'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Guest Post: Boris's Big Makeover

Author/illustrator Andrew Joyner shares with us the illustrative journey of his latest character, Boris...

Boris started with a drawing. But he didn’t look too much like the Boris you see in the books. Instead, he looked like this (left).

I was reading Rene Goscinny’s Nicholas, illustrated by the wonderful French cartoonist Sempe, when I just started to doodle this warthog, wearing a shirt, jumper and shorts. The doodle then turned into a drawing, and just on a whim, I decided to turn that drawing into a book cover.

Here it is:

Now that I had a cover, all I had to do was think of a book to go with it. Easy!

Thankfully, my publisher at Penguin, Jane Godwin, is much better at thinking of books. She had a great idea for a series of chapter books for very young readers. There would be colour pictures on every page and not too many words.

Now it was my turn to do some real thinking. Is Boris a kid? Does he have a family? Where does he live? Who are his friends? I drew and wrote and thought. And then I wrote and thought and drew.

Soon Boris had a mum and dad. He lived in a bus which had turned into a house. He had pets too. And he looked like this:

He still wasn’t quite right though. So I made him a little younger, a bit sweeter.

I was nearly there. I just wanted to simplify my drawing, make Boris less lumpy and warty and tusky. I’m always trying to simplify my drawings. It’s because I think the simpler the drawing, the easier it is to show your character’s emotion, to give your pictures some movement and action. Also, I like to think of my drawings as pictures to be read, and the simpler the drawing the easier it is to read.

As you can see, he’s had quite the makeover, but I think Boris has kept a lot of his original spark and personality. And a bit of his hair.

And now, finally, that very first cover drawing has found its own book. Here it is, the fourth book in the series, which will come out in June 2011. It’s called Boris Sees the Light. Sure, it’s not exactly the same, but there are definite similarities.

I’m not sure where Boris is heading next, but I look forward to finding out.

See our review of the first two books in the Boris series

Read our interview with author/illustrator Andrew Joyner