Graphic portrait of Joyce as a young lover

John Spain Books Editor

THEY say sex sells. And now the life and loves of James Joyce and Nora Barnacle are being featured in graphic novel form – complete with sex scenes.

But they are only a small part of the new biography which is a recreation of the Dublin of Joyce's time, his family, his friends and his travels in Europe.

At the core of the work – which is published today by the O'Brien Press – is the great love affair between James and Nora.

As is usual in graphic novels, the love affair is shown in an explicit manner at some points, including sections showing them cavorting together in the nude on Howth Head.

'James Joyce – Portrait of a Dubliner' tells the complete story of Joyce's life. The 228-page graphic novel has thousands of drawings but the book is not the work of an Irish artist, but a young Spanish illustrator Alfonso Zapico.

The author is an award-winning graphic artist and writer whose work has been published in comics across Europe and in two books. His book on Joyce was first published in Spanish, winning a major award in Spain last year.

It was spotted at a European book fair by Michael O'Brien of O'Brien Press who decided to publish it here. The translation is by David Prendergast, former Professor of English at the University of Barcelona.

With the story told completely in speech bubbles and captions, the book is uniquely accessible and depicts the tumultuous life of Joyce as never before.

As well as reading Joyce, Mr Zapico spent considerable time in Dublin doing research.

"I try to build a life with all the elements around a character: the scenery, the places, the other characters, and to recreate the atmosphere of the time through my drawings," he said.