Sarah McIntyre (jabberworks) wrote,
Sarah McIntyre

pictures mean business celebrates our new children's laureate!

The new appointment of Chris Riddell to the post of Children's Laureate means so many good things for illustrators and everyone who loves illustration! Not only is he hoping to get lots more people drawing - parents, as well as kids - but he's a big supporter of our #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign. Hurrah!

Here's an article by Charlotte Eyre in this week's edition of The Bookseller:

(You can read the rest of the article here. Thanks so much, Chris!!)

Here's a photo of me at the award ceremony with Chris's co-author Paul Stewart, who's worked with him on The Edge Chronicles. They're an awesome team and live just a few houses away from each other!

I didn't get to talk much with Chris at the Laureate ceremony because he, predictably, was mobbed by fans and press the whole time. You can spot former Laureate Malorie Blackman, who's a big supporter of #PicturesMeanBusiness.

It was a big change from 2010 when The Graveyard Book won the Carnegie medal and Neil Gaiman was getting mobbed in that exact same room, and hardly anyone was paying attention to Chris, so he was free to have a long chat with me. (Some photos here from 2010.)

Chris Riddell at the Carnegie-Greenaway ceremony in 2010 with David Roberts and Viviane Schwarz

Those were different times, when the illustrator wasn't even credited in the award listing, despite having a huge role in creating the book, and Chris Riddell was slightly forgotten.

Thank goodness Joy Court and the Carnegie Greenaway committee were quick to see the error of this, and now illustrators are listed when an illustrated book is up for the Carnegie award. (Writers had always been listed with the books up for the Greenaway illustration award.)

But... dodgy book meta data is still creating huge problems. Here's a listing of the top book sales at Hay Festival, with the illustrators left out. (Chris even won a big illustration prize at the festival.) When I commented on the listing, the person who'd written the post edited it, but it was only later that the Dutch translator of The Parent Agency, Sandra Hessels, noted that Baddiel's book was actually highly illustrated by Jim Field. But I think the post was deemed too late to edit by then.

To be fair to the Hay bookshop person, I wouldn't have realised Jim had highly illustrated The Parent Agency either, and I'm a huge fan of Jim's work. He's not listed in the book data provided to Amazon, which suggests his publisher didn't fill out all the necessary boxes in the forms they submitted.

I wouldn't have realised the book was illustrated at all, and that's because his name's not written on the front cover. Eek, look, it's there in tiny letters under the bar code, on the back cover... there, under the pigeons.

With the way the covers are designed, big lights on the front, street pigeons on the back, it reminds me of that Pet Shop Boys song that goes: We're... the bums... you step over as you leave the theatre...

That's not right. Jim says he spent at least two weeks working on that cover alone, and he should be listed at least somewhere on the front cover. I know the HarperCollins marketing people see writer and comedian David Baddiel as the big attraction, but it's actually misleading; you wouldn't be able to know this book was illustrated if you just saw the cover. And the front cover is what most people see if they buy the book online, or pick it up in a shop. David was quick to point out on Twitter that he always credits Jim, but the Sales & Marketing people should have been more honest with the wording they put on the cover. As Jim's pointed out, this lack of cover credits is a HUGE problem in illustrated fiction, and just because an illustrator doesn't raise a big stink, it doesn't mean they're not completely gutted by the decision to omit their name. The Dutch publisher was clued in enough to include Jim. His name's not as large as David's, but at least it's there.

Photo of Jim Field from the United Agents website

Editors, designers, marketing people, this is a BIG ISSUE: please don't take the decision lightly to omit your illustrator's name from the front cover. Here's what you're doing:

* Refusing the illustrator the chance to build up their own name branding

* Denying potential buyers the information that the book is illustrated

* Telling the public that illustration is far, far less important than writing and denying readers a hero alongside the writer

* Making it hard for illustrators to take part credibly in Author Visits (denying them a further source of income and publicity)

* In the case of a television celebrity writer, you're saying that television people are much more important than book people. Is this something you really want to say, if you're going to try to sell more books? Aren't you shooting yourself in the foot by doing this?

Illustrators don't get salaries or pension plans like in-house publishing people. They need all the help they can get to build their brand and keep their career going. If you decide you can't possibly credit them (a lame decision), you should pay much, much, MUCH more money. Why not just credit them? Get with it, people.

So what's happening? I'm going to a meeting next week between The Bookseller, Nielsen, the Society of Authors and the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators to discuss this problem. I originally thought Nielsen was the culprit, but it's looking more and more as though Nielsen are just dealing with the data they're given, and publishers are submitting faulty, irregular and incomplete data. Keep an eye on The Bookseller and Charlotte Eyre's articles for updates. But we need you to keep up the pressure on publishers to submit complete metadata, ask questions when illustrated cover art is revealed with no illustrator mention, reviewers leave out illustrators, and illustrators are left off front covers of highly illustrated books.

And I hope Chris will keep pushing for awareness about crediting illustrators; we're all in this together and as an illustrator, he knows exactly what it's like to be left out of listings where he should rightfully have his name. Visit if you want to catch up on what the campaign's about, and browse the #PicturesMeanBusiness hash tag on Twitter.

Here's another photo from the Children's Laureate ceremony: fab writer-illustrator Liz Pichon with her predictive fingernail.

Our Oliver and the Seawigs and Cakes in Space OUP publicist Harriet Bayly took my co-author Philip Reeve and me out for lunch after the ceremony. Funnily enough, that 2010 Carnegie Greeaway ceremony was the first time I ever met Philip, although we only exchanged a few words when I snapped his photo.

Philip was the person who originally came up with the Pegasus for the #PicturesMeanBusiness logo. It started out as a piece of wood he painted:

And together we turned it into an illustrated online story called The Dartmoor Pegasus, which you can read in full here.

I also did a lengthy blog post about visiting Chris's studio, way back in 2011, which you can see here. Congratulations on your new role as Children's Laureate, Chris!

You can follow Chris on Twitter (@chrisriddell50) and Instagram.
Tags: pictures_mean_business, riddell

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