I am delighted to welcome Fiona Ross to the blog today to talk about the marvellous ‘Hyde and Squeak’ a hilarious and witty twist to the Jekyll and Hyde story. Stuffed full of the most glorious illustrations this story will delight and entertain readers, perfect for sharing at Halloween. It is an irresistible combination of spookiness and comedy with plenty of laugh out loud moments.
Fiona Ross – Creative inspiration behind Hyde and Squeak
Little Tiger Press were really keen to make a gothic children’s picture book. They selected one of my earlier illustrations they liked for it’s atmosphere, and this kick started the project. Once we’d worked out the basic story outline the drawing began with designing the characters. This involved playing around with different styles to match the tone of the story, which was constantly evolving at the same time. Hyde felt very animated and slapstick in his silliness, so I looked at characters from The Muppets for inspiration.
I wanted to have several elements of the book in black and white, this felt truly gothic to me like the old RKO horror movies I loved to watch when growing up. I played around with the idea of when we‘re in Granny and Squeak’s world it’s colour, and the framing is straight and uniform. But when Hyde is in the picture, everything is chaotic and the frames of the illustrations become angular as a visual tool to express the bedlam he’s about to unleash. I watched a lot of old cinema such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, (1920) and Nosferatu (1922). Another film which provided much inspiration is Cat People (1942). This film uses it’s strong black and white tones to it’s strength and manipulates the shadowy, eerie atmosphere to build tension and threat. I used shadows in many of the spreads to help lift the characters and detail off the page as well as an atmospheric device
In the book Hyde builds a machine, he’s become a sort of greedy, evil mastermind so of course he needs the help of some crazy device! There was no doubt I was inspired by Heath Robinson’s wonderfully inventive, quirky contraptions. This section of the story was really entertaining but more complex to work out. The detail within the frames had to be simplified so the images weren’t overly busy, the artwork also becomes more graphic and bold allowing Hyde and his invention to be the central focus. I could see Hyde’s ‘Mega Munch Machine’ physically moving along the page and worked out how it functioned, swivelling up and down, spinning and springing, and also propelling him around Granny’s home – even on the ceiling! It was a challenge to show the vehicles potential and movement. I used Lego wheels to print the machines tyre tracks and placed them where they were needed. This also gave me the ability to show the reader where the machine had been and imagine what other funny business Hyde had been up to – he now could have limitless mischief with his invention!
Fiona Ross studied illustration at Harrow College of Art before going on to the Royal College of Art to specialise in design for film and television. It is here that Fiona’s TV and Film career began. From designing for BAFTA nominated projects to storyboarding and making models for cinema blockbuster’s Fiona has done it all. She has now turned her talent to children’s book illustration. Originally from Barnsley in South Yorkshire, Fiona now lives in London.
You can follow Fiona on Twitter @fionarossbooks or visit her website to find out more.