Wigan authors' graphic climate warnings in new novel

Mary and Bryan Talbot
Mary and Bryan Talbot

Award-winning Wigan graphic novelists are tackling the urgent subject of climate change in their latest collaboration.

Mary and Bryan Talbot’s new work Rain will hit the shelves later this month.

An image from the new graphic novel Rain

An image from the new graphic novel Rain

Other news: Vaccine uptake in Wigan is bucking the national trend

The couple have produced a string of acclaimed graphic novels together, becoming the first authors of a work of that type to win a Costa Prize along the way.

However, Rain has a very different topic from their previous books which have focused on feminist history and left-wing politics.

Instead the new book, set in northern England, takes as its starting point the devastating floods of 2015 in Cumbria and Yorkshire and considers a wide range of environmental and green problems.

Writer Mary said: “It’s completely different from what we’ve done before. It’s about climate catastrophe. I don’t use the word change any more for the climate because it doesn’t seem urgent enough.

“It’s about environmental degradation and was triggered by the flooding at Christmas 2015. It had a devastating effect on the north of England.

“The story is also about a relationship developing between two young women. The floods take place all around them and it impacts their lives quite seriously.

“In the process it talks about mismanagement of the moorland, which has been turned into a factory for grouse shooting and which contributed significantly to the flooding problems. It also engages with pollution and different ways of protesting.”

Academic-turned-graphic-novelist Mary says the subject of Rain is one which has been close to her heart for a long time.

She said: “I’ve been a member of the Soil Association for 20-odd years and I’m also a member of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. These issues have preoccupied me for a long time.

"I care passionately about nature, I grow some of my own food and I don’t like seeing environmental degradation.

“It seems as though global events have caught up with me. These issues are now mainstream and they weren’t when I started. I thought I would have to explain things very carefully but I don’t think that’s the case now, people are talking about these things more now.”

Mary said travelling to Hebden Bridge and the surrounding areas to do research for the book changed dramatically how illustrator Bryan thought about the visual component of the book.

That means that Rain, unlike any of their previous works, is in landscape format to showcase the huge moorland vistas.

Rain comes out this month at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal.