March update

WallsendThis month’s activities have been varied and really rather interesting. Bryan and I did the first two of our talks on Sally Heathcote Suffragette for Read Regional 2015. So that’s Hull and North Tyneside library authorities done – seven more to go! We also took part in the exciting Dotter-based event on Storytelling &Adaptation for Huddersfield Literature Festival -which I’ve already posted about here.

I’ve also done a couple of solo talks at universities. Last year, to my great surprise, I was invited to do the keynote lecture for a Lancaster Lit celeb confconference on Discourse on Literary Celebrity Across Genres. Stevie Marsden, one of the delegates, has just posted this lovely write-up. Some very agreeable post-grads at Queen Mary University had invited me to talk as well, so I’d tried out the lecture with them a couple of weeks previously.

AW_logo_longAnother busy month ahead. So where’s next, you ask? Barcelona, as guests of the Barcelona International Comics Fair. Now that should be nice!

Dance/theatre adaptation of Dotter of her Father’s Eyes

This is so exciting!

On Sunday 15th March, the final event of the Huddersfield Literature Festival showcased the first three completed pieces of music and dance of a work-in-progress: the dance/theatre adaptation of Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes by composer Gary Lloyd and choreographer/performer Bettina Carpi. The extracts were three scenes, clearly distinguishable by the lighting in the photographs below. They depicted Lucia and James Joyce, myself and my father, and Lucia’s incarceration in mental institutions (all partnered by the dancer Christopher Owen). Expect to see this exciting project premiered sometime in 2016. Complete with interviews with Gary, Bettina, Christopher, Bryan and me, this was a pretty unique event for a lit fest. Bryan said “I can’t wait to see the finished performance, complete with sets inspired by the graphic novel illustrations, and a live orchestra providing the music.”
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Photographs by Jonathan Jacob

Getxo Comics Festival. The rain in Spain falls mainly on Bilbao.

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With four books recently published in Spain (Dotter of her Father’s Eyes appeared there last September, the first two Grandville and The Tale of One Bad Rat came out this year), Bryan and I were delighted to be invited to the 12th Getxo Comics Festival.

Yes it rained. And it rained and it rained. Almost continuously. A little like Kendal, only wetter.

The long weekend didn’t start promisingly. We got to the airport early Thursday evening, in ample time, or so we thought. Then we discover that our flight was overbooked. Know that sinking feeling? We were the last to check in, so the plane was already full. As it turned out, we had a pleasant evening in a hotel close by, and all was well. Apart from having to get up before 5 am for the first flight out.

Bryan was kept very busy, sketching in the signing zone and at the Astiberri booth:
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And we were interviewed by Jesus, which was nice.
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Here’s Bryan signing next to the other international guest, Guy Delisle:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Hanging about eating and drinking is always good and on this occasion it was an opportunity to get to know some of the Spanish guests. Laureano from Astiberri (end of table) was a splendid host. On my left is Alfonso Zapino, whose graphic novel on James Joyce I’m looking forward to reading. There’s an English-language edition, published in Ireland.
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Guy and Nadage. The festival organiser, Iñaki, is in the background.
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We managed to fit in a little sightseeing. Here’s a couple of shots taken outside the Bilbao Guggenheim. It’s a spectacular building. Not being a fan of conceptual art, I can’t say the same for what’s on exhibition inside!
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One thing struck us in particular: the Spanish are seriously into ham. Look!
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On Sunday evening, when the festival was over, we waited for the Astiberri people to pack up then went zigzagging back and forth through the sodden streets, in search of a restaurant that wasn’t about to close. How far did we walk that night? Did the restaurants close when they saw us approaching? Who knows? But it took us here, and we zipped across the river by means of this striking suspension bridge/ferry construction:
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd there was a hotel and, lo, its restaurant was open. Fabulous food. So good, in fact, that even Bryan ate the seafood. I now have photographic evidence of him enjoying a langoustine.

Our return flight on Monday wasn’t until mid-afternoon, so we spent some time looking around Bilbao before we left. Bryan spotted an Alladin’s cave down a side street. Sadly, we had no space in our luggage, most particularly not for that eight-foot mahogany armoire that caught my eye!
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There are plans for Spanish editions of the next two Grandville books, with other possible publications too. So maybe we’ll be back again. And will it still be raining? Probably.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA