December 11th, 2011

a peek at chris riddell's fabulous sketchbooks

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Chris Riddell, asking if I'd like to visit him in Brighton, meet up with his writing partner, Paul Stewart, for lunch and then, something I'd always wanted to do, see his studio and have a nose around in his sketchbooks. (Would I! Oh, yes, please!) So last week, I hopped on a train and had the most brilliant day in Brighton. Here's a little doodle I made of the two of them. (Here's their joint website.)

I think Chris Riddell's drawings were some of the first illustration work I really examined when I emigrated to Britain. I remember studying and drawing from one of his Observer political cartoons that the Cartoon Museum had on display, and admiring how interesting he could make the knuckles on a hand look. And more recently, I've become a fan of his Ottoline books, which the comics community would go crazy about if they saw them, but they're generally hidden away from comics people in the section of the bookshop dedicated to children's chapter books. (Go find them, comickers!)

Here we are in his local pub: Paul, Chris, and Chris's wife, printmaker and painter Jo Riddell.

Chris and Jo have an amazing studio at the end of their garden, in an old barn they've converted into a very comfortable place to work. You can see a ladder in the back to the old hay loft, which makes for great storage space.

Here's Chris's desk, looking remarkably tidy, with his Dr Martins inks all lined up around the edges of his drawing board.

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