Graphic Novel of Women – Book Festival

At the Edinburgh International Book festival August 11 2018. There are other events in the Revolting Women series – here is the link

We Shall Fight Until We Win’, A Century of Pioneering Political Women, the Graphic Anthology is at the centre of the Book festival event on 11 August 2018, which looks at the Graphic Novel of Women. Representatives from both Glasgow based BHP Comics and 404 Ink join Chair, Jenny Niven who is Literature Director at Creative Scotland, to discuss this newest disruption in contemporary publishing and the place of this book in the oeuvre of women’s non-fiction. The micro-comic art book publishing and the graphic novel sector are also discussed.

Asking about the genesis of this “slim but powerful volume”, Niven encourages Laura Jones, co-founder of 404 and contributing writer of the Nicola Sturgeon strip, to expand on the way it was crowdfunded through a Kickstarter project, and she stresses the impressively short timescale (nine months) in which they turned it around.

Graphic novel of Women

Heather Palmer, marketing and PR Officer at BHP Comics talks about the potential of the volume to make social change and how it gets women into publishing for the first time. “The great thing with visual work like this is that it is a sort of shorthand” describing how the setting and clothes for example do not need to be spelled out and are therefore easily accessible to school children, which is why it has been directed at schools as well as the general public. Heather mentions that “women are buying it for when their daughters grow up”.

Ever since the Stripped theme began in 2014, graphic novels have been “a really important, joyful part of the festival” Roland Gulliver, Associate Director of the International Book Festival who grew up with 2000 AD and Spiderman, told me. “There is an enthusiasm in the publishing sector”, he went on, “they love being part of an International literary event like this, not being ghettoised”.

book festival themes

This is not a superhero book, no spandex, so sorry about that” says Sha Nazir, art director at BHP Comics, but the women collected here (Emmeline Pankhurst, Beatrice Webb, Noor Inayat Khan, Betty Boothroyd et al) may well become superheros for the next generations as a result of this book.

See also, the Revolting Women series at the Book Festival.

Janice Galloway on Muriel Spark

Photo: Muriel Spark, writer. 1918 – 2006.

At the Edinburgh International Book Festival 11th August 2018. There are many other events in the Muriel Spark theme at the Book Festival this year. Here is the link.

Muriel Spark is one of the Book Festival’s 2018 themes. This most entertaining event is chaired by Jenny Niven, Head of Literature at Creative Scotland, and it is Janice Galloway who gives forth on the author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. A tour de force, Galloway is a consummate performer, delighting us with cockney accents, flamboyant quotes and well-timed biographical info. ‘You made the right choice!’ Niven tells us in her introduction. Galloway’s first novel The Trick is to Keep Breathing, was published in 1989 and followed by more stories, libretti, non-fiction, poetry – you name it.

Not just amusing, but also a veritable wealth of knowledge on the subject, Galloway arrives with a great grin and only a little nervous knee wobbling. This is the centenary year of Mrs Spark, as Ms Galloway refers to her, and it has ignited divers projects around the world notably here in Spark’s home city. Galloway is lecturing, workshopping and producing her own work in response: “delving deep” as Niven put it.

Looking into the audience with penetrating gaze, Galloway elucidated Spark’s life: born in 1918, she only started writing when 40, after a lively time as wife to Syney Oswald Spark (“the only thing she liked about him was his name”). In ‘Rhodesia’ he threatened to shoot her (many of her short stories are about such goings on amongst the ex-pat community) and she hid herself and her son for 4 years before she could return to “old blighty” in 1944. This prompted her to develop an ‘it was for the best’ attitude, stressed Galloway, in her fast but exceptionally clear delivery.

Janice Galloway

 

Spark, she continues, changed what was expected from women’s writing, coming at it from a female point of view, in a common sense “no horsing about” kind of a way and signalling that, contrary to the fiction which previously had been published, women could write about anything.

Galloway’s gift is a reading from The Ballad of Peckham Rye bringing the characters to life with slow circular sweeps of her arm and perfect London accents. “The guests in the pews rustled as if they were all women”, she reads. It is an absolutely beautiful rendering.

She discusses Jean Brodie of course, gives advice on writing, and more. With a single finger held up to emphasise her words, she tells us that there was “no bigwiggery” about Muriel Spark.

book festival