It is one of the more eagerly awaited titles due to emerge from Britain’s vibrant independent comic and graphic novel scene. But the “southern gothic” horror anthology, Bayou Arcana, is causing a stir for more than just its haunting images and storylines.
The anthology is the product of a unique experiment that brings together an all-female team of artists with an all-male team of writers – and it is an illustration of how a new generation of female artists and readers is radically changing the face of comics.
“There is a certain sensitivity that you find in women’s art that just does not appear in a lot of guys’ work,” says James Pearson, who edited the anthology, which follows the story of escaped slaves taking refuge in a swamp.
“The way that they interpret the horror has an added depth to it – and that is part of the experiment. It’s actually a really sensitive approach to quite visceral subject matter.”
The anthology, due out next year, emerges as momentum for a change in comic book culture – still seen as the realm of earnest young men with ponytails and goatee beards – is growing.
“Historically the comic book industry has been very male-dominated, but recently there has been a shift,” says Lisa Wood, co-founder of the Thought Bubble festival, a six-day event in Leeds billed as the UK’s largest annual event celebrating all “sequential art” forms. “We are suddenly hearing women’s views and experiences on politics, religion, sexual ideas and parenthood. But most importantly these stories are not exclusive to women, they are stories for everyone.”