A couple of weeks ago I was in London for a new festival: the inaugural Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature and the Arts taking place at King’s College. I’d been invited to join a panel on ‘Graphic Lives’ with two other creators, namely New Zealander Sarah Laing and Anglo-Australian Evie Wyld. Chairing the session was Alex Fitch from Panel Borders and he’s just released a podcast of the talk, edited and available here. For technical reasons, he was unable to include Evie’s contributions (too much feedback on her mic) so he’ll be interviewing her again at a later date.
Today the festival have released their programme for 2014. I’ll be there with Bryan again. This time we’ll be with Kate Charlesworth too, talking about Sally Heathcote, Suffragette on Saturday 23rd August. More details here.
Kate and I are taking part in another event later in the day. It’s a launch for the graphic novel commissioned by the festival, IDP: 2043. We’ll be appearing with Denise Mina and Irvine Welsh. Details for it are here.
The box office hasn’t opened yet but tickets will be available from Tuesday 24th, later this month. There are lots of other Stripped 2014 events going on too, so we’re anticipating a long weekend that’s as good as last year’s. Hope to see some of you there!
Also out this month is a rather different sort of publication that I’ve contributed to. It’s the second edition of an enormous reference tome for students and scholars of gender, sexuality and language. If it’s anything like the first edition, the contributions will all be highly readable scholarship with global reach and relevance. And it’s a snip at £120!
The book is The Handbook of Language, Gender and Sexuality and it’s edited by Susan Ehrlich, Miriam Meyerhoff and Janet Holmes.
My contribution is Chapter 31 Language, Gender and Popular Culture. It contains sections on Popular culture; Magazines, friendship and community; Broadcast talk, gendered styles and professional identities; Talking with the television; Creative engagement: putting gender on the agenda. The last section focuses on cartoons and comics and draws examples from Posy Simmonds and, briefly, from my own Dotter of her Father’s Eyes. Well, fancy that!
On Thursday Bryan and I were in London for a visit to Woman’s Hour in Broadcasting House. Our eight-minute slot with Jenni Murray went out live at about 10.30 am. It’s still available for listeners here. Later that day we joined conference goers at Birkbeck College, University of London. The symposium was in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the excellent but little-known BBC drama on the suffrage movement called Shoulder to Shoulder. Listening to the cast and crew reminisce was delightful and I was thrilled to learn who the producer was: the amazing Verity Lambert of Dr Who fame. I had no idea!
On Friday afternoon I presented Sally Heathcote Suffragette. After my talk, which concluded the conference, Bryan and Kate joined me for a brisk signing session in Birkbeck’s Peltz Gallery. There’s been a lovely exhibition of Sally artwork there which sadly ends tomorrow (23rd May 2014).
Two more events on Saturday. Signing for one and a half hours solid at Gosh!
Photographs by Dianne Barry
The tour wasn’t over for Bryan and me. On Sunday we made our way to Norwich for an appearance at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, in the lovely setting of Norwich cathedral hostry.
Before we went for our train home on Monday, Bryan risked permanent neck injury photographing all the ceiling bosses in the cathedral cloister. Here’s a few.
While there, I learned that Norfolk was the birthplace of the heroic Edith Cavell, World War One nurse and humanitarian. Cavell treated soldiers of all nationalities – friend or foe – and took part in an underground network that helped 200 Allied troups to escape from German-occupied Belgium. Shockingly, she was shot by German firing squad on 12th October 1915.
Today – 21st May 2014 – marks the centenary of the suffragettes’ attempted entry into Buckingham Palace. By 1914, demonstrations had turned nasty. Some of the demonstrators were armed with clubs and paint bombs, but there were 1,500 police and the crowd on the street was hostile.
Police were suppressing public gatherings by the WSPU, so the deputation to Buckingham Palace involved months of planning in secrecy. A very large empty house in Grosvenor Place, overlooking Buckingham Palace gardens, had been lent to them and 200 women gradually and surreptitiously gathered there (there are interesting first-hand accounts in Antonia Raeburn’s book, The Militant Suffragettes (Michael Joseph 1973)). Then, the day before, the WSPU distributed their customary handbill announcing their plans.
On the day of the demonstration The Times carried a small news item announcing it, then much more substantial coverage of the ‘Suffragist Riot’ the following day. For a horrified observer’s first-hand account, see Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Fry’s Suffrage Diary, edited by Elizabeth Crawford (Francis Boutle 2013).
It’s been a delightful, busy couple of days. Down to London last Thursday for the opening event of Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, a major new exhibition at the British Library curated by Paul Gravett and John Harris Dunning. Before it began, Kate, Bryan and myself did an interview for Digital Spy, though it was tricky finding a reasonably quiet spot to record, away from the cavernous foyer. The place was filling up fast. I’ll have to go back for a proper look at the exhibition itself. There were so many people that it was hard to get close enough.
Then on to Foyles for more of the same, with some Dotter copies for good measure.
Sally’s public appearance was the following evening. The first British Library event linked to the exhibition, marvellously, was the premiere of a biographical film on Bryan combined with the launch of Sally Heathcote, Suffragette. The Graphic Novel Man: the Comics of Bryan Talbot is a lovely tribute created by Digital Story Engine, available to preorder here. Its first screening, I’m pleased to say, had a rapt audience. Afterwards I shared the stage with Bryan and Kate for an interview with Rachel Cooke. A lengthy book signing followed – and they sold all their copies of Sally! They had a range of Bryan’s books available and he started to get confused at one point. Someone went away with a James Joyce sketch in Sally and a Sally sketch in Dotter. I do hope he was pleased!
Then on top of all that, I got to read a flotilla of glowing reviews on Sunday!
The Sunday Express
But Kate’s Ma is furious that her daughter’s only mentioned in its headline (and justifiably so!)
It’s official! Project X is announced here! Kate Charlesworth and I have been quietly working on a chapter for a collaborative graphic novel called IDP: 2043 commissioned by the Edinburgh Festival. Denise Mina provided the scenario – after the Great Flood of 2032 – and distributed the six chapters to a team of writers and artists. The list of other contributors is pretty impressive: Pat Mills, Hannah Berry, Irvine Welsh, Dan McDaid, Denise Mina, Barroux, Adam Murphy and Will Morris.
The collaboration began behind the scenes in 2013, as part of the Stripped graphic novel events at the 30th Edinburgh International Book Festival. The story is set in Scotland 30 years on. It’s a dystopian future, where resources are scarce. The initials ‘IDP’ in the title stand for ‘Internally Displaced Persons’.
Denise asked me to write the concluding chapter, so what could possibly go wrong? Ha! Well, I have to say that when I agreed to contribute it was with some trepidation at joining a group project with a tight deadline. But that was before I knew about the great professional line-up. The book will be launched at the festival in August, when we may finally get to meet one another!
Sally‘s official publication date is 1st May, but orders can be placed now. On 2nd May there’s a London launch event in the Conference Centre at the British Library, when we three co-creators will be interviewed by Rachel Cooke from the The Observer (book tickets here). The event begins with a screening of the documentary Graphic Novel Man: The Comics of Bryan Talbot (see the trailer here).
An excerpt from Sally and an interview are scheduled for 4th May in The Observer.
These are some others events lined up in May:
Thursday 8th May
A northeast signing and talk by the creators will be at Waterstone’s, The Bridges, Sunderland at 6pm. Tickets £3 (redeemable against the cost of the book purchased on the night).
Sally Heathcote, Suffragette: Remembering Female Suffrage
This exhibition presents artwork from Sally Heathcote, Suffragette by Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot.
Accompanying the art will be a collection of artefacts and extracts from the BBC TV series, Shoulder to Shoulder. These representations of Edwardian female activism produced in the early 1970s explore how the first wave was re-remembered at the time of second wave.
The exhibition takes place in the Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck, in the School of Arts, Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD.
Saturday 17th May
We’ll be signing at Gosh! from 2pm to 3pm. That’s 1 Berwick Street, London W1F 0DR.
In the evening we’ll be in the Cartoon Museum for Shoulder to Shoulder: Sally Heathcote Suffragette. This is an illustrated talk starting at 6.30pm. Free but ticketed (book here)
Sunday 18th May
Bryan and I will be introducing Sally at the Norfolk & Norwich Literary Festival at 4.45pm (details here)
Dotter of her Father’s Eyes is now available in Polish! Recently appearing in print, it’s the third translation to be published so far, joining the Spanish and Serbian editions that came out in 2013.
The title poses something of a challenge for translators, since puns and cultural references don’t transfer easily (if at all) from one language to another. In Polish, it is rendered as “The apple in father’s eye”. The Spanish title means roughly “The girl of his eyes” and apparently resonates well for readers of Spanish. The Serbian translator chose a different solution by opting for the single word “daughters”.
Swedish and Chinese editions are currently in preparation. The Swedish title, after months of deliberation by the editor, is to be Barn av sin faders tid (“Child of her father’s time”) and apparently contains a punning allusion that many Swedes will understand. And the Chinese? That remains to be seen, but whatever they come up with is sure to look great!