“The Snowman,” a book without words and illustrated with pencil crayons, was created by Briggs in 1978. It was adapted as an animated television film for U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 in 1982, which is played on U.K. television every Christmas. It was nominated for the Academy Award for best animated short film and won a BAFTA TV Award for best children’s program.
“The Snowman” sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide. Briggs also created evergreen children’s books “Father Christmas,” “Fungus The Bogeyman” and “When The Wind Blows.”
His 1988 graphic novel “Ethel & Ernest,” which tells the story of the lives of Briggs’ parents from their first meeting in 1928 to their deaths in 1971, was adapted by British animation studio as an animated feature in 2016 that won awards at several animation festivals around the world.
In 2012, Briggs became the first person to be inducted into the British Comic Awards Hall of Fame.
A statement from Briggs’ family, via his publisher Penguin Random House, said: “We know that Raymond’s books were loved by and touched millions of people around the world, who will be sad to hear this news. Drawings from fans — especially children’s drawings — inspired by his books were treasured by Raymond and pinned up on the wall of his studio.”
Briggs’ wife Jean died in 1973 and he subsequently had a partner Liz, who died in 2015.
“He lived a rich and full life, and said he felt lucky to have had both his wife Jean, and his partner of over 40 years Liz in his life.
“He shared his love of nature with Liz on South Downs walks and on family holidays to Scotland and Wales. He also shared his sense of fun and craziness with his family, and with his family of artist friends — at get-togethers, fancy dress parties and summer picnics in the garden,” the statement added.
“He played practical jokes and enjoyed them being played on him. All of us close to him knew his irreverent humor – this could be biting in his work when it came to those in power. He liked the Guardian editorial describing himself as an ‘iconoclastic national treasure,’ ” the statement concluded.
Francesca Dow, managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s, added: “Raymond’s books are picture masterpieces that address some of the fundamental questions of what it is to be human, speaking to both adults and children with a remarkable economy of words and illustrations.”
Lupus Films producer Camilla Deakin, who worked with Briggs on screen adaptations of his books “The Snowman and The Snowdog” and “Ethel & Ernest,” also paid tribute to the author. “It was a huge honour and a privilege to work with Raymond Briggs, first on a sequel to the much-loved TV special ‘The Snowman,’ ‘The Snowman and The Snowdog,’ and later on an animated feature film adaptation of his graphic novel about his parents, ‘Ethel & Ernest.'”
“Raymond was an incredible author and illustrator and his books lent themselves perfectly to animated adaptations,” she continued. “His eye for detail was phenomenal and he conveyed such truth and honesty in his very economical yet intricate drawings that they represented a universality of human emotion. When we released ‘Ethel & Ernest,’ a film about a very ordinary English couple living through the tumultuous events of the 20th Century, both Lupus Films and Raymond himself received sackfuls of letters, as well as emails, tweets and Facebook posts from people saying ‘they remind me so much of my parents’ or ‘that was just like my childhood’.”
“Raymond had a famously curmudgeonly public profile but in fact he was a sensitive and kind person who cared little for the trappings of fame but was incredibly generous with his time and always appreciative of the artists who worked to adapt his books into animated films. He was a unique talent and Ruth [Fielding, Lupus’ co-founder] and I and all the team at Lupus Films will miss him very much.”