Whitworth Art Gallery, Sunday 19th October
The audience for Between the Panels may have been small, but I recognised some faces from Vvoorp Vvoorp! the day before. People that read comics are a faithful and dedicated bunch.
Situated in the lecture theatre of the Whitworth Art Gallery, Between the Panels brought together both a relative newcomer, Hannah Berry, and the more established figures of Paul Grist and Bryan Talbot. Overseeing the whole event was Paul Gravett, who sadly turned up a little late, thanks to the foibles of the British rail network. However, upon his arrival he instantly and animatedly took over the panel and directed the discussion down interesting paths.
Before Paul Gravett’s arrival the authors introduced themselves and their work; Bryan Talbot gave the audience a welcome sneak peek at his upcoming anthropomorphic detective novel, Grandville. Continuing with the detective theme, Hannah Berry gave us insight into her working habits, showing us photographs of pages of her novel, Britten & Brulightly, as they developed. Paul Grist also talked about the early days of his hard-boiled police series, Kane.
The conversation moved through the current state of the graphic novel form, starting from how remarkably unknown The DFC is, a weekly children's comic, available only by subscription. Hannah gave context to this by mentioning the maligned state of comics in her studies at the Illustration course in Brighton, mentioning how starting her novel was almost an act of rebellion. Unlike Hannah, both Paul Grist and Bryan Talbot have their roots in self published and underground comics. Paul Gravett pointed out the significance of a young, female author/illustrator got a first graphic novel picked up by a major publisher.
Towards the end of the hour the authors talked about their various influences, such Hannah Berry affection for European comics, such as Blacksad. Bryan Talbot unusually identified David Bowie and the Beatles as his greatest influence for the way they constantly reinvented themselves.
The hour ended too soon, with Bryan Talbot hurrying off, but the event continued with a book signing and informal question and answer session in the foyer of the Whitworth Art Gallery.
Hannah Berry’s first graphic novel, Britten & Brulightly, is published by Johnathan Cape. Paul Grist’s Kane and Jack Staff comics are collected into trade paperbacks by Image Comics. Bryan Talbots seminal Tale of One Bad Rat has recently been republished in Britain. If that wasn’t enough, this month marks the 30th anniversary of the beginning of his significant and critically acclaimed series The Adventures of Luther Arkwright. Paul Gravett, as well as being the director of the Comica Festival, is the author of several non-fiction books on the topic of comics and sequential art.
Ella Wredenfors is an Art History graduae, a Captain Beefheart aficionado and fizzy water connoisseur. She writes an arts, culture, and comics blog @ www.runpaintrunrun.net.