Monday, 7 September 2015

Writers in Residence at Edinburgh International Book Festival

The Edinburgh International Book Festival may be finished, but our residency at the festival was just beginning today. Over the next few months, with hip-hop artist Dave Hook of Stanley Odd fame, we'll be working with pupils at Shawlands Academy, to help them create comics and rap songs based on fairy tales and folk stories. After our first, joint session today, Dave will be go on to work with the group focusing on stories and rap. While we concentrate on the graphic storytelling and design aspects. The whole project will culminate at the end of January in a Burns Night celebration at the Glad Café. A massive thank you to the Edinburgh Book Festival team, in particular to Catherine Campbell who is overseeing the project. It's going to be an exciting few months and we look forward to seeing the work the pupils create. In fact they already produced some fantastic drawings today!

Pictured: Mrs Kirk, teacher at Shawlands Academy, John and Sandra (that's us,
Metaphrog), Dave Hook, and Catherine Campbell.

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015

We had a great time at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015. 

Our new graphic novel, The Red Shoes and Other Tales, premiered with gold stamped exclusive advance edition copies. The book isn't officially out until October 13th in the US and November 1st in the UK.

Gala Day, the final day of the festival is open to schools only and saw us deliver a talk to over 80 children. 

The festival may be finished now but for us as Writers in Residence at the festival, it's all just beginning: for the next few months, we'll be working with hip-hop artist Dave Hook at a Glasgow school to help pupils create fairy tale comics.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Talk at Momentum

Yesterday we gave a talk to book festival directors from around the world, about our work and also about graphic novels (including the Scottish scene).

It was part of Momentum, the Edinburgh Festivals International Delegate Programme delivered through a partnership between British Council Scotland, Festivals Edinburgh and Creative Scotland.

Also speaking were Adele Patrick and Sue John of Glasgow Women's Library (were the event took place), Jean Cameron of Glasgow Life, Bob McDevitt, programmer of Aye Write! Glasgow's Book Festival, and Glasgow Poet Laureate Jim Carruth, and it was great to hear about their work.

It was also fantastic to meet such an interesting group of people. Huge thanks to Emma Turnbull at Creative Scotland who invited us to speak.

All pictures courtesy of Glasgow Women's Library Facebook page.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Gold Stamped Exclusive Advance Edition of The Red Shoes and Other Tales

A very limited number of gold-stamped 'Exclusive Advance Edition' copies of our new graphic novel The Red Shoes and Other Tales will be available from the Edinburgh International Book Festival bookshop on Charlotte Square, for the duration of the festival, which takes place during the last two weeks of August.

Exclusive Advance Edition of The Red Shoes and Other Tales

The book itself is beautifully printed and comes in a hardcover quarter-bound edition (that's with cloth all around the spine), and has a gold printed spine. We're really delighted with the way the finished book has turned out. Many thanks to our publisher Papercutz!

The official release date for the book is October 13th in the US and November 1st in the UK.

Also, a very limited quantity of signed giclée prints and greeting cards will be available at the Edinburgh International Book Festival bookshop. The giclée prints are mounted in a black frame and wrapped in clear plastic sleeves, the greeting cards come with envelopes.  All are available at affordable prices. The printing and print finishing is absolutely top notch, thanks to Pennybatch Gallery's attention to detail and high quality materials.

The Red Shoes and Other Tales signed giclée prints and greeting cards

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

First reviews for The Red Shoes and Other Tales

Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews have both written great reviews of The Red Shoes and Other Tales, to be published on October 13th 2015 by Papercutz.

Publishers Weekly says: "Hope, joy, and pain intermingle in these dark, alluring stories, which may leave readers thinking of Andersen as a precursor to modern horror."
Full review here:

Kirkus Reviews calls it: "A darkly pensive read, perfect for chilly fall evenings."
Full review here:

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Patrons of Reading Activities: Great Scottish Scientists Project

This year, as Patrons of Reading at Northfield Academy, we had the pleasure of working on an exciting project, organised by librarian extraordinaire Mandy Wilson.

The project involved art and science teachers, and S1 pupils were set the task of creating comics about Great Scottish Scientists. Scotland has a rich history of invention and, for a small country, a surprisingly large number of famous discoveries to its name.

Allan Burnett (author of “Invented in Scotland”) delivered a talk to inspire the pupils, who then each gathered information on a scientist, engineer or mathematician of their choice.

We then delivered sessions with groups of pupils to help them get started on researching and developing their own comic, which they later finished working with the art department.

The pupils were encouraged to use photographs as reference or even for use as part of a collage, mixed in with their own drawings.

Mandy has created this excellent film about the project.

We then selected three of the best comics which where photographed to create the three short videos below. The soundtracks were produced by S1 pupils.

The whole project was made possible thanks to the Scottish Book Trust Live Literature Fund.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Edinburgh International Book Festival Residency

We are honoured and delighted to be writers in residence for the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015. As part of the Baillie Gifford Schools Programme, we will be working in collaboration with hip-hop artist Dave Hook doing a series of workshops in Shawlands Academy in Glasgow, exploring stories, translations and fairy tales from different languages and traditions. This is an exciting celebration of storytelling in its many different forms, and we are very much looking forward to being involved. The workshops will take place after the book festival and will culminate with a celebration on Burns Night 2016.

We are also looking forward to our schools event on Sept 1st on Charlotte Square, Graphic Novel Fairy Tales with Metaphrog, for ages 9-10, which will premiere our new graphic novel The Red Shoes and Other Tales. More information can be found in our previous post:

Monday, 20 April 2015

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015 Event

We're thrilled to be part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival again this year and honoured to be doing an event as part of the Baillie Gifford Schools Programme. The other exciting news is that we will be premiere launching The Red Shoes and Other Tales at the festival. Limited numbers of a Special Festival Edition of the graphic novel will be available in advance of the official release date. 

Graphic Novel Fairy Tales with Metaphrog is on Tuesday September 1st, 1.30-2.30pm. The event is open to children age 9-10 and the venue will hold up to 100 pupils.

The programme is packed with exciting events and fantastic authors and illustrators, including: Debbie Gliori, the festival's Illustrator in Residence; Cathy McPhail; Nicola Morgan; Lari Don; Keith Gray; Alex T Smith; Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve; Barry Hutchison; Alison Murray; Vivian French and many more. Check out the full programme here:

Book now to be the first to hear all about The Red Shoes and Other Tales and get a Special Festival Edition of the book! There's also a 25% discount on books ordered in advance of the festival for schools, and a £3 book voucher for all pupils attending events.

The official release date of our graphic novel The Red Shoes and Other Tales is October 13th 2015.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Red Shoes cover and trailer!

Here it is: the cover for our new graphic novel The Red Shoes and Other Tales to be published by Papercutz in October! It's going to be a nice quarter bound hardcover in full colour and contains our interpretation of the Hans Christian Andersen classic.

And here's the trailer!

THE RED SHOES AND OTHER TALES by Metaphrog - Coming October 2015 from Papercutz! from Papercutz on Vimeo.
An original graphic novel from the award winning team behind the LOUIS series! The first story in this volume adapts the classic fairy tale "THE RED SHOES". This volume also includes Metaphrog's adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen classic, "The Little Match Girl" and a tale of their own invention, "The Glass Case".

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Wonderlands Graphic Novel Expo

We're really looking forward to being part of the Wonderlands Graphic Novel Expo on May 30th. This one day event in Sunderland University's City Space will be a celebration of comics in their book form, with panels, workshops and publisher hall. Patron Bryan Talbot, author of the Grandville series and (along with Mary Talbot) Costa winner  Dotter of her Father's Eyes worked on developing the programme, and the whole event is organised by Sunderland Mac Trust.

We'll be kicking off the day on the Young Adult Graphic Novels panel, along with Benjamin Read, Paul Register and chaired by Dr Mel Gibson. We will also run a comic workshop suitable for age 12 up to adults.

Posy Simmons, Steve Bell and Dave Gibbons are headlining the show, as well as of course, Bryan and Mary Talbot. Check out the excellent programme on the Wonderlands website, including guests Hunt Emerson, Dylan Horrocks, Woodrow Phoenix, Kate Charlesworth, Darryl Cunningham, Paul Gravett, Paul B Rainey, Ian Culbard, Ian Edington, Al Davidson, Stephen White, Kev F Sutherland... and publishers Emma Hayley, Dan Franklin and Ben Smith who will be discussing the current and future state of graphic novels.

Wonderlands is a free, family friendly event held on Saturday May 30th at Sunderland University, CitySpace, Chester Road.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

New Graphic Novel: The Red Shoes and Other Tales

We're really excited that this year will see the release of our new graphic novel! The Red Shoes and Other Tales will be published in October 2015 by Papercutz. The book includes our interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen's classic along with two other short tales. There will be some really exciting events at prominent festivals to mark the release, but more on this soon...

Papercutz is the publisher of New York Times best-seller Lego Ninjago, Nancy Drew, Geronimo Stilton, The Smurfs and other fine graphic novels for all ages. Check out to see all their exciting titles! The book will be available in the US and UK through their Macmillan distribution, as well as via Diamond Comic Distributors.

As a first glance, here's a pencil drawing from The Red Shoes and Other Tales.

The Red Shoes pencil by Metaphrog

Special thanks to Creative Scotland who provided substantial funding last year for us to create new work, one result of which was this book.

Keep your eyes peeled on this blog for more info over the coming months. You can also email us on and request to be on our mailing list to receive more information as release date approaches and keep informed of our festival and in-store appearances.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Book Week Scotland 2014

Once again it's been a busy few weeks and we've had great fun travelling around visiting places as far afield as Helsinki and giving talks and delivering workshops at  The Lakes International Comic Art Festival and Craigmillar Book Festival among others. Last week was Book Week Scotland 2014 and we did a string of events in schools and libraries up north.

With pupils at the Craigmillar Book Festival

First stop was Portlethen on Monday 24th November for two sessions with 13-14 year olds. We then went on to Aberdeen, to Northfield Academy, where we are Patrons of Reading until 2016. We have been going there regularly since we were appointed in 2013, and this time we delivered a series of very hands-on workshops over two days, with the younger pupils.

Sandra's Xmas character to inspire the pupils

Post session photo with pupils of Northfield Academy

The pupils produced some really fun Xmas-themed characters and comics....

... such as this really crazy comic made by a young girl about a killer snow clown! The cartooning is hilarious.

Some pre-Xmas pychopathicness, in pink

It has become a custom that when we visit, John is challenged to a chess game during lunch break by pupils. 

A big thank you to Mandy Wilson and Neil Hendry at Northfield Academy - they are such dynamic and fantastic people and are doing such great work at the school. It's always a pleasure to work with them.

With librarian Mandy Wilson and head teacher
Neil Hendry - Northfield Academy
Next stop was Meldrum where we gave two talks to a total of 300 students!

One of the Meldrum events

We then briefly came back to Glasgow before heading to Oban on the Friday for two events, one in a school and the other, an open event, in Oban Library.

Oban school event

Oban Library event, pictured with the librarians
All in all: a packed week!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Comics Lab

This month we had the pleasure of running the Comics Lab, which Scottish Book Trust and Literary Dundee were hosting. The first part was a pretty intense weekend with wall to wall talks and workshops.

From left to right: Michel Faber, ourselves, Bryan Talbot,
Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and John McSane

On the first day, David Bishop gave a talk on comics and how to write for them, Jonathan Cape editor Alex Bowler's talk was on the publishing side of graphic novels, and we delivered a talk about our own work and creative approach. Later we also held a workshop looking at the nuts and bolts of the medium. On day two, we hosted a second workshop on the medium looking at how to get the best out of a page. Guests William Goldsmith and Isabel Greenberg talked about their books, Vignettes of Ystov and The Encyclopedia of Early Earth respectively, and Bryan and Mary Talbot with Kate Charlesworth talked about their collaborative work on Sally Heathcote Suffragette. Finally John McShane talked about his take on the industry and opportunities for employment possibilities. It was a privilege to have such great guest speakers. That weekend the lab ran at the same time as the annual Dundee Comics Day, in the room next door in fact, and we'd have loved to attend it but had our hands full!

Day three, a couple of weeks later, was a follow-up and feedback day, where we evaluated the participants work along with Chris Murray and Phillip Vaughan, who also gave talks about their courses at Dundee University, the Comic Studies MLitt and the Comic Art and Graphic Novels Expansive Module.
Same as above but with Caitrin Armstrong this time
instead of Sandra.

Huge thanks to the Scottish Book Trust team and to Literary Dundee for organising it all and for inviting us to run the lab. Special thanks to Claire, Caitrin, Sasha, Fran, and Peggy Hughes for their kind support and to Will Mackie for help with the initial groundwork. And of course a big thank you to the participants who devoted a chunk of their time and all their attention to the lab. The work they produced for the feedback day was fantastic and we really got a discussion going on how to best improve one's work.

It was fantastic to have the chance to talk about the medium of comics all weekend with like-minded people. As a bonus to the whole event, Michel Faber, who was doing a reading from his new book, The Book of Strange New Things, at Literary Dundee, attended a couple of the talks when he learned that the lab was running. 

Collection of graphic novels that was in the Comics Lab room
which were donated to the university by Grant Morrison.

The Comics Lab ran in the
Cam Kennedy studio at Dundee University.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Autumn Events

We're gearing up for a really busy autumn, now that we've finished our new book.
September already saw us do some events at the excellent Tidelines Book Festival, and we'll continue giving talks and delivering workshops in schools and libraries around Britain over the coming months.

We'll also be doing several public events at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival including a talk on how we self-published over the years, two drop-in workshops for 7-10 (free), and a signing at Waterstones in Kendal. We're very excited about "The Magic of Metaphrog", a free exhibition which runs from October 1st until October 31st, featuring some Louis pages and also a preview of pages from our forthcoming book with Papercutz..

The Magic of Metaphrog exhibition at LICAF

Another exciting event is the Comics Lab, which we'll be running for Scottish Book Trust and Literary Dundee. The event will be an intensive in-depth course on making comics and graphic novels. We're delighted with the list of amazing guests who will be speaking and sharing their industry knowledge: Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot, David Bishop, Alex Bowler, Kate Charlesworth, Isabel Greenberg, William Goldsmith, Chris Murray, John McShane and Phillip Vaughan. This is a closed event, and the deadline for applications has now passed.

We've also been invited to speak at Helsinki's International school and are really looking forward to spending a few days there, doing several workshops and assembly talks to the whole school.

Plus, Book Week Scotland will see us travelling around the country including a visit to Aberdeen and Northfield Academy where we are Patrons of Reading.

That should see us pretty exhausted by the time we reach the end of the year...

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Interview with Creative Scotland

There's an interview with us on Creative Scotland's Connecting:

We talk about our work to date, our approach to the creative process and also our new graphic novel, due to be published by Papercutz in 2015.

Last year we received substantial funding for a year from Creative Scotland to research and develop new work and the graphic novel is one of the exciting outcomes.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

New Graphic Novel to be published in 2015

We have been fortunate to receive funding from Creative Scotland to create new work this year. One of the things we have been working on is a new graphic novel which will be published by Papercutz in 2015. Papercutz is the publisher of New York Times #1 best-seller Lego Ninjago, Nancy Drew, and other fine graphic novels.

Some pages from this new book will be exhibited, in an exclusive sneak preview, at The Lakes International Comic Festival 2014, where we'll be guests, doing a talk on self-publishing and the Louis graphic novels, some drop-in workshops and more!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Metaphrog Recommends 12 Graphic Novels for Young Readers

In our capacity as Patrons of Reading, we recently had the pleasure of returning to Northfield Academy for a follow up visit, doing an in-depth workshop with S1 pupils and also introductory comic workshops with P7s.

We promised to compile a list of recommended graphic novels for the school, and indeed, any library interested in extending their graphic novel section (or in starting one) is welcome to use it too.

Pupils of Northfield Academy busy reading their class set of Louis - Red Letter Day

Metaphrog recommends 12 Graphic Novels for Young Readers:

1. The Arrival by Shaun Tan
2. Coraline by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell
3. The Rainbow Orchid by Garen Ewing  
4. Adolf by Osamu Tezuka
5. Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
6. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and Michel Plessix
7. Alex Rider by Anthony Horowitz, Antony Johnston, Kanako and Yuzuru
8. Bone by Jeff Smith
9. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Conan Doyle, Ian Edginton and Ian Culbard
10. Silverfin by Charlie Higson and Kev Walker
11. Smile by Raina Telgemeier
12. The Phoenix Comic magazine by various

We compiled this list with 10-14 year olds in mind, but these titles are suitable for older readers too. 
Pupils of Northfield Academy
reading Louis - Night Salad
John in a chess duel in between sessions
at Northfield Academy

Monday, 17 February 2014

Patrons of Reading at Northfield Academy

Last year we were made Patrons of Reading at Northfield Academy in Aberdeen and, as the first ever graphic novelists to fill such a role, we were honoured and delighted. We'll be working closely with the school for the next three years to encourage reading and creativity.

Our first author visits in this new capacity took place at the end of January and were great fun. We had the opportunity to work with the whole of the school's first year, in class-sized groups, as well as meet with the teachers for an informal lunch where we talked about our hopes and about the patronage.

Northfield Academy have adopted us and we have adopted the school.

Everyone made us feel extremely wel
come and it was exciting to see so much interest and receive so much support from the school. The head teacher, librarians and teaching staff in general were all really enthusiastic and engaged.

To start our patronage, we sent the school a class set of Louis - Red Letter Day graphic novels and some signed posters, along with an activity sheet for the classroom.

We're looking forward to returning for a follow up session with S1 pupils and for sessions with Primary pupils too!

A huge thank you to Mandy Wilson for choosing us as patrons, to Mr Watt and the art department, and to head teacher Neil Hendry.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Skint! Returns

In 2011 we worked on the graphic novel Skint! with playwright Gowan Calder. The book was commissioned and published by the Scottish Book Trust and distributed free in Scotland. It was such a big success that Standard Life Charitable Trust and the Scottish Book Trust commissioned a second Skint!, this time for England. Skint! for England was released in January 2014 and is available in print (45000 copies) and online.

We were commissioned once more, along with Gowan Calder, to rework the book to suit the different demographics in England. A few characters were changed throughout the book, and Sandra took the opportunity of reworking the colouring too while she was changing the drawings and Gowan updated and refreshed the script.
Cover for the new version of Skint!

Skint! is a free graphic novel resource to help people develop good money skills and prevent them from sinking into debt, launched in England by Scottish Book Trust and Standard Life Charitable Trust.

Skint! is a thought-provoking graphic novel that harnesses the power of stories based on real life experiences to bring money management to life. It is targeted at the adult learning sector in England to help tutors support 16-26 year olds, with a particular focus on young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs).
Page from the new version of Skint!

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:

Skint! uses the power of language and drama to engage young people in financial decision-making, enabling them to develop some of the fundamental skills and understanding they need to help them keep track of their finances, to plan ahead and think through the impact of financial decisions. The aim is to help young adults, in particular reluctant readers, to develop their literacy, numeracy and financial capability, in the hope that this will help them on the way to a future unburdened by money worries.

Page from the new version of Skint!