Book Festival unveiled

As I was off for the start of my annual Edinburgh International Film Festival break I could accept an invite to the launch of this year’s programme for the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the world’s largest literary celebration, which took place, assisted by some nice drinkies (ah, booze at half ten in the morning, I do love the booktrade…), in the splendid environs of the city’s Central Library. Director Nick Barley outlined the adult programme of events:

Edinburgh International Book Festival Programme Launch 03a

While Janet Smyth told us some highlights from the children’s programme:

Edinburgh International Book Festival Programme Launch 02

There are some fabulous events too look forward to, as always, including a celebration of probably the greatest living Scots writer, national treasure Alasdair Gray (including a performance of one of his plays in which a number of his fellow authors will play roles alongside actors), Neil Gaiman returns to the Book Fest, this time talking with Audrey Niffeneger and there are far too many other events to list here (almost 800 authors, around 750 events over two weeks, literary mecca). I did a quick report on it on the comics and SF side mostly for the Forbidden Planet blog and, of course, you can check out the full programme on the EIBF’s website here.

Edinburgh International Book Festival Programme Launch 04
(inside the Central Library where the Scottish literary community and the media had gathered for this year’s Book Festival programme launch)

I bumped into a number of folks I know at the launch, including a couple of old chums and former colleagues:

Aly and Bob at Book Fest programme launch

A brief comics history

Chris Kowalski has created a very cool, short potted history of the comics form, from prehistoric cave paintings like the famous ones in Lascaux through the Egyptian heiroglyphics and the Bayeux Tapestry as a form of proto comics strip narrative to Rudloph Topffer, godfather of the modern comics and Outcault with his Yellow Kid and innovative use of the world balloon, through the 20th century, popularising newspaper strips, the birth of the superheroes, Siegel and Shuster, the post war lurid crime and gorey horror book, the conservative reaction to this (and Wertham’s utterly baseless ‘research’ which authorities used to stifle the presses to ‘protect the children’; today it is video games and rap they tend to target, but it’s the same song), the Silver Age of Marvel and DC, the growth of graphic novels aimed at a adult readership and on up to today’s scene. All of it without any dialogue or voice over, just a few short captions and the artwork from a century-plus of comics and graphic novels. And ending with pointing the viewer towards their public libraries for more reading, which is always A Good Thing, in my book.

Graphic Novels from Chris Kowalski on Vimeo.

Banning words

Some librarians in the US have decided to ban a new kid’s book despite the fact that the book – The Higher Power of Lucky – has just won the prestigious Newberry Medal. Why? Well because of one word in the book – ‘scrotum’. Yup, that’s a good reason for librarians to censor what books are available… Bad enough numpties demand books be pulled from libraries because stories of wizards might lead their kids into Satanism (it won’t, that’s we have good old rock’n’roll for) or that schools should ban Fahrenheit 451, but it is incredibly sad to me to hear about fellow book professionals indulging in this, they should hand in their cardigans in shame.