Edinburgh International Book Festival reveals programme
I was at the launch for the programme for this summer’s Edinburgh International Book Festival just before the weekend, and as is now pretty traditional on here, I have been scouring through the (literally) hundreds of author events and workshops for adults and children to highlight some of the comics, science fiction and otherwise geek-interest events. And right off the bat at the launch comics were namechecked with news of a collaboration with the festival’s comics strand, Stripped, and the Edinburgh Comic Art Fair to celebrate Indy comickers. Taking place on Sunday 12th August in the Principal Hotel in Charlotte Square, right across the road from the main Book Festival site, the event will celebrate our vibrant Indy comice scene with some more than forty creators – and entry is free! What a terrific chance for creators to show their skills in front of the reading audience for the world’s largest literary fest… This event will also include workshops throughout the day too, suitable for all ages!
On Saturday 11th A Graphic Novel of Women will mark the centenary of (some) women (finally) getting the vote with 404 Ink and BHP Comics collorative project We Shall Fight Until We Win. The brilliant Isabel Greenberg returns to the festival with a special theatrical interpretation of her wonderful One Hundred Nights of Hero (one of my books of the year when it came out, reviewed here), in conjunction with Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre and playwright Ella Hickson, followed by Isabel joining the actors on stage afterwards to discuss the book. We continue with a welcome strand of comics by and about women with Nicola Streeten on Sunday 12th; Nicola will be discussing the fascinating The Inking Woman, published recently by Myriad Editions (and reviewed by us here), which explores 250 years of women working in UK comics and cartooning.
Hamish Steele, who made me laugh out loud with his naughty but brilliant Pantheon (reviewed here), is on a double-header with a now veteran of the festival, the always-brilliant Tom Gauld on Sunday 12th. I had the good fortune to chair a talk with Tom when Mooncop came out, and it was a real pleasure, I suspect putting the two of them together is going to produce more than a few chuckles as their work appears on the screen! Comics culture fixture Paul Gravett is back at the festival on Sunday 12th with “Manga Bears Fruit”, tracing the history of Asian comics. Another creator returning to the festival is Reinhard Kleist, fresh from his Max und Moritz win at the Erlangen Comics Salon. Reinhard is another creator I’ve been lucky enough to talk to before at the festival, and a creator I have admired since his English language debut with Cash: I See a Darkness, published by SelfMadeHero. His latest (again for SMH) is the quite brilliant Nick Cave graphic biography Mercy On Me (reviewed here).
Another SMH stablemate returning this year is former French diplomat and historian Jean-Pierre Filiu, who collaborated with the acclaimed David B on the trilogy Best of Enemies, an eye-opening exploration of the history of US-Middle East relations going right back to the earliest days of the American Republic in the late 1700s. Jean-Pierre returns on Saturday 25th to discuss the third and final volume (reviewed earlier this year here on the blog). Another acclaimed comicker returning to the festival is one of our long-time favourites (and once upon a time our cartoonist in virtual residence on the blog), Darryl Cunningham, who will be joiing Ursula Martin as they discuss Darryl’s fascinating graphic history of several scientific figures in Graphic Science (reviewed here) and Ursula’s look at the great Ada Lovelace.
On Saturday 18th Martin Rowson returns to the festival – I’ve seen Martin several times at the festival and he is always excellent to listen to, especially once he gets warmed up on the damned politicians he takes delight in skewering in his cartoons. He will be discussing his recent graphic adaptation of Marx’s Communist Manifesto for SelfMadeHero, and will be joined by Mohammad Sabaaneh and comedian (and once comicker himself) Phil Jupitus. On Thursday 23rd the much-beloved actor (and national treasure, surely?) Jim Broadbent with be appearing with Dix to talk about his debut in comics, with their graphic novel Dull Margaret, inspired by Bruegel’s 16th century painting Dulle Griet. Also that Thursday sees Warren Pleece discussing Freedom Bound, a graphic novel which explores an area we in Scotland sometimes forget too easily – the country’s role in the slave trade, before it was finally banned. Saturday 25th sees Scottish comics superstar Frank Quitely at the festival, following a hugely popular exhibition of his work in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum last year (reviewed here).
On the science fiction front I am delighted to see the brilliant Cory Doctorow will be in town, talking with Ada Palmer on Sunday 12th, talking about science fiction that may be set in the future but talks very much about present day concerns (as most of the best SF does). On the fantasy fiction front Damon Young will be holding a reading workshop exploring Robert E Howard’s immortal barbarian hero Conan (also on Sunday 12th). The award-winning Philip Pullman also returns to the festival (on Saturday 11th), an author whose remarkable and intelligent fantasies are devoured by both adults and young readers alike.
Also on Saturday 11th Jasper Fforde is back in Edinburgh to discuss his new standalone novel Early Riser, in which humans all hibernate, save for the Winter Consuls. Andy Davidson and Ahmed Saadawi’s new novels both riff on themes from Mary Shelley’s iconic Frankenstein (Monday 13th), and Paul Magrs explores Susan Cooper’s much-loved The Dark is Rising series in a reading workshop on Tuesday 14th. Tartan Noir’s Chris Brookmyre turns to science fiction for his Places in the Darkness (published by Orbit and reviewed here), on Wednesday 22nd. And in a major coup the festival welcome the legendary Alan Lee, the artist whose visuals have for many years shaped how we (and also the makers of the films) have seen Tolkien’s Middle Earth. On Monday 27th Alan will be discussing illustrating The Fall of Gondolin, the final book of Tolkien’s Middle Earth tales trilogy.
(Above: the sparkly Sarah McIntyre in one of her remarkable costumes, with Gary Northfield, Philip Reeve and friends at the Edinburgh Book Festival, below: relaxing in the sun in Charlotte Square as the book festival continues on all around. Photos from my Flickr)
The massive list of events for younger readers includes Joy Court, chair of the CILIP and Kate Greenaway Medls exploring the winner of this hugely prestigious award for children’s illustration on Friday 17th. Isabel Greenberg has a second event, this time with Imogen Greenberg, discussing Classic Greek goddess Athena from their graphic novel for younger readers; Isabel’s adult comics work has shown her a deft hand at exploring gender issues and mythmaking, so I imagine this will be a delight. Sunday 12th also sees two celebrations of the enormously popular Fighting Fantasy books for young readers, including bringing series creators Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone to the festival, and then also another event with them talking with actor and writer Charlie Higson.
Tuesday 14th see Lives of the Illustrators with four different picture book illustrators discussing their work, and on the same day the fabulous Sarah McIntyre returns with regular collaborator Philip Reeve. Among the vast amount of other events for younger readers there is Uilleam Againne (the famous DC Thomson comics character Oor Wullie in Gaelic!), Superhero Parents with Joe Berger, Kevin Crossley-Holland explores the world of Norse mythology, there’s a celebration of twenty years of the awesome Power Puff Girls on Monday 20th, and the wonderful Philip Ardagh discussing Tove Jansson’s evergreen Moomins among so many other events for all ages of younger readers from small kids through to young adults.
As always, while we are highlighting the geek-oriented events on here, I strongly suggest any of you planning to attend peruse the entire programme, because there is a vast and diverse array of authors an events over more than two weeks: discussions, panels, workshops, a comic fair, live theatrical and musical events (there’s something on pretty much every evening in the now enlarged Spiegeltent), it’s a book-lover’s paradise. I’ll hopefully be bringing you some reports from the festival as usual, come August (which is shockingly close, where has the year gone?). The theme for this year is an apt one for our increasingly troubled times: Freedom, and many of the comics and SF events will be contributing to this important discussion, and a literary festival seems a very appropriate venue for such a theme: freedom to read, to write, to express oneself is one of the absolute cornerstones of a free, democratic society. The Edinburgh International Book Festival runs from the 11th to the 27th of August.