If you needed some assurance that the form of graphic storytelling is very much ascendant right now, then you need look no further than the nominations for this year’s Waterstones Book of the Year award.
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, the debut work from Stephen Collins published by Jonathan Cape, is vying for the prize, up against novels by Booker winner Julian Barnes and best-selling author Kate Atkinson.
Also nominated is the late US author John Williams for his recently reissued 1965 novel Stoner, and Leicestershire native Nina Stibbe and Polish couple Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski complete the list.
The winner will be announced on 3rd December 2013.
Commenting on Twitter on the news Stephen said “I’m rather surprised/chuffed to say the least.”
Guardian Weekend cartoonist Stephen Collins’s critically acclaimed first graphic novel is the story of Dave, a neat and orderly man from the neat and orderly town of Here. Nothing ever happens in Here; everything is tidy, everything in its place. Then one day Dave starts growing a beard. A vast, terrifying beard which threatens the very survival of this tidy little town.
“Stephen Collins, who won the Observer/Cape/Comica Graphic short story prize in 2010, deserves his first book to be a huge hit,” said the Guardian on the book’s release. “Clever, funny and beautiful to look at, the last time I came across facial hair this compelling, it was attached to the chin of Roald Dahl’s Mr Twit, a character whose creator would undoubtedly have loved The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil – and whose influence, unless I’m much mistaken, may be felt on its every page.”
Waterstones managing director James Daunt said the list showcased a “year of extraordinary publishing” and demonstrated a “great array of titles”.
Booksellers, he said, had “selected an eclectic and surprising shortlist for our book of the year, all fabulous books that are distinctively inspiring.”
• An exhibition of art from The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is on show at the Wildman Gallery in Kendal, until 10th November, as part of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival’s programme, along with art by A J Poyiadgi and Hannah Berry. More info: www.comicartfestival.com/familyexhibitions