Time For Lights Out by Raymond Briggs is a 256-page hardcover out on 14th November from Jonathan Cape. In his customary pose as the grumpiest of grumpy old men, the award-winning graphic novelist contemplates old age and death… and doesn’t like them much.
Illustrated with Briggs’s inimitable pencil drawings, some featured in last year’s BBC documentary, Raymond Briggs: Snowmen, Bogeymen & Milkmen, Time for Lights Out is a collection of short pieces, some funny, some melancholy, some remembering his wife who died young, others about the joy of grandchildren, of walking the dog…
Briggs looks back at his schooldays and his time as an evacuee during the war, and remembers his parents and the house in which he grew up. But most, like this one, are about his home in Sussex:
Looking round this house,
What will they say,
The future ghosts?
There must have been
Some barmy old bloke here,
Long-haired, artsy-fartsy type,
Did pictures for kiddy books
Or some such tripe.
You should have seen the stuff
He stuck up in that attic!
Snowman this and snowman that,
Tons and tons of tat.
Raymond Briggs was born in London in 1934, and studied at Wimbledon School of Art and the Slade School of Art, London.
His first work was in advertising, but he soon began to win acclaim as a children’s book illustrator as well as teaching illustration at Brighton College of Art. He came to public attention when he illustrated a book of nursery rhymes, The Mother Goose Treasury, in 1966, winning a Kate Greenaway medal. Since then, he has become one of the most innovative and popular author-illustrators.
As well as illustrating books for authors such as Allan Ahlberg, Raymond Briggs has written and illustrated many of his own books, including the hugely successful children’s strip illustration books Father Christmas (1973) and The Snowman (1978), books that have been translated into many languages and adapted into films, plays and TV cartoons.
Ethel & Ernest (1998)- a biography of his parents’ lives – tells the story of how his father met his mother, a lady’s maid, and how they continued to live in the same house for 41 years.
Other books he has written and illustrated himself include Fungus the Bogeyman (1977), Unlucky Wally (1987) and The Bear (1994).
Raymond Briggs has also written books for adults: When the Wind Blows (1982), a grim satire on nuclear war, which has also been made into a play and a film, and The Tin Pot Foreign General and The Old Iron Woman (1984), an attack on the Falklands War.
“In some ways all of Raymond’s books have been about death,” noted Dan Franklin, associate publisher of Cape who acquired the title for the publisher.”Here he confronts it head on in a book that is honest and truthful and very touching. Ethel & Ernest was the very first book on the Cape graphic novel list. It’s wonderful to be publishing him again.”
• Time for Lights Out by Raymond Briggs is available to pre-order now from all good bookshops (Amazon Affiliate link – using this helps support downthetubes, thank you)
This post was updated 8th September to add the book cover
[amazon_link asins=’1787331954,0723277974,0141342692,0140094199,B0092HY61G,0241113636′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’downthetubes’ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’b5dd8650-53b0-48e8-af8d-253bf0aab9ea’]