James the Hirsute, Viking explorer

It’s been a hectic July promoting The Last Viking.

On July 16 and 17 I was in Balingup for the Children’s Literature Festival, with talented WA creators Meg McKinlay, Deb Fitzpatrick, David Caddy and Elaine Forrestal

…the next weekend saw Norman and I visiting Albany’s Singing Tree bookshop to teach children how to roar like Thor…

…and the weekend after that I was in sunny Kununurra for the Kimberley Writers’ Festival, with fellow Fremantle Press authors Alan Carter and AJ Betts.

Thanks to all those teams that put the events together- Helen and the ladies in Balingup (who aren’t booksellers or librarians, just committed and passionate members of the community- amazing people)… Dianne Wolfer, Andreas and co in Albany (thanks for your generosity and hospitality, and the mulled wine)… and the marvelous Jo and her team of maniacally energetic librarians and volunteers up north (who work 11 months of the year to put the Kimberley Writers’ Festival together- on top of their normal duties. Amazing amazing amazing).

Here’s a few pics from the travels…

The Balingup town hall, main site of the children's literature festival- 8.30am, before the mist has risen

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The Launch

book launch
(L-R) Norman, James, Kris Williams, our editor Cate Sutherland, and Director of the Children's Literature Centre Lesley Reece

It was a dark and stormy night…

Actually, it was. Norm and I had been watching the weather forecast all week, wondering what the heavens would bring on the Friday night of our launch. By Tyr’s Day, we could see that rain was likely. By Wodin’s Day, rain was certain. Come Freyja’s Day, when the wind didn’t let up all day, we knew a storm was brewing. Thor was angry. The joke going around was that his invite had been lost on it’s way to Asgard. But maybe that was true, and he thought we were snubbing him… and when you snub a Norse god, you get a once-in-10-years weather event. Thirty millimetres of rain fell in 30 minutes- the precise 30 minutes in which our guests were en route to the launch.

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Sun on my Stubble

Four tanks of fuel,
5 meat pies,
6 choc milks,
9 days,
2000km of driving,
and 10 million bugs stuck to the front of the car.

These were small prices to pay when I had the opportunity to run 4 youth workshops in the WA Wheatbelt.

In early April I visited schools and youth centres in Bruce Rock, Moora, Wagin and Toodyay. I taught around 100 young people the basics of cartooning, and each student worked on their own one-page comic story.

Students in some of the areas we visited will continue on with comics in school next term, producing longer stories about issues affecting them in their towns. Topics will include ‘bullying’ and ‘a sense of belonging’.

Bruce Rock rocks
Bruce Rock rocks

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State Library workshop

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to spend an hour running a workshop with some talented cartoonists. We covered facial expressions, bodies, movement and animals.

The expressions section resulted in some interesting photos: see below.

Thanks to both the State Library and the Wild West Comedy Festival for having me along.

workshop photo 2
“I can smell it. I hope they didn’t hear it.”
workshop photo 1
“I’m going to grow an afro THIS BIG!”

Narrogin library visit

I went to Narrogin library yesterday for a workshop with year seven students. Narrogin is about 2 hours south-east of Perth. I must thank the librarians, Belynda and Rachel, for inviting me- I had a brilliant time.

I gave a talk about the projects I’m working on and showed some examples of sketches and finished samples. Then the students got to do some drawing. Seeing as my visit was part of the ‘Finding MY Place’ program, where students are encouraged to think positively about their own futures, I asked the year 7s to draw a four panel comic about their dream job.

It was amazing to see the ideas that they came up with- one boy wanted to be a professional BASE jumper, another a sheep farmer, another an army officer; several girls wanted to become vets, another an Olympic horse-rider, another a police officer in the traffic division. With minimal instruction the students produced some really great comics. This proved to me that comics are an incredibly useful art form, one that people understand intuitively and can create instinctively. (at least, I imagine, in a culture where they are familiar with the art form already).

Here’a a quick demonstration comic I did for the class on my graphics tablet. Clearly my subconscious (in the form of a chicken) was telling me to get on with being a creative person. When I mentioned that I would like to be an illlustrator full-time, one girl in the class asked, “why aren’t you doing this full-time?” It was a great question and had me stumped.

20091029 Narrogin comic
Oct 29 2009- demonstration comic for students in Narrogin