Friday, 29 August 2008

Like fish and chips. . .

I was once in newspapers.

I saw Chris Riddell today as he passed through Cambridge on his way from the Observer to Norfolk. We sat in an almost deserted bar and talked about all kinds of stuff. Chris is always so enthusiastic about everything and so encouraging.

I have known Chris for many years - he was best man at my wedding. Our paths first crossed when I stood in for him as an illustrator at The Economist in London when he was on holiday in 1990. When he came back, the art editor, Penny Garret (whom I'd worked with previously at The Listener and the Telegraph) decided the paper could do with another illustrator and so I was taken on, sitting between Chris and Dave Simonds every Wednesday for the next six years.

Chris and I also worked together at the Independent on Sunday where I wrote a strip he illustrated called Bestiary and I took over his political cartoon spot briefly (Chris also did the Monday cartoon while Michael Heath did the rest of the week), before following him to The Observer under Andrew Jaspen. I did another strip there - called Babel - and did a caricature for their profile spot, while Chris did the political cartoon. I did not last very long. Chris is still there.

Chris left the Economist some time after I did; Dave is still there, doing sterling work (as well as doing the New Statesman political cartoon and stuff for various British newspapers. I left to take a job on The Independent under Andrew Marr's editorship. I did illustrations throughout the paper, often on the front page, and eventually did a daily strip called 7.30 for 8.00 as well as the daily political cartoon spot. When Andrew Marr left, I was made an offer it was all too easy to refuse and left the heady world of daily newspapers for good.

It was Chris who suggested I should write a children's book, and Chris who took the manuscript to Annie Eaton at what was then Transworld. My (published) writing career took off from that point.

Chris drew this brilliant birthday card for me. . .


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