Take Tamara Drewe. The movie is out now but I’d never heard of the graphic novel by Posy Simmonds that was serialized in The Guardian a few years back. So last night I looked it up and I was hooked. I read and read and read, devouring the drawings and storyline. I got up to episode 40 before bedtime and read the other 60 episodes today. I always feel guilty when I devour a book – or in this case comic strip – so greedily; the author has put a lot of time and effort into it and I whiz through it in record time.
I’d heard the name Posy Simmonds but hadn’t put it into any real context. Anglophile I might be but sometimes delicious bits of British pop culture pass me by. More info on both Posy and her creations can be found on the Guardian’s website.
I’ve always loved comics, as they were called when was a child. I used to buy June and Tammy, two English girls’ comic weeklies. The artwork was superb; I used to copy the drawings to teach myself how to draw, particularly horses. There was always a horsy story going. I was, you can gather, very horsy myself at the time. Humans, too. Faces, bodies, hands, legs. Hands were the hardest. They still are when I draw. I curse now that my collection of these comics ended up in the recycling bin during a decluttering frenzy several years ago.
So how awestruck was I by Posy Simmonds’ beautiful, wonderful work in Tamara Drewe. I couldn’t stop reading and drinking in her lovely draughtsmanship. Houses, cars, animals, household goods, and the characters themselves, with their faces more cartoonish than their bodies and surroundings, as if the artist was reminding us not to take it all too seriously. (Example: image of Tamara in bed with Nicholas, her body voluptuous and elegantly drawn and shaded, very realistic, her face very much that of a cartoon character!)
So now I’m on the hunt for Posy’s earlier work: Gemma Bovery will be on my to-read and this time, to savour, list.