Poems and Pictures - The World of Paul Tubb


IT’S not everyone that can write a book and illustrate it too – but Paul Tubb can.

The talented poet and artist behind a number of Emu Ink-published titles has had a lifelong obsession with the greats of the industry, and it’s fair to say he is on a level with many of them.

Here, Paul chats to Emuzine about his influences and how a lack of discipline doesn’t get in his way…


So, Paul you are a poet and illustrator, with a very unique style, tell us what your earliest memory of writing/creating is? Where did it all begin?

I can remember writing as a child. One particular memory that sticks out was watching a school’s programme on poetry featuring, Roger McGough and Michael Rosen. Afterwards, we had to write a poem, and I remember relishing the task. This memory has stuck with me and I think it’s interesting with the creative direction my life has taken.

What sort of poetry do you favour?

I read all kinds of poetry. My favourite poet would be Roger McGough but I read, Seamus Heaney, Edgar Allan Poe, Wendy Cope, John Betjemen, Spike Milligan, T.S Eliot and many others.

Tell us about your work to date - you have a collection and four individual titles published through Emu Ink. Who are you targeting with your work?

The titles are all illustrated humorous rhyming tales for children and are collected in one title called, Four Wacky Tales. The Four individual titles are: Ten Princesses – a fairytale setting, centred around a Prince who wants to stop being a prince; The Dog of Edward Aloysius Grey – a journey inside the imagination of a small dog; Jeremy Doesn’t Like Jam – a young Boy who hates jam but lives with his jam-obsessed, and Scaring Jeremiah – about an old man who has made it his mission to scare a young boy who seems immune to his tales of terror.

The titles are written with the express intention of amusing and although they are aimed at 4-8 year olds, I’d like to think that parents reading them to their children will get a fair amount of hilarity from them as well.

What sort of discipline do you find you need when creating a new story?

My name and the word discipline would rarely be used in the same sentence. I’m not the most disciplined of people. Even in my artistic life I’m often working on numerous things and I’d be all over the place. What I tend to do, is write lists of what needs to be done and give myself a deadline to do them, this helps me prioritise and overcome my discipline issues.

How long does it take you to write?

It’s not an exact science, some things take me longer to write than others and there appears to be no reason why. I believe it has something to do with inspiration and environment.

Do the illustrations come first or the writing?

Theoretically the writing will always be there first, aas I need to know what to draw, although I have produced doodles that I liked so much, I decided to include them in a tale. The old man from Scaring Jeremiah for instance, was a doodle that I liked so much, when I came to write Scaring Jeremiah I decided to go back to him.

Do you have a preference or do you love to draw as much as write?

Drawing would be my preference; I draw for fun as well as part of my writing. To relax, I take a blank piece of paper and just doodle anything that takes my fancy. On train journey’s I either read or doodle. When I’m writing there’s always an end game in sight, drawing I can do when I’m between writing projects and there need not be any reason to it.

What sort of books did you favour as a kid?

I loved comics, especially The Beano, The Dandy, Peanuts  and Asterix Books. The very first book I purchased on my own was a collection of Peanuts strips entitled, ‘It’s Raining on your Parade Charlie Brown.’ After viewing the school’s poetry programme that I mentioned earlier, I purchased a book called, ‘School Verse,’ which cemented my love of Comic Verse.

Later on I discovered the Joys of Mad Magazine and I used to find old copies of the MAD Paperback Books, in second hand shops from which I amassed a collection. I also liked reading joke books and I loved trying them out on people after they’d been learnt.   

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m a Huge Sherlock Holmes fan and in January, to help alleviate the ‘January blues,’ I tend to begin the month by re-reading a few of the Tales of Sherlock Holmes. I am still reading them and the story I’m currently on is entitled, ‘The Blue Carbuncle.’

Who inspires you as a writer and who inspires you as an illustrator?

P.G. Wodehouse would be my main writing influence. I believe he is the funniest writer ever to put pen to paper. I also admire the humorists, SJ Perelman and James Thurber. The poets who influenced my work include Roger McGough, Ogden Nash, Spike Milligan and Michel Rosen. As for illustrators or cartoonists, Quentin Blake would be a huge influence. I remember his illustrations from the Agaton Sax books when I was young and I’ve admired him ever since. Also Charles M Schulz, Bill Watterson, The Beano & Dandy Artists and writers and Don Martin, Mad’s Maddest Artist.

Where would you advise someone who is interested in doing what you do, to start?

Read as much poetry as you can, study pictures you like and take a blank piece of paper and draw and write all over it... 
And don’t listen to that nagging part of your own brain telling you it can’t be done.

You have made several appearances at book festivals and various events – can you teach someone how to draw/write poetry or should it come naturally?

The fundamentals, in both disciplines, certainly need to be taught...  You can’t teach anyone to be a good poet or illustrator, but you can certainly start them on their journey.

What attributes do you believe are essential to a good writer/illustrator?

Dedication is the main thing. Don’t Give up.

What are your hopes and your goals for the future?

I want to continue to write and draw humour, and expand my readership. I also would like to perform or showcase my work in the country of my birth.

What's next on the agenda?

Well of my four titles that are available on e-book, only one is available in paperback. I’d like to release more. I’m also working on a couple of projects with my wife, Daria, who is a wonderfully gifted writer and storyteller. I also recorded many of my songs and poems, which I hope to release on CD soon. Additionally, I’d also like to spend more time with my Comic Strip, Stanley,  although I find difficulty getting the time. Other than that, I’ve more picture book ideas of my own to be working on.