Thursday, 13 March 2014

Sally Heathcote: Suffragette

Recently I interviewed Suzy Varty, who has been making comics since the 1970s, about comics, fanzines, Birmingham Arts Lab and punk.

When discussing the growing respectability of comics as an art form, and the phenomenon of the graphic novel, we touched on the work of Mary and Bryan Talbot.

The Talbot's, along with artist Kate Charlesworth, have created Sally Heathcoate: Suffragette, a graphic novel, which tells the story of votes for women in Edwardian Britain. The novel is published on 1st May and on Saturday 17th May, they will be talking about the novel at the Cartoon Museum in London, which is also currently hosting what looks like a fantastic exhibition/celebration of all things Spitting Image.

I really love the idea of a graphic novel about the suffragettes, not just because I think it will make a great story, but because it's great on an educational level and because I think it will make history feel more real, much as the likes of Oh! What A Lovely War!, re-published compendiums of The Wipers Times, and the recent BBC film on The Wipers Times all add extra perspective to popular histories of World War I.

In 2018, it will be the 200 year anniversary of the Peterloo massacre and the 100 year anniversary of the extension of the franchise to women (though women aged 21-30 had to wait until 1928 for the vote). In 2019, it will be the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War 1, an event inextricably linked to the granting of the franchise. I hope that none of these anniversaries will be forgotten, and in fact, in that respect, Sally Heathcote: Suffragette is definitely arriving at the right kind of time.

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