The Independent on Sunday – Review of Sally Heathcote: Suffragette By Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth, and Bryan Talbot
The highly anticipated second graphic novel from Costa winners Mary and Bryan Talbot hit the shelves this week, this time with Kate Charlesworth providing art duties, and Bryan having designed the layouts. The Independent on Sunday chose the title as their leading book review.
Mary's first graphic novel, Dotter of Her Father's Eyes, was a biographical affair and Sally Heathcote: Suffragette keeps that historical background while introducing a fictional lead character to move through the events of suffrage and the fight for the women's vote, providing a grounding point for the reader.
It is a brilliant work of art and a fascinating (and meticulously researched) insight to the complexities of the suffrage movement in the UK - hopefully my review will help convince more people to read it!
A great interview with Kelly Sue DeConnick, a look at the return of Captain Marvel, and chatting about the popularity of the Carol Corps.
The crazily busy writer was kind enough to give up some of her time to answer some questions on all things Carol Danvers as the character makes her spectacular cosmic return!
A new piece up on The Guardian, where I have a chat with superb creators Posy Simmonds, Katie Green, Isabel Greenberg, and Kate Charlesworth ahead of this weekend's Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal.
We look at why they picked the comics medium, the subversive and communicative powers of comics, and how things have changed - and remained the same - for women creators across the decades.
Long-time Guardian favourite and multiple award-winner Posy Simmonds is one such guest, a prolific artist who has been drawing comics since she was a little girl. Her collection last year, Mrs Weber's Omnibus, brought together her long-running strips for the Guardian about a well-meaning middle-class family.
"As a child," Simmonds tells me, "I liked the combination of words and pictures - in bound copies of Punch magazines and, later, in the piles of comics some American kids used to give me. There was also something subversive about comics that appealed - adults didn't approve of them."
I'm really pleased with this great interview with the lovely Mary Talbot, published in today's Independent on Sunday.
Mary, along with husband and UK comics legend Bryan Talbot, made headlines earlier this year when her debut graphic novel, Dotter of Her Father's Eyes, won a prestigious Costa award. We had a long chat in the sun about that win, how she came about entering the world of comics, and her upcoming second graphic novel and brand new comics festival.
“It was a medium of expression that I was very much aware of on a daily basis,” she explains. “I mean, I’ve been watching Bryan create and been part of the process to some extent, in terms of reading his drafts and scripts, looking at pages as they form on the page, very often commenting on them. I’ve never participated before, fully, but I’ve been to some extent involved. I must have soaked up quite a bit of it!”
Making the transition into working in comics herself was perhaps, then, a natural step. “The whole thing started off as a suggestion from Bryan,” Mary explains. “Would I consider writing an autobiographical graphic novel? That was the starting point. I was uncomfortable with the idea, because I didn’t think it would have legs.”
Though she modestly thought no one would be interested in her upbringing, Bryan assured her that her story was both unique and compelling. Her father, the Joycean scholar James S Atherton, has cast a long shadow upon Mary’s life, which naturally suggested a link to James Joyce himself. Aware that the Ulysses author had a daughter, Mary began to see how her own story could be intertwined into something larger.
Kicking off the second round of Stripped events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival came the legendary and fabulous Melinda Gebbie, known for her work in the American underground comix of the ‘70s, the infamous and illegal Fresca Zizis, and of course her collaboration with Alan Moore on Lost Girls.
Melinda Gebbie is one of my heroes, and this was my first time listening to her speak in person. I was amazed that the room was only half full, perhaps due to overlapping events, but it was one of my absolute highlights of the festival. Larger than life and with one hell of a sharp sense of humour, Gebbie gave a career retrospective as well as a great big dose of enthusiasm for any women working in – or around – comics.
It’s not often that a superhero comic gives me chills, particularly when we’re talking villains, but then it’s not often you that see a superhero comic from someone like Kate Brown.
Confession: Kate Brown is one of my favourite comic creators. In my other life as a bookseller the most common comics related question I get is, “what graphic novel should I read if I’ve never read comics before?”, and my answer is always this: “Fish + Chocolate by Kate Brown”. (and Karrie Fransman’s The House that Groaned and Hannah Berry’s Adamtine – my unholy trinity now joined by Mary Talbot!)
Brown’s art and storytelling skills are phenomenal, and it doesn’t hurt that in person she is cooler than a whole bag of cucumbers.