Sunday 26 April 2009

Undercover at Crystal Palace Children's Book Festival

I took four accomplished cartoonists from my neighbourhood to the Crystal Palace Children's Book Festival organised by Alex 'Mousehunter' Milway - ostensibly to accompany them to the comics workshops.

But when I got there I couldn't resist joining the workshop.

First we attended the Zombie and Monster Art workshop hosted by Tom Percival - he who designed the Skulduggery Pleasant books.

Tom showed us how to draw exposed brains, missing limbs, uneven eyeballs, shadows.

I did this zombie picture starring my daughter Mia and her friend, Hugo.

Then we went to see the exhibition at Smash Bang Wallop, a funky gift shop in its normal incarnation.

It was only a short walk to the Bookseller Crow where I spent a lot of money and walked off with a book by my friend Sue Eves by mistake (Sue kindly returned it for me). I took a photo of Sue with her famous dog puppet Woofy but unfortunately it vanished from my camera, no doubt deleted by a zombie.

After lunch at the deli next door to the Crow, we headed back to the Upper Norwood Joint Library ("Wot a posh library!" one of the kids said) to attend the comics workshop run by the DFC comics guys.

There was a workshop on designing characters ... here's a 'Ninja Pie' designed by my pal Hugo:

We learned how to measure how many heads tall a character was:

- followed by a Comics Jam - which is kind of like taking turns drawing a comic strip with hilarious results! Here are some examples:

I think if you click on the image, you can see it in bigger mode.

... if the above one looks suspiciously as if it was drawn entirely by cartoonists it probably was. There were a lot of professional artists in the room - even apart from the DFC (Mine was the first frame).

Some were hilariously strange.I had to do this frame (number 3) for a strip that started off with an animal in a cage and an odd looking character in a long nightgown. In the second frame a mysterious little elephant joins them?!!! It was hard to think what to draw.

We had a great time (and nobody threw me out of the workshop for being old).

Alex Milway, interviewed by the Bookseller, said:
It’s very easy for us writers to sit back and expect the world to come to us. I wanted to see what might happen if we got did something like this for ourselves. Why wait to be asked to take part in a festival or event, when you can set one up for yourself?
A fantastic idea. Well done guys!


  1. Thanks so much for coming along, Candy and crew! Your comics jam contributions were brilliant. :-D

  2. Thank you, Candy, for bringing your children and friends along to our library 'down South'! Much appreciated that you traveled all that way. You seem to have enjoyed it too...!


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