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In case you missed it, here’s a brilliant thing: the Cape/Observer graphic short story prize 2009. You can probably guess what the award is for, but do check out the link, from which you can read/look at some of the winners from both this year and last. For the full version of Vivien McDermid’s first place entry, you can go here. The crying shame is that you can’t see more of these, since it doesn’t appear that there will be any kind of print publication of all the contenders. I’ve spent a frustrating hour or so pushing Google to its limits trying to find more, with no joy.
The two entries you can read, like the ones from last year, show off how great the comic is at reporting the quirks of everyday life. Comics can stylise the mundane in a way that prose can’t, because stylised prose draws too much attention to itself and, by its very flamboyance, seems to say that the things it describes are momentous. The comic by nature is rich with style, with the world recast in the unique lines and colours of the individual artist, yet it can also be understated and elegant in the blink of an eye. I am deeply envious of the comic book creator.
My hope is that this award will grow from year to year both in terms of size and publicity. But if you can’t wait another year for a few more doses of good comic strips, the internet is teeming with them. My favourite at the moment, which I only discovered a couple of months ago, is The Abominable Charles Christopher. The great thing about comics and the internet is that you don’t have to explain them or sell them to get across what they’re about. Look at the artwork for Charles Christopher and you’ll get a sense from the grace of the drawings and the clean cold palette of what the comic feels like to read. This one is updated every Wednesday, and as such has been bringing me a weekly dose of looked-forward-to charm. It’s been running for two years now, but you can catch up on the entirety of it in about forty minutes. The patience that comic artists must have to construct such works is another thing that has me green with envy.
A link from Charles Christopher will take you to txcomics.com, where you can follow links to other top-quality webcomic ventures. And if you want something bigger, Joe Sacco is in the press in a few places, and has a new book coming out soon.
Feast your eyes.