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14th August 2018

All Aboard The School Bus of Horrors Illustrated by Euan Cook

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Embark on the ride on your life with School Bus of Horrors, 6 seriously spooky reads with striking covers featuring artwork by Euan Cook, these American library editions created by Capstone take readers to the next level with 4D elements leading to exclusive video content, accessed by scannable codes within the books.

Euan Cook graduated from University College Falmouth in 2011. He was one of Creative Review’s picks of the New Designers 2011 exhibition. His work focuses on good observational drawing skills and bold linework with restrained colour palettes, using less to communicate more. He’s interested in sequential narratives and portraying the personalities of people and places he sees around him. He was born and lives in London, the city and its population are his favourite subjects as he seeks out familiar things from unfamiliar perspectives.

Read on to find out about what scares the socks off Euan and where he finds his inspiration…
What was your favourite scary movie as a child?

I was never one of those kids that sought out the scariest thing around to terrify themselves with. But I do remember having a fondness for lots of creepy films. Stop motion skeletons and kraken in really old black and white stuff, Tim Burton films such as Edward Scissorhands, which we watched all the time on VHS taped off the TV.

The Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t particularly scary, there is lots of amazing creepyness but the monsters are the main characters. It’s one of my favourite films of all time though. A gorgeous visual feast, brilliant characters, some excellent songs and a touching story. And it all wraps up in 1 hour 15 mins. What a gem.

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Where did you get your inspiration for the covers for School Bus of Horrors?

There is a strong concept behind each story that made it easy to respond to. The horror genre has so many iconic themes and monsters, there is more reference material than you could ever use.

Sometimes it was a case of pushing the central story idea as far as possible. In Crush Hour the bus gets shorter and shorter, squishing everyone together. So the cover has the bus windscreen absolutely filled with kids’ faces, legs and arms, packed lunches and stationary pushed up against the glass, like a jar of pickles.

Which of the covers was the most challenging and why?

It didn’t take the longest or require the most revision, but it’s the cover for Shocks! (I don’t think it’s part of the first wave of SBH books but it should come out in the future). The idea for that cover was to have the bus hit by lightning and everything appears doubled, like double vision or the bus shaking out of itself, splitting in two. So trying to clearly indicate the two separate buses, the creepy/supernatural element of what was going, while keeping everything legible and aesthetically pleasing was a really interesting challenge. I think it all came together nicely though, especially pleased with the electricity crackling all around the bus(es). Look forward to seeing how it turns out on the printed cover.

Tell us your top 3 monsters..

Top three monsters of all time or in the School Bus of Horrors? In the books it would be the furry monsters from Destruction Zone, the zombies in Dead End and the mysterious driver of the bus itself, who appears in almost all the books but only ever offers tiny hints about their character and motivation.

Top monsters of all time is trickier… I guess the humble zombie would have to be one. Have been somewhat obsessed with zombie films since watching the original Night of the Living Dead as a teenager. They let us explore ideas about ourselves, humanity. And the slowly inevitable doom of facing a horde of zombies is really terrifying.

At the risk of just going with the classics I also really like Dracula. He has a strangely specific set of abilities, things he can and cannot do, which all reinforce the idea of a of a subversive, domineering creep. He can seem tragic and vulnerable as well as absolutely despicable. Good monster.

And for something completely different – the big crab armour monsters from Dark Crystal. There are some brilliantly evocative designs in that film but the big crab monsters are my fave. There is clearly a person running around underneath the puppet but they look amazing anyway. Also I like crabs. My top three monsters will probably change every time you ask me, there are too many great ones to choose from.

  

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Which books were you drawn to as a child?

I have always loved anything that could create a world in your head. When I was young that was Amazing Mazes and Where’s Wally, huge, sprawling illustrations you could get lost in. Or Katie Morag, with it’s incredibly evocative Scottish island, something that felt familiar from having family in that part of the world. The earliest novel I remember was a (presumably edited for kids) version of Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Later on I was mad for science fiction and fantasy books, the Star Wars X-Wing books, Redwall, anything with a richly detailed world to sink your teeth into.

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Which one piece of advice would you give someone about to graduate and join the professional creative world..

It may be trite and worn but – keep doing stuff and putting it out there. Which is not to say you need to immediately tie yourself to the first project that appears, so long as you keep doing bits of stuff you are interested in and putting it in front of people, whether that’s wondering around an art fair, entering some competitions (there are loads of good ones, many of them run yearly), or sending postcards to publishers and agents, you will find opportunities and develop your skills beyond what you learned at school/college/university.

 

Check out his portfolio HERE

 

 

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7th August 2018

PRESS START! It’s Blast Off with Thomas Flintham

This action packed series of books created by Thomas Flintham will be sure to entice even the most addicted screen fiends away from their electronic devices and into a crazy inter galactic world of Super Rabbit Boy. These handy bite sized adventures for newly emerging readers are generously illustrated in full colour throughout and perfectly tap into the world of computer games and high octane adventure.

So Boing! Boing! Let’s go! re-boot your console and pick up a copy of  ‘Press Start! 5: Super Rabbit Boy Blasts Off!

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GASP, Meanie King Viking is causing BIG trouble in outer space! Our hero Super Rabbit Boy knows he can stop him. But can he fly a wobbly Level 1 rocketship, stop an army of space robots, AND find King Viking? This latest Press Start! adventure is simply out of this world!

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Press Start Super Rabbit Boy Blasts Off by Thomas Flintham

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Press Start Super Rabbit Boy Blasts Off by Thomas Flintham

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Press Start Super Rabbit Boy Blasts Off by Thomas Flintham

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The Press Start series is published by Scholastic. We’d love to see some photos of your little ones enjoying Super Rabbit Boy so do Tweet us at @Arenatweet #pressstart #superrabbitboy

Parent Review

“My child who struggles to read, just spent 45mins reading with me because he was loving his book so much. Thank you and for Super Rabbit Boy. He is convincing my child that he’s a reader better than I or his teachers ever could.” 

 

Follow Thomas on Twitter HERE or visit his website HERE 

 

31st July 2018

A look inside Ancient Warriors Illustrated by Joe Lillington

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Throughout history, timelines have been punctuated with epic battles, for control of land, resources and communities. Flying Eye Books in association with author Iris Volant and Arena Illustrator Joe Lillington have chosen this aspect of History to form the basis for Ancient Warriors, a collection of studies exploring incredible weaponry, fierce and formidable soldiers and the strategic origins of some of the most famous battles in history.

From the battle for survival and the evolution of flint weaponry during the Stone Age to the Crusades, fascinating facts and insights into tactics from the battlefield are revealed alongside Joe’s stunning atmospheric illustrations.

Delve into the lives of Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc, and Genghis Kahn. Follow the stories of Celtic warriors, Shaolin Monks, Vikings, Knights, and Samurai, all while learning about weaponry, sword fighting, bow and arrows, martial arts and even poisonous beetles!

Joe’s detailed illustrations created digitally bring these historical moments to life with a powerful sense of strength and confidence, the movement depicted in his battle scenes will draw young readers into the stories encouraging a life long love of history.

Check out these amazing reviews…

“The illustrations have a depth and energy, giving an insight into the era and environment described by Volant’s succinct text, resulting in harmonious page design” – Read the full review HERE - AOI 

“In the beginning, we were all warriors,” begins Ancient Warriors. Charting the world’s greatest military minds and introducing the battles they were famous for, this is a very well compiled, explained and illustrated book. From Queen Boadicea to the Shaolin Monks, who treated fighting as an art, Joe Lillington traces the evolution of warriors in rich detail.” i NEWS 

Grab your very own copy of this fascinating and beautiful book over on the Flying Eye Books Website 

Read our recent interview with Joe where we discuss his process and inspirations HERE, check out Joe’s portfolio HERE

Here is a sneak peek at some of our favourite illustrations from the book.

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24th July 2018

P.P.P.P.Pick up a Mr Penguin (paperback) out now by Alex T Smith

It’s time to adjust your bow tie, grab the nearest magnifying glass and get ready to embark on an action packed quest with Alex T. Smith’s, Mr Penguin and The Lost Treasure

Mr Penguin and his monobrowed arachnid companion Colin are about to be called on by Boudicca Bones from the Museum of Extraordinary Objects to help find her missing treasure in this non-stop romp crammed with more laughs than you can shake an arrow at.

This book features over 100 exquisite illustrations by Alex, reproduced in black, white and vibrant tangerine, which will enchant readers of all ages and is OUT NOW in handy satchel sized paperback! (published by Hachette Children’s Books)

In additional exciting news we are thrilled that Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure has been selected as one of the 2018 Summer Reading Challenge recommended reads an initiative which reaches almost 800,000 children across the U.K. that’s 800,000 potential new adventurers heading out in to a wonderful world of books.

 

“Addictive slapstick” – The Guardian

 

View Alex’s update portfolio HERE or follow his endlessly entertaining musings on Twitter @Alex_T_Smith 

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17th July 2018

Exciting New Work by Graham Carter

From his cosy south coast studio in Brighton Graham Carter is one of the most exciting illustrators and print makers currently working in the UK, with a keen eye for design Graham creates visuals for a number of publishers and brands and his collectable  prints have become sought after the world over.

We’ve updated Grahams online portfolio with some of his latest pieces including the stunning additions below a cover piece for National Velvet, his forth coming picture book publishing with Andersen Press in 2019 , check it out HERE and for more information about his work do drop us a line.

 

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Having worked at the forefront of the industry for over 16 years Graham has built up an impressive client base, from BAFTA, Waterstone’s and Visa to The Guardian and The Sunday Times his work has adorned numerous successful campaigns. In recent years Graham has also worked as a Director with Animation Studio Ticktockrobot developing a variety of personal projects as well as commercial animations for a host of clients.

 

Following on from the success of his first book Alphamals A-Z published by Big Picture Press Graham is currently working on his second picture book, Otto Blotter Bird Spotter which publishes with Andersen Press in October 2019.

 

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“Graham Carter’s high colour, graphic artwork captures the striking beauty of each animal, and the short but informative non-rhyming poems on each double page spread add an original element not often found in nature nonfiction.”

– Booktrust

 

For sneak peeks and creative insights follow Graham on Instagram carter draws or visit his website HERE