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SNEAK PEEK!

With all the beautiful weather we’ve been having lately, it seems like an appropriate time to post a seasonal teaser spread from the NEXT Wilf story, ‘Worrisome Wilf Goes Wild’!  Being a Wilf tale, you can be sure that his garden is nowhere near as tranquil as it seems…

All is well in the garden? Wilf prepares to go wild...
Is all well in the garden? Wilf prepares to go wild…

Fulsome feedback

Worrisome Wilf’s Beastly Bedtime has now been out a few months and we’ve had some great, encouraging feedback from happy readers.  Here’s a selection that we’ve received. Huge thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to contact us. To all you friends of Wilf, let’s keep spreading the word!

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“A fantastic book which can be used in a number of ways. I’m a mum and my kids love it. But I’ll also be taking it in to school to get some writing done with some reluctant boys – lots of great starting points for writing ideas. It’s written in rhyme so is a great access point for narrative poetry. Highly recommended.”  – Rhoda W

“This book is fantastic! We have children of various ages under 8 and they all love it. Looking forward to the next one.” – Dave S

“This is a cracking good story for children and adults to enjoy. The illustrations are great and the humour is brilliant. I must say having read so many children’s books over the years Worrisome Wilf is by far one of the best!!!” – Alun D

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“My two kids (3 and 5) love this. They really engaged with the rhyming story (finishing verses with the right words) and the illustrations perfectly tell the surreal story. It’s spooky but very funny and the shadowy corners of the pictures often reveal hidden bits which my little girl loves finding. Reminds me of my all-time fave, Wide Awake Jake and like that, it’s pitched just right for active little minds at bedtime. Highly recommended.” – Wayne S

“My boy loves the illustrations and dynamics of the book. It is engaging and endearing. I recommend it to any parent that has a child with an inquisitive mind.” – Maria O

“This is a fantastic book for younger children, whether they are old enough to read it themselves or have it read to them. A witty and charming story, perfect for little ones before bedtime. A believable and understandable scenario that young children may empathise with. The illustrations, which almost look like they have been lifted from an animated adventure, are perfect for little ones, without being too cutesy. I can see lots of scope for more adventures with the wonderful Wilf. Here’s hoping there are lots more to come.” – Charlie D

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“I recently purchased this book and really enjoyed it, so I took in into my class to share with the children who loved it! It is a great book to read aloud, introduce rhyme and is full of humour and wit with great illustrations, which the children enjoyed! I can’t wait to read what happens next with Wilf and his imagination, neither can my class!” – Tanya C

“Both my children, aged 4 and 9 love this book and want it read at bedtime – it seems to put all their worries to bed before them and they go off quite happily. I could’ve done with Worrisome Wilf as a kid too. Look forward to more Wilf books. Can see this really catching on. Roll on the full TV animation, say I. CBeebies/CBBC take note.” – Chris A

“This review from my daughter who still prefers a good picture book over a long read: “To all viewers just so you know this is one of the best books I have read in my nine years so far. It was ace, it was great because the illustrations were cool and detailed, the descriptions were very powerful and it was so worrying at times I was on the edge of my seat.”” – Cally R

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“This is a real treat. Highly recommended for kids who have trouble getting to sleep, the book makes the notion of bedtime nerves into a topic of fun. The list of potential horrors lurking in Wilf’s mind is funny and inventive and Martin Gordon’s illustrations are charming with a cool edge. My 6 year old especially liked the army of robots and the three headed ninja. Sean Baldwin has a witty turn of phrase, effortlessly turning out the kind of lines which kids love to repeat. A future classic!” – Graham D

“My son was so excited to get going on this book, and he was not disappointed. Wilf is a cool looking kid with real concerns that my 5 year old related to immediately which meant we talked about it. Very valuable and clever. Thank you. Looking forward to the next book.” – Anna L

“Worrisome Wilf is great fun and my little girl (14 months) loves the beautiful clear illustrations and the rythym of the text. As a parent I’m encouraged that Wilf has very real fears about not so real things and yet is still brave enough to do what he’s gotta do.A lovely book and hopefully just the first of Wilf’s many adventures.” – Rachel G

Worrisome Wilf’s Beastly Bedtime is a picture book for younger readers that imaginatively addresses those creepy noises that night-time brings as obstacles to a good night’s sleep and boxes them up in plenty of fun and humour. The text is large and clear and the story is told through a series of rhymes and illustrations that are inventive and funny – making it a pleasure to look through and read out loud. Wilf, when climbing into bed, hears `something quite awful outside’ and tries to imagine what it could be. He imagines skateboarding werewolves and three-headed Ninjas covered in snails and lots of other strange things to keep him worried. But this isn’t a scary book, it’s a book about a boy with `horrible thoughts in his head’ learning to overcome his bedtime fears, accept his vivid imagination for what it is, and get a good night’s sleep. Utterly charming.” – Joe Q

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WILF IS HERE!

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Well worth a peek. Worrisome Wilf’s very first adventure

I’m delighted to announce that ‘Worrisome Wilf’s Beastly Bedtime’, the brand new children’s book by me and Martin Gordon is now available! Vividly told in humorous verse and pictures, it tells the story of Wilf, a young lad who’s too scared to go to bed because of a noise that he hears outside. His bizarre imagination conjures up all manner of crazy scenarios before he realises that ordinary life is no match for his overactive mind. The first in a series for 3-7 year olds, ‘Beastly Bedtime’ is available from all good retailers, priced £6.99, and would make an ideal Christmas present!

Bound for Blighty

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Well, we’re almost there with ‘Beastly Bedtime’.Yesterday our ‘gather’ version of the book arrived. This is a preview copy that shows us exactly what the final product will look like; albeit in loose, unbound form.

We honestly couldn’t be happier with the finished quality and now it’s just a matter of the books being bound, packed and shipped.

It’s a great thrill to think that Wilf will be heading to our shores from Hong Kong very soon!

Kickstarted!

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that we’ve reached our target!! ‘Worrisome Wilf’s Beastly Bedtime’ is a fully-funded Kickstarter project and is going to be published!

Enormous thanks to everyone who took the time to pledge, support and help spread the word about this hugely exciting enterprise. We’ve been absolutely bowled over by your enthusiasm and generosity and can’t wait to launch into the next phase of Wilfiness.

There are so many plans afoot but the first priority is getting the book printed in time for September. I’ll be keeping you posted so do watch this space or visit Wilf’s website. And once again… THANK YOU!

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Phase One completed. (L-R) Martin, Wilf and me

Say hello to Wilf!

This is WORRISOME WILF, the little boy with the BIZARRE imagination. Created by Martin Gordon and myself, his series of funny adventures for younger readers begins with BEASTLY BEDTIME. This hugely exciting project will be launching on Kickstarter in Spring 2013. You can find out all about the world of Wilf on his very own website or visit his Facebook page for regular updates. Wilf is also on twitter @worriwilf  Come and say hello and join in the fun!

Out of Office

 

 

It’s been a bit quiet on here lately but I’ve got an excuse. This is Joseph and he was born on the 20th Jan. Despite his best efforts at thwarting me, I’ll aim to get more stuff on here soon.

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

 

Back in the 1970s, before the likes of Action and 2000AD bazooka-ed the British comics-reading consciousness for good, there was a popular weekly that didn’t concern itself with anarchic violence and future shocks. Instead, it peddled a formulaic but successful blend of sports-related adventure strips, gags, posters, quizzes and facts. That comic was Tiger (what a name!) and my pre-Dredd love affair with it began when my Nan’s neighbour gave me an enormous pile of them one summer when I was about 7. As Nemesis the Warlock and the ABC Warriors did later, Tiger strips like Skid Solo and Martin’s Marvellous Mini added a turbo-boosted charge somewhat lacking in current reading like The Beano, Buster and TV Comic.

 

It’s one of life’s lasting ironies that all kids want to be adults and vice-versa. Tiger straddled this challenge nicely by giving me adventures starring adults that my Dad happened to love reading. We bonded over the weekly quiz and poked fun at some of the daft photos of sporting luminaries on the back pages. Was there really a ‘Your Choice’ picture of John Hollins and Ian Gillard decked out in full QPR kit, sitting on motorbikes and reading their fave comic, Tiger? We’d also have a good old chuckle at the aforementioned Skid Solo strip, where evergreen F1 racing legend Skid Solo (Mrs Solo’s eldest) would tear-up the world’s most exotic racing tracks assisted by his loyal and dextrous crew: an excitable Scot called Sandy McGrath. What tickled us in particular was Sandy’s almost-weekly shout of ‘Hoots mon, ye’ve just broken the world lap record!’

 

Unashamedly comical was Hot-Shot Hamish, the hilarious and often pathos-strewn tale of a lovable lummox who sported a fierce blonde mullet long before the term was invented. Hamish Balfour played for Princes Park in a jersey five sizes too small and got cramp when he had to sign autographs. His manager, Mr McWhacker, would watch proudly as goalkeepers stood quaking between the posts in anticipation of the famous ‘hot-shot’ – a cannonball blast from Balfour’s boot that could send the goalie into next week’s strip. Aided by his pet ram, McMutton, the unwieldy Hamish wreaked havoc upon his rivals’ nerves until a case of the galloping yips would often send him into a softly-shooting slump.

 

 

 

Like a pre-Viagra loss of libido, a recurrent theme in Tiger was a sudden paralysing loss of ability, inducing a crisis of confidence that ultimately kept our characters both stoic and heroic. One such protagonist, who surely suffered more than all the saints combined, was Billy Dane, star of the excellent, long-running Billy’s Boots. A nice kid with zero talent, Billy lived with his poor, sweet Gran and tortured himself over dreams of sporting excellence. One day he found an old pair of ankle boots in the loft and discovered that they belonged to footie legend ‘Dead-Shot’ Keen. Trying the boots on for size he learned that they made him play exactly like Dead-Shot, leading him intuitively into goal-scoring positions for the school team and, against all odds, right the way up to England Schoolboys. ‘But what will Billy get up to in the summer holidays?’ we cried. ‘Fear not,’ said kindly Uncle Tiger; for once the soccer season ended, a benevolent cobbler gave Billy a pair of old white boots that conveniently belonged to Dead-Shot, who was, you guessed it, also a pretty wicked cricketer in his time.

 

 

 

 

Off the pitch Billy endured terrible luck and rarely received anything other than a knackered old turnip for Christmas. But on those occasions when the boots hadn’t been burnt, busted or bunged into a river by bullies, he ruled the football field like no other. Well, apart from Roy of the Rovers and ‘Nipper’ Lawrence, Tiger’s other great football strips of that era.

 

 

 

Generally, Tiger’s art was super-dynamic and made a feature of striking covers that burst brazenly from beneath the classic yellow logo. I marvelled at the discipline of those artists who produced such fine work on the same strips for so many years. For a long time my favourite was Sandy James, the artist on Johnny Cougar, who had a very clean, slick style – heavy on dazzling character portraits that practically leapt from the frame. ‘The Redskin Wrestler with the iron grip’ was a grim-faced hunk in a headband who terrorised wrestling rings whilst getting into all manner of fantastical scrapes. Aided (or jaded, as was often the case) by his crusty sidekick Splash Gorton, a beatnik with a pet penguin called Ice Chick, Johnny would fight anyone: wrestlers, crooks and even robots. The ‘injun matman’ had a neat line in lingo, usually think-bubbling ‘By Manitou!’ or ‘Wah! Heap big problem for Cougar!’ as an unscrupulous adversary sat on his larynx. Best of all, whilst deftly chuzzing an opponent out of the ring, was the lofty assertion: ‘Hookhai! The Cougar strikes!’  Once, when challenged to fight in a ring suspended perilously between two cliffs, Johnny fell to his apparent death. Cracking his bonce on the riverbed he then lost his memory and reinvented himself as a Country and Western superstar called Whistlin’ Kid Crawfish. Actually the last bit didn’t happen but it might have been a whole load more believable than my favourite ever Cougar tale where he battled against a fearsome opponent called Grarg. Bitch-slapped and humiliated by the taciturn foe, Johnny smelt a rat and did the decent thing by following Grarg to his lair, a remote castle complete with laboratory, where the reason for Johnny’s demise is breathtakingly revealed: Grarg is actually a robot! This strip really sealed the deal for me when I received that mighty Tiger-pile and I continued reading for long after.

 

In fact it only dawned on me recently that I stopped buying Tiger when my parents divorced and I went to live with my mum. Was it a coincidence that I pulled the plug on it once my Tiger-loving father wasn’t around as much? Well, not really. The truth is, by then Tiger had been wholly replaced by the thrill-powered 2000AD in my affections. I only continued buying it through sheer loyalty to the once-exhilarating publication that accompanied me through all those golden 70s summers of sport. Times had changed and by the 80s Tiger was slowly faltering. There were only so many stories where Skid could break another lap record or Billy Dane could utter, ‘Crumbs! I wonder where the old boots are taking me now?’’ I vividly remember my heart sinking one week when I saw Big Daddy lurching from the cover like a fat, sequinned zombie. Grarg the robot had been replaced with a real-life showbiz wrestler and the end was surely nigh. And so it was that in 1985, after starting in 1954 and roaring for an astonishing 1,555 issues, the once-mighty Tiger  was finally swallowed by a revamped Eagle.

 

This article first appeared in the ‘Brits on Top’ series for the Broken Frontier comics website http://www.brokenfrontier.com/ 

 

70s Secrets Revealed!

It's only Bok & Roll. The Brig clips Macca's Wings

If you think Doctor Who Confidential got a rough ride recently from BBC3 then spare a thought for the 1970s Doctor Who production team. Their projected sister-show, ‘The Secret World of Doctor Who’, never even made it to transmission. Find out how it almost happened in my latest STARBURST strip right here http://t.co/5sG9l3mX