When it comes to graphic novels I mainly pick them up and buy them because of the drawings, the colour scheme, the general look. The storyline for me is just the extra bonus. That is why I picked up Stan and Nan by Sarah Lippett. I was immediately drawn to the textural line work and the earthy colour scheme. I do love a good earthy colour scheme.
Sarah Lippett tells us the story of her maternal grandparents, Stanley Burndred and his wife Joyce. The first part of the story is told by Joyce, reminiscing to Sarah over a cup of tea about the life of her late husband. Sarah never met her grandfather so her grandmother details the path his life took, his love of making pottery, family life, the ups and downs, up to his sudden death. There are little interviews with Sarah asking her aunties and mother questions about her grandfather, all illustrated beautifully and all evoking a relatable nostalgia which builds together the personality of Stan.
As we follow the story of Stan we learn more about the family as a whole. The stunning illustrations show a great deal of emotions in their faces, the sadness at losing Stan, the joy in remembering his memory. It really reminded me of my own family members that I have lost and how we deal with the emotions of remembering their lives.
I found the parts of the story relating to Stan's love of art and pottery making very special as it must have been incredible for Sarah to find out about her grandfather's creativity which has clearly been passed on to her and the proof of it is the very graphic novel we are reading about it in.
The second part of the story cuts to years later when the funeral of Sarah's grandmother Joyce is taking place. I found these scenes very relatable, and very accurate in displaying the emotions felt at the funeral of a loved one. The overwhelming loss entwined with the happy memories shared with them is shown wonderfully by Sarah. The whole novel has a brilliant conversational feel about it. The novel itself was created from letters sent to Sarah by her grandmother detailing her life and also some of her grandfather's old letters. I think it's a beautiful memory of both of them, complied together, showing the love of a family and the reality of ageing.
Sarah Lippett is an artist and author living in London. She graduated from both the University of Brighton and The Royal College of Art. Stan and Nan is her first graphic novel and was published by Jonathan Cape in June of this year. You can find out more about Sarah and her art at her website www.crayonlegs.com