Peter Pan fan achieves a lifetime’s ambition

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With the launch last week (July 15) of his Peter Pan graphic novel, artist Stephen White realised an ambition that had been a lifetime in the making.

Stephen, 44, whose working name is Stref, has been a professional illustrator since the age of 16 and a fan of J.M. Barrie’s classic story for much longer than that.

As a child of three, Stephen revealed he “became Peter Pan”, donning a pair of green tights and trying to get out the window to fly away, to the extent that his mother had bars put on it.

Stephen has worked on both the Beano and Dandy comics, but illustrating Peter Pan was a long-held ambition. He said: “I’ve been working on this adaptation on-and-off over a period of six years. Birlinn books became involved after I met Creative Director, Jim Hutchinson at an Oor Wullie/Broons event.

‘‘I had a script and concept sketches from the project and Jim spent some time talking with me about it.”

Stephen then brought in fellow artist Fin Cramb, whom he describes as having a ”painterly” way with colour, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Christine De Poortere, Peter Pan Director for the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Charity, which receives a share of the royalties, has been involved in the project since the beginning.

At the launch party at Birlinn books headquarters in Edinburgh, Christine said: “It’s been wonderful and a really amazing journey to get to this point.”

Having accompanied Stephen to Kirriemuir, Christine revealed: “The laundry house at J.M. Barrie’s birthplace is the Wendy house in the graphic novel.”

Stephen added other “Easter eggs” in his artwork, revealing: “The second page has Moat Brae House as the dolls’ house in the nursery, and the doll Wendy is holding has the GOSH logo for a head.

‘‘When the children fly away over London, the building they are flying over is GOSH as it appeared in 1904 when the play was written.”

Already the book has received fantastic reviews on Amazon, with K.L. Beeden saying: “This is a fabulous adaptation, the exquisite artwork only serving to add to Barrie’s timeless classic.”