Winning for victory

Winning for victory
Posted 21 November 2012 by Hannah Berry

'Good morning. Since last night, reports have been flooding from concerned bystanders regarding comics creators up and down the country acting differently. Behavioural experts are unable to explain the phenomenon, but say the changes can all be attributed to acute feelings of pride. We go live now to Hannah, who is in a comic shop. Hannah:'


'Thank you, Hannah. I'm standing here in Dave's Comics in Brighton, and the differences, as you can see, are dramatic. All around me, fans and creators of comics and graphic novels can be seen to be visibly walking taller. I was talking to a lady earlier who had a distinct fire in her eyes and when I asked her what she did, she immediately told me she was a small-press comics creator, completely without awkwardness or hesitation. When I asked her for an interview to camera she declined, saying: "I have to get back - I'm working on my first web-comic." It was at this point that--'


'Hannah, can I just interrupt you, there? We've received news… we've received news of the possible reason for these changes. Last night, the Costa Book Awards 2012 shortlists were announced, with two of those named being graphic novels: Dotter of Her Father's Eyes by Bryan and Mary Talbot, and Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart. This unprecedented announcement marks the first time a graphic novel has ever been included in the awards, and the first time in 11 years that one has been recognised in a national award.'


'We have now in the studio Hannah, who is herself a graphic novelist. Can you tell me, Hannah, how you felt when you heard the news?'


'Amazed. It was absolutely amazing. There'd been these rumours all over Twitter that there were comics on the shortlist, so a lot of us were tuned in to Front Row yesterday to hear the news. Personally, I'm just so chuffed! Joff, Bryan and Mary are all friends of mine, they all deserve recognition for their brilliant work and I'm very happy for them! In a wider sense, though, it has such a massive impact. It means that comics are finally getting the critical acclaim that they deserve. It feels like we've been tolerated for years, but to reach this stage…it's overwhelming. It's like the glass ceiling that we've been scraping against for so long has been removed and we can soar as high as our individual talents will take us. It's acceptance…finally…'

'And do you have any reservations on what this might mean for the literary world? … Hannah?'


'What? Yeah, no. Sorry. I've got to go. I need to get cracking on my next graphic novel-'

'We're live on air-'


'Well…that was…Hannah. Galvanising news, obviously. Of course, the bigger test will be the critical and public response to the shortlist. Viewers may recall that infamous edition of Newsnight Review in 2001 following the announcement that Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware was the winner of the Guardian First Book Award, in which the reviewers admitted they hadn't read it before Tom Paulin dismissed the multi-award winning book as being "revolting to look at". Though widely decried as narrow-minded intellectual snobbery at the time, comics and graphic novels have been notably absent from national awards until now.'


'It is thought that this news will open the doors to graphic novels and comics being entered into further awards and a greater emphasis on their role in the literary world. Within the industry itself, this year also marks the first ever British Comic Awards, set up to celebrate the finest examples of British talent. Can it be that now, finally, comics and graphic novels can achieve the critical recognition they have been waiting for? Time will tell.'


'In the meantime, experts advise viewer awareness of the wild elation of comics creators and suggest planning any long journeys accordingly.'


'Now, here's Hannah with the weather:'


How timely this recognition, just the night before I attended Booktrust & Comica Festival's insightful discussion on 'Comics: reaching parts literature can't' - and now we have the proof! Was there, by chance, a Costa judge in the audience...?

22 November 2012

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