For the first talk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival's Sunday programme what better a way to kick the day off with Lauren Beukes and Inaki Miranda, and to make it special this was the first time the two creators had met each other in real life, with Miranda having flown in that morning from Spain to meet her about an hour before the talk. You'd never have thought so as the rapport between the two was obvious.
They were there to talk about their first collaboration, Fairest Vol.2 : The Hidden Kingdom. Beukes opened proceedings by revealing how she got the gig to write her first comic strip, and it was entirely by chance having bumped into Fables creator Bill Willingham who insisted she pitch for the second arc in the Fables spin off that would centre on Rapunzel. Beukes is better known as the writer of the sci-fi genre crossing novel The Shining Girls. The bulk of the chat centred on Beukes learning process on writing for comics and how the pair of them collaborated to create some magical finished pages.
And she couldn't have gotten a better collaborator to work with on this than Inaki Miranda who talked us through how he took Beukes rough layouts and sketches and made them into much more powerful comic's pages. Which isn't to say I'm denigrating Beuke's writing abilities, it's just that comics are an entirely different visual medium from novels, and anyone would find it a massive learning curve. It was fair to say she put a lot of work into the writing describing that most panels will only have 2 lines of dialogue and had to work hard to get them right. And also including elements such as Asian and Zulu mythology, with tons of reference work such as figuring out how Japanese accounting looks like for one tiny panel.
And what beautiful pages they created as well. Inaki Miranda has really stretched from his early days of drawing comics on 2000ad related material that can only be described as workmanlike. There was one small awkward moment in discussing the pages as they had prepared the presentation beforehand not realising that there might be children in the audience they had some of the more 'adult' scenes on show. I don't think there was any offence taken as there was nothing too overt about the scenes, and the pair described how they wanted to handle the sex in a beautiful way.
In fact this caused probably the only argument between the pair where Beukes was upset at Miranda for depicting the lesbian sex scene as the characters scissoring, something that would be inappropriately pornographic rather than sensuous and erotic. Much laughs were had when Miranda revealed that the characters weren't scissoring at all it was one of the characters tails.
It's obvious that Beukes and Miranda had a whale of a time on the project with Beukes being the first creator all weekend to get out of her seat to talk us through the presentation in an animated fashion. Miranda was much more restrained (as most comics artists are) as he gave advice to the audience on how to break into comics saying that when you think you're ready you're not, and when you're not you are and you won't realise, and that it's good to be insecure as an artist as you're always learning and finding a path.
The talk wrapped up with both discussing what works they are currently working on. Beukes, a novel and Miranda, a project for Vertigo called Coffin Hill. We were shown some pages from Coffin Hill and Miranda is so obviously still following his path of growing as an artist as they looked amazing. But I was surprised that there was no sign of a further collaboration planned in for the pair as their rapport was so evident that maybe they really should consider it.