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
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...