Best of the Year 2011: Mary Talbot
Today’s guest is new to the blog, although I am sure quite a few of you will know her already. Academic, writer and now, with her soon-to-be published debut Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, a comics scribe too (collaborating with her husband Bryan), Doctor Mary Talbot. Mary has also been kind enough to agree to talk to us in our Commentary feature about Dotter (which Bryan was generous enough to show me a little of a while back, and I am very much looking forward to seeing the finished book, out from Cape in February), and we’ll be bringing you that in the early New Year, so don’t touch that dial. Meantime over to Mary for her choices from 2011:
FPI: Can you pick three comics/webcomics/graphic novels which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
(cover art to Kiki de Montparnasse by and (c) Jose-Luis Bocquet and Catel, published in English by SelfMadeHero)
Mary: This year I read English translations of two French-language graphic novels that I remember enjoying at lot: Catel and Boquet’s Kiki de Montparnasse and Aya de Yopougon by Marquerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie. There’s so much available that would appeal to female readers these days. I guess I’ve singled these out as two good examples.
(a scene from Aya de Yopougon by and (c) Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie, published in English by Drawn & Quarterly)
About as different as could be, Erich Origen and Gan Golan’s Adventures of Unemployed Man has its political heart in the right place and makes hilarious use of the superhero genre: ‘I was part of the Superhumanities… Librarion, Phizz Ed, Historium’ etc. Splendid stuff!
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Quinn’s book is a love story about a militant suffragette and a cricketer. I know that may not sound like a page-turner, but it is. The way it evokes its historical period is quite compelling. Tremain’s novel is also historical in its setting, but it much more allegorical and haunting. She writes beautifully, like a poet, so that I find I can forgive her when she occasionally takes liberties with plot structure and with history.
Atkinson’s book, by contrast, is crime fiction, with an airtight plot. It’s the latest of her Jackson Brodie books and she’s as sharp and funny as ever. Shame about the TV series, though (Case Histories).
FPI: Can you pick three TV shows and/or movies which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Mary: We watch a film virtually every night (on an unfeasibly large television), so it’s tough to single out three. One film I’ve enjoyed a couple of times this year was The Fall, by Indian director Tarsem Singh. Like an earlier movie of his, The Cell, it’s visually rich and sumptuous, with amazing design and colour. But the story of The Fall (about stories and imagination) is far cleverer and more rewarding. And Beethoven’s Seventh in the soundtrack– wow! It must have been a labour of love, that film. Haunted me for weeks. In fact, I’ve just talked myself into watching it again…
Really enjoyed MicMacs, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s latest, too. His films are nothing if not distinctive! There’s very little contemporary television that I can bear to watch, let alone enjoy. One thing we have been following though, is The Story of Film: an Odyssey. Yes, it’s portentous and it’s pretentious, but for all that the perspective is interesting.
FPI: How did 2011 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Mary: Well, this year I’ve done my first professional collaboration with Bryan Talbot. We’ve been married for nearly 40 years, but until recently we’ve worked in entirely separate professional spheres. This year I’ve had the delightful experience of watching a script that I’d written emerge on paper as a graphic novel. As collaborations go, I think it must have been pretty exceptional. I was making suggestions on seeing what he was drawing, digging out visual reference material and so on, and he was making frequent script and storytelling suggestions. It was more or less continuous, on a daily basis. So, as a creator, it’s been a wonderful year for me.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2012?
Mary: My first graphic novel! Dotter of her Father’s Eyes, illustrated by my illustrious husband. It’s out on 2nd February 2012.
(a page from Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, the forthcoming graphic work from Mary and Bryan Talbot, to be published by Jonathan Cape in February)
It presents two coming-of-age stories, my own and that of Lucia Joyce (daughter of the writer, James Joyce). They take place at different points in the twentieth century and, by intertwining them, I explore aspects of social history: gender politics and social expectations, shifting notions about ‘acceptable’ behaviour. It’s already had two glowing advance reviews from Paul Gravett and Page 45.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Mary: Hannah Berry’s second graphic novel is out next year. It’s a ghost story, I think. I’ll certainly be looking out for it. Her debut novel was the splendid Britten and Brülightly (you can read a short interview with Hannah about Britten here on the blog – Joe).
(a beautifully painted scene from Britten & Brulightly by and (c) Hannah Berry, published Jonathan Cape)