Friday 19 June 2015

MGSB Sketchbook: Spotlight on Chris Riddell

At Middle Grade Strikes Back we LOVE illustrations, and it is great to see that so many publishers seem to agree with us as more and more middle grade books are being published with cracking illustrations. It is also a sad state of affairs that many of these illustrators sometimes do not receive the credit or attention they deserve when these books are featured in the media and awards lists.

Some time ago I suggested that we run an occasional (possibly becoming a regular) feature on MGSB where we put the spotlight on our favourite illustrators and their work. Naturally I shouted first dibs on Chris Riddell, who in recent years has pretty much become my favourite illustrator of all time, and since staking my claim it has been announced that Mr Riddell will be taking over from Malorie Blackman as the next Children's Laureate. It is therefore even more appropriate that he is the first to be featured in MGSB Sketchbook.

I love everything about his illustrations. I love the insane amount of details he puts into his drawings. I love the wonderful, quirky expressions he gives the faces of his characters. I love the incredible fantasy creatures that he continues to create for The Edge Chronicles books. And I also love his work as a writer: Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse was one of my favourite books of 2013. I have even been known to buy a book by a different author because I was drawn to it by it having a cover illustrated by Riddell (damn you, you Machiavellian publishers and marketing people), although even when the story is cracking, if there are no Riddell illustrations inside it feels like opening a Kinder Surprise and finding that there is no surprise inside (there should be a law: Riddell illustration on the cover must mean Riddell illustrations inside the book as well!! Although I'm not sure the poor (?) man would have the time as he is such great demand these days).

I was very fortunate to be able to welcome Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell to school a couple of years ago, and it was an absolute pleasure to see Chris Riddell drawing live for the students, using a visualiser to project his images on to a big screen. I was also very lucky to walk away at the end of the event with a handful of illustrations that Chris had drawn during the event. However, the real highlight of the day was having the opportunity to leaf through a couple of Chris's amazing sketchbooks. The man is an illustration genius, and if you ever get the chance to watch one of his events then drop everything - you will not regret it.

And now for the rest of this post - a chance to wallow in some of Chris Riddell's gorgeous illustrations:

First up, a couple of stunners from The Edge Chronicles, including the fabulous Banderbear:

Chris Riddell seems to be the go-to guy whenever a Neil Gaiman book needs illustrations:

from Coraline, written by Neil Gaiman
from The Graveyard Book, written by Neil Gaiman

from Fortunately the Milk, written by Neil Gaiman
from Coraline, written by Neil Gaiman

from The Sleeper & the Spindle, written by Neil Gaiman

From fantasy to science fiction. Back with Paul Stewart for Scavenger: Zoid:

Illustrating covers for other authors - the Tales from Schwartzgarten books by Christopher William Hill and the amazing 3D pop-up cover for the special edition of The Box of Demons by Daniel Whelan.

And finally as a solo artist (pun intended):

Ottoline by Chris Riddell

from Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell

from Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell

from Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell

Do you have a favourite illustrator? is there anyone you would like to see featured on MGSB Sketchbook in the future. Thanks for reading, I'll leave you with a video of the great man in action. Enjoy!

by Darren Hartwell - The Book Zone (For Boys)
Twitter: @bookzone

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this opportunity for readers to get to know Chris Riddell better now that he is the Children's Laureate. Here in the US, we don't always get much information about these things unless we read the Guardian or UK blogs like yours.