Raymond Briggs is one of Britain’s most respected and beloved artists. The 82 year-old illustrator, cartoonist and graphic novelist has been called the ‘King of Christmas’, due to his classic book THE SNOWMAN, whose animated version is televised every Christmas and the equally festive FATHER CHRISTMAS and FUNGUS THE BOGEYMAN. However, in a recent Guardian interview Raymond rejects the title, saying he actually hates this time of year. “It’s full of anxiety,” he said. “In the book version of THE SNOWMAN, there’s no Christmas, there’s nothing Christmassy about FUNGUS and FATHER CHRISTMAS is anti-Christmas.” Like one of his characters he likes being a bit of a curmudgeon with a twinkle in his eye. “Mince pies appearing in Waitrose on the first of November… it’s ridiculous!”
I briefly met Raymond at the world premiere of the animated version of his graphic novel ETHEL & ERNEST at the Curzon cinema in Mayfair, during the BFI London Film Festival in October. I had drawn this sketch of him and hoped to get it signed, but he had his hands full of bags and was being ushered quickly into the cinema for media obligations, so I thought it best to simply say hello then retreat. I mailed it to him instead and it came back signed and dedicated. I never really know how other artists will react to a request to sign artwork that is not theirs. Raymond added a note ‘not by me’ to ensure the correct providence.