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‘Colonic’ comic wins U.K. short graphic story prize


Emily Haworth-Booth’s comic Colonic has won top honors in the United Kingdom’s Observer/Cape/Comica short story competition. The contest, which is co-sponsored by the Comica Festival, the publisher Jonathan Cape, and the newspaper The Observer, offers a £1,000 (about $1,600 U.S.) cash prize to the creator of the best four-page short story.

Haworth-Booth’s comic is a slightly fictionalized account of her colonic irrigation, one of the many treatments she sought for chronic fatigue syndrome. As she told Rachel Cooke of The Guardian, “The experience wasn’t quite as awful as I’ve made out, and I’ve edited, exaggerated and added to it, but I hope I’ve got to the emotional truth of the experience: how powerless you can feel during medical procedures and how surreal it is to be in such intimate contact with a complete stranger.” Haworth-Booth was the runner-up in the 2008 competition, and after that she “knuckled down,” in her own words. She is now developing her diary comics in to a graphic novel.

The runner-up in the competition is Michael Parkin’s “Lines,” a playful little comic with echoing shapes and panels. You can read both comics in their entirety below.

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Haunting story of two girls and UFOs wins U.K. short comic contest

A panel from Corban Wilkin's "But I Can't"

The winners of the Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Competition were announced over the weekend, and the top prize winner was no newcomer: Corban Wilkin is just 22, but he has participated in the contest four times.

“The only thing I’m sad about is that I won’t be able to enter again,” he told Rachel Cooke of The Observer. “I’ve loved doing it over the past few years. The brief is tricky – a very limited format and yet complete freedom of subject matter – but it’s a challenge I relished. Once you enter, your writing improves pretty quickly. Four pages is a small space in which to tell a proper story.”

Wilkin’s winning short story, “But I Can’t,” can be seen on the contest website or his own site. The story follows two girls, starting when they are 8 years old and share a fascination with UFOs and bringing them through their teens, as they take drastically different paths. He packs an amazing amount of story into just four pages, sketching the characters in a loose, expressive style with brush and ink and a limited color palette. Wilkin, who cites Craig Thompson and Seth as his influences, is also working on a longer graphic novel, and the prize money will be most welcome, he says, as the rent is due.

The runner-up is Steven Tillotson’s I, Yeti, in which the Abominable Snowman gets all philosophical.

(via Forbidden Planet)

Cartoonist Christine Larsen debuts short story collection

In the serialized onslaught of stories appearing each week in your local comic shop and on your digital devices, the cozy yet potent power of short comics is often overlooked. But cartoonist Christine Larsen is pulling together stories she’s created for various anthologies into one place for her own short story collection, titled aptly enough, Short Stories. The collection will debut at Wizard World: Philadelphia at the end of this month, and the artist plans to then offer them online at her webstore.

Larsen is probably best known for the online comic Valentine she created with Alex de Campi, and she’s also contributed stories to Ape Entertainment’s Shrek and Kung Fu Panda series. Her work is a really inventive menagerie of styles that reminds me of an impressionistic Doug Wildey of Jonny Quest fame. I see her name pop up in anthologies, and I’m glad to see there will be a solid place to catch more of her work.

Larsen’s shared some preview pages of Short Stories on her website, which we’ve included below:

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Comics A.M. | James Sturm on why he’s boycotting The Avengers

Artwork by James Sturm

Creators | Market Day creator James Sturm explains he’ll be boycotting The Avengers movie because he believes Jack Kirby, co-creator of many of Marvel’s longest-lasting characters,  “got a raw deal”: “What makes this situation especially hard to stomach is that Marvel’s media empire was built on the backs of characters whose defining trait as superheroes is the willingness to fight for what is right. It takes a lot of corporate moxie to put Thor and Captain America on the big screen and have them battle for honor and justice when behind the scenes the parent company acts like a cold-blooded supervillain. As Stan Lee famously wrote, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’” Tom Spurgeon notes the position seems to mark a shift for Sturm, who wrote the Eisner-winning 2003 miniseries Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules for Marvel. [Slate, The Comics Reporter]

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Read Isabel Greenberg’s award-winning comic

I ran across Isabel Greenberg’s short story this week Love in a Very Cold Climate thanks to the Graphic Ladies?! Tumblr, and I was enchanted by it. It’s a lovely, folkloric story about a couple united by love but repelled by physical forces, and it appears to be part of a larger story world that Greenberg has just begun to create.

As it happens, Greenberg’s story won the 2011 Graphic Short Story Prize sponsored by The Observer, Comica, and Vintage Books. The runner-up and previous winners are also posted at the award website, and all are well worth a look.

Check out My Deadbeat Dad… in Hell

Yokaiden creator Nina Matsumoto and veteran Simpsons comics writer Ian Boothby have a treat for us today: My Deadbeat Dad, a short story about a girl who pays weekend visits to her dad… in Hell. It’s amazingly economical; in just a handful of pages, Matsumoto and Boothby introduce the characters, establish a fairly complicated premise, and bring in a couple of twists; even small details turn out to be important.

Both creators are in their element here; Matsumoto won the 2009 Eisner award for best short story for one of her Treehouse of Horror tales, and she and Boothby previously teamed up to create the Simpsons Death Note parody in Treehouse of Horror #14. This short comic is labeled “dbdpitch,” so we can only hope that they have plans to develop this into a longer comic. With this team and this premise, it certainly has potential.

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