Sunday, May 4, 2008


I went to the Hexham writer's festival yesterday to see Bryan Talbot and Simone Lia talk about their recent comics: Alice in Sunderland and Fluffy.
The talk overall was quite good but this was mainly due to Bryan being an interesting person. The moderator was some idiot who had probably until now never read a comic in his life. He had done his research very well but his questions were superficial and boring. The crowd was mostly middle aged people, a couple of young guys and a few kids. I think most of them were there because it was part of the writer's festival rather than because it was about comics.
An argument that I'm quite interested in came up (but was not dealt with as much as I would've liked). The old argument of whether you create comics or graphic novels. Apparently the term was coined by Will Eisner when trying to sell a comic he'd done to a prospective publisher. After having been turned down several times because he was trying to get a comic published, he told the next publisher that he'd created a graphic novel and the publisher was intrigued. Bryan said he didn't like the term and used it only so people would understand what he was talking about. Many comic artists don't seem to like the term and it only the buying public that want it. It seems as a marketing ploy it works and maybe to get comics back into the mainstream it may be worth accepting. I do like these quotes that I came across the other day: As Marjane Satrapi say that the term enables ‘the bourgeois to read comics without feeling bad’; and Alan Moore says, they allow publishers to ‘stick six issues of whatever worthless piece of crap they happened to be publishing lately under a glossy cover and call it The She-Hulk Graphic Novel’.
Simone didn't have much of an opinion on the GN topic. She belongs to a different breed of comic artist to me who is more accepting of the term.
Anyway, I approached them after the talk and had a bit of a chat. Simone was, after being a bit weary, very nice a easy to talk to where as Bryan, though a nice guy, was a bit standoffish and I felt like a bit of a fanboy. I showed them both my work and both were very nice about it. I would have liked some criticism but I don't think they understood that. I also gave them both a copy of my latest comic. I don't know what thought of it. I would've liked to talk a bit more to them about the industry etc but they had other things to do so I went away feeling a bit deflated.
Simone's work can be found at and Byran's at (this is a bit of a strange site. Hard to navigate and clunky).


John Retallick said...

Hi Tom,

Have you read Fluffy? It's a lovely story (if you're into stories of lonely anxious men and their adopted bunnies) and is beauitful cartooning. A bunch of non comic reading colleagues at work loved it and it's still doing the rounds there.

Tom Bonin said...

I got half way through it a couple of nights ago and have not yet got back to it. The talk made it sound really interesting so when I got to reading it it was a bit anti-climactic. There are definitely great moments but I think the speck of dust was superfluous and the bunny idea not quite used to its full potential. I must finish it though. These comment are probably all a bit premature.
Thanks for the input.