You might be wondering to yourselves, “what exactly is this ‘The Phoenix’ magazine everybody’s been talking about? Well! It’s a weekly all-ages comics magazine, filled with different strips and characters and ideas with every single new issue. But whilst I could just tell you about the magazine in my celebrated blank prose, we figured it’d be way more fun and interesting if every week Stately Beat Mansion invited round one of the creators featured in the magazine.
The folks over at The Phoenix agreed to the idea, and so every Friday from now on, a different artist or writer or creator will be popping over for a quick cup of tea and chat about their characters!
This week sees Jamie Littler come on over to chat about Cogg & Sprokit, two characters who’ll be appearing in today’s newest issue. If you want to find out more, then try an issue of The Phoenix for yourself!
Steve: So — who are these guys?
Jamie Littler: The grumpy, tea-drinking hippo Cogg and the excitable, thrill-seeking boy, Sprokit. Together they are Cogg and Sprokit; adventurers extraordinaire!
Steve: What’s your favourite thing about this week’s story?
Jamie: I’ve always loved ‘voodoo’ in pirate and movie lore, and the look and atmosphere it suggests, so drawing all of those skulls, candles, shrunken heads, hoodoo, whatsits and eyeballs in jars was more fun than I should be allowed to have in a job! And also: Sprokit’s change in ‘direction’. Although he is not strictly ‘himself’ in this story, Sprokit is usually good-natured and heroic, taking the blame (usually deservedly so) for a lot of what goes wrong in Cogg and Sprokit’s adventure’s, so to see him kick butt as a villainous, self-serving fiend was really fun to work on!
Oh, and his billowing scarf. You can never have enough billowing scarf.
Steve: What inspired the story?
Jamie: I love reading about mythology and folklore, and I happened to be reading a bit about the voodoo religion and the spirit realm and stuff like that, which I thought was incredibly cool. Cogg and Sprokit travel around their world, seeing different cultures and entering different legends and histories, and I thought a fantastical version of voodoo would be an interesting adventure for them to get stuck in with, especially with the whole ‘good-guy-gone-bad’ vibe the episode had, it was something that I hadn’t tried with Cogg and Sprokit yet, and I like to try and make each episode and story quite different from the last so that nothing becomes stale. At least – that’s the hope!
As for Cogg and Sprokit themselves – I had drawn a hippo in my sketchbook that was fishing on a hill, wearing clothes and cogs and other such weird things that have no practical use other than looking cool. The image must’ve hit a nerve with me, as I kept looking back at it, and as I was trying to think of ideas for a fun, fast-paced adventure children’s comic that had its fair share of silly humour, a hippo and boy partnership suddenly seemed quite obvious to me. Add in some monsters, treasure-hunting, animal-villains and lots of the undead, and Cogg and Sprokit was born!
Steve: Where else can people find your work? What else do you have coming up in the future?
Jamie: I’m still quite new to this game, but the best place to find and keep up with my work is probably on my website; www.jamielittler.co.
My debut picture book‘Mum’s the Word’ was published earlier this year by Hodder Children’s Books, whom I have also been doing a fiction series with, as well as with Little Brown (unfortunately I can’t reveal any of these just yet, on pain of death), which will all be released next year. I also illustrated a series called ‘Atomic!’; a mixture of illustrations and comic-sequences about child-superheroes, which was published by Scholastic.
There are some really, really exciting projects coming up which I can’t wait to reveal, so keep those eyes peeled!
If you want.
Otherwise, y’know, as you were.
Thanks so much to Jamie for his time! Cogg and Sprokit will be appearing this week in The Phoenix #71.