Behind the Zine - Snake's Space Race!

Oh, hello, I’ve written about my new zine!

It’s 1969 and Snake decides to fly a rocket to the moon. But Snake has neither the skills nor the concentration to get this done and the spaceship remains firmly on the ground. Not to worry though, Snake has found plenty of things to keep busy!

Hands holding a zine called There's A Snake In My Spaceship. Featuring a snake inside a rocket holding a pencil and smiling

I have always enjoyed the notion that there are animals, toys and objects living parallel lives while we aren’t looking. Except for, of course, that I look and can see into their world and they don’t seem to mind. It doesn’t seem fair that only children get to use their imagination - it’s pretty good fun as an adult too!

After I wrote and illustrated There’s A Worm In My Washing Machine in 2020, I decided it would be fun to create a series of zines based on rather singular characters in unusual places doing ordinary things. People, places and things. And by people, I obviously mean animals, toys and objects. If you’ve not read TAWIMWM (I know, catchy, eh?), Worm enjoys drinking hot tea and watching the telly, for example. 

Hands holding There's A Worm In My Washing Machine zine

Anyway, my latest zine There’s A Snake In My Spaceship is a love letter to the much misunderstood snakes (they aren’t scary on purpose), my obsession with ‘60s furniture and the joy of causing a bit of mischief.

An illustrated snake looking directly at you with a zine in the background

Why the zine format?

There’s something really liberating about using the zine format, especially limiting my story-telling to eight pages (two of those being the front and back page). And by that I mean, I have so few images to work with that I can’t get too hung up on telling an elaborate story. 

Instead, I love paring my ideas down to the bare minimum  - but just enough that you can glimpse a snapshot of a character’s day, have a little nosy around and then leave them to it.

The Creative Process for There’s A Snake In My Spaceship

For the TASIMSS, I started with the title and worked from there. I drew the front cover - Snake with pencil in hand (yep, my Snake has hands) and had Snake looking directly at the reader  (or, as I like to think of it, at the audience!).  Next, I designed a simple wallpaper to place behind the rocket on each page, referencing some lovely 60s and 70s colours. Both of these elements hint at things to come. There will probably be some drawing and probably not a successful moon-landing. 

An illustrated snake in an orange spaceship holding a pencil smilingNavy, orange, yellow and cream striped wallpaper
And then I drew Snake inside the rocket in six little scenes. My only plan was to document time passing in the spaceship - and then I kind of just let my imagination take over. This is generally how I draw. Sometimes I have a fully formed picture in my head (the front page is an example of this) and other times, I just trust the process. I didn’t think about the wording at any point when I was illustrating. That came later. 

Once I had drawn my images, I faffed about in Photoshop, created a mock up - with space for words - and then printed it. After that, I cut and stuck it all together to create the ‘book’ and had a think about the words. You’re never too old to create a book out of paper, it turns out. Very satisfying.

Back of a zine mock up. Hand holding the zine over an old typewriter

I played around with words until - like the paring down of images - I had the fewest words telling the best possible story. In the end, Snake and I both agreed, the words and pictures were right. Phew.

A word about whether this is for children

Yes. And grown ups. And your pets.

Clues

I obviously don’t want to give the story away but here are a few things that feature:

1. My Gran’s bathroom heater. Gran lived on a very old farm in deepest darkest Lincolnshire. There was no central heating and the bathroom was SO cold, it was permanently wet. A perfectly safe environment for an electric heater, of course.

Funnily enough, there are no photos to prove this. So here's a photo of me and my sister in the farmhouse one freezing cold winter!

Two small girls looking super happy inside an old fashioned farmhouse

2. Toast. I love toast. It’s my favourite meal. I prefer it cold, thank you very much. And preferably a little on the chewy side. 

A slice of toast cooling on a toast rack. It has cartoon eyes. An illustrated snake is smiling.

3. My 60s lampshade. Totally useless at lighting up a room (although it makes a super spotlight on the floor for my cat) - but extremely beautiful.

A big yellow lampshade with cartoon eyes in a retro styled living room

4. My Grandma’s bright orange washing basket. Because orange is the colour of JOY.

A bright orange washing basket with a cheerful snake toy inside


And Finally

Earlier this year, I watched and fell in love with The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. Aside from it being ace on so many levels, I discovered the music of Gillian Hills.

One song in particular - Tut tut tut tut - SPOKE to me. The ‘tuts’ represent an engaged dialing tone - and you can be sure that if you tried to ring Snake on the spaceship, the phone would definitely be off the hook...But you’d have to read it to find out why!

So, if you do end up reading TASIMSS, Tut tut tut tut fits nicely as a little underscore...

Thank you for reading!

TTFN! 

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