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 & Entertainment
film

Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatre

Review: Of Mice and Men

Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Arts & Entertainment
artGraffiti legend posts picture of work – but no one knows where it is
Arts & Entertainment
A close-up of Tom of Finland's new Finnish stamp
art

Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings

Arts & Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2002's Die Another Day
film

The actor has confessed to his own insecurities

Life & Style
Green fingers: a plot in East London
TV

Allotments are the focus of a new reality show

Arts & Entertainment
Myleene Klass attends the Olivier awards 2014

Oliviers 2014Theatre stars arrive at Britain's most prestigious theatre awards
Arts & Entertainment
Stars of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park

Oliviers 2014Blockbuster picked up Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical
Arts & Entertainment
Lesley Manville with her Olivier for Best Actress for her role in 'Ghosts'

Oliviers 2014Actress thanked director Richard Eyre for a stunning production
Arts & Entertainment
Rory Kinnear in his Olivier-winning role as Iago in Othello

Oliviers 2014Actor beat Jude Law and Tom Hiddleston to take the award
Arts & Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch is best known for this roles in Sherlock and Star Trek
TV

Arts & Entertainment
theatreAll hail the temporary venue that has shaken things up at the National Theatre
Arts & Entertainment
musicShe is candid, comic and coming our way
Arts & Entertainment
booksHer new novel is about people seeking where they belong
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

    Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

    Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
    Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

    Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

    The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
    Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

    Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

    The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
    Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

    Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

    This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
    Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

    Education: Secret of Taunton's success

    Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
    10 best smartphones

    10 best smartphones

    With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
    Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
    The pain of IVF

    The pain of IVF

    As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal