EIBF 2014 preview 5, it’s sunny out there…

… but no, push on, the Edinburgh International Book Festival must be previewed for the benefit of no-one in particular. It’s all about discipline.

The morning of Sunday the 17th brings Melissa Benn’s It’s Different for Girls, an enquiry into modern feminism. In her book What should We Tell Our Daughters? she asks why, despite slow but significant progress since the 1960s women are still underpaid, under-represented and face casual sexism every day. With Chloe Combi she focuses on how mothers can prepare their daughters to navigate through this landscape of disadvantage.

This is a manifesto for every mother who has ever had to comfort a daughter who doesn’t feel ‘pretty’, for every young woman who out-performs her male peers professionally and wonders why she is still not taken seriously, and for anyone interested in the world we are making for the next generation.

Having recently had a tiny taste of the sort of bile spewed by “Men’s Rights Activists” on Twitter all the time at women, I think what we also need urgently is a male equivalent, to teach boys from an early age how entrenched their privilege is and how they can help stop its perpetuation. We can dream.

Sunday has a few big comics events as part of Stripped 2014. Charlie Adlard has two events today, the first being a joint effort with Robbie Morrison. Morrison is probably best known for the epic Nikolai Dante that he wrote for 2000AD over 15 years. Adlard, who once illustrated a graphic novel written by Doris Lessing (it wasn’t very good, but I think that was Lessing’s fault, not his) has been the lead artist on The Walking Dead for a decade. The pair published White Death — a graphic novel set on the Italian front, about how snow was used as a weapon in the First World War — back in 1998 and will be discussing it in Digging in the Past. A new edition is to be published this month, and the BBC did a good synopsis of it recently.

Adlard’s second event is  all about The Walking Dead, which has become a pop-culture phenomenon, with the TV series adaptation of the zombie epic getting huge ratings and spinning off into games and other media. the aptly named Dead Cool Comics should be a big draw, but even then will almost certainly be dwarfed in popularity by another event earlier.

That’s the appearance of Bryan Lee O’Malley whose Scott Pilgrim series was a quietly massive hit. I never quite clicked with it but, believe me, it was a huge success. You can bet that sales of his new title, Seconds, will dwarf even the big-name authors in the festival bookshop this year.

Sunday afternoon brings a chance to see a British institution, Nicholas Parsons. He’s at the Fringe often enough, and his book about Just a Minute may have come out a couple of years ago, but I won’t hold that against him, as he’s always good value.

Diana Gabaldon’s doorstop novels in the Outlander series  are international bestsellers, and a new one has just come out, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. The series blends genres including romance, SF, fantasy and historical fiction and she’s one of those authors who quietly sells in massive numbers without much critical or media attention.  A new TV adaptation of the books should have started in the US a week or so before this event, so expect plenty of articles asking if it’s going to be the new Game of Thrones.

Remember how in the late 1980s a moral panic erupted over kids being exposed to martial arts, so that throwing stars got hastily (and quite sensibly) banned and a certain gang of turtles had to (daftly) change their name to exclude the word “ninja” on TV? I suspect times have changed, as Close Combat with Chris Bradford in the children’s programme is all about how he learned how to fight like a Samurai while writing his Young Samurai series and trained in close combat for his most recent book, Bodyguard: Ransom.

From Monday the kids’ programme thins out drastically until the weekend, though Ssh! It’s Chris Haughton should be great fun for younger kids as his picture books have a charmingly retro feel, echoing for me the 1970s animations I can’t quite place.

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