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Our fab fellow Fleece Officer, Ellen Lindner, has always shown dedication in her studio commute, coming all the way to The Fleece Station in Deptford from her home by Oval Cricket Ground. But she's stretching it out even further next week by moving back with her lovely husband Stephen Betts (founder of Comix Influx translation website) to New York City. So we're not actually losing a studio mate, it's more that we're sending an ambassador to the fine comics folk on the other side of the pond. Despite all the budget cuts, Gary, Lauren and I persuaded the government to invest in an important bit of construction to make their to-ing and fro-ing much easier. (Purportedly it was for the Olympics, but people in the know realise it's just for Ellen and Stephen).

(We told them that Lauren drew most of the card, but you might spot quite a bit of Gary's handiwork right in the middle of the card.)

We presented them with their cable car ignition keys last night at Bloomsbury Lanes, which is a little bit of America right in the heart of the city. I didn't get a good shot of Ellen and Stephen together (they were sitting across the most enormous table, but here are Barnaby Richards, Tanya Meditzsky, Ellen, Lauren O'Farrell and Karrie Fransman. We've had some good times with Ellen and Stephen, including our trip to Angoulême comics festival in France and working MoCCA and Stumptown comics festivals in NYC and Portland. We're really going to miss having her around the studio: singing funny songs with accompanying excellent dance moves, her imitation sounds of the studio pigeons just outside the door, her retro fashion tips, her little fingerless gloves-made-from-socks that she wears while she's inking comics, and her general enthusiasm with Stephen to encourage and help build the comics community right here in London.

We've been saying goodbye to Ellen for awhile (and she's still planning to pop back into the studio) so Stuart and I didn't feel too terrible about bagging out of the post-dinner karaoke to meet up with Alex Milway to see illustrator Chris Haughton's show of design work he's commissioned from textile artists in Nepal.

Chris spent eight months in Kathmandu, where he got to know the weavers and set up his own company to have them make rugs, bags, wall hangings, lampshades and plush toys, all based on his picture book illustration work. How cool is that? His merchandise looks amazing, and you can see it at So Far, the Future gallery, down a tiny alleyway off Lamb's Conduit Street in Bloomsbury. Here's the owl from his picture book A Bit Lost.

I was very surprised and pleased to run into Tom Donegan from Children's Books Ireland. (He's the guy Cliodhna Lyons, Gary and I have worked with during our exciting book forays into Ireland.) Actually, I almost DID run into Tom, I couldn't see anything in the gallery for the first five minutes because my specs steamed up so badly... Here's Tom with Chris, and Stuart with Alex Milway, in front of one of Chris's beautiful carpets.

Speaking of Children's Books Ireland, I've written a big interview article with Alison Green, a publisher with her own imprint at Scholastic UK, who publish me. It's just come out in the new Inis Issue 36 (Inis is pronounced 'Inish'), and editor David Maybury promises me there's a copy winging its way to me. If you subscribe to Inis magazine, do look out for my article, or find out more about Inis here! In fact, Chris Haughton designed the cover for Issue 34, which you can read online here, and it includes interviews with writers such as Philip Reeve, Darren Shan and Philip Pullman

Fuzzy plushies by Chris! A few of them weren't for sale, because he'd stitched them himself and he said they were too flawed to sell, but their handmade look is really what makes them so lovely, and they're a bargain at £35 each.

Congratulations, Chris, and thanks for the heads-up about the show, Alex!


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