Graphic Fiction

In a recent discussion with a writer taking part in a BC project, I was corrected on my reference to his works as ‘graphic novels’: “They’re really just Comics” he told me, “The term Graphic Novels was just made up by marketing people to make comics seem more respectable”.

In contrast to countries like France where Bande Desinee has long enjoyed both popular and critical acclaim, or Japan where Manga is the leisure reading genre of choice, the UK literary establishment seems to have, until recently, resisted the lure of ‘comics’, relegating them to the world of children and specialist enthusiasts. But in recent years a momentum has gathered so that today, it seems that everywhere you look are new prizes, book shop promotions and programme slots in the mainstream literature festivals suggesting that the UK is finally waking up to the potential of the ‘Graphic Novel’.

Another sector to see the value in graphic fiction are the ELT practitioners who have found that the visual dimension aids comprehension and interest, something picked up by our Teaching English website. Books that work particularly well are adaptations such as the Manga Shakespeare series or Sherlock Holmes series that illuminate popular British classics in a fresh form. These are published by Self Made Hero.

With a growing number of blogs (e.g. and dedicated UK festivals, it would seem that the graphic novel genre is one to watch and certainly here to stay.

For more information on the UK scene, you could have a look at the upcoming festivals:

  • British International Comics Show
  • Comica Comics Festival
  • London Comic and Small Press Expo

Writers to give you a taste of what the UK has to offer include:

  • Posy Simmonds
  • Sonia Leong
  • Bryan Talbot – ‘Alice in Sunderland’
  • Neil Gaiman – ‘Sandman’ series
  • Tony Lee

Julia Ziemer, Literature Adviser

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