“She ate Oscar!” – Nelson: a life in 54 graphic episodes


Imagine asking James Joyce, JRR Tolkien, Ernest Hemingway and 51 others to write about one day in a person’s life and then compile the results in a book. Stream-of-consciousness next to lean, economic prose next to elves – chances are high that the combined text would be an unreadable chimera.

But the same idea works brilliantly in a graphic novel, as Nelson from Blank Slate Books demonstrates:

Part exquisite corpse and part relay race, Nelson spans decades of British history and a myriad of stylistic approaches in telling the story of one woman’s life by 54 creators, in 54 episodes, detailing 54 days. *


The story is simple: a girl is born and grows up. Once an aspiring graphic artist, she later becomes a math teacher. In between the usual blend of sex and drugs and punk and rave. Nothing special, except maybe when she eats Oscar, the fishy class pet. I like her punk attittude: Nelson’s reaction to the task ‘Produce a set of charcoal studies of a local landmark’ in art school is to form a punk band called Nelson and the Madchesters and yell at her professor. That’s the spirit!

What makes Nelson unique is the concept and the collaboration between the different artists. The individual graphic styles are very different, but they blend into a whole. The main characters are easy to identify, I had sometimes more trouble recognizing some of the minor ones (Ah, right, she’s the primary school teacher!).

I had great fun reading it and particularly liked the contributions by Jamie Smart (cool monster) and Kate Brown (expressive icons at explicit positions). Thanks to Kripa for introducing us to Nelson; and thanks to NotNicolaJames for giving it to me.


Nelson elsewhere in the web:

Image source:

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