Festival Books

pallbearers who were older than her, their combovers flapping like seaweed in the wind. In between, it just came together, one memory linking into another, all these broad brush strokes and then little details that came back to me as I wrote.’ (David Pollock) 19 Aug, 7pm, £9 (£7). MIO MATSUMOTO Sketching a spiky ode to recovery

Never before has cancer looked so cute. But then, it’s the gift of artists to transform the brute chaos and fear of everyday life into objects of delight.

This is what Japanese graphic artist Mio Matsumoto does with My Diary. On the surface it’s a lightly scrawled flip-book of scenes from a young woman’s life, until you notice the images of drips, nurses, needles and bodies. Matsumoto has sketched a comic ode to the tongue cancer she discovered in February 2002, which was treated during five months in hospital. Her stay was enlivened with enemas, pain and a hot doctor. Matsumoto traces her recovery

through her spiky, stark images, which transform the banal lines of hospital rooms and medics’ coats into tableaux of scratchy wryness that never descend into infantilism. That should be no surprise: Matsumoto is an international illustrator who studied at the Royal College of Art and currently works in Tokyo. And My Diary is a neat corrective to those tomes which transform cancer into a grand philosophical chance to consider life, the universe and everything. Instead we have a sketch of Matsumoto kneeling, hands clasped, gazing at a star, imploring, ‘God, please give me a chance’. Well, he did. And she triumphed. (Bidisha) 15 Aug, 2.30pm, £9 (£7); 15 Aug, 5pm, £4.

in association with 750 author events one leafy garden the buzz of the festival = pure pleasure

NEIL GAIMAN Weaver of dreams on the collaborative process

Neil Gaiman has firsthand experience of the writing game at all levels. First he made his name in underground comics before graduating to the huge success of Sandman, then moving to novels, alongside children’s literature, TV and now film: he co-wrote Robert Zemeckis’ CGI fantasy epic Beowulf while his own Stardust and Coraline have been adapted in recent years. ‘I am astonishingly lucky and if I decided that the next novel was going to be a work of completely realistic fiction I could get it published and people would buy it,’ ho notes. ‘Mainly because everything I’ve done has been so different that people genuinely don’t mind that from me.’

And while he finished writing Sandman after 75 issues in 1996, it is the jumping-on point that most fans will always associate with Gaiman, a groundbreaking series that reached beyond the comics world to grab literary awards across the globe. And with recent projects such as 1602, Endless Nights, Eternals and Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader, Gaiman still has a love of the medium. ‘I love collaborating. I would never pick up American Gods and read it for pleasure, I’m always gonna look at it and say “why did I put that comma there?” Whereas I can pick up Sandman and look at the art and take pleasure in it. Like an architect walking round a house they designed, I designed it but I didn’t do all the work.’ (Henry Northmore) 19 Aug, 4.30pm, £9 (£7); 20 Aug (with Ian Rankin), 8pm, £9 (£7).

15 –31 August Charlotte Square Gardens 0845 373 5888