A number of graphic novelists and publishers are among the nominees shortlisted for the British Book Design and Production Awards, the winners to be announced in January.
Organised by the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) and selected annually, the British Book Design and Production Awards are the only industry awards to promote and celebrate the excellence and craftsmanship of the British book design and production industry. Nominees are selected on the basis of exceptional design, free of typographical errors, with particular emphasis given to excellent layout and standards of typography.
All the book entries must be published, designed, typeset, printed or bound by the entrant in the UK. The one exception is the Best British Book category, which can be entered only with books produced entirely in the UK.
Nominated in the Graphic Novel Category are the following five UK graphic novels, in their Graphic Novel category, the winners to be announced on 18th January 2023, the award ceremony moved from this November to next year due concerns about continuing rail strikes impacting attendance.
Kisses for Jet by Joris Bas Backer (Nobrow)
In 1999, when most people think that the world is about to end with the Y2K crash on the eve of the new Millennium, Jet is just trying to get through high school. When their Mom moves to another country to work on fixing the Millennium bug, Jet is forced to stay at a boarding house while they finish the school year, and they’re not pleased about it.
But something’s not quite right, and it’s not just the out-of-control kids that Jet has to live with, or the staff who look after the boarding house who act super suspiciously. As Jet slowly starts to feel overwhelmed by their peers, they begin to notice that they don’t feel like the other girls in their class. As new feelings start to emerge, Jet slowly begins to realise that they may be more of a boy than a girl.
Is that even possible? And who do they talk to about these feelings when there’s not even any internet around, and cell phones are barely used?
This coming-of-gender graphic novel debut from trans creator Joris Bas Backer is an enlightening and often hilarious tale that casts light on what it was like to be transgender before information and help was more accessible and widespread.
Crushing by Sophie Burrows (David Fickling Books)
She’s lonely and searching for connection. He’s lonely, but afraid to reach out. But is finding someo ne else really the answer to their problems? Crushing, an illustrated misadventure in love and loneliness, is a story told in silence – a story about connections in the big city – making them, missing them and longing for them. Achingly beautiful, subtly defiant and full of humour and quiet wisdom, Sophie Burrows’ debut graphic novel is a unique meditation on the human condition in the 21st century, and a timely examination of millennial life in an age of isolation. Sometimes, words aren’t enough.
Winner of the V&A Illustration Awards 2019 (Student Illustrator of the Year)
Cyberman: An On-Screen Documentary by Veronika Muchitsch (Myriad Editions)
A documentary about voyeurism in graphic novel form, Cyberman chronicles the life of 50-year-old Ari, who streams himself online twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Ari lives in a small town in Finland. He rarely leaves his apartment or has any visitors. He spends his days sleeping or sitting in front of the computer, chatting to his viewers and playing music on YouTube. His stream is continuous and compelling: there is something uniquely intimate about this unadulterated presentation of his self.
For over a year Muchitsch watched Ari’s live stream on Cyberman.tv. He was unaware of her project, but she interacted with him through anonymous online conversations using the pseudonym L.B._Jefferies – a reference to the protagonist of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, who watches his neighbours across the courtyard – and embracing the analogy of Muchitsch’s own voyeurism. Cyberman is isolated in a frame on his stream as well as in Muchitsch’s beautifully painted panels on the page. The author also sits alone, in front of her computer screen, as she watches Ari through a frame and documents his life.
Cyberman won the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition 2020.
How to Pick a Fight by Lara Kaminoff (Nobrow)
Scrappy young Jimmy is a pro wrestler in the making, and he’s up for taking on anyone and anything. From his own family, his schoolwork, wild animals and pirates, he’s challenging the world one small fight at a time, but can his hopes and dreams take him all the way to stellar success? Or will his fists finally get him into too much trouble? Lara Kaminoff’s graphic novel about the human spirit is funny and touching, with anti-hero Jimmy punching his way right into readers’ hearts.
Jimmy dreams of one day being recognised as JIMMY RUCKUS, world famous featherweight, beloved by all but in his eleven-strong house, Jimmy is the last thing on anyone’s minds. He knows he’s destined for greatness, so he sets off to seek his fortune. What he finds are circus animals, painters, pirates and heavyweight champs, each one challenging Jimmy’s idea of success. Eventually, he realises he has to decide whether living life fist first is all it’s cracked up to be. Lara Kaminoff’s stellar art style and sharp characters give us a snappy, fresh graphic novel about a scrappy kid who means well, but never quite gets it right.
The Roles We Play by Sabba Khan (Myriad Editions)
“Where is home, Mum?”
Two-thirds of today’s British Pakistani diaspora trace their origins back to Mirpur in Azad Kashmir, a district that saw mass displacement and migration when it was submerged by the waters of a dam built after Partition. Sabba Khan’s debut graphic memoir explores what identity, belonging and memory mean for her and her family against the backdrop of this history. She paints a vivid snapshot of contemporary British Asian life and investigates the complex shifts experienced by different generations within migrant communities.
Khan’s eloquent minimal style and architectural page design illuminates her experiences of growing up as a second generation Azad Kashmiri migrant in East London. Issues of race, gender and class are brought to the forefront in a simple and personal narrative. The title of the book nods to the questions Khan explores: can religion and secularism, tradition and trend, heritage and progression move beyond a limited binary definition and toward a common space of love and understanding, and ultimately toward a pluralistic approach?
The Roles We Play was shortlisted for the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition 2018, and the Jhalak Prize 2022, and longlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize. Now published in the US and Canada with the title What Is Home, Mum?, it won a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly and was discussed by Calvin Reid and Meg Lemke on the PW Comics World podcast 514.
News night’s Sam McAlister to host Awards Night
“BPIF were thrilled by the high level of entries received from students, designers, publishers and printers,” the organisation said in announcing the nominees. “Entries spread across 17 categories, representing the many various forms books can take. These include everything from Photographic books to Scholarly, Academic and Children’s categories.
“A massive thank you to our judges, a panel of industry experts from the areas of creative design, print and production.”
The winners for each category and the overall Book of the Year will be revealed at the awards ceremony on Wednesday 18th January 2023 at the prestigious De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London. The Awards night in January will be hosted by Sam McAlister, a former criminal law barrister turned TV producer who spent a decade negotiating, securing and producing exclusive interviews with some of the world’s most high profile personalities.
As the BAFTA-nominated interviews producer on BBC 2’s flagship news programme Newsnight, Sam’s role was to facilitate head-to-head pieces with wide-ranging subjects from Silicon Valley CEOs and world leaders to Hollywood superstars. In doing so, she has negotiated with organisations from Buckingham Palace to The White House and from Facebook to Tesla.
“With skills honed over a decade in the BBC’s elite news programme, we can’t wait for Sam to host our evening,” say the BPIF.
This year’s Awards are certain to be a memorable night as industry and clients come together to celebrate the best of British book design and production. There are individual tickets and package tickets for a table of 10 available, with the ticket price including a drinks reception, a three course meal, an evening of excellent entertainment, and most importantly the dazzling ceremony celebrating the finalists and winners.
With thanks to Paul Gravett
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.