Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Making friends and comics ... Rwanda Revealed part 1

Last Friday I arrived home to England but, due to a monumental 22 HOUR door-to-door return trip, I proceeded to spend most of the weekend - and yesterday - sleeping! With my batteries now fully charged I feel ready to reveal the magic of Rwanda and its people.

But there is SO much to share! Where do I begin? Strangely enough (and anyone who's read the opening chapter of Long Gone Don will appreciate the symmetry here) I want to start at the end.

On our last full day in Kigali - the capital city of 'The Land of a Thousand Hills' (more on that later) - I visited Remera Catholique 2, a large primary school in the Remera district. The trip had been organised by my good friend Kate Haines and Stephen Mugisha, the founder and president of the Rwanda Book Development Initiative. One of the brilliant aims of RWABODI is to 'develop a culture of reading', and that is where I come in ... for Rwanda is a country that had NEVER read a comic book!!!

The reaction from the children was ... erm ... quite frankly amazing.

As if the lack of comics wasn't enough of a brain melt, you need to understand that Rwanda only switched from French to English as one of its official languages (the other being Kinyarwanda) TWO YEARS AGO!

So as I stepped into the classroom, armed only with a huge pile of Monkey Nuts/Baggage and a special version of our GO NUTS activity sheets, I was ready for a challenge.

The children however were more than ready to listen, to learn, to laugh a LOT (see if you can spot my drawing of Sid, or some questionable stick men!) and to get involved.

Lorenzo and I have visited a lot of schools in the UK where books are increasingly scarce but still available. That is not the case in Rwanda. Most of the books in the school library are curriculum based, or factual and there simply aren't any books for the children to read for FUN!  Leaving Remera Catholique 2 with the knowledge that the adventures of Sid and Rivet and Randall will soon be worming their way through the hands of hundreds and hundreds and HUNDREDS of kids was a fantastic feeling. They might not understand every word on the page but I know for a fact they're going to have a blast looking at the pictures!

And the good news continues as Aaron, the teacher whose class I met, was keen to keep the comic spirit alive with further lessons in storytelling.

HUGE thanks to Kate and Stephen for giving me this incredible opportunity; to Lauren Bennett and the kind folks at Random House for providing the books; and to all the children and staff at Remera Catholique 2 for being ... well, for being basically awesome.

Rwanda ROCKS! More soon when I'll be revealing how I influenced an ape...

- Robin!

Monday, 30 January 2012

The Dangerous adventures of Von Doogan - The Nine Locks

 So, those of you out there who are already subscribing to The Phoenix will know that issue 4 came out on Saturday, and what a Doozey it is! To celebrate, here's little behind-the-scenes artwork from Von Doogan, my on-going-mind-bending puzzle adventure series.

More soon!


Friday, 27 January 2012

Long Gone Don Fanart all the way from New Zealand!

Check this out! A great piece of Long Gone Don art by top fan George Shiers, who lives all the way on the other side of the world in New Zealand. Cheers pal!

If you live somewhere unusual (or somewhere very ordinary) and want to see your Etherington Brothers fan art up here, then by all means, send it through!


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Baggage gets great review in Scribbler magazine!

 "Baggage is another well-written, well-illustrated masterpiece from the Etherington Brothers. Marvel at the brilliant drawings and laugh out loud at Randall's hilarious mishaps. This book is sure to excite and thrill any age!"

The latest issue of the excellent magazine for children, SCRIBBLER has just come out, and I'm delighted to say it contains a great review of Baggage! Scribbler is a fantastic publication which encourages children to take their reading and writing skills to the next step, and gives informed advice about quality books for 7-11 year olds.


Monday, 23 January 2012

Long Gone Don cover art!

 Well, issue 3 of The Phoenix came out on Saturday, with a cover adorned by none other than Long Gone Don!

Here is the original artwork for the cover, before all the typographical bells and whistles went on...


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Watch out AFRICA - here come the Etheringtons!

Okay, well, here comes ONE Etherington ... but the impact is sure to be the same!

We're off to the beautiful country of Rwanda to visit friends, see the mountain gorillas in the wild (and maybe even the mist) and, best of all, bring the adventures of Monkey Nuts and Baggage to a nation without comics.

And children with a flag this cool deserve comics!

The kind folk at Random House have given me a big pile of our books to gift to the schools I shall be visiting, but I cannot imagine that what reaction the ridiculous tales of Sid, Rivet and Randall are going to have.

Love? Hate? Complete and utter confusion???

Sharing our experiences with any child is a privilege, but to teach children who may never have seen a comic before, and for whom English was only adopted as a national language two years ago, is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

I shall try and blog from Kigali - the capital city - but failing that, I'll be sure to share all the wonders of the trip upon my return.

- Robin!

Fantastic review of Phoenix issues 1 and 2 on Forbidden Planet!

Those fine folks over on the Forbidden Planet blog have posted an enthusiastic thumbs up to the Phoenix in the form of THIS awesome review. Plus, you get to see ANOTHER full page of Long Gone Don! Go read it!


Tuesday, 17 January 2012


You can now follow us on twitter, if you want, right HERE

Monday, 16 January 2012

Pianos, Knives and Ladders - more from Long Gone Don!

A page here from the second episode of Long Gone Don, featuring all manner of weird objects being spat at our heroes by some giant unknown nasty! You can read Long Gone Don every week, only in The Phoenix!

To grab a teaser (five issue), three month, six month or year subscription, click HERE! You won't be disappointed. 


Thursday, 12 January 2012

Lorenzo Illustrates John Dickinson's New Novel!

Muddle and Win: the Battle of Sally Jones is now available for pre-order from Amazon. The book features a full wrap cover by yours truly!

Muddle and Win is written by the critically acclaimed author John Dickinson, and is his first new book since the fantastic WE.

I'll be posting a big break-down of the cover design process a bit closer to the launch date, but for now, GO HERE for a sneaky peek at how the book will look!


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Comic Creator Magazine feature!

 Comic Creator Magazine is an exciting new title focusing on inspirational comic and graphic art which will be launching this year. Run by the excellent Matt Wieman, this is a mag that's going to be right up the street of budding artists, professionals, and fans alike. I'm very pleased to say that I'll be featured in issue one, and will tell you more about it as we get closer to the release date.

In the meantime, you can see some of my art in a mini-feature on the awesome new Comic Creator Magazine website HERE! The site is just coming together, so be sure to re-visit regularly to see all the new stuff going up!


Monday, 9 January 2012

Phoenix Launch Party at The Story Museum!

On Saturday, my wife Mimi and I (Lorenzo was chained to the desk - poor thing) spent an exceptionally enjoyable afternoon in sunny Oxford surrounded by dozens of the most creative people with which I've ever had the pleasure of working. I am, of course, talking about the owners, editors, designers, marketing gurus, writers and artists of the brand new Phoenix Comic!

Those wonderful folk at The Story Museum (a venue we've previously performed at - see HERE for details) hosted a superb party with more treats than we could possibly consume. Just look at the spread!

I ate least thirty scones with cream and jam. And I'm proud of that.

The next three hours whizzed by as we attempted to chat to James Turner, John Aggs, Patrice Aggs, Jamie Littler, Emma Vieceli, Kate Brown, Andrew Wildman, Dan Hartwell, Woodrow Phoenix, Philip Pullman, Ted Dewan, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Sarah McIntyre (whose photos I've pinched!) Gary Northfield, Neill Cameron, Ben Sharpe, Laurence Beck, Matt Baxter, Ross Fraser, David, Tom, Will, Caro and the entire Fickling gang, and all respective partners, co-creators, friends and wunderkinds. Speeches were given (David, Caro and Ben each utilizing fine voice and finer words to great effect), toasts were made, plans were concocted and a new comic for children was ushered into the world with deserved fanfare.

(Why do Emma, Andrew and Mimi look like they're having their picture taken with a cardboard cutout?)

Best of all there were LOADS of children present! I spent as much time chatting to young readers and fans as I did munching cakes (it was a close run thing, then I skipped an eclair). Now, we can wax lyrical about the quality of our comic product all day long but the real test comes when it's thrust into the hands of a critical reader. Thankfully the verdict from all concerned was .... AWESOME!

Oliver, seen above, knew how to play the game. He managed to acquire signatures and sketches from EVERY artist and writer in the room!

After the party had wrapped the grownups (in age if not intelligence) adjourned to a nearby pub and continued making merry till the small hours.

Many thanks to everyone who made Saturday possible, and the many MANY more who have helped launch this bold creative enterprise. Our nation's children need great comics and as the Phoenix takes to sky the future looks that much brighter.

You can pick up a subscription (in four varieties: 5-issue taster, 3-month, 6-month or 1 year bundles) HERE!

- Robin!

The Phoenix issue one - read some reviews!

There have been a few reviews of issue one of the phoenix going up around the ole' web over the past few days, and I wanted to share them with you! Images courtesy of Lew Stringer!

Go HERE for the mighty Lew Stringer's thoughts on the title!

And HERE for Jeremy Briggs' article!

And meet the team behind the comic in This Article from the Oxford Mail!


Friday, 6 January 2012

The Phoenix flies... tomorrow!

Nothing more to say except, SUBSCRIBE TO THE PHOENIX!

Here's the intro to Long Gone Don from issue Zero (click it to see it BIG!), the adventure proper starts tomorrow!


Thursday, 5 January 2012

New Forbidden Planet Interview

Due to the crazy pre-Christmas rush, I accidentally forgot to share this great feature. In a creative move, the lovely team at Forbidden Planet approached us for an interview with a twist - all the questions were composed by children (thankfully they seemed to like our books!).

The result was an amusing and informative session with some genuinely original questions about our past and future work, and our creative process.

To read the interview in full (recommended), simply click HERE!

Thanks to Mia and Owen (both in Year 6) for being so darned professional! A future in journalism beckons.

- Robin 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New Year ... New Comics!

Happy New Year to you all!

2012 may only be three days old but it already looks like it's going to be something truly special, with new comics, new books and lots of exciting new multimedia projects in the works. Rest assured we'll be dropping teasers, snippets and cold, hard information on all these developments as soon as we can, but in the meantime here's something you can get your hands on RIGHT NOW.

The very latest Transformers action from Titan's monthly PRIME comic!

The New Year starts with a little mind-altering mayhem as Raf falls foul of a cunning Decepticon plan in Tinker, Tailer, GAMER, Spy!.

Darid Brizuela provides the fantastic art, while I provide the really-rather-fun-if-i-say-so-myself script.

You can find a copy at your nearest newsagent or order a subscription HERE!

- Robin!

Competition Time with Von Doogan!

The Phoenix is currently running a competition utilising the last of my Waitrose mini Von Doogan puzzles! Why not have a go? You can enter it HERE!