Graphic novels "neglected" - Shelton

Graphic novels "neglected" - Shelton

Trained illustrator Dave Shelton, named last week as winner of the Branford Boase Award for his début novel A Boy and a Bear in a Boat (David Fickling), has said his work would have never have had the same recognition if produced as a graphic novel instead.

Shelton first moved into writing for children with the comic strip Good Dog, Bad Dog which was published in the DFC Comic as well as in graphic novel form.  

“Having had both a comic book published and an illustrated book published, the difference in the amount of attention you get for either one is extraordinary and I am not sure how much it has to do with subject matter or the quality of the writing and illustration,” he said. “There seems to be only so much space and thought and attention given to a comic or graphic novel, while the space given to more traditional prose fiction far exceeds this.”

The other problem for graphic novel and comic creators is how to make a living, said Shelton. “I would like to do more comic work in the future but it’s a very labour-intensive medium, especially if you are doing everything yourself—the writing, the drawing and the colouring. There isn’t really the market for it yet, so most people who are successful in this field are doing better-paid work elsewhere to subsidise the work they are doing in comics, which is a shame but they have to do the other stuff to pay the bills.”

However, Shelton remains optimistic about the future for graphic novels, predicting the field is “on the turn”. He said: “There is more appreciation of comics, they are better branded for reluctant readers and there is more awareness of that and more opportunities to get good work published . . . There are some exciting new publishers doing more in this field.”

Shelton’s editor and publisher David Fickling, also honoured by the Branford Boase, was behind the DFC Comic, which was launched by Random House before being abandoned. It has now resurfaced as the Phoenix.