Walker Books has pledged its support for an illustrator who has accused the company behind the latest "Paddington" film of ripping off her work.
Jennie Maizels, whose pop-up books Pop-Up London and Pop-Up Shakespeare were published by Walker Books, was approached by film company Studio Canal Productions, which said it was interested in working with her on "Paddington 2", released last year.
Maizels said the company asked her to produce a new Pop Up London title that would be used in the film, and set about coming up with the plan with a paper engineer. Studio Canal later decided not to work with Maizels, a decision she said she did not have a problem with, but was then “gobsmacked” to find some of her designs on screen when the film was released.
“The opening scene of the film featured a pop-up Tower Bridge that was very similar to the pop-up bridge in my Pop Up London book,” she told The Bookseller. “I took that book to meetings with Studio Canal so they were definitely aware of it.”
Scenes of Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral were also very similar, she added.
Walker has come out in support of Maizels. The publisher has released a statement saying: "We fully support Jennie in getting recognition for her work. Her pop-up books are trailblazers in the field, beautifully illustrated and intricately crafted, so it's no surprise they are influential, but it's so important that artists are given the credit they deserve.
“We believe in Jennie and all the hard work she puts in, not only to her published books but the entire brand she has built around her work and the creativity she helps share through her classes and activity online.”
Maizels sought legal advice but was told not to take the matter further through legal channels. However, she wants to talk about her experience with Studio Canal because “illustrators are independent freelancers and it is so important that we are recognised for what we do”.
Following the release of the film, HarperCollins Children’s Books published Pop-Up Paddington, based on scenes from the moving picture, but Maizels said she did not have a problem with this.
“HarperCollins was only following instructions and would have had no idea about my meetings with the film company,” she said. “The blame lies solely with Studio Canal.”
The Bookseller has approached Studio Canal for comment.