Books

'Flanimal' Magnetism

''Office'' boss tries his hand at children's books -- The star of the Brisith comedy has written a new book for kids called ''Flanimals''

Ricky Gervais, acclaimed creator of BBC's The Office and avatar of loathsome boss David Brent, has written the illustrated kids' book Flanimals (Putnam, $14.99), a taxonomy of beasts that exist only in the delicate environs of Gervais' head. We checked in with the unlikely naturalist.

What's a Flanimal?
They're animals that don't exist. So that's the animal bit. And we have a saying here, ''a load of old flannel.'' That means you're talking rubbish. So absolute rubbish plus fake animals. Which is good for me because what I try and do is talk rubbish for money. I'm very good at it.

Always had a thing for fake animals?
The first thing I wanted to be was a marine biologist. Then I wanted to be a vet. It started out with drawing little creatures to amuse my nephew, when he was about 8. He grew out of it. I carried on to the age of 43.

I was embarrassed looking at some of these. I felt as if I'd been caught staring at my own exposed intestines.
I've never met you, but at least two of the creatures are based on your intestines. I gathered evidence from friends and relatives of yours, and the internet. I hope you're flattered.

I think you really captured them, actually.
Good to hear this from the horse's mouth. I must say it's a children's book. Some people are confused.

Perhaps it's the ''Mernimbler'' that confuses them.
[Giggles uncontrollably] Oh, dear.

So why did you do this, again?
It's what I have to do to keep sane. Ironic, Isn't it? ''What do you have to do to keep sane?'' ''I draw creatures that look like journalists' intestines.'' ''Good, good. And what's that for?'' ''It's a children's book.'' This is not going to be good for sales in America, you realize.

Originally posted Feb 07, 2005 Published in issue #806 Feb 11, 2005 Order article reprints