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'The Fish who Could Wish for a CD-ROM'
Carousel - the guide to children's books
Issue 2, Spring 1996, page 8

Compact Disc Read Only Memory enjoys the acronym in every language it seems. Even the Yankee-phobic French pronounce it 'CD-ROM' but with the wonderful Gallic growl on the 'R'.

A CD-ROM disc is an amazing, astonishing, extraordinary shiny sliver of plastic measuring only 12cm in diameter but contains vast quantities of information. Not only can it store text, it can store full colour movies, animation, graphics, a sound track and its interactive. Pop the disc into a CD-ROM computer, the screen sparkles with sharp clear images and the speakers pump out the sound in full stereo.

I felt extremely lucky and fortunate to be involved in CD-ROM at the early stage when Oxford University Press (OUP) decided to publish a CD-ROM edition of the book I had illustrated, 'The Fish Who Could Wish', written by John Bush. At my first meeting with the editor, Emma Williams, I was shown samples or tests produced by a Glaswegian company called InnerWorkings specialising in high quality computer graphics and animation. I was ecstatic.

My illustrations had been beautifully and faithfully reproduced but with the added dimensions of sound and animation! Emma then presented me with a fat wad of notes, no not sterling, but the draft manuscript for the CD-ROM Edition of 'The Fish Who Could Wish'. This document had been prepared by InnerWorkings, and could have been a stumbling block for me, but fortunately I have a background in film animation and I was able to re-work the manuscript into a storyboard form.(A storyboard is a method used to plan out a movie in comic book form.)

Various analogies are used to explain the structure of a CD-ROM. The simplest one I prefer is the bicycle wheel. The hub of the wheel is the 'Home Screen' on a CD-ROM. This is the first screen that comes up and is the base of the CD-ROM> The spokes are represented by certain icons, objects or hot spots within the home screen. To follow one of the spokes out to a point on the rim of this imaginary wheel you click on the hotspots using the computers mouse. Or 'rat ' as my Luddite friends would say. You have reached that point on the rim when a new screen flashes up on the computer's monitor. You can explore this screen by clicking on any part that interests you. This can also lead you to other points along the rim, other screens for you to scrutinise, probe or rummage about with your mouse. Or you can go straight back to the home screen and click on other undiscovered areas.

Emma and I, plus the storyboard manuscript (the latter we checked in as excess baggage) flew the 'red eye express' to Glasgow for a meeting with Lesley Keen, owner and top banana of InnerWorkings, and her bunch of animators, software writers (aka propeller engineers locally), a musician and sound engineers.

My role amongst this anarchic bunch was to make sure that the artwork scanned into the computers remained true to the original illustrations and any new artwork drawn by the animators looked like a Korky Paul drawing. To do this I drew character sheets of our hero the fish, who was subsequently named 'Hamish' after his creator.

A character sheet is a series of drawings showing Hamish front on, side on, from the back, from the top and any other unusual position he may appear in the CD-ROM. I also illustrated lots of fish, new backgrounds and foregrounds, other assorted forms of creepy sea life and more fish.

All the artwork was done using pen & ink with watercolours on good quality paper. Once they were scanned into the computer all finished art and animation was done electronically. I also made sure any changes to the layout. design and composition were in the style of Korky Paul.

John Bush was called upon to write a new verse to replace 'When sharks go a hunting for a nice fishy treat...'. It was dropped for technical reasons and John came up with a verse where Hamish wishes for a submarine. What I found fascinating was to see how my illustrations, inspired by John Bush's bizarre tale, in turn inspired the animators at InnerWorkings. They came up with a vast array of gags and activities that are both funny and entertaining.

I was very keen that the music would be contemporary and not plonking pianos accompanying falsetto voices. Tom the musician travelled in from a remote glen and we chatted. He nodded his head a lot, made lots of notes, listened to pieces of music I had brought up to Scotland. Then left.

Back in his glen he composed a weird and wonderful selection of lively music, as well as weird and bizarre sound effects to go with all the absurdities the animators had created.

I doubt whether Robbie Coltrane was actually auditioned for the job but he did the voice over as only he can do it.

A year later the CD-ROM edition of 'The Fish Who Could Wish ' was released. At the 1995 Frankfurt Book Fair we won the 'EMMA': The European Multi-Media Award beating Bill Gate's Microsoft entry into second place. OUP have now decided to publish CD-ROM editions of two more books I have illustrated. As I write, the animators and propeller engineers are working on 'Winnie the Witch' by Valerie Thomas and 'Dragon Poems' edited by John Foster.

I think CD_ROMS are an excellent opportunity for children's writers and illustrators to expand and develop their work. As an illustrator, but more as a parent of young children, I would despair if CD-ROMS should plunge to the depths of garbage that pervades much of children's animated television.



'Drawing Picture Books'
BOOKS FOR KEEPS - the children's book magazine
No.98 May 1996 page 4

On the first day of my first job as a young art school graduate at an advertising agency in Cape Town, the boss's secretary wandered over to my drawing -board and said, 'Hello, howzit. So you're Korky Paul , the New Drawer?'

Not, 'So you're the New Art Director?' or even 'The New Artist?'

Just, 'The New Drawer?'

On reflection it was a fair description of what I did then and years later a fair description of what I do now. Draw picture books. I like the word, too. Prefer it to artist or even illustrator.

A fair description but not a full description for someone creating a picture book. Because, I liken a picture book to a movie. As the drawer, you are not only the cinematographer but also the director, the casting agent, the costume designer, the set designer and responsible for the locations, lighting, props and continuity!

The text is the sound track and it's that special combination between words and pictures that makes for good storytelling in a picture book. As in a movie neither can exist properly on their own.

For me a picture book starts with someone else's manuscript. I am not a writer, I am a drawer, remember?

This means I am constantly searching for new stories which can turn up in a variety of surprising and unlikely ways. Take 'Winnie the Witch' by Valerie Thomas. At the end of my first meeting with Ron Heapy, the Children's Book Editor at Oxford University Press, he presented me with a manuscript about a witch who lived in a black house and suggested I attempt two or three drawings. It was early days in my career and at the end of first meetings, photocopies are made of your portfolio, pleasantries exchanged and the parting words are inevitably, 'Don't 'phone us, we'll 'phone you...' I am extremely grateful to Ron for not going near the photocopier or muttering those dreaded parting words.

Something similar happened with Robin Tzannes (the 'Tz' is pronounced as a 'J' in English). One hot summer in Greece she saw a doodle I'd scribbled of a mad professor. 'Write me a story about him,' I joked. That winter she sent me the wonderful story about Professor Puffendorf and followed it with the fable 'Sanji and the Baker'. Then came the story of a child triumphing over an adult in 'Mookie Goes Fishing'

What do I look for in a story? The subject matter is irrelevant; I will draw anything. What does appeal to me are stories with an unexpected ending or a neat

and clever twist. If on the first reading the story inspires me and fills my head with images I feel confidant I will do justice to it. 'The Dog that Dug' by Jonathan Long and 'The Rascally Cake' by Jeanne Willis are two stories that fired my imagination immediately. I will discuss themes or ideas with a writer but choose not to be involved in the writing of rough drafts or final manuscripts. I've tried it but without success. Once I had Robin Tzannes yelling at me in her best New York accent, 'Korky Paul! I don't tell you how to draw so DON'T tell me how to write!'

I prefer to work from a finished manuscript the writer and perhaps the editor are satisfied with. The majority books contain 32 pages. Pages 1 and 32 are glued to the inside front cover and inside back cover respectively. Pages 2 & 3 ,and 30 31 are the end papers. Page 4 has the copyright details and page 5 is the title page. This makes a total of 8 pages leaving 24 pages, or 12 'double page spreads' for the text and the illustrations.

Now the fun begins. My first task is to divide up the text and arrange it over the 12 spreads. I firmly believe this is the drawers responsibility, as it is such an integral part of how you design and interpret the story visually. To go back to the analogy with a movie, it's the drawer taking on the role of director planning out the shooting script. There are no hard or fast rules, but generally the first thing I look for is the beginning, the middle and end. Spreads 1 & 2, 6 & 7, and 11 & 12 are pencilled in. This leaves spreads 3, 4, 5 and 8, 9, 10.

I now look for things happening: an introduction of a new character(s), a change of scene, or a 'cliff-hanger' sequence where you have to turn the page to discover the outcome. These are all obvious cues for a new spread. A good tip is to treat each spread as a chapter. Simultaneously, I have to be aware of the pace, the rhythm and the drama of the story and try to reflect that (as well as the style of the writing) in the breakdown of the text.

In most of the picture books I've illustrated the writer offers little or no description of the character's physical appearance or their clothing. In a picture book it is redundant. Now the drawer becomes the casting director and costume designer. Some characters require hours of doodling and sketching before I feel they're right. It's difficult to articulate how you decide on a look or a face as it's something that comes from within you. I'd spend hours drawing dopey-looking muts for 'The Dog That Dug' and wasn't happy with any of them. One day while yakking on the 'phone and doodling away, I inadvertently drew the dog that I had been attempting to sketch for days.

There are those rare occasions when a character is so clear in my mind's eye after the first reading of the story, that the first sketch is absolutely right. Mr. Rufus Skumskin O'Parsley from the 'Rascally Cake' was one such character.

Whether I am drawing witches, pirates, mad professors or Middle Eastern travellers, there are certain items of clothing (clichéd as they may be) which instantly communicate who or what they are. For example, take head gear. A tall pointed hat emblazoned with stars; a three cornered hat with the skull 'n cross bones stitched into it; the little lamp strapped to a forehead or a flowing silk turban. I will exaggerate them, distort them and add little embellishments so they are no longer clichéd. I bring something of myself, the Korky Paul look, to the appearance of the character.

Then I could add other items of clothing with unique details to make them distinctly mine - Winnie with her bright red and yellow striped stockings, Cap'n Teachum with his row of medals for plundering and pillaging, Professor Puffendorf's pockets stuffed with pipettes and test-tubes.

Black stately homes, rotting borer-beetle infested galleons, and a few exotic domed desert cities are just a few of the sets I've been lucky enough to design. As with the costumes, I delight in taking the obvious and then imbuing it with that exaggerated and distorted Korky Paul look. In 'Winnie the Witch', Valerie Thomas used only one adjective to describe our heroine's home- 'black'. my initial sketches showed a picturesque cottage complete with thatched roof and exposed timber beams. The results were dull boring and obvious. 'What's the opposite of a cottage?' I asked myself Answer: 'Stately Home'. Once I had hit upon this idea the book opened up for me. All the rooms and paraphernalia of a stately home would serve as a wonderful and dramatic back drop for Winnie's antics with her cat, Wilbur. The real challenge lay in illustrating it all in black!

Having decided on the location, built the sets and found the props, resolving the problems of composition, design and layout over 24 pages is a lot easier and clearer. Design and layout is the arrangement of text and illustrations on the page. In a picture book it is essential these two elements are tightly integrated to tell the story successfully.

I frequently use a comic-book layout, which in turn is rooted in cinema. Close-up shots, long-shots, events happening off camera are all cinematic devices used to tell a story effectively and dramatically. An example of this is in 'Sanji and the Baker' on the spread featuring a large picture of Sanji sadly tossing his borrowed five silver coins into a copper bowl. Running down the left -hand side are five small pictures showing the evil Baker. The first picture is a medium-shot of him smirking. In the following four pictures the 'camera' zooms in and on the final shot we see him in extreme close-up grinning feverishly. These five shots represent the Baker's greedy response to the coins as they land in the bowl. He is seen from the judge's viewpoint (who is off -camera) which underlines or highlights Sanji's, as well as the reader's sense of injustice.

Linking the large picture to the strip of small shots are the onomatopoeic words of money falling into the bowl, printed in a bold, comic -book style typeface. This device tells the reader the two events are happening simultaneously in the same room. The five silver coins are based on the Zimbabwe dollar. I keep one in my wallet for good luck!

Each spread is worked out first in rough form on light-weight cartridge paper. The finished artwork is executed on a medium weight watercolour paper. All the artwork is done 25% larger than the printed size. On the cartridge paper I draw in all the information I need to plan out and design the spread. Page size, illustration size and spine. On a separate piece of paper I have the typsetting of the text . With a pencil I sketch in my ideas, moving the text around to fit in with the illustration. When I am satisfied with the pencil sketch and position of the typsetting I redraw over the pencil lines in black Indian Ink using a dip-pen, making alterations where necessary The roughs end up as a collage of drawings done on separate pieces of paper and glued into position, Sometimes a drawing is exactly what I want but is the wrong size. I'll enlarge or reduce it on a photocopier and glue it into position on the cartridge paper.

I now tape the completed rough onto a light -box. (A light -box is a drawing board with a glass worktop and strip lights beneath the glass.) Over the rough I tape down the watercolour paper, flick on the lights and the rough sketch below shows through. With a very sharp HB pencil I lightly trace in the illustration, again making alterations where necessary. The primary reason for tracing the rough onto the watercolour paper is to position the illustration exactly where I want them. It also helps to avoid drawing to close to the edge of the page, into the area reserved for the type or drawing crucial details over the spine or gutter.

I remove the watercolour paper from the light-box and start drawing -not tracing! There's a great difference between the two. I don't slavishly follow the pencil lines as this would produce a dull and lifeless work. They are there simply as a guide. The trick is to recapture the spontaneity and freshness so often found in the rough drawings.

I draw mainly with a dip-pen using black or waterproof coloured inks. The colour work is done with watercolours. Toothbrushes, porcupine quills and wall paint have all been used at sometime to achieve certain effects. In the scene where Cap'n Teachum forces his crew to walk the plank, I had great difficulty in getting the stormy sea right. Every colour of blue in my studio was tried, but without success. Then I spied a bottle of Quink Ink. 'For fountain pens only' read the label. Ignoring that I splashed it on recklessly. The effect was remarkable, it was exactly what I wanted! I have yet to use it again.

As in a movie, continuity is important. As is making sure the geography of the world you create makes sense to the reader. In Winnie's home the bathroom in the first spread appears on a different floor on the final spread Cap'n Teachum has his pegleg strapped to the wrong thigh on two occasions.

The other thing I do is give existing characters walk-on parts in new books, or include them in crowd scenes. In 'Sanji and the Baker', Cap'n Teachum appears uninvited in two scenes. It took my daughter, Zoë, aged seven at the time to spot the mistake the night before I was to deliver the artwork to Ron Heapy. Children spot these mistakes and write to me pointing them out. Initially these were genuine errors in continuity, but now I put them in deliberately and wait for the letters...

The illustrations I leave for last are the endpapers, title page, and front cover. The endpapers I use as an opportunity to design a bold graphic statement to express the essence of the book. It's an enjoyable exercise and can prove quite difficult to find a neat, simple solution.

The splashes of colour I used in 'Winnie' is a good example of a bold graphic design giving a flavour of the story. Sometimes I give them a more illustrative treatment as in the endpapers for 'The Cat That Scratched' by Jonathan Long. I drew an extreme close-up of the cat scratching furiously using the comic-book device of lines of force to show the cat's action. In 'Monster Poems' edited by John Foster, I used drawings done by my wife's god-daughter, Joanna Mitchell aged 5. In 'Billy Bumps' , our daughter, Zoé Paul, contributed the endpapers.

The final illustration is the front cover. The reason for this is that I base it on one, or a combination of illustrations from the book. What I look for is a scene that is a synopsis, a visual shorthand of the story without revealing any twists or surprise endings. It must also clearly show the main protaganist. Look at any of the books I have illustrated and you'll find the front cover buried somewhere within.

The front cover is the most difficult illustration to get right, and frequently I fail the Oxford University Press Front Cover Examination. This finds me scuttling back to my studio a sad and depressed man. I have to admit they're normally right and my second attempt is a vast improvement. These past the test.

I enjoy illustrating ideas which are not in the text but are inspired by it. This is all part of enhancing the story. They are embellishments, tales within tales to tempt the reader into the book. If I have a good story that inspires and excites me, it's a delight. A joy to work on. More importantly I hope children (and adults!) will find it a joy to explore and read. But that is what we all hope for.



'What a Brilliant Idea!'
Silver Jubilee Conference Catalogue
Federation of Children's Book Groups
Stratford-upon-Avon 1993

I sat staring out the vast windows of the Royal York Hotel, amazed that the lawns outside glowed a brilliant green despite the grey drizzle which shrouded them. As I pondered this phenomenon, I became aware of a gentle nudging and tugging at my arm, then an urgent voice whispered, 'You've won, you've won! Go on, get up...'

I leapt up bewildered, and staggered towards the front of the banqueting hall, through crowds of parents and children seated around the beautifully laid tables piled with cakes, cookies and cups of tea. I was dimly aware of a horde of little faces staring up at this tall, balding gent who had not been paying attention when he should have been doing so.

The occasion was the 1987 Children's Book Award Ceremony put on by The Federation of Children's Book Groups. And as I stumbled through the crowd, my delight took over me, for I was the joint winner of an award for a book that I had illustrated. The other winner was the author of the book titled 'Winnie the Witch'. She, Valerie Thomas, was in Australia and sadly could not attend the ceremony.

That was the start of my involvement with the Federation. (I will use this abbreviation as I find the full title a mouthful!) To be honest I had never heard of this extraordinary organisation until in March 1988 when I received a letter from the Federation forwarded through Oxford University Press, the publishers of 'Winnie the Witch'. They were writing to tell me that our book had been voted one of the top ten for 1987; and who had voted for our book?


What a brilliant idea- and yet obvious! Of course, the people for whom the books are created for are, undoubtedly, the best judges. But most important, by giving the children the responsibility of acting as judges, I am sure that the Federation is giving them a strong motivation to read.

I believe that something like 300 books are submitted by the publishers for the children to peruse, enjoy and judge for this award. Wonderful! There are numerous 'prestigious ' children's book awards which get a lot of coverage (is this the meaning of prestigious/) but none of them has the unique standard of the Federation's Award, which is set and demanded by children.

So, for me, winning an award judged by children is a particularly rewarding and special experience. It is also marvellous to see my judges falling about with delight when they look at my drawings. I saw this happening when, a few months after the Award Ceremony, Jan Sanderson invited me to Radcliffe-on-Trent to talk at the primary school.

I have since been to numerous primary schools and these visits give me the most fun. I read to children and afterwards draw for them. But I did find that I was bored by repeatedly drawing characters from my books, so I started to call out to my audience for new suggestions.

The results where hilarious- noisy sessions with demands for double-headed, green spotted monsters, wearing pink knickers, purple sunglasses and one hundred pairs of legs- with as many feet in plimsolls, sandals or both. Give this monster a pair of squint eyes and I will have thirty kids collapse in fits of laughter.

Silly stuff, indeed, but lots of fun.

These mad, crazy sessions are stimulating for me and for the kids, but they are more than this- they are a fantastic source of inspiration for me. And, at the end of each session, I am overwhelmed with gratitude when the children present me with their own wonderful drawings.

I am not one for joining professional bodies or societies, but I have been so impressed by the enthusiasm of the people who run the federation and the work they do, that this year I became a fully paid up member of The Federation of Children's Book Groups.

Anyone who has anything to do with children's books should join- especially the authors and illustrators.



'Korky's Corker'
(Me and my Motor) Oxford Mail - Motoring Section
26 November, 1997
Merc is just magic

Award-winning children's book illustrator Korky Paul drives a Mercedes-Benz Estate he calls 'Top Banana'- because it's big 'n yellow.

Korky Paul, the man who created 'Winnie the Witch', says he travels millions of miles a week in his favourite car. Here he tells Wednesday Wheels about his car- and the dark night he came face-to-face with a pirate...

What's your favourite journey?
Going to the car wash.

What's your favourite music while driving?
Chip and Enzo's Greatest Hits. 'O'Lord, Won't you by me a Mercedes-Benz' by Janis Joplin.

What do you like about your car?
The automatic gears and the special cubby hole for my drawing things at the back.

What do you dislike?
Filling her up with petrol.

What has been the best moment?
Taking her to the car wash for the first time.

Who would be your ideal driving companion?
Winnie the Witch, because she could magic me directly to my destination without getting stuck in the traffic jams-and find me free parking when I get there.

What has been your worst moment / breakdown?
Mercedes never breakdown!

Which famous person does your car remind you of and why?
Professor Puffendorf, the world's greatest scientist who has made many wonderful inventions-eg the banana-matic.
Err why?
Because it's yellow like the banana-matic and it's a wonderful invention (the banana-matic that is)

If you won the National Lottery, what car would you buy?
A chauffeur- driven Sinclair.

Any anecdotes about your vehicle?
Once upon a time it was a dark and stormy night and we were driving past the Smugglers' Inn in Cornwall.

Suddenly out in front of the car stepped a pirate with a wooden leg and a huge three cornered hat emblazoned with the skull and crossbones.

In the beam of the headlights, I could see he was frantically waving us down to stop with a large blunderbuss in his left hand.

I slammed on the brakes and slid to a stop, a whisker's breadth from his huge belly. Through the pouring rain I peered at this crazy figure. A crooked row of what appeared to be medals sparkled on his chest.

'Cap'n Teachum's the name!' he said. 'Piracy's the game!'

Then he reached over, snapped the Mercedes-Benz symbol off the bonnet of the car and added it to his collection of gleaming 'medals'.

He spun round on his wooden leg and staggered off through the rain, disappearing across the moors.

'That's the fifth one that's been nicked, dad!' cried my children. 'I know, I know!' I sobbed.' I can count!'

The roads just aren't safe anymore...



Creature culture
Korky Paul - A children's book illustrator who conjures up a world of real and imaginary creatures. Open any book by Korky Paul and you enter a world alive with real and imaginary creatures, with houses that are crammed, gardens that burgeon, shelves that groan, bins that burst and dusty basements festooned with pipes and cobwebs. All human and animal kind is here. Everybody's secret life peeps out from under stairs, corners and beds. Stories of desperate dogs, ebullient ghosts, kindly witches and forgetful pirates romp through his pages bristling with energy. Eyes bulge, hair bristles, lips pout, fingers grasp and rows of tiny teeth chomp their way through horrible feasts. Stripey tights droop when Winnie the Witch (Valerie Thomas, OUP) is worried.

Each dense picture is fun to explore and talk about. Adults respond to the gentle satire in which nothing and nobody is sacred. In many books, virtually unnoticed, there is the wise onlooker, a silent commentator on human and animal frailty like the little mouse that watches everything in The Cat That Scratched (Jonathon Long, Red Fox).

Korky Paul is fascinated by detail: clothes, food, the detritus and the underside of life. The Dog That Dug (Jonathon Long, Red Fox) burrows deeper and deeper past miners and tube trains till he reaches prehistory. Does Captain Teachum's Buried Treasure (Peter Carter, OUP) lie beneath the sandy desert or under the steamy jungle? Up on the surface frenetic habitations hum. The laboratory of Professor Puffendorf's Secret Potions (Robin Tzannes, OUP) is ³full of odd-shaped bottles and tubes, and strange looking machines². His settings do not just form the backdrop, they are integral to the text and elaborate on the narratives.

Korky Paul pounces on greed. In the old fable Dinner with Fox, pastry crusts, pot lids and oven doors pop open in the cleverly constructed book (Tango). Children love books about food and in Sanji and the Baker (Robin Tzannes, OUP) not surprisingly our hero is accused of stealing the delicious smell of crusty bread. Like Roald Dahl, Korky Paul delights in feasts both delicious and revolting in The Rascally Cake (Puffin). Mr O'Parsley smacks his lips with horrible delight at the array of revolting dishes like ³fat black tadpoles squashed on toast².

Readers share in the frenetic lives of the characters and sympathise with them in all their scrapes. Korky Paul's is not an art of alienation. He invites us to tingle with horror and laugh in disgust. We identify with young Samuel David in Call Me Sam (Teresa Lynch, OUP) when people call him every name but his own and, in Have You Seen Max? (Peter Harris, Tango) we desperately search for him under trapdoors and in suits of armour.

Generosity is Paul's hallmark. His endings are happy, and good wins. His characters delight in their wickedness. They care. He works well with different authors because of his rare gift of empathising with other artists. His illustrations meld with the rhyming couplets of Jonathon Long in The Dog That Dug, the sparse text of Stephen Wyllie's Dinner with Fox, the rhythmic poetry of Jeanne Willis's The Rascally Cake and the directness of John Agard's story-telling in Brer Rabbit The Great Tug-o-War (Bodley Head). He has fun with all kinds of formats from pop-up, three-dimensional, greeting card (Halloween, Tango Books), and graduated pages (Billy Bumps Builds a Palace, OUP) to the interactive CD-ROM of John Bush's the Fish Who Could Wish, spoken by Robbie Coltrane (OUP).

Korky Paul will keep you itching for more, and like The Cat That Scratched you will come back again for more of his innovative art.

THE OXFORD TIMES, 25/9/98, Jan Lee