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1. Annecy Festival Will Make History in 2015 With An All-Women Jury

The Annecy International Animated Film Festival will make history during its 2015 festival by having an all-women jury for the first time in its 55-year existence.

0 Comments on Annecy Festival Will Make History in 2015 With An All-Women Jury as of 12/25/2014 5:04:00 PM
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2. Sundance 2015: Animated Shorts and Installations Unveiled

The Sundance Film Festival has announced the film and installation selections for their upcoming edition, which will take place in Park City, Utah between January 22 and February 1, 2015. Among the sixty short film selections are 13 animated projects, including new works by indie favorites David OReilly and Don Hertzfeldt, animation-to-fine-art-world crossover Takeshi Murata, and Réka Bucsi’s Oscar-shortlisted Symphony No. 42. Also worth listing are the installations in Sundance’s New Frontier programming. The New Frontier space is dedicated to exploring “the crossroads of film, art, and media technology as a hotbed for cinematic innovation.” The thirteen projects selected for the exhibition include numerous pieces that incorporate animation.

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3. SILK festival 2014, skudeneshavn, norway, part 2

Exciting, I got another page in the Haugesund Avis! Apparently the headline reads, Pencils in the Air, which I'm afraid is a bit of a stock phrase I use to get kids' attention while we're drawing. But it looks cooler in Norwegian. (Here's the whole article online.)

And here's lovely Stuart modelling for the SILK Festivalen Nordic Knitwear catalogue:

While I was in Skudeneshavn in February, I had waffles at Johannes' cafe and drew his portrait in the guest book. So this time, Stuart stopped by for waffles while I was doing school visits and spotted my picture in the cafe, framed! Johannes is the best; anyone visiting Skudeneshavn absolutely must stop by to see him.

My main festival event was a talk moderated by journalist Rosie Goldsmith, whom I'd first met in Dubai, and then Hay-on-Wye. Here she is in the festival Green Room, wearing the beautiful new jumper commissioned from and knitted by Skudeneshavn local, Silje Skaadel.

I went to another of Rosie's events earlier in the day and drew this picture:

Rosie was interviewing Dutch writer and journalist, Geert Mak, whose book In Europe was translated into a zillion languages and had a 35-part television series. His new book, In America: Travels with John Steinbeck documents the same road trip made by both men, more than 50 years apart.

I think I need a stronger prescription of glasses, as I had a hard time making out their faces from the distance, but here's the best I could do, drawing Geert:

And we got to have dinner with him and his excellent wife that evening; I hope we get to see them again some day.

We got to hear several good bands while we were at the SILK Festival, including a group called Poor Edward. (The Jampire approved.) It's kind of odd hearing Norwegians singing to a Norwegian audience in English, but they did have lovely voices.

On the way back, I managed to bash my Bakewell Tart hat on a door frame; here's Stuart being my excellent road manager and doing some surgery on it. (He managed to track down a shop selling red glitter glue surprisingly easily.)

One of the school events I did was in the Sea House with about 80 16-year-olds, and I taught them a bit about comics and led them in a Comics Jam.

The 16-year-olds were MUCH more shy about saying anything in English than the 11-13 year-olds I'd led the previous day. I really had to work to get them to volunteer ideas, but I think in the end that they got something out of it and, I hope, enjoyed it.

Here's a quick demo comic I made while they were jamming:

And a few of their Comics Jams. (It's a storytelling game, in which a different person draws each panel.)

Thanks to the enthusiastic teachers who took part!

I did a second Comics Jam session at Skudeneshavn Primary School with this gang:

I led them in designing characters inspired by Jampires, but which had their own food obsessions. (So they came up with Pizzapires, Chickenpires, Noodlepires, etc.) I was struck by how many Norwegian kids LOVE tacos. Apparently it used to be pizza, but now they're taco crazy. It's a think people there eat particularly on Friday nights.

Back in the festival Green Room, here's musician Maria Toresen, who taught me a new Shark song to use with kids when I present my Shark book. So now I have two shark songs! Thanks, Maria! :D

And I made a new friend! Here's Helga Rullestad with Danish fantasy and crime writer Lene Kaaberbøl. I had a good long natter with Lene and Rosie in their cottage and they're ace. I really want to read Lene's The Shamer Chronicles books.

We had a reception for the festival sponsors and got to listen to Moddi perform, good stuff.

And here's culture minister Jan Arve and his wife. (I drew his portrait on my last visit.)

This time in Skudenshavn, I made a foray into a fishing shop, which turned out also to have salvage stuff from old ships, including these two, rather odd, crystal deities.

Before we left, we got to go on a wonderful beach walk with our fab friends John and Helga Rullestad, who are a big part in running the festival. They have so much energy, it's incredible.

This is near where Helga likes to go swimming. It's been a warm summer in Skudeneshavn and she'd been swimming until two weeks ago.

Some more landscape photos:

Here's Stuart with Silje, who knitted Rosie's jumper:

And Helga and John, wearing a fine fascinator. Thanks so much for inviting Stuart and me to be a part of the festival! We had a brilliant time, and I hope the events went down well!

(Read Part 1 here.)

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4. Festival Call for Entries: Holland, Stuttgart and Chilemonos

Cartoon Brew is pleased to announce the launch of our Animation Festival Guide.

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5. Festival Call for Entries: Annecy, Zagreb, Melbourne

Our new Animation Festival Guide is a hand-picked list of calls for entries from respected festivals around the globe. This week, we add three new calls for entries from Annecy, France; Zagreb, Croatia; and Melbourne, Australia.

0 Comments on Festival Call for Entries: Annecy, Zagreb, Melbourne as of 11/21/2014 10:44:00 AM
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6. leeds thought bubble 2014: jampires comics jamtastic!

Last weekend, the Jampires were out in force at Thought Bubble comics festival, to spread Comics Jam over Leeds! Here's team Jampires' David O'Connell, Matt Badham, Molly Bruton and me:

So what distinguishes Comics Jam from, say, raspberry jam?

Badges designed by David O'Connell; Jampires jam by the Butch Institute

A little explanation (as seen in the Thought Bubble anthology):

Our Comics Jam session attracted fellow Jampires like, uh, bees to honey. (These were Phil Welch and Katie White, who stayed with us and blogged all the way through the 24-Hour Comic Marathon at Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, earlier in the autumn.)

We ran a Comics Jam competition, and here's the winning comic! It's by 13-year-old Jordan Vigay and 10-year-old Jonathan 'Jonny Toons'.

Congrats, guys! Here are Jordan and Jonathan drawing away at our activity area tables, buoyed up by jammie dodgers.

Actually, the competition was a close call. Their original Comics Jam was in black and white:

And was competing hard against this Comics Jam, which really zinged off the page with its colours.

So we struck a deal, that if Jordan and Jonathan promised to colour the comic right after the festival, they'd be the winners. (And they did, using a mix of digital and coloured pencils.) You can find out more about running Comics Jams at home (or in school!) over on the Jampires website.

So let's meet the creators: I filmed Jordan and Jonathan each giving a lesson on how to draw a character from the comics they self-publish. And you can get a glimpse of other kids getting involved with Thought Bubble:

If you're scrolling through this and can't see the video, here's the shot of Jordan and me with the Red Crow comic he publishes. (You can buy the latest issue, No.8, for £1.75 via his website.)

Issue 8 includes a Comics Jam that Jordan and I did at the end of my signing session in Page 45 bookshop's room at the Lakes festival.

Oh, and you may have noticed that Jordan dressed up! He's cosplaying as Captain Spaceington from James Turner's Star Cat (which is hugely funny and I recommend it for kids AND adults). Here's an interview with James on Comics Beat.

James was super-pleased to see his own cosplayer! Right behind him, you can see Liz Payton manning The Phoenix Comic table (a weekly comic which I also highly recommend).

And here's Jonny Toon's table! Not many 10-year-olds are on Twitter, but you can follow this one at @JonnyToons. (He's just tweeted the work-in-progress cover of his Christmas issue.)

I was very impressed with Jonathan's design skills for Crystal Orb...

...and the comics inside are funny and remarkably sophisticated for someone his age! Keep an eye on this guy, I think he may go far. It was great to see him teaming up with Jordan to draw stuff; they're a real power duo.

And of course, if you read the Guardian, Independent, Vogue, almost any newspaper, you'll have seen articles about Zoom Rockman, who's been making comics since he was 8. He's 14 now, and has a lot of issues under his belt. He sources local advertising and has been a real pioneer in kids self-publishing comics. Check out his website and you can follow him on Twitter as @The_ZoomComic

I love the Skanky Pigeon quill pens!

His younger brother, Ace Rockman, also loves to draw and drew up a storm at the activity tables. (Great hat, Ace!)

Here's a video Zoom made about how to make comics when he was much younger and still too shy to talk on camera.

And it was great to see the debut of TEAM KETCHUP with their comics anthology Issue No.1! They found local Yorkshire funding and the kids involved worked shifts at the table, selling their comic and badges and running their doodle area. If you have questions about how they did it, have a chat with coordinators @_Joolze, @Coldjenius and @beth_k_t.

And you can follow Team Ketchup collectively as @theteamketchup! Here's a recent tweet of their doodle wall:

One of the coolest thing about Thought Bubble is seeing parents and kids geeking out together about books, comics and artwork. It's such an awesome way to spend time with your kid and let them see that reading is fun, without turning it into a lesson. This family were a joy to watch, and that little Green Lantern Guardian went straight for the books and got stuck into them. Ha, one of the funny things about Thought Bubble was that my picture books sold much better than my chapter books. Usually it's the other way around at book festivals; people see Oliver and the Seawigs or Cakes in Space and prefer them to the picture books because they have more words and are therefore deemed more like 'proper books'. Whereas I'd see Thought Bubble people leaf through them, realise they didn't have quite as many pictures, and move on to the fully-illustrated picture books, with 'proper illustrations'. This crowd is a visual crowd, and they appreciate reading pictures as much as words. It's a wonderful place to be.

My Jampires co-author David O'Connell and I kept looking over and breaking into broad grins as we saw our teammate Matt Badham working his magic. He's SO GOOD at relating to people, I wish I could work with him full-time. He could talk to anyone, on their own level, and he made a lot of people feel very welcome. It was almost poetic. (And he also sold a heap-load of books. Matt could very easily lead courses for booksellers.)

Here's a look at the two activity tables we had in our area. We had four tables in total: one for display, one for talking with people, book signing, laying out drawing supplies, and two table with chairs around them for families (and anyone who fancied a sit-down) to gather and draw. Some people wanted to keep their drawings, but we hung a lot of them up on the backboards and had a flip-chart ready for people to draw on and other creators to come over and do drawing demonstrations.

Some people did Comics Jams with other people, but a lot of kids were happy just to draw comics on their own. We found they didn't actually want much adult intervention; most of them were familiar with comics and happy to be left alone to get on with making things.

There were LOTS of jammie dodgers. When we ran out, we gave Jordan and Jonathan money to go off to the Tesco and buy us more.

It was fun seeing people of all ages getting stuck in.

Some people were a bit young to draw comics, or just wanted to do something a bit more relaxing, and we had a sheet posted, showing them how to draw a Jampire.

I always love seeing the Jampire variations. (I hope someone someday writes a symphony called The Jampire Variations.)

Flip chart fun times:

(Who can even SPELL 'submarine'?)

Here's Jordan and his mum, running The Phoenix Comic tables for awhile, so Liz could run around and talk to people.

And look at the fabulous volunteers, in their matching Thought Bubble staff t-shirts! They're designed by partners Donya Todd and Jack Teagle. (I sat next to Jack and Donya for a full 24 hours to do our 24-hour comic, and they're both ace.) The lady in the middle was our main contact for the family activity area, Martha Julian, and she really worked with us to make the best possible space for everyone. Thanks so much, Martha and team!

Of all the comics festivals I've been to, Thought Bubble and Lakes have by far been the best organised, and you could really tell, the way everyone talked about them so positively afterward. They made creators feel welcome, and we didn't have to fight like cats to make sure we had all our backboards, and they went out of their way to get stuff for us, to make things work more smoothly. Having a team in matching t-shirts is really helpful, there's always someone in view that you can run over to and get some help. I also did some planning with Lisa Wood (shown here) and Clark Burscough. If you follow @ThoughtBubbleUK, that's Clark manning the Twitter feed.

Huge thanks from Dave and me, and team Jampires!

Another cool thing about Thought Bubble is that kids can meet their favourite creators milling about everywhere! Here's The Phoenix Comic's Matt Baxter at the activity table:

Hey, look, it's my studio mate Gary Northfield! Gary did some awesome drawings and little watercolour paintings at his table. Check out his family-friendly The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs and Gary's Garden comic books; they're ace. Gary's the guy who originally walked me through how to do workshops and went with me on my first library event.

Check it out, Glasgow-based Adam Murphy and Lisa Murphy, creators of Corpse Talk! Lisa's done colourist work for Adam, Gary and lots of other people, and she's an important part of The Phoenix Comic team. I'd never really talked properly with her and Adam (other than fleeting festival chic-chat) but we had dinner together on our first night and really got to chat, which was one of my highlights of the whole trip.

Here's a look at their latest Phoenix cover. ZING!

And it's Neill Cameron and family! Neill's latest book, How to Make Awesome Comics is something I've been waiting a long time for; something I can recommend to kids who want to know more about making comics but are too young for the Scott McCloud books. Neill packs in loads of inspiring challenges and tips to get kids drawing and writing comics. And he's great at running workshops, too. In fact, Gary, the Murphys and Neill are all good at that, book 'em into your event diary, librarians, festival people, teachers, etc. His wife, Di Cameron, works at The Story Museum in Oxford, so they're a story-packed power team.

Neill and Adam had printed up their own Comics Jam for the festival, a humourous horror story called The Curse of Barry Starkey, which you can read about on Neill's website here.

Thought Bubble was so large this year that it filled three separate huge venues, all inside the big square at the Royal Armouries. The Jampires Comics Jamtastic area was in the Royal Armouries Hall, and there was a real effort to make that area the most kid-friendly place, including a special chill-out lounge for people with autism. In the middle of the square, the organisers erected a white marquis called 'The Teepee', a slightly misleading name because it was Enormous. A lot of the celeb signings were happening in there. And across the square was New Dock Hall, which has much higher ceilings, black walls and hosted more of the grown-up comics (although there was still a lot of family-friendly stuff there).

I first made a bee-line for Philippa Rice's table. I love Philippa's comics, and she always makes the most beautiful table displays. When I do talks about getting kids involved in comics festivals, I always show photos of Philippa's tables because I think I would have LOVED to have made dioramas and things like this as a kid. Check it out:

And a closer look. Those are real lights in there! So awesome.

Last year I came to Thought Bubble as a punter and had a great time going to events, browsing comics and talking with people at their tables. I'm quite tempted to do that again, one year at table, one year as punter, on and off. This year I hardly had any time to see anything, but the Jampires team let me off for half an hour to run around and see as much of the festival as I could. (Huge apologies if I didn't manage to say hello to you as I madly dashed about!) This book by Becky Palmer caught my eye, La Soupière Magique (The Magic Tureen?). Becky originally wrote it as The Biggest Helping but she couldn't find an English-language publisher, so she got it published in French instead, by SarBacane. You can see some pages of it here on her blog and it is GORGEOUS. It's quite startling to think that this is her very first comic book. Wow!

Hey look, it's Dan Berry, who ran our 24-Hour Comic Marathon! He makes fab comics and always uses hand gel. If you're not following him on Twitter, get on the case: @thingsbydan. And he also makes wonderful, professional-quality podcasts with my favourite comics creators for his programme Make It Then Tell Everybody. Check it out!

Here's Mhairi Stewart and friend manning the Roller Grrrls table she runs with Gary Erskine. There were table neighbours at the very first comic con I did by myself, and I was very clueless and they made me feel incredibly welcome. I love those guys.

And I'm a big fan of all three people here! That's Moshi Monsters' Nana Li, buying prints from North-Wales-based Jonathan Edwards (aka Jontofski) and Louise Evans (aka Felt Mistress).

Coffee time for Lizz Lunney, Joe Decie and Joe List. ...Oh, look, Decie has posted a Thought Bubble DRINKS TASTE TEST.

On Saturday night, Molly and I trotted along to the British Comic Award ceremony, hosted by a blue-suited Adam Cadwell and David Monteith, where we got to hear Maura McHugh interviewing Hall-of-Fame winner Posy Simmonds. Here's Molly, Posy and Maura with Alison Sampson, who won the New Talent award. Congrats! I was also hugely chuffed that Isabel Greenberg won Best Book for The Encyclopedia of Early Earth. (You can read my fangirl meltdown blog post about it here.) And it was no surprise, Luke Pearson winning the Young People's Comic Award again, this time for Hilda and The Black Hound. The competition was stiff, but Hilda is MEGA.

You can read about the awards over on their website here. (Vern and Lettuce won it back in 2011 and you can read my blog post about that here.) I was a judge last year and it was great to see fellow judge Jamillah Knowles again! She caught me up on some of the comics I was missing out on by being at a table.

Okay, now for a few costumes:

Ha ha, here's when things started to get a little weird:

And finally, a good place to end, Dr Mel Gibson with the elephant in the room:

Oh wait! One more thing... what is this? Ha ha, this is what I look like to the kids I'm working with:

(THANKS, Jordan and Jonathan.)

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7. budleigh salterton lit fest 2014

Traveling to rural Devon in full space costume must be the zenith of my career. Look at Spaceman Reeve, he's practically glowing with radiation.

Devon people, do not be alarmed if you look toward the end of your garden and see an other-worldly figure emerge.

He mostly comes in peace.

Invite him in to your home, for he is quite handy in the kitchen.

The Western Morning News printed a double-page spread to commemorate the spectacle.

Once we got used to the earth's gravity, we set off for Budleigh Salterton.

Photo by Sarah Reeve

And there we were, Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival! We demonstrated some of the gadgetry in our book, including the wonderous Nom-O-Tron, which can, from a simple protein formula, synthesise any sort of food you like.

Photo by Sarah Reeve

And I was pleased to find it produced a most excellent coffee walnut cake. (My favourite!)

Photo by Sarah Reeve

We always get people drawing at our events - everyone drew Pilbeam the robot with me - but this girl, Lauren Taylor, drew a whole comic strip in between the time we finished the show and the book signing session!

Check it out: killer cakes, robots, even little Reeve and McIntyre royalty! I like my victorious arm gesture at the end.

It's so fun getting people to draw Pilbeam. (Reeve does a great Pilbeam voice when we do one of the readings from Cakes in Space.)

I think people get a lot of confidence seeing that, if they take a drawing step by step, they can turn out something interesting on their paper. And I love how the drawings don't all look exactly like mine; they all have their own intriguing character.

Thanks so much to everyone who came along to see us and made drawings!

And big thanks to the organisers of Budleigh lit fest, we enjoyed our visit very much.

Photo by Sarah Reeve

And here's our production team, the most excellent Sarah Reeve and Stuart! Sarah did a great job bringing a killer cake on stage for us to examine in a Great-British-Bake-Off style, and Stuart worked the music (composed by Sarah Reeve). Thanks, team!

We even met one of the stars of the Save Budleigh Library documentary film and, when our event was finished, we stopped by the library for a peek. A nice lady with a zimmer frame insisted I wear her scarf for the photo.

I contributed a bit to the video, which you can see here. We do hope the government reconsiders closing this heart of the community and listens to local people who are throwing themselves into the campaign.

It was quite funny walking around Budleigh Salterton in cognito. We passed several people who had been at our event and they didn't recognise us at all without our space gear. Hey, check out the stone pictures on Budleigh beach! A masted ship, a panda, a bee, a Dalek, a whole pebble exhibition.

It's a beautiful place and I'd never been before; so glad to have had the chance.

Sarah's a professional portrait photographer and took lots of photos of us in her studio when we got back to the Reeve Ranch. They're great; I'll show those off soon! In the meantime, you can follow Budleigh lit fest on Twitter as @BudleighLitFest. And if you missed us this time, be sure to keep an eye on my Events Page if you want to catch us in action!

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8. manx lit fest quiz 2014

Last weekend Philip Reeve and I flew out to the Isle of Man for the Manx Lit Fest. We'll blog about it in more detail soon, but here's a quick taster of our adventures.

Our first assignment was to be quiz masters for the Book Fanatics’ Quiz Night.

We’d never run a quiz before, but while we wouldn’t want to blow our own trumpets, we were magnificent. So we’ll put our new-found quiz-running skills to use in the rest of this blog.

Test Your Reeve & McIntyre Knowledge

QUESTION 1: How many authors can you fit into the lift at the Regency Hotel in Douglas?

ANSWER: Just Sarah: all the other authors have to walk up the stairs.

QUESTION 2: Can you guess the purpose of these unusual objects?


QUESTION 3: What is this?
a) A hat?
b) A cake?

ANSWER: Both! It’s the winning entry of the Family Library’s ‘Cakes in Space’ competition, designed and made by David.

QUESTION 4: What happens if you press this button?

ANSWER: All of the above.

QUESTION 5: When exploring the ruins of Peel Castle, can McIntyre do a good brooding face?


QUESTION 6: Can Reeve do a good brooding face?

ANSWER: Yes, it is one of the most impressive things we have ever seen.

QUESTION 7: Can you guess who is typing this blog?


QUESTION 8: What is the title of Reeve and McIntyre’s next stadium rock album?

a) The Unforgettable… Um… Errr….
b) The Joshua Hatstand
c ) Appetite for Destruction and Biscuits
d) Kippers By Post

ANSWER: The Unforgettable… Thingy, you know, oh, it’s on the tip of my tongue…

(Kippers by Post is, of course, the title of McIntyre’s new solo album of Gaelic lullabies.)

QUESTION 9: How much is this 1960s Sarah McIntyre action figure worth? (Note that it is still in its original box.)

ANSWER: It’s yours for a tub of Manx Knobs and a fistful of fresh Queenies.

QUESTION 10: Where does McIntyre keep her emergency doughnut supply?

a) In her hamster-like cheek pouches.
b) In an offshore bank.
c) Concealed in her wig.

ANSWER: C. These doughnuts have not been concealed well enough, and have attracted the attentions of local wildfowl.


0 - 3 Well done! You are a very sensible person and probably haven’t bothered reading this far.

4-6 You have a profound appreciation for Manx culture and literary life.

7-10 Congratulations! You are awarded honorary membership of the Reeve & McIntyre Appreciation Society! (Meetings held regularly in the lift at the Regency Hotel, Douglas.)

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9. manx lit fest 2014

So Philip Reeve hijacked my previous blog post and turned it into a Manx Reeve & McIntyre pop quiz. But it wasn't exactly a comprehensive look at my visit to the Isle of Man for the Manx Lit Fest. The main reason I blog is so that I don't forget things, and Manx Lit Fest was so fabulous that I absolutely must go back and record it.

Writer Rakie Keig plunged me straight into a Manx cultural lesson when she drove me from the aiport to Douglas, where I would be staying for the weekend. We drove over the Fairy Bridge and she urged me to greet the fairies (as everyone does on the island, I learned from asking around). She also advised me never to say the word r-a-t, and subtitute the wod 'longtail' if I needed to say it. Her third tip was never to say I had come over from 'the mainland', but to call it 'the adjoining island'. Thanks for the tips, Rakie!

Douglas has a lovely long promenade along the beach, with a sort of faded grandeur that makes it easy to imagine the old days, when it was a prime seaside holiday destination. The Regency Hotel had lots of quirky old features, including a beautiful but tiny lift.

The lift had those sorts of grated gates you see on Russian lifts, and of course, I had to take a photo down the shaft. And then I imagined the pile of dropped camera phones at the base of it.

The lift became a major feature of my stay, and got tinier and tinier as my costumes grew larger.

My first event was a reception for the festival's sponsors, and one of the nice surprises was getting to meet a young author named Harri Sansostri. I meet a lot of kids who write, but I'd connected with Harri a year ago, when he was just beginning to try to promote his book on Twitter. He was sending the same promo tweet to everyone and I at first thought it was spam, but then realised his age, and we had a good conversation about promotion, which led to me writing this blog post for him. There was too much to say on Twitter, and I thought it might help Harri and other kids (possibly even adults!) who are trying to walk the fine line between promoting their books and being annoying. I'm sure I often go about it the wrong way, but Harri is proof that just getting out there and trying something, even if he got it wrong at first, can pay off in the end.

Harri's learned so much since then about using social media and his mother came up to me and thanked me for giving him that advice, and he tweeted me later to say how helpful it had been. (Which was good to hear; some people would just get angry if another person referred to their early tweets as spammy!)

I was so pleased to see he's ploughing forward with his books, having finished the second one and working on the third. Here's an update about it on his website, and it's great to think he's already being invited to a literary festival. He's also done quite a few school visits, which is very impressive!

Another person I met at the reception was teacher-turned-rap-battler, poet Mark Grist. The only things I knew about rap battles are from watching Eminem's film 8 Mile, but talking with Mark so intrigued me that I went to see his event later, which was undoubtedly the most entertaining poetry evening I've ever been to.

The actual rap battle videos are quite sweary (one of them has over 4 million views), but you can see a family-friendly version here, where Mark talks about taking rap battles into schools. The thing I loved most about his gig was the way he wove stories about his teaching experiences in between poetry recitations; it was great comedy.


After the reception, my Oliver and the Seawigs and Cakes in Space co-author Philip Reeve and I hosted the annual Book Fanatics' Quiz Night (see the previous post). The next day was Schools Day, and I spent the morning with the kids at Marown Primary School.

I led an Oliver and the Seawigs session with Years 2-4 and we finished by drawing Sea Monkeys and singing the Sea Monkey sea shanty.

These cheeky Sea Monkeys made me laugh:

The youngest children, Reception and Year 1, had already been reading Jampires, so I was able to build on what they already knew. We started out by drawing Jampires (who love jam), but then I had them think of their favourite food, and invent a little critter that might be obsessed with it. We even did a little bit of world building, talking about their creatures' homeland, filled entirely with their favourite food, and we drew trees with the food hanging from them (sausages, chocolate, salmon, etc).

Besides the Jampires, it was fun seeing Pizzapires, Sausagepires, Chocopires...

And then I finished with the oldest kids, Years 5 & 6. I led them in a Comics Jam, which was quite intense.

It's always fun watching them at the end of the session, when their comic is returned to them, and they can see where other kids have taken their story.

This loo door made me laugh, but no, the Marown staff do not have visible horns! Huge thanks to the school's Literacy Coordinator Megan Udy, who organised my visit, and to Nicki McMullin, from festival sponsor Isle of Man Bank, who drove me to my events.

I did solo events in the morning, but I was glad to join up with Philip in the afternoon for a shorter visit Cronk-y-Berry School. (Isn't that a great name?).

In the evening, we had a Serious Literary Event in St Bridget's Chapel on the gorgeous Nunnery Estate, just outside of Douglas. (Here's Philip being all posey in the evening sunlight.)

We were joined in our event by novelist Sara Crowe, author of Bone Jack
, and we talked on the subject of 'Creating a Lifelong Love of Words'. A lot of what I talked about was the importance of visuals in getting kids reading, their love of comics, and the importance of making books to inspire kids to love books. You can get an idea of what I talked about in an earlier blog post I wrote here, about setting up school comics festivals. Actually, we talked about A LOT, but you really had to be there. Come to one of our events sometime!

The next morning was Cakes in Space morning, and I assembled various bits of my costume on the hotel window ledge. Standard illustrator equipment, you see.

And then we went to Douglas' Family Library, where we were met by an eager crowd, and possibly our youngest ever!

We demonstrated the power of SCIENCE with the Nom-O-Tron:

Delighted everyone with the tuneful strains of our Cakes in Space song:

And presented awards for the best Cakes in Space-themed craft projects! Check out THIS HAT:

Utter genius, such a beautiful hat! It was created by the contest winner, a boy named David. Hurrah!

The hat was almost good enough to eat. (Stop that, Reeve!)

Oo, look, David also made a Cakes in Space Poglite! So fabulous!

We didn't get explanations for these drawings, but they looked pretty amazing.

And we also did a bit of drawing ourselves, on the day!

I led the group in drawing Pilbeam the robot, whose voice was so expertly reenacted by Philip.

Check out some of these great Pilbeams!

When we first started doing our Cakes in Space event, Philip and I were worried that drawing Pilbeam would be too complicated. But somehow, the step-by-step approach seems to work with even very young children. You can learn how to draw Pilbeam (as well as Astra and killer cakes) over on my website here.

One of the nice things about the book signing session after the event is getting to see people's drawings up close, and having little chats with everyone.

Big thanks, Family Library team, for a great morning! We were so pleased to see wonderful decorations everywhere, and the competition was a real bonus!

After a quick costume change, our next stop was Laxey Glen Gardens for the Roald Dahl Family Day, where we did an open air Oliver and the Seawigs event. And we got to hang out with fabulously funny writer Mark Lowery! If you haven't read his Socks are Not Enough, go read it now, it had me laughing and dying with embarrassment for its main character.

One of the cool things about the Isle of Man was just HOW many people had read Philip's books. Here's a Murderous Maths fanboy popping out from the trees, and so many people told him how his Mortal Engines books had a huge impact on them. Even Mark Grist said he walked into a lamppost reading the end of A Darkling Plain.

We were VERY lucky for sunny weather for the stage event, and we had to shout quite a lot to be heard, but we had a good audience and the dog on the stage slept peacefully throughout the show. Thanks to everyone who came along!

We were hoping to do a bit of sightseeing, and just before we left, festival Treasurer Pam Cope kindly drove us to Peel, for a look at its magnificent castle. I'd been to the Isle of Man for a wedding 13 years ago, and I'd forgotten an awful lot, but I knew Peel Castle would be worth revisiting. And gosh, it's pretty.

And so many interesting parts to explore! Hey, where has that Reeve gone off to?

Hmm, something's flitting through that bit of ruin there...

Let's zoom in. Ah, 'tis just a little Manx fairie.

Of course, in such a dramatic location, one must create dramatic album cover photos:

And I took a photo of a beautiful, rusty, old boat in Peel Harbour, for Ian McQue, who draws such things so well.

Festival photographer Steve Babb had us pose with the local Viking rope sculpture, and tweeted that we were arguing over our next book title.

Here's my photo of Steve! He was great fun and took so many terrific photos! Thanks, Steve!

Manx Lit Fest was a brilliant festival and I recommend it to any authors or visitors. So much to see and do! Huge thanks to the festival team (having a tiny breather in a Peel cafe): Festival Director John Quirke, Pam Cope, Jane Quirke and Technician Andrew Kniveton.


But that's not the whole team, there were SO many other people involved, driving, running events, baking, you name it. Here's volunteer Rakie Keig, the person who drove me from the airport:

Harri Sansostri with the excellent staff of Bridge Bookshop in Port Erin, who sold books at our events:

And one more photo of John Quirke, just because in the Mortal Engines books, 'Quirke' is a god, and that is undoubtedly why we got invited, ha ha... Thank you so much, John and team for a brilliant festival!

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10. Interview: Anim’est Festival Director Mihai Mitrică on Romania’s Budding Animation Scene

While animation has been made in Romania for many decades and the country has even produced some internationally recognized figures like Ion Popescu-Gopo, the contemporary animation scene hadn't received much exposure until the founding of the Anim'est festival.

0 Comments on Interview: Anim’est Festival Director Mihai Mitrică on Romania’s Budding Animation Scene as of 1/1/1900
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11. scribble: my 24-hour comic

Hello! Here's the comic I made for the 24-Hour Comic Marathon at this weekend's Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal.

The challenge I set myself (besides making a whole book in 24 hours!) was to make a comic book that an adult could read aloud to a child. (Usually comics are rather difficult to read aloud.) So there are bits that might be slightly wordy, but I was doing that to try to make it read better. It was an experiment, so see if you think it works!

Ta-DAH! Thank you for reading! I'll blog more about the event and creating process soon, but big thanks to Scott McCloud, who set the original 24-Hour Comic challenge, and came all the way from the USA to give the festival a boost and pop his head into the room a couple times with his wife, Ivy, to cheer us on. Here we are in the Page 45 room with the six other creators who were working on their own books along with me through the night (from left): Jack Teagle (@jackteagle), Kristyna Baczynski (@kbaczynski), Warwick Johnson Cadwell (@WarwickJC), Scott ((@scottmccloud), awesome coordinator Dan Berry (@thingsbydan), Fumio Obata (@FumioObata), Joe Decie (@joedecie) and me. Dan was amazing and worked with a local Kendal printer, Absolute Digital Print, to roll out 50 copies of each book by that evening. (Wow!) I've sold out of my copies, but perhaps sometime I'll print some more.

Oh, and did you notice that big crowd scene, when Jamie the scribble is on display at the art museum? I got some help with drawing the crowd from the amazing team of Kendal College assistants who stuck with us through the night, in two shifts. A lot of the people were drawn by Janet (here with her sketchbook), who's ace.

And here are Phil Welch and Katie White, who stayed with us through the WHOLE 24 HOURS and created an AMAZING BLOG, tweeting as @24hcm and using the #24hcm hash tag. Also, a little look at my work desk, and a pose on the following Sunday with festival-mascot-creator Felt Mistress and the two top festival coordinators, Julie Tait and Sandra Wood. Thanks so much, everyone!

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12. a peek at the 24-hour comic marathon

So what's it like to make a whole book in 24 hours? Last weekend I took part, with six other artists - Jack Teagle, Kristyna Baczynski, Warwick Johnson Cadwell, Dan Berry, Fumio Obata and Joe Decie - in the 24-Hour Comic Marathon at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal.

I've posted the pages of my comic so you could read them online here. And you can read about the 24-Hour Comic dare on Scott McCloud's website.

I was kind of scared in the days leading up to our 24-Hour Comic Marathon. The longest I've ever worked without going to bed is about 17 hours, and that was miserable. That was when my picture book You Can't Scare a Princess! was due, and I started to go a bit mental from lack of sleep. I did it a few days in a row and went between feeling horrible and headachy to feeling sort of elated, and thinking that everything was terribly funny and posting a very stupid video song on YouTube. I wasn't looking forward to doing that again.

In the week before going to Kendal, I'd been very busy doing thumbnails roughs for the next book with Philip Reeve, so I hadn't had time to do much planning. Not that we participants were expected to plan for the 24-Hour Comic. The original idea was that people would begin the challenge completely unprepared, sometimes even get the story topic when the clock started. But our coordinator, the fabulous Dan Berry, let us think of our story in advance, and write down some ideas. Nearer the date, people started posting thumbnail roughs, and even pencil roughs. Dan tweeted that he'd made a whole rough draft of his book like this:

To be fair, he was running the whole thing and would be helping us if we needed it, so we couldn't begrudge him being prepared. Also, we were getting the comics printed and so he wanted them to be GOOD, not just finished. Kristyna Baczynski has a very detailed, precise style, and was also worried she wouldn't have enough time, and made pencil roughs (tweeting this photo):

I got very nervous that my comic was going to look terrible compared to everyone else's. I don't usually like to compare myself to others, but I didn't want to let everyone down by making the one sloppy, nonsensical book. I did start with a storyline, something I'd considered for a picture book but thought I'd like to try out as a comic. And I did these rough thumbnails, trying to see how it might adapt. But that was all. I could barely read my own doodles.

Here's Warwick Johnson-Cadwell and me looking at Dan's amazing sketchbook. And Dan's colour palette preparations, stuck to the wall of our workspace at the hotel.

In the hours leading up to the 3pm start, I thought, I could either stress out and get started by doing some pencil roughs, or I could walk outdoors and get some fresh air, since I'd be sitting flat on my bum for a very long time. That seemed the zen thing to do. I went on the Woodland Trail behind the hotel. I tweeted photos of my fingers. I pretended I was BRAVE.

I wrote a postcard. My stomach was doing flips.

Some people arrived with a big delivery from Morrison's, who had donated extra food for our venture. The night before, Donya Todd (who was there with 24-Hour comicker Jack Teagle) promised she'd stick around while we were working and punch me if I started to fall asleep.

We'd had a good dinner the night before, and tried not to drink too much of the Fighter Fluid bitter, brewed specially for the festival. (That's Jack with a pint.) Kristyna was the last to arrive (here's a photo of her with Fumio Obata) and then we were ready to start.

It was great working in a room full of other people. If I needed a stretch, I could get up and see what everyone else was doing. It's fascinating seeing other people's working methods. (You can see Kristyna and Dan, hard at work.)

Kendal College loaned us the equipment, and the lightbox (for tracing) was better than the one at my studio. I might have to get me one of these:

Here's Jack at work. There were several of us who used very limited colour palettes, partly to save time: my colour was yellow, Jack's was red, Warwick chose blue and Kristyna chose green.

I hit a bad stumbling block very early on. I thought I'd use my new Letraset pens for colouring, and I'd tested them on a Letraset pad that came with the pens. It seemed to work very well, with no colour bleed. But when I started colouring the comic, the ink started pooling in a horrible way (particularly when I painted faces), and it ruined my first page. Fortunately I'd bought a pad of Fabriano cartridge paper as backup, so I redid the first page and recoloured it. But it cost me time. (You can see the difference in papers.)

Dan had some blue-tack and as we went, several of us started posting our pictures up on the wall above our desk, to give ourselves a sense of our comic was progressing. (PHoto of Warwick and Joe Decie.)

One of the awesome things about the way that Dan and the Lakes fest planned the event is that we all had Kendal College assistants! They arrived in two shifts (here's the first), and they stayed up to do anything we needed, whether it be scanning, getting cups of tea, whatever we needed.

Here are Phil Welch and Katie White, who stayed with us the whole night and blogged the whole thing. And we had a visit from 24-Hour-Comic originator Scott McCloud, who had come all the way from the USA, and his wife Ivy!

The assistants didn't seem to have a lot to do, and they could draw, so I thought I'd set them a task. I had a big crowd scene in my book, and I thought, I can either draw boring bumps for heads, or I could ask THEM to draw lots of people for me! And they did! I drew Jamie the Scribble, the speech bubbles and the basic museum architecture in this double-page spread, and they drew everything else:

Here's how I found them when I popped into the next room to see how they were getting on with it:

One of the students, Janet, was particularly good at drawing and also made this picture of us while we were working:

A few people jokingly protested that I wasn't allowed to get help, but I never have a problem with that; I always think that a book wouldn't exist if I hadn't started the project, so I'll do whatever it takes to get a good book! I wasn't the only one who got help; Donya sat between Jack and me for some of the time and coloured in some of the red bits of his comic. It was nice having her there, and I could half-listen to their conversations.

Here's Jack at his desk:

And Fumio, just beginning to look tired:

I started to get more confident about the whole thing as the pages went up on my wall. But I had one assistant coming in on the hour and telling me how much more time I had, to meet the target, and I didn't have a lot of extra time built in. Every one in awhile I'd look over at Warwick's amazing wall and have to remind myself not to compare our work.

Before we started, Joe and I had discussed the possibility of going upstairs for a few hours' sleep, around 1am or 2am. Joe DID go upstairs for a bit, but found he was so wound up about the comic that he couldn't sleep at all, and he came back down. I got too nervous, it didn't look like I'd have any extra time, and I thought I might be groggy if I had to wake up. So I kept going, all through the night. About 7am, my Comics Dark Night of the Soul hit; my brain was in pain and my hand was hurting from drawing too much. My comic got very graphic - harsh silhouettes - and I had my character weeping in agony.

Just a litte while after I drew that page, Scott and Ivy popped in again to see how we were doing. I felt DREADFUL, but we wanted to take a group photo of them, so I roused myself to look okay for the photo. And something weird happened, I suddenly felt totally fine. It felt like I'd known I was supposed to be tired, so I was acting the part, but I wasn't actually tired at all. I guess it's just getting a second wind, but it took me by surprise. Actually, I think this photo was from the evening before, so maybe Scott popped in three times. Anyway, it helped. (And spot Junko Mizuno and Nick Abadzis in there, too.)

The OTHER thing that helped was that the Lakes festival planners had booked a MASSEUR to come in and take care of us! I've never had that at a festival before! And hardly any of our team had ever had a massage, so it was so funny listening to them fret before they went into her room, and then watching their faces as they came out. (They all loved it.) I had my slot booked with Linda Ashton for 9:50 and I had that time implanted in my brain half the night, looking forward to it. Linda's the best.

In the end, we all finished our comics. And everyone's came out remarkably well. Dan managed to get them all printed that same night, and we had a chocolate medal ceremony at the festival in the Page 45 Room, where we all got presented with big Marathon bars.

Big thanks to Kendal's Absolute Digital Print, who printed up 50 copies each, free of charge. Thanks to the amazing Dan Berry, who made sure everything worked flawlessly and put so much heart into the project, to Kendal College and to Julie Tait, Sandra Wood and the Lakes team who supported it so well.

We were all allowed to sell our comics, with a few kept back for the festival. Some of the creators are going to sell their comics at Thought Bubble in Leeds from 15-16 Nov. I don't have any copies left to sell, but I'll be running the family activity area there with my Jampires co-author David O'Connell. I'm hoping to be able to do something with my story, we'll see.

Did I enjoy the 24-Hour Comic Marathon? Unreservedly YES. I always want to make these sorts of projects and this gave me such a good excuse to do it, knowing it wouldn't stretch out for weeks or months. Someone on the night remarked that it was the amount of work you'd often get from someone doing a whole term of art college. Having other people around, doing the same thing, made the process exciting and kept me from seeing going to bed as a better option. Would I do it again? I don't know, but I'm awfully glad I did it this time.

Read my full comic here.

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13. north cornwall book festival 2014

CAKES IN SPACE landed in North Cornwall! And there was much merrymaking to be had with the Earthlings there, and CAKE.

Photo by Mike Bralowski

Such a fine location for the North Cornwall Book Festival, at Sue Harbour Robertson's house in Endellion, we rejoice to find Earthlings inhabiting such fine dwellings. Also, the abode contained the perfect materials to rebuild a perfect Nom-O-Tron machine, as the original had somehow been left behind on the mothership. (Thanks for your help, Sue!)

Photo by Sam

My co-pilot Philip Reeve and I discovered that our host, Sue, was also not entirely of this world, for we assembled ourselves for her very first SELFIE. With alien expert Moray Laing, editor of the Doctor Who Adventures magazine.

And what fine humans there were to be found after our landing! Unfortunately we did not get a photo of our wonderful co-host and writer Patrick Gale, or writer colleagues Matt Haig and Christopher William Hill. But I got to meet one of my children's book heroes, writer and illustrator Jill Murphy.

Jill's such a natural, convincing storyteller and her detailed pictures are warm and bring you right into the lives of the characters. I think my favourites of her books are Five Minutes' Peace and Peace at Last, both about weary parents.

Thanks so much to Patrick, Sue, the schools in the audience and everyone who made us feel so welcome!

Photo tweeted by @NCornBookFest

Travelling to Cornwall was also a good excuse to stop off at the Reeve Ranch, where Philip, photographer Sarah Reeve and I raced out for a couple quick hikes on Dartmoor.

Here is Philip doing a good Serious Author face. Also, he is branching out in his career to knitwear modelling, which is always a fine thing.

He laid the grave accusation upon me that I was not taking the walks entirely seriously.

One evening, Philip was on a songwriting roll and he and Sarah helped me come up with a couple more book-related songs. So a very useful trip. Thank you, lovely Reeves!

Zoe Toft at Playing by the Book has posted an interview for HAT WEEK(!) with one of the illustrators who most influenced me, Satoshi Kitamura. Go have a read!

And Scottish Book Trust have posted a encouraging response to our discussion about Co-Authorship. You can read it here, and I've added a bunch of links to the end of my blog post on the subject here.

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14. SILK festival 2014, skudeneshavn, norway

Hello from Skudeneshavn in Norway! I've been doing intensive school visits today and Stuart's been traipsing about town, and we're both crashing in our guesthouse lounge having a rest before the official SILK Festival Opening Ceremony this evening.

We're staying in the same town I visited in February, Skudeneshavn, and it's great getting a chance to show Stuart around. (And if you're a burglar in England reading this, we have a big, scary German looking after our flat, so don't get any ideas.) We're staying at the guesthouse on the far right:

So here was my first visit this morning, to Grindhaug Primary School, where I showed the 11- and 12-year-olds how I made the Jampires picture book with David O'Connell (and the original comic book that inspired it). I led the group in drawing their own Jampire, then we talked about our favourite foods and designed creatures that could steal other food - Pizzapires, Chocopires, Spareribpires, etc. Then we used our characters to write stories in a big Comics Jam! Everyone finished with a four-panel comic, but each panel was drawn by a different person, so no one knew how their story would turn out. (When I explained about the word 'jamming' meaning something other than sticky fruit spread, they all knew the Bob Marley song, so that was good.)

And here's the second group, same ages, at Norheim Primary School!

I had a few minutes before all the kids were assembled when I could draw this poster for them:

Big thanks to everyone who looked after me for the day, including John Rullestad (not pictured here), Head of the Department of Culture, Jan Arve Hveding (who popped in to say hello), the culture coordinator (let me check her name!) and Head of Karmøy libraries Hanna Mulelid.

After Hanna drove me back to Skudenshavn, Stuart and I retired to the festival Green Room, where we found Norwegian writer Arne Svingen, who'd joined us at dinner the previous evening. Arne writes spooky books, mostly for older children, but all sorts, and does lots of school visits. He gave me a big list of Norwegian illustrators that I want to look up (I don't really know anything about Norwegian illustrators yet), and hopefully post links here. Here are a few, for starters, if you want to peek at their work:

* Ragnar Aalbu
* Stian Hole

* Øyvind Torseter
* Svein Nyhus
(More later!)

Speaking of spooky, I was a bit nervous of sitting in these two chairs in the Green Room; they looked like they might be alive.

But other than that, he Green Room's awfully cosy. I rewarded myself for the school visits a bit too thoroughly with lovely CAKE.

Okay, here are a few of the Comics Jams, in case anyone from the school is checking to see if their work got onto my blog! (And if you look here on my website, you can read a comic I made recently and find more comics here.)

A lot of the kids had never made any comics, so I was impressed with how well they did. Also, notice that they are in English. *gape* I hate to say this, but Norwegian kids write almost as well in English as a lot of the English children I've worked with.

And I'll include a few more Skudeneshavn photos, just to help me remember this place; it's awfully pretty.

Last night we had a music concert in a little house that wasn't a pub, exactly, but had the same nice feel to it.

And when we went for dinner at Smiå restaurant, the downstairs was packed with guys from this ship:

Another shot of our lovely guest house:

More news soon!

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15. sniffing the print at ELCAF 2014

For the past couple years I've been trying to get over to the East London Comics & Arts Festival, organised by young and beautiful Nobrow Press, and always had some reason I couldn't go. But this year I headed up to Hoxton station and walked along Hackey Road to see what all the fuss was about.

I hadn't been up to Hackney Road for ages, and there was lots on which to feast my eyeballs.

Check out this cloud-blue house, just past Hackney City Farm. And then I finally reached the ramshackle little factory area where the fair was happening, and at 10:15am, there was already a queue to get in. I'm very glad I was early, as I saw complaints on Twitter from people who arrived after 1pm or so, when the festival was running a one-in-one-out policy. Steve May said he couldn't get in at all, although Steve Antony said he arrived half an hour before closing and managed to get in and do a fast sweep of the place. Whatever the case, the venue started out comfortably full, but by lunchtime was HEAVING.

I made a beeline for the table of one of my all-time favourite self-publishing heroes, Philippa Rice. And she had a new comic out! I bought one for me, and my sister. You can read my interview of Philippa about We're Out here. Philippa has such a great playful way of making comics, both with drawing and with collage, and I love her gentle humour and beautiful colour palettes. Her work's almost the exact opposite aesthetic to the Comics Unmasked exhibition I visited earlier at the British Library, and I think hers is just as subversive, in its own way. A couple weeks ago, I read an interesting Spiked article, surmising that some people

'...think that unhappy and twisted stuff is correspondingly profound, while comedy is trivial and facile. The truth is often the other way round, where horror and gore are really just sentimentality, prurient and moralistic at the same time, while comedy allows marvellous slippages of meaning that are much more intelligent.'

EXACTLY. And the humourous alternative doesn't have to be The Beano, either. (People always seem to mention The Beano, and there's so much more out there.) Philippa's comics are one of my first ports of call.

And one of my other ports is Isabel Greenberg's table! I love her Encyclopedia of Early Earth so much; it completely taps into the woodcut-printmaking, limited colour palette aesthetic I appreciate, and I like the way she sets up a story as some epic legend and then humanises it with little anachronistic bits of dialogue and humour.

I haven't been keeping very good tabs on people on the Internet, and I thought her latest mini, Rites, Customs and Histories of the Great Empire of Migdal Bavel was a comic, but it's more of a historical guide with text and pictures. It looks beautiful all the same, and I snapped one up. And then my eye was caught by the colourful Magic Capes display next to hers, and I ended up buying a copy of this gorgeous double-sided accordian print, The Firebird, by Lesley Barnes. I'd never heard of Lesley, but check out her website, she's amazing. She also picks up on a lot of folkloric imagery. Lesley was exhibiting with Tereza Rowe, who has a lovely young-readers comic out with Candlewick Press, Hearts.

Check out one side of The Firebird, so lovely! I really need a fireplace mantle to display this properly.

Oh man, I'm totally going to get lost in her website. Goodbye, world. She's @lesleybarnes on Twitter.

I Didn't See it Coming from Lesley Barnes on Vimeo.

And of course Felt Mistress and Jontofski! (Or Louise Evans and Jonathan Edwards, if you prefer.) I'm endlessly inspired by the different ways Jonathan pushes himself with experiments in drawing and painting, and I love the way he and Louise collaborate on amazing costumed monsters, tapping into her expert tailoring skills. (You can see my blog post from their Creature Couture launch earlier on my blog.) Here's a peek into their new booklet, The Hiber-Nation, and if I ever cosplay someone else's character at a comics convention, it's going to be this one, Myfi Snark. Check out her amazing blue-and-yellow Welsh tweed ensemble!

My studio mate Gary Northfield was gutted he couldn't come along, because he's a huge fan of French comics artist Anouk Ricard, and her Anna & Frogo books. So I got a text begging me to pick up a signed copy of her new adult book, Benson's Cuckoos (which I did). Here's her Drawn & Quarterly website (in English), and her own blog (in French).

Anouk comes across as quite shy, but the interviewer and translator did a wonderful job. (I'm sorry, I didn't catch their names. Can anyone help me here?) Anouk used to draw with pencils and pens, but she's recently gone to working purely digitally, with a Cintiq screen. She much prefers it to the Wacom pad, where she could never quite get the hang of not seeing her hand drawing. And she has much more fun drawing animals in human situations than people; she said she finds people boring. 'You can draw animals in so many different shapes, and use such different colours.' Right now she's adapting a Guy de Maupassant story Une vie, because she wanted to try drawing costumes from an earlier era, but still using animal characters.

It was great to see Greek creator of picture books, comics, screen prints, graphics and lots more besides, Katherina Manolessou. She's one of the first people I ever discovered in small press books, perhaps ten years ago, at the London Artists Book Fair. You can read my blog about her Zoom Zoom Zoom launch here.

And Viviane Schwarz! I got a copy of her Rabbit Stew in its first printing, when we shared a room for Thought Bubble festival in Leeds. But I want more for prezzies; it's a brilliant, twisted story about a family trying to relate to and encourage their daughter while being a bit freaked out by her. Here she is with my fab friend co-author David O'Connell. (Our picture book Jampires launches this September.)

I was so glad to see that ELCAF had planned family activities. (A lot of comics festivals have failed in this area, although they're gradually improving. David O'Connell and I are going to be a big part of the family activity area this year at Thought Bubble.) I loved the way Alexis Deacon set out this mural workshop: he's already made sea-life shapes on a the paper in one colour, and kids went in and decorated them. In the other activity area, families sat around two big tables full of toy parts, which they could assemble into their own weird and wonderful new toys, a bit like that neighbour kid in Toy Story 2. The kids were really getting into it.

Fab to see some beautiful experimental comics by Andy Poyiadgi, and a wearable book jacket by Otto Graphic.

I've had a big poster hanging on my studio wall by Swedish artist Matthias Adolfsson, so it was great to see him drawing at ELCAF. To say Matthias's work is incredibly detailed is an understatement; go check out his website. And here's The Book Sniffer blogger Emma O'Donovan with her Matthias loot, and David O'C smashed in between us, heh heh. (That's Matthias in the stripey shirt.)

Lovely comics and dance moves from Kristyna Baczynski and Dan Berry! If you haven't heard of Dan's Make It Then Tell Everybody podcasts, go check them out, they make for great listening. Dan's also organising the 24 Hour Comics Marathon I'm taking part in this October for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal. Dan said that all seven of us who are doing the 24 Hours were their in the room, but I didn't manage to spot Fumio Obata... boo!

No comics fair is complete without these guys: Joe Decie, Adam Cadwell, Warwick Johnnson Cadwell.

I'm a huge fan of Joe's work. Here's my review of The Listening Agent:

I love this book. Joe Decie has such a wonderful way of noticing small things about daily life, creatiing a witty commentary about them and then taking the situations one step further into the surreal. I keep having to buy new copies of this book because I keep giving it away to friends. When people tell me they don't read comics, understand comics, or think they're all about superheroes in tights, I urge them to read this; the way it deals with the ordinary makes the little stories in it completely extraordinary. I'd also recommend Decie's earlier book, 'The Accidental Salad'. In both, you get to see him being a bemused dad, dealing with his own foibles and gently pushing back against things in society that irk him. Decie uses beautiful ink linework and the subtle ink wash tones give the book a wonderfully human feel.

Warwick keeps some of my very favourite sketchbooks, I follow him on Twitter, Instagram, around comics fairs, etc. Ha ha, the first time I met him, I was running a table at a Birmingham comics fair and was so excited that I shut down my table for an hour and took him out for coffee. (It was my first con and I learned later that you're not really supposed to do that.) I bought another copy of Dangeritis, his collaborative comic with Robert Ball, which is full-on fights, car chase scenes, stupid moustached silliness, and drawn with jaw-dropping skill. (I nicked Adam's Instagram of Robert since I forgot to take a photo on the day.)

And not to forget Adam Cadwell, who is a brilliant artist in his own right and has started up Great Beast Comics with his friend Marc Ellerby; they're publishing some really exciting stuff. 'Like what?', you might ask. Well, besides Dangeritis, Great Beast have just come out with Rachael Smith's House Party, which raised crazy-big levels of money with Kickstarter crowdfunding. Congrats, people! Here's Rachael, with Dan Cox (Hitsville UK with Great Beast) on the left and John Cei Douglas (Show me the Map to Your Heart

with Great Beast) on the right.

And some of my favourite people were manning the Blank Slate table: Darryl Cunningham, Martin Steenton (his last day at Blank Slate!), Bridget Hannigan and Woodrow Phoenix.

Woodrow has his giant book on display at the British Library and you can view all the pages with him on June 17 at 6pm, July 22 at 6pm and August 12 at 3pm.

SHE LIVES - a fast preview of a very big book by Woodrow Phoenix from superadaptoid on Vimeo.

Oo, it's John Aggs! John's partner Nana Li cut off his long, thick hair, and I'm still doing big double-takes every time I see him. He has a new book out, full of guns and furries, and it really isn't my thing, but gosh, can the guy draw.

Oh, and who's that guy to the left of John? It's Mark Stafford, and check out the notebook sketches he was making on the day. And seated with him, two more super-talented dudes: Ed Hillyer/Ilya and Rob Davis. (In my children's book world, you probably know Rob for his Horrible Histories work, but don't miss his AMAZING Don Quixote books, and I'm super-excited about his upcoming The Motherless Oven.

Gareth Brookes (sans beard) and Hannah Berry (also without beard). The ELCAF percentage of beards in the crowd was unusually high.

I promised I wouldn't post the photo of Andy Poyiadgi when I accidentally made him knock over his neighbour's table display.

And great to see Barnaby Richards with Tor Freeman and Alice Lickens. Barnaby has a book coming out with Blank Slate, I think this autumn, which is exciting.

I wasn't able to stay all day, so I missed talks by Seth and Chris Ware. But I'd seen Chris give a Comica Festival talk before, and I don't know either of them, so I was more gutted to miss the post-festival drinks with people. Ah, well. All in all, a brilliant festival, and beautifully curated for a certain aesthetic which I really admire. I'd love to see the festival get a larger venue, so no one would have to be turned away. But I recommend if you go next year, be sure to get there early. And you can check out Nobrow's lovely shop on Great Eastern Street in East London, a great place for a good browse.

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16. Being Sick and Sketching in the Park (Luckily, not Simultaneously)

So far this weekend, John and I have mostly been in bed. No, I know what you are thinking... nothing saucy (far from it). On Thursday night, during the private view of The Great Sheffield Art Show, I suddenly had to rush to the loo to be violently sick. Not, I hasten to add, an effect of the artwork, but of a very nasty tummy virus. I had my head in the loo once an hour, all night long. Lovely. John wasn't actually sick, but felt awful (at least that's what he said... or was he malingering?). Anyway, we both slept all of Friday and still felt decidedly delicate yesterday. 

Thank goodness it was this weekend though, and I was fit and well last weekend, as that was the weekend of my Broomhill Festival eventFor the last three years, the festival have asked me to run a SketchCrawl in the Botanical Gardens. 

Often the people who come are less experienced sketchers than at the Urban Sketchers Yorkshire SketchCrawls I run each month and my role is more to offer help and inspiration than to actually sketch. In previous years, we have had a fairly modest turn-out though, so I have done quite a bit of drawing too. This year, we had a lovely big group, so I only grabbed 10 minutes at the end to do the quickie above.

It was glorious weather and a really lovely group of people, so we all had a good time. They worked really hard too and several of them have now signed up for my regular SketchCrawls, because they want to try it again - result!

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17. eep!!! manchester children's book festival 2014

Do you have those occasional moments, when you're looking in the mirror and you realise you have blue hair and sparkly gloves and look like Dame Edna, that you think, how did I ever start doing this? If you'd told me I'd be doing things like this, even ten years ago, I never would have believed you.

The number one thing that struck me about the Manchester Children's Book Festival was... THE SEA MONKEYS. They were everywhere!!! Here are two that my co-author Philip Reeve and I drew for Simply Books indie bookshop just outside of Manchester, in Bramhall.

Kaye Tew and James Draper who run the festival asked us early on if it would be okay to use the Sea Monkeys from Oliver and the Seawigs for their mascot and we were thrilled to see them popping up all over the Internet before we even arrived!

The chief instigator of the Manchester Sea Monkey Invasion was Ann Lam, who's here (bottom left) with her two kids (her daughter helped her out with quite a bit of the knitting). She used the knitting and stitching pattern that my studio mate Deadly Knitshade (aka Lauren O'Farrell) designed and can be downloaded free from my website.

Check out all those awesome Seawigs!!! Loads of people made them for the Grand Seawig Parade. Here's Manchester librarian Debra Conroy looking incredible... and more Sea Monkeys!

Having the parade indoors was a great idea, as the rain couldn't put off anyone or ruin their fabulous headgear.

And I got to feel like Grace Kelly, or Evita, or the Queen, doing the balcony waving thing, ha ha.

Philip and I also visited Manchester Children's Hospital, which runs its own on-location school, and the staff had absolutely thrown themselves into the spirit of things. They said it was amazing, how many different things they could make out of a paper sick bowl!

We visited as guests of ReadWell, a wonderful charity that provide books to children in hospital. They go around with their rolling shelves (shown here) so kids can choose what they want to read. And the books are new, so that there won't be problems with infection for the kids in the isolation wards.

We led an event and a Seawigs Parade in the big lobby, and then went around visiting kids in the wards, and we could see how they'd light up when it was their chance to pick out a book. The school had enjoyed bringing Oliver and the Seawigs into the curriculum and it had inspired a lot of craft projects besides the Seawigs, including this diorama of Cliff the Rambling Isle.

It was fun seeing kids of all different ages - and their parents - getting involved and having fun, despite having some major physical setbacks. You can follow ReadWell on twitter: @ReadWellUK.

Great Seawig by Tracey Gallier! She's Assistant Head Teacher at the Manchester Children's Hospital School.

So much creativity! You can read more about our visit to the hospital over on the festival blog.

Janet and Maisie Chamberlain, both sporting fine Seawigs:

And little Joseph, who had our big flip chart Sea Monkey named after him and somehow managed to get back and make quite an elaborate lion thank you card for us before we visited him in his room. The glue was still wet! This guy was awesome, and had loads of good questions and comments for us. He had a full Seawig of decorations on his roving medical stand, which was named Mr Robot-Man.

The Sea Monkeys followed us wherever we went. When my husband Stuart and I checked into our hotel, there was one right there at reception!

And when we arrived in our room, there was a magazine with a big picture, which made me feel a bit giddy. (Thank you, Lancashire Magazine! Click on the pic for a larger image.)

When I saw that, I realised just how much costume the organisers were expecting, and they weren't going to get the six-foot Seawig, as I'd have to have arrived by forklift. And I'd forgotten my fancy gloves. So Stuart and I paid a visit to Afflecks Palace and stocked up.

Look, another great Seawig! This one's by the excellent Rachel Bruce.

A huge thanks to the team for making the Grand Seawigs Parade day so much fun! And thank you to everyone who waited patiently for Philip and me to sign and draw in your books; we hope you like them.

The night after our hospital visit and before our Seawigs Parade, we went to the opening launch event, where local drummers and dancers did some great performances for us.

The festival was also raffling off some of the Sea Monkeys, which disturbed me greatly, as I wanted to take them ALL HOME WITH ME.

Check out Ann Lam's notebook; she made some lovely sketches planning out different themed Sea Monkeys to go with different events.

And each Sea Monkey had its own profile!

Rachel Bruce and I joked that it was really an early version of a dating website, and that Zom doesn't care about looks, only brains.

Poet Laureate (and original instigator of the festival) Carol Ann Duffy officially opened the festival by reading one of her poems. This is the third year the festival has run, and organiser James Draper said they might go from doing it every two years to doing it every year, which is exciting and will take LOTS OF WORK. We passed by her office when I was looking for a mirror to fix my wig, and she works with James, teaching at Manchester Writing School, part of Manchester Metropolitan University.

I showed you the Sea Monkey picture that Philip and I drew for Simply Books; here we are outside the lovely shop, with owners Andrew and Sue Steel. They've been running it for ten years, and had no experience in running a bookshop. But Andrew was tired of his job, they brainstormed what they really wanted to do, and took the risk to do it. They really focus on being part of the community, and we saw lots of people come in for a chat and a cup of tea or a piece of cake in their little cafe, as well as buying books.

They had illustrator art everywhere. Here's a stairway painted for them by Emily Gravett as their reward for a competition:

And pictures on their wall by loads of illustrators we knew! See if you can identify any!

Sue took us to a school in Cheadle, Lady Barn House School, and we talked about Oliver and the Seawigs with them and led them in drawing Sea Monkeys. One quick teacher even managed to have a whole poster finished, made up of some of their drawings, before we left!

Thanks so much for hosting us, Lady Barn House! (And for the packed lunch you sent along with us!)

The festival's running for quite a long time - 26 June - 6 July - so we only overlapped with a few of the other guest speakers. But we were very glad to have the chance to spend time with writer Cerrie Burnell, author of a picture book called Snowflakes. Do you know the Evil Emperor Penguin comic strip in The Phoenix Comic? It's written and drawn by Laura Ellen Anderson, who also illustrated Snowflakes! We got to have dinner and breakfast with Cerrie and talked about books, including how we both felt it was important to show mixed-race families in picture books. (Her Snowflakes and my There's a Shark in the Bath both include parents from different races, but it's just an incidental detail in both, not part of the story.)

Huge thanks to everyone who made the festival possible, to wonderful Manchester-based publicist Liz Scott, who liased for us and made everything run smoothly, and to Kaye and James, who have been working their tails off for this. They're a great double act! You can follow the festival on Twitter at @MCBF2014 and be sure to keep an eye out for daily updates on their blog.

The festival's only just begun, and the Sea Monkeys are itching to try out all sorts of new shenanigans. Here's James, keeping a very close eye on them.

Goodbye, Manchester! Huge apologies to people I didn't manage to catch up with while I was there - the whole thing was a bit of a whirlwind - and I hope to see you again soon.

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18. london YA lit con 2014

Hatted up, suited and booted: just another day heading into the office...

Ha ha! It's so much fun when other people dress up, not just me. Yesterday I went to YA Lit Con (that's Young Adult Literature Convention, or #YALC), held as part of the London Film and Comic Con at Earl's Court in London. On the pavement outside, this lady in her fine threads won my heart... until she shot an arrow straight through it. Aiee!

Seriously, where else do you get this many unaccompanied kids and teenagers together in one place - many with MASSIVE WEAPONS - and have such a well-behaved, literate group of people? These people LOVE stories, and they often don't just want to read them, but become actual characters in these new myths and legends. I love this so much. Here's Martin Chilton's coverage of YALC in The Telegraph:

When I got to the Green Room, I went a little crazy with taking selfies with lots of people there. Steve Cole was super-chuffed to get his photo taken with one of the Doctor Who characters, Paul McGann. (Steve had written BBC books starring Paul's Doctor from '97-'99.) To be honest, I had a bit of a crush on him in the film Withnail and I; there's even two pages in Morris the Mankiest Monster based on screen shots I took of that film.

Hey look, Mark Gatiss! Editor of Oliver and the Seawigs and Cakes in Space Clare Whitston REALLY wanted a photo with him. Wahey! I think he does a great job playing Sherlock Holmes's brother Mycroft in the BBC's Sherlock. Ooh, and writer Catherine Johnson got in for a shot!

Oo, and Clare quite fancied a shot with Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anthony Head. And writer Bryony Pearce!

Then I got SOUNDLY TOLD OFF by one of the red-t-shirted YALC staff, saying that the Green Room is a place of refuge from fans and I was NOT to be taking any more photos. Which was actually pretty gutsy, as she was quite young, and it's not easy to tell people off like that. Respect.

But I did snap a few more very quiet Green Room photos of friendly faces, including YA Lit Con founder and Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman, fellow comics panelist Emma Vieceli, writer Catherine Johnson and writer Charlie Higson.

Malorie's been such a great laureate; this YA Lit Con was her idea, to get books and their authors right in there where so many kids gather for comics, film and dressing up. Then Katherine Woodfine and Booktrust set the gears in motion and put in a LOT of hard work to make it happen. You can read more about it in this piece Malorie wrote for The Guardian:

YALC really was two worlds colliding for me: usually I have my book world friends and my comics friend, and rarely do the two meet. If you look at book festival line-ups, you'd think UK children's book authors are quite evenly divided male-female, but if you go to children's book social events, I usually see a lot more women. Whereas, until recently, I'd go to comics gatherings and sometimes be the only woman in the room. This is all changing and it's great to see the different crowds mixing and merging. The place it really started for me was with the DFC weekly magazine, which is now The Phoenix Comic, and it brought out of the comics woodwork people who can write for children (and many who because solid friends).

I wouldn't label myself as a 'YA writer', but people of all ages have given me great feedback on my Vern and Lettuce comic, and I hate to think Oliver and the Seawigs wouldn't appeal to teens and adults. But as YA isn't specifically 'my thing' (What even is YA?), I chaired a panel, rather than spoke on it. Here's our Going Graphic event with Marcus Sedgwick, Emma Vieceli and Ian Edginton, where we discussed adapting comics from pre-existing text-only books. I think the event went well, despite it being very noisy in the big hall; we had a great turnout and several people live-tweeted it. At dinner that evening, Emma wanted to clarify that what she had said about writing and drawing; she meant that it's easier to get work if you can produce images, not just a script, but that that actual drawing part is WAY harder and more time-consuming than the writing. But I thought it was quite funny when she talked about how she'll sometimes have internal arguments between herself as the writer and as the artist; one side of her can get quite annoyed with the other. You can follow the three of them on Twitter: @marcussedgwick, @Emmavieceli, @IanEdginton. Ian's adapting Malorie Blackman's Noughts & Crosses, with artwork by the amazing John Aggs, and I'm with loads of people who are looking forward to that.

Emma and I did our signings next to each other and it was fun seeing some great costumes parade by. Emma has some MEGA fans for her Vampire Academy series, and she was able to provide a printed prologue for her ongoing BREAKS web comic.

One of the coolest things that happened all day was something I don't usually get to see at book festivals; three black boys, aged somewhere between 10 an 13, hung around for awhile watching me draw and sign in books. Two of them spent time looking through the books and bought themselves copies, and one of them asked me how I went about getting published. I was able to introduce him right there to my Oxford University Press editor, Clare Whitston, and he grilled Clare, quite professionally, about what he needed to do. He's written about aliens, and I suspect this kid could go places. Special kudos to their librarian, whom they said told them about the event, and may have even brought them and let them go off on their own to explore.

Sadly, I didn't get photos of them (and wouldn't have had adult permission to post them), but I DID get a great photo of writer Andy Robb's kid. His whole family came by for copies of Oliver and the Seawigs, and I tweeted this photo. Then Andy tweeted back:

Hooray! This is what YA Lit Con's all about, I really hope loads of kids went away inspired from having seen book creators are real-life people, and realised that they could also write/draw/film/animate their own stories. Ah, here's Andy and gang... with a reviewer who's name I can't remember(?), writer Sally Nicholls, and blogger/writer Laura Heath (aka Sister Spooky, in the hat).

I went to see Natasha Ngan on her panel about blogging, but I got there a bit late and couldn't get close enough to hear anything. I was quite curious to hear about Natasha's fashion blog, Girl in the Lens, from which she earns more of an income than from her books. She works with her partner, Callum McBeth to come up with high-quality photo shoots, and I think the lovely visuals, along with her specific taste, are a big part of the secret to their success. Natasha's publishers had sent along 100 early editions of her new book The Memory Keepers, and they were snatched up so quickly that I didn't even manage to get one.

I don't watch Game of Thrones, but it had a BIG presence at the wider London Film & Comic Con. And of course everyone wanted to sit in the throne, including Mitch Benn, (whom I met for the first time in the Green Room). We nipped over with Emma to the second hall to see the comics area, and Mitch had fun ogling the two Batmobiles. (Thrones photo lifted off Mitch's Twitter feed.)

Here's a trailer for Mitch's book Terra. It looks like it has some links to my upcoming Cakes in Space book with Philip Reeve (both about girls have wacky space adventures), so perhaps I'll see him again at a future space-related event or something.

Lovely book world people! I think they were amused at how normal I looked there in full costume. Photo by Karen Ball of (eek, help me with the name!), me, Sally Nicholls and Jo Cotterill (who's very active on the Girls Heart Books blog).

In fact, there were a LOT of girls there who heart books.

My favourite costumes are always the home-made, self-designed ones. Some of them were well suited to the hot, HOT hall, but... POOR CHEWIE! I really felt for whoever was in there; I think the heat kept the St John's Amubulance service fairly busy.

At the end, all the YALC writers, illustrators and publishers gathered for a party hosted by Booktrust. Here's Claire Shanahan passing out YALC-themed mini cupcakes, baked by Bluebell Kitchen. And a group photo, where Patrick Ness and the rest of us tall folk are hiding at the back.

YALC's still running today, and I'm sure lots of people will reflect on what a great weekend it's been. Huge congratulations to Malorie Blackman, Katherine Woodfine, the whole team at Booktrust, London Film & Comic Con for bringing in such an excellent partner convention, and to my fellow comics panelists. Thanks for making it a great day!

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19. Venice Film Festival Selects ‘Boxtrolls’ And Two Animated Shorts

The Venice Film Festival, which is the world's oldest film festival, announced the line-up today for their 71st edition. The festival is known for not giving much consideration to animated cinema, but they always throw in a few animated films.

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20. World Premieres of ‘Big Hero 6′ and ‘Parasyte’ Set for Tokyo International Film Festival

The Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) is putting a special emphasis on animation this year, and has announced that Disney's "Big Hero 6" will be the opening night film of their 27th edition.

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21. comics jamming at london world con

Last Friday I went to the huge international Science Fiction convention that is World Con, this year hosted right in my hometown! (And somewhat confusingly, also called < ahref="http://www.loncon3.org/">LonCon3</a>.) And I saw some familiar faces right away! Spot the family who were in my Nine Worlds convention blog post from the previous weekend... (The lady in the excellent Vivien of Holloway dress is Adela Terrell.)

And since I was going to lead a Comics Jam session, I wore my best Jampires dress! And brought along my beautiful new Jampire friend, knitted as a surprise by Ann Lam. Poor little Jampire; World Con was a BIG PLACE and he couldn't find jam anywhere, just post-apocalyptic landscape.

First photo tweeted by @ExLibrisNora

Meanwhile, I was schmoozing it up in the Green Room with writer Emma Newman in her amazing red frock coat. Wait, check it out, the Green Room at the Excel Centre was in this crazy pod on stilts. Funnily enough, I also sat right by George RR Martin in there, but since I don't watch or read Game of Thrones;, the experience was a bit wasted on me and I chatted with fab Hannah Berry instead. Cons are like that for me, I don't know any of the people I'm supposed to know, because I never get a chance to WATCH TELLY.

So for the Comics Jam session, I brought along a range of indie/self-published comics, a mix of work by adults and kids, to show to the group. And I talked about how writing and drawing are one thing, but making their own books is even better, because they can learn how a whole book is put together, practice the form, and play around a bit with marketing it, designing covers, etc.

Here we are, in the midst of the Comics Jam, everyone working on panel number three at the same time.

And a couple of the comics we came up with, each panel drawn by a different person:

One of the dads in particular was very interested in helping his son find out more about making comics, and I was hugely pleased to be able to recommend Neill Cameron's brand-new book, How to Make Awesome Comics. In the past, I've recommended Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, but I find Scott's book has a bit too much advanced technical theory for younger kids, say, under 10 or 12. Neill's book is a wonderful gap-filler and I know I will be recommending it often. (You can buy it here from The Phoenix Comic online shop, among lots of other great kid-appropriate comics.)

Oh, and as a side-note, Scott McCloud will be a special guest this October at the Lakes Internation Comic Art Festival in Kendal, which I'll be attending. Neill does lots of workshops at the Story Museum in Oxford and elsewhere, so keep an eye on his website events page.

If anyone from the Comics Jam is looking for guidance specifically on running more Comics Jams, I've created a guide with my Jampires picture book co-author David O'Connell on our Jampires.com website.

Click here to read more

I also spoke on another panel on art, and then went to see Audrey Niffenegger give the English PEN H.G. Wells talk. I sat next to Sophie Lyons, who'd studied on Audrey's novel writing course in Chicago. Audrey talked about Wells' short story The Door in the Wall, which I managed to find and read online late that night. It's like a dark inversion of one of my childhood favourites, The Secret Garden, about a man who once finds a wonderous door to a garden and then spends the rest of his life yearning for that garden; he's unable to find the door, except at the most inopportune times, when he feels he can't take time to walk through it. Good stuff.

And here are some of the LonCon team! There's Maura McHugh, Erin Horáková, James Bacon and Esther MacCalum-Stewart, and they all looked after me very well. Thanks so much!

I knew Maura from trips to Ireland, where she had hosted me when I spoke to the Dublin chapter of Laydeez Do Comics. Maura does loads of things, but you might know her for the famous list she made of currently practicing female comic artists in the UK and Ireland... Ah, and I see she's widened it to Wome in Comics in Europe! You can follow her on Twitter as @splinister.

I made a quick foray into the Dealers Hall and saw the art exhbition, and was particularly pleased to see my ol' studio mate Ellen Lindner's books on display at the Soaring Penguin table, manned by John Anderson and Nora Goldberg.

So my experience doesn't even begin to encompass the vast scale of the con, and it ran for five days. But I was glad to have a little window into it, for the day I was there. Thanks, Maura and James, for inviting me to be a part of it!

I'll leave you with a few more of the Comics Jams.

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22. Drawing the Summer - Festival Fun!

Sheffield Museums have had funding for an exciting new festival this year, called Drawing the Summer. It's all about getting people to draw: everyone and anyone, especially encouraging those who don't normally do it, to have a go.

It's such a great idea - there are so many people out there who secretly want to draw, but who lack the confidence, or just the time in their busy lives, to get out some paper and 
just try.

As well as lots of practical hands-on events, there are also some great exhibitions on, to tie in with the festival: the Recording Britain Now show in the Millennium Gallery is wonderful - really exciting and varied new work by artists shortlisted for the 2014 Ruskin prize. There is also an excellent series of lithographs from 1916 by Joseph Pennell at The Graves. They bowled me over!

© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

Anyway, one of many activities taking place for the festival involved Yours Truly on Monday. Museums Sheffield commissioned me to host an urban sketching session in the centre of Sheffield. 

© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

Our Drawing the Summer base-camp was a big table set up with drawing boards and stools, pencils, A3 paper and a big box of coloured pencils. We strung a washing-line up too, so we could peg up drawings. We had two lovely big banners, but it was so windy, we couldn't use them. Hence all the multiple pegs above!

© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

We grabbed any passers-by, to ask if they fancied stopping and doing a sketch. There was plenty to draw: as well as all the extremely varied architecture, Tudor Square has a couple of table-tennis tables set up for the summer months so, to get the ball rolling, I had a go at sketching some of the different people who stopped for a while, to play:

We clocked 80 people during the 2.5 hours we were set up, but my favourite was this man, who said he had never drawn before, but who sat for about an hour, very carefully drawing a complex view of the buildings, which turned out really well. I think he was astonished at what he'd achieved.

© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

Many people took their work home, some gave it to us to peg up on the line. Some people asked for help and advice, which was where I came in, but mostly they just got stuck in. I obviously had my sketch gear too, so when I wasn't needed, I drew alongside them, hoping to attract attention and perhaps to inspire. This was one view from our table: 

The older kids were lovely to watch: we had various families with children, often around 8 - 11 years old.  In an age of short attention-spans, it was interesting to see how well the act of drawing focussed them. They sat, totally absorbed, for around an hour at a time and created drawings which were strong and confident.

© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

One very interesting thing I noticed: the Crucible and The Old Monk pub in Tudor square have prominent lettering. Adults always started by drawing the shapes of the buildings and then added in the typography afterwards, so invariably ran out of space for the letters. The children all started by drawing the lettering, then created the building shapes around the words, so that everything fitted. A curious difference.

© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

There are still lots of events to go, between now and September 10th, in fact there is another very similar event tomorrow (Sunday 24th) at Weston Park, so you too could have a go. Whether you are an experienced sketcher or a complete beginner, it'll be fun. And if you really don't want to draw yourself, there are still some excellent talks and demonstrations you will enjoy. Check out the Events Guide and look for the yellow pencil icon.

© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

In the meantime, if you want to see more photos from my Tudor Square event on Monday, take a look here.

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23. Scottish Space Adventure: Edinburgh Book Festival 2014

This year Edinburgh Book Festival was OUT OF THIS WORLD!

My literary co-pilot Philip Reeve and I had been putting together a Cakes in Space stage show and this was our first full-on performance. (Since Reeve lives on Dartmoor and I'm in London, we only had one other chance to practice, at Nine Worlds a couple weeks before Edinburgh.) And just as we were leaving for Scotland, this fabulous animated Cakes in Space trailer popped up, made by Ed Beck & David Mead from MB Films:

Our book features a spaceship food machine called the NOM-O-TRON, so we brought along a smaller, portable version:

And I showed everyone how to draw Pilbeam the robot and a killer cake! Here's one of the drawings, tweeted in by @Lorna_May_D:

I still can't quite get over seeing Reeve in streaky blue hair and lipstick.

And we even got our portraits shot by festival photographer Chris Close. We were the only authors he took into his special anti-gravity booth. Thanks, Chris!

When Stuart and I first arrived at the book festival, I raced around looking at all the other photos... and spotted some friendly faces! Here's Philip Ardagh (who works with Axel Sheffler on his The Grunts books; Axel draws Julia Donaldson's Gruffalo - that's the link to the little chappie on his shoulder - and Babette Cole, with characters from her new James Rabbit and the Giggleberries book.

And while I was there, Babette drew me a birthday picture! Thank you, Babette! :D She made sure I paid special attention to the space pants.

I did quite a lot of costume changes, and Stuart was wonderful about helping me with them, even if he thought I was slightly nuts.

On the Thursday, I had a full day of Outreach Events in Fife. The festival organises these so schools and libraries outside of central Edinburgh can still take part in the festival. Here I am in the festival Yurt, very early in the morning, practicing my There's a Shark in the Bath song. I first sang it at the Hay Festival and I was super-nervous, but I'm a bit more confident about it now.

I took those sharks to Kirkcaldy West Primary School. They were great fun, that lot! And we even got our pictures in the local paper. (Thanks for tweeting that, Damon Herd!)

My assistants and I got to have lunch at the beautiful new Kirkcaldy Galleries:

The Schools Outreach is very strict about not taking photos in the schools, so I only got one. But it's of the excellent team who took me around on the day: Outreach coordinators Sarah Bingham, Grainne Crawford and Rona Neilson and a tag-along Jampire. Thanks so much, team!

One of the challenges of Edinburgh Book Fest is trying to do a few other things outside the book festival. But this time Stuart and I made a point of going to see our friend Emma Vieceli acting at The Fringe festival, in a play called Parade. She did a great job! Emma now makes comics, but she started out as a children's telly presenter and she's recorded music, and it's fun seeing her go back to her roots.

Ah, here's Emma (second from right)! Together with comics people Hannah Berry, Pat Mills and their partners:

On the way to Emma's play, Stuart spotted my Summer Reading Challenge banner in the front window of the new Edinburgh Central Children's Library, together with two of Philip Reeve's three GOBLINS books. Cool!

Another fun thing about Edinburgh is going out for publisher dinners and meet other authors who are published by the same team. Here's Philip, our excellent Oxford University Press publicist Keo Baxendine (who did a lot of our planning) and another of their writers, Wendy Meddour, whose 12-year-old daughter illustrates their Wendy Quill books. (Or maybe her daughter's older now, but still, pretty amazing.)

And hanging out in the Authors Yurt is fun, too. Everyone's sort of equal in there, so you can talk with anyone (and grab cake and whisky and other nice treats and meals). Look, it's Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman! While we were there, Malorie did an interview with a Sky reporter, quite rightly calling for more diversity in children's books, and got stuck with a very bad headline, which caused massive internet outrage, and quite a lot of abuse, too. But Malorie stuck by her guns, and all our colleagues rallied around her, and the whole thing made it much more clear just why we need more diversity in books. Not in a tick-the-box sort of way, but in a way that lots of different kinds of people can find other people like themselves in books. Patrick Ness talked on Twitter about how he couldn't find any books about gay people in his school library, and there aren't that many UK children's books with black people as the main characters. Here's Malorie's initial Sky interview, and a Guardian article about her response.

Here's Malorie's Summer Reading Challenge video:

More exciting encounters: it's Di Cameron from Oxford's Story Museum, comics artist Adam Murphy in The Phoenix Comic), comics colourist Lisa Murphy, Cameron Jr and comics artist Neill Cameron! Adam and Neill both have new books out with The Phoenix Comic and David Ficking books, compilations of their Phoenix work: Corpse Talk by Adam and How to Make Awesome Comics by Neill. Lisa did quite a lot of the colouring for Adam, and has also coloured for my studio mate Gary Northfield (Gary's Garden) when he was pressed for time.

Philip and I were hugely flattered that Geraldine McCaughrean came to our event! Geraldine's been a big influence on Philip, and her book The White Darkness is one of my all-time faves. Geraldine's on Twitter now: you can follow her: @GMcCaughrean.

Philip and I did two Cakes in Space events, one for schools and one for the general public. During the schools event, festival sketcher Morag Edward drew us! She did a great job, but I don't think we made it easy for her: "You moved around a lot!"


Ha ha, I got this week at Afflecks Palace in Manchester during an earlier festival, and I love the name of it: Skyscraper Blond.

Head of Marketing and Publicity Elaine McQuade from Oxford University Press came with Philip and me to Wester Hailes Library to do another Outreach event, this time featuring Oliver and the Seawigs. I'm really getting into this wig thing. My bird thought Elaine was rather splendid and cuddled up. One of the librarians had a phobia of feathers, so I had to put away my fluffy fan.

We had a great time at Wester Hailes, drawing Sea Monkeys with everyone and singing the EEP song, but I didn't get any photos. Our next stop was Leith Library, where we were helping them with their Summer Reading Challenge final medal ceremony. First I sang an opera aria...

Photo by Jeff Holmes

(No, not really.) If you've been following my blog, you'll have seen that MYTHICAL MAZE theme of this year's Summer Reading Challenge has been a big part of my lasts few months. I got to be the official illustrator, and when I first took on the job, I met with kids at Leith Library and got their ideas and feedback on some of the characters. So it was great coming full circle and hearing how they'd enjoyed the challenge, and congratulating them for reading their six books.

Photo by Jeff Holmes

We tried to slide the medals on gracefully and not get them stuck on anyone's ears. It's a tricky task.

Photo by Jeff Holmes

Philip and I read a bit from our Oliver and the Seawigs, the myth we've created, and I talked with the kids a bit about myth making. There's no way to say your characters will be remembered thousands of years from now, like Medusa or the Minotaur, but if you do your best, you never know!

Photo by Jeff Holmes

I led everyone in drawing Medusa, Edinburgh City Libraries' Simon Radcliffe said a few words, and our sponsor, Tesco Bank, took a big Summer Reading Challenge group photo.

Photo by Jeff Holmes

One of the fun things about this summer is the way so many kids and librarians have dressed up in mythical creature costumes, and the photographers took us outside for a few more cosplay shots:

Photo by Jeff Holmes

Whee! Thank you, Edinburgh! A huge thanks to the festival's Children & Education Programme Director Janet Smyth, and you can follow the festival on Twitter: @EdBookFest and see some other things that happened on the #EdBookFest hash tag.

Photo by Jeff Holmes

As much as I love book festivals, I find them exhausting, and I was very grateful that I didn't have to go straight back to the drawing desk (despite impending deadlines). Stuart and I took a couple more days to visit Glasgow Auntie, and she looked after us wonderfully. Here she is, having an intimate moment with a Jampire.

Glasgow Auntie took us to beautiful Troon. I had no idea Troon had such an amazing beach.

But jellyfish... JELLYFISH! We were glad we weren't swimming. Check out this alien creature that had washed up:

One last shot with lovely Stuart in the Troon sun.

Bye bye, Scotland, but just for now! If you're further south and still want to see our Cakes in Space performance, there are still a few spaces left for our Saturday morning family-friendly launch at Daunt Books Marylebone, central London on 13 Sept at 10:30am. Book your free ticket now! (You can come with kids or without, in space costume or not, it's up to you!) :)

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24. jampires book launch!

Photo by James Petrie

Hee hee, it's great fun to stand in the middle of a field wearing sparkly red platform heels when everyone else is walking around in wellies. This weekend my co-author David O'Connell and I launched our new picture book, Jampires, at The Big Feastival in Oxfordshire.

Photo by James Petrie

I couldn't believe it, I forgot to pack my Bakewell Tart hat! Nooooo!

Photo by Dave Warren

But never mind, our book was well and truly launched with a dramatic reading by David and me. (Dave's very good at doing the voices.) And I can rock a converted poodle skirt. (Thanks to my mum for helping me sew on all the Jampires.)

Photo by Neill Cameron

And I taught everyone how to draw a Jampire! 'But what is a Jampire?' you may ask. Well, if you've ever bitten into a jam doughnut and found it disappointingly dry and jamless, they are the culprits. These little critters suck out them jam. They LOVE jam. Our book is basically a hymn to jam.

Photo by James Petrie

And you can learn how to draw a Jampire, too! David and I have put all sorts of goodies on our new website, so do have fun exploring it: jampires.com

View as a PDF

We have masks, too! Check out the website! :)

Photo by James Petrie

Since the Jampires are obsessed with jam, we had actual jam on site...

Photo by James Petrie

...and an actual jam maker, who has joined our Jampires team! Meet Emma Preston-Dunlop, jam maker extraordinaire, who gave us a little lesson on how to make jam, and treated us to samples of her tasty concoctions.

Photo by James Petrie

Emma runs a jam company called The Butch Institute and while raspberry jam is always my favourite, she gives it a real run for its money with her Cherry Bakewell with amaretto syrup and almonds.

Photo by James Petrie

Since The Big Feastival's all about food, we explored, and went straight for the PIE. Gotta love a pie. Emma taught me how to eat it from a carton without getting gravy all over my skirt.

Photo by James Petrie

And our lovely publisher, David Fickling, cycled all the way over from Oxford - a two-hour journey across many hills - to be there for our launch. Hurrah! (He didn't cycle in his signature bowtie, but he put it on as soon as he arrived.)

Photo by James Petrie

JAM. Who doesn't dream about The Great Jam Pot in the Sky? *wistful sigh*

Dave and I couldn't be there both days, so actor Devon Black stepped in and led her own Jampires session on the Sunday, which looked brilliant. She made a costume, a whole new show, and I hear she did a brilliant job! Thank you SO MUCH, Devon!!

Photo tweeted by Philippa Perry

Feastival had some rival vampiric creatures, not all as small and cuddly as our Jampire.

Photo by James Petrie

After a little scare, he got a cuddle from Neill Cameron, and everything was all right.

So Neill was mostly busy drawing comic characters over in The Phoenix Comic area. He's the amazing creator of stories such as Pirates of Pangaea, Mega Robo Bros and has a new book out, How to Make Awesome Comics. Here's a Cyborg Mode Jamie Oliver (the chef who hosts the festival, along with Blur bassist-turned-cheesemaking-farmer Alex James):

The drive to Feastival was quite a long one, and our friend James Petrie was a hero and gave us all a lift in his car. As you can see, Dave and I were terrible back-seat drivers.

Lovely Dave. It's not just his genius talent, you see; I mostly work with him because he has such beautiful flowing tresses.

Big group selfie! Huge thanks to David Fickling for publishing us, Emma for being such a great Jam Master, Devon for Sunday's awesomeness, Feastival for hosting us, fab publicist Philippa Perry for organising the day, James for driving and photos, and Ann Lam for our knitted Jampire. Jammy times!

Head over to the David Fickling Books website to see their blog about Jampires, and jampires.com for all your jammy needs.

Jammy Twitter links: @davidoconnell, @DFB_Storyhouse, @ButchInstitue, #JAMPIRES

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25. Ottawa Winners: ‘Hipopotamy,’ ‘Seth’s Dominion’ Win Top Prizes

Veteran Polish filmmaker Piotr Dumala won the short film grand prize for "Hipopotamy" at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, which wrapped up its 2014 edition yesterday.

0 Comments on Ottawa Winners: ‘Hipopotamy,’ ‘Seth’s Dominion’ Win Top Prizes as of 9/22/2014 1:12:00 PM
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