In the end it was the Numptys who made their first journey to a publishers, not the seaside cats. One of the publishers with whom I'm working asked to look at any stories I was sending out, and so today they set off, with synopsis and the first very, very rough sketches. These are always the most exciting stage for me; they look so crude compared to the finished project, but it's such fun just to get the ideas out without worrying about appearances. It's like catching butterflies; exciting to chase, exhilarating to capture, but you have to resist the urge to nail them down or they become stiff and lifeless. No matter how elaborate the display case, they lose something precious.
"... the setting...which is almost like an old fashioned toy theatre, with props and background. Things hang suspended from strings and wire – the Moon is a big pewter disc with rivets, the Sun appears to be a 1960’s ray clock. They both hang from the sky by cords attached to hooks, (although it is never seen what the hooks are screwed into. This is left as a kind of visual conundrum."
So the very first doodles show the girl polishing the moon by various means; a pole ladder, a pulley (suspended from some indefinable point beyond the page) and a trapeze.
"The planet itself is very small and simple, with just a few features – the lemonade fountain and the cake tree, which sprouts lovely fairy cakes iced in beautiful pastel shades...the background – the space in which the planet floats, changes from page to page, with flat vintage fabric/wallpaper style patterns..."
"...The first pictures show a landscape unadorned with anything except the cake tree etc. The girl has no house, but things appear and disappear as she needs them. The Numptys seem to accumulate quantities of clutter – they are untidy creatures and completely thoughtless. When the Numptys begin populating, more and more objects appear to litter the planet – little playgrounds for the baby Numptys, wee houses, tiny cars (they are proportionally to the girl about the same size as a guinea pig)."
It was as if the Numptys had never existed. Except, of course, for the stars.
"...the stars, which the girl makes with the Numptys, are gold paper and stuck to the background with drawing pins. In the final picture they are peeling and a bit tatty – one has fallen to the ground."
If, God willing, 'The Numptys' is ever published, it will look light years away from these early scribblings. But I will try to resist pinning it to a display board.