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Friday, 3 February 2017

Girl in Dior


Writer and artist: Annie Goetzinger
Publisher: NBM

What's it about?
This book tells the story of the Dior fashion house through the eyes of a fictional journalist turned model. We meet Dior's four 'darlings' - the seamstress, secretary, muse, and fashion socialite (my terms). We are shown Dior's first show, the public's reaction, how Dior worked to develop his designs and how the rest of the house worked. We end with Dior's death in 1957. The back of the book is a lovely little mine of information. It lists his 22 collections, gives a brief description of his entourage (Humphrey Bogart! Lauren Bacall! Marlene Dietrich!), has a short glossary of job roles in the fashion industry, fabrics and accessories, and gives a bibliography.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Interview with Helen Bate, author of Peter in Peril

My last review here was Peter in Peril, a story about a Jewish boy living in Budapest during World War Two.  I was sent a copy of the book by the publishers and asked if I wanted to interview the author, well I enjoyed the book so of course I said yes.

You can read the review of the book here but as a brief reminder, it's told from the point of view of Peter and is suitable for ages 8 up.  Here go the questions:

Q1.  I understand that Peter in Peril is your first book and that you used to be an architect.  How did you get into comics and did being an architect have any influence on how you approached constructing the comic pages?

I gave up my architectural career after 10 years to do a degree in illustration and I initially illustrated some children’s books for Frances Lincoln and Harper Collins. The Peter story was done as a student project initially but in a very different form. I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to work with Janetta Otter-Barry to produce it in a way that would suit 8-10 year old children and the graphic story form seemed to be the one that best suited the complexity of the subject and the age range. I used more text than other graphic stories, as I wanted to allow the book to be read to a child. I also felt it was important with the subject matter to adequately explain to children what was happening in more detail.

I think my architectural background has quite an influence on my drawing style - drawing with a black line is a very big part of architectural drawing and I always tend to gravitate to that way of drawing… even though I’d quite like to have a looser style … but drawing is pretty much like your handwriting - it’s very personal to the individual. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Peter in Peril: Courage and Hope in World War Two


Writer and artist: Helen Bate
Publisher: Otter-Barry Books

What's it about?
Peter is a boy living in Budapest in the 1930s. His family is Jewish and they fall victim to the anti-Semitic laws of those decades. It's told from Peter's point of view and he documents their lives through the war and in the years following. Peter and his family are real and the events shown in the story are true.


Sunday, 16 October 2016

Footpath Flowers


Text: Jon Arno Lawson
Illustrations: Sydney Smith
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd

This is a gorgeous little comic that you will find in the picture book section of your library or bookshop. It’s about 30 pages, all art no words, and about a little girl out for a walk with her Dad.  She picks wildflowers that are growing in the pavement and gives them to people she thinks needs them. That’s the whole story, there’s no twist. It’s simple and it’s lovely. The little girl clearly has a very generous spirit and an innocence about her and she’s kind. I got this out of my library and I will be purchasing a copy for my son for when he’s a little bit older.



Thursday, 13 October 2016

Stuck Rubber Baby


Writer and Artist: Howard Cruse
Publisher: Vertigo Comics

Stuck Rubber Baby is a fiction that reads like an autobiography. Toland is a young closeted man growing up in the 1960s American South. He makes friends with a group of liberal folk and finds himself socialising in the black and LGBT clubs of his town. He is drawn into the local civil rights movement and is forced to confront the truth of his sexuality, whilst racist and homophobic attacks are regular occurrences.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

The Arrival


Artist and writer: Shaun Tan
Publisher: Lothian Books

A comic without words, The Arrival's art is further towards the fine art end of the spectrum than the cartooning end and it makes a beguiling story.

A man packs his suitcase, says goodbye to his family, and sails away to a new country. The alphabet is strange, the wildlife is creepy, and the everyday systems are near incomprehensible. Our man has to find lodgings, a job and friends.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Not a misery memoir

Today I shall be talking about two books that were the subject of a talk I went to about a month ago. These books are Nicola Streeten's Billy, Me and You; and Una's Becoming/UnBecoming. Both have left a profound impression on me and I want more people to know about them.