In recent years the Edinburgh International Book Festival has had many events on graphic novels. [I ran a workshop on writing graphic novels at EdBookFest last year.] Didn't hurt having festival favourites Ian Rankin and Denise Mina writing comics and graphic novels, or publisher Jonathan Cape launching a literary graphic novel imprint.
But when the 2010 EdBookFest programme was published, it had a gaping void where the graphic novels strand for grown-ups had been. It reminded me of the late 80s and early 90s when comics publicist Igor Goldkind spent his time convincing British news media that comics weren't just for kids anymore. Surely that wasn't the case anymore? Haven't we moved on?
Now, I don't envy the job of programming the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Imagine trying to pull together two weeks of events that represent the range of narratives published in Britain and around the world. There's politics, poetry, prose, creativity, workshops, fiction, non-fiction, and much more. You need a programme for adults and one for children.
There are festival favourites that have to be included, but you want to give new writing and new writers a chance for the voices of tomorrow to be heard. You want to challenge, but no so much that nobody turns up. And you have to do all of this while competing with the dozens [and dozens] of other book festivals that have sprung up in the past twenty years. Nightmarish.
The EdBookFest had an extra obstacle to overcome for 2010, as a new director took over at the start of the year, further compacting the timeline. So the collective effort to pull together the festival has been impressive. But a strand of writing near and dear to my heart was conspicuous by its absence from the programme for adults: graphic novels were M.I.A.
The good news is someone has noticed this gap in the 2010 EdBookFest programme. Legendary comics writer Alan Moore will be appearing at two events, near the end of August. I've already booked my ticket for one and would be at the other, but for a prior engagement. Both will sell out quickly. You can book tickets at the EdBookFest site now. Onwards!