Bryan’s art in library’s shelf interest

Bryan Talbot
Bryan Talbot

CULTURE bosses have been criticised after it was discovered Wigan’s biggest library does not stock a single work by one of the borough’s most acclaimed artists and writers.

Richard West hit out at Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) after finding out that the main library in the Wigan Life Centre did not have any books by Wigan-born graphic novelist Bryan Talbot in its collection.

Former Wigan Grammar School pupil Bryan has won worldwide plaudits for his novels, including Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, a collaboration with his wife Mary which became the first graphic work ever to pick up a prestigious Costa Prize.

Richard, from Aspull, says more should be done to recognise Bryan’s contribution to the arts in his hometown.

Richard, 61, said: “The library is a brilliant facility and a credit to the town and they’ve got a fine collection of graphic novels but I couldn’t see anything by Bryan. I looked on the catalogue as well and nothing at all came up in Wigan.

“I just thought this isn’t right. He’s a born and bred Wiganer and there’s nothing on the shelves of his hometown library.

“I first met him as a teenager, we went to the Market Tavern where the long-haired prog rock fans tended to go. He was already drawing and writing lots then and he’s just carried on throughout his career.

“Bryan’s probably one of the finest graphic novelists in Europe, if not the world, and he’s always flying off to attend conferences and pick up prizes in countries like France and Italy where the form is really appreciated. In his hometown, though, he doesn’t seem to be a name at all and I think it wants rectifying.”

Bryan started producing comics in the 1970s, working on popular series including Batman and Judge Dredd before publishing The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, which is regarded as the very first British graphic novel.

Throughout his career he has also experimented with the capabilities of the graphic novel form in works such as The Tale of One Bad Rat, which tackled the theme of sexual abuse, and the Grandville series of steampunk detective thrillers.

Wigan also appears in many of Bryan’s works, with the town featuring prominently in Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes while recalling her upbringing with James Joyce scholar James Atherton and also appearing in Alice in Sunderland, a massive reworking of Lewis Carroll’s classic 19th-century fantasy.

Richard, of Stanmoor Drive, also makes an appearance in Bryan’s fiction after his nickname Chester was turned into the name of his first published hero.

WLCT said it was now looking to make some of Bryan’s work available to Wigan’s lenders visiting the main town centre library.

A spokesman said: “We always try to support and promote local authors when we can and a set of Bryan Talbot’s books is being added to the collection at Wigan Library.”