The Complete Dartmoor Pegasus


Well, that's the first story of the year finished, and very easy it was too: I wrote it on my 'phone one night when I couldn't sleep, and then Sarah McIntyre slaved away for hours and hours turning it into twelve beautifully illustrated episodes. You can read the whole thing on her blog (and she's also written about the pony books she loved as a child, and included many photos of her small equestrian self).

We had a lot of fun coming up with this! Hopefully it won't be the last we'll see of Kevin - we're just taking a breather while we decide what his next adventure should involve.

Reeve & McIntyre at the SOA

On 5th February Sarah McIntyre and I will be doing an event at the Society of Authors in London, chaired by Shoo Rayner.

Writer Philip Reeve and illustrator Sarah McIntyre will talk about their collaborative partnership and how they have worked with other writers and illustrators. Do publishers help or hinder artistic relationships by keeping writers and illustrators apart? Are suggestions, from either side of the fence, ever welcome?

Tickets are £10 online or £12 offline for members of the SOA, and £15/£18 for non-members. Full details here.

Sarah McIntyre

And don't forget to keep checking Sarah's blog for (almost) daily updates on the adventures of Kevin, the Dartmoor Pegasus - he's been having a terrible time.

Sarah McIntyre



I would never have watched Maleficent if Sarah McIntyre hadn't recommended it - she watched it while she had the flu, and said it was wonderful. Then I started noticing terrible reviews online which said it was one of the worst movies of 2014... Maybe McIntyre only liked it because she was delirious? But it was too late - the DVD had already arrived, so we gave it a look.

Phew, it turns out Sarah was right as usual. Maleficent is a live-action and loadsa-CGI retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. It's based on the classic Disney animation, but told from the point of view of the evil fairy. In this version she is as much sinned against as sinning, and the real villain turns out to be Sleeping Beauty's father, King Stefan. The twists it makes to the traditional tale work rather well for the most part (though the wall of thorns is a bit under-used). The middle section, in which she secretly watches over the development of the child she has cursed, becomes the heart of the story: the hundred years' sleep turns into little more than a heavy nap (which was a pity, I felt) the three fairies charged with Princess Aurora's upbringing are comically inept, and the handsome prince is a weedy Justin Bieber lookalike who spends much of his screen-time unconscious and being levitated around by Maleficent.  It really is her movie, and Angelina Jolie is tremendous. I can't think offhand of any recent fantasy film which revolves around such a powerful and unorthodox female lead.

I think I can imagine why some people didn't like it - it's too dark for small children, too light for grimdark fantasy fans, and maybe it annoys people with fond memories of the original Sleeping Beauty (I have none; I recall seeing the clip where the prince fights the dragon on Michael Rodd's Screen Test a lot, but that's about it.)

But it looks beautiful, in a lush, Pre-Raphaelites-on-laudanum way. The CGI is sometimes a bit intrusive (there are some fairy creatures which would be better as Dark Crystal style puppets) but often it's used very well. There's a shot early on where a trapped raven is transformed into a man which is fantastically strange and spooky, and some great scenes of Maleficent in flight which reminded me of both Brazil and Avatar (director Robert Stromberg was an art director on Avatar). It also reminded me of Excalibur - not just the obvious references in its fire-and-iron battle scenes, but the economy of the storytelling, the way that years whisk by in seconds, the way it trusts its audience to enter into its mythic, fairy-tale spirit and accept it's dreamlike logic.

And, unlike certain recent fantasy movies we could mention, Maleficent is short; it does its job and rolls the credits after 97 minutes, and it's all the better for it.

The Dartmoor Pegasus


I don't usually like to have my own pictures on display, but this little fat Pegasus which I painted on a bit of Brighton driftwood sometime in the late 1980s has been on the wall of every house I've lived in since; it's above the kitchen door here at Bonehill...

This Christmas I made a clay version of it for Sarah, and when Sarah McIntyre saw it, she thought it would be a good thing to base some drawings on.

So we've written a short story together, which will be appearing in installments over the next few weeks: just keep an eye on McIntyre's blog, or follow @jabberworks on Twitter or Instagram for updates. Here's the first installment: