In 2013, Paul B Rainey wrote in response to a Guardian newspaper feature profiling a number of cartoonists, saying "There are British cartoonists, you know." Seven years later, its sister Sunday newspaper The Observer seems to have noticed, as he has won this year's 13th Observer Jonathan Cape Comica Graphic Short Story Prize, retelling a story from his youth about meeting Madonna in his local Milton Keynes pub.
The first prize is £1,000 and includes the printing and publication of the winning four-page story in The Observer New Review. The runner-up will receive £250 and your work will appear on the newspaper website. Previous winners include Matthew Dooley, Edith Pritchett, Stephen Collins, Isabel Greenberg, Catherine Brighton, Richard Woods, Tor Freeman, Alexis Deacon, Emily Haworth-Booth, Vivien McDermid, Julian Hanshaw, and Corban Wilkin.
I've been a keen reader of Paul B Rainey's comic books since first coming across his Memory Man comic books in the nineties. He's created many memorable and creative comic books since, including Thunder Brother: Soap Division, happy endings to Star Wars films otherwise denied them, across the walls of Milton Keynes, in reaction to Boris Johnson, creating the wonderful Pope Francis Goes To The Dentist, recently adapting a David Bowie musical into comic book form, a massive graphic novel, No Time Like The Present back in 2015. And it's a blast from the past which has seen him win, appearing in the Observer newspapers today. Paul Rainey states "my strip is called Similar To But Not, about a chance encounter I had in 1985" when Madonna walked into his pub, but the 17-year-old Paul was riven by parental insecurity. And he has gone out to buy a newspaper to note his win. Here is the winning story and the newspaper article by Rachel Cooke that celebrates it. And you can read runner-up Ellie Durkin's The Worm here