Crime writer to attend Lit Fest

Crime Writer Ian Rankin
Crime Writer Ian Rankin

CRIME writer Ian Rankin is one of the headline acts at next month’s literature festival in Lancaster.

But Rankin, famous for his Inspector Rebus crime novels, will be talking about another aspect of his writing talents - comics.

He will be in conversation with Lancaster comic book writer Andy Diggle - whose book The Losers was made into a Hollywood movie.

It turns out that the two men have met several times after Rankin started following Andy on Twitter after reading The Losers.

“We became acquainted through Twitter,” said Andy who has an office in The Storey in Lancaster.

“Me and my wife Angela went for a weekend away in Edinburgh and he had said to get in touch.

“We texted him and he turned up 20 minutes later and gave us a tour of the bars in Edinburgh...he is very affable.

“We went round some of his favourite haunts and ended up in the Oxford bar.”

And as all fans of Rebus will know that’s the character’s favourite drinking haunt.

Both men have met up a couple of times since then.

Rankin’s own crime comic debut Dark Entries features the character Joe Constantine. And for more than a year Andy also wrote for the same character – who he describes as a cockney, alcoholic, occult investigator with a cynical world view – in the Hellblazer magazine..

Now the two men will discuss their joint love of comics at the Litfest event at The Storey on Thursday, October 21.

And Andy, who is under exclusive contract to Marvel comics, is keen to stress that the subject matter will be comics, not Rebus!

Although he concedes that because Rankin is such a big name some people will turn up because of his crime fiction rather than his graphic novel.

Rankin, speaking from a record shop in Edinburgh on Tuesday, said: “My son is 18 now and he and I are both fans of comic books and graphic novels. Right from the first issue of The Losers we were following it.”

Rankin eventually went on to write the introduction to The Losers which had its film release in April this year.

Ian said: “I still enjoy reading Andy’s work, he has an incredible economy in his writing.

“I think comics are important, especially for teenage boys, if they stop reading comics they often stop reading.”

But after writing Dark Entries, he’s not sure if he will write another graphic novel himself.

“Novelists are inherently lazy, with novels readers paint the pictures. With the graphic novel I ended up writing the script and being the director as well.”

He says there’s interest in turning his character Rebus into a graphic novel but doesn’t really want to write it.

“If Andy wants to have a go then I am game,” he said.

He’s also not sure what the format of the Lancaster event will be.

“It depends how sober we are. “But I will definitely not be driving. I imagine there will be a mix of people, people who are interested in graphic novels, in Andy’s work and Rebus fans who want to know when he is coming back.”

And when will that be?

“Perhaps in a few years, book after next...?” he said.

He knows Lancaster quite well as he used to have a friend who worked at Lancaster University.

“It’s got a nice atmosphere and there’s a few decent boozers. Andy says there’s also a writing scene and a bar where they all seem to go...I’m interested in going there.”

Andy hopes the event may encourage people to look at comic books in a different light. “Comic books aren’t just about men in tights,” he said.

“ We are both interested in the dark side of life. I am more interested in dark, grubby little corners...than superheroes.”

He’s used to speaking at comic conventions but says he is a little nervous about the Litfest event where he will talk about crime comics and also take questions.

Andy is currently reading one of Rankin’s crime books at the moment.

“I asked him ‘which one is the best?’ and he said Black and Blue was the one when everything clicked.”

Tickets for the event at The Storey on October 21 cost £7.50/£6 concessions in advance, £1 more on the door. Ring the Box Office on 01524 582394.

nAndy is also involved in next month’s Lancaster Children’s Film Festival. He will be giving a short introduction and also taking questions at a special screening of his film The Losers to teenagers at The Dukes on Wednesday, October 27.