I Think It's Time to Plan an Adventure, Charles!
I have a couple of friends who have been in my head and have found their way onto many bits of paper and canvas (and even the odd suitcase) over the last two and a half years.
They didn't know each other at first but over the months, once they had been introduced to each other, they became inseparable. Most of this friendship has been silent but occasionally they've been seen out together in the wild. It's time to introduce you all to them properly. Please say hello to Arthur and Charles.
Some of you will have seen Arthur pop up in my art from time to time and others may have seen my Bugapillas. Arthur has changed quite a lot over the years, since I first drew him on a Moleskine Cahier for my son
he's lost a little weight and been through a whole rainbow of hair colours. As for Charles, well Charles has been Charles right from the beginning for me. That was the name I gave to the first Bugapilla I sketched, although his identity has been secret until now. He's remarkably similar to how he first appeared in a little drawing I did in March 2008
, although even if you've seen him make an appearance he's always remained tight-lipped. But now it's time to give him his rightful name and place him next to his best friend, Arthur. A boy and his Bugapilla.
I've grown very fond of Arthur and Charles over the years, as have my children and my wife, Natalie. In fact, it's Natalie and I that have been putting the pressure on Arthur and Charles to agree to make a go of it. They didn't take much persuading and over the last four months they've willingly sat still whilst I sketched them and both myself and Natalie have written an adventure for them. We're now in a position where the story has come together to a point where we have to make a decision on where we want to go with it as this makes a big difference to how the artwork, and the package as a whole, is produced and presented.
Publishing a children's book is extremely difficult. I know this from the many years I've been having my children's poetry
published here, there and everywhere, and from hearing many other published and unpublished authors and illustrators talking about the industry. It's also a very long process where, even discounting the time it can take to find a publisher, it takes many, many months to go from the finished story and artwork to the physical book in your hands. But, there is another option and so a little background is in order.
For the last 20 years my career has been as a software developer. In 2008 I wrote a game for the iPhone called Hiqup
which was well received and did quite well in the infancy of the Apple App Store. With this background in mind we started discussing taking an alternative route to publication, that of bringing Arthur and Charles' first adventure to the iPad. And that's why it's decision time because, in deciding to do this, the whole nature of what a story is changes. There's absolutely no chance that I would simply transfer the same art I would produce for a physical book and put this, page after static page, onto the iPad. Not when there's so much more you can do. We've spent weeks seeing how a platform such as the iPad has been used for interactive children's books. Some are exceptional, some are little more than a static book with voice-over, some change the idea of a story or book so much that it's difficult to see how they're anything other than games. It's clear that there's a lot of potential with the platform, and striking a balance to ensure that the core story is retained is one of the challenges of this medium.
And so this marks the start of at least six months hard work to bring this project to fruition. It will be done properly. Arthur and Charles deserve nothing less after putting up with me trying to decide where to take them for far too long. I've never been one to take on a project and not see it through to a polished finale. I'm most definitely out of my comfort zone, and there are a lot of hurdles to overcome and sort out, but I wouldn't want it any other way. Either way it will be an adventure, not just for Arthur and Charles. For now there is a very simple website up at http://www.arthurandcharles.com/
and I've given them permission to have their own Twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/arthurncharles
(under strict supervision, obviously) so they can share a little more about themselves over the coming months. The website will expand over time and you'll see more about Arthur, Charles and other friends and acquaintances that inhabit their world. There will also be a development blog for those interested in the process Natalie and I go through to bring this to the iPad. Currently we're undecided about bringing it to the iPhone, as there are a host of issues that arise when bringing something like this to a small screen.
So here's a beginning: a little boy and his best friend who just happens to be a seven-legged, six-eyed Bugapilla, who's never happier than when he's perched on his friend's head. If all goes to plan this will be the first of many adventures for Arthur and Charles. Wish us all luck.
Arthur and Charles Website: http://www.arthurandcharles.com/
Arthur and Charles Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/arthurncharles