The Aye Con strand of the Aye Write! Festival presents a series of events that look at graphics novels, comic books, illustration, visual storytelling and also young adult novels. The first event in the programme was on Saturday 17 March with the writer Louise O’Neill presenting her new novel Almost Love. The rest of the Aye Con events have more of a visual focus and take place on the weekend of 24 and 25 March. This is also the final weekend of the Aye Write! Festival 2018 and giving attention to comic books and graphics novels seems like a fitting way to conclude a diverse and exciting book festival.
Darryl Cunningham is a writer and cartoonist who has released several non-fiction books including Psychiatric Tales, Science Tales and Supercrash. Today he is mostly discussing his new book Graphic Science – a series of graphic essays that highlight overlooked underappreciated, but incredibly interesting scientists. Darryl gives a presentation showcasing his artwork and provides an honest account of how his own experiences informed his creation of the book Psychiatric Tales. Darryl Cunningham is clearly an artist and writer who takes a personal approach to his work. Graphic Science continues this thread where the images and visual style present a fascinating, exciting and distinctive take on science.
The following event in the Aye Con strand is a talk and presentation from Edinburgh based artist Grace Wilson. She has just released her graphic memoir Saving Grace. Grace gives an entertaining and informative presentation detailing her journey as an artist, where we learn how she spent time working, living and studying in London and Sweden and how these locations have very much influenced her art. We also learn that Saving Grace is not a typical memoir and takes elements of fiction and real life to blend together an original and exciting story. Grace currently has an exhibition of her ceramic work at the Glasgow zine shop and exhibition space Good Press and this along with Saving Grace show the depth and variety of her work.
Hannah Berry has recently released her graphic novel Livestock. The book is a political satire that looks as celebrity culture and the media and feels very precedent in 2018. Hannah is in conversation with Creative Scotland’s Sasha de Buyl where creativity, character stereotypes and visual storytelling are all discussed. Hannah also discusses the publishing industry and stresses the time and resources it takes to make a graphic novel. This has influenced the artist to now mostly concentrate on shorter form comic books.
Without a doubt one of the stand out events in the Aye Write! Festival programme is a sneak preview of the mentoring programme Full Colour Comics. Glasgow based publisher BHP Comics have devised an innovative scheme to assist Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic creators. The project is still in the early stages but an anthology of work is due to be released to coincide with Glasgow Comic Con on Saturday 30 June. Today’s event is chaired by Heather Palmer and includes the co-project lead Nyla Ahmad. The anthology will present a variety of creators where fantasy stories, drag culture, diversity and personal narratives will all feature. The programme looks to give the participants a full insight into the processes of making a comic and Nyla Ahmad sums up the Full Colour Comics scheme neatly – “It will show what Scottish comics look like and what Scottish Comics can do.”
The final Aye Con event at features Nicola Streeten and Kate Charlesworth who discuss their new work, previous work and the research they have conduced into female illustrators. Nicola has just completed a PhD looking at the history of female cartoonists; meanwhile Kate Charlesworth is in the process of completing her own new graphic novel. The talk is shared between the two artists, where the emphasis is on sharing their influences and highlighting female creators who have fallen through the cracks over the years. Kate Charlesworth is a highly influential artist and her knowledge and talent is evident during her presentation, meanwhile Nicola Streeten draws on her extensive research to give an entertaining and informative talk.