Archive for July, 2017

The Wolves of Currumpaw – book review

Friday, July 28th, 2017

By William Grill

Published by Nobrow ISBN 9781909263833

Review by Derek Brazell


Grill’s fact based storybook follows attempts to capture Lobo, the fearless leader of a notorious wolf pack on the plains of New Mexico. It’s a well-paced book, with double page spreads setting a scene while offering an emotional guide to the upcoming chapter.

The simplistic strokes of Grill’s colour pencil medium capture shapes with often the barest minimum of detail, almost as in a sketchbook, but carry the story with verve and motion. Scenes of the wolves hunting are softly depict but visceral.


Humour surfaces, with Lobo constantly evading the various traps set to capture him (even nonchalantly urinating over trap boxes), and occasionally the hunter falling foul of his own trap.

More detail appears as Ernest Seton appears, a naturalist from Canada via Britain, fired by a desire to be the one who captures this wolf leading his pack on destructive raids. After trial and error, Seton believes he has found the way to trap the beast.


Emotion plays a part as the story builds, especially when Lobo’s mate, Blanca, is captured, and Lobo’s fate appears to be set. The reader understands the strength of feeling in both the wolf and his captor, and it’s one of the strong points of the book, drawing the reader in, often through images alone.


The story ends, but the book continues on revealing the effect that Seton’s raising of consciousness and his subsequent on-going protection of America’s wolf species had on following generations. So learning follows the drama – all in subtley effective coloured pencil.

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Erik the Red

Dear Rikard

‘Tracing Thoughts’ – exhibition

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

Revealing the Artists Journey through Process to Artwork

21-27 August

44AD, 4 Abbey St, Bath, BA1 1NN

Two artists living in Bath collaborate for the first time in ‘Tracing Thoughts’ a unique exhibition that opens their studio doors to make the artists individual journeys visible. The exhibition reveals their award-winning sketchbooks to final artworks, including paintings, drawings and prints, via original one off experimental pieces. For the first time their creative process is exhibited and exclusively available to buy.

Chloe Regan

Chloe Regan

Chloé Regan graduated with an MA in Illustration from the Royal College of Art. Chloé sketches continuously from life on location, and her drawings capture place, people and experience. Chloé’s drawings are on permanent display at the V&A Museum, and have been exhibited internationally.

instagram: chloereganartist

Kerry Beall graduated from Brighton University in Graphic Design and worked in the industry for ten years. She applies her graphic expertise in composition and colour to artworks in charcoal, ink and oil. Kerry is represented as an artist by several galleries and exhibits internationally.

instagram: kerrybeallartist

In China – book review

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

By Sascha Hommer

Reprodukt 2016 ISBN 978-3-95640-057-5 176 pages, b&w, 16,5 x 21 cm.

Review by Peter Allen

In China-Cover_550

Sascha Hommer is a leading figure in the alternative comics scene in Germany. His work is both over and underground, spanning a wide range of collaborations, from regular comic strips in the national press (Frankfurter Rundschau) to his growing number of comics and graphic novels (Reprodukt). Based in Hamburg, he also works as a curator, freelance illustrator, educator and is currently organising the Hamburg Comic Festival.

In China is an auto-biographical account of Hommer’s longest stay (four months in 2011) in the megacity of Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province. Initially, it was a desire to compensate for the narrow, often politicised view of Chinese society portrayed in the German press around the time of the 2008 Olympic Games and the following Sichuan earthquake that motivated Hommer to undertake this project. Finally, the book turns out to be about something much more personal than this. In China describes Hommer’s alter-ego’s first steps towards finding some footing in an overwhelming series of interactions and experiences that he faces as a total stranger in a certainly different, possibly indifferent society.

In China-db4_550

His attempts to communicate, understand and integrate are recounted through a number of characters, the narrator and his friends, who wear masks reflecting something of their exterior personalities whilst hiding their interior states. In this way Hommer is able to relate in various ways to his experience in a foreign land; physically he stands out in the crowd, linguistically he is without a voice, mentally he has no memories or experiences to draw on and to help him understand his environment. Each day holds part of the key that will enable him to express himself again as the person he knows himself to be but frustratingly he is devoid of all but very basic of means to connect with and participate in the exterior world.


We follow his narrator through black and white illustrations that maintain a constant mood of half-light grey. Air pollution or the tourist’s inability to differentiate between the individual and the masses, to get beyond the appearance of things and to see real people, real lives. His drawings bear the sheer and constant weight of this dilemma, the daily fatigue of adjusting your perception to take on board each and every surprise. He describes the language classes he attends to help him overcome this cultural void. In this twilight zone, caught between what is perceived and what is real, Hommer’s mind at times escapes into moments of fantasy during which he attempts to place one within the context of the other. The tales he has been learning about China’s past are brought to life as a series of flashbacks in which Hommer attempts to link the past with the present; the rapid expansion of Chinese towns that has unrooted people and dropped them into a new dystopian model of urban society.


In China doesn’t draw conclusions about Chinese life, it doesn’t aim either to explain how things work. It sets out to describe an experience that is observed and non-judgemental, and personal and selective in equal measures that balance out many things: the design of the story, the density of the images, their weight, their mood, the understated nature of the dialogue and the banality of events, the mix of realistic and fantasy. Hommer explains that it draws upon the tenderness Miyazaki displays in My Neighbour Totoro and mixes it with a stark beauty that he likens to the eclectic music of Behold the Arctopus.

In-China-10-550Hommer’s comic books are witness to the extent to which he needs a challenging framework to push him further in exploring new ways of developing a narrative, to reach new limits of technical ability. With In China, and its inherent theme of globalization, Sascha Hommer combines his technical and creative skills along with social realism and personal biography to make both a credible and incredible story for our times.

NB: Text is in German, but don’t go without, use online translation!

In China can be purchased for 20€ (+shipping) from Reprodukt here

A French version, 19€/25 Chf (+shipping) is available from Editions Atrabile here

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Dear Rikard


Arrest All Mimics interviews Digital Arts editor Neil Bennett

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017


Digital Arts editor Neil Bennett joins Ben Tallon to take a look at where the creative industry is today and where it’s heading during a time of fast-paced technological developments, talking about staying current and finding the right balance of creativity and strong ideas in creative work.

They discuss the magazines transition from print publication to digital magazine and why classic methods of getting your work noticed still hold up in today’s industry.

Diversity in the arts and disability first design are two big topics as they address new, old and forward thinking.

Listen now! And get your ideas over on twitter at @arrestallmimics.

The Bad Bunnies’ Magic Show

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Written and Illustrated by Mini Grey

ISBN: 978-1-4711-5760-8

Published by Simon & Schuster

Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster


Welcome to a Magic Show! The prominent red curtain and display font title in red and gold introduces us to the world of performance. Two wide-eyed Bunnies, Abra and Cadabra bookend an upturned top hat, they appear harmless enough (however one of them does seem a bit inept with a saw). The Octopus tentacle entering in the top left corner is a bit of a worry though. Could it mean trouble for our protagonists?

Drawing upon her work in the theatre, building scenery, props, puppets and painting backdrops Mini Grey has produced a visually rich and exciting story.

It works on two levels, the first showing how our naughty (or should that be delinquent) Bunnies take over the theatre to cause mayhem while in the second we see how The Great Hypno restores the status quo. The language used to rhyme with ‘Hey Presto!’ is humourous and plays with our expectations. Text is large, bold and spare. It works well with the visual structure of the narrative. I’m sure that children will love reading this picture book aloud with an adult and exclaim every time the die-cut or fold out pages reveal surprises. Simon and Schuster have invested wisely in the quality of this publication.


The illustrations have a spikey energy. Grey draws animals beautifully. Her Octopus and Tiger are full of personality and wit. Subtle shading helps with the simplicity and directness of the drawing. The environment is shallow and this adds to the tension in the scenes. Grey cleverly arranges for the wings and backstage to be in view so that the secondary story can play out. This is show business and the Bunnies want to be stars of the show.

The characters are well defined but at the same time understated. Stand out images are the first spread where The Great Hypno encounters the determined Bunnies, the knife throwing scene that made me laugh out loud, when they literally saw in half the lovely Brenda and the final cannon blast fold out!


Kate Greenaway Medal nominee Grey has created a riotous and raucous adventure that leaves me asking a few questions. Are the duo truly thieves or merely pranksters? Is their anarchy natural exuberance or something more sinister? I suspect they are simply good friends who can’t help but lead each other on. The inclusion of the misquote from ‘The Italian Job’ is a wonderful way to complete the story. We can be certain of one thing, the Bunnies will be back.


You may also be interested in these reviews:

Here Comes Mr Postmouse


Who are the nation’s favourite illustrators?

Friday, July 14th, 2017

For the first time ever PLR announces the most borrowed illustrators from UK public libraries, and includes AOI Patrons Shirley Hughes, Oliver Jeffers, Mick Inkpen, Quentin Blake and member Alex T Smith.

Data released today by Public Lending Right (PLR) shows the 50 most borrowed illustrators from UK public libraries. The 50 illustrators include pre-school favourites such as Quentin Blake and Shirley Hughes as well the current Children’s Laureate Lauren Child. The top three illustrators, Tony Ross, Nick Sharratt and Axel Scheffler all had over one million loans.

Speaking of his delight at being the most borrowed illustrator Tony Ross commented:

“WOW! That is wonderful, although I would think I have had some help from fantastic authors, such as Jeanne Willis, David Walliams, and Francesca Simon. Thank you library users. I’m surprised, proud, and delighted!”


“It’s wonderful that the success of illustrators is now recognised in this PLR ranking,”  said Children’s Laureate Lauren Child. “Illustrations play such a significant role in the enjoyment of books and libraries play such an important role in bringing books to children throughout society. The recognition that PLR now offers illustrators for their work is a much welcome and important step in highlighting the unique contribution of the illustrator to the success of the book.”

The PLR list of most borrowed illustrators was welcomed by Sarah McIntyre of Pictures Mean Business:

“Money earned from PLR is a real lifeline to so many hardworking illustrators, but most of the people who tell stories through pictures in books struggle to build a name for themselves professionally. I’m thrilled to learn the PLR team have compiled a list of the top 50 most borrowed illustrators from UK public libraries! I hope one day in the near future, publishers will update their data systems and people will be able to find this information on illustrators as easily as they can find it on writers.”

Top 50 Most Borrowed Illustrators, 2015/16

1. Tony Ross 18. David Melling 35. Guy Parker-Rees

2. Nick Sharratt 19. Michael Foreman 36. Sophy Williams

3. Axel Scheffler 20. Emma Chichester Clark 37. Jez Alborough

4. Alex Brychta 21. Sue Hendra 38. Dr Seuss

5. Quentin Blake 22. Adrian Reynolds 39. Jill Murphy

6. Mick Inkpen 23. Roger Hargreaves 40. Lee Wildish

7. Korky Paul 24. Martin Brown 41. Tim Warnes

8. Lucy Cousins 25. Ben Cort 42. Stephen Cartwright

9. Liz Pichon 26. Rod Campbell 43. Shirley Hughes

10. David Roberts 27. Garry Parsons 44. Anthony Browne

11. Lydia Monks 28. Jean Adamson 45. Chris Riddell

12. Eric Hill 29. Roger Priddy 46. Mike Gordon

13. Rachel Wells 30. Emily Gravett 47. Eric Carle

14. David McKee 31. Oliver Jeffers 48. Sam Lloyd

15. Emma Dodd 32. Georgie Ripper 49. Jane Chapman

16. Lauren Child 33. Debi Gliori 50. Alex T Smith

17. Steve Smallman 34. Dav Pilkey

PLR is run by the British Library and gives authors the legal right to receive payment from government each time their books are loaned through the public library system. In February 2017 PLR distributed £6 million to 22,202 authors at a Rate Per Loan of 7.82 pence.

Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook with Fig Taylor

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

The AOI’s Portfolio Consultant, Fig Taylor, has once again contributed her invaluable insights to the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2018 edition. Fig has written on Freelancing for Beginners and Selling Yourself and Your Work Online. Both are listed in the Art And Illustration section of the Yearbook.


‘Freshly Pressed’ Print Fair At The Civic

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Saturday 15 July 2017, between 10am and 4pm.

Admission is free.

The Civic, Hanson Street, Barnsley, S70 2HZ

Freshly Pressed is a new print fair for South Yorkshire and the latest addition in the region’s calendar of markets for artists, artisans and lovers of all things hand-crafted.


Image: Josephine Dellow – Shops Mug

The Civic’s Freshly Pressed will feature stalls selling contemporary art, illustration and photographic prints, printed textiles and homewares and the best of local published books and zines from Barnsley and around the region.

There will also be live music and spoken word performances all day for all to enjoy for free. The line-up features; The Delicateers, songwriter Del Scott Miller, Lewy and Dal from The Rolling Down Hills, folk musician and poet Ray Hearne, poet Jethro Platts and singer songwriter Tom Masters.

Sarah Harris - Beneath Emley Moor Mast

Image: Sarah Harris – Beneath Emley Moor Mast

Supertato: Run Veggies Run – book review

Monday, July 10th, 2017

By Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet

Published by Simon & Schuster Children’s UK ISBN 1471121038

Reviewed by Simon Whittaker


We’re big fans of Sue Hendra in our house. We’ve done Barry, Norman, Keith and Doug, but for some reason, we’ve missed out on Supertato previously. Supertato – Run, veggies, run, is the third book in the series (not counting the story released for World Book Day in 2016) and finds Supertato organising a sports day for the fruit and veg in the supermarket. The promise of prizes is enough to get everyone to take part, but the Evil Pea decides he wants the prizes for himself and concocts an evil scheme…


I read this book with my daughter who’s four and as her first introduction to the series she really enjoyed it. She couldn’t pick out a favourite bit of the story because she liked it all, but she did pick out the Evil Pea as her favourite character because “he’s silly, he thinks he can dash”, and she was happily pointing out background characters she found amusing throughout.


I really liked it too – the story is fun, the illustrations are bright, colourful and energetic. Sue has quite a distinctive illustrative style, so if you’ve read any of her previous books you’ll have a good idea what to expect. Coincidentally, the Evil Pea was my favourite too, and we’ll be picking up the other books in the series to see if there’s an origin story there somewhere.


You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Two Can

Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats

Shirley Hughes at 90 – A life in books and pictures

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

12 July – 12 August

Illustrationcupboard Gallery, 22 Bury St, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6AL

The Christmas Eve Ghost

The Christmas Eve Ghost

Illustrationcupboard Gallery celebrates Shirley Hughes’s 90th birthday with a display of original artwork and books celebrating the enormous and un-equalled contribution this much-loved artist, AOI Patron and writer has made to the life and soul of Great Britain over her lifetime.

The exhibition will feature a selection of Shirley’s original artwork – watercolour, gouache and drawings from variety of her books and novels including the famous Dogger, the Alfie series of books, My Naughty Little Sister, Daisy Saves the Day, Jonadab and Rita, Peter Pan and The Secret Garden, as well as more ranging books such as Stories By Firelight and her recent most successful novel, Hero on a Bicycle. Alongside the artwork will be a display of many of the books which Shirley has illustrated over her long and illustrious career. Many of these are now out of print and have become collector’s items allowing visitors to see these first editions for the very first time.