Saturday, 28 December 2013

Last chance to win a copy of The Octopuppy!

If you'd like the chance to win a signed hardback copy of The Octopuppy in the Goodreads giveaway, time is running out. You have until New Year's Eve to enter the giveaway - follow this link or click 'pon the 'Enter to win' button in the widget on the right.

Don't forget to rub your lucky leg, or other good fortune-bringing body part if you have one, to facilitate hitting the jackpot. Please note that the dazzling state-of-the-art light display seen above utilizes extremely powerful, isotope-splitting copper-vapor lasers which I must return to the nuclear research facility, and so is not included in the giveaway.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

WIN a signed copy of The Octopuppy!

Yes! You read it right you lucky punters!

Win one of the copies pictured here*. They're lovely shiny new hardbacks, and I will sign them for each of the winners (unless the winners request otherwise). I expect you can't believe your luck! But it's true! Things are finally starting to look up, and your life is beginning to turn around - it starts here!

All you have to do, to be in with a chance of receiving one of these in your mailbox, is to visit Goodreads and enter the giveaway. Click on this link, or click the 'Enter' button in the widget you should see on the right. You could soon be enjoying the adventures of Edgar & Jarvis for free. Good luck!

*magical fairy lights not included in prize.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Doctorpus

Happy Birthday for yesterday to Doctor Who.

Doctjarv Who

Here's Jarvis the Octopuppy in his Whovian get-up. For one of his silly outfits in the book, I chose to dress him as "my" Doctor, Tom Baker. Not only because ol' Tom was my favourite in the role (with Patrick Troughton a close second) but because Jarvis's googly eyes aren't a million miles away from Mr. Baker's own.

I was careful to match the colours of the original scarf, along with other details of Tom's earliest outfits. The sonic screwdriver is authentic mid-'70s... and of course the bag of jelly babies. Plus a little sink plunger reminder of his deadliest foes (which also provides a plumbing link to Jarvis's toilet journey from the story in The Octopuppy.)

Thursday, 21 November 2013


Brilliant work from Brilliant B3, a class of 6 year olds at Eastern Hutt School in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. Well done to Holly & Max for your excellent Octopuppy ideas!

Here's their blog:

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Kennel club sandwich

Oh dear! I've been so busy on my next book recently that I've not been whacking as much stuff up here for youse to see. There's still loads of Octopuppy making-of things to shake out of the Octopuppy shoebox and share with you.
A quick one to keep you going for now, here's another attempt I made at that kennel idea for the cover of the book. A few posts ago I showed you (Hey! Yes YOU. If you can tear your gaze away from that ornamental cabbage for a minute) a deeply unsuccessful cover rough from early on which featured a symbolic kennel for Jarvis. He doesn't have a kennel in the story, but I liked the image of tentacles poking incongruously out of a dog house, you see.

I tried a simpler idea with the kennel viewed from the side so we glimpse even less of Jarvis to keep him more mysterious. This quick doodle has fewer tentacles than the earlier one below. Either way the idea didn't seem to work and if anything might be a bit too eldritch.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Count

Ahead of Hallowe'en, a butcher's at the 'plush' Count Jarvula created by Karen Ann Hollingsworth. These are photos taken by Karen herself. Huge thanks to her for basing such an amazing creation on one of my doodles. This is Jarvis the Octopuppy in vampire mode, one of the characters he appears as in the book. If you'd like to have a stuffed character made by Karen, Octopuppy-inspired or otherwise, get in touch with her via her site

Thursday, 24 October 2013

UK imports

I'm pleased to report that UK orders placed at have been received from NZ exactly fourteen days later. Big thanks to everyone who's bought a copy! Fishpond is, as far as I know, currently the only method of ordering The Octopuppy if you're in the UK. They deliver from their New Zealand supplier, and with a turnaround of only two weeks with free shipping it seems to be an excellent source.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The pseudopodium's afoot!

Jarlock Foams and The Sea Cucumber of the Baskingsharkervilles.

First rough sketch of the character. Deerstalker on sideways in Harpo Marx style.

Other bits worked out and tidied up.


Monday, 21 October 2013

Kennel cougher

A really early attempt at a cover idea, one of the first roughs I did during development of the book. I was convinced a kennel with emerging tentacles was the way to go. It wasn't! Plus, horrible lettering, colours - ah, forget about it...

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Glamorous Cover Shoot #2

"Right, Jarvis love. This time just one tentacle. That's good, that's good, hold that. Come on, come on, that's GREAT. Give it to me, really give it to me. This side, lean forward. Grab one of the letters, marvellous! More tentacle, much more, much more. Hold that. Work! Work! Work! Go on! Go on! THAT'S IT, keep it up. NO! NO! For me, Jarvis, for me. Right that's me done. I'm off to wrestle for a lump of Jeff Beck's guitar and then chuck it in a shop doorway."

Another of my unused rough designs for the cover, again attempting to incorporate a hint of Saul Bass (why the heck not?)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Life's a... Seaside

A bit more about that beach scene. It provides a pause for us to fully appreciate Edgar's desperate loneliness, knowing he's driven Jarvis away and realising that Jarvis is nowhere to be found. This was inspired by a memory I have of a sequence in one of The Muppets films, in which a desperately lonely Gonzo wanders around and at one point appears as a tiny silhouette on a beach (I think?) - he's lost his chicken girlfriend Camilla, or maybe his pal Rizzo; I can't recall. Anyway I remember finding it hilarious.

In this bit of early storyboard, the 'Meanwhile...' picture of the earth is a global continuation of the sewer pipes joke on the preceding spread.

This rough has a much more inclement seascape for Edgar to stare off into. To help distinguish this scene from the picture in which Edgar rows out in the storm to the fishing boat, I changed it to a more symbolic sunset.

Monday, 14 October 2013


I thought I'd show you an early rough version of the spread which follows Edgar in his quest to find the missing Jarvis. In early storyboards, and in these roughs, I've still got Edgar as a little Edwardian gent in a tweed suit.

The sequence was eventually rearranged, with the removal of the picture in which Edgar shows the photo of Jarvis to the dolphins, to allow the right-hand page to become a full-page pic of Edgar staring folornly out to sea. More on that Next Time.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Bending over backwards

By this stage poor old Jarvis has done all he can to try to please Edgar on his misguided mission. The final humiliation is to abandon his identity entirely, his freedom and individuality symbolised throughout by his bow tie, in a final desperate attempt to give Edgar what he thinks he wants. Here are sketches of Jarvis's unhappy dog impressions, and the finished pic.

That's not dog. It's imitation.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Octopuppy now available in the UK

Readers in the UK can now get their tentacles on The Octopuppy in hardback via, where it's available with free shipping. Delivery time (from their NZ supplier) is estimated at about two weeks.

My first picture book, The Gift, is also available to UK buyers on Fishpond.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Vision On

And now, let's see what we've got in today's Gallery. Dear reader, please can you play Left Bank Two by The Noveltones while viewing this. Thanks.
All your puppy-colouring entries have been flooding in. I particularly like Karen's inclusion here of one of the Octopuppy's tentacles wielding a paintbrush, as though it's he who has been doing the colouring-in!

Karen Ann Hollingsworth (Age Withheld)

The lentils that Karen stuck to her picture appear to have fallen off in the post.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


What a lovely reaction from this reader in New Zealand.

Makes all the hard work worthwhile. Huge credit must as always go to my partner Aimee for offering such wonderful ideas, as well as my editors at Omnibus, for helping to make that simple story work at all!

Monday, 7 October 2013

The Birth of Jarvenus

Another unused cover, this didn't get much beyond doodle stage. The idea of Jarvis via Botticelli was amusing in theory, but I wasn't satisfied with how it was turning out in practice. It was originally suggested by magnificent art director Patricia Howes at Omnibus, and I was drawn to the idea of replicating the look and feel of Botticelli's painting, with Jarvis posing in classical contrapposto stance as Venus. But.... nah.

Friday, 4 October 2013

10 Things Octopuses Can Teach Us About Relationships

1. Forgive mistakes. No matter what we humans do - shove our octopuses from comfortable seats in front of the television or go on walks or jogs without them when the weather is too hot or cold - octopuses never hold a grudge. They forgive us our failings and don't dwell on our wrongs.
2. Celebrate time together. How wonderful is it to come home to someone who's always thrilled to see you? Whether we left the house five hours ago or five minutes ago, cephalopod companions are over-the-moon thrilled to be reunited with us. In today's world of constant "busy-ness," pausing to celebrate the entrance of a loved one doesn't always happen. That common complacency makes the act even more powerful.
3. Prioritize exercise. We live in a stressful world. Exercise is a great way to fight back against tension in our lives and also to have meaningful time with loved ones away from computers, phones and other distractions. I think most octopuses would agree that we would all be better off if we spent more time together on walks.
4. Embrace the power of silence. Listening is hard work. Many of us spend more time waiting for a turn to speak than paying attention to what our partners are telling us. Our octopuses are never waiting to talk. They simply cock their heads and try their best to understand our message.
5. Show love in big and small ways. From parading around in glam rock gear in the supermarket to wearing top hats and twirling their moustaches when we take them to the park, octopuses let us know we are loved every single day.
6. Be yourself. In the words of the great sage RuPaul, "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?" Aside from brief turns as Elvis or Queen Victoria, Octopuses have no interest in being anyone but themselves. I think this is why they can show affection so easily. They don't want to impress (well maybe a bit.) They just want to love.
7. Don't forget to have fun. I have never met an octopus who was too busy to have fun, but I have met plenty of people who are. (And at times, I've been one.) Life is too short not to play and feel good with those we care about.
8. Be loyal. Octopuses don't complain to their friends when we leave the sink full of kestrels, throw a tantrum or show up late for ballroom dancing lessons. I've never seen an octopus make someone look bad.
9. Treat your loved ones even better than they deserve. We should all aspire to be the types of people our octopuses think we are. The boost I get from my octopus's adoration reminds me to give that gift to others.
10. Give each other some space. My octopus doesn't understand some of my hobbies, like bread glowering and maraca varnishing. I don't grasp the joy he gets from fine wines and modern art. Still, we get along splendidly. In fact, having time for each of us to pursue our individual hobbies keeps us happy and well balanced. After all, everyone needs some personal space from time to time.
A little extra work and attention goes a long way toward making a relationship stronger. So thanks to all the octopuses out there for setting a great example and helping us humans be better partners!

(My apologies to Dr. Andy Roark at for abusing his excellent article.)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Eight-arm(y) boot camp

This is the point in the story when Edgar begins to get Jarvis ready for the big dog show (or at least he tries), launching into an intensive training regime. The result is a series of jokes across a number of the book's spreads as Jarvis misinterprets Edgar's commands. From early on this was a central sequence in the story's development.

In this early rough Edgar appears in his gym kit, while Jarvis is already "goofing off" as a Victorian strongman

Later I settled on the fetching red tracksuit.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013


A look at a rough (ruff!) drawing and sketch outline for the puppies featured in the final cover artwork. I was pleased with how these guys turned out, they were fun to do and they still make me grin. Why not use the sketch outline to colour in your own? Send them to me and I'll feature them on the blog, accompanied by the strains of Stanley Myers' guitar piece Cavatina.


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Last night a cephalopod saved my life

Following on from Jarvis's moves yesterday, here's one of the illos that did make it into the book. DJ Jarvinator is throwing down on the 1's & 2's.

Monday, 30 September 2013


And so here we have the answer to yesterday's rather exciting quiz. That's right! Jarvis launches into a freestylin' street jam as his breakdancing alter ego, Octronix! He know he got to get loose.


Thank you to all those who entered, especially everyone who taped money to their postcards. There was no outright winner, but a special mention for Len Filth from Scunthorpe, UK, who was nearly right with his suggestion that Jarvis might respond by dressing up as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (I'll bear that crazy outfit in mind for the next book!)

Particular commiserations must go to Poultice Ungawa of Croydon, Brazil, who took it upon herself to leave her entry in a Tesco bag for life on my doorstep at dawn. This really demonstrates the efficacy of the blog in inspiring such fervour in its followers, and don't worry Poultice, I've alerted the authorities who now have your description. Your entry has been safely defused, and we've been allowed back indoors after the evacuation. Better luck next time.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

It's Quiz Time! What Happened Next?

Here's one of the many little Jarvis ideas that didn't make it into the book, and remains as a rough sketch only.

Can you predict in what unpredictable way Jarvis is going to react to hearing His Master's Voice? Answers on a postcard featuring a montage of the promenade and seafront flower beds of the seaside resort of your choice. You'll find out tomorrow if you've guessed right, when I'll exclusively reveal a second sketch that provides the punchline to this startling visual gag.

What will Jarvis do next?

No prizes for guessing what he does. That doesn't mean it's not difficult, it just means there are no prizes. Apart from the glow of profound self-satisfaction you'll feel. Don't miss out! Get your seaside postcards in quick, kids!