The Observer/Faber Competition Winners And Runners-Up Announced
by Richard Bruton
It’s a win for Rebecca Jones with Midnight Feast in this year’s The Observer/Faver/Comica graphic short story prize with Ed Firth and Michael Lightfoot as runners-up.
The winner of The Observer/Comica/Faber graphic short story prize for 2022 is Rebecca Jones with Midnight Feast, a rather beautifully observed tale of pre-teen girls sharing a garden sleepover and one that’s full of all that overwrought sense of everything being vitally important, the friendship difficulties, the unintentional hurt caused, not to mention the delightful ending and it’s sweet sense of melancholy found in the every day as children grow older.
Jones hopes that this win will enable her to find a home for Boomerang, her semi-autobiographical graphic novel that she’s been publishing in comic form for years.
Talking about Midnight Feast, Jones has this to say,
“It’s a bit autobiographical. I did have a sleepover in someone’s garden when I was young, but while we had a perfectly normal evening compared with the characters in my story, I also remember that at 12 or 13 we had very lively imaginations: we would be convinced that coins were haunted, or that there were strange shadows in the park. The girls in Midnight Feast are like that, but they’re also developing at different rates, and experimenting with things they don’t quite understand.”
As for the runners-up, we have two this year as the judges couldn’t split them we have Autumn 2014 by Michael Lightfoot and Ed Firth’s The Lift.
Lightfoot’s Autumn 2014 is a tragic little tale in a city full of them, all about a missed opportunity in London, as an underemployed poet manages to miss out on talking to one nice girl not once but twice. It’s black and white, resolutely downbeat, miserablist fare that comes just that little bit too close to feeling uncomfortably stalkery.
As for Ed Firth’s The Lift, it’s completely different to the other two, the artwork is angular, wildly inventive, unusual camera angles, full colour, and with a great narrative, one that chills and impresses in equal measure as our young gay narrator tells a tale of childhood and stranger danger.
I have to say, despite loving the simplicity of what Jones does with Midnight Feast, it’s Firth’s The Lift that’s my pick of the three.
There’s just something quite stunning about the way that Firth constructs his pages, the artistic choices, the angularity of the art, it all really pops to me. More than that, in just four pages he really sends a fine chill down your spine and makes it feel like a hell of a lot longer than its four short pages.
The graphic short story prize, now in its 15th year, offers the overall winner publication in the Observer and £1,000 prize, whilst the runner(s)-up are published online at the Observer and win £250. This year’s prize was judged by cartoonist Adrian Tomine, actor Michael Sheen, The Guardian and The Observer’s Rachel Cooke, Angus Cargill, publishing director at Faber, man at the crossroads and director of Comica, Paul Gravett, and Tom Oldham of London’s Gosh comic shop.
Previous winners and runners-up in the past include Isabel Greenberg, Matthew Dooley, Joff Winterhart, and Paul Rainey – all of whom have gone on to get publishing deals and, in Winterhart’s case, a film deal out of the award. Last years’s winner, Astrid Goldsmith, has a deal with Jonathan Cape for her first book, based on her winning entry, A Funeral in Freiburg.
The Observer/Faber/Comica short story prize 2022
Winner – Rebecca Jones – Midnight Feast – read it here. Jones’ website / Twitter.
Runner-up – Michael Lightfoot – Autumn 2014 – read it here. Lightfoot’s website / Twitter.
Runner-up – Ed Firth – The Lift – read it here. Firth’s website / Twitter.