Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

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Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

Postby StuartHX » Fri Dec 06, 2013 7:48 pm

So this thread is about Terry Pratchett's children's books and yet I see no thread on the Johnny Maxwell trilogy.... amazing!

Out of all of the non-Discworld settings Pratchett has created, this has easily got to be the best, remarkably so because it is firmly rooted in the present day real world (unlike Dodge or The Long Earth) and its protagonists are real people and not fantasy characters (such as those in the Bromeliad trilogy, good as it is).

Somehow Pratchett manages to capture all of the hopes, fears and humour of young adolescents and propel them through three amazing adventures culminating in, what I consider a masterpiece, Johnny and the Bomb (which in turn has curious references back to Discworld in Mrs Tachyon's - there's a term redolent of time travel - outburst 'Millenium, hand and shrimp').

Even JK Rowling with her merry band of Harry, Ron and Hermione, doesn't come close to Pratchett's keen observation of character and language, not to mention setting - and I bet he's never lived in any of the Northern towns I can immediately recognise as Blackbury (Rochdale seems to come pretty close, by the way).

If ever there was a plea, and it's probably far too late, it would be to Pratchett to go back to these characters and give us another tale based on this improbable band of kids - Johnny, Wobbler, Yoless, BigMac, and of course Kirsty - or whatever she's calling herself nowadays. I still wonder if Rowling's Hermione was based on her - there are so many similarities - although I'd take Kirsty any day.

I'd even go so far as to say if Pratchett really wanted to create real world characters that really grip us - which he didn't absolutely achieve in Dodger - he'd do far worse than to look back at the Johnny Maxwell books and take a lesson from them.

I would love to know where he got the idea for the books from... was he a bit of a Maxwell in this childhood? Did he know kids like this? He must have done. I even wonder if he lived in any of those towns in Yorkshire or Lancashire which seem so much like Blackbury.

Any comments anybody?
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Re: Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

Postby Tonyblack » Fri Dec 06, 2013 8:35 pm

I have also enjoyed the Johnny books. There are such keen observations of kids and their attitudes to the adults around them. I think my favourite is Johnny and the Bomb. Mixing modern (ish) kids in a wartime situation and the very different attitudes of those times. It's surprising just how different adults attitudes to kids were then and how much more respectful kids tended to be to adults.

There's bizarre stuff that goes on in the books, such as computer games coming alive and time travelling bin bags and being able to talk to the dead - but it doesn't feel odd, even though it's not explained. It feels natural and right that these things happen. :)
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Re: Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

Postby =Tamar » Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:56 am

StuartHX wrote:....the Johnny Maxwell trilogy...
Out of all of the non-Discworld settings Pratchett has created, this has easily got to be the best, remarkably so because it is firmly rooted in the present day real world (unlike Dodger or The Long Earth) and its protagonists are real people and not fantasy characters (such as those in the Bromeliad trilogy, good as it is).
...I would love to know where he got the idea for the books from... was he a bit of a Maxwell in this childhood? Did he know kids like this? He must have done. I even wonder if he lived in any of those towns in Yorkshire or Lancashire which seem so much like Blackbury.


Sir Terry may have lived in some of those towns, but as I understand it, the town and the kids fit the mold of much of the UK at that time. As for time travel, he has in interviews told the story of having been in a quarry in the chalk as a child and "seen" the ancient creatures fossilized there as swimming in the air, where the ancient seawater would have been. Time travel or psychic or whatever, I take it as given.
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Re: Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

Postby Slantaholic » Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:17 pm

Does anyone know all their names?

Johnny Maxwell
Kirsty Dunn
Simon (??) (Bigmac)
Yo-less (??)
Last edited by Slantaholic on Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

Postby Tonyblack » Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:34 pm

Stephen 'Wobbler' Johnson, Simon 'Bigmac' Wrigley - I'm not sure if we ever know Yo-Less's name. :?
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Re: new covers for Johny Maxwell

Postby =Tamar » Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:59 am

I see that Paul Kidby is doing new covers for the Johnny books.
I'm sorry to find that I really don't like them. :( He's used the same face structure he used for Dodger, with the widely-set eyes and the very wide bridge of the nose, and it just feels wrong to me. I've been looking at other recent work of his and I see he used it on the Feegles as well. He used to be able to draw people with narrow nose bridges. I hope this doesn't become his "standard face", because if it does, I'll go back to praising the American covers.
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Re: Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jun 28, 2014 6:03 am

His style of faces is definitely distinctive. I'm not fond of them either.
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Re: Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Sat Jun 28, 2014 6:57 pm

I don't think I've seen the new covers for them, I will have a look on Amazon.
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Re: Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

Postby Ghost » Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:44 pm

Image
seems alright I haven't read the Maxwell Books and not sure if I want to
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Re: Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

Postby mirandashell » Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:47 pm

You're right. He does draw the same kind of face all the time.
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Re: Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:33 pm

It's the noses :lol:
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Re: Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

Postby =Tamar » Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:01 pm

mirandashell wrote:You're right. He does draw the same kind of face all the time.


Lately, anyway. The faces on his earlier covers were much more varied, so I know he can do it.
This seems to have been a choice rather than simple incapacity.
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Re: Let's hear it for Johnny Maxwell

Postby =Tamar » Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:05 pm

Ghost wrote:Image
seems alright I haven't read the Maxwell Books and not sure if I want to


The cover looks like he just put Dodger in modern clothes.

But don't avoid the books because of that! The Johnny Maxwell books are very good YA. They just aren't Discworld.
(Though I think I see a potential link in one of them, it's debatable and not necessary.)
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Re: Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

Postby Tonyblack » Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:13 pm

Do you mean a certain bag lady and her comments? ;)
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Re: Let's hear it for Johny Maxwell

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:47 pm

I have the original Doubleday ones all done by different artists prefer them. :)
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