Oscar winning actor Jim Broadbent has teamed up with acclaimed illustrator and artist Dix to tell the tale of Dull Margaret. The book is Broadbent’s debut graphic novel and features expressive and emotive artwork and interesting and dark storytelling. Dull Margaret is published by Fantagraphics Books and is being presented at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in an event chaired by Daniel Hahn.

The blurb of the book describes Dull Margaret as ‘A dark tale of loneliness, greed and selfishness.’ Broadbent mentions that the inspiration for the comic was the 16th century painting by artist Bruegel – Dulle Griet. This image shows “a strong and powerful woman striding across the gates of hell.” The actor was transfixed by the image an mentioned that in his career he has taken on strong and powerful female roles (including during the Edinburgh Fringe). From seeing this intense image Broadbent wrote a screenplay inspired by the work and had the idea of himself playing the lead female role. After having difficulty in getting the film financed, he turned to the illustrator Dix. A series of back and forth emails followed, in which the writer and artist developed the visual style and dark themes of the book  Dix is best know for his Roll Up! Roll Up! strip in The Guardian and was the ideal artist to bring the story of Dull Margaret to life.

Jim Broadbent describes the book  as a cross between Victoria Wood and Hammer Horror films. The chair notes that that book feels contemporary and very much speaks to people today. The writer then highlights that – “I didn’t try to make it a period piece. It was never my intention to write about the world we live in now.” Dix goes on to describe his visual style, and during the audience Q and A, he gives an insight to his process. He mentions the dark visual tones of the book and the he tried to “sap the colour out of everything and used grey as a starting point.” Despite the harsh landscape and dark imagery Dull Margret is an expressive and exciting book and shows that not only can Jim Broadbent bring characters to life on screen, he can also do it brilliantly in graphic novel form with the assistance of the excellent illustrator Dix.  

Comic Book events continue throughout the Edinburgh International Book Festival within the Stripped Strand with events with Frank Quietly and Warren Pleece.