Here Be Monsters

 Posted by on October 10, 2014  Drawings, JourneyMan, PROFESSIONAL
Oct 102014

Here Be Monsters is a book illustrated and written by Alan Snow that inspired the animated film, The Boxtrolls. The book is a rambling grab-bag of fun ideas, seemingly every idea that Alan Snow ever had up till that point. It is a very enjoyable read, but presented a problem to adapt into a 90 minute movie. There was so much material that the biggest job was to edit it. If you made a 90 minute movie of the Bible (almost as thick as Alan Snow’s book) would you try to sketch out the entire narrative? And what would that be? Or would you just show one particular part?


Most of my work on the film was in the early period, focusing on storyboards, but occasionally I’d attempt a design, such as these guys above; the Laundry Pirates, whose captain was a dashing rat. The book was full of such whimsical characters; such as the Rabbit Women, the Trotting Badgers, The Cabbage Heads, and weird little sentient cheeses that ran about the town, or were chased through the countryside by gentlemen on horseback (as in a fox hunt).


This project was full of many lovely ideas that had to be cut, as there is only so much that you can show in only 90 minutes. Alan Snow’s book is brimming with eccentric characters and whimsical scenarios and has enough material for a TV mini-series, but with a film adaptation, there was bound to be some aspect of the book that was someone’s favourite part, but that had to go.


I had a lot of fun wandering about in Alan Snow’s kooky world. Working on the development of any movie is a fun phase to be involved in, although you do have to be philosophical about the possibility of up to 100% of your work being grist for the exploratory mill, and being deleted.


The Boxtrolls

 Posted by on September 26, 2014  Film/TV, JourneyMan, PROFESSIONAL
Sep 262014
The Boxtrolls

I’ve admired the films of Laika for years, and now I’m pleased to say that I’ve been involved in one; THE BOXTROLLS. From 2008-2012 I worked on this film, and to make this an extra special experience for me, it was directed by my dear friend of many years, Tony Stacchi, and Graham Annabel, a new friend made during this [ more..]

Flower Car

 Posted by on September 9, 2014  Drawings, Lefties
Sep 092014
Flower Car

Last weekend Julia and I went to Flora Grubb nursery  to buy some plants. I had heard of this cool place before, but had not realised that it was over by the area where I used to work when I first came to San Francisco. It was a dodgy neighbourhood back then, when I worked for Colossal Pictures on Third [ more..]

The Time Trickster

 Posted by on September 1, 2014  Baker's Dozen, Film/TV, Lefties
Sep 012014
The Time Trickster

Old plot details (and fan-enthusiasm!) refreshed by a Netflix marathon, we recently watched the theatrical, big screen debut of the 12th (or is it 13th?) actor to play DR WHO- that alien space/time traveller in the big blue box. As with last year’s 50th Birthday episode, likewise screened in movie theatres worldwide, this feature-length episode, entitled ‘Deep Breath’, was a [ more..]

Hotel Holiday

 Posted by on August 9, 2014  Drawings, Family, Lefties, Travel
Aug 092014
Hotel Holiday

My Brother Jo and his family recently invited Julia and I to join them, and my Dad and his wife Wendy, for a holiday in Mexico. We’ve had a rocky time of things the past few years, and this was a wonderful opportunity to relax. Despite feeling ill the entire time, I did some sketching, and broke in a beautiful [ more..]

Popeye Magazine

 Posted by on July 10, 2014  Drawings, JourneyMan
Jul 102014
Popeye Magazine

In 1988 I was living and working in Tokyo, and I had a few steady illustration gigs to supplement my other jobs, which were some English teaching when I first arrived in Japan, and then working at TOEI animation studio when I got better established.  It was a busy time. One of the magazines I did a few illustration jobs [ more..]

Los Troppo Drongos

 Posted by on June 15, 2014  Comics, Drawings, JourneyMan
Jun 152014
Los Troppo Drongos

This is the first comic I ever did, for an anthology made by the staff of the animation department of Colossal Pictures way back in 1992. Originally, my contribution was printed as a 4 page story and the end pages were added later. (I have split the pages in half here to make an 8 page story, plus intro and [ more..]

Stern Grove

 Posted by on June 1, 2014  Drawings, Lefties
Jun 012014
Stern Grove

Not far from our flat is the park called Stern Grove, and we went there a few months ago for some sketching. I’ve finally finished and scanned the left-handed sketches from that day. At one end of this long narrow park is a dog paradise, full of people walking their pooches. In the middle is the band shell used in [ more..]

May 022014
SPACE..The Final Frontier..

Here are some left-handed drawings from recent TV sketch nights drawing Star Trek. The bright colours and simple shapes, not to mention the broad characters and melodramatic action of James T. Kirk and his iconic, space-faring crew, can be quite fun to draw. I remember the very first time I ever saw Star Trek; it was 1974, I was 10 [ more..]

Apr 182014
One Flew Off to CUCKOO’S NEST

July 15, 1986, I left Australia for what I thought would be a 6 month or one year trip at most, but it ended up being an overseas jaunt that lasted the rest of my life. I’d worked in Sydney animation studios since 1982, saving money for a trip to Japan. By mid 1986, I’d got my passport, bought a [ more..]

Early Lefties

 Posted by on March 31, 2014  Drawings, Lefties
Mar 312014
Early Lefties

For posterity, here are some of the very first location sketches drawn with my left hand. I’d already done a lot of lefty drawing at home, (including some illustrations for my childhood stories on this blog) but had not ventured outside to draw from life until last September, when both Julia and I went drawing for a couple of consecutive [ more..]

On Drawing

 Posted by on March 17, 2014  Baker's Dozen, Drawings, Lefties
Mar 172014
On Drawing

I have recently been wrestling with re-learning how to draw. The loss of my former ability has led me to reflect on what drawing has meant to me in my 30 year career as a cartoonist, and how and why I came to be so interested in drawing in the first place. Back when I was very little, when my [ more..]

Yerba Buena

 Posted by on February 28, 2014  Artists, Drawings, Friends, Lefties
Feb 282014
Yerba Buena

Last weekend was a good one for drawing; both doing it ourselves and appreciating drawings done by others. Firstly, on Saturday, Julia and I went to Yerba Buena Gardens to draw: I ‘ve sketched here before (a study of the church you see here) but this time I tried an overview. The angle I chose was from the terrace, where there [ more..]

Feb 192014
TV Sketching: The Dowager Countess

Apart from our recent location sketching, Julia and I have also been sketching from TV shows, and a recent fave is Downton Abbey, starring the wonderful Maggie Smith. In my opinion, she steals every almost episode as the dowager Countess, Lady Grantham. She inflects every line with subtle flaring of nostril, tilt of head or withering of stare, that imbue [ more..]