Okay, Mary and Bryan Talbot winning the Costa prize for the biography category with Dotter Of Her Father’s Eyes and going forwards (X-Factor style) to the big final where they will no doubt lose to Hilary Mantel (unless the bookmakers are completely wrong or the judges fancy being all edgy and modern and relevant) is a big thing, a huge thing, wonderful etc etc. And we’re going to keep heaping praise on both writer, artist and the book for as long as we want thanks very much….
But sometimes don’t you just feel like the child at school going up for their certificate as the headteacher gets your name wrong?
Seriously, The Guardian’s write-up of the awards trips over itself to avoid any mention of the word comic (dirty word, dirty word) or even the made for book shops but almost completely meaningless term graphic novel. Take this bit from the opener…. (emphasis mine)
“A graphic work has been named as the winner of the biography section in the 2012 Costa book awards”
“Mary Talbot’s Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, which was illustrated by her husband Bryan, a veteran of the comic genre, won biography of the year….”
“It is not the first graphic work to win a major literary prize – Art Spiegelman’s Maus won a Pulitzer in 1992 and Chris Ware won the Guardian first book prize in 2001 for Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth – but the Costa award is still a significant moment for the graphic medium.”
Graphic work? Comic genre? Graphic medium?
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s simple, seriously. Comics are a medium. The comic medium. Within that medium there are a huge number of genres (crime, superhero, drama, fantasy, sci-fi, biography, etc etc). Graphic work makes no sense, not does graphic medium.
Of course, Bryan and Mary get it right every time they’re quoted…. comics, graphic novels, correct use of the terms medium and genre
“We were astonished. Just being shortlisted was amazing and hearing we’d won the category was stunning. We’re delighted of course, both personally – it’s the first story I’ve had published – but also for the medium, I can’t believe a graphic novel has won.” (Mary Talbot)
“We are living in the golden age of graphic novels. There are more and better comics being drawn today than ever in the history of the medium and there’s such a range of styles of artwork, of genre and of subject matter.” (Bryan Talbot)
COMICS. Not a dirty word, not a genre, not the graphic medium, not graphic works. COMICS. And they are wonderful.
UPDATE: It’s now everywhere.. Channel 4 News 3rd January
Hayley Campbell writes the piece over at the Channel 4 news site, ending with this gem:
“Perhaps comics are an easier pill to swallow for literary society if you coat them in Ulysses and call it a memoir.“