The headline of this UK Observer article would appear to be the beginning of a long awaited graphic novel backlash as literary pundits grow resentful of having these comics sprinkled over their Wheaties on a daily basis: I get the picture: comics can be cool . And it starts out bad:
I used to think that graphic novels were for geeks: written by geeks and read by geeks. The geeks in question were all male, obviously. They had long hair and wore Marillion T-shirts, and they lived in sock-like basements where they spent too much time on their own, furtively picking their noses and watching Star Trek videos.
Uh oh! She hates us. BUT NO! In a surprise twist ending, SHE TURNS OUT TO LOVE COMICS!
In the years since, graphic novels have gone mainstream. They have clever, cool fans (Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, Nick Hornby), respectable publishers (Cape, Penguin), and sell in decent numbers (or at least far more than many first literary novels). Most important of all, they are good. What I like about them, apart from the pictures, is their immediacy, wit and sly brevity, and the way they can deliver quite dazzling changes of tone without ever seeming clunky. To me, it feels as if there is nothing they cannot do: that, as Dave Eggers has put it, far from being literary fiction’s halfwit cousin, the graphic novel is actually its ‘mutant sister, who can often do everything fiction can, and, just as often, more’.
All this is prelude to a Random House UK competition for “Graphic Short Story Prize.” Judges include Nick Hornby, Posy Simmonds, Paul Gravett, Rachel Cooke, Dan Franklin (Cape), and Suzanne Dean (Random House), and first prize is £1000.
Oh boy, literary prizes. So what are you waiting for???