Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Hyde and Squeak

When Little Tiger Press asked me to create a gothic children's picture book I was absolutely thrilled. The well known classic The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson was my initial inspiration which give me a loose starting point, and Hyde and Squeak is the result!

The development kicked off with the simple idea of a pet transforming into something large, sinister and silly. The next stage was to design the three characters, below you'll see a selection of sketches for Squeak, Granny and Hyde.

Squeak - character sketches
Squeak - final design
Granny - character studies
Hyde (aka Monster Mouse) - early development
Hyde - final design

Early on we explored a multitude of story directions to find it's heart. It was crucial to consider how this would affect the characters and especially their motives. Obviously the plot needed some sort of transformation of small animal to large creature, and of course a food substance to swallow. I tried out various alternatives such as chocolate nuts shown in the thumbnails below.

Early initial thumbnails

After lots of discussions on favourite foods it was decided jelly was the best option, this was down to it's sculptural qualities and it's loads of fun to eat. So the result is a bright green wobbly jelly holding an assortment of disgusting toppings!!

Spread 1 - Squeak wins a prize!

Thumbnails are my favourite part of telling a story, I love doodling the possibilities and playing around with interesting compositions on the page. The layout of Hyde and Squeak evolved into a mix of a traditional picture book and comic book. The rough below is for my favourite spread. Hyde (I like to call him Monster Mouse), is terribly hungry and scouring the neighbourhood for food. Whilst on a quest for sausages he clambers up a drainpipe belonging to the local butcher, and snatches a plie of scrummylicious, raw treats. He's so greedy and eats far too much too quickly, leading to him break wind... PARP! Then POOF! he disappears, then PING! Squeak is back with us, and can't remember a thing!

Spread 4 - What a greedy beastie!
I absolutely love old movies and took inspiration from the 1933 version of King Kong - although King Kong has a much more perilous journey to reach his final goal! The black and white world belonging to Hyde helps give the story it's gothic flavour and it's an introduction into Hyde's dark but comical, gluttonous character.

And a peek of the finished spread without text.

Here comes trouble!

If you're interested in seeing what other shenanigans Granny, Squeak and Hyde get up to, Hyde and Squeak is out on the 8th September.

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