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Arts Foundation:
Graphic Novelist Award 2010

For the first time in its history The Arts Foundation has this year decided to include Graphic Novels as one of five fellowships awarded in 2010. Worth £10,000 it is the biggest award of its kind in the UK for graphic novels and is awarded to emerging talent for their past work and future potential.

The event at the ICA will introduce the judges of the award Pat Mills, Posy Simmonds and Paul Gravett who will discuss the graphic novel’s ascendancy in this country and announce the finalists who will each present and discuss their shortlisted ouput.

The finalists have already been through two selection processes. In line with the fellowships the applicants must have been originally nominated by experienced professionals who deemed their work outstanding. The audience will have a chance to see the technique of the finalists within the medium and have a chance to view and discuss their work.

The evening will be led by three eminent figures in the world of the graphic novel. Posy Simmonds, illustrator and graphic novelist was formerly celebrated for her cartoon strip in the Guardian.  Author of several graphic novels, her latest Tamara Drew was inspired by Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd. Pat Mills nicknamed ‘the godfather of British comics’, is a comics writer and editor. He is perhaps best known for creating 2000 AD and playing a major part in the development of Judge Dredd and remains a leading light in British comics ever since. Comica Director Paul Gravett is a London-based journalist, curator, writer and broadcaster who has worked in comics publishing and promotion for over twenty years.

The Arts Foundation was set up eighteen years ago with funds from an anonymous donor. Since 1993 it has awarded over £1.5 million in fellowships to artists who work in the areas of craft, fine art, performing arts, film, design and new media. Previous fellows include choreographer Wayne MacGregor, ceramicist Philip Eglin, poet Alice Oswald, writer Ali Smith, playwright Sarah Kane, director Rufus Norris and fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki. Its Trustees include Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, film and theatre director Sir Richard Eyre and National Poetry Day founder William Sieghart. The Arts Foundation’s Fellowship Programme is now well established as a model of how to offer low-key but highly effective support to individual artists. Fellowships are awarded on the basis of talent and need to artists working and residing in the UK. More…

The winner of the Graphic Novelist Fellowship will be decided on by the Trustees of the Foundation and will be announced, along with the other 4 awards in Textile Art, Cinematography, Jewellery Design and Puppetry, on the 28th January 2010 at the Arts Foundation Awards 2010.

Tickets: Free (but booking required)
Where: ICA, The Mall, London
When: Sunday, November 15, 2009 - from 7.30pm

The four graphic novelists who have been shortlisted for the Arts Foundation £10,000 Graphic Novelist Award 2010 are: Kate Brown, Bill Bragg, Karrie Fransman and James McKay.


During her time at secondary school and then on into University, Oxford-based comicker and illustrator Kate Brown became fascinated by European comic-art. She was captivated by the variety of ways of portraying art and the story, so far removed from franchise comics and their restrictive styles. Brown has always found her emotions easier to express in the form of pictures. She finds looking back on short fables or stories that she’s written give her a better insight into her feelings and how she relates generally to the world.

Hans Christian Andersen and J.M Barry hale as two of Kate’s major influences, she is inspired by the idea that children’s books can work on a variety of levels for both children and adults. This dual audience is evident in The Spider Moon, a work she created for the children’s comic weekly, The DFC. As she began putting her work in the public arena, she was constantly surprised and fascinated by how others interpreted her work, that the role of the ‘audience’ has become key to the development of her work.

Kate has been published in magazines and books including Accent UK’s Western Anthology, The Girly Comic as well as The Best New Manga book. Her characters range from mystifying girls to bonnet wearing monsters. Kate’s goal is always to create work that can be appreciated by a wide range of people, that each person can take away something individual from reading the comics. Brown takes inspiration from a variety of artforms including physical theatre, film, song writing and prose to develop work with a universal edge.


Bill Bragg has been working as a freelance illustrator since 1998. This combined with a long-time love of reading graphic novels led him to apply to the RCA in 2003 where he spent two years experimenting with the form and developing stories of his own. Whilst there he also founded LE GUN magazine with a group of friends, initially as a place to publish all the exciting work they saw happening around them. The magazine is now an established art annual.

An important piece of work for Bragg was a wordless novel he drew during his MA, called Journey of a Stranger. The stimulus for the piece came after a trip to East Berlin in 2004 when he had the idea of someone not being about to turn left out of their front door for 30 years. The resulting story is about a man who leaves his flat and takes a train journey out of the city for the first time in 30 years and the thoughts and memories this unearths as a consequence. In December 2008, Bragg started a comic strip for Icon magazine entitled Marcel’s Appendix, which follows the surreal urban wanderings of an overly earnest architect called Marcel Salami.

Bill has worked for a broad range of publications in the UK and the USA including: The Folio Society, The Guardian, The New York Times, Saatchi and Saatchi, The Independent, The Sunday Times. As well as his focus on graphic novels, Bill has also been working on a much longer book since 2007 with writer James Caddick.


Karrie Fransman creates imaginative and insightful stories, describing them as ‘creative autobiography’, a phrase she coined to describe true tales that all to often spiral into fantasy. Ranging from psychopaths in ballet slippers to intimate relationships with duvets, her graphic novels use magical realism to explore ways in which inner turmoil is displayed outwardly. She explains her style is influenced by people who sit on the boundary between art and storytelling.

Fransman studied Psychology and Sociology at University, where she began writing her first graphic stories after reading Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World and realising that comics don’t need to be about superheroes. She has always drawn by hand and enjoys the imperfect, handcrafted feel.

Her work regularly reaches a national audience, with her fictional story, The Night I Lost My Love appearing every Monday in Times2 section. Her autobiographical comic strip, My Peculiar World was published in The Guardian’s G2. Karrie just finished building a comic sculpture entitled Death Do Us Part about a lady who, unable to let go, turns her dead husband into a hat stand. Karrie works as a creative advertiser in Soho, writing and art-directing press, poster and tv advertisements.


James McKay began producing graphic novels at the age of 15, with a fantasy epic, Stormcrow. He graduated with 1st class honours in illustration and graphic design from Middlesex University in 1998. Since then he has worked as a freelance comic artist and illustrator and has published books and graphic novels in collaboration with writers including Gary Spencer Millidge (Strangehaven) and Ben Dickson (Falling Sky).

McKay’s most ambitious work to date, City of Secrets, was presented at the Angouleme festival in France in 2006 following 18 intensive months of work. The series is now published in France by Mosquito Editions, and James attends several of the biggest French graphic novel festivals each year promoting it. His current aim is to publish the whole series in English as well as French. In 2007, artwork from City of Secrets was exhibited in Grenoble, France.

James’ theme as an artist and storyteller is the age-old conflict between civilisation and the natural world. City of Secrets is the natural culmination of his work to date; it presents a vision of the distant future, where humans have destroyed all life, along with the history of humanity’s desecration of the ancient paradise and a possible redemption. He is currently at work on the third City of Secrets book in the series, The Song of Life. James’ interests lie in European-style graphic novels - especially those in the areas of science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction. He is interested in creating worlds and characters that are unbounded. James teaches the Indonesian martial art ‘Pencak Silat’, and is a keen explorer, amateur paleontologist and underwater photographer.


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