Speak Easy with Paul Gravett


Paul Gravett is a London-based freelance journalist, curator, lecturer, writer and broadcaster, who has worked in comics publishing and promotion since 1981.

In the early 1980s he manned the Fast Fiction table at the bi-monthly Saturday comic marts held in London’s Westminster Hall, inviting anybody to sell their homemade comics from it, with all proceeds going to the creator. This role earned him the nickname ‘Man At The Crossroads’ from Eddie Campbell in his graphic novel Alec: How To Be An Artist, “He will be the purest, most fresh-faced wee fellow you have ever met. His ingenuous enthusiasm will beam from his cheery countenance.”

In 1983 he launched Escape Magazine, which he co-edited/published with Peter Stanbury, showcasing the cream of the alternative cartoonists of the 1980s. Escape lasted for 19 issues before closing its doors in 1989. The Comics Journal in #210 said of Escape, “This now-defunct London based anthology remains one of the most sorely missed comics of all time not simply because of its tremendous track record of translating European comics but simply because it was always good in so many ways.”

Between 1992 and 2001 he was the director of The Cartoon Art Trust, a UK charity established in 1988, dedicated to preserving and promoting the best of British cartoon art and caricature and to establish a museum of cartoon art with gallery, archives and reference library.

He has curated numerous exhibitions of comic art in Britain and in Europe, including ‘God Save The Comics!’, a survey of British comic art at the National Comics and Image Centre in Angoulême, France and the first exhibit devoted to the writer Alan Moore and his collaborators at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Charleroi, Belgium. As Project Director of The Cartoon Art Trust in London, he worked on tributes to Carl Giles and Charles Schulz, and The 100 British Cartoonists of the Century. His most recent exhibitions include retrospectives on Jack Kirby, Tove Jansson, Posy Simmonds.

Lately, Paul has also curated – Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics. This exhibition includes works by 100 women cartoonists from across the world.

Since 2003, Paul has been the director of Comica, the London International Comics Festival, initially at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Paul is the author of the book Manga: 60 Years Of Japanese Comics (2004), and co-author, with Peter Stanbury, of Graphic Novels: Stories To Change Your Life (2005), Great British Comics: Celebrating A Century Of Ripping Yarns & Wizard Wheezes (2006) and The Leather Nun & Other Incredibly Strange Comics (2008). He is also the editor of The Mammoth Book Of Best Crime Comics (2008) and 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die (2011).

He continues to write about comics for various periodicals, including The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Times Literary Supplement, ArtReview, The Comics Journal, Comic Heroes, Time Out, Blueprint, Neo, The Bookseller, Dazed & Confused, New Internationalist, Third Text, 9eme Art and The Jewish Quarterly.

His latest books are Comics Art, published by Tate Publishing (2013) and Yale University Press (2014), and Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK with John Harris Dunning, published by The British Library.