The last of our interviews with the stars of Paper Science is with The King of Things. His story has appeared in the most recent four issues of the anthology, illustrated by the Vimto Corporation’s favourite customer, Mister Adam Cadwell. They’re available to buy online now.
Matthew Sheret: Of all the publications in the world, why did you choose Paper Science as the place to publish the first of your stories?
The King of Things: I have known the editor of the aforementioned periodical for quite some time. I first met a young, fresh faced Matty Sheret on an expedition into the treacherous candy caves of Western Saccharine. I was hoping to discover evidence of the fabled Sweet Tooth Yeti, and young Matty was there to acquire all the uncut peppermint he could fit in his satchel. On our way back to base camp, Matty, with a gut full of sugar, was sick on my cape. I, being a seasoned adventurer, had packed a spare and was not perturbed. I took care of the young lad that evening and told him tales over the camp fire of treasures lost, found and forgotten. Though he was sickly, I enjoyed his company very much and am glad to say I made a friend that night.
Years later, a taller, wiser, stubblier Matt Sheret had taken up residence in our nation’s capital, running odd jobs for pirate radio stations and wealthy artisans. He sent a telegram asking me to visit him to discuss a business opportunity. As I was to visit Oxford around that time to hunt for Gargoyle droppings I obliged him and a train ride later we met in the smoky and colloquial surrounds of a Mile End “boozer”. He told me of his dreams to become a newspaper man, all pinstripes and leaky pocket pens. He had bought a decrepit printing press and saved it from demolition. His company was to be called simply ‘Words’ and he’d usher in a new age of reading to really plump up the brains of those young guns around him striding through the city with their tight trousers and hair-dos. Matt remembered my camp fire stories and asked me to write a weekly column, something about natural history and cryptozoology. I told him I’d consider his kind offer and after scouring the cobbles of Oxford for just the right kind of pebble I returned home. I declined his offer but it gave me the idea of writing my memoirs.
A couple of years on I heard again from Mr. Matthew Sheret, now a towering, beardy gentleman famed for touring the country with his vagabond caravan of writers, artists, comedians and tagalongs. His jolly vaudevillian troupe were staying near my village for some kind of pagan festival wherein they deafened cows and lived in tents without washing for as long as they could bear it. I took a stroll with my old friend through Appelhed’s Orchard one balmy afternoon. He told me how he had expanded his empire beyond the confines of journalism into pictorial storytelling, a new craze sweeping the capital’s youngsters. He was a newspaper scientist now, he told me, and his periodical contained only curiously annotated drawings. His company had expanded it’s name to ‘Words + Pictures’. It seemed like a crazy idea and by golly I liked it! I pitched him an idea, right there and then, as cider apples fell and rolled into the stream. He could serialise my memoirs in pictorial form and I would employ an artist to illustrate the artefacts, trinkets, locales and acquaintances I encountered on each adventure. We shook hands on it moments before Farmer Appelhed shooed us off his land and waded into the stream after his runaway children.
MS: How long have you and your biographer, Mister Adam Cadwell, been acquainted?
TKoT: Only I could possibly be called my biographer. The Cadwallader boy, talented with a brush though he is, serves simply as an illustrator, rendering the precise scenes and events I recount. I sought out his services days after my meeting with Mr. Sheret in the orchard. I was strolling through the town when I spotted a bright eyed but scruffy young urchin repainting a local shop sign. He had added a few charming flourishes I could tell were not part of the original sign. It was clearly thirsty work atop that creaky old ladder so I bought him a cold grape drink from the nearby tonic stand. As he took a break and slurped the purple juice, I asked him if he could paint scenes and people as well as signs. He nodded furiously and whipped out a scraggy stack of paper, folded and stapled and full of drawings of his face. At first I was disheartened but as I flicked through I could see potential and improvement. From then on he visited me a few times a week, I told him of my exciting life and he would scribble things down. A week or two later he would appear holding aloft colourful renditions of my youth and I’d pay him in that grape juice he loves so much.
MS: Did Mister Cadwell mention anything he particularly enjoyed about working in the newspaper format?
TKoT: He did! The bigger he can draw the more details he can squeeze in knowing they won’t be lost when shrank for the printed page. This enables me to fondly remember more intricate details of my travels. He also greatly enjoys colouring in, and boy, does he use all the colours.
MS: After issue 7 Paper Science is going on a bit of a break for while, but if you could pick a theme for a future issue what would it be and who would draw the cover?
TKoT: My that is a humdinger! I do think I would choose the theme of Treasure. People’s minds my jump to thoughts of swarthy pirates plundering booty but may I remind them of the old adage ‘One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure!’ As for who would draw the cover, hmm? Cadwallader’s already had his turn. He giggled the whole time, let me tell you. Maybe the boy’s long lost cousin could do it, he was adrift at sea for many years but regained his memory a while back. Warwick‘s his name. I could telegram him for you, should you wish? As far as my knowledge of Matthew’s associates goes, perhaps the talents of Ms. Samantha Borras, Duchess Josceline Fenton or that clever chap Dr. Robert Ball? Or what about the rosy cheeked Daniel Berries? Oh, I don’t know. You’ve confused an old man. Are you happy now?
MS: Have you any plans to publish more graphical interpretations of your adventures?
TKoT: Why yes! The first has been very popular I’m told. I’ve been collecting forgotten antiquities and treasured items my entire life so I have hundreds of yarns to tell. Most of which are recorded in my memoirs. If the Cadwallader boy can find the time outside his lucrative sign painting business we’ll eventually have them all illustrated. I best stock up on grape juice.
MS: Have you any upcoming expeditions planned? Has Mister Cadwell spoken to you about what he will be scribbling next?
TKoT: Indeed I do, my good chap! I’m soon to set off for an auction where I have a lead on an antique set of whistles which, if my theory proves correct, may be something quite whimsical indeed. As for Cadwallader, I’ve got him working on a short tale about my One Trick Wand and I think after that I’ll recount a longer tale about a dangerous doorstop and gnomes.
Adam Cadwell frequently put his pictures on the internet, and sells some of them too. You can read The King of Things’ debut adventure in issues 4-7 of Paper Science. FPI would like to thank Matthew and the King for taking the time to discuss the Paper Science anthology work; you can read all of the special Paper Science guest interview from this week here on the blog.