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Right, so Philip Reeve wrote something called an Explorermobile into the beginning of our book Oliver and the Seawigs. It doesn't play a large role in the story at all, but I think it might show up on the front endpapers and possibly the second full-page illustration. So I turned to the Internet and this was one of the first images I pulled up. There's something about the uprightness of the man - he looks almost like a vicar - and the cringing kid in the back that made me laugh.

I started out designing the Explorermobile as an amphibious craft. It's a slightly hokey version of that one used in the river chase scene in The World is Not Enough, where James Bond makes it dive underwater, then adjusts his tie.


I was looking at these, an Amphibious Volkswagen and a Trippel S.G. 6 Schwimkraftwagen from 1942. I liked the thought that the Crisp family might have found it in a swamp somewhere and refurbished it, or just found a place where people maintained and still drove these things, like 1950's American cars in Cuba, or the wonderful Ambassador cars in India.

But I looked at the story more closely, and realised the Explorermobile is more of a caravan, something the Crisps could have lived out of, because they're constantly on the move. So Mach 1 just wasn't large enough or family-friendly enough. Here's the family-version variation on the first design.


Ha ha, I was happy as a clam designing these things. I texted photos of some to my studio mate, Lauren (who wasn't there at the time), and she texted back, Are you making Vroom Vroom noises? I got really into researching old caravans, and Philip sent me a link to some Dormobiles. I never even heard of those! Look how cool this one is:

So I tried an explorer version of the Bedford:


Then Philip gave an excellent suggestion, why not try a caravan with a half track? Half tracks are cool! Philip really likes tank tracks, his Mortal Engines cities all run on them. So let's try it, here's a Bedford on a half track:


Oo, not too bad! But what about those iconic American caravans, the Airstream?

What would an Airstream look like on a half track? Gosh, it does look very militaristic. Maybe I could sort that out with a few patterned curtains or something.


Then, predictably, I got a bit lost in Google images. CUTE LITTLE YELLOW CAMPERVANS. And I discovered a website called TIny House Blog that I really want to go back and read more thoroughly.

And then it was getting late and I started to get a bit silly. What if the campervan had Mrs Crisp driving a massive Harley Davidson attachment on the front, with a half track and a side car for Oliver? Hurrah!


That last one doesn't work so well in the context of the story, but it was awfully fun to draw. Just curious, I haven't decided which Explorermobile I'll use in the book yet. Which Explorermobile do you like best? I'll make the final call, but I'd love to get your opinion!

Okay, now just a few more things from the Internet. Check out this gold Winnebago, can you believe it?!

Ha ha! Awesome side car. But a... STEALTH WINNEBAGO? There is nothing stealthy about that puppy.

And drawing the Harley, I had to watch that appallingly bad Brigitte Bardot video of her singing Serge Gainsbourg's La Harley Davidson. My sister and I watched this last time she was visiting me and we laughed our heads off.

And thus, you see how one little part of an illustration can take up almost an entire day, without even having done any final artwork. But, man, is it FUN. (Ask me again about it at deadline time.) If you get the urge to custom-design your own Explorermobile, do post a link, I'd love to see it!

Vroom vroom.



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Amanda Lillywhite
Jul. 17th, 2012 06:56 am (UTC)
I love Mrs Crisp on the Harley attachment - Brrrm Brrrm!
Jul. 17th, 2012 07:23 am (UTC)
Ha ha, thank you, Amanda! Brrrm Brrrm to you, too! XD
Damian Kelleher
Jul. 17th, 2012 08:48 am (UTC)
Love Brigitte and the Airstream hybrid. Think Liberty print curtains and 'a woman's touch' as in that key transformation scene in 'Calamity Jane' would sort things out in no time at all!
Jul. 17th, 2012 09:33 am (UTC)
Cheers, Damian! I'm thinking patterned curtains and a washing line could work for any of these, excellent. :)
Jul. 17th, 2012 08:49 am (UTC)
The EXPLORERMOBILE MARK 6 is way cool.
Jul. 17th, 2012 08:51 am (UTC)
Hmmm.... I'm not Anonymous!
My parents game me the name Jan....
I think....

Still the Mark 6 is fab.
Jul. 17th, 2012 09:34 am (UTC)
Yay, glad you like it!
Jul. 17th, 2012 10:47 am (UTC)
Think I vote for Mk IV myself...
Jul. 17th, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC)
Loving Mk VI but if that doesn't work for the story then Mk IV
Aug. 26th, 2012 07:46 am (UTC)
the gold winnebago is a winner!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah McIntyre

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