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Zombies, comics and Libraries- what’s not to like?

From Alan Gibbons website
Picture from Alan Gibbons website

 Guest blog by Alan Gibbons

It sounded crazy, libraries, comics and zombies. I mean, how was that going to work? When I was first approached to join a project called Dawn of the Unread, an Arts Council supported initiative based in Nottingham, I thought it sounded utterly nuts… so that made it an absolute must-do.

Dawn of the Unread is the brain child of James Walker, Chair of the Nottingham Writers’ Studio and Literature Editor at Left Lion magazine. The idea was to create an interactive novel, starting on National Libraries Day and being published monthly with contributions by different writers and artists about a Nottingham author of their choice.

I was intrigued of course. All three components of the project were right down my alley. I love horror and have written several novels in the genre. I love comics. Marvel was my inspiration as a kid. I collected them all: Spiderman, Sub-Mariner, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Dr Strange, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, even the cowboy comics like Kid Colt. Probably, most important of all, I have devoted the last six years of my life to trying to protect public and school libraries from the machinations of politicians who, for all their hot air, don’t understand what they do and how they change lives. I initiated National Libraries Day in the wake of Save Our Libraries Day in February, 2011. The idea was to positively promote libraries and librarians and their contribution to society. It has now become an annual fixture.

So how to go about it? The author I chose was Geoffrey Trease, a prolific author of 113 books for young people between 1934 and 1979. Trease’s long and distinguished career began with his wonderful debut novel Bows Against the Barons, an epic retelling of the Robin Hood legend. In this book I saw the focus for a return to Sherwood fantasy, with the outlaws returning from the dead one last time to fight for libraries.

Artist Steve Larder has done a fantastic job bringing Trease’s return to life and subsequent rallying of Robin Hood’s band to life. Between author and artist, I think we have created an effective collaboration which will help keep the issue of libraries and the right to read in the public eye. Our chapter of the online novel is here: http://www.dawnoftheunread.com/issue-11-01.html

Alan Gibbons is an award-winning author, organiser of the Campaign for the Book and a member of the Speak up for Libraries coalition.

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