Three for the price of two, here’s the last weekend of the Edinburgh International Book Festival with a Monday thrown in.
It’s a hugely comics-tastic weekend, with loads of good Stripped stuff and I’m going to start with The Phoenix, as all good weekends should. For those who don’t know, The Phoenix is a weekly story comic for kids which just today published its 130th issue. Last year I managed to grab hold of Gary Northfield, the author of Gary’s Garden, a collection of which is due out very soon, and The Etherington Brothers (Lorenzo has a Von Doogan puzzle book out, too, go here to see the whole list). This year I’m very much looking forward to getting hold of Neill Cameron and Adam Murphy, who are holding not one, but two comics workshops this year, on the 23rd and 24th.
Neill has created loads of stuff, generally including dinosaurs or robots (and sometimes ballerinas), including Pirates of Pangaea and Mega Robo Bros. His Mo-Bot High (from the sadly defunct DFC) is available as a collection, too. Adam’s long-running Corpse Talk, in which he digs up and interviews historical figures, gives an informative and often gruesome perspective on the past. Michael Gove would hate it, so it’s highly recommended. This week, for example has a suffragette boardgame (which you can see up the top), which leads us on to…
Kate Charlesworth, Bryan Talbot and Mary Talbot discussing Sally Heathcote, Suffragette their latest book which came out last month. It’s a fictional biography of a young Mancunian woman who works for and with the women at the heart of the suffrage campaigns. The factionalism and infighting is as fascinating at the fight against the government, and the end packs a huge emotional punch. It’s hard to distinguish styles in the art, so it could be enlightening to hear how they collaborated on the book.
Mary Talbot and Kate Charlesworth are also back at the second of two events on Saturday evening, launching an ambitious new graphic novel, IDP2043. It’s a dystopian near-future comic about a Scotland 30 years in the future, where global warming has created catastrophic* floods and with it a generation of refugees or, in the jargon, internally displaced persons (IDP). Other writers and artists involved include Denise Mina, Hannah Berry, Pat Mills, Adam Murphy, Will Morris (who created the brilliant The Silver Darlings), Dan McDaid, Barroux and even Irvine Welsh (he gets everywhere, doesn’t he, like a baldy Annie Lennox). It’s launched on the day, so make sure you buy a copy before you go to the events. Actually, you should always do that or you end up at the back of the signing queues.
There’s lots of other interesting stuff on Saturday (Brenda Blethyn with Ann Cleeves, and Haruki Murakami for example) but most of it has sold out, so on to Sunday and even more comics goodness with Paul “the man at the crossroads” Gravett and John Dunning, who have curated the Comics Unmasked exhibition at the British Library in London. They’ll be talking about what they have included in the exhibition and, quite probably, critical reactions to it. And there have been a few.
I’m going a bit snowblind from all the great events this weekend, but I can just make out two more events on Monday that specifically deserve your attention. The first is Kerry Hudson talking about her second novel Thirst, due out in July, with Simon Van Booy on The Calm Violence of Attraction. Apart from the great event title, Kerry was the prime mover behind the Womentoring Project that we covered recently, so go give her your support.
And last but by no means least, Peter Ross is going to chat about his Adventures in an Eccentric Nation that led to the articles for Daunderlust. I shouldn’t need to tell you why you ought to make this your festival closer. Just in case, though, here’s yet another repost of the chapter he let us have.
And that’s that. I’ve barely scratched the surface of everything that’s available, but if you’re in Edinburgh during August, do tear yourself away from the young men in tight jeans trying to land a comedy series at the Fringe and try something a bit more mind-expanding.
*The cover shows Princes St Gardens under water, which means it would have to be pretty severe, like no-ice-anywhere Kevin Costner levels, as that area is about 50m above current sea level.