The Manchester Literature Festival Blog
Review: Graphic Novelists Nick Hayes and Stephen Collins
Young Digital Reporter Amy Turner reviews our Graphic Novelists: Nick Hayes and Stephen Collins event…
On the 7th October, the two cartoonists Nick Hayes and Stephen Collins brought their colourful personalities as well as their colourful work to the Anthony Burgess Foundation as part of the 2014 Manchester Literature Festival. The night saw the pair present very insightful PowerPoint slides, despite some rather elementary technology skills, to discuss what it is these people actually do.
A stranger to graphic fiction, this event caught my attention for exactly that reason. Curiosity simply got the better of me. Naturally, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A friend of mine commented, ‘So graphic fiction, that’s the sexy writing right?’. Had I mistakenly signed up to review some kind of saucy and erotic fiction? Surely not. However, when I did arrive and meet the rather handsome and very talented Nick and Stephen, I was somewhat disappointed that it wasn’t.
After a brief introduction from David Gaffney, the talk swiftly moved its focus upon Stephen to discuss his book, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil (above). Stephen’s first graphic novel, it tells the story of a bloke who one day inexplicably wakes up with an uncontrollable beard. He created the novel using Photoshop with an interactive pen, which he explains makes his work easier and more efficient. His upcoming novel that he is still working on, depicts the story of a child growing up in a waxwork museum by the sea, inspired by a trip of his own to Madame Tussauds a few years back. If you aren’t familiar with him already, Stephen has a weekly slot in The Guardian, which includes lots of silly things and the occasional talking animal. His small collection, Some Comics, which includes these cartoon features, he describes as ‘not too fluffy, but also trying not to be too cynical either’.
Next up is author and illustrator, Nick Hayes. His first book, The Rime of the Modern Mariner, was modern graphic novel meets classic canonical poem, inspired by Samuel Coleridge’s 1896 tale. His second and most recent book, Woody Guthrie and The Dust Bowl Ballads, is inspired by his love of folk music, describing it himself as ‘eco-dogma’: a tale about a small town guy, who finds solace in song in the midst the 1930’s Great Depression, ‘after taking a load of amphetamine and sleeping with a large number of women who aren’t his wife’.
The evening came to its conclusion with a question and answer session, in which both Stephen and Nick took the opportunity to offer advice for those who may be interested in a career working as a cartoonist and/or illustrator. They suggested how in some ways it is easier for graphic novelists to get noticed by a publisher than other kinds of writers; images can speak a thousand words. However, as it often requires working investment banking hours without the investment banking pay cheque, they stress the importance of having a passion for this very meticulous art.
It is evident that the two cartoonists are very excited about their new and upcoming projects. Like much of the audience, I cannot wait to read more of their work!