A slice of April

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wowzer what a month April has been! The London Book Fair kicked off with a buzzing start for its fortieth year  and Earls Court was heaving. I went along on the Sunday to set up our stand and  to be honest I was doubting that it would all be ready for the Monday morning opening. It felt like one of those horrific Changing Room episodes where hammers are flying in all directions and the carpets not laid and the family are pulling up on the driveway. However I was relieved on Monday morning when I found Earls Court transformed from a manic building site into a swanky international exhibition centre. I managed to get an hour off on Tuesday to attend the Graphic Novels for Boys  seminar held in the Children's Theatre, where a panel of authors, publishers and illustrators discussed the most effective ways  of encouraging young boys to read. The guests included representatives from SelfMadeHero and Panini/Marvel and Eoin (It's pronounced Owen) Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series which has since been adapted into a best-selling graphic novel. The panel mainly discussed the process of adapting classic novels and the best ways in which to launch graphic novels on to a competitive market. It would seem young boys are pretty hard to impress and unless you dangle a 'gross-out factor' ie, torn limbs and boggling eyes, in front of their faces, comics are unlikely to hold their attention let alone encourage them to read a sequel. Most notably the panel also suggested that young girls are similarly drawn into reading fiction through first following graphic novels, in particular the Manga publications. 

I think what I find most intriguing about graphic novels is their accessibility. Any age group can still embrace graphic novels without the sometimes judgemental social stigma that was once associated with comic strips. Now consumers can either go to their newsagent or bookseller, order online, or download an app allowing them one-tap access to hundreds of graphic novels.  I for one read on my Android phone as well as ordering novels from Amazon. I think it is this tranferable nature of the graphic novel that makes them so popular and such a great starting point for the younger generation. Anthony Browne once said 'Illustrated books are for everybody at any age, not books to be left behind as we grow older' and I whole heartedly agree.

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