Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs (Jonathan Cape)


“Monday, 1928”

GRAPHIC novels as a genre can be more informed than screenplays. Film shoots with shot photos and dialogue always seem to end up shamefully in remainder shops, but illustration can also be a dangerous medium too often cliched and repetitive.

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Watchmen I count as a towering work of fiction but for me Batman is a movie.

Raymond Briggs biography of his parents coincides with a different era of visual narrative when comics like Beano, Eagle and Bunty were essential reading. The timeline is aptly the same. But this is no fantasy but a sometimes touching portrait across  five decades of his dad the socialist milkman and his mum who dreamed of working in an office, squabbling about class, about politics, about haircuts, horrified when their grammar school boy says he is going to “ART SCHOOL!”.

The drawings are pegs to hang a sketchy, homely tribute to the Briggs family. “So I won’t be a granny after all,” says his mum. Pity really.

A non-speaking black cat suddenly appears circa 1949 and pops in and out through the ’50s which is perhaps something words alone could not describe…


About drewsmith28

Words, words, words...
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