Fred Blunt is a children’s illustrator from Swindon, England.
Captain Falsebeard in A Very Fishy Tale was published 2nd July 2015 by Puffin. It’s Fred’s first picture book as author and illustrator, and it’s a real treasure!
Said the Mudwaffler… ‘Never ye mind pearls an’ pieces of eight… this book’s pure GOLD, shipmate!’
Captain Falsebeard and Admiral Swinetoes are bitter enemies of the briny blue; each searching for the legendary Crossbone treasure. After a decade long of battling and searching, Captain Falsebeard finds the treasure and calls for a feast to celebrate – whoever catches the biggest fish for the feast will be rewarded with a shiny piece of eight… and so the crew of the Pretty Polly get fishing. Yaarr!
Unbeknownst to them, there’s a spy on board, and once the Admiral hears about the treasure he is FURIOUS! That is, until one of his shipmates comes up with a fantastically fishy plan to steal it from right under Falsebeard’s hat.
It’s soon all out war! And it’s a dirty war at that!
This story is GOLD! It’s got everything you could hope for in a pirate book – pirate talk galore, a barrel full of funny names and of course, treasure! It’s packed with laughs from the very start as Blunt sets the tone with ‘Ye’s and ‘Yaarr’s, and although it’s got a higher word count than your average picture book it’s every bit as easy flowing and a definite page turner. The extra dialect really adds to the story and brings each character to life – if you like putting on a voice when you read aloud then I suggest you weigh anchor and set sail for the nearest book shop, me hearty!
I could stare at this book all day long and still find something new on each page, it’s brimming with character interaction and there’s so much energy in those lines! How does he do it?!
The Parrots!! I count 231 from front cover to back and every single one has been expertly designed. They add a layer of depth that is rarely achieved in picture books. Some are integral to the story, others are simply doing their parroty thing in the background; I’d urge you to really look at each illustration to see how good this is. If Captain Falsebeard isn’t made into a cartoon series I’ll eat my hat.
Colour-wise the book has a lovely soft palette which compliments Fred’s line work. The night time scenes are superb, capturing the light of the moon perfectly whilst still keeping you on the edge of your seat. My favourite illustration is this one… ‘oh. Mummy!’
Best of all, the last page hints at a sequel. I’m very much looking forward to that!
The Mudwaffler loved this book so much, he even got dressed up for the occasion…
Now, it’s WAFFLE time! Fred Blunt joins us for a Q&A…
What inspired Captain Falsebeard in A Very Fishy Tale?
When I started writing Falsebeard, I wanted to write something that me and my brothers would have enjoyed on TV as kids – big bold shows with bold characters and adventure – almost like a silly piratical version of the A-Team or something. Mixed with Black Adder and Monty Python, with a dash of Dick Dastardly and Muttley thrown in for good measure!
In fact – in my head, I think I was writing more for telly than worrying about a pic book – which is why it’s got a storyboard element to it.
What are you currently working on (any sneak peek news!?)?
I’ve currently been working on a pic book called The Forgetful Knight, written by the amazing Michelle Robinson, due for release next year in the US, published by Penguin Dial.
It’s typically hilarious stuff from Michelle and was a joy to illustrate. Our senses of humors are almost as one I’d say. I’m also working on Mabel Jones author – Will Mabbit’s, very funny and original, debut pic book. I think kids will love this one. It really fires up your imagination.
What is your favourite thing to draw?
I love drawing dogs, monsters, dragons, pirates (of course), busy scenes of chaos… not so keen on perspective!
Who (or what) are your influences?
I have a zillion influences, or inspirations. Many of which are contemporaries. There’s SO much great work going on in kids books at the moment – a real golden age It seems.
But the artists who inspired me growing up and perhaps shaped what I do are Quentin Blake whose work I just LOVE and have done since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Mad cartoonist Sergio Arrogones was a big inspiration when I got into comics in my teens. Ed Benedict (who designed all the classic Hana-Barbera characters) has always been a favorite and I was pretty much obsessed with his stylings when I was at school. Similarly I loved the character designs of Chuck Jones who directed classic Warner Brothers cartoons and was an amazing draughtsman. Oh – and I have to mention Searle, and Sempe too. Probably the greatest cartoonists to have lived! Oh – I could bore you all day, so I’ll leave it there.
Do you have any advice for illustrators/writers who are just starting out?
Don’t be afraid to work part time in bars as you claw your way to your dream. That’s what I did. You have to be dogmatically tenacious about doing this – almost obsessed. Draw as much as you can, try to find your own voice (so to speak) and play to your strengths. Social Media is a great platform for getting your work in front of industry insiders, so don’t be shy.
and three for fun…
What are three words that best describe you?
Scruffy, greying, polite.
What is your favourite colour?
If you could share a cuppa with anyone (alive or dead), anywhere, who would it be and where would you go?
It would be lovely to have a Cuppa with Quentin Blake and talk about drawing.
I’ve met him briefly a few times and he is such a lovely gent. I’ve always been a bit too starstruck to have a meaningful conversation, but a cuppa to calm my nerves might just be the ticket!
Many thanks to Fred!
Swamp Hugs! Till the next time…