It’s not everyday you get an email that says “How would you like to be a part of something you have loved since you were a kid?”
But that’s basically what happened recently when Adam Cadwell, Founder and Committee Chair of the British Comic Awards wrote to “extend an invitation to be one of the judges for the British Comic Awards this year.”
I’ve been reading comic books all of my life. Some bridged the gaps between languages – like reading my Uncle’s copies of Asterix and Tin Tin, which were written in Dutch. This didn’t matter to me, lying on the floor at my grandmother’s house grinning at the panels and trying to read the words out loud.
Mainstream comics were a large part of growing up. I was given a Garfield stuffed toy as a kid and it was a prized possession. (I’m going to ignore that the films ever happened here.)
Others formed big ideas about storytelling and romance – what teenage girl could not fall in love reading Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series? (Or ‘grown up’ woman who adores that series still).
I also found huge amounts of room for thought in books like Persepolis, Maus, Joe Sacco’s Palestine, The Fixer and Safe Area Gorazde. Explored theories through Logicomix and Feynman, explored my favourite place in London through Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure, and remembered Brit Pop fondly through Phonogram.
Naturally there are romps through Strontium Dog adventures and Future Shocks, wondering about bleak futures in DMZ and Y: The Last Man, and even considering my own career as a journalist through Hickman’s The Nightly News and my perennial favourite Transmetropolitan.
I have so many favourites from Batman (if I need to link you to who that is…there will be trouble) to King Mob and the Bubblegum Crisis girls. Even the Powerpuff Girls and What’s Michael? throw big sparks around my imagination.
As I look at the creaking shelves of graphic novels and comic books in my office, I remember all sorts of things from Comicon adventures to quiet moments lost in a different faraway land.
A comic book can take you anywhere, and take you back again when you return to those printed pages – to the worlds in the books and the person you were when you read them the first time.
This only just touches upon why I am so excited to be on the panel for the British Comic Awards this year. These are the books that have made me laugh, cry and think (not all at the same time),they changed what I thought storytelling can be and what a comic book can mean.
If there was even just one book you thought you might try – go order it online or buy it from your local comic book store as soon as you can. Or ask a friend who’s crazy for comics like me, about something you might like, they’ll know exactly what to do.
I have to warn you though – it’ll be a gateway comic. A gateway to a different way of reading, to some incredible artwork – paintings you would hope to see in a gallery, stories that will break your heart or make you smile. There are so many flavours, I refuse to believe there isn’t something for everyone.
Online there is a world of fantastic stories – even on your mobile tales from Jesus Hates Zombies (sorry, no offence to y’know, etc, but it was a kinda funny app) kept me amused on a daily commute and mixing history with brilliant jokes and wonderful drawings, the world of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage reimagined in 2D Goggles amazes me.
Comic books also brought me some great friends too. I am enormously proud to have sat in a shabby pub in Birmingham with the fantastically funny Ben McCool talking about warheads in…body parts and discussing the goings on at Nostalgia and Comics. He’s now writing books that are dark and fantastic…I can’t say I am surprised and I love that he nailed down this career. The comic book world deserves you Mister!
Along with the excitement of being a part of this and the honour of being able to read some brilliant work – will you take a look at the list of people also on the panel?
Gareth David (lyricist and singer in the band Los Campesinos!)
Lenny Henry (actor, writer and comedian)
Stephen L Holland (co-owner and manager of Page 45 comic shop)
Graham Linehan (comedy writer and director)
Josie Long (comedian, writer and actress)
Sarah McIntyre (cartoonist and children’s book illustrator)
Good gravy! That’s some extraordinary company to be in. Thank you to the Forbidden Planet International Blog for formulating a concise list that I uh…copied. (flinches) Go read their site – they have lots of juicy details about the process of these awards.
So, tonight (this morning) I get to go to bed excited like the little girl who first explored comics in a different language and won’t give up until she’s very old and it’s hard to see the pictures. It won’t matter by then, most of the stories will still be a part of the world in my fuzzy mind.
Life can be dull, or tricky and sometimes even depressing, violent and suck. There are worlds created by amazing writers with pictures by extraordinary artists that can change all that for a few minutes a day. What’s not to like about that?
(I’m so excited I get the feeling only dogs can hear me. Probably for the best at this time of the morning.)