SPARK let loose!24-Oct-2016
The pyromaniacs - or just plain maniacs - have struck! With co-conspirator/co-accused/collaborator, author Adam Wallace (of dubious fame!), our latest Ford Street release is - well - released! Spark is burning up the sales charts (I wonder how many bad fire-related puns I can squeeze into this?) It is without a doubt the most unusual picture book I've ever illustrated, and I mean that in a good way. Adam has come up with an extraordinary idea, and Paul "Mr Ford Street" Collins has somewhat courageously put Adam and I together. (For anyone who knows what Adam and I are like, you'll know what I mean.)
As an illustrator, I've previously said how my earlier Ford Street book The Poppy was a step away from the painting style with which I was comfortable. Spark is a giant leap away, and I love it! Tearing expensive water-colour paper, spattering and dribbling paint like a slightly-more sober Jackson Pollack, (some of it actually onto the paper, as well as the floor, my clothes, and a small bit on the ceiling my wife hasn't noticed yet), drawing and writing left-handed occasionally, just to see what happened (and it was rather good), it felt like discovering art all over again. One particularly fun part of creating the book was the text writing. I don't mean Adam's words - that's all his - but the actual font itself. I really wanted a hand-written look, to fit into the overall scruffy design. Now of course there are 'hand written fonts' on your computer, but frankly I hate them. How 'hand written' is something if every 'a' or 't' is exactly the same? If you want a hand-written look, how about writing it - by hand! So I got an old-fashioned pen nib, (I tried to get a feather for a quill, but couldn't find one large enough - I'm not joking, I seriously wanted to write with a quill) and an old-fashioned ink well, and sat down with Adam and wrote it line by line, waving and sweeping up and down as the words seem to demand, scratching and spattering ink, getting messy. It was so much fun. Nothing like ink on the fingers!
So check it out. Spark was released a couple of weeks ago and is getting great reviews already. It's ignited a lot of interest and is a raging success so Paul didn't get his fingers burnt. (There you go, three puns in one sentence.) Something to look for is the meaning behind the story - it's not primarily about a bushfire. There's a lot more to it. An excellent book for classroom discussion on several levels. If you like it, let us know. If you hate it - it's all Adam's fault!