New Talbot Portraits

It’s rare that the media’s glare shines brightly in Sunderland. And portraits of Mary and Bryan Talbot are rarer still. As the maelstrom hit, I must admit I added to it. But in the midst of being ferried down to London for a television interview, preparing for another local one, and readying themselves for an appearance at a new comic festival, Mary and Bryan Talbot didn’t hesitate to pose for me.

But it’s worse than all that. I interrupted lunch with my enthusiasm to trek up to meet the newly anointed Costa Book Award’s Biography winners. Thankfully soup hadn’t been served, merely delayed rather than ruined. Though I had to be swift nonetheless.

I’ll confess now that I’ve not yet read Mary’s work, but ‘Dotter of her father’s eyes’ intrigues me. A biography that interweaves between her own relationship with her father, and James Joyce’s with his daughter Lucia, illustrated with Bryan’s graphic style. There will be plenty who will cry foul for the work being nominated, let alone winning the biography category. And now it’s in line for the overall award, one of the biggest in literature.

Good. If you’re hung up on the taxonomy of works of literature you’re probably not reading it right. A book is a book is a book, and the comic book style infects all levels of art and culture whether we realise it or not. So for it to be successfully adapted to a non-fiction form, and recognised as such, is one in the eye to those who condemn it as the preserve of some strange sub culture.

Do not confuse a genre’s origins with its limits. I’m downloading Dotter as I type. You should too.


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