Two years in the making, the graphic novel Illegal from Irish Children’s Laureate Eoin Colfer and children’s author and graphic novelist Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Italian artist, Giovanni Rigano, has just been published, and it’s already attracting well-deserved critical attention.
The Times singled out the new work, telling the story of a desperate journey for asylum, as its Children’s Book of the Week, and we’ve just received a copy… and it’s utterly riveting. I can’t wait to sit down and read it properly as soon as I get a chance.
Lifelong comic fans, Colfer and Donkin have collaborated previously on five very successful graphic novel adaptations of Colfer’s books. This is their first original graphic novel together, telling the story of Ebo and Kwame and their tortuous journey from North Africa to seek a new life in Europe.
“I was born in West Africa. On one of several trips back as an adult, I met a young man on the beach who told me about his boat trip to Europe,” Anne McNeil, Publishing Director for Hodder Children’s Books said when the book was first announced back in 2015. “He told me that the seas were huge, and people were literally praying on their knees. When they got to their destination, the people on the boat were jailed; and then sent back. He came home to his village, lay on the beach and cried. His story stayed with me. I am proud to be publishing Illegal – a book from master-storytellers that will open the minds of all who read it.”
“We wanted to tell this important story in the visually rich and immediately engaging format of a graphic novel – it’s the perfect medium to do it,” says Eoin Colfer.
It’s an extraordinary story of Ebo and Kwame that has been brought to vivid life for an audience of children (and adults) who are aware of the very real plight of migrants and asylum seekers through the news today. Colfer and Donkin offer a first person perspective on a topic which is often dehumanised through the media: of what migrants and refugees must overcome to survive, told with empathy and understanding.
The graphic novel also features three powerful stories of migrants told in their own words, adapted into the graphic format by the team.
Eoin Colfer (pronounced Owen) was born in Wexford on the South-East coast of Ireland in 1965. He first developed an interest in writing as a child when he was gripped by the Viking stories he learned about at school. His first book, Benny and Omar, was published in 1998, based on his experiences living in Tunisia; it has since been translated into many languages. In 2001, his first Artemis Fowl book was published and Eoin gave up teaching to concentrate fully on writing.
London-based Andrew Donkin has sold over eight million children’s books, graphic novels, and adult books in the last fifteen years. His work in comics includes Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and Doctor Who (I happily admit to being the editor who gave him one of his earliest comics commissions, on Doctor Who Magazine).
With Eoin Colfer, he has co-written five bestselling graphic novel adaptations of Colfer’s books. Andrew became interested in the issue of migrants and asylum while writing the biography of Sir Alfred Mehran, a stateless man who lived on a bench in Paris Airport for 18 years. The resulting book, The Terminal Man, was described by The Sunday Times as “a brilliant and profoundly disturbing book.”
Giovanni Rigano is an Italian comics artist who live in Comi, Italy, and creator of many graphic novels. He has adapted five of Eoin Colfer’s novels into graphic novels (The Supernaturalist is an absolutely gorgeous fantasy story, for example), as well as Disney-Pixar’s The Incredibles and two Pirates of the Caribbean novels. His creator-owned series Daffodil won several comic awards.
Illegal is an absolutely beautiful-looking book and as I said, I’m looking forward to sitting down with it as soon as possible to actually read it, instead of simply admiring the stunning art. I just had to get something up on the site about this book as soon as possible!
Do go and take a look in your local book shop.
• Illegal is on sale now from all good bookshops
• Giovanni Rigano is online at http://riganogiovanni.blogspot.co.uk
• For more information on Hodder Children’s Books visit www.hodderchildrens.co.uk