Just Imagine: What is your favourite thing to draw & why?
Alexis Deacon: I like to draw all sorts of things but I do have some favourites. I love drawing rocks and trees because people have less of an idea what they should look like. You can just relax and enjoy making twiddly marks. I also love drawing crocodiles. They have so many good features: The big mouth, the bulging eyes, the sharp teeth, the little hands, the tail… I could go on!
JI: Was drawing an important part of your life growing up? Did you always want to be an illustrator of children’s books?
AD: Yes, I always remember drawing as being an important part of my identity. It formed the basis for much of my imaginative life when I was little. I used to enjoy looking back through old sketchbooks and remembering the games I played with them. I got a kick out of feeling I’d improved too. I would occasionally draw a version of something in an older sketchbook beside the original. It was a sort of ‘before,’ ‘after,’ thing. Some drawings I returned to a few years running, trying to improve on them each time. I didn’t ever imagine I would make children’s books per se. I wanted to draw comics, specifically 2000AD comics. There ran a feature on some of their artists one issue. I remember that was the first time I realised this was a job people could have. ‘Yup, that’s me,’ I thought. Didn’t quite make it but close enough I reckon!
JI: Can you tell us which were your favourite books as a child?
AD: Argh! Too many to count. Here are a few: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig, Would You Rather by John Burningham, The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak… And when I was a little older, The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie, My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster…
JI: Your books feature in many of Just Imagine’s packs and are used in the classroom by teachers to illustrate a variety of themes or subjects. Is this something you plan or are conscious of when writing?
AD: I tend to like making stories that are about some sort of feeling or experience from my own life. As such I suppose they would all have a theme. This also helps me sort out what belongs in the story and what doesn’t by deciding what is consistent with the theme. This is surprisingly useful. The world is so full of stuff it can be very confusing trying to gather pieces of it together to make a story.
JI: The “Geis” books are your first official graphic novels. Is this something you have enjoyed doing & do you have more plans for books in this genre once you have finished the Geis trilogy?
AD: Yes, I have loved making the Geis books. I have lots of ideas for other stories: One science fiction, one with a crocodile, one with a monkey, one with moles, another one with magic… I have no plans to stop while I have breath in my body!
JI: Geis draws on Celtic mythology & folk tales – is this a topic that you have always been interested in?
AD: I’ve always enjoyed folk tales, yes; not just the Celtic ones but stories the world over. Folk stories distill something essential about the human experience, teaching us about who we are. The are a real treasure trove. Everyone should read them.
JI: And finally, when can we hope to see Book 3? Will there be an “end”?
AD: Book three is written, it only needs me to do the thousand little drawings and it will be done. After that, no more Geis. The story has an end… Geis is the inescapable fate. It has to have an end!
Thank you Alexis for answering our questions.