Louise Forshaw

Bad United: Just For Kicks
Louise Forshaw

About Author

Louise Forshaw's hilarious new graphic novel series, Bad United, stars Hoof the unicorn in a football team with some unusual talents....She tells ReadingZone more about them.

Louise is an illustrator (and sometimes author) living in a small town in the North East, UK. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in Illustration and Animation from Newcastle College and now works from home in a small studio, supervised by her three noisy and very mischievous Jack Russell Terriers.



Bad United: Just for Kicks  (Little Tiger)

May 2024

Louise Forshaw's hilarious new graphic novel series, Bad United, kicks off when Hoof, a unicorn, is kicked out of his football team.  He's devastated, until he finds a new team, Bad United, that takes in anyone with a passion for the sport. Bad United are a diverse bunch, including a skeleton, a fairy and a huge, hairy spider, but they all have one thing in common - they love football and are determined to win their next match!   Read an extract from Bad United: Just for Kicks!

Review:  'Packed full of silliness and fun - a page-turner for early readers!'

We asked author and illustrator Louise Forshaw about football, teamwork and following her own passion - creating brilliantly silly and funny books for children!

Q&A: Louise Forshaw introduces Bad United: Just For Kicks

"For me, the series is about much more than just football and I hope that kids enjoy the
humour and silly characters just as much."

1.    How did you become a children's book illustrator and what are your favourite things about your job - and the most challenging? What have been your career highlights / favourite books to date?

I've always loved drawing and creating my own stories. As soon as I could hold a pencil, I began drawing and I haven't stopped since! I studied Illustration and Animation at Newcastle College but once I graduated I turned my attention to children's books. I signed with my wonderful agency, Advocate Art, in 2012 and things took off from there!

My favourite thing about being a children's book illustrator is that I get to draw every day. Just as I did when I was a kid but now it's my actual job! As for what's the most challenging, that would probably be those days when I can't seem to draw anything at all. Thankfully they don't happen too often!

There have been so many highlights of my career that it's hard to pinpoint just one. But just this past year, I illustrated Dinosaur Club: On the Trail of a T. rex, which is a World Book Day book published by DK. It was such an honour to be involved in this brilliant campaign, which not only encourages children to read but makes books more accessible. Something very close to my heart.

I also can't talk about career highlights without mentioning my debut chapter book series as author and illustrator, Grim Falls Academy, which was published last year.

2.    Can you tell us about your (first?) graphic novel, Just for Kicks; what happens in book one, and why did you decide to create it as a graphic novel?

Bad United: Just for Kicks is about Hoof the Unicorn. Hoof loves football and all he wants to do is be part of a team. His old team didn't appreciate his rather unique talents and kicked him out. So when he spots an advert for BAD UNITED, he jumps at the chance to play the game he loves alongside a whole team of silly and wacky characters.

Bad United is very much a team effort and lucky for me, I have the best team at Little Tiger. We developed and created the idea together. Though I am an author, I see myself as an illustrator first. So Bad United being a graphic novel series made the most sense.

3.    Did a love of football help inspire the story? 

I've loved getting to know more about the sport. But for me, the series is about much more than just football and I hope that kids enjoy the humour and silly characters just as much.

4.    Mermaid Serena Winmer makes a great coach - who else is part of the team of Bad United?

We also have Bones, who is a skeleton and the team captain. Unfortunately, she has a short temper and quite often loses her head. There's Rex, who is the team's roarsome dinosaur defender. Bolt the cheetah, who's so fast that he's already gone. Tinkerball the fairy, whose magic sometimes goes wrong so be prepared to duck and dive. Then finally, we have Annette the goalkeeper, who guards the goal with her life and her eight legs since she's a rather large spider.

5.    Did anyone help you with their names?! Any favourites?

I have to thank the Little Tiger team for the names. This series has been one big collaboration!  My favourite is probably Hoof as it suits him. Not only because he has hooves (since he's a unicorn) but because he's quite often putting his 'hoof' in it.

6.    We also love Hoof the Unicorn - what do you love most about his character, and what is your favourite 'Hoof' moment in the story? 

I love how determined he is! He has moments of self-doubt but he refuses to give up. He's also so enthusiastic that it's impossible not to believe him when he declares 'I can do this'.

I have so many favourite moments and they all involve Hoof! But one favourite that springs to mind is the moment he introduces himself to the rest of the team. His confident swagger makes me laugh especially considering what happens next. It's such a typical Hoof move.

7.    How did you create the illustrations for this book?

I started with very rough thumbnail sketches that helped me work out the layout of each comic panel. These are messy and wouldn't make much sense to anyone else looking at them. I then develop these further into much neater roughs. Once I've had feedback from my amazing Art Director and Designer, I move on to linework and colouring.

8.    Other than a brilliant story, what would you like young readers to take from Bad United's teamwork?

That it's okay to make mistakes or mess up. That even when things seem tough it's important to not give up. You just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, (channelling your inner Hoof) and try again.

9.    What else do you have planned for Bad United? Are you pleased to see more graphic novels being created for younger readers?

I'm currently working on the second book in the series which sees Tinkerball taking a more starring role (much to Hoof's annoyance).

It's amazing to see more graphic novels being available for a younger audience. Reading is so important! So it's doubly important to give kids every opportunity to find books they love. In whatever format they may be. I'm very grateful to be a part of it.

10.    What are your 'go to' escapes when you're out of your studio? Anything sporty??

I have three very energetic Jack Russell Terriers, so life outside my studio involves wrangling them and getting out for walks to keep them entertained.

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