Coffee with Martin Brown

Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown

The illustrious illustrator of Horrible Histories 

How do you take your coffee?
With milk and sugar. Latte, if I’m out and about.

What makes your day a great day? 
Getting some drawing work done – having been for a run. Or being on the top of a hill – or on a beach. Or being away with my family somewhere. Or going shopping. Come to think of it, there are lots of ways to have a great day.

What books have you read recently that you would recommend? 
Himself by Jess Kidd for adults. For children, My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons. His follow-up, My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord is fun too.

What inspired you to be an illustrator?
Cartoons – specifically, the strip cartoons BC and The Wizard of Id in the Melbourne newspapers. Later, editorial cartoonists like Jeff Hook, Michael Leunig, Jeff MacNelly and Pat Oliphant became my heroes. Geniuses all.

What do you like best about working on the Horrible Histories series? Which are your favourites?
History is fascinating. It has the best stories. And Terry Deary is a master storyteller. So I’ve got the best material to work from. We have a lot of fun – but we also have a bit of attitude. Some of the cartoons comment on history as much as illustrate it or joke about it. They are like mini editorial cartoons – which, after all, is what I wanted to draw when I grew up.

What’s next for you? 
My own book, illustrated and written, called Lesser Spotted Animals, came out last year. It’s about some of the fabulous creatures out there that never seem to make it into children’s natural history non-fiction books. It’s always lions and tigers and pandas – never numbats or linsangs or duikers. Lesser Spotted Animals is my attempt to redress the balance – a bit. I’m now working on Lesser Spotted Animals 2.

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