evolution of Hansel & Gretel

This project started back in 2012, when I made some drawings of the story of Hansel & Gretel for a project to produce an alphabet primer.

That led to a little project decorating enamelware plates for our kitchen. A nursery service!

And it was while making the nursery service, that I made some mugs with gingerbread men on them that looked a tad threatening…

… and the whole notion of ‘Gingerbread Zombies’ developed, aided and abetted by my friend Phil Cooper, who loved the idea and encouraged me to play with it.

I made some images toying with the idea of Hansel & Gretel as a picture book.

Then Simon Lewin asked me to contribute a piece to Random Spectacular 2, for which I wrote a short version of the fairy tale, adding a new twist to the narrative. (You’ll have to find a copy to see what the ‘twist’ is!)

Above: collage artwork

Below: the printed version

Simon Lewin re-worked the black and white artwork into two-tone images…


… and then sprang the lovely surprise of asking whether I’d like to produce a full, picture-book version of Hansel & Gretel, to be published under the Saint Jude’s Prints Random Spectacular imprint.

Work began in the run-up to Christmas 2014. I produced character sketches…

… including realisations of Gingerbread Zombies!


Then I began some worked up ‘concept’ drawings.


Next I began a small rough dummy of the book…

… before quickly realising that I needed to do more work on the narrative structure.

With the narrative mapped out in the requisite number of pages, I made a to-scale dummy book, with rough drawings throughout.

Once Simon Lewin has signed off the dummy, work on the final drawings and colour separations can begin.

Easy peasy!

(I kid!)

38 thoughts on “evolution of Hansel & Gretel

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  4. Don’t worry Phil, we’ll be sure to stock up on “Deep Heat” for the rehearsal period.

    You will be pleased to see that Tilda is already limbering up:

  5. Dear Clive, Phil and Peter

    Can I make one request for the movie trilogy, now currently in development, starring Phil and Tilda?

    Please can you honour my request for a big dance number, starring Phil and his gingerbread army, all wearing their stylish, yet evil, hundreds and thousands pantaloons?

    Given Phil’s Berlin bunker HQ, I am now imagining something along these lines:

    Yours in anticipation,

    The Curious One

    • I should think you can count on it Sarah!
      we are going to put Busby Berkeley to shame with our cast of thousands of, all singing, all dancing zombie gingerbread men, complete with tiny top hats and striped candy canes, all tappity tapping their dark little hearts out in a delightfully choreographed (by Clive) blood bath!

      • I’m liking where this is going Sarah, Peter; a whole wardrobe of stylish confectionary clothing, and may I please have a big solo number called ‘Eat my Shorts or We’ll Eat YOU‘ for when I have the big face-off with my nemesis at the end?

          • So do I!

            However, I do feel it necessary to warn you Phil, as the all-singing, all-dancing star of the film, with Clive as your director/choreographer:

            “You’ve got big dreams? You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying … in sweat.”

            I think that just might be the quote to end all quotes Peter!! 🙂

            • *gulp* – *squeezes into leotard that’s been in the bottom of the drawer for 20 years, attempts to touch toes* ……’Oh dear, can you get to A&E luv’

  6. It’s true, I can’t deny it any longer, I’m coming out, I’ve gone over to the Dark Side! Why, why Phil.?’ You may ask Clive. The answer is simple, and I quote Peter Slight, who understands these things… ‘a mega-overlord Phil action-figure, dressed completely in black, except for some delicious white iced piping up his legs and sleeves’. Being good never gave me anything so fabulous, and in my own ‘evil villain bunker play-set’, too – impossible to resist!

    The movie pitch is awesome by the way, I expect the Hollywood studios to come knocking by teatime. The tattoos-becoming-gingerbread-zombies idea will guarantee the best special effects Oscar for sure 🙂

    I did love Tilda in Snowpiercer channelling Deirdre Barlow. I think I could work with her.

  7. We all definitely need this one! And to share it a lot when it comes out..

    From DWJ’s “Charmed Life,” Cat Chant, the hedge witch, and the gingerbread men: Mrs. Sharp loved apples. He just hoped she would not reward him by making gingerbread men. As a rule, gingerbread men were fun. They leapt off the plate and ran when you tried to eat them, so that when you finally caught them you felt quite justified in eating them. It was a fair fight, and some got away. But Mrs. Sharp’s gingerbread men never did that. They simply lay, feebly waving their arms, and Cat never had the heart to eat them.

    • How unlike my own gingerbread men, who far from lying prone while feebly waving their stunted extremities, gather in packs to hunt down children. These are gingerbread men who push weights and bite back!!! Yikes!


  8. I can see a stand-off between the witch and the zombies coming up, she looks a tad dismayed that they are getting all the action. It’s a good thing Phil is in Berlin at Zombie HQ keeping an eye on developments.

  9. The thing is, Clive, that you make it *seem* easy peasy – Your fabulous work appears on the Artlog as if it just rolled effortlessly from your hands! Your Hansel and Gretel images have really made the story come alive for me, with their solidness and sheer terror! I LOVE how you draw 😉

    • You’ll be smiling the other side of your face when the Gingerbread Zombies come gunning for us all. What you people don’t seem to understand is that all this is going to happen! I’m just the messenger.


  10. Can’t wait too but will just ‘defer gratification’…UNLIKE Hansel & Gretel! But they were ‘tummy hungry’ and my need is for other nourishment.
    Yum yum.
    B xxx

  11. What an interesting post. It is fascinating to see the evolution of a creative idea and music to my ears that the book is now progressing to the next stage.

    I am also pleased to hear confirmation that Phil has established Gingerbread HQ in Berlin.

    However, I am rather concerned that news of the Artlog’s planned movie franchise – and the tie-in merchandise – may have got out to commercial spies. I have received reports todayt that a line of gingerbread men were spotted at the checkout at Marks and Spencer, all of whom had been decapitated!

    Highly suspicious methinks!!

    • Ooh! I have just closely examined the final image of the post. Is that a liquorice lace I see capturing Gretel in its boa constrictor style grasp? How wonderful!

      Hills of Nottingham will be pleased, as I remember she was the first to identify liquorice as the devil’s spawn in her response to a previous post.

      It definitely is ‘Confectionery Carnage’ in this illustration!!

    • A line of Zombie gingerbread men in Marks and Spencer?! were they queueing up to buy more hundreds and thousands for their stylish yet evil pantaloons?

  12. Great to see the evolution of this project so far from the start, and to see how it has grown. The preparatory drawings for the new book are just fab, they breathe such new life into this story. Your take on Hansel and Gretel is so masterfully imagined and executed, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy when it’s done!

    As you know, Clive, I’m highly enamoured of your gingerbread zombies and a few of us have been quietly plotting their world domination. I’ve taken over an old WW2 bunker here in Berlin as centre of operations and the zombies are happy with the plans so far.

    Disney’s Frozen? Pah! What a flop! The gingerbread zombie collectable action figures (designed by Peter Slight of course) alone make it look small fry.

    The 2015 Christmas number one is already recorded (‘Every Time You Go Away You Take A Piece of Me With You’ by The Munch Bunch) and the Halloween costumes, well, if you don’t get your order in now there’ll be tears!

    • Well you’ve always been unhealthily obsessed by the zombies, Phil. But I see now that things have gone further than I’d realised, and that far from being a Gingerbread Zombie hunter, you’ve actually gone over to the dark side and become their Lieutenant in Chief! Yes, you’ve crossed the line my fine friend. Like the madman Renfield before you, paving the way for his master the undead Count from Transylvania, you have aligned yourself with evil. That you have set up a nest for your unholy creatures in a bunker beneath Berlin, saddens me more than I can say!

      What was the trade-off, Phil. What did they offer that I couldn’t? Was it their firm, gingery flesh? Was it… I tremble to ask… added ‘hundreds and thousands’?

      PS. It doesn’t surprise me at all to see young Peter Slight’s name crop up in your message. I should have known he’d be a part of this sorry mess. He’s been nothing but trouble from the outset. But Phil, Phil, you’re older and wiser than he. I expected more from you. Tut tut!!!!!

        • Whilst this shocking turn of events has been troubling me…Phil’s departure to the dark side…who saw that coming?!…I can’t help but see the marketing potential for an ‘evil villain bunker playset’* which comes complete with an ‘Mega Overlord Phil’ action figure, dressed completely in black, except for some delicious white icing piped up his legs and sleeves. (hundreds and thousands playsuit set sold seperately)

          This is also going to call for script rewrites to the proposed ‘krampus vs Gingerbread’ film, I now see it more as a trilogy arc; dealing with Phil’s journey toward the ‘other’ side of the kitchen, his rise to power, and ultimately his downfall and redemtion in the final film, a dark epic with heaps of broody foreboding and dolly mixtures.

          *batteries not included

          • I have a subplot about Phil’s tattoos beginning to proliferate unaided as he sinks deeper and deeper into super-villaindom. Tattoo Gingerbread Zombies scrabble up from beneath the collar of his t-shirt and seethe over his as-yet-untattooed parts! Bits of him that break off spring into hellish life as miniature, blackened, Tattoo Gingerbread Zombies, while his body regenerates into an ever more powerful and increasingly buff Gingerbread Zombie Superdaddy! We’ll need multiple story lines to ensure we thoroughly milk the franchise.

            Has anybody got Tilda Swinton’s number? I think we could find a role for her in this as a pizza-deliver-motorcyclist who comes up with a plan to destroy the evil Gingerbread Zombie Empire led by ubervillain, Tattooed Phil. (She’s a woman running from her past, but has a degree in microbiology from her days as a government science research advisor!) She’d have a stand-off with Phil on top of the Reichstag glass dome, over which thunderclouds roiling with inky tattoo nasties would dart lightning at the battle. It would all end in a shower of scorched gingery biscuit/Tattoed Phil rubble over the city!

            But we’d resurrect him for the sequel, Tattooed Phil and the Buff Gingerbread Daddy-Bear-Zombies from Hell!

            • YES! I like it!

              Perhaps little Phil was once Tilda’s lab assistant, who unknowingly ingested a radioactive substance after Tilda clumsily spilt some ‘evil goo’ onto Phil’s tasty, and, at that point, innocent, mid-morning gingerbread snack, imbuing Phil with his evil inky powers…

              Skip forward a few years, and Tilda is now a tormented pizza delivery driver, racked with guilt, and looking for a shot at redemption?…

            • GREAT! Well done, Peter. You’ve nailed it.

              I had to read your last, twice, as your ‘spilt some evil goo onto Phil’s tasty’ left me grappling with what I took to be a euphemism for Phil’s private bits, and I wasn’t at all sure what Tilda could have been doing in such close proximity to them! But then I read on and understood your meaning.

              I think Tilda will be excited to get this script. She’s been drifting a bit recently, and this could be just the meaty part she needs to set herself up for an Oscar nomination. (I barely recognised her underneath the make-up for The Grand Budapest Hotel, and spent the entire film thinking I was watching Julie Walters!)

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