Kevin changed shape quite a few times while Philip and I drew him. Here's Philip's 1988 driftwood painting that first inspired the character, and he was quite rectangular:
Then Kevin went as round as a balloon. Here was my vision of Dartmoor teeming with flying ponies:
And then Kevin went more bean-shaped. Here's a character design sheet I had pinned up on the wall in front of me while I was working on the book. Kevin looks quite small here in comparison to Max, I think our flying pony's slightly larger in the book:
We did some of the work in both our studios. Here's Philip modelling a dramatic pose for Daisy, Max's sister (who calls herself Elvira). Oh, but now he is washing studio windows while I get on with drawing stuff. (Co-authors are useful for many reasons.)
Here was my character design sheet for Daisy and Daisy and Max's parents. Daisy's very fun to draw, she's definitely coming back in the next book.
And here we are in Philip's studio! I took a few days to go to Dartmoor and do some of the inking at his desk, which he very kindly let me use. (He's writing at a tiny table and sitting in his son's old high chair.)
I knew I'd probably be drawing Max's family flat quite a few times over the course of four books, so I thought I'd better plot it out right away, so I don't draw myself into a corner.
The way I work is to draw the pictures first in pencil. Then I use my lightbox to trace over the pencil with my dip pen and India ink. Tracing is so much easier than drawing over the pencil, because if I mess up, I can reuse the pencil drawing, and I don't have to rub it out with an eraser afterward, and risk smudging the ink. Here's Kevin in his nest:
Sometimes I made the artwork intentionally smudgy, to give it more of a MOOD. My fingers got quite dirty drawing this scene of the storm that blew in from the Outermost West. I wore a little fingerless glove to try to keep myself from picking up ink on my hand as I drew.
Some of the scenes are very much based on Dartmoor:
Here's a tor that we visited at Christmas, and which you'll spot right in the beginning of the book! I love how it looks like lots of pancakes all stacked up.
I added some extra little Dartmoor details, like bracken and grassy tufts and housemartins.
Covers are always nerve-wracking; I really want to get it right because it can make or break a book. I did the lettering on the cover by hand, to make it feel more alive than a standard font. And here are the sea monkeys from Oliver and the Seawigs sneaking in...
A scene where Max is riding Kevin in his bedroom. I started out drawing the room right-way up, but it was more fun and confusing when I turned the paper upside-down, so we got a strange view of everything from the ceiling.
Sometimes I had a lot of fun with pattern. Here are fish that swim in front of Max's face in the underwater supermarket:
Iris the mermaid appears in the story, but I tried to draw this mermaid very unlike Iris. And like Kevin (and me), this mermaid loves her biscuits!
We hope you enjoy the book! The shiny hardcover version has this lovely blue colour in it, and when the paperback comes out later, it will be in grayscale (which is still nice, but snap up a hardcover if you can).
"Where can I buy this fine book?", you may ask! From all good bookshops! And online from Page 45 (who ship internationally!), Foyles, Waterstones, from OUP, even Amazon (but try to support a bookshop if you can!).
Keep an eye on the brand-new page on my website (designed by lovely Dan Fone) for Kevin-related activities! There's a 'How to Draw Kevin' sheet there already, and I'll be adding more over the coming months. Big thanks to our publisher Liz Cross, editor Clare Whitston, designer Holly Fulbrook, and the whole team at Oxford University Press who made this happen! And Jodie Hodges, Emily Talbot and Molly Jamieson, the fabulous team at United Agents. (And Philip's agent, Philippa Milnes-Smith, who's incredibly helpful, too!)