Book is a family affair

Bryan and Mary Talbot working on illustrations for their joint book from their home.
Bryan and Mary Talbot working on illustrations for their joint book from their home.
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ALICE in Sunderland creator Bryan Talbot is keeping it in the family with his latest collaboration.

Bryan and wife Mary were due at Waterstones in The Bridges today to sign copies of their new work Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes.

Illustrated by Bryan and written by Mary, it contrasts her childhood with that of Irish writer James Joyce’s daughter Lucia – Mary’s father, James S Atherton, was one of the world’s leading Joyceian academics.

The book intertwines the two tales – Lucia’s descent into madness and Mary’s breaking away from the family home – to great effect.

Bryan’s use of black-and-white images for the scenes of Lucia in the 1930s, sepia for Mary’s childhood and adolescence and full colour for the modern scenes means the reader never gets lost as the book shifts between story strands and time zones.

As well as writing his own graphic novels, Bryan has illustrated scripts by some of the best-known names in comics, but working with Mary was a far closer partnership than any other.

He said: “The usual state of affairs is you get a script through the post or by email and that is the end of the collaboration. You illustrate, you design the page and tell the story.

“But this time, Mary would come down to the studio to watch me work and suggest things. I would suggest changes to the script to make it clearer or to get a point across, then we would discus it over dinner.”

Working together also makes public appearances less strenuous for Bryan.

“It means I don’t have to talk as much,” he admitted. “Usually I have to answer all the questions, but this time Mary is the writer – she came up with idea and the whole base of the story is from her.”

Although Dotter is not quite the couple’s first time working together – “I did illustrate a children’s story she wrote about 30 years ago,” said Bryan– it is her first crack at scripting a graphic novel, though it won’t be the last.

“Mary has already finished the script for another graphic novel, but I don’t think it will be drawn by me,” said Bryan.

He is hard at work on three sequels to his critically-acclaimed Grandville books: “I am quite a long way through the third one, have the next one scripted and the fifth one plotted, and I do really want to get on with those,” he said.

“I have also written a fantasy story. I’ve been commissioned to do a web comic for a new site – and am looking for an artist for that.”

l Bryan and Mary were due at Waterstones in The Bridges between 2pm and 3pm.

Twitter: @Sunechobiz