SELF INITIATED PROJECT 2.0 : RESEARCH – THE HISTORY OF THE OBSERVER/JONATHAN CAPE/COMICA GRAPHIC SHORT STORY PRIZE COMPETITION

JONATHAN CAPE – BRIEF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Founded in 1921, Jonathan Cape has been the home of some of the finest writing in the world for nearly a century. Early successes by T.E. Lawrence and Ernest Hemingway were soon joined by James Joyce, Christopher Isherwood and Ian Fleming. By the 1970s, Cape had become an internationally recognised literary hothouse with writers as diverse as Joseph Heller, Gabriel García Márquez, Thomas Pynchon, Roald Dahl and Doris Lessing. Cape authors have received more Booker Prizes wins and shortlistings than any other publisher.

Today, Jonathan Cape continues to lead the way in fiction, non-fiction and poetry Its bestselling and prizewinning authors include Martin Amis, Colin Barrett, Julian Barnes, Simon Callow, Jung Chang, Mark Cocker, Rachel Cusk, Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Helen Fielding, Adam Foulds, Mark Haddon, Tessa Hadley, Howard Jacobson, A.L. Kennedy, Helen Macdonald, Tom McCarthy, Ian McEwan, Ottessa Moshfegh, Audrey Niffenegger, Thomas Pynchon, Anthony Quinn, Ross Raisin, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, David Szalay, Irvine Welsh, Jeanette Winterson, Tom Wolfe, Alison Weir, James Wood and Evie Wyld.

Cape’s thriving poetry list includes works by John Burnside, Mark Doty, Michael Longley, Andrew McMillan, Sharon Olds, Alice Oswald and Michael Symmons Roberts.

Cape is also proud to publish many of the best graphic novels of recent years, with books by Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Marjane Satrapi, Posy Simmonds, Raymond Briggs and Joe Sacco, as well as a selection of art and photography books, including the works of Don McCullin, Annie Leibovitz and Lucian Freud.

COMICA

Comica was established in 2003 with a series of annual successful events including Comikets at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. The name came about simply: combining into a portmanteau word the words Comics and ICA. Later Comica – came to mean something different a plural noun for all things Comics. In 2011 Comica became a not-for-profit Social Enterprise and produces a year round programme of events, including:

  • Comica: London International Comics Festival
  • Comica Comiket The Independent Comics Market exclusively for comics graphic novels and particularly individual comics creators and  the small  and the micro presses in this area.
  • The Annual  Graphic Short Story Prize in partnership with Jonathan Cape and The Observer.
  • The Comica Social Club the monthly networking event to meet up and talk about common interest in comics.

Comica also present talks, exhibitions, workshops, conferences, panel discussions, film screenings through out the year.

In October 2015 the Comica.London magazine website was created with the legend Comics But Not As You Know It with the intents,

  • To promote comics and graphic novels not just during the Comica Festival season but throughout the year.
  • To redress the over emphasis in all media about Superhero comics.
  • To put Comics in context and take nothing for granted when it comes to talking about the subject. No prior knowledge is required of anyone.
  • To show that comics is an amazingly rich culture all around the world enjoyed in many forms—and how it inter-relates with all aspects of the Arts.

Comica aims have been clear cut from its inception. These are;

• To present work by new and established artists working in the medium of comics and graphic novels.
• To promote an understanding and appreciation of comics, graphic novels, and graphic non-fiction as heritage and culture, to people of all ages and all backgrounds.
• To provide a platform to support, encourage and foster artists engaged in the creation of comics and broaden the horizons and wider acceptance of comics and graphic novels as an integral dimension of British culture and the arts communities.
• To reach the broadest possible cross section of the public to not only attend events as audience, but to actively participate in Comica events.
•  To act as a creative catalyst working with artists, curators and community to enable the public to have contact with artists and engage with art.
• To provide a network for professionals to develop their work through practice-led discussions and strengthen the comic community by creating an environment that encourages collaboration.

 

Since the first collaborative Graphic Short Story competition in 2007, the competition has become a great platform for individuals whose interests lie within the utilisation of comics and sequential graphic narrative as a means of expression and communication of ideas, to be able to do so, while getting the support needed to propel them further, creating various opportunities for their works to be seen and published.

 

 

PAST WINNERS OF THE JONATHAN CAPE/OBSERVER/COMICA GRAPHIC SHORT STORY COMPETITION

STEPHEN COLLINS. 2010 Winner ”ROOM 208”

Stephen Collins is a freelance illustrator, cartoonist and if anything, my interest to take this brief seriously (apart from my undying love and commitment to expressing myself/ideas via sequential graphic narrative), was inspired by this entry. His 4page entry (2 double page spreads) for the competition which ended up being the winning entry, tells a romantically strange parable/tale of a couple on honeymoon, who find themselves trapped in a hotel due to a storm . When it all blows over, they find themselves overtaken by a feeling of inertia and unable to leave. The story works very well, but the art and design of the elements of the strip stand out remarkably.

An added plus is the beautifully and hauntingly written piece that accompanies the illustrations and compliments them remarkably well.

ISABEL GREENBERG. 2011 WINNER – ‘LOVE IN A VERY COLD CLIMATE’.

Isabel tells a story of a marriage – only this couple, a south pole dweller and a north pole dweller, being in love will never be able to touch one another, surrounded as they are by a magnetic force field. The entry is very well and beautifully drawn, from first to last frame, but very well written. If anything, the ability to transit and handle time, while capturing a shared lifetime in just four pages is extremely remarkable. The piece is very poetic, touching and evocative in its illustrative approach, and very well executed.

CORBAN WILKIN. 2012 Winner ”But I can’t.”

Corban studied illustration at Middlesex University and attributes his influences to include the great Canadian cartoonists Craig Thompson and Seth.

”But I can’t”, the winning entry for 2012 tells a tale of friendship, obsession and alien landings. Wilkin’s use of colour; particularly, indian ink and water colour is well executed. His ability to transition his characters from childhood through to adulthood within the limitations of 4pages is highly impressive.

For his winning entry, he drew inspiration from his childhood and his childhood friend; both of whom were particularly interested in UFO sightings. Both went through a memorable but brief period of sending signals into space, using a walkie-talkie. ”Years later, I tried to imagine what it would be like if someone somewhere was to cling on to that childhood interest, only for it to tear them from their increasingly sceptical friends.”

 

 

 

If anything, it becomes very obvious that one thing is clear; restrictions on subject matter are thrown out the window. This is key as the opportunity to be expressive, regardless of subject matter then becomes essential.

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