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The third annual Graphic Short Story Prize attracted over 300 entries. The first prize went to the vividly captured and tender story Paint by Vivien McDermid, which the judges thought was a touching portrayal of mother with a small toddler.



Short Story Prize Winner:
Paint by Vivien McDermid
Read the strip pdf page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4, or online here.

Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart
Read the strip pdf page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4.

Like a Wagon by William Goldsmith
Paul Crystal: Graphic Designer by Jim Medway
Road Project by Charlotte Nourse
Aubrey by Laurie J Proud
The Musing of Mow by James Stewart

Other Entries:
Coffee Beans by Khaled Abou Alfa
The Right To Return by Dan Archer
Lift by Sammy Borras
Vox Piscis by Caz Buckingham
Age Of Innocence by Francesca Cassavetti
Sherwin’s Cottage by Frances Castle
The Show by Emma Chinnery
Zombie Of The Great Unwashed by Jason Colby & Paul Harrison Davies
The D.O.B. Question by Natalie d’Arbeloff
How I Built My Father by Rob Davis
The Sleeper by David Enker
Richard by Hannah Forward
Cow by Moel Fox
Tower Hamlets by Paul Francis
Starcross’d by Nigel Gilbert
Flu Fighters by Key NG
Fwendly Fruit’s Zany Adventure by Mickey Lam
Bill & Joyce by David Litchfield
Waiting 4 Banksy by James Milroy
Blip by David O’Connell
Overcast by Tom Pearce
Some People by Luke Pearson
Ropomo by Aidan Potts
Maryl by Hugh Raine
Olympus School by John Riordan
Digital Love by Paul Shinn
Tinned Peaches by Martin Simpson
Pretty Girls Make Graves by Aiden Smith
The Fire Sermon by Sion Smith & Charlotte Rose
Headgear by Soju Tanaka
Sloth & Spider by Matilda Tristram
Ideas by Mady Vian
Modern Romance by Victoria Wainwright
The Line To Nowhere by Rory Walker
Tortarus by Laura Wardfrost
Derek’s Dreadful Dungeon Diversion by Andi Watson
The Outer Limits by Corban Wilkin

If you entered the 2009 Graphic Short Story Prize and have posted your strip online, please send in the link to us so that it can be listed above.



Simone Lia (Fluffy)
Rachel Cooke (The Observer)
Dan Franklin (Jonathan Cape)
Paul Gravett (Comica Festival Director)
Suzanne Dean (Random House Creative Director)



Winner Annoncement
1 November 2009
Despite the problems caused by the Royal Mail postal strike we ended up receiving an absolutely record breaking number of entries this year. Quantity was without a doubt matched by quality and the judges - Simone Lia (graphic artist), Dan Franklin (Publisher, Jonathan Cape) Suzanne Dean (Creative Director, Random House) Paul Gravett (Comica) and Rachel Cooke (The Observer) - had an extremely hard task on their hands picking just two winners. The increase from two to four pages of the Observer Magazine allowed for the development of some fantastic narratives and ambitious artwork.

Among the many fantastic submissions the judges adored the beautiful drawings and charming story of James Stewart’s The Musing of Mow. They were also intrigued and impressed by Charlotte Nourse’s stunning Road Project and were haunted by Laurie J. Proud’s Aubrey. The talking cats of Jim Medway’s Paul Crystal, Graphic Designer provoked much laughter and stole many hearts around the judging table and the originality of William Goldsmith’s drawings for Like a Wagon impressed everyone. But after much heated debate two winners were finally chosen.

The judges were unanimous in their appreciation of Joff Winterhart’s hilarious and achingly realistic portrait of a mother and teenage son in Days of the Bagnold Summer. Joff was awarded the runner-up prize and he will receive a stack of graphic novels and a check for £250. Read the strip pdf here: page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4.

The first prize went to the vividly captured and tender story Paint by Vivien McDermid, which they thought was a touching portrayal of mother with a small toddler. Read the strip pdf here: page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4, or online here. Vivien will receive a cheque for £1000 the a Comica Festival ceremony at the ICA at 2.30pm on Sunday 8th November.

Thank you to everyone who entered and we hope you will do so again next year.

Rachel Cooke
The Observer, 1 November 2009
There were times when we were seriously anxious about this year’s Observer/Cape Graphic Short Story Prize. In 2008, we received 240 entries yet as this year’s deadline approached, we’d taken delivery of only a handful. Were local postal strikes behind this strange lack of enthusiasm? We certainly hoped so, and duly decided to extend the deadline. This turned out to be a good call. By the closing date, we had more than 300 entries. But there was one downside. Joe Sacco, author of Palestine, and our star judge, was not able to make the postponed judging day as he is based in the US.

I think I speak for all the other judges (Paul Gravett, director of the Comica Festival; Simone Lia, author of Fluffy; Dan Franklin, the publisher of Jonathan Cape; Suzanne Dean, creative director of Random House) when I say we found at least six stories among our haul that would have made worthy winners. In the end, though, after much agonising and an elimination process more ruthless than The X Factor, we agreed the £1,000 prize should go to Vivien McDermid for her story, Paint.

We loved her drawings and we relished the way that she reveals the quotidian frustration of new motherhood in such a paradoxically cheery and colourful way (also, her story contains at least one good, if rather rude, joke). McDermid, who is 28 and lives in Edinburgh, studied fashion design at Edinburgh College of Art, but soon realised, after graduation and a move to London, that this world was not for her. After returning to Edinburgh, she worked in a shop while she tried to work out what she wanted to do with her life. Then, two years ago, she had a daughter. Can we take it, then, that her story is autobiographical? “Oh, yes,” she says. “I think so. I wasn’t really ready for the isolation, for the daily grind of it. You can end up losing the plot a bit. My story tries to capture that.”

Winning the prize means a great deal; she hopes now to try and forge a new career in the world of graphic novels - a world she only discovered relatively recently, when she found herself craving a post-baby read that involved fewer words than a regular novel but just as many ideas. She especially likes, and has clearly been influenced by, the autobiographical stories of the young American cartoonist, Gabrielle Bell.

McDermid will receive her prize at the Comica Festival at the ICA on 8 November. This year’s runner-up, whose entry you can read on the Observer website, is Joff Winterhart, for his hilarious and poignant story, Days of The Bagnold Summer. This was the only entry that made all five of us laugh out loud. It is brilliant. Has anyone ever drawn a teenage boy better than this? We don’t think so, and we hope you will enjoy looking at his long, impassive face as much as we did.

Rachel Cooke
The Observer, 19 July 2009
That’s what first prize can do for you. The winner of last year’s Observer/Cape Graphic Short Story prize is about to publish a book. Get your pens out!

The Observer/Cape Graphic Short Story prize is now entering its third year. Last year, there were 240 entries, and the standard was so incredibly high that the judges, of whom I was one, decided to award two runners-up, as well as a winner. So perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that Julian Hanshaw, the West Sussex-based animator who took the overall prize for his haunting story, Sand Dunes & Sonic Booms, has since sold his first book to Cape. It will be published next March. The Art of Pho - pho, a kind of noodle soup, is the national dish of Vietnam - tells the story of Little Blue who, abandoned by a mysterious man with a red car in Ho Chi Minh City (“Count to 500,” he is told), finds salvation in his own mobile pho stand: cue much slurping. At last! A graphic novel with recipes.

Could 2009’s entries prove to be even better? Perhaps. As if Hanshaw’s success were not enough encouragement, this year, one of the judges will be Joe Sacco, the Maltese-American author of Palestine, which won an American Book Award, and Safe Area Gorazde, Time magazine’s best comic book of 2000: gripping, meticulous books that have successfully challenged the limits of the graphic story. Both combine dispatches from the frontline of conflict - Sacco is a frustrated former journalist - with the human comedy (black, or otherwise) you can find etched on his characters’ faces. Sacco’s new book, Footnotes In Gaza, which will be published early next year, tells the story, past and present, of Rafah, a town in which the author immersed himself - embedded himself, you could say - with impressive results (I have had a sneak preview). To have one’s work peered at by Sacco would, I think, be quite something.

The winning entry will be published in the Observer Magazine on 1 November and the prize, a cheque for £1,000, awarded at the Comica festival at the ICA on 8 November. So, crack that first frame open. What on earth are you waiting for?



Rachel Cooke, The Observer (November 2009)
Rachel Cooke, The Observer (July 2009)
Random House: Graphic Short Story Prize 2009


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