The Last Viking Returns


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THE LAST VIKING RETURNS is a thrilling showdown

Here’s a fantastic review for The Last Viking Returns from today’s Weekend Australian (Review section, pg.22).

 

The Last Viking Returns is a sequel to one of our favourite books of 2012, the inspirational The Last Viking.

Author Norman Jorgensen and illustrator James Foley reacquaint us with young Josh (who, a braver boy now, calls himself Knut) and his little dog Wolverine (still wearing a colander helmet).

When Josh’s grandfather decides to take them to a Viking theme park for the day, the god Thor, watching from Asgard, decides to pop down to earth and join in the fun. “What could possibly go wrong?” he asks … The answer is Fafnir, “the most evil dragon imaginable”, who has been waiting for Thor to let his hair down.

The resulting showdown between boy, dog, god and fire-breathing beast is thrilling.

Thanks to Stephen Romei and his co-reviewer Syd for the review.

 

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Character design – choosing colours for the cast

Over the last 3 months I’ve posted my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

I’ve covered Josh’s family, all the Viking characters and the two villains.

This post gathers all the colour reference versions together so you can see the links between them.

I’ve made some notes on each major group of characters and their colours. Most of the time my colour choices were a matter of gut feeling, and it’s only after the fact that I can figure out why certain combinations seemed to work.

 

First up is Josh’s family.

I didn’t intentionally make Josh’s costume out of primary colours, but it turned out that way – yellowish hair, red helmet and shield, blue shirt. Add a bit of green and you’ve got a bunch of bright happy colours, which all help Josh stand out from whatever moody background he’s in front of.

Wolverine’s colander helmet and collar are the same shade of gold and red found on Josh’s chestplate. This sharing of colour is a simple way to link Josh and Wolverine together.

Josh’s siblings are in blue and red shirts – the same blue and red found in Josh’s costume. Their shorts/skirt are darker shades of the blue and red respectively. All three children have the same colour boots. Again, it’s about linking Josh with his siblings in the eye of the reader using colour.

Nan is the only one in the family to wear a shade of purple. I find it a loud colour for some reason; I don’t wear it a lot, and it seems to clash with a lot of colours I normally use. This fits with Nan’s no-nonsense, outspoken personality. I made it a soft, warm shade of purple though (at least to my slightly colour-blind eyes) as it seemed like a colour a loving, caring (but feisty) Nan might wear. The sneakers have purple trim in the same shade.

Pop is all in shades of grey – warm shades, tinges of brown in there. The dark vest is a strong contrast to the colour of his skin, shirt and pants. His colours seem warm and masculine and strong to me. Bright colours just didn’t seem to suit Pop; he’s silly and child-like, but he’s strong and grounded. I imagine he would give very big bear hugs. His colours make him stand out, not only from his wife but from all the other characters in the family.

character-sheet--family-550px

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Character design – Thor

Between now and the launch of The Last Viking Returns (Sept 1st, 2014), I’m doing a series of posts showing my rough sketches for all the characters in the book.

I’ve covered Josh’s family already, so it’s on to the Norse gods – the Asgardians. Thor is up first.

 

Millions of children are familiar with the Marvel comics version of Thor, thanks to the Avengers cartoons and films. For copyright reasons, we were unable to reference that version of Thor (not that we would want to).

In the original stories Thor had red hair and a big red beard. He wore magic gauntlets to protect his hands when wielding his lightning hammer, Mjolnir. I tried to include these elements in my design, while making it (hopefully) original. (Though in all these Viking characters there is more than a little influence from Asterix comics).

 

These are my reference sketches and notes for Thor.

Thor-2 Thor-1

I made a standard colour version of each character too, so that I could keep their colours consistent. Here’s the colour sheet for Thor:

Thor-colour

And here’s how he appears on the back cover of The Last Viking Returns.

back-cover-Thor

Next week I’ll focus on a new Viking character – the hero Sigurd.

 


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The Launch

book launch

(L-R) Norman, James, Kris Williams, our editor Cate Sutherland, and Director of the Children's Literature Centre Lesley Reece

It was a dark and stormy night…

Actually, it was. Norm and I had been watching the weather forecast all week, wondering what the heavens would bring on the Friday night of our launch. By Tyr’s Day, we could see that rain was likely. By Wodin’s Day, rain was certain. Come Freyja’s Day, when the wind didn’t let up all day, we knew a storm was brewing. Thor was angry. The joke going around was that his invite had been lost on it’s way to Asgard. But maybe that was true, and he thought we were snubbing him… and when you snub a Norse god, you get a once-in-10-years weather event. Thirty millimetres of rain fell in 30 minutes- the precise 30 minutes in which our guests were en route to the launch.

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More sneak peeks…

There’s only four weeks to go until the launch!

So here’s four sneak peeks to celebrate.

Here’s Josh meeting the bullies…

pg 15 final colour

Prince Knut and his trusty Wolfhound going a-Viking…

pg21 colour

a proper Viking funeral…

pg22 colour

and Odin, Thor and the Bezerkers preparing for battle.

pg25 colour

My favourite part of this last image is the bottom right-hand corner. I put in a bird poo for a joke. At the time I didn’t realise that when people were going to turn this page, that’s exactly where they would have to put their thumb.


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Set design- interiors

Last week I blogged about the designing the outside of Nan and Pop’s house. This post is about the inside.

Most features were made up, but one room has its basis in real life- Pop’s hallway is based on Norm’s hallway.

When I first visited Norm’s house, I was amazed at his collection of Viking artefacts. They take pride of place in the hallway, just as you enter the house.

Norms house 0Here’s Norm’s house, with Norm. Get out of the way Norm, I’m trying to take a photo.


Norms house 1
That’s better.

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Designing the Norse Gods- Forebodin’ Odin, Therious Thor and the others

First off- apologies for missing a week! I’ve been pushing through the final artwork and attending family weddings. Busy busy busy.

The original story mentioned quite a few Norse Gods- Odin, Thor, Sigurd, Freya and Hemrod. Our brilliant editor Cate helped to whittle the text down, removing supplementary characters to focus on Odin and Thor (Check out this post by Norm for more info on Odin and Thor).

Here are my first sketches and notes on the Gods.

https://knutthelastviking.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/odin-the-norse-gods/

Thor on the left, Sigurd on the right

first-research-sketches-2-v2

That's Odin right down the bottom, with some lumpy crows

p13-v1

Odin looked a bit like a pirate here

After a bit of research, I found out that Odin is an old old man. So the black hair wasn’t going to look right for his character. Also, Thor is his son, so they have to look similar.

Storyboard sketches began to take more form…

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