Hi everyone! Please enjoy this guest post about Raymond Briggs. If you haven’t read his classic stories, they are a must read! I grew up with his books and always feel a bit nostalgic when I think of them. So, without further introductory ramble, enjoy…
Known for his touching story of The Snowman, and an insightful tale of what Santa Clause does between Christmases, Raymond Briggs is an author and graphic artist who is at the heart of British children’s literature. Back in the 60s and 70s, before illustrated storybooks were called graphic novels, Raymond Briggs began to make a name for himself thanks to a host of extraordinary characters and stories.
Born in 1934, Raymond Briggs had shown a talent for art, particularly cartooning. His father, Ernest, believed art to be a fruitless pursuit. This led young Raymond to make his own way through art school. He did, studying at the Wimbledon School of Art, Central School of Art and Slade School of Fine Art, spending a spell in the military as a draghtsman. With this experience and natural gifts, Briggs began to illustrate children’s books, but his own ability to tell stories soon took over.
Adopting a comic strip style, his first original book was ‘Father Christmas’ about a grumpy Santa Claus, who hated snow and grumbled through the work of delivering presents. This curmudgeonly Father Christmas was a big hit when the book was published in 1973, and a follow up, ‘Father Christmas Goes On Holiday’ was published in 1975.
From Father Christmas to international success
After ‘Father Christmas’, Raymond Briggs unleashed ‘Fungus the Bogeyman’ to instant appeal to young children. With a finger in the nose, clothing held together by dirt and terrible smells, Fungus the Bogeyman was a gross hero for kids. Despite the popularity of Fungus, the artist was just about to experience his biggest success.
Without any words, and a million miles away from the filth and grim of ‘Fungus the Bogeyman’, Raymond Briggs released ‘The Snowman’ in 1982. The reaction was remarkable, as this touching story followed the adventure of a young boy and his snowman for one night. It became an Oscar winning, animated film that is still shown on British TV each year, now a British tradition.
Briggs not only released stories for children, but also tales with serious political messages too. ‘When The Wind Blows’ is such a piece, following the lives of Jim Bloggs and his wife Hilda in the aftermath of a Nuclear bombing and the effects of radiation poisoning. The story is terrible affecting, as these warm and adorable characters face the effects of nuclear fallout.
The artist still works to this day, and his characterful crayon pieces will always be remembered as being part of the backbone of British children’s fiction.
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