Wednesday 31 August 2011

Yore! Episode 29!

Yes, it's Dandy day! Which means today you can read the second to last ever episode of YORE! Ooooh! It's nearly over! WHAT was so important we ended our run on YORE! in the Dandy I hear you ask?

Hmmmmmm...... stay tuned.... the MAIN EVENT is coming...


Tuesday 30 August 2011

New interview up online

Well, first up, a big thank you to Robin for that almighty Edinburgh report, awesome bro!

Secondly, while I was in hospital an interview I did recently went up online and I wanted to share it with you. The site it's on, Something We Like, is a fantastic resource of interviews with professional artists from all areas of the entertainmnet industry, and I was lucky enough to be approached by them to answer a few questions about my career and love of comics etc. You can read the whole thing by clicking HERE!



Sunday 28 August 2011

Epic Edinburgh Excitement!

I must start by apologising to anyone who's allergic to long blog posts. We usually like to keep our updates bite-size but having just returned from a three day trip to the Edinburgh International Book festival, I find myself in a difficult position. There is NO WAY to condense this report!

So let's crack on with the good stuff. In poor Lorenzo's absence I was lucky enough to be joined on this trip by my wife, and it's thanks to her that we managed to snap all these pics (I am TERRIBLE at remembering to take pictures). We flew up on Thursday and arrived in a city bathed with sunshine. Having been told to expect bad weather I was naturally a little surprised. At least I think that's the reason for my peculiar expression.

I'll probably mention this numerous times but we were extremely well looked after on this little Scottish adventure. Mimi and I were staying at the Hudson, a great little boutique hotel located right next door to the book festival on Charlotte Square. Upon arrival, I took a little time out to appreciate the art, the seating arrangements and the bed provided in our ample quarters...

Hmmm ... comfy.
We freshened up and strolled out into the balmy Edinburgh night to meet up with Random House superstar publicists, Lauren and Lisa at the Cafe St Honore restaurant. The food was delicious, the wine delightful, and the company superb.

We then moved next door to a fantastic cocktail bar where I spent quite a few hours practising a new expression I'd been keen to share with our Monkey Nuts fans. Lisa, Lauren and Mimi were not impressed but I remained confident that the results would pay off...

Morning came a little too soon for my liking, and my rumbling tummy told me it was time for BREAKFAST CAM! The Hudson served up a rather fine Full Scottish, which included all the English ingredients plus haggis and hash browns. Heaven.

Restored to full health we headed to the festival. The entirety of Charlotte Square had been taken over by a menagerie of tents, walkways and festival show spaces and despite a light Friday morning drizzle, the crowds inside were buzzing with excitement. I particularly liked the Moulin Rouge venue!

The first of our three workshops was part of the Festival's RBS Schools Programme and took place in Peppers Theatre. We'd sold out the show and it was a joy to watch hundreds of kids jostle for position in the front rows.

After a quick introduction from Gillian Macdonald we were off! It still felt extremely odd to be running the show without Lorenzo by my side but I managed to remember almost all of his excellent hints and tips. The audience was absolutely brilliant and I found myself swamped by eager readers in the Children's bookshop afterwards. Most of them wanted to know where they could buy my Papa Smurf t-shirt.

Oh, and remember that face I'd been practising? Well I decided it was a good time to test it on the fans ... the knuckle-bump of respect should tell you that it WORKED! Nice!

With barely a moment to catch my breath I packed up and jumped in a taxi with Gaynor Bowers to head off to my second show of the day. The book festival works in partnership with the Scottish Book Trust and Edinburgh City Libraries to provide a series of Outreach workshops: the aim of which is to bring authors, creators and performers to those areas of the city where children might not be able to attend the festival. It's a great scheme and I was delighted to be included in this year's lineup.

Lorenzo was so excited that he made a very special appearance ... first as a blank head on a stick and then as a girl!

After the success of the 'colour in my brother's face' competition at the Just So festival, I brought three copies of Lorenzo's head to Edinburgh and above is the first winning result (the boy who nabbed the prize in our Schools workshop had to leave with his class so we may never discover what he came up with!).

Two workshops down and the second day was coming to an end ... but there was a LOT of fun still to be had.

We were met at the hotel by Lauren and top authors Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell and the five of us piled into a cab and headed to the magnificent First Coast restaurant. There we were joined by author supreme, Malorie Blackman, Philippa Dickinson (Random House Children's Books m.d.) and two other lovely ladies whose names I have unforgivably forgotten! This is what happens when you don't take notes at the table...

Once again the dinner was lip-smacking and the company eye-opening (how many people knew Malorie was an avid comic fan?) but Mimi and I had booked tickets for a comedy show and had to leave before dessert was served ... I can almost hear my brother's amazement/disgust!

But there was no way we were travelling all the way to the mighty Edinburgh festival without enjoying some standup comedy. Plus, the city at night has to be seen to be believed. Bristo square, housing the ever popular Underbelly and Gilded Balloon venues was sparkling with energy. Everywhere we turned there was something new and exciting to discover...

 my very own bar!

In short we laughed, we partied, we had a great time.


Waking on day three, I packed and got ready for my final appearance. I had a feeling in my tummy that this was going to be a good one ... but it might just have been my second Full Scottish breakfast turning over. When haggis is involved, you never can tell.

Our RBS Imagination Lab event was part of the main festival lineup and had sold out early (yes!!!). The first fans through the door were lucky enough to grab the multi-coloured cushions right at the front. I won't lie to you - there was some fighting. I may have encouraged it.

One of the many joys of being an author on tour is listening to the introductions to your own shows - NOT because we've got big heads but because every chairperson has their own unique spin. Simon Radcliffe delivered an absolute blinder at the RBS event, whipping the audience (young and old) into a charged, expectant frenzy.

The cherry on the cake was the discovery that one young boy had chosen to come to our comic workshop with 12 of his best friends as his birthday treat!!! That's got to be the highest honour we've ever been paid, so as a bonus I changed the rules of the 'colour in my brother's face' competition and gave him the chance to prove his skills. The lad did not disappoint!

As usual I overran our allotted time and forgot to leave enough room for questions, but I made sure to promise everyone that I'd answer any and all queries during the book signing. This led to the busiest, most engaging and most entertaining signing session I've ever held. In the third picture down you can see me explaining how Lorenzo and I first came to draw comics ... the secret of this story even drew in the kids from the OTHER queue beside me!

After the last grinning boy and girl had trotted off clutching their freshly signed copies of Sid and Rivet's first adventure, I had just enough time left to sprint to the Authors' Yurt (a super secret tent complex hidden in the festival grounds) to see if I could fit an entire cheese and ham roll in my mouth.

It turns out that I could, and Lauren was clearly impressed with my efforts.

As Mimi and I boarded the train for Bristol we couldn't quite believe that three days had passed by so fast. I had heard so many great things about this festival and I am delighted to be able to confirm that they are ALL true!

Many, many thanks to Lauren, Lisa, Philippa and all the magnificent folk at Random House for organising the trip with such military precision. Further and truly heartfelt thanks to every member of the Edinburgh Festival and Library staff who helped with clip-on microphones, cups of coffee, slideshow loading, toilet locating, taxi booking, audience seating, flipchart finding, coloured pen distribution and sandwich-to-mouth delivery. You're all legends and we cannot wait to return.

And if you thought THIS year was good, just wait till Lorenzo's in town for the 2012 events. It's going to EXTRA epic!

Friday 26 August 2011

One Year on, Baby! My Big Phat Wedding...

So, I was meant to be appearing at the Edinburgh Book festival this weekend, but due to me still being in recovery, Robin is up there at this moment representing for the both of us. Go Bro!

The upside of that though, is that I get to spend my first wedding anniversary with my wife, which as far as silver linings goes is a pretty darned big one!! Yes, a year ago this Sunday I was getting hitched to my awesome girl, and what a day it was! I've been waiting a whole year for the opportunity to show you a load of pics from the big day, and so, without further ado, here is pictorial representation of what was undoubtedly the most beautiful, colourful, laughter-filled day of this humble scribbler's entire life. As usual, click it to see it BIG!

I love you wifey!


Thursday 25 August 2011

Big savings on Monkey Nuts and Baggage over on The Book Depository

Hey folks, with 42 days to go until the launch of Baggage, the big online sites are vying for your trade by offering some pretty good discounts off both Baggage and Monkey Nuts. Coming out on top of the pile as the cheapest at the moment is The Book Depository, offering both books with 25% off, and free worldwide delivery anywhere in the world if you pre-order this week. Just click the thumbnails below to be taken to the relevant page!

Keeping up with the Adventurers!

Well, technically YESTERDAY was Dandy day, but I'm still ill so you'll have to forgive me these little inaccuracies! Anyways, the third YORE! adventure is nearly at an end, so you'd better rush out and pick up a copy to see how it all turns out!


Wednesday 24 August 2011

Stranski Print in Ink Dot Coffee Shop Show

Those awesome folks over at ink-dot are busy as ever, and have a few pop-up shows coming up featuring selections of prints from previous exhibitions. I'm lucky enough to have one of my Stranski prints appearing in the first, which is at Barista's here in Bristol until 11th September. If you're around, why not go down, have a coffee, and check out some art by a selection of Bristol's finest scribblers?!

Details of where the show is can be found HERE.  

Here are a few snaps from the venue:

And don't forget, if you can't make it down, you can always buy any of my three previous prints through the ink-dot store HERE.

Here they are to remind you!


Transformers: Dark of the Moon Story!

There's no denying that writing for Transformers is great fun. I mean GREAT fun. To play with these iconic characters is an honour, and I'm lucky enough to have worked on strips from Transformers: The Animated Series, the live-action films, and (soon to come) the CG series, PRIME. Most of my tales are stand-alone strips, devised to live within the universe of each individual franchise, but rarely impacting on the main events of the show itself. 

Every once in a while however, I pitch something that gets wrapped into the bigger picture, and this month's issue of Transformers: Dark of the Moon features just such a story, penned by me and illustrated by Dario Brizuela

If you've seen the movie (I'd better add potential SPOILER here) you might remember that Sergeant Epps - played by Tyrese Gibson - had left N.E.S.T. after many years fighting alongside the Autobots. No particular reason is given and this rather irked me. I came up with a story and 'Dealing with the Devil' was born:

"High in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Spain, NEST forces are engaged in a ferocious skirmish with Soundwave. During the battle a battle-bruised Bumblebee and exhausted Epps are captured by Soundwave. Optimus negotiates an exchange – himself for the wounded. Soundwave counters with one final offer: Optimus will fight, unarmed, against the might of an armed Soundwave in single combat ... or EVERYONE DIES..."

Ooooooooooh - exciting stuff!

Grab your copy from any good newsagent TODAY!

- Robin

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Bursting with pride!

Last week was really rather monumentous in the Etherington household (as a rule I try to avoid portmanteau words but I think the combination of monumental and momentous nicely describes the series of events that took place).

Not only did Lorenzo return from hospital and find the strength to start drawing again ... not only did Baggage, in all it's vibrant wonder, drop through our letterbox to whoops and cheers ... not only did I attend the spiffing Just So festival and meet lots of new fans ... but best of all THIS arrived ... the very first uncorrected proof of my talented wife's debut novel...

I'm not sure I've ever mentioned this before but Mimi (writing as Emylia Hall on the cover above) has, over the past three and a half years, quietly and patiently written a book. But not just any old novel - 'The Book of Summers' is an absolute GEM! While I've spent my time happily crafting cartoon mischief and mayhem, Emylia has spent hers weaving a stunningly transporting novel of love and loss.

Here's a brief description of the book in her own words:

"When news of a death in the family reaches her from abroad, Beth Lowe realises that she can no longer avoid her past.  She is sent a photograph album, a poignant record of the seven summers she spent in rural Hungary.  A time when she trod the tightrope between separated parents and two distinct countries; a bewitching but imperfect mother and a gentle, reticent father, the dazzling house of a Hungarian artist and an empty-feeling cottage in deepest Devon.  Years later, Beth's Hungarian summers continue to haunt and entice her.  The Book of Summers is about the lies we tell, the truths we keep and, above all, the ways we find to keep on loving one another."

Ooooooooooooooooooh - now that's a REAL read!

You can preorder the Hardback NOW, which will be released in March, 2012 from Headline.
The paperback will hit the shelves worldwide from June 2012.
For more information, head over to Emylia's blog HERE.

Trust me when I say this is going to be THE book of the summer.


- Robin

Monday 22 August 2011

Do Umbrellas Grow on Trees?

We'll return to the cryptic title of this blog later, but first things first! It was FESTIVAL weekend!
We'd been lucky enough to receive an invite to perform at the Just So festival, deep in the heart of the Peak District. With Lorenzo still recovering, only I was able to attend but anyone who's met us will know that either brother has the ability to talk for TWO. Ahem.

Our ever magnificent publicist, Lauren Bennett, was looking after me for the weekend and she has an unerring ability to put us up in great hotels! The Three Horseshoes Inn was another gem, and - after a great dinner with children's book author/illustrator Mini Grey and her husband Tony (both awesome) - I retired to my bed. To THIS bed...

Important note: I like four poster beds. They are cool.

Continuing our tradition of snapping every breakfast we eat on tour I've included a pic of my morning fry-up. Interestingly there was an ingredient on the hot plate selection that I had NEVER seen before, and have been unable to discover on the web. It was a sort of melted cheese pancake roll.
I'm guessing it was a local specialty and I'm dying to know what it's called! Answers on a postcard please...

The Inn was located in the heart of the Peak National Park and featured some amazing views of the Staffordshire moorlands. The hillside seen below is covered with fantastic Roach rock formations...

...which is cool, but NOT as cool as UMBRELLA TREES!!!!!!!!!
I told you we'd get back to that cryptic blog title. This was the colourful entrance to the festival. Thankfully the weather was lovely and there was no need to pick these strange wild flowers.

Located literally in the midst of Barnswood, the show organisers had worked ridiculously hard to create an utterly unique experience for kids and families. There is nothing quite as awesome as discovering a bookshop nestled in the trees. Especially a bookshop with a brilliant graphic novel section!

A vibrant writing and drawing theme ran throughout the site with so much to do that children could barely contain their excitement as they ran from one area to the next. I was delighted to overhear two boys discussing the comedy merit of trying to bring one of these giant pencils into school.

I was performing on the Jitterbug stage. It was a fantastic space inside a giant tent with a ceiling lined by dozens of dangling light shades. Highlights from this workshop included the discovery that I am able to do a rather convincing Voldemort impression, and this Q&A with a young audience member:

Robin: How could a dragon hurt me?
Boy: It could kick you in the widge.
Robin: It could do what?
Boy: Kick you in the widge.
Robin (pointing to crotch): Is this my widge?
Boy (giggling like mad): Yep!
Robin: Fair point. A dragon could kick me in the widge and that would be a bad thing!

It was a great show and during the signing session afterwards I had the opportunity to meet lots of Monkey Nuts and DFC fans and share with them the first preview of Baggage (which was rather well received!).

Once I'd finished there was just enough time to grab a drink with Lauren (who was working ridiculously hard and still had two shows to organise with Mini Gray and the mighty Steve Cole) before heading home.

Lauren took a snap of me looking about a hundred years old and then instantly tweeted it over on the Random House children's blog. I thought about ignoring it, but it's worth a laugh - click HERE for the horror.

It was a memorable time but the best ... the VERY best moment of the weekend was the fact that Lorenzo managed to JOIN ME!!!!!!!!! Yes indeed, my brother's head on a stick became the grand prize in a colouring competition that resulted in this dandy gent.

For those of you visiting the Edinburgh festival this coming weekend I'll be taking a blank version of this new improved Lorenzo with me to see if anyone can do better. Who hasn't dreamed of scribbling on an Etherington? See you in 5 days!

Friday 26th August, 12:30-1:30, RBS Schools event at the Peppers Theatre.
Saturday 27th August, 10:30-11:30, open event at the RBS Imagination Lab - grab your ticket HERE!

- Robin