Christmas at Kindberg Towers

Decided to make my nativity scene multi-species again, a happy meeting of one of my many robots, a puppet Saracen king from Barcelona and a replica of an Isle of Lewis chess queen, a momento of my 2015 visit to the Isle of Lewis to run workshops. Last year this foursome appeared on my table, this year they’re on my windowsill, and some of the story is told here.

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Live drawing event at Half Moon Theatre

Last saturday I packed up some of my children’s books and headed to the Half Moon Theatre in Limehouse, London to join authors/illustrators Bridget Marzo, Robert Glenny and Layn Marlow for an afternoon of live drawing.

Our work (and books for sale) was on display in the theatre’s foyer with that of other SCBWI members – part of a Pictures at Play exhibition.

The actress Linda Marlowe read from our books, and we took it in turns to draw, helped by suggestions from children in the audience. I supplied some spacecraft (as you do) for children to add their crew, charming director Chris Ewell organised us, Linda was brilliant – especially her sound effects for my comic strip extract – and the audience was lively.  Later we all took part in a massive big draw. What fun!


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A visit to Tim Hunkin’s Novelty Automation machines in Holborn

A couple of weeks ago I was walking in Holborn and saw an intriguing neon arrow pointing to a darkened doorway.  It just happened to be Singles Night at Tim Hunkin’s Novelty Automation venue in Holborn, London. It was early.  The only other people there were the brilliant inventor/engineer/artist/cartoonist Tim Hunkin and a charming man with a flashing light on top of his head.

I was hooked!  Not only did I engage with the Money Laundering Machine, have a foot massage, a disconcerting experience with the Autofrisk Machine (which claimed I was ‘suspicious’), I also took part in a successful Hadron Collider experiment.

 Sadly my nerve failed at the fierce dog machine, possibly due to its drooling (possible) dog spit onto my hand at the same time as growling fiercely. “Even my wife, who loves dogs, always finds this machine frightening,” said Tim H.

I recommend a visit to this wonderful venue.  Though maybe not on a Singles Night.

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Recent notebook pages

Writing, drawing, recording conversations, sticking ephemera in my notebooks is vital to me, especially when I’m exploring, a habit from my travel writing days and much earlier.  Sometimes an idea will insist on a wider audience and become a book, a story, a comic strip, a workshop  …

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My comic strip workshop at Stillpoint London

Deep concentration and some intriguing results at last night’s comic strip workshop, at Stillpoint in Clerkenwell, with psychotherapists, writers and artists taking part. Great fun.  And biscuits.

The workshop included my showing a slide show of work by comic strip artists with very different approaches to drawing characters, storytelling, emotion,use of framing etc.   I asked participants to develop a simple three-frame written/visual story featuring pairs of characters chosen at random from my Hat of Surprise …

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Ancestry SK, Part One

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Family workshops for the Guardian at Kings Place

Super-busy day yesterday running workshops at the Guardian’s Cartoon and Family Art Day at Kings Place in London.  I joined fantastic artists Bridget Marzo, Kipper Williams, Rebecca Ashdown, Michael Challenger, Andrew Logan, Caroline Holden-Hotopf and others to encourage visiting families to get involved.  Cartoonists Martin Rowson and Harry Venning were there to give talks, and members of the Orchestra of the Enlightenment played outside in the hall.  It was a powerhouse of creativity!

Really busy with mine, and sadly no time to take part in others’ fantastic workshops!  So impressed with the wonderful characters invented by visitors to my table …

And any excuse to wear my special ears. Thanks to Bridget M for the photo below.

Look at this clever wombat and platypus juxtaposition … so inventive!

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My Draw It! book at the Royal Academy of Arts bookshop

With thanks to dear friend Bridget Marzo for spotting and snapping copies first Draw It! book in my Bloomsbury series in the RA shop this week. With great companions …


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In the Frame: comic strip memoir workshop

Coming soon, a comic strip memoir workshop at Stillpoint Lab in Clerkenwell, London. Here’s Stillpoint‘s poster for my event …


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A Visit to Limehouse

Yesterday I left more copies of The Comic Strip History of Space at the Half Moon Theatre, where I’ll be joining other members of SCBWI to do some more live drawing at the theatre’s Winter Arts Fair.  Afterwards I decided to do a bit of exploring.

I don’t know the Limehouse area very well. My preconception of the area was influenced by reading Dickens and Conan Doyle, by Gustave Dore’s moody prints, Victorian images of pea souper fog, opium dens, shadowy wharves and extreme poverty.

Here’s an extract from Bleak House by Dickens:

Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes … Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city.

Behind Limehouse’s DLR station is a bright oasis of calm, and not a wisp of fog in sight. Between the station and the Thames is a Yurt Cafe, where I happily ate a home-made cinnamon bun, and then discovered the cafe is part of St Katherine’s Precinct, one of the Royal Peculiars.

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