The lovely people over at Emerald Street have just reviewed Fumio Obata’s Just So Happens. Here’s what they had to say:
The artwork sticks to a small palette of watercolour shades and the varied panel size allows for different perspectives and a fluid change of pace within the story. The street scenes are particularly well observed, but Just So Happens is far more than an exploration of two cities and their cultures. It’s gentle and beautiful and deals well with the subtleties of grief. There are delicate emotional punches: Yumiko repeatedly checks her phone on the way to the airport, hoping for a call saying it was all a mistake. The absurdity of funeral admin is also captured, with impersonal burial catalogues and well-meaning aunts pestering about religious figures. Floating through it all is a dancer from the Japanese Noh tradition, adding an otherworldly sense of spiritual symbolism.
Just So Happens is, more than anything, a careful and humane look at relationships, people and love.
We’re reviving our Q&A series with this one from Fumio Obata, author of Just So Happens. Fumio Obata is a comic book author whose work and inspiration come from cultural differences and social issues in his surroundings.
If you’re in, or within easy reach of, London make sure you come down to the Just So Happens launch party at Gosh! tomorrow. More details here.
1. What was the first comic you wrote? 11 robots fighting for peace on earth. I was 10.
“This is incredible. It is fantastic. He is showing you far more than a film or photographs could. It’s just drawing – it’s a superb example of what art can do.”— David Hockney praises ‘The Great War' by Joe Sacco
Hope you haven’t forgotten that it’s The Lakes International Comic Art Festival this weekend. Kicking off tomorrow, the beautiful town of Kendal will be hosting a whole load of events featuring all our favourite illustrators.
I was privileged recently, to be a guest at Stripped, part of the Edinburgh Book Festival’s celebration of comics and graphic novels where I gave zombie drawing workshops for blood-thirsty kids, discussed my latest Cape published graphic novel, Montague Terrace and was part of a celebratory panel on the history of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic (discuss?), 2000AD. Not only was it a great atmosphere and celebration of storytelling, but it was also rewarding to see comics given the floor space alongside more established authors, who, let’s face it, can’t even draw.
On Friday night, wearing my zombie illustrator’s hat from the Darren Shan Zom-B book series of I’m currently working on, I gave a master class in the best ways to draw half eaten teachers and undead friends to an enthusiastic lot of eager and positively sick kids. I even got the occasional parent and events organiser to dust off previously deceased drawing skills in our ‘drawing gore in black and white therapy session’. This was great fun and the kids produced some truly disgustingly gruesome artwork.
An hour later and dodging past Monty ‘The Don’ Don in the star-studded Author’s yurt, I donned my Cape cape and Montague Terrace hat to share the stage with Harker author Roger Gibson for a conversation on how we both represent and are influenced by London in our respective books. Despite only having just met, it was a good discussion on our shared and differing inspirations, from classic film to 70s Cop shows.
And after a Saturday watching the great Judith Kerr in conversation, scooting around the buzzing city with my wife and son and catching a Leonardo Davinci exhibition, I wound up on the Sunday as part of a panel including fellow Cape authors Robbie Morrison and Jim Murray, creators of recently published Drowntown and writer Dan Abnett to discuss the history of 2000 AD, hosted by former Tharg, David Bishop. A good turn out, some laughs were had and books were signed. Though no 9th Art graphic novel prizes were won. Next year maybe?
A big thank you to all the organisers, the events managers, Robbie and Deb for the stories, everyone I spoke (rambled) to and the guy at the hotel who recommended the Whiskey for making it a truly memorable event.
Jonathan Cape graphic novels available on Sequential
Jonathan Cape now have deluxe digital versions of our graphic novels available on Sequential. This new digital graphic novel storefront is launching with nine Cape graphic novelists, including work from Bryan and Mary Talbot, Rutu Modan, Joff Winterhart, Sarah Herman, Shirley Hughes, Paolo Parisi, Alison Bechdel and Emma Rendel. Sequential is free to download from itunes.
Isabel Greenberg on winning the Graphic Novel Short Story prize in 2011
‘I entered the graphic short story prize for the first time when I was still on my art degree. It was when the competition was still a two page comic. I was a runner up, and then I entered every year from then on. Mainly because it was good practice rather than that I had a particularly good story to tell. But after I graduated I began to formulate an idea for a graphic novel I wanted to write, and I figured winning the prize would be a great way to get some attention and make this happen. The story I entered ‘Love in a very cold Climate’ now forms the prologue to my graphic novel ‘The Encyclopedia of Early Earth’. I think it is fair to say that winning the prize literally launched my career.
Jonathan Cape are now publishing my graphic novel, and it is coming out simultaneously in the US, Canada and Germany. Following the story appearing in the paper I got a book agent and everything then happened very, very, fast. Being in the paper was great because, although I had appeared in small publications and anthologies, none of them were the kind of thing that people outside the illustration/comics scene would have really known about. It was cool that my mum could go into the newsagents and buy a copy (or six!).
I couldn’t recommend entering the prize enough. It was the most important thing that has happened to me. I entered three times before winning, and I would tell anyone to keep trying! It’s hard to fit a complete story into four pages, and still have some character development, and I think it took me that many tries to get close!’
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is published by Isabel Greenberg on Oct 03rd.