Graphic novels finally win the literary limelight as two make their way onto Costa Book awards shortlist

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Bryan Talbot's graphic memoir Dotter of Her Father's Eyes and Days of the Bagnold Summer by Jeff Winterhart are both nominated

The graphic novel has finally received literary recognition after two examples of the illustrated genre were selected to compete alongside the double Booker prize-winner Hilary Mantel in the Costa Book awards shortlist.

Once associated with superhero comic books pored over by enthusiasts, the graphic novel has come of age as an immersive story-telling device, capable of conveying profound emotions.

For the first time, the Costa shortlist features two graphic works: Joff Winterhart for Days of the Bagnold Summer in the Novel category and Mary and Bryan Talbot in the Biography category for the graphic memoir, Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes.

Part memoir, part biography, Dotter… is written by the husband and wife duo of academic Mary M Talbot and Bryan Talbot, an award-winning graphic novels pioneer who has illustrated underground comics.

The story contrasts two coming-of-age narratives: that of Lucia, the daughter of James Joyce, who aspired to be a dancer but was shut away in a mental institution and that of Mary, daughter of the eminent Joycean scholar James S. Atherton.

Selecting the book in the Biography category, the judges hailed a “strikingly original graphic memoir which links two lives in a highly imaginative way.”

Bryan Talbot, who drew Judge Dredd for the 2000 AD comic, said: “This is one more step on the path to acceptance for the art form. Nearly every literary festival now incorporates a graphic novel element.”

He acknowledged: “There is still a lot of prejudice from people who don’t know about the art form but there’s whole range of quality material out there. There’s a tradition of comics being just for children but in France they sell 43 million books a year.”

Mr Talbot and his wife would discuss the concept for the book over dinner and then Mary would hand him a finished script to illustrate. “A graphic novel is more than the sum of its parts,” Mr Talbot said. “The illustrations work like a descriptive passage of text but the reader must have a love of drawings.”

Winterhart, a film-maker from Bristol who plays drums in a band, competes against Mantel’s Booker-winning Tudor epic Bring Up The Bodies in the Novel category.

The judges described the illustrator’s novel about a mother-son relationship between Sue, 52, who works in a library and heavy metal fan Daniel, 15, as “Funny, sad, touching, original.”

When the pair are thrown together for six long weeks, the story follows Sue’s attempts at bonding - listening to Daniel’s Megadeth CDs in the car and admiring his “poems”, which are actually the lyrics of a Metallica song.

Winterhart said: “It is kind of terrifying competing against Hilary Mantel. My book isn’t a novel in the conventional sense, it’s a comic with pictures and speech boards. I was looking for a low-key, minimal way of telling a character-based narrative. I’m very grateful for the nomination.”

Winterhart believes that the perception of graphic novels began to change with the 1991 publication of Maus, the acclaimed depiction of the Holocaust using Jews as mice, by the American illustrator, Art Spiegelman.

Persepolis, Iranian-born graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi’s account of her childhood growing up in the shadow of the country’s Islamic revolution, further established the genre’s literary credentials. The comics were turned into an Oscar-nominated animated film in 2007.

“Graphic novels aren’t just fantasy and superheroes, the format encompasses memoirs and they are becoming very popular,” said Winterhart, who grew up on a diet of Spider-man comics. “They can be more accessible to new readers too.”

The first Novel category features J W Ironmonger, an expert on freshwater leeches who was previously author of the Good Zoo Guide. Ironmonger is recognised for The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder.

Winners in the five Costa categories, who each receive £5,000, will be announced on Wednesday 2nd January 2013.  The overall Costa Book of the Year winner will receive £30,000.

In the poetry section, a collection on beekeeping, which chronicles the life of a hive, and poems tackling the writer's experience of IVF are among those shortlisted.

Contenders for the children’s award include books featuring identical twins who fall for the same boy and a story about a child who has a "second-sight" that enables him to spot Nazis hiding in post-war Britain.

The overall winner has been won on 10 occasions by a novel and only once by a children's book.

Last year’s winner was historical novel Pure by Andrew Miller.

Costa Book Awards 2012 Shortlists:

Novel

Hilary Mantel for Bring Up The Bodies

Stephen May for Life! Death! Prizes!

James Meek for The Heart Broke In

Joff Winterhart for Days Of The Bagnold Summer

First Novel

JW Ironmonger for The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder

Jess Richards for Snake Ropes

Francesca Segal for The Innocents

Benjamin Wood for The Bellwether Revivals

Biography

Artemis Cooper for Patrick Leigh-Fermor: An Adventure

Selina Guinness for The Crocodile By The Door: The Story Of A House, A Farm And A Family

Kate Hubbard for Serving Victoria: Life In The Royal Household

Mary Talbot and Bryan Talbot for Dotter Of Her Father's Eyes

Poetry

Sean Borodale for Bee Journal

Julia Copus for The World's Two Smallest Humans

Selima Hill for People Who Like Meatballs

Kathleen Jamie for The Overhaul

Children's

Sally Gardner for Maggot Moon

Diana Hendry for The Seeing

Hayley Long for What's Up With Jody Barton?

Dave Shelton for A Boy And A Bear In A Boat

Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits