Line Hoven, author of Love looks Away, made a trip from her home in Hamburg to London last week to be part of European Literature Night at the British Library. What’s that. you ask? ELN is, and we quote, an “annual literary showcase bringing the most interesting writers of contemporary European literature to the UK.” 28 European Cultural Institutes and embassies are involved in putting it together, with lots of arts organisations, and the European Commission Representation in the UK which promotes European literature of all genres in English translation.
It’s been going for six years but this year for the first time, European Literature Night extended to looking at comics, as part of the huge Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK exhibition currently underway at The British Library for the next three months to 19th August.
Four graphic novelists were invited to read from and talk about their work: Line Hoven (Germany), Lucie Lomova (Czech Republic), Max (Spain) and Judith Vanistendael (Belgium/Flanders).
In front of a completely packed room, Paul Gravett interviewed the four authors, they read extracts and then each of them did a quick drawing on the nearby table, projected on a large screen for us all to gaze at.
Here’s Line and Paul reading aloud a section from Love Looks Away. Paul helped out by doing the men’s voices.
Line chose to do a tiny demonstration of her painstaking scraperboard style, which is even more impressive when you can see just how long it takes to turn even a tiny one centimetre area of black scraperboard into white space with the pointy instruments she uses.
Apparently you can use just about anything that makes a mark, from rusty nails to fingertips or hairpins, but Line has a few more conventional tools that she likes to use.
Love Looks Away took Line four years to make. She says she has got a little bit faster since then – it was her first book and she was figuring a lot of things out – but making books is still a slow process.
One other problem is that scraperboard is getting harder to find, because hardly anyone makes it anymore. Line gets hers from a variety of places but her stocks are running low.
If anyone out there has the recipe for making your own, Line would love to know, she’s prepared to start her own production facility going. Get in touch and we’ll pass the details on and make an artist very happy. There’s nothing worse than running out of your favourite drawing materials.
Line rounded off the evening with pizza alongside BSB’s Woodrow Phoenix and some of the other creators from the panel, Lucie Lomova and Max. Thanks to the British Library, Flanders House, and The Goethe Institute for bringing us Line, Lucie and Max – but especially Line!