Sunday, 26 September 2010

Anthony Browne, The Masons, McKean, Ewing and Me!

What an enjoyable weekend it's been in the land of the Etheringtons ... actually, only in the land of Etherington Senior, as poor Lorenzo has been ill. He picked up a bug from giving 'high fives' to a thousand children last week so it's his own fault really.

With our chief drawer out of action it was up to me and my wife to represent the team at the Bath Festival of Childrens Literature launch party on Friday night. Before the party we had been kindly given a pair of tickets to see the current Children's Laureate, Anthony Browne, chat about all things awesome. I forgot to take a pic of him in action so I hope you enjoy this shot of Mr Browne reclining in his library.

He gave a fascinating talk, reading from his forthcoming autobiography (including funny tales about an amazing character he invented as a boy called, if I remember correctly, 'Big Hard Tackle') and discussing everything to do with a lifetime spent creating captivating books for children.
We then headed for the party, which was being held in the ancient Masonic Temple. It was a CRAZY place!

Now I LOVE secret societies. The very thought that there are groups tucked away with amazing knowledge dating back hundreds of years is pretty cool and it's exactly the sort of idea I try to include in our stories. The Freemasons are famous for claiming to have about a billion secrets (probably a big fib) but stepping inside the Temple you can almost feel the weight of their 400 year history. It was a perfect place to hold the opening for a festival dedicated to telling tall tales! 

On to Saturday, where something awesome was about to take place...

 What I really enjoy about a good panel is when the organisers manage to combine a genuinely interesting set of creators. Regular readers will have a pretty good idea of the energy and fun that Lorenzo and I throw into every page of our books, and the reasons we love making comics. But it was fascinating to be able to discuss every aspect of the process, from our inspirations and motivations to our approach to writing for children with two such amazing guys as Garen Ewing (second from right) and Dave McKean (far right).

Eleanor Hawken (above left) held court marvelously, asking great questions and kept me in line whenever I mentioned robots, monkeys or bare bottoms too often. I also had the chance to show some previously unseen images from Baggage and Freaky Giblets which was cool!

Afterwards the three of us held a mini signing and the laughs continued with conversations about the best line delivered in a nativity play, demonstrations of how NOT to draw a coconut and Garen's need to get rid of his pencil and move straight to ink when it comes to sketching in books (there are a LOT of Rainbow Orchid fans out there and that number is only going to increase, my friend!).

Then it was off, for a fish and chip supper and a short train ride back to Bristol.

Many, many thanks to all the staff and volunteers from the Festival and Waterstone's for making this a great night - we look forward to returning in the future!