the other panel I was on at the San Diego con, the "World of Graphic Novels," on the 25th July, moderated by Tom Spurgeon and "featuring Nick Abadzis, Eddie Campbell, Alex Robinson, Rutu Modan and Adrian Tomine," was audio-recorded and is available for downloading until the end of August at The Comics Journal, see top of page. It was here that I made the point that the librarians and to some extent the book trade have decided that the graphic novel is a young readers' genre. A librarian in the audience made the case that this is a good thing. But here is the sequence of events: circa 1980 it was decided that comics had grown up and the grown-up version would be called 'the graphic novel.' This has been forgotten and a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor (June 27) declares:
"Graphic novels, all grown up". In other words, we're right back where we started.
It's all well and sweet for the librarians to rejoice at getting the kids back reading actual books, but if you read my recent exercise in High Sarcasm, the Publisher's Weekly interview of June 17, which my pal White thought my funniest moment in print, you will have noticed I accidentally dropped my guard at the end and confessed I've been having great difficulty selling my latest book (a problem lately solved so do not weep for me). This work is described as "The Playwright, a book about about the sex life of a celibate middle-aged man." In the same period I've been pitching that around the place, two of the publishers who turned it down then said they'd still love to work with me and offered me the jobs of illustrating to the scripts of named 'young readers' authors.
It's also worth noting that Lynda Barry, to whom I was runner up in The Journal's best comics of 2002 list, has in the interim been experiencing the same difficulties. See Tom Spurgeon's interview with her
LYNDA BARRY: Well, in my situation, until Drawn & Quarterly came along, I couldn't find a publisher who was interested in my work at all. There was no one. I'd been working with a small publisher in Seattle called Sasquatch, but after One Hundred Demons, they didn't want any other books from me. I'd always planned to do a sister book to One Hundred Demons that was about the writing process, and always intended to do it with them. When I pitched it to them, they said no, and no to any other books of comics. The End. That was it.I can't recall how exactly it played out on the day, and I can't bear the sound of my own voice enough to listen to it (I've just discovered I have a Scottish accent... why didn't somebody tell me?), I but I recall Nick Abadzis throwing in his two cents on the subject. In fact, I remember the panel being an engagement of the better sort, in which the participants got a decent conversation going. Too often these things just involve each party in turn telling the audience what new stuff they have for sale.
I never understood why, exactly, because I think One Hundred Demons did OK for them, sales-wise, and I believe my other books have done fine too. So it made me feel pretty bad. The same thing happened with Cruddy. After it was printed, Simon & Schuster wasn't interested in another novel from me. But in that situation my original editor left and I didn't know anyone else there, and it was a little bit more understandable. So really, there was a long period where no one wanted to print my work at all.
(update) Curiosity got the better of me and I checked the first couple of minutes. I had completely forgotten that I poured Spurge a glass of water to my right, then after pouring another couple to my left returned to give him a second cup, putting it on top of the first and spilling it all over the table, with electrical wires floating in it and all. It was halfway through the set before one of the officials noticed Spurge was virtually paddling in it.
speaking of grumbly artists (in the 'children and teenagers' part of the Guardian's book section, appropriately):
"Raymond Briggs lives in deepest Sussex, in a small, white house that has more draughts and rickety bookcases than your local underfunded library. I can't understand it. This is the age of JK Rowling. Shouldn't he be living in ... 'What?' he says. 'A mansion?' Yes. Surely all those Snowman tea towels must have had some effect on his bank balance. 'Oh, I don't know where that money goes. It's a grey area. Someone buys the rights to do these things and then, after everyone else has taken their share, tuppence ha-penny comes out at the end for me"
Giant dog turd wreaks havoc at Swiss museum
A giant inflatable dog turd created by the American artist Paul McCarthy was blown from its moorings at a Swiss museum, bringing down a power line and breaking a window before landing in the grounds of a children's home. The exhibit, entitled Complex Shit, is the size of a house. It has a safety system that is supposed to deflate it in bad weather, but it did not work on this occasion. (via wee hayley campbell, who thought it the best headline ever).