Neil Gaiman heads up Book Festival comic strand

Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman
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DOCTOR Who writer Neil Gaiman is set to be among the highlights of this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, launching today.

Gaiman, who will also be giving audiences a sneak preview of his latest book, which is due out in September, will be chairing a series of events related to the reshaping of modern fantasy.

The English author will also be involved in a major new strand making its debut at the 2013 festival. Stripped, which is supported by the Scottish Government Expo Fund, will incorporate more than 40 events celebrating comics, graphic novels and their creators.

Festival director Nick Barley said: “The Book Festival has long championed graphic novels, and we have taken this opportunity to bring together some of the world’s foremost graphic writers and illustrators in Charlotte Square Gardens. Stripped gives this wonderful literary artform the recognition it so justly deserves and is an exciting element of our programme in this, our 30th year.”

The programme for this year’s festival includes more than 700 events, as the Festival enters its third decade with a series of events based around the concept ‘30 Years Back, 30 Years Forward’. Looking back over the last three decades of his own career will be Booker Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie, while festival organisers have asked leading Scottish journalists, including broadcaster Kirsty Wark, to identify key questions in one of the biggest events shaping the next 30 years of Scotland’s future – the independence referendum.

The late Iain Banks, who passed away on June 9 two months after announcing he had been diagnosed with inoperable gall bladder cancer, will be honoured at a special discussion of his work by close friends Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Ken MacLeod, on the last Sunday of the Festival.

Mr Barley continued: “This is not just a birthday, but a celebration of an extraordinary generation of talent. While we have prematurely lost one of our greatest authors just last week, we must also celebrate the next generation of writers who are distilling the world around us.”

Also celebrating the big 3-0 this year is beloved children’s character Katie Morag. Author Mairi Henderson will be visiting the festival to discuss her enduring creation and her upcoming transfer to the small screen, as one of 200 events presented as part of the Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme.

Other highlights for the youngsters include recently-appointed Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman introducing her latest novel and Festival favourites Darren Shan and Charlie Higson returning with some all-new Zombie tales.

The 30th Edinburgh International Book Festival will run between August 10-26. For full listings visit

Curtains up at Film Festival

The 67th Edinburgh International Film Festival launched in the Capital last night with the star-studded European premiere of Breathe In at The Festival Theatre.

The film, which stars Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones, pictured, and was directed by Drake Doremus, concerns the story of a gifted British exchange student who turns the lives of a New York family upside down after embarking on an affair with the father.

Doremus, who also directed 2011 Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner Like Crazy, said: “I’m very excited that Breathe In has been selected to play the Edinburgh International Film Festival and to be given the opening night slot is overwhelming.”

The festival runs until June 30 and will showcase 146 features from 53 countries, including 14 world premieres and the premiere of hotly-anticipated Sofia Coppola’s film The Bling Ring, starring Harry Potter’s Emma Watson.