Author-illustrator-cartoonist Raymond Briggs has passed away.
“iconoclastic national treasure”
Raymond Briggs, the writer and illustrator who delighted children and inspired adults with bestselling cartoons and picture books, died on Tuesday morning aged 88, his publisher Penguin Random House has said.
Ranging from the enchanting magic of The Snowman to a devastating apocalypse in When the Wind Blows, Briggs created a host of much-loved characters including his angst-ridden Fungus the Bogeyman and his curmudgeonly version of Father Christmas. A career spanning six decades brought him numerous awards, with television adaptations making him a fixture of British Christmas viewing.
By piling up square and rectangular frames like toy blocks, Mr. Briggs helped bring the visual language of comic books to children’s stories. The technique allowed him to cram action onto a page before delighting or shocking a reader with a large canvas — two new friends soaring over an English palace, or five warplanes ominously approaching.
With more ideas than he could fit in a traditional picture book, Mr. Briggs, who had added writing to his repertoire for artistic and financial reasons, debuted his comic-strip approach in “Father Christmas,” which also won a Kate Greenaway Medal.
“I’ve been stuck with that method ever since, which is very laborious,” he said on the BBC’s “Desert Island Discs” in 1983.
Back to The Guardian:
As the 1960s dawned, Briggs had begun to despair at the quality of the books he was illustrating. “They were so bad that I knew I could do better myself,” he told the Guardian, “so I wrote a story and gave it to an editor hoping he would give me some advice. But instead he said he would publish it, which shows what the standard was like if a complete novice who had never written anything more than a school essay could get his first effort published.”
The Strange House was published in 1961 and five years later, his 800 illustrations for an edition of The Mother Goose Treasury won him the prestigious Kate Greenaway medal. Jim and the Beanstalk, a warmhearted sequel to the traditional tale, came in 1970.
“He played practical jokes and enjoyed them being played on him. All of us close to him knew his irreverent humour – this could be biting in his work when it came to those in power.”