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Twenty-five years of The Snowman

The film adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman is almost as inescapable at this time of year as Rudolph and Charlie Brown and the Grinch. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the wordless and “ come on, admit it “ touching film; the stage version turns 10, and the book itself will turn 30 next year. Briggs, not known for being a particularly touchy-feely kind of author, is a little baffled at the staying power of the book and the film, according to icBerkshire:

“I can’t understand it. It just goes on and on. We don’t see a quarter of the spin-off merchandising in this country. In Japan, everything you can think of has got a snowman on it “ socks, pyjamas, duvets, toothbrushes, tooth mugs, electric lamps, everything under the sun.” The wry author sighs as he admits:

“I did a piece in 1997 saying I was never going to say a word to anybody about it ever again, yet here we are. You can’t ignore the 25th anniversary, or whatever it is.”

Briggs is also profiled in The Times, which provides a glimpse into his (mostly unhappy) creative process:

To use his own words, the business of putting together a strip cartoon book is fiddle-arsing beyond belief.

It’s rather like making a film. You have to write the script, then become the director. People don’t realise how complicated it is. You have to decide who is coming in from the left, who from the right. Who speaks first “ the maddening thing is that the person on the left always has to speak first, which is often very awkward.

Then you have to become the set designer, and ask ˜Where are they in this scene?’ Is it a kitchen? Is it the sitting room? What is the view from the window? Then you become the lighting person. Is it evening? Have they got any artificial light on yet? What’s the light like outside? Then you are the costume designer. What are they wearing? What did a woman’s pinny look like in the 1930s?

Then, when the ˜film’ is finished you have to put that to one side and become a book designer “ do the typography, lay out the pagination, design the number of pages . . . in film or theatre you would have hundreds of people doing this for you. But you have to do the whole bloody thing yourself.

And on that cheery note, Quillblog rests for the holidays. We’ll be back in the new year with more stories from the mad, manic, upside-down world of … well, more stories about books, anyway.

Happy holidays.


December 19th, 2007

2:04 pm

Category: Authors

Tagged with: children's books, design, Typography