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The Manchester Literature Festival Blog

Review: Graphic Novelists Darryl Cunningham and Ian Williams

Young digital reporter Daniel Broadley reviews our event with graphic novelists Darryl Cunningham and Ian Williams on 7 October…

With Darryl Cunningham’s latest graphic novel, Supercrash, and Ian Williams’ The Bad Doctor now on the shelves, the Manchester Literature Festival was proud to welcome the two renowned graphic novelists for an hour session at the Manchester Central Library to talk about their latest books, influences, getting published and share advice for aspiring graphic novelists. I’m no expert on graphic novels – the extent of my experience in this are the comics that American TV series ‘The Walking Dead’ are based on – but I found Darryl and Ian’s work to be especially interesting in shedding light on issues that many people misunderstand.

The floor was opened by Darryl Cunningham, who started off by talking about his early influences which included the well-known Marvel comic books. He then went on to talk about his first book, Psychiatric Tales, which were based on his experiences  working as a trainee in a psychiatric ward and did an excellent job in busting some of the stigma surrounding mental illness, which he sees (and I agree) as being widely misunderstood in modern society. He also mentioned how writing his first book helped lift him out of his own depression and how after his work gained attention on his online blog, was approached soon approached by publishers.

His second book, Science Tales, he then explained addressed subjects of controversy that are widely debated, from evolution and climate change to fracking and the MMR vaccination scandal. However, what I found to be most interesting was when he talked about his third and latest book, Supercrash,, which addresses the roots of the economic crash and banking crisis. Who was to blame? I got strong feeling that he placed a lot of fault with the conservative government bailing out their rich banker friends… Whether you agree with me and Darryl or not, it’s clear that he is responsible for some excellent work which would surely make for an interesting read.

The floor was then given to Ian Williams who talked about his latest piece of work, The Bad Doctor, and how it explores moral dilemmas in the world and does this through a theme of dark comedy. A comment on the front cover of his book really sums it up in one: “comics from the dark side of medicine”. There’s a similarity in the theme of Darryl and Ian’s work, in that they both shed light on issues many people don’t understand, and busts a lot of the stigma around these subjects.

The afternoon was then ended with an open discussion with the audience about the idea that graphic novels are a growing market and how writing graphic novels can be therapeutic. Darryl and Ian even gave advice for young aspiring graphic novelists, by telling them to start of simple or give characters defining features to give consistency in their work, and by talking about platforms to use to get published. In both Ian and Darryl’s case, they both used online platforms to get noticed.

Overall, the event was more interesting than I first expected. Like I said, I’m no expert or great follower of graphic novels, but I was particularly fascinated by the way in which both these fantastic writers were able to capture specific topics in their work and get a clear understanding across to their readers. Personally, I now feel like graphic novels are an area I’ll soon be delving in to for an alternative literary experience, and I think it’d be great if everyone else did so too.