Panel Borders: What makes a good graphic novel?

Hannah Berry - Self Portrait

Hannah Berry – Self Portrait

Concluding a month of shows looking at the work of female cartoonists, Alex Fitch hosts a panel discussion with cartoonists Hannah Berry, Corinne Pearlman, Hannah Eaton and Nicola Streeten to try and the question: “What makes a good graphic novel?”, with reference to their own work as writers, artists and commissioning editors and to other publications that have inspired them.

Brighton-based Hannah Berry is mostly a graphic novelist, but also a writer, illustrator, occasional lecturer and editorial gun-for-hire, as well as having been three-times tutor for the Arvon Foundation’s Graphic Novel Writing course and Booktrust’s seventh Online Writer in Residence.

Her first graphic novel Britten and Brülightly was begun while studying an illustration degree at the University of Brighton and was subsequently published by Jonathan Cape in 2008. It has been translated into Italian, Dutch, Serbian and French, with the French edition chosen as part of the official selection for the 2010 Angoulême International Comics Festival. Her second graphic novel Adamtine was published in 2012, also by Cape.

She has exhibited work in solo and collective exhibitions and written for publications including New Statesman, Dazed & Confused and Huffington Post UK. She has many fingers in many pies and, coincidentally, also likes to eat pies.

Corinne Pearlman is Creative Director at Myriad Editions, partner in Comic Company, and co-organiser of the Cartoon County events.

Hannah Eaton says she is obsessed with ghosts. Also Brighton based, she’s an artist, writer and performer, and a learning mentor in a primary school. An excerpt from Naming Monsters, her first book, was shortlisted for the First Graphic Novel Competition 2012.

Hannah’s work has appeared in The Comix Reader and she has also self-published a collection of three short fables, but most remains in her bottom drawer. After receiving a BA in Fine Art from Oxford, and studying for an MA in Cultural Studies and teacher training, she worked with children in residential settings before her current position in a primary school. A voracious reader of comics since the age of eight, she was brought up on the Beano, Viz and Posy Simmonds and graduated to Robert Crumb and Dan Clowes.

Nicola Streeten began work on her graphic memoir, Billy, Me & You in 2007. It was published in 2011 in the UK by Myriad Editions, with a Spanish edition published in 2013 by Norma Editorial. In September 2012 it was awarded Highly commended in the Popular Medicine category of the British Medical Association Medical Book Awards 2012. Chapters of the memoir were first published in Liquorice Magazine, a comic/zine that Nicola produced with her daughter Sally Plowman. It is the first long form graphic memoir by a British woman to have been published.

Whilst working on her graphic memoir, she set up Laydeez do Comics with artist Sarah Lightman. This monthly forum hosts presentations from those in the field of autobiographical graphic novel and comics works. The group operates in London, Leeds, Bristol, Glasgow, Dublin, Chicago and San Francisco, with pop ups in Brighton, Toronto and New York.

Since 2012, she has been working on her second graphic novel, Hymn, a fiction based on the ethical dilemmas surrounding abortion, which will be published by Myriad Editions in the UK. She also publishes a regular web comic, Becoming of Age, on her web site.

The interview was recorded at ‘Graphic Brighton’, University of Brighton, May 2014.

• Panel Borders: What makes a good graphic novel?  airs on Thursday 3rd July at 11.00am, streamed at / extended podcast at

Categories: Audio, British Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

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