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!
The first English translation of the acclaimed French graphic novel, Snowpiercer (Le Transperceneige), is published in the next few days by Titan Comics and I was lucky enough to get one of the early review copies in order to write the main review for The Independent on Sunday earlier this month.
Snowpiercer is without a doubt one of the greatest sci-fi comics ever created, and a personal favourite of mine. I'm thrilled that it was given such a high place in the paper, and that the editor picked one of my favourite pages to illustrate the print version.
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.
In the world of British comic creators, one name looms large: Alan Moore, creator of Watchmen and commander of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. An iconic figure, who weaves tales of Lovecraftian woe and shuns the superhero genre, Moore has built a dedicated readership around himself yet unexpectedly appeals to a far wider audience than a typical comics creator might hope for. But this is not a recent breakthrough.
In the early Eighties, Moore was determined to bring a woman-led story to the sci-fi anthology comic, 2000AD. The Ballad of Halo Jones was to be the story of an ordinary woman, not a superhero or special snowflake, but a woman who made her own story. 2000AD was already known for its subversion of heroes, but a whole strip starring a woman in a medium apparently dominated by men was a brave move. Moore was striving for a character that represented the everywoman, as opposed to the more common women in comics that often appeared half naked, or as an adornment to a male hero.
First piece of the New Year to be published, a wee review of the fantastic Gun Machine for The Independent on Sunday.
Gun Machine is out now and I heartily recommend it, even to non-crime fans.
Full review here: IoS book review: Gun Machine, By Warren Ellis
Stay tuned for some upcoming big pieces! (Far too many, pass the caffeine...)