The Last Viking Returns

Still under the influence

2 Comments

Last week I spoke about some of the other illustrators who influenced my approach to The Last Viking. I forgot a couple of important ones… so I’ve put them in this post.

First up is Jan Ormerod. Moonlight was one of my favourite books as a child (still is). The sister book, Sunshine, is amazing too.

Moonlight, by Jan Ormerod

'Moonlight' by Jan Ormerod, republished by Frances Lincoln (2005)

For those of you who’ve never seen these books (shame on you), the amazing thing is the lack of words. Everything is told in panels, using only body language and facial expressions. The figure drawing is so accurate and subtle, it makes me feel very jealous to look at it now. Jan also breaks the panel borders regularly, which stops the panels feeling stale or constrictive.

I hadn’t noticed that these books had an influence until I re-read them randomly last week… I then realised that the panel sequences in The Last Viking probably owe a lot to Jan’s work seeping into my brain at a young age. I can’t find any pics of the interior spreads on the web…

Another huge influence on me is The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base.

The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base

'The Eleventh Hour' by Graeme Base, Penguin

I was obsessed with it around age 10 or 11. I loved all the puzzles hidden in the images and borders. Unfortunately, I wasn’t patient enough at the time to figure them out… my parents sent for the hint sheet to be mailed out to me (this was back in the day before they started including the hint sheet with the book), and once I got it, I couldn’t resist reading through and checking every little clue. No will power at that age, obviously.

When Norm and I thought about incorporating runes into The Last Viking somehow, it seemed natural to use them as borders, and to have them spell out secret messages.

If you’d like to have a go at decoding some rune messages, check out the new ‘Resources‘ page and download the rune handouts. There’s more messages in the book too… on the front and back covers, for example 🙂

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Author: James Foley

James makes books for courageous kids. He’s the author/illustrator of the S.Tinker Inc graphic novel series for middle primary: Brobot (2016) and Dungzilla (2017) star Sally Tinker, the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve, and Joe Tinker, her stinky baby brother. The third in the series, Gastronauts, will be published in late 2018. James’ earlier books My Dead Bunny (2015) In The Lion (2012), The Last Viking (2011) and The Last Viking Returns (2014) have all scored several honours, including children’s choice awards, shortlistings in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year awards, and selection to the International Youth Library’s White Raven list. James comes from a long line of queuing enthusiasts. Follow him on FB/twitter/insta @jamesfoleybooks, or at www.jamesfoley.com.au .

2 thoughts on “Still under the influence

  1. I adore Moonlight! Although I only came across it as an adult. I often refer to it when illustrating, and would love to do a wordless picture book some day. I love your softer more subtle colour schemes just as much, and the way you’ve used panels. Not long now until the launch … congrats!

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