Raymond Briggs (Part one)
This is the first in what I hope will eventually be a long list of artists, illustrators and authors who's work has inspired, informed, motivated and driven my own creative endeavours. These are my heroes.
I'm not intending to put them into any particular order, just whoever pops into my head as I begin bloggerizing. Having said that I'm kicking off with a chap whose books and illustrations have always been with me - Raymond Briggs.
I wasn't a big reader as a child, I much preferred picture books. My mum regularly took me and my brother to Carnegie Library at the bottom of our road and we would make our way past the room full of old men reading the daily newspapers, I'd manoeuvre my flares into a comfortable position and sit, looking at the picture books. There were one or two that I would seek out on every visit (and be mortified if they weren't there!) they were Fungus the Bogeyman, Father Christmas and Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (as well as Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak but I'll get onto those in a later blog!).
I loved the illustrations in those three books, they had a familiarity about them, you could look out of the windows and recognise the landscape that Raymond Briggs had drawn, not necessarily the northern landscape I lived in (Raymond Briggs lives in the south of England in the Sussex countryside) but a very English one, one filled with chimneys, lampposts and row upon row of houses and folks traipsing off to work under gloomy grey skies, I was a cheerful kid!. The books were filled with little details that you could pick out and discover new ones when you next looked, and who wouldn't want to read about the nocturnal adventures of a Bogeyman or a miserable Santa?!
All of this was illustrated in beautiful washes of paint, pen & ink and coloured pencils and told in sequential style like a comic book, a style rarely seen in Children's books in the 70's, bloomin lovely!
Those books and the subsequent titles released by Raymond Briggs have continued to captivate and inspire not only myself but generations of children and illustrators.
It's an ambition of mine to meet Raymond Briggs, to shake his hand and thank him for creating such lovely books. I guess it's unlikely that will happen so I'll say it here, 'Thank you Mr. Briggs'.
Nick Tankard, June 2013