strange beasts on london streets

Yesterday was a highly productive day at the Fleece Station… mainly because we were fueled by PERCY PIG juice. Oh, yes, the Percy Pig factory even make a drink. (Percy Pigs taste and feel like plastic, but they somehow sum up that lovely smell and feeling you got as a kid when you opened the box with a new, perfect plastic toy in it.) Here’s Gary, holding the holy grail:

I was a bit worried about Kevin the badly drawn sheep (see the previous ad-hoc comic panels), so I checked in on him again:

What is it? I must keep an eye on that sheep. Speaking of sheep, last night the whole Fleece Station headed over to at party at the National Geographic Store on Regent Street, not to see a sheep but a meerkat. We thought we might even get to hold a meerkat, although we suspected that, like ferrets, they might bite and this might not be a good idea.

When we got to the party, an owl wrangler was displaying this lovely bird, and we oohed and ahhed and took photos.

And then we asked, but where’s the meerkat?

But the next animal they brought out wasn’t at all cuddly, it was a tarantula. Only Gary wanted to hold it, although he says his mugging-for-the-camera expression here is actually genuine. So, where is the meerkat?

Ah! Another gorgeous owl. They are magnificent birds. Wow. …The meerkat! The meerkat!

Sadly, by this point, Ellen and I needed to run off because we’d promised Corinne Pearlman at Myriad Editions that we’d go to Nicola Streeten’s book launch, so we legged it to the house next to the British Museum and MISSED THE MEERKAT. Gary and Lauren stayed for the meerkat, and Lauren said it was ‘very cool’. Can’t believe I missed it. But seeing the party’s organiser Philippa Perry is really just as good as seeing a meerkat. It would not be professional of me to say she is as cute and cuddly, but she throws a very good party, so look out for this woman.

So on to Nicola Streeten‘s launch! You may have seen her last weekend on the front page of The Guardian‘s Family section. It makes her look very intense, even bad-ass. But Nicola is lovely, and a good laugh.

Here she is, signing copies of her new graphic novel, Billy, Me & You: a memoir of grief and recovery. You can find out about it, see extracts and read The Guardian review and another by Nottingham’s Page 45 comic shop here on the Myriad website.

I’m half-way through, and it’s an interesting and insightful read. You know how, when you meet someone, and they’ve just had someone close to them die, and you don’t know what to do? You know that the worst thing you can do is to avoid them, but you’re also worried about sticking your foot in it and saying something colossally inappropriate or unhelpful, or making them them cry in public when perhaps they’d rather not. Well, this book puts you on the other side of that dilemma, and let’s you see what’s going on behind the scenes, at least for one person – Nicola – whose baby died when he was two years old. I wasn’t sure at first about the artwork, it’s done in a sort of naive style, but I’ve seen very polished artwork that doesn’t read half as well as this does, the pages are well laid out and push you forward in the story. And surprisingly, I think they also make the story more accessible, it gives you the feeling that this is a real-life situation that could have happened to any of us, and gives the impression that the teller is letting you see her note taking as she goes along, trying to come to terms with the tragedy.

Here’s the Myriad Editions gang, including Nicola’s editor, Corinne Pearlman (holding the book).

After the launch, I caught the tail end of drinks with a bunch of fab illustrators, including Marion Deuchars, David Lucas, Noelle Davies-Brock and Mei Matsuoka. (Do have a look at their websites, so much talent!)

And here’s my Monsterville compadre Ed Vere with Bruce Ingman, Marion, and Deborah Allwright:

I’m recovering from my massive cold, but I think I slightly overdid it last night, even though I only had one glass of wine and drank water for the rest of the night. So if you saw me then and I babbled absolute rubbish, apologies! Still a very good evening, though.

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