Graphic content

British perceptions of graphic novels are changing as exhibitions such as Comica expose the challenging work out there, says Nick Smurthwaite

Veteran illustrator Quentin Blake, best known for his work with Roald Dahl, will be taking time off from his ever-busy drawing board to swap anecdotes with the young French comic artist and writer Joann Sfar, best known for the Donjon saga (1998), and, more recently, Les Olives Noires (2002), about a young Jewish child travelling through Judea at the time of Jesus Christ.

Two of America’s most fashionable graphic novelists, Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan) and Craig Thompson (Blankets), will be flying across the pond to launch a bound version of the quarterly US comic compendium McSweeney’s (Ware), and to discuss the forthcoming novel Epileptic (Thompson) by the French artist-writer David B, about growing up with an epileptic child/sibling.

Like Thompson’s Blankets, named by Time magazine best comic book of 2003, Epileptic is artistically inventive, narratively complex and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Dan Franklin’s decision to publish it here next January is a bold one, given its subject, so unequivocally trumpeted in the title.

Among Comica’s workshops this year will be an all-day Comics Factory held on Sunday 13 June, which will feature both graphic artist-writers and amateur enthusiasts, working together to produce a collaborative piece of work.

For more information about Comica visit

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