Bendigo Writers Council workshop

Scenes from the October Writers Explore

by Scott Vandervalk

Vibrant is the best word to use when describing Chris Kennett’s illustrations. But not only are his characters vibrant in colour, they simply lift off the page. The Bendigonian artist has been on my radar for a few years now, starting with Alpha Monsters, which he also wrote. I read this book years ago to my son, Will, on one of our regular library trips. And then more recently, as Will and I took turns reading the Pixel Raiders books to each other (illustrated by Chris and written by Bajo and Hex of Good Game fame).

I took Will along to the Bendigo Writers Council, knowing I always find great to listen to, but hoping too that Will could get a little something out of it (or at the least, a signed Pixel Raiders book).

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Chris Kennett took us through a show-and-tell, of where he started his career, and where he’s gone since. Chris is now a digital artist and draws exclusively in Photoshop (his comfort zone), but once upon a time he drew comic strips as a 16-year-old. In his days post-high school, he worked in a council office in the UK as a photocopier. Some time later he found himself in Australia, self-employed and drawing caricatures, all the while developing his Flash skills, before eventually scoring a gig as a freelancer making e-card animations. 

Chris has put the hard work in, and sent showreels and illustrated folios out to various companies, and this work paid off. He’s been approached by studios to work in animation and character design, even working on some animated Garfield episodes. During all this freelance work, he tinkered with writing his own books, and Alpha Monsters was born (Scholastic, 2011), an entertaining alphabet book with cartoon monster illustrations.

Two of Chris’ more recent significant projects include being lead character designer for The Day My Butt Went Psycho, a cartoon series based on the Andy Griffith book of the same name (‘A dream job!’ Chris exclaimed), and more recently, Chris was approached by Random House to illustrate the Star Wars Little Golden Books.

Each of his experiences was a learning curve in style or technique. Particularly with the Star Wars books, Chris had to learn to not be as precious with his illustrations, being flexible enough to work with decisions from on high.

Chris is a great speaker and you can see it was his passion and desire that drove him onwards

and kept him aloft in the industry. He’s built a solid portfolio of work over the years, and working from home, it’s his discipline and ritual (and flexibility) that keeps him working and managing deadlines.

Will was focused and attentive throughout the entire session, and was keen not only to get his book signed, but to ask Chris a question or two about his work. Will would have been about 5-years-old when we first read Alpha Monsters, and now he’s 10-years-old, and he asked if we could get the book to read again as Chris showed off some of the monsters within.

Before we finished for the night, Chris used his random book title generator to inspire the room to write about the Super Fairy Whale Who Forgot Everything to see what sort of story, or synopsis, or even poetry could be put together on the spot.

I haven’t been able to attend as many of this years’ BWC speaker sessions as I’d like, but Chris Kennett was one of the names easily able to draw me away from home. He’s had such an interesting and varied career and tells his own story in a compelling way.

(Just as a postscript to this, Will attended the gaming convention PAX the weekend just gone by and managed to get Bajo and Hex to sign the same Pixel Raiders book that Chris Kennett did!)

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Many thanks to Bendigo Writer's Council and Scott Vandervalk for allowing me to reproduce this excerpt from their November Newsletter. I had great fun talking with this enthusiastic and talented bunch. If you live in the Bendigo region and you'd like to find out more about the BWC then you can find out more about them and their upcoming events here 

Thanks for stopping by

Chris K

SPEED ZONE

PIXEL RAIDERS BOOK 3: SPEED ZONE IS OUT NOW!

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Very pleased to announce that my third collaboration with Gaming TV personalities Steven "Bajo" O'Donnell and Stephanie "Hex' Bendixen has officially hit the shelves. 

This one, as you can probably tell, is all about the Racing game genre and features some fun action packed illustrations. I had a bunch of fun working on this one and can't wait until I begin working on Book 4 later in the year. You can read more about my work on the series right here

Thanks for stopping by :)

Bendigo Record, Comic and Toy Fair.

Looking forward to the Bendigo Record Comic and Toy Fair this Sunday (12th March 2017). It will mark my first time in Australia as a stall holder. Hopefully now that I have some of the set up I can look into other events. But for now I'm happy to keep it local.

If you're in the area, or even out of the area and feel like coming by, then come and say "Hi". 
Look for this sign, it'll be pretty hard to miss!!
Pixel Raiders signed by Bajo and Hex



Convention print. Happy 40th SW!!

Postcards sets, packed and shiny looking.


Star Wars Little Golden Book - I AM A STORMTROOPER


This month saw the release of my 4th Star Wars Little Golden Book "I am a Stormtrooper". When Random House approached me to do this one I couldn't believe my luck. So many great, iconic moments from across the series and Stormtroopers always look so cool!

Here are a few snippets from some of my favourite pages.


Of course there are plenty more in the book itself! You can pick it up here or in book shops across the USA.



Boomer at the Bat - Stan Lee's Kids Universe



I'm extremely pleased to announce a new upcoming book that has seen me team up, once again, with the talented Julia Dweck. This time we are incredibly honoured to be partnered up with the legendary STAN LEE, under his own publishing house Stan Lee's Kids Universe!

The book "Boomer at the Bat" is out May 22 2017 and stars a whole host of little critters who are quite partial to a bit of sporting activity!

As if that wasn't enough I had the opportunity of drawing the great man himself, which now adorns the official SLKU logo. 


Hopefully one day I'll get to meet the great man himself. But until then, its back to work for me.

EXELSIOR!




Dug - time lapse video


Here's a little video of a quick 20 min sketch I did of *Dug from Pixar's "UP". Its all squished up into a handy, bite sized, 1 minute chunk. You didn't think I expected you to sit for a full 20 minutes did you? Gracious! Who has that sort of time on their hands these days?

If you're even busier than that, here's the finished product for you. No doubt you've got your jacket half on, a piece of toast dangling comedically from your mouth and your backing out of the room right now. Aren't you?

Go on get out of here, you busy bee. Go get em!

*I realise the video says "Doug" but I was in a rush. So that means my pixar fanclub membership isn't revoked. Its the rules.

Star Wars craziness!

Look what I did ma
Image courtesy ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky

Last Thursday (30th June 2016) I was interviewed by the lovely Larissa Romensky from ABC Central Vic, about my work on the Star Wars Golden Books. You can read the full interview here as well as see a brief working video of Mr Vader.

News soon got around and what started off as a nice interview for a website ended up becoming National news, culminating in a Channel 9 News story and live interview to the nation on ABC News24.


"Don't look at the camera, don't look at the camera"
click my face to see a clip (links to facebook)


 Um?....Star Wars?
"Yes and that's why Han shot first you see?"
click my face to see a clip (links to facebook)


This might well go down, as one of the more surreal days in my life. Certainly one of the most nerve wracking too.
But I'm truly humbled by the reactions I've received since then and I'm grateful, every day, that I've been fortunate enough to work on something so beloved as Star Wars.

So.... Beep Boop!
Beep Boop!
Thanks for rolling on by

Bannockburn Primary School - Residency

So last week (23-27 May 2016) I was lucky enough to be invited along to Bannockburn Primary School (just outside of Geelong) to be their artist in residence. 

Throughout the week I drew Monsters with the Preps, Grade 1-3 and brainstormed some original character designs with Grade 4-6.

I was completely blown away by the level of creativity and imagination that came out during our brief 1 hour sessions. Together we created all the characters you see above, plus many more on paper which I didn't manage to get photos of.

It was a great experience and I'm extremely flattered to have been asked along to such a fun and art loving school.

Cheers BPS


Pixel Raiders Trailer


Check out this spiffy little book trailer for Bajo and Hex's PIXEL RAIDERS which I illustrated for Scholastic Australia. 

Lots of hard work went into this from all parties and the end result is something we're all very proud of. 

There will be  4 books in this series and Book 1 "DIG WORLD is available for pre-order now and released May 1st 2016. Wheeee!

Although the book is all black and white interiors, I got to colour up some key scenes for this trailer. I've included the black and white originals for a little comparison 

*Fun Fact: I managed to sneak my family into this Bus picture. Unfortunately my wife got cropped out of the final printed version. That's showbiz!






From PIXEL RAIDERS #1: Dig World by Bajo & Hex

Text copyright © Stephanie Bendixsen & Steven O’Donnell, 2016
Illustrations copyright © Chris Kennett, 2016

Published by Scholastic Australia Pty Limited, 2016


52 Week Illustration Challenge - Week 12: NON DOMINANT HAND

"Bad Hare Day"

Soooo drawing with your non dominant hand ay? In my case the left.

Hoooo boy! That was tough. Every instinct was screaming at me to swap hands the entire time. By the end I actually felt a bit woozy. Great excerise, but like most excerises, its not something I want to try again in a hurry ;)

If you want to see it done properly. Check out Bruce Whatley in this interesting vid



Pixel Raiders

Very proud to announce this upcoming book I've recently illustrated.

PIXEL RAIDERS #1: DIG WORLD

Written by ABC3's Good Game presenters Bajo and Hex, it focuses on Rip and Mei and their adventures through multiple digital realms.

This is my first move away from picture books into the world of Children's fiction and I can't think of a better project to be a part of.  I can't share much from it yet, but since the cover has been released online, I figure its fair game.

If you have some young gamers in your life they will definitely get a kick out of this. Available for preorder here.
From PIXEL RAIDERS #1: Dig World by Bajo & Hex
Text copyright © Stephanie Bendixsen & Steven O’Donnell, 2016

Illustrations copyright © Chris Kennett, 2016
Published by Scholastic Australia Pty Limited, 2016