Come to Thoughtbubble 2011!

Yep, I’ll be at Thought Bubble this weekend (19/20th November), which looks like being a real humdinger. Two massive halls crammed with a billion cartoonists (count ’em).  I’ll be at Table F in  Saviles Hall, alongside the marvellous Douglas Noble.

I’ll be selling my last remaining copies of the officially-sold-out-never-to-grace-the-face-of-this-earth-again Derek The Sheep book. Not got a copy yet? Then you’d better hurry up cos it’s officially a masterpiece and one of 1001 comics YOU MUST READ BEFORE YOU DIE!!!!

I’m on page 785 (I know that page off by heart now). Here’s the evidence, purposely shown at low-res so you have to go out and buy the book, (which is actually an amazing read I have to say, including many reviews from fellow Fleece Stationer Ellen Lindner and her partner Stephen Betts, mastermind behind Eurocomics translation site Comics Influx)

(See Mr. Beano? See what you’re missing?)

I’ll also have my extremely scarce Bad Dog Newspaper, collecting all my favourite Bad Dog strips from over the years. I’ll not be reprinting this one either, seeing as it cost me a million pounds* to make! (*approx) Yeah, I know it’s more expensive than all those lovely full colour newspaper anthologies doing the rounds, but this is ALL ME and I only made 50 of them, so they’re FLIPPIN’ RARE!!! So get those before they disappear.

Hot off the press will be a Burp mini-comic fold out thingy…

And last, but not leastly, I’ll be signing NELSON at some point. Nelson the brilliant anthology from Blank Slate…

I’ll talk about it more another time, but here’s a panel from my little strip in all it’s sparkling, clear glory…

So, that’s it. Hope to see you all at the weekend!

Derek the Sheep comes to New Cross!

Derek The Sheep Is Dead! Long Live Derek The Sheep!

Whilst the nation still mourns the loss of regular comic strip shenanigans in the Beano from our favourite woolly nutjob Derek the Sheep, it’s time to rejoice at his major new reappearance this Sunday 24th July at the spectacular festival knees-up New Cross Turn Left!

Check it out!

At 2pm you can bear witness to my brand new Derek the Sheep play for all the family, starring Chloe Lewis as Cecil the Bee and Nick Ofield as Derek the Sheep! Directed by Robert Clayton of Legend Theatre, this production will bring to life the madcap comicstrip craziness we all know and love in front of your very eyes. It’s very stupid and perfect for the kiddies, but kids of all ages (i.e. everyone) will undoubtedly love it too!

The actors aren’t being paid, so punters are encouraged to donate spare change to show their appreciation. I’ll also be selling and signing limited copies of Derek’s book.

And there’s plenty more going on at New Cross Turn Left! As well as exclusive exhibitions in the Olde Police Cells (including a topical, slightly deranged, performance piece by me and Matt Abbiss), there’ll be Lauren O’Farrell‘s Graffiti knitting workshops, comedy with Shabs and Nathaniel Metcalfe, comic clinics, an exciting book launch, DJs in the evening and a plethora of comics for sale during the day (alongside tea, cakes and booze for sale).

Here’s the timetable:

2PM – Derek The Sheep and The Quest for the Googly Glasses
3PM – Comics Clinic in the Fleece Station
4PM – Graffiti knitting workshop by Lauren O’Farrell
6:30PM – Art History Dropouts Launch
7:30PM – Comedy: Shabs Kazim and Nat Metcalfe

Check out the website for regular updates and directions.

A big thank you to Ellen Lindner for organising this amazing event! Check out her new comic Art History Dropouts co-created with Barnaby Richards exclusively launched in the evening!

Hope to see you there!

Derek the Sheep finally put out to pasture…

Well, it had to happen one day, and today is unfortunately that sad day.

This month sees Derek’s final appearance in a Beano mag for the foreseeable future.

After 7 long, mad, crazy years, 70-odd stories, including 5 Beano annual appearances, his own book published by Bloomsbury, a Booked Up Booktrust selection shifting 24000 copies of said Bloomsbury book, a French edition under the moniker Norbert Le Mouton, and everso nearly his own cartoon series; Derek The Sheep has chomped his last blade of grass for the BeanoMax (or The Beano for that matter).

A new editor = a new direction = a kick up the bum for Derek the Sheep out the back door.

It’s been a brilliant, fairly surreal experience writing and drawing for such an esteemed comic as The Beano the last few years. Hats off to my original editor Euan Kerr for taking the chance on me and Derek and for his childlike glee and enthusiasm for the stories I produced. Thanks also to Alan Digby for keeping me in sheep stories (he also asked me to draw some Bash Street Kids Singled Out strips a couple of years ago, but my marriage blew up that very same week and I never found time (or perhaps inclination) to draw it. Life, eh?). And to John Anderson on the BeanoMax for asking me to be a regular contributor 18 months ago cos he was such a fan. Sir, you have been a great support and editor.

Derek wasn’t exactly like anything else in the Beano (still isn’t), so it was quite a risk for Euan to stick Derek in back in the day. But the risk paid off thanks to overwhelming support from young fans and parents alike. Well I say overwhelming, for all the fans giving Derek 10/10 in the  polls, there were just as many giving my stories 1/10 with very little in between; but the sheer fanaticism of those who loved him helped keep Derek a regular fixture in the Beano.

And that, for me, has been the best part about working on the Beano – the fans.

Whenever I was feeling down, or lacking in confidence over my work, I’d get an email in my inbox from a fan telling me how much Derek and his crazy antics would mean to them. One dad told me how he and his son would recite Derek’s adventures in the car on the way to school; another lad would carry Derek’s book around school all day, every day and all his mates would take the mickey, but he didn’t care. I’d even get emails from teachers telling me how a whole classroom would regularly fight over who gets to read Derek’s book at reading time.

Emails like these would instantly blow the cobwebs from my brain and I would triumphantly knock out another crazy adventure.

Fans, I salute you!

So what’s next for Derek?

Well, there’s a theatrical version of his nonsense from Legend Theatre, coming to a school or children’s theatre near you for one thing. And there was talk of maybe another French edition of Norbert Le Mouton. I’ve even been tinkering with the idea of bringing out a Quarterly Derek magazine to sell with the play…

Whatever happens, I’m sure Derek will be back in some form or another before you know it. Watch this space 😉


Hooray! This week sees the release of a new issue of the monthly mag Beanomax, which, as we all know, means another stupid DEREK THE SHEEP story! “Woohoo!” the nation cries.

This month features Derek looking after idiot savant Bernard the Goat whose shed has blown away. Bernard likes to eat underpants, so it’s all about the pants for two whole pages. I even get to use the word “undercrackers” (I love that word).

Here’s an hilarious panel:

Ho ho. And what japes are had!

I did have a scene where Rodney the Bull and Dave Goose were flushing loo paper down the toilet, but there just wasn’t room to fit it all in. The shame.

Here’s Rodney looking all innocent, DVD-extra-stylee:

And here he is in the strip all dressed up in loo paper:

So please rush out and buy the Beanomax, cos it’s brill and I’m in there every issue. Oh yes.

New Derek!

Hooray! It’s another month, which means there’s another Derek in the Beanomax!!!

This month Derek and his sheepy pals are woken from their woolly lazy world and are subjected to the raving loony that is Clarence the keep-fit sheepdog.

Here’s a marvelous sequence:

So sprawling was this story, that it’s a TWO-PARTER!!! Yep, so you have to wait a whole month to see how it finishes. And its totally nuts, I tell ya.

And while you’re busy buying the Beanomax, pick up the exciting new Dandy featuring loads of brand new strips! Shamefully I didn’t have time to contribute a strip due to my over-burgeoning schedule (including work on my BRAND NEW graphic novel coming out from Walker in about a year’s time. Woohoo!!! More on this soon. It contains dinosaurs is all I’m saying at the mo’…).

Anyway, good luck to the Dandy and all its contributors!

Ta ra!!

Graffiti Knitting

Graffiti Knitting eh, What’s that all about? Little old ladies tagging trains with bits of wool in the dead of night? Well, sort of. Apart from the “old ladies” bit. And maybe skip the “dead of night” bit too. Ok, and maybe they don’t tag trains neither. In fact, why don’t you go read this brilliant article out today in The Guardian, featuring The Fleecestation‘s very own Graffiti Knitter, Deadlyknitshade. That tells you everything you need to know about the little-known art of Yarn Storming…

Interesting to note that the first comment on the knitting article by some humourless know-it-all says, “Been done before”.

Why yes, yes it has been done before. 65 million years before in fact. Check it out:

I painted these dudes at Ally Pally Knitting and Stitching Show whilst I was selling (the soon to be completely sold out) Derek the Sheep books. I was sharing a table with fellow Fleecestation studio mates, the afore-mentioned knitting supremo Lauren O’Farrell and children’s book uber-illustrator Sarah McIntyre, who were selling books and badges like they were going out of fashion.

Trying to tap into a market that catered for both my lovely drawings and knitting, I concocted the above tiny series of on-the-spot watercolours featuring Graffiti Knitted Victims of The Jurassic. I love dinos, but I totally guessed the Jurassic bit, so someone rang their expert friend after I’d just painted the stegosaurus and I was spot on! Woohoo!

I might make these as prints, and if they take off then I might consider Graffiti Knitting victims of the Triassic. The world is my prehistoric oyster.

Independent on Sunday update

Got sent a jpeg of the print copy of Sunday’s interview for the Irish Sunday Independent!

Here it be…Ain’t I handsome.

I might publish the full unabridged version one day, which includes my fantastic beans on toast joke. I told it on twitter and it really made Jamie Smart laugh, so it must be funny.

Derek and Vern in TBK mag!

Derek the Sheep turns up all over the shop alongside fellow sheep compatriot Vern, in TBK magazine this month!

TBK is a brilliant mag all about new and groovy childrens books and this issue is their 30th anniversary issue. Even my old china plate Jamie Smart has his fizog plastered in there as he chats about his brilliant kids book Find Chaffy (buy it! BUY IT!!! How I loved Find Chaffy. Sigh.).

Me and Sarah Mcintyre, creator of Vern and Lettuce (buy that too!!!) did a quick 4 panel comics jam for the mag, which has a hilarious ending, even if I do say so myself. Here’s one of my panels…

If you pop over to Sarah’s blog, you can see one of her panels too! So exciting.

We have original illos dotted throughout the mag, so I’m sure it’ll be worth thousands of pounds in the future. So best get a copy now, unless you intend to become a millionaire in the not too distant future!

Run for the hills, Derek is here!

Woohoo! It’s that time of the month again i.e. a new issue of Beanomax hits the shops. And a new issue of Beanomax = a brand new Derek the Sheep story!! Yay!!!

That’s 9 Dereks in a row now. I totally OWN that mag! And I’ve just sent off the 10th, which is a two-parter and everything. W00t.

Here’s a panel from this month’s mad Derek strip:

Hahaha!!! Chaos ensues etc.

Please buy the Beanomax and support little ol’ Derek and the rest of the Beanomax crew. Sales have gone up 5%, halting a dramatic slide since he’s been in there (not that I’m saying it’s down to Derek or anything, just pointing out a jolly coincidence… or am I…?), so what are you waiting for? Buy the thing!!!