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

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • 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.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing