For the final day of Hugless Douglas Week, David Melling kindly volunteered to be the first interviewee in an ocassional series where I ask Who? What? Why? Where? When? How? to authors and illustrators of children’s books.
David Melling – author and illustrator of children’s books.
My influences, and there are way too many to list here, include the usual suspects: Ronald Searle, Ralph Steadman, Quentin Blake, Maurice Sendak. I won’t keep listing names but I will say particular influences that still inspire me are Asterix and Obelix, Tom and Jerry, Laurel and Hardy…I could go on but think I’ll stop there. Oh, and my kids of course!
The book I’d love to write and illustrate is a collection of silly Fairy Tales. I’ve lost track of the number of times a project like this has been close to becoming reality but something always seems to get in the way. But it’s still on my ‘to-do’ list. Perhaps one day.
At the moment I about to start work on the 5th Hugless Douglas book! It hasn’t got a title yet but it’s his birthday. Today, 1st October, is literally Day 1 on this title so I haven’t got much more to say right now. First things first – this Q&A!
My favourite ice cream is vanilla. I know, wild eh?
I’ve always loved reading and drawing and studied art and photography at college. Then, from around the age of 21, for about ten years of concentrated effort and various jobs, I finally realised that what I was really looking for was to illustrate stories! The writing came later but it completed the journey. I’m very fortunate to be able to make up stories and draw pictures all day. Very fortunate!
I create for children simply because most stories that require illustrations are for children. Also, my sense if humour hasn’t really grown up (thank goodness).
Why do children ask so many questions? I guess because they are curious about the world they find themselves in! I remember that phase with my children. That particular phase when everything you say is met by that question ‘Why.” I hope my books, the stories and pictures, fuel that interest. After all, it’s a funny old world, it takes some time getting used to all its little foibles. All children are doing is trying to make sense of it. Then again, aren’t we all!
Presently living in Abingdon, Oxfordshire but grew up in London.
Favourite place to be is either at home with the family or at my studio. I’m afraid I’m irritatingly content!
The first published book I illustrated was called Brilliant The Dinosaur by Richard Stilgoe in 1993. Some of you older readers might remember he used to be on TV. He wore quirky knitted jumpers while playing the piano on the news programme Nationwide in the 1970-80’s. Sadly, we never met!
The first book I wrote and illustrated was the picture book The Kiss That Missed in 2002. It’s celebrating 10 years this year!
My favourite period in history? Hmm, I’m not sure I have a favourite but I do like Medieval times…it appeals to my gothic side.
When does the post arrive? Ha! An excellent question! Don’t get me started…
I started creating books soon after spending about 4 years working in a series of London based animation studios. It was way back in the 1980’s and I just loved the way the drawings helped to tell the story, not always with words – Tom and Jerry is a supreme example. It taught me that pictures are just as important as the words to carry a story, sometimes more so. By the time I decided to leave the studios I had bug and knew that story telling with pictures was exactly what I wanted to do.
A picture book can take anything from 3 to 6 months for me. If I break that down it’ll look something like this:
Sketchbook ideas (including written notes), on a particular subject: 2-3 weeks.
Storyboard and first written draft – 2 – 3 weeks.
Pencil roughs on cartridge paper – 4 weeks.
Trace and ink onto watercolour paper – 2 weeks
Painting final artwork – 6 – 8 weeks.
Obviously, this will vary depending on the type of book and whether I come to the drawing board with a vague idea or a very particular idea. It’s not an exact science. You’ll notice that I write and draw and the same time when getting the ideas. For me both disciplines feed off watch other. I know that some author illustrators write first then illustrate. I couldn’t do that. But, of course, everyone is different. It’s whatever works for you!
How long is a piece of string? Well, that’s an easy one; That long.
All images © David Melling, used with permission.
The sample Who? What? Why? Where? When? How? questions can be downloaded here.
Thank-you for sticking with me throughout Hugless Douglas Week. Don’t forget there’s still time to enter the giveaway: deadline extended to Tuesday 9th October. Extra goodies added, and books will be signed (there will some delay in posting while we work out logistics!)
I’d like to offer huge thank-you hugs to Hachette Children’s Books for sending extra prizes and the activity book download to support this week; Helen from CApptivated Kids for the guest post; and most of all to Douglas’ Dad, David Melling, without whom none of this would have been possible.