First Graphic Novel Competition

The Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition is a biennial competition is for a graphic work-in-progress and is open to all previously unpublished cartoonists, writers and artists, organised by Myriad Editions. The winner of the competition is announced at the First Fictions festival.

The winner of the first ever competition (2012) for a first graphic novel in progress was Gareth Brookes' The Black Project. The book went on to be published by Myriad Editions in September 2013.

Entrants were asked to submit 15–30 pages of a graphic work-in-progress, either fiction or non-fiction, in black and white. In all, seventy-four qualifying submissions were received. The shortlisted entries were showcased, and the winner was announced, on Saturday 21st January 2012 at First Fictions.

The seven shortlisted entries included six sole creators and a writer and artist team:


Gareth Brookes (winner)

Set in an English suburb in the early nineties, The Black Project is the story of a boy called Richard and his obsession with creating ‘girls’ from household objects. As his relationships with his inanimate girlfriends begin to flourish, his real life friendships and family relationships begin to deteriorate.

Richard is happy with his girlfriend creations - if only life wouldn’t keep coming between them. A darkly funny story about obsession, loneliness and friendship.

Gareth Brookes studied Fine Art at the RCA, but started making small press comics in 2006 having found himself increasingly drawn towards storytelling mediums. Since then he has been self publishing and working with small press groups such as Banal Pig, Alternative Press, aaah distro and the Comix Reader.

Read Gareth Brookes' commentary on his entry on the Forbidden Planet website


Adam Blackman & Dylan Shipley

Inspired by and devised as a modern day adaptation of Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, A Rat’s Tale is the story of Jimmy, a 15-year-old boy who makes ends meet by selling weed. The ‘rats’ draw Timmy into the murkier side of dealing, both on the street and behind closed doors.

A Rat's Tale was originally conceived by writer Adam Blackman as a poem and then as a short film script before he teamed up with artist Dylan Shipley to turn it into a graphic novel. Based in different cities in the South West, it has taken Adam and Dylan three years to create.

Adam Blackman has held many different jobs since leaving school and is working on a new poem for illustration. Dylan Shipley is the co-founder of Sun and Moon Studios, an animation, illustration and interactive media production house based in Bristol Active on the Bristol street art scene, he has taken part in numerous graffiti events and exhibitions.


Con Chrisoulis

Set in pre-World War Two rural Greece, Dryland is the coming-of-age tale of Nidas, a young man embroiled in the illegal tobacco smuggling trade. The story follows Nidas in a journey over the barren mountains of Dryland. After his guide becomes unwell, it is up to his mother-in-law Strato to guide him home. Met by a sudden snowstorm on their journey, they choose to continue in order to avoid being caught, which is where the trouble begins…

This story is the first in a series planned by Con Chrisoulis to narrate the tragic deaths of many of his ancestors.

Con Chrisoulis grew up travelling back and forth between Australia and Greece, although he now resides in south-east England. Published in Athens, Con’s right-wing superhero parody ‘Giant-Size Fascists’ won the Comicdom Award for Comicbook of the Year in both 2008 and 2010.

Read Con Chrisoulis' commentary on his entry on the Forbidden Planet website


Hannah Eaton

Seventeen-year-old Fran is plagued by monsters. They leach out from folklore and legend, where they belong, and pester her thoughts and dreams. Naming Monsters follows Fran through thirty-six hours of her life and concerns: why do Jews have the best biscuits? Has she failed her retakes? And just what exactly are the monsters trying to tell her?

With the help of her Nana, and her best friend Alex, she gets through the day, just. But will new understanding dawn, leading to a wiser tomorrow? Probably not.

Hannah Eaton was born fashionably close to the sound of Bow bells, raised in a London suburb and now lives in Brighton. She is a writer, artist, performer and a learning mentor in a primary school. She regrets never having met a real monster, or even seen a ghost.

Read Hannah Eaton's commentary on her entry on the Forbidden Planet website


Tom Eglington

When Ryan Hogarth miraculously survives a catastrophic plane crash, his unique experiences make him eligible for a pioneering neurological programme to faithfully record memories.

However, the process produces bizarre side-effects, causing him to believe he is experiencing two time periods simultaneously – a past where he is recuperating in hospital while sifting over the fragments of a failed relationship, and a future where all his memories have been commodified, making him rich but psychologically fragile. Are his experiences real or are they sentient recordings? And if so, who owns the copyright?

Tom Eglington is from Edinburgh and has worked as a cook, medical guinea pig, artist and baker. He has written two books for children and several scripts for 2000AD, the ‘Galaxy’s Greatest Comic’. This is his first attempt at both writing and drawing a graphic novel.

Read Tom Eglington's commentary on his entry on the Forbidden Planet website


Thom Ferrier

This is the story of Iwan James, a general practitioner in a small rural town, and his everyday life as a doctor. Recollecting a childhood of melancholy and neurotic obsession, Iwan begins to realise that his attempts to heal one of his patients is unravelling and re-braiding the strands of his own psyche.

The Englightenment of Iwan James examines the contrast between outer professionalism and inner madness.

Thom Ferrier has trained in both medicine and fine art. He worked as a GP for fifteen years with a parallel career as a painter and printmaker before finding his true vocation as a comics artist and graphic novelist. Suffused with black humour, his strips explore the darker side of medicine.

Read Thom Ferrier's commentary on his entry on the Forbidden Planet website


Paula Knight

In a society where ‘family’ means ‘children’, The Facts of Life examines the pressure placed upon women to become mothers, and what happens when life doesn’t go as planned.

In Northeast England, two best friends discover where babies come from. Society primes their young minds with a fairytale adulthood of wedding dresses, happily-ever-afters and motherhood - which the truth fails to live up to. A story which spans four decades, The Facts of Life questions the ‘having it all’ media myths of the '80s and shows how the unwritten ‘facts of life’ can hit home.

Paula Knight is a freelance illustrator, writer and proofreader. She has illustrated many children’s books and written two picture books, due to be published in 2012. In 2011, she presented her recent comics work (for adults) at Laydeez do Comics, and on the Graphic Medicine day at Comics Forum/ Thought Bubble in Leeds.

Read Paula Knight's commentary on her entry on the Forbidden Planet website


The entries were chosen from a longlist of twenty-one by a panel of judges including:

Steve Bell, cartoonist Guardian

Hannah Berry, graphic novelist Britten & Brulightly

Ed Hillyer (Ilya), cartoonist King Lear, Skidmarks and author of The Clay Dreaming

Corinne Pearlman, Creative Director, Myriad Editions

Ian Rankin, author (Inspector Rebus series and other novels)

Bryan Talbot, graphic novelist (Grandville, Alice in Sunderland, The Tale of One Bad Rat)


The longlist was described by Ian Rankin as ‘a very high standard’. Creators included: Andrew Asibong, Jamie Clennett, Fraser Geesin, Howard Hardiman, Jaime Huxtable, Andy Pearson, Ben Naylor, Deena Newman, Owen Pomery, Justin Quirk and Warren Holder, David Shaw, Corban Wilkin, and Frazer Wilson.