Evie Wyld and Joe Sumner @ Edinburgh Book Festival

Moyan Brenn, Edinburgh Festival / CC
Photograph: Moyan Brenn / CC

As part of the 2015 Edinburgh International Book Festival, Joe Gordon chairs a discussion with author Evie Wyld and illustrator Joe Sumner. Together Wyld and Sumner have created the graphic novel ‘Everything is Teeth’ which is a memoir of Evie’s childhood growing up in Australia and her fixation with and fear of sharks. This project began as a short story by Wyld and has taken 6-7 years of collaboration to become what it is today.

Joe Sumner is an illustrator, model maker, prop maker, and even jewellery maker and this is his first graphic novel. There are many influences to his work but he recalls he had to stop looking at the work of others and take his own path. The two met at art school where Evie decided she was not talented enough to follow down the art route and moved onto writing and photography. Over the years they deliberated collaborating but it was only this project that came to anything.

The story began almost as a love letter to Rodney Fox, a legendary Australian survivor of a shark attack who Wyld was quite taken with from a young age. She would read shark books before bed and despite her fear of them she was fascinated by them and tells of the time her family found one washed up on the beach. She describes the texture of the shark as being like sandpaper or when you stroke a cat the wrong way. As their lives changed over the time buy generic doxycycline online working together so did the book; it evolved and became more about Wyld’s father who passed away and created the ending for the piece. It became more about a very British father who did not get on very well in Australia – which was very true of her own father. Wyld had many amusing anecdotes about her childhood and family which also inform on the story of the book, particularly the story her farmer grandfather told her about the Yowie that lived amongst the cane fields.

Sumner took all of these stories and family photographs to create something real within the graphics. The photos shown alongside the graphics show how beautifully Sumner has folded reality into the fiction. The graphics within the book are all of muted colours, blacks, greys, and silvers which create a wonderful effect, ironic as Wyld reveals that Sumner is actually colourblind and she speaks of how he evokes such a sense of colour without using colour at all.

They also discuss their new idea, which was born of a drunken night out together. They want to create something terrifying that uses the timing of the pages to create fear, though this will be a process of learning for Sumner as that is something even more new and elaborate to add to his current skill set. If the humble, relatable characters of Wyld and Sumner find their way onto the pages of their creations they will be very enjoyable reads.


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Christine Lawler 42 Articles
Christine has a passion for literature and has been a closeted writer since childhood. Other passions include theatre, film, and all things geeky. She lives in Glasgow with a cat named Molls and a tortoise named Haruki Kabuki.

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