News / Nate Powell's SWALLOW ME WHOLE nominated for LA Times Book Prize!

Nate Powell's SWALLOW ME WHOLE nominated for LA Times Book Prize!

March 2, 2009

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Top Shelf Productions is bursting with pride to announce that Nate Powell's graphic novel Swallow Me Whole has been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize!

Swallow Me Whole is one of five official finalists in the category of Young Adult Fiction, making it the first graphic novel to be nominated for this prize, in any category, since Art Spiegelman's Maus won the Fiction category in 1992! "I'm honored just to be considered," says Powell, "and feel dizzy having my book even placed in the same sentence as Maus."

Although Swallow Me Whole was not created exclusively for young adult readers, it is fundamentally a story about the dark, quiet corners of adolescence. The book follows two teenage stepsiblings, Ruth and Perry, through the ups and downs of school, family, and suburban restlessness -- all complicated by the insect armies, swirling visions, and haunting voices that no one else can perceive.

"To be a young person is to be surrounded at all times by frightening transition and the terror of losing touch with a safe and familiar world," says Powell. "Sometimes the only salvation from that terror is in what a teenager can create for themselves."

The LA Times Book Prize nomination follows months of critical acclaim for Swallow Me Whole's rich storytelling and dazzling visuals, which have led some to call it "the best graphic novel since Craig Thompson's Blankets." Douglas Wolk wrote in the New York Times that "Powell's flowing, impressionistic artwork, with its ravenous expanses of negative space, swirls the reader's perspective through his characters' perceptions and back out again." The Onion AV Club agreed that the book "achieves some stunning effects with the art and the lettering" and admired how "Swallow Me Whole captures the desperation of the clinically obsessed, and how from the right angle, it can look like genius." The book also received an Ignatz Award from the 2008 Small Press Expo.

"What makes this book so worthy of acclaim is the way it immerses the reader in the life and mindset of a gifted yet mentally ill teenager," proclaimed Walter M. Mayes, a middle school librarian and one of the members of the award committee. "To get a glimpse of what it must feel like to be inside such a head can be overpowering and disorienting upon first read, but when reread, the book offers such literary power that it is hard to deny, even if you don't totally 'get' what is happening. Teens will find this book compelling, weird, scary, and ultimately affirming."

Nate Powell will be attending Seattle's Emerald City ComiCon (April 4-5) and the SPACE Expo in Columbus, OH (April 18-19) before traveling to Los Angeles for the LA Times Book Prize ceremony on Friday, April 24. The ceremony serves as the kickoff for the LA Times Festival of Books (April 25-26), where Nate will be a special guest hosted by Hi De Ho Comics all weekend.

For additional information, please contact Leigh Walton:

Leigh Walton
Top Shelf Productions
PO Box 15125
Portland, OR 97293-5125
(919) 610-2481

NATE POWELL ( was born in 1978 in Little Rock, Arkansas. He started publishing comics in 1992 at age 14. His comics include the Ignatz-award-winning Swallow Me Whole (Top Shelf, 2008), Please Release (Top Shelf, 2006), Sounds of Your Name (Microcosm, 2006), It Disappears (Soft Skull, 2004), Tiny Giants (Soft Skull, 2003), and the Walkie Talkie series.

Nate lives in Bloomington, Indiana, where he eats breakfast all day and sighs a lot. From 1999-2009 he worked full-time assisting adults with developmental disabilities. Nate occasionally runs Harlan Records out of his bedroom, played with punk ensemble Soophie Nun Squad from 1992-2007, and currently performs in the band Still Hidden.
TOP SHELF PRODUCTIONS ( publishes contemporary graphic novels and comics by artists of singular vision. Dedicated to championing veteran creators as well as finding and developing emerging talent, the Top Shelf library is anchored by such masters of the craft as Alan Moore, Craig Thompson, Andy Runton, Jeffrey Brown, Alex Robinson, James Kochalka, Robert Venditti, Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Renée French, Nate Powell, and many more.

Known for excellent production values, our handsomely crafted editions combine the best in reproduction techniques with a unique, inspired design sensibility. Never limiting ourselves in format or content, our catalogue includes all-ages material and cutting-edge erotica, genre fiction and autobiography, and all that exists in-between. The recipient of dozens of awards, we continue to bring superior stories and ideas to the ever-growing audience of the comics medium.