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Edinburgh, Ep. 7

August 23, 2013 — On a wonder-filled night of glee, brilliance and graphic novel fantasticness, a packed house at the Edinburgh Book Festival's Jura Unbound LDM saw Team Amy Mason narrowly outduel Team Penelope & Ginny Skinner in an occasionally graphic-novel skewed battle of Literary Pictionary by a close-as-can-be final score of 181-8, to win Mason the Literary Death Match Edinburgh, Ep. 7 crown. 

But well before the hand-drawn finale was even a consideration, the graphic-infused evening kicked off with the brilliant Skinner sisters (Penelope and Ginny) who performed a piece from their all-new graphic novel Briony Hatch — Penelope read while Ginny drew the story out real-time in the background. Next up was Team Stephen White (a.k.a. Stref’illustrator and comic artist, and author of MILK+ and Raising Amy). White took a backseat during his own reading, in which he enlisted his mate John to read (in a deeply Scottish accent), while White dazzled in the background by cranking out a drawing that kept the audience entranced. 

Then the mic was handed over to the night's trio of all-star judges: Neil Gaiman, 4-time Hugo Award-winner, and author of The Ocean at the End of the LaneCraig Silvey, musician and author of The Amber Amulet, and a Dublin Literary Award shorlistee; and Dawn O'Porter, broadcaster, print journalist, documentarian and author of Paper Aeroplanes

The trio quipped and charmed and witticized — Silvey (who's Australian) asking for the drawings by both contenders to be held upside down, and after a lengthy and contentious huddle (in which Gaiman hilariously spiked his notebook and Silvey stormed off stage), they finally came to the difficult decision of announcing that the Skinner Sisters would advance as the night's first finalists. 

After a booze-laden intermission, Round 2 kicked wonderfully off with Craig Collins (Glasgow-based comics writer and author of RoachwellHaunted Bowels and Metrodome), who went multimedia for a fantastic reading in which he read a trio of excerpts from his graphic novels, using audio recordings in German, Dutch and English to support the work. Finally, it was Amy Mason (author of The Islanders, winner of the Ideas Tap/Underbelly Edinburgh Award) who performed a piece from her award-winning show (and new graphic novel) The Islanders, with crowd-astonishing brilliance. 

Again the judges were handed the microphones, with Gaiman dropping such intense literary verbiage that fireworks fired off in the night sky in the distance. 

Again an impossible decision was at hand, but after another difficult vote, it was Mason who was announced as the night's second finalist. 

Then up stepped LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga, who announced that the night's finale would be Graphic Novel-Skewed Literary Pictionary, inviting audience members to center-stage to draw the titles of famous books, with both finalists guessing. An intense battle ensued, and with all to play for, it was Team Amy Mason (who was assisted by the ex- from her graphic novel, Eddie Argos) who won in the final round, winning the LDM Edinburgh, Ep. 7 medal, and literary immortality to go with it. 

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