Late last year I was feeling overworked; firstly I was working too hard, but secondly I wasn’t doing anything creative just for myself. Then along came an opportunity to do something different … Spare Parts Puppet Theatre was running a 6 week marionette-making course.
Spare Parts is an incredible company that creates original puppetry productions; they’ve also adapted quite a few children’s books for the stage over the years. They’re based in my hometown of Fremantle, and I remember seeing some of their shows as a kid. I signed up for the course straight away.
Norm has spoken previously about some of his influences while writing The Last Viking. This week I thought I’d talk about the influences I had while doing the drawings.
I’ve been a huge fan of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes for many years. It was written and illustrated by the incredibly intelligent and talented Bill Watterson. The comic looked at the worries of childhood with humour and sensitivity. I was a teenager when I first start reading the comic, and I often didn’t understand the deeper philosophical side of each story, but the inventive and expressive artwork was more than enough to get me hooked. It’s easy to see the similarities between Calvin and Josh- both are young boys, both are loners, both have animal friends, and both get lost in their imaginations on a regular basis.
Another major influence for me has been the Asterix comics, written by Rene Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo. I loved the historical references, the attention to detail in the costumes and backgrounds, and the ridiculous puns. That’s all come through in The Last Viking (except for the puns… though I feel that Norman’s gentle, daggy sense of humour is very much in the same vein as Goscinny’s, and also mine). And of course, there is an animal companion- a little white dog, called Dogmatix… very much like Wolverine in The Last Viking.