The Penguin Q&A

Raymond Briggs

The iconic illustrator and author gives his views on everything from writing to giving dinner parties and why drawing trumps both

What is your earliest reading memory?

When I was evacuated in the war, my Auntie Flo used to read aloud to me from the newspaper. As she spoke she ran her finger along the lines she was reading. I followed closely and I'm sure this is how I learned to read.

When did you know you wanted to write?

About the age of 11 I wanted to be a newspaper reporter. By the age of 14 I knew I wanted to be a cartoonist. Both ambitions were commercial and for print.

What books did you love as a child?

The Just William series. I was given William The Outlaw and remember sitting by the fire in our kitchen at home and laughing so much I could hardly stay on the chair.

Raymond Briggs

'By the age of 14 I knew I wanted to be a cartoonist' – Raymond Briggs

What are you reading at the moment?

The latest Steve Bell tome, If: The Graphic Novel. It has a wonderful cover – David Cameron complete with condom on his head, dressed as Tintin, walking past a table lamp of John Major with his inverted underpants as the lampshade. Brilliant beyond belief.

Who is your favourite fictional character (one you didn’t write) and why?

William again, of course. When you are old, 81 in my case, you need cheering up and laughter is said to be good for you. It increases the blood flow by 20 per cent.

Which fictional location would you most like to visit and why?

Treasure Island, because of the treasure and to get away from interviews like this. Tee hee!

Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party and what would you serve?

I loathe dinner parties. Going to them is bad enough but hosting one is unthinkable. Gave that up decades ago.

What do you always carry with you?

Notebook, dozens of pencils and pens. Front door keys chained to my belt. Longing to be home. Hate travel. Travel equals anxiety. Got enough of that already.

And finally, what’s the question (and answer to the question) no one has ever asked you but you wish they would?

“Would it be OK if we do not ask you where you got the idea from?”

“Yes, it's more than OK.”

 

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