Starting in the late 70’s, Simmonds worked as a cartoonist for The Guardian, introducing a weekly strip called The Silent Three of St. Botolph’s. This led to other strips and a full-fledged book in 1981, True Love, which can be seen as her first attempt at a graphic novel. Her penchant for satire and literary adaptation led naturally to her most celebrated work, Gemma Bovery, which, in the tradition of the nineteenth-century novel, appeared serialized in The Guardian every Monday through Saturday in 1999. The success of the series prompted its publication in book form the same year. The book quickly garnered critical interest and attention, even being nominated for the celebrated Prix de la critique award (best comic published in
, organized by the Association des Critiques et des Journalistes de Bande Dessinée). Though Alan Moore’s From Hell took the award, the resulting critical interest helped Gemma Bovery jump the pond and find an American publisher in 2004. Her most recent book, Tamara Drewe, was published in 2008 and was recently adapted into a 2010 film directed by Stephen Frears (which got mixed reviews, mostly because the film could only tell the story--and the richness of the book derives from her unique approach to the graphic novel). France
Here's a sample from an interview with Simmonds by Paul Gravett, an authority on graphic novels:
Yes. I realized, once I started doing it, that you have an extra voice. You could give the characters their voices in whatever way, whether it be in reported speech, in balloons or it could be diaries or their own voice-over, but then the actual drawings could be another voice as well. The drawing could also do things like films do where you could have things going on in the background.
Counterpointing on what else goes on.
Yes. I didn’t have enough room to put it in but I planned that if you went back through Gemma Bovery you could see that her husband Charlie actually had an affair with Martine, Madame Joubert, the narrator’s wife. Just maybe in the background or they would be talking where you’d see them. So you saw how Charlie got lonely and fed up when Gemma had her affair.
The entire article can be read here: http://www.paulgravett.com/index.php/articles/article/posy_simmonds/