Oh No, GEORGE!: The making of…

FINALLY…! this book has been two years in the making…! This post is just to show where the idea came from, and how the book took shape. its also quite useful for me to put together this post because its always such a long process that i kind of forget where the ideas came from to begin with.

My first idea for this book was a cause and effect sequence called Oh No!… it was an idea for a sort of elaborate circular accident… i may come back to that idea in future in fact…


I was toying with that but was reluctant to settle on it. Another idea was ‘Bad duck’ about a duck who was bad at being a duck.. swimming and quacking etc… its was a bit like a version of the Ugly Duckling and was sparked by seeing a worried looking duck in London who seemed to be swimming about 2 inches below the water level of his friends
A third idea featured ‘clown man and clown dog’ which i think also could be quite good in the future…


i didnt realise it at the time but all these ideas revolved around the idea of characters somehow messing up (which i thought would make entertaining drawings) I realised its a lot funnier if there is intention from the character to not mess up, so in the end i scrapped clown man and sort of fused all three ideas to make the dog the comic lead character.


One part of the picture book i try to make use of are the page-turns.. they can be great fun when reading aloud if there is bit of a build up so i decided to build up to a page-turn where the dog messes up somehow… that was how the basic idea came about … i jotted it down on 3 pieces of A4 which it turned out hardly changed at all from this first sketch.
some initial character sketches…

I usually draw from my head without using much reference but i found myself googling ‘guilty dogs’ to see if i could find some good material. It turns out there’s a lot about this on the internet. the video below is really worth watching if you havent seen it.



most of this work was done while i was in kathmandu. I went over to get more involved in my fair trade work and ended up staying between there and India for more than 8 months in 2010. I was lucky to work on some super projects there which was the main reason i was very late for my book deadlines. In fact this book was 9 months late and was supposed to have been out last august (!)


I did most of the sketches for george from this room..

and i sent the bologna draft from this internet cafe (the monks were on facebook)


this is me trying to finish it off the last images in the airport on my way home, i had to meet my editors deirdre and lucy the following week and i hadn’t done half as much as i had said i had… (!)



This is the part of the book im most proud of.. the first page builds up in three images to a large close up of george with the text ‘what will george do?’ When the page turns the following double page spread tells us exactly what george has done.. OH NO!!!





as you can see george does some pretty terrible things, but all is forgiven in the end




the end-papers are a kind of before and after



i quite liked having a little quote on the title page for A Bit Lost. i decided to go with this one from the stoic philosopher epictetus for George.




the final proofs and tweaks were all done in a very intensive few weeks with the help from deirdre and dan when i got back to the UK (my room was being lived in so i did all this from my next door neighbour’s place!)










Oh No George is out on the 1st March 2012 or available for pre-order in these countries, im told there are more to follow soon

Oh No, GEORGE! IRE/UK              here
Stoute Hond Netherlands                here
Oh Non, GEORGE! France              here
Oh Nein, PAUL! Germany             here
Voi Sinua SULO! Finland                here
¡Oh no, Lucas!   Spain                    here
Oh no, Charlie!   Catalan                here



Kirkus Review USA
The Guardian UK
Childrens Book Council USA
Oh Nein Paul! smitzjunior.com Germany




Nominated for the Leipzig Book Fair Prize 2-6 category

White Raven selection 2013 

Winner of the 2013  Je lis, j’elis‘ 2013 Award for picturebooks

Nominated for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize
Nominated for the UKLA Awards
Nominated for the Irish Book Awards
Nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Kate Greenaway Medal
Nominated for the Waterstones Prize
Winner of the Junior Magazine Picture Book of the Year
Nominated for the CBI Awards Ireland
Nominated for LoveReading4 kids Reader’s book prize 2013
Nominated for the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards

Amazon.com’s top 10 picture books of 2012
Winner of 2012 ‘Little Awards for Big Books’ Picture Book category


Nominated for the Carouge Story Book Award

 The making of ‘A Bit Lost’ is here 

By | 2017-12-07T13:05:46+00:00 January 26th, 2012|Tags: , , , , , , |12 Comments


  1. Jess 22 March, 2012 at 23:11 - Reply

    So beautiful – I think the colours just replaced my need for a morning coffee!

  2. scott garrett 14 May, 2012 at 13:36 - Reply

    Thanks Chris. A really good over-view of the project and as always really interesting to see a bit of how other illustrators make their imagery. I love how you’ve managed to keep your finished images so fresh and alive.. after 18 years I still can’t quite achieve it! i do think a tablet might help me get over several obstacles(it’s just finding time to familiarise myself with one!!) great work!

  3. Anonymous 18 May, 2012 at 13:20 - Reply

    thanks scott! ive been a big fan of your work for a long time, i had one of your flyers (i got from visiting darrell at heart in 2003) on my studio wall for years! a penguin on the equator following an upside down map? i only got a tablet a few years ago. i made A BIT LOST with sketches and a mouse, but george with a tablet …glad i switched..! best wishes! nice to meet you!

  4. scott garrett 21 May, 2012 at 20:10 - Reply

    <html><body style="word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; "> Hey Chris<div><br></div><div>I’m happy that you even know who i am!! &nbsp;I have a lot of admiration and respect for both your stunning work and the way you’re doing business. I keep changing my mind on how I want my stuff to look! Sometimes i draw happily with only my mouse and think that’s the way, then i do something and automatically draw a nice strong ink line and colour it up. Give me another 10 years and i might figure it out! &nbsp;Good to ‘meet’ you too. I have that penguin original artwork kicking about somewhere, if you ever feel like trading ;)</div><div><br><div><div></div></div></div></body></html>

  5. natalia 29 January, 2013 at 15:37 - Reply

    Demasiado Genial!!!!!! No puedo creer este making off!!! Me alegr?? la semana entera <3

  6. Jamie 5 February, 2013 at 22:48 - Reply

    This is SUCH a treat Chris. Sometimes ignorance is bliss and I don’t know want to see the workings out and ideas behind, but this all just adds to the fantasticness! Adore your palette, and your ideas and there’s such amazing expression and humour to it all. Incidentally I watched UP again last week and wondered if George was at all helped along by the dog in it called Doug ( the way they both think out loud and announce the way they’re feeling and what they’re going to do next ) – that said we ALL imagine what our dogs are thinking, I certainly do. Mine’s giving me ‘time for biscuit’ eyes…Looking forward to Don’t Worry I Have a Plan ever so much.

  7. Chris Haughton | Helen Dennett 26 March, 2013 at 15:02 - Reply

    […] His first book was called ‘A Bit Lost’ and has been translated into 19 different languages. It has won 9 awards in 7 countries. His latest book ‘Oh No George’ came out in March 2012 and has been nominated for 7 awards. I found a post on Chris’ website about the making of this book which I found really useful as he talks about how he created the book from the initial ideas to the finished artwork, available here – http://blog.chrishaughton.com/george/ […]

  8. carina cadima 19 April, 2013 at 10:41 - Reply

    I´ve just received the book as a present!
    Beautiful!! Loved it! … me and my son of course!
    You got new fans!
    All the best for you and your creations!

  9. […] Chris talks about the inspiration behind his book, two years in the making!, including the need to Google images for “guilty dogs” in his blog post. […]

  10. MENYS ÉS MÉS. | HARMÒNIC 21 June, 2013 at 11:14 - Reply

    […] elements volem crear un efecte d’harmonia i una estètica agradable. Però, com en el conte Oh no, Charlie! de Chris Haughton, aconseguir-ho no és sempre […]

  11. […] (image from the author’s website) […]

  12. […] Oh No George! […]

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