon and heading for mars. “Wow! This is amazing!” shouted Sarah, who had never been inside the rocket before, “I agree!” replied Stephan. “We are going to land soon” said Medusa joyfully. And after a short wait that is exactly what they did, land on mars. “I feel sick” complained Simon. “Look out below!” And Simon vomited over all the other snakes. “Come on! We have got no time to lose!” exclaimed Medusa. So they jumped off the rocket and started looking for the giant earwigs. They searched and they searched until eventually, Sarah whispered: “They are over there”. Medusa crept up to them and shouted: “You will never get the chance to invade earth!”
“Oh yes we will” Ethan boomed back.
“You will not” replied Medusa, and immediately ran up to Ethan “Bite snakes, bite!” ordered Medusa “And do the same to the rest of them”.

10 minutes later Ethan, Edith, Emil, Elliott and Edna were all rolling round on the floor, howling with pain. “Now I must wave you all goodbye” announced Medusa. And with that, she jumped off mars, pushed the planet and it rolled off into the galaxy. “Goodbye!” Medusa and her snakes shouted “Goodbye”.

. . .

I thought this story had the most energy, and conjured up the most interesting pictures in my own head. The vomiting snake made me laugh! And the thought of Medusa running up to the giant earwigs, commanding her hair to 'Bite snakes, bite!' was a good image. My only criticism was that it would have been good to explain a bit more clearly which character was attached to which name; I understood that they were snakes and earwigs from the context, but that could have been tightened up a bit. I would love to find out what the giant earwigs from Mars look like; this could be adapted into a great comic strip. Congrats, Madame Kangaroo Nuggets!

Now, I was actually really hoping a comic would win, because I love comics and I know it's more challenging to make a really convincing comic. There were several comics that had good elements in the shortlist I was given, but none of them really supplied a middle and an ending to the story in a way that was clear and understandable without someone standing there explaining it.

I was so, so, SO tempted to award the prize to this comic by Countess Lacey Quagmire , because the images and some of the details had me in hysterics:




Ha ha! You could make fabulous t-shirts out of some of these panels. The floating Farting Unicorn! The Friendship Snake! The drawing and the colouring is pretty awesome. ...But! After consultation with the team and some agonising, we decided that no matter how mad a comic is, and how beautiful the artwork, the story still needs to make some sort of sense. How do we move from Medusa declaring herself to be a talent scout to them suddenly being in front of a building with MARS written on it? And what is the building in the second-to-last panel? These are all things I very much want to know!

I want to keep my eye on this comics creator and say to her, you show a LOT of potential! Keep studying comics and storytelling, and work on making them as clear and understandable as possible, without losing any of your zany details and wonderful sense of fun!

brompton bike


I didn't mean for today's Morning Sketch to turn into an urban seaside postcard, but there you go.



Don't forget, James Turner's launch for STAR CAT is tonight at Gosh London, 7-9pm. (You can also buy a copy direct from the Phoenix Comic from their online shop.)