Emily Haworth Booth is the winner of the Graphic Short Story Prize 2013 and she opened the proceedings and presentation of the prizes for the Graphic Short Story Prize 2015 at the Orbital Comics Gallery in London on 24 October 2015 with these words of advice.
Some Unasked Advice from Emily Haworth-Booth for the 2015 winners of the Cape Observer Comica Graphic Short Story Prize—or whatever you call it.
1. When you win an award for a graphic short story, your parents’ friends will think you are an accomplished writer of literary porn.
“A graaaaphic short story?”, they will ask, their eyes widening.
The ones who look excited about this are the ones you should avoid at future family gatherings.
2. When I won the prize in 2013, I felt so smug and powerful that I thought a full-length graphic novel would just plop out of me like a fresh country egg.
However, just because Stephen Collins, Isabel Greenberg and Julian Hanshaw went on to publish books after they won the prize, doesn’t mean yours will be as smoothly forthcoming.
Unfortunately you also have to write and draw the thing, and depending on your daily napping schedule (in my case: 2-4 naps a day, plus TV breaks), this may take longer than you hoped, or in publishing industry terms, ‘ages’.
3. Knowing that you won the same prize as Stephen Collins, Isabel Greenberg and Julian Hanshaw is a handy mantra that will get you through some of the hardest moments of life.
When you are elbowed out of the way on the tube, a waiter is rude to you, or your pet dies, all you have to do is repeat to yourself, ‘I won the same prize as Stephen Collins, Isabel Greenberg and Julian Hanshaw’, and all your woes will melt away.
4. Knowing that you won the same prize as Stephen Collins, Isabel Greenberg and Julian Hanshaw will sometimes cause you to question the validity of your win. ‘I won the same prize as Stephen Collins, Isabel Greenberg and Julian Hanshaw?’, you will ask yourself. The judges must have been high that year.
When you remember that one of the judges the year you won was Stephen Collins, things get even more confusing. Surely Stephen Collins would never get high on the job.
5. You will learn, perhaps the hard way, how to deal with your sudden increased presence on the internet.
For example, never believe your mother when she tells you that you should definitely read all the comments under your Guardian interview because ‘you might be missing out on all the nice things people are saying about you.’
I learned from reading the comments under mine that women, and especially those with double-barreled surnames and-or long hair, should never draw comics and to attempt it is an insult to the natural order so great that it is punishable by stoning.
Do not, under any circumstances, read the comments.
6. When I won the prize, it was with a story about having colonic irrigation (yes, it was a bit gross).
What I learned was that if you write a story about your colon, and it is published in The Observer, then lots and lots of people, perhaps more than is appropriate, will know about your colon.
The good news is that lots of people are interested in colons and will be more than happy to talk to you, or email you, about theirs. You might want to set up a special filter in your inbox for these.
7. Last but not least, I think it is important to acknowledge that there is no one on earth who knows the order in which you are supposed to say the words ‘Observer Jonathan Cape Comica Prize’, or as it is sometimes known, ‘Jonathan Cape Observer Comica Prize’.
You may also have heard it referred to as ‘that Comica competition’, as in ‘Are you going to enter that Comica competition this year?’, or as it is sometimes known, ‘the Cape thing’, as in,
“I’m really surprised that story about the colon won the Cape thing.”
“It was gross, and it wasn’t even a proper story, or very well drawn.”
“I much preferred the ones that Stephen Collins, Isabel Greenberg and Julian Hanshaw did.”
“But I did have a similar thing with my colon. Maybe I should send her an email about it.”
“Or on second thoughts I could just leave a comment under her interview!”
But back to the title of the prize. Even the Guardian website seems to change the word order every time they publish an article about it, so don’t worry about it.
I mean, even if you won a ‘Prize Peace Nobel’, ‘the Nobel thing’, or even, ‘that Peace competition’, you would still be pleased about it, right?
And yes, the Comica Observer Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story Prize is as important as That Peace Competition Thing.