A graphic novel about the ice-cream turf wars in an English seaside town has won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic fiction.
Snowflake by Matthew Dooley is the first graphic novel ever to win the award, which goes to work “in the spirit” of the Jeeves and Wooster creator PG Wodehouse. It has been won in the past by “true comic gems”, including Marina Lewycka, A Short History of tractor in Ukrainian, and DBC Pierre for Vernon God Little.
Located in the fictional small seaside town of Dobbiston, Sequins, follows the life of ice-cream man Howard, who realizes that the economic downturn is the result of his half-brothers efforts to build its own ice cream empire across the north-west.
In its infancy, Dooley, who also works in the House of Commons in the department of education, to beat the competing novels, including Jenny Offill Weather and Oisin Fagan’s Nobber. After winning the Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story prize in 2016 for a comic book about a man who aspires to win the Lancashire, the highest of the Shepherd to the competition, Dooley was described by the Observer as a combination of Alan Bennett and graphic novelist Chris Ware.
“We had none of us, I think, should be a graphic novel to win, but we’ve all been seduced by Snowflake,” said the judge, and the editor, David Campbell, while the judge Sindhu Vee called the book “a rare joy: a laugh out loud the story with characters that you want to meet again and again.”
Dooley, the 21-time winner of the Wodehouse prize, said he was “surprised, stunned and delighted” to take the award this year. His winnings include a jeroboam of Bollinger and a set of Wodehouse books.
“Flake has been published on 2 April, in the middle of a huge, incredible world crisis. It was a very strange experience. Win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize means that it is just the stranger in the best way possible,” Dooley said. “Now, how on earth do you cool a bottle of champagne big…?”
Usually, the winner of the Wodehouse is also presented at the Hay festival with a pig named after their winning title, but the organisers have said that “the current situation does not allow a physical” pig”, Dooley has drawn his own interpretation of what could have been.