Over on the Forbidden Planet International blog, Joe Gordon has posted an interview with Brighton-based Hannah Berry, author of the recnetly-published Britten & Brülightly from publishers Jonathan Cape, a film noir-styled debut graphic novel that centres on ‘Private Researcher’ Fernández Britten, often a messenger for bad news who would view being shot as a blessing.
Berry talks at length about her work (although she prefers to keep an air of mystery about herself), revealing she has always had an interest in comics long before she started creating them. "I grew up reading Calvin & Hobbes and Asterix and Fungus the Bogeyman," she says, "and I think I really latched on to those during those formative years. Eventually I progressed on to the clever graphic novels by Chris Ware and Alan Moore and all those types whose books work so bloody well they bring a tear to my eye."
After some wilderness years, discovering bande dessines ion a French bookshop led to a rekindling of interest in the "Ninth Art", and she began working on her own comics, such as Maureen's Odyssey - what she describes as her first and last attempt at self publishing.
Her hand painted novel, she reveals, took just over two and a half years to complete. "I wanted the artwork to be as complex as the story was, and to leave little visual clues in the images that people would only pick up on in a second reading. That’s an advantage of working with comics: the format, more than other literature and definitely more than films, makes it possible to skip back and re-check a detail in a new light. However, hiding details in the images meant that the illustrations had to be fleshed out around them, and so the ante was upped accordingly."
Hannah is even now working on a new graphic novel project. " Britten & Brülightly was quite steep learning curve, but I still don’t feel like I fully understand what comics are capable of yet," she comments. "I have an idea in the pipeline for the next one (sadly no more Britten or Brülightly, at least for the present), and I have plans for a different genre altogether. I’ve always had a love of horror, and I think a ghost story as a graphic novel could work well. I’ll see how it goes."
• Read the interview with Hannah in full on the FPI Blog
• Read our review of Britten & Brüightly
• Buy Britten & Brülightly from amazon.co.uk
• Buy Britten & Brülightly from Forbidden Planet International
• Read an article by Hannah Berry about writing the novel on Dazed Digital
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