The winners and nominees for the British Comic Awards 2012.
Nelson – Edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix
Contributing artists: Rob Davis, Woodrow Phoenix, Ellen Lindner, Jamie Smart, Gary Northfield, Sarah McIntyre, Suzy Varty, Sean Longcroft, Warwick Johnson–Cadwell, Luke Pearson, Paul Harrison–Davies, Katie Green, Paul Peart–Smith, Glyn Dillon, I.N.J.Culbard, John Allison, Philip Bond, D’Israeli, Simone Lia, Darryl Cunningham, Jonathan Edwards, Ade Salmon, Kate Charlesworth, Warren Pleece, Kristyna Baczynski, Harvey James, Rian Hughes, Sean Phillips & Pete Doree, Kate Brown, Simon Gane, Jon McNaught, Adam Cadwell, Faz Choudhury, JAKe, Jeremy Day, Dan McDaid, Roger Langridge, Will Morris, Dave Shelton, Carol Swain, Hunt Emerson, Duncan Fegredo, Philippa Rice, Josceline Fenton, Garen Ewing, Tom Humberstone, Dan Berry, Alice Duke, Posy Simmonds, Laura Howell, Andi Watson, Paul Grist, and Dave Taylor.
Published by Blank Slate Books, November 2011.
54 British cartoonists of all ages and backgrounds come together to tell the story of one individual, Nel Baker, one day at a time in each year of her life with each artist following on from the artists before them. A unique project spearheaded by Rob Davis and edited by Davis and Woodrow Phoenix, this is an anthology unlike any you’ll have ever seen. Jumping from year to year, art style to art style only adds to the rich tapestry of Nel’s life, which each creator adding their own distinct touches. A inspirational, insightful and ultimately moving work of creation.
Transcribing Cervantes’ literary masterpiece into a graphic novel seemed like a foolish and impossible task, one worthy of Don Quixote himself. Thankfully Rob Davis emphasised the humour and the love of storytelling inherent in the original novel and created something that could only be done in comics. A benchmark adaptation from a masterful cartoonist.
In Goliath, Gauld takes a well known Bible story and shows us another point of view. Goliath of Gath, a gentle giant who prefers admin work gets a worrying promotion. Gauld’s minimalist line work, earthy tones and his spare yet humorous writing convey a huge amount of empathy for his doomed lead character. A calm, thought provoking and ultimately sad tale of perception, bureaucracy and sacrifice by one of the country’s most revered cartoonists.
The second adventure for Pearson’s inquisitive heroine finds Hilda’s home at the mercy of a disgruntled society of tiny elves. Meanwhile, a dark giant prowls the valley in the middle of the night. Pearson conjures the whimsy of Miyazaki in this story of the overlooked and the search for home. His artwork and colours are both restrained yet highly evocative and his storytelling laced with the kind of magic that sparks the imagination.
Detailed, informed, concise, Science Tales shines a light through the darkness of anti-science with Cunningham’s cartoon self acting as our guide. Mixing his clean and clear artwork with manipulated photo reference, he talks us through the science, debunking as he goes. Informative without ever being dry, in fact it’s so engaging it’s almost addictive. Science Tales will leave you with a lot to think about.
A strange and beautiful new girl at Griswalds Grammar School sparks a tale of mismatched first loves, new rivalries and a flagrant disregard for swimming pool etiquette. In John Allison’s 5th story about Tackleford’s finest mystery solving youths, he delivers a more sensitive tale of love and commitment with all the sharp wit, exuberant dialogue and lively artwork that has earned him such a large and loyal readership.
The Accidental Salad is a collection of short, offbeat tales from the mind of Joe Decie. His autobiographical style masks the dry and absurd humour lurking at the end of every strip. True to life but not always the truth, Decie’s work presents the mundane and the surreal in swathes of lush inkwash with a keen eye for detail. This is the work of a unique humorist gleefully playing with your daily preconceptions.
Girl & Boy – Andrew Tunney
Self published, November 2011.
Andrew Tunney’s debut comic tackles one of the most old fashioned of comic genres, Romance, with a flair and a style that couldn’t be more modern. Using the iconography of superheroes, fashion and street art, Tunney weaves a tale seen from two points of view, to reveal the power play and secrets of a young couple’s heady relationship. Gloriously rendered in film noir monotone, Girl & Boy is a visual delight with a moral heart.
The third volume in Fenton’s elegant fairytale of a cursed witch who lives in a giant snail reveals more about her familiar, a bookish three eyed frog. Hemlock reads like the full, darker, more honest version of a bedtimes story. Rendered in a slick brush line with a deft use of tone and patterns, this is a world that teases you in and leaves you wanting more.
Tuk Tuk – Will Kirkby
Self published, September 2011.
English gentlemen Mr Slade and Mr Hill, a spider and grasshopper respectively, are two enterprising merchants whose lust for gold is matched only by their knack for getting into trouble. Set in a colonial fantasy world, Tuk Tuk suggests that maybe the real heroes are those trying to earn a living, and a little more on the side, amongst the magic battles and epic quests. Kirkby’s impressive and detailed artwork, plus his glorious colours, are a sight to behold and portray a lavish world for his likeable and plucky protagonists.
Young People’s Comic Award
The second nomination for Pearson’s utterly charming Hilda. The unfiltered imagination on display in this story, delivered with such confidence and skill, marked this book out as a book for children and adults alike.
The second nomination for Allison’s much beloved web-comic, Bad Machinery is about children and written for adults and children alike. As well as the mystery hunting and supernatural goings on, each Bad Machinery story tackles themes each and every child encounters in a deft and sensitive way whilst still packed full of wit and humour. The Case of the Fire Inside, is no different, exploring first loves and jealous rivalries.
Jurassic Park meets Nickelodeon meets Leo Baxendale in Nick Edwards’ adventure romp that’s part manic 8-bit computer game, part Kubrick-style metaphysical weirdness. Following 13-year old Nigel and Brian the twin-mounted laser cannon wielding dinosaur as they get stuck in to the mystery of a bird that poops jewels. Edwards’ bustling yet clean black and white artwork has a liveliness all of its own. A glorious sugar rush of a comic.
Consistently one of Britain’s most impressive cartoonists, swapping the wistful flights of fancy of Glister for the bubblegum pink adventuring of new series Gum Girl, Watson delivers an epic, ridiculous, childish, perfect pop song of a comic. Volume 1 introduces Grace Gibson, just an average kid relocating to a very weird new school, right up until the accident with the chemistry set and the bubblegum. Cue Gum Girl. Cue wonderful fun.
There’s a playful humour and a creeping unease in the best children’s stories and The Lost Boy balances both brilliantly. A young boy is stranded on a desert island with only scattered notes promising treasure and a raccoon called Bob for company. That is until he notices the shadows in the jungle watching him. Brown’s writing is funny and her artwork is simply gorgeous. A spellbinding tale of intrigue with an ending you won’t forget.
The web and print comic Hemlock, nominated for Best Comic, makes up the majority of Fenton’s output over the last year. A rich fairytale world, full of humour, shadows and secrets, Fenton’s world building and tireless imagination spills out from every page she posts online. Volume 4 of Hemlock is almost completed online and develops the myth and lore of the story further with exquisite penmenship and characterisation. Hemlock is sure to be hailed as an epic work from a bold talent, as soon as it is collected. Fenton was also a contributor to the anthology graphic novel Nelson.
Since being named Thought Bubble’s first Artist in Residence last year, Baczynski’s work has appeared in anthologies such as Nelson, Solipsistic Pop, Paper Science, Thought Bubble Anthology 2011 & 2012 and music monthly The Stool Pigeon as well as producing a number of self published minicomics. Whether it’s a tale about a bear stuck down a hole or a man whisked into space on his lunch break, Baczynski’s immaculate art style is a treat for the eyes and fits so much loving detail into even the simplest of tales. Ever inventive and endlessly prolific, Baczynski is a rising star.
Creator of Tuk Tuk, also nominated for Best Comic, Kirkby’s art and writing refuse to be overlooked. Possessing the quality and uniqueness of all the great cartoonists, Kirkby’s work is like none other. Frantic, frenetic and gilded in irrepressible detail, his worlds are full of adventure and excitement. Kirkby creates comics to escape in to, new worlds to visit, and stories to get immersed in. We’re not alone in impatiently waiting for Tuk Tuk 2.
Since emerging on the comic scene with his first mini-comic, The Adventures of Leeroy and Popo Episode 1, Roskosch was immediately picked up by NoBrow Press who published the full Leeroy and Popo comic. A tale of twenty-something slackers, who also happen to be a Bear and a Dinosaur, who play videogames and flirt with the girl in the coffee shop. His amiable art, full of charm and observation is impressively fresh, modern and uniquely his own. This release and his contribution to the NoBrow 6 anthology, mark Roskosch as one to watch.
In 2011’s Fight!, Teagle introduced us to the rival wrestlers, Saviour and Diablo, looking like God and the devil respectively. In Fight 2! Teagle focuses on the purported villain, Diablo, and examines what would happen if his desire to be seen as a hero came true. His clean line style and offbeat humour has drawn comparisons to Johnny Ryan, but thankfully much less perverse. Teagle is an avid contributor to art comic anthologies such as Nobrow 6, Lodocal Comix, Too Many God Damn Draculas and Gang Bang Bong. Teagle is an unpredictable and fully formed cartoonist, able to take on any subject and he’s already making his mark on the medium of comics.
Hall of Fame
Raymond Briggs has been an uncompromising, daring, unique and generous cartoonist throughout his entire career and his stories, whether in book form or as animated films, have become treasured favourites of every generation all over Britain and across the globe. Whether he is making children howl with laughter at Father Christmas’ bum crack or making adults tear up at the pointless suffering of a lovely old couple, Briggs’ work never fails to have a deep emotional impact that stays with us for the rest of our lives. Raymond Briggs is truly one of the greatest cartoonists our country has ever produced and we are very, very lucky indeed to have him.
Highly Recommended Reading:
For children: Father Christmas (1973), Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (1975), Fungus the Bogeyman (1977), The Snowman (1978).
For adults: Gentlemen Jim (1980), When the Wind Blows (1982), Ethel and Ernest: A True Story (1998).
To read a full career retrospective, please click here.
The Committee for the British Comic Awards 2012 consisted of Dan Berry, Richard Bruton, Clark Burscough, Adam Cadwell, Matthew Sheret, Vicky Stonebridge and Lisa Wood.
The Judging panel consisted of Hunt Emerson, John Freeman, Dr. Mel Gibson, Stephen L Holland, Roger Sabin and Stacey Whittle.
The Best Book, Best Comic and Emerging Talent categories all featured work published between 1st September 2011 and 31st August 2012.
The Young People’s Comic Award featured work published between 1st August 2011 and 31st July 2012 and was judged by children from 13 schools and 2 public libraries in and around Leeds, UK.