Mr Benn’s Lesson For Life

I have fond childhood memories of Mr Benn, the character created by David McKee.  Mr Benn, a man in a black suit and bowler hat, would visit a magical costume shop, be invited to get changed into fancy dress by a fez-wearing assistant and then find himself in a world relevant to his outfit.  As a child, I watched all the TV episodes and read the books. My eight-year-old son has an old 1972 Mr Benn annual, which I cherish more than him. You would have thought that being such a fan of Mr Benn I would have noticed before that he doesn’t mix and match his outfits. Watching him joust at the bottom of the ocean with a soggy baguette would make good viewing as he tries to be a knight, baker and deep sea diver simultaneously. However, it would result in Mr Benn being so traumatised he wouldn’t enter the costume shop again.

Unlike Mr Benn I have been trying to wear many different hats at the same time: I’m the writer of St Viper’s School for Super Villains, the book designer, the person who works with the illustrator, the contracts manager, the publicist, the project manager, the person who formats the book and e-book, the IT specialist, the salesman . . . the list goes on. I feel exhausted. I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night thinking about all the things I need to do. I’m so lucky not to be the book’s editor as well. My Electrik Inc buddies have kindly edited the story over and over again. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to publish alone.

Being so tired I have to remind myself why I’ve chosen this path to publication: I want control over the process from beginning to end, the book cover and illustrations of my choice and to work with likeminded creative people, who are driven to make each book great. But do I need to do everything myself to be a proper publisher? No. Mainstream publishers outsource many functions. To ensure St Viper’s is of the highest standard, we have used a professional illustrator and graphic designer.

Over time, I hope to take off some of the hats. Mr Benn became 40 in 2011 and is having a revival. Tate Publishing has republished the original books, he has a Facebook page and a Mr Benn website is coming soon. Perhaps one of his stories would help me to relax . . .

Kim Donovan

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2 responses to “Mr Benn’s Lesson For Life

  1. Keep the faith KIm … exhaustion is a sign that the finishing line is in sight.

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