The Great British Graphic Novel

20 April – 24 July 2016
The Cartoon Museum, London

The Great British Graphic Novel is an exciting new exhibition opening in London’s Cartoon Museum on 20 April 2016. Classic graphic novels will be displayed alongside lesser-known gems and visitors will follow the history of the form through exhibits, books, and over a hundred pieces of original art.

The Great British Graphic Novel will demonstrate the huge range of graphic novels coming out of the UK, with writers and artists creating romances, comedies, autobiographies, literary adaptations, and political thrillers for people of all ages. From comics without words to innovative combinations of text and image, graphic novelists have amused, terrified, educated, and enthralled, taking their readers to parallel worlds, worlds long past, and worlds we can only just imagine. Work will be exhibited by graphic novelists such as Nick Abadzis, Asia Alfasi, Rachael Ball, Hannah Berry, Brian Bolland, Eddie Campbell, Kate Charlesworth, Hunt Emerson, Garth Ennis, Kate Evans, Karrie Fransman, Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons, William Hogarth, David Lloyd, Colin MacNeil, Dave McKean, Jamie McKelvie, Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill, Woodrow Phoenix, Martin Rowson, Posy Simmonds, Nicola Streeten, Carol Swain, Mary M. and Bryan Talbot, Una, Ian Williams, and Oscar Zarate.


What better time to celebrate the British graphic novel? Watchmen began serialisation in 1986 and this text and others like it spurred book publishers and journalists to herald the dawn of the graphic novel thirty years ago. Written by Alan Moore, Watchmen was a landmark achievement and placed British comics creators at the forefront of international attention; The Great British Graphic Novel shows Gibbons’s pencilled and inked art as well as John Higgins’s coloured pages.

Visitors to the exhibition will see that Watchmen, and other major graphic novels such as Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta and Posy Simmonds’s Gemma Bovery, are part of a much bigger and older body of texts. While the bulk of items are from the late 1970s to the present day, art going back to the eighteenth century will be shown alongside more recent material to underline the dialogue between creators from the past and present. British publishing faces significant challenges in the twenty-first century but graphic novels are one of its success stories: digital media is inspiring a new generation of graphic novelists and some of the work on display strains at the limits of what we think a comic or a book might look like.

The Great British Graphic Novel will display the powerful art and complex storytelling that have made the tradition so compelling for readers. Whether you are a devotee of comics or new to the form, your knowledge of the graphic novel will be surprised and enriched!

Funding for this exhibition is provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council with additional support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the University of Exeter.

For further information please contact:

Anita O’Brien, Director/Curator, the Cartoon Museum
+44 (0)207 580 8155

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