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strange beasts on london streets

Yesterday was a highly productive day at the Fleece Station... mainly because we were fueled by PERCY PIG juice. Oh, yes, the Percy Pig factory even make a drink. (Percy Pigs taste and feel like plastic, but they somehow sum up that lovely smell and feeling you got as a kid when you opened the box with a new, perfect plastic toy in it.) Here's Gary, holding the holy grail:

I was a bit worried about Kevin the badly drawn sheep (see the previous ad-hoc comic panels), so I checked in on him again:

What is it? I must keep an eye on that sheep. Speaking of sheep, last night the whole Fleece Station headed over to at party at the National Geographic Store on Regent Street, not to see a sheep but a meerkat. We thought we might even get to hold a meerkat, although we suspected that, like ferrets, they might bite and this might not be a good idea.

When we got to the party, an owl wrangler was displaying this lovely bird, and we oohed and ahhed and took photos.

And then we asked, but where's the meerkat?

But the next animal they brought out wasn't at all cuddly, it was a tarantula. Only Gary wanted to hold it, although he says his mugging-for-the-camera expression here is actually genuine. So, where is the meerkat?

Ah! Another gorgeous owl. They are magnificent birds. Wow. ...The meerkat! The meerkat!

Sadly, by this point, Ellen and I needed to run off because we'd promised Corinne Pearlman at Myriad Editions that we'd go to Nicola Streeten's book launch, so we legged it to the house next to the British Museum and MISSED THE MEERKAT. Gary and Lauren stayed for the meerkat, and Lauren said it was 'very cool'. Can't believe I missed it. But seeing the party's organiser Philippa Perry is really just as good as seeing a meerkat. It would not be professional of me to say she is as cute and cuddly, but she throws a very good party, so look out for this woman.

So on to Nicola Streeten's launch! You may have seen her last weekend on the front page of The Guardian's Family section. It makes her look very intense, even bad-ass. But Nicola is lovely, and a good laugh.

Here she is, signing copies of her new graphic novel, Billy, Me & You: a memoir of grief and recovery. You can find out about it, see extracts and read The Guardian review and another by Nottingham's Page 45 comic shop here on the Myriad website.

I'm half-way through, and it's an interesting and insightful read. You know how, when you meet someone, and they've just had someone close to them die, and you don't know what to do? You know that the worst thing you can do is to avoid them, but you're also worried about sticking your foot in it and saying something colossally inappropriate or unhelpful, or making them them cry in public when perhaps they'd rather not. Well, this book puts you on the other side of that dilemma, and let's you see what's going on behind the scenes, at least for one person – Nicola – whose baby died when he was two years old. I wasn't sure at first about the artwork, it's done in a sort of naive style, but I've seen very polished artwork that doesn't read half as well as this does, the pages are well laid out and push you forward in the story. And surprisingly, I think they also make the story more accessible, it gives you the feeling that this is a real-life situation that could have happened to any of us, and gives the impression that the teller is letting you see her note taking as she goes along, trying to come to terms with the tragedy.

Here's the Myriad Editions gang, including Nicola's editor, Corinne Pearlman (holding the book).

After the launch, I caught the tail end of drinks with a bunch of fab illustrators, including Marion Deuchars, David Lucas, Noelle Davies-Brock and Mei Matsuoka. (Do have a look at their websites, so much talent!)

And here's my Monsterville compadre Ed Vere with Bruce Ingman, Marion, and Deborah Allwright:

I'm recovering from my massive cold, but I think I slightly overdid it last night, even though I only had one glass of wine and drank water for the rest of the night. So if you saw me then and I babbled absolute rubbish, apologies! Still a very good evening, though.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 21st, 2011 11:58 am (UTC)
Such magnificent creatures... The owls, I mean. What species is the second one ? (I recognize the first one as a common barn owl, which, according to wikipedia, is also locally called Demon Owl, Ghost Owl, Death Owl, Night Owl, Rat Owl, Church Owl, Cave Owl, Stone Owl, Monkey-faced Owl, Hissing Owl, Hobgoblin or Hobby Owl, Dobby Owl,White Breasted Owl, Golden Owl, Scritch Owl, Screech Owl among other things... In French it's "chouette effraie" which roughly translates as "scary owl")

I hadn't heard about that "Billy, me & you" graphic novel. I'll have to find a way to check it out...
Oct. 21st, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
Ha ha, I like that you just have one word for it, 'scary owl'. Hmm, I don't know what the second one is, but they both had such beautiful feathers.

Glad to alert you to 'Billy, Me & You'. Another one I just found about today from a friend in the next studio was Dougie's War, about post-traumatic stress disorder, about a soldier coming back from Afghanistan. Have you heard about it or seen it? My friend does art therapy and Darryl Cunningham was by for lunch, so they got talking about comics and mental health issues, and she brought up that new title. http://www.dougieswar.com/
Oct. 21st, 2011 06:59 pm (UTC)
I didn't know about that one either ! So many great comics being released these days, it seems I can't keep track...

The barn owl is also sometimes nicknamed "Dame Blanche" (White Lady) in some regions. But really her screeching is pretty scary. Especially if you have no idea what it is. Here, set your computer speakers to maximum volume and imagine you're sleeping alone in an old attic in the country and this sound comes from outside, just on the roof : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akwc82DOb4k
Oct. 21st, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
Okay, that would scare the living daylights out of me. OH MY.
Oct. 21st, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
I have this going on outside my window in deepest, darkest Lewisham. Damn you nature http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cPg7_nyoBc
Oct. 21st, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC)
Wow, I heard something very similar the other night and I was wondering what kind of animal it was.

I don't live in the country, though, more like on the outskirts of the city, but I've seen a fox around here before.
Oct. 21st, 2011 02:30 pm (UTC)
Wow, what a jolly, jaunting life you have-Getting up close and personal with incredible-looking owls, now! Shame bout missing the meerkat, though.
BTW, I heart Kevin.
Oct. 21st, 2011 02:36 pm (UTC)
I know, I'm totally gutted about missing the meerkat! I'd built it up in my head that they'd have this big pit of fuzzy meerkats and I'd get to climb in and be completely buried in them. Ha ha... They had one meerkat.

Kevin hearts you, too, but only if you pay him lots of attention and bring him coffee at regular intervals. ;)
Oct. 21st, 2011 06:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, Kevin <3 I brought you coffee (shhh, don't tell him it's really tea)

I remember going to a party a few weeks after my brother died. I hadn't really wanted to go, but the host, my friend, assured me I wasn't expected to be the life and soul of the party and just to relax. She'd obviously warned the other guests, as as the evening progressed and people got drunker everyone I met gaily said 'Oh, you're Libby! You must meet Kim. Her son just died! You'll have so much to talk about!' as though we'd both just bought an aga or adopted a puppy. We did eventually meet and got on like a house on fire :)

That book looks very interesting and like an excellent resource for understanding grief.
Oct. 21st, 2011 07:03 pm (UTC)
Knowing Kevin, he will probably complain like mad, but that's his problem if he won't go get his own hot drinks.

Gosh, that's an interesting story about the party, you could've been really offended by that, but it's great to hear that something good came of it. It's impossible to know, I guess, but from the book, it sounds like people making an effort to say something is better than doing nothing.
Oct. 21st, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Thank you for the mention Sarah in your remarkable blog life and thank you too for coming along to the launch, great to see you xxx
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah McIntyre

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