The biggest weekend for Irish comics is here: Dublin Comic Con. Thanks to Declan Shalvey, the hashtag #ComicsAtDCC began on Twitter, making the job of easily identifying what’ll be available that little bit easier. I’ve gathered a bunch of titles here from what I know about and what I could pick up info about online.
All Ages Comics
Going by my own experiences attending Dublin Comic Con in the past, the All-Ages titles are few and far between. I’ve collected the few that I know about here, to make things easier for readers with kids to find something age-appropriate for them.
The remainder of the Irish small press, as far as I know, is not quite as suitable for children as the above comics. While some titles may be – it’s a judgement call by parents – there are some that might traumatise kids.
Sometimes, writers and artists work on things that aren’t comics. Launching at DCC, or just released this year, are:
As well as all of that, attendees will also be treated to the presence of a few of Ireland’s greatest comic creators, including Will Sliney, Declan Shalvey, Stephen Mooney, John Cullen, Triona Farrell, and Robert Carey. Anthea West and Leeann Hamilton, whose books can be seen in the list above, are also on the billing.
It’s going to be a busy weekend. There’s a lot to look at it, so many books worth reading, and so many artists and other creators whose work cries out to be picked up.
I’ll be in attendance as a vendor this year, but I had the utmost pleasure of getting to review a lot of the upcoming books for this year’s event. For those who don’t know, I’m Paul Carroll – just breaking into comics, hence the plethora of new books. Because Comix Ireland is a one-man show, you won’t find reviews of anything (or by anyone) I’m involved in (with) here, which includes anything by Gareth Luby, Tracy Sayers, or Jason Browne of Buttonpress. There’s objectivity, and then there’s bias, and the line gets a little bit finer the closer you get to a book. As for every other book on the list, you’ll likely see reviews popping up ahead of other events. I personally can’t wait to see what these amazing creators, and the ones who aren’t on this list, have to offer in the years to come.
On April 23rd, we saw the first Dublin Eight Comic Arts Festival: DECAF. Organised by Dublin Comic Arts with panels by The Comics Lab, the event saw to showcase some of the amazing comic art in Dublin with a market, panels, and a few familiar elements from The Comics Lab that were a welcome sight for those who arrived with kids. More on that later.
Entering the Fumbally Stables, attendees were greeted by Matthew Melis and Debbie Jenkinson, two of the organisers for the day. Matthew put together the market side of things, while Debbie arranged the panels. She was also responsible for the massive selection of comics for sale on the way in, from her, Sarah Bowie, Matthew, Paddy Lynch, Philip Barrett and more.
Julie Nick and Katie Fleming sat the first table as attendees entered the main market room (and we the first to be accosted for a photo!) Julie brands herself as a cartoonist, with a sketchbook and Pulp Stories Vol. 1 to show off (along with an amazing new print!). Katie, on the other hand, is a full-on comic creator, as artist for Helion and creator of 100 Times and 100 More Times (NB: gay werewolves) under her belt (along with a ton of prints!)
Nikki Foster and Hugh Madden were next in line. Nikki had a range of zines of varying sizes with her, which helped to showcase the variety of styles available in the Irish comics scene. Hugh had a range of strange tales featuring anthropomorphised animals – obviously I had to get my hands on them.
Pushing the limits of awesome strangeness were All Things Thom and Miriam Rodriguez. Thom had possibly the widest range of things with her, from t-shirts to stickers, prints and zines – including The Thom Guide to: What To Say When You Don’t Know What to Say, which she says she’s used at parties. Miriam had a range of Spanish-language comics with her, including one that had she censored on a second printing – roughly translating as ‘things that are a pain in the ass’, and featuring said pained-ass on the cover.
Seán Hogan and Dylan Drennan extended the diversity of Irish comics available on the day at the next table down. Seán brought Project Crossroads and Rabbit and Paul with him, respectively a sci-fi-fantasy-horror anthology and all-ages comics about a boy from Bally’O’Jhaysus who buys an anthropomorphised rabbit. (Try saying that with your mouth full!) Dylan, AKA Skabag, had Gayboy with him, a fun collection of artwork from someone who’s only just entering the scene with a book.
Next in line were Clare Foley and Karen Harte. Clare is a traditional artist, creating her books in watercolours, and accidentally reminding people that she can draw hands really well. (We joked about this on the day. It was probably funnier then.) Karen is one of the editors and organisers of the MINE Anthology, a collection of artwork and comics about and in aid of the Repeal the 8th/Abortion Rights Campaign.
At the end of the row were Sarah Bowie and Luke Healy, joined here by Charlot Kristensen who designed the poster for the event. Sarah is one of the organisers of The Comics Lab, and had with a wide range of comics and zines, including one about how she’s not related to David Bowie. Luke had a huge collection of comics of varying prices and sizes, showing off a multitude of stories and skills.
As well as having a market on the day, DECAF also provided an opportunity for people to tune in to two panels; Karen Harte led one, about activism and comics – following the successful publication of MINE, joined by three of the contributors to the book. She was followed by Luke Healy, Clare Foley, Katie Fleming and Olly Blake (pictured above) as they spoke about their inspirations in comics, and what they’re working on now.
As well as panels, the Comic Labs also brought along drawing exercises for adults and kids alike, which took the burden of entertainment off some parents for a few minutes.
Attendees were also encouraged to partake in the Comic Swap, where books could be traded or bought from the table, based on what people brought with them.
The event was also catered by Kev’s Kitchen, providing hot, cold and baked foods, along with a range of drinks.
All in all, it made for a fun day, and only the first for Dublin Comic Arts. They’ll be returning on July 23rd, this time at the Dublin Food Co-op in Newmarket Square. If it’s anything like the weekend’s event, it’ll be one to spend a day at.
Dublin Comic Con opened its doors on a sunny Saturday morning to the general public; those of us near the front of the line had some refuge from the blistering morning sun – we’re still suspicious of that, given the history of Irish weather – and waited a good two hours to get in.
And it was worth it.
DCC was filled to the brim, with attendees in plain dress and costume, vendors with all manner of geeky wares, and artists – writers and illustrators both – manning the tables in the Artists Alley.
Photos were posed for, money exchanged hands, people were heard screaming with delight – and occasionally telling a Jon Snow cosplayer that he knew nothing, or informing a Wally that he had been found – at the various items around the room, and marvelling at the cosplay outfits.
And me? I was making my rounds. Several times a day. I eyed up the tables, I ignored my shopping list altogether, and I earned the title I would later be given: the Patron Saint of Small Press. Below are my comic purchases from Day 1.
On Sunday, I also managed to pick up Girls Like You and issues 1-3 of High Fantasy from Hugo Boylan. He was quite convincing. (But not enough to make me get even more books, because I figured 43 comics was a decent cut-out point.) Over the weekend, my stock of prints also got bigger, with a couple of Seán Hogan (Rabbit and Paul), as well as a healthy dose of nerdy merchandise (including a Spider-Man slate coaster, a wooden box with the Flash emblem on it, and a Bulbasaur plushie, because starter Pokémon are important.
Sunday also provided an opportunity to learn more about the Small Press process, from a panel of experts.
The lessons learned were invaluable; from a writer’s perspective, the most important tip was to respect the artist, and do all of the other work for the comic so that they don’t have to.
Comics are such collaborative works – evident by the title pages of many of the con’s debuts – and the community in Ireland so close-knit, that this vital lesson is one worth remembering and repeating frequently. The atmosphere at DCC was all about the community that has formed around these little (and sometimes not so little) books, and encouragement is never far away.
Everyone who participated in the weekend’s affairs are likely experiencing the same double-edged side-effects of a major convention: excitement for comics, and exhaustion from a weekend of talking about them. Needless to say, there’ll be even more amazing work at next year’s event, and from more creators. A guided tour of the Artists Alley (from me – Paul Carroll) for a friend, Tracy Sayers, showed just how welcoming the community can be, and I know that we’ll each be exciting to join their ranks in the near future.
In less than two weeks, the doors to the Convention Centre in Dublin will open for Dublin Comic Con. Now in its fourth year, DCC has become the go-to event for guests, activities and new releases in the Irish comic book scene. This year is no exception, with a long list of guests from across pop culture and the comic book scene. By my count and a quick search on Twitter and Facebook, we’re looking at (at least) sixteen releases in August. (Or, if you quantify in Internet terms, ALL THE MONEY!)
New from Lightning Strike Comic Books
The forerunners in the ‘Release Everything at DCC’ trend are Lightning Strike Comic Books, run by local boy Eoin McAuley. Confirmed releases include:
Fanastical Sombrero (LS’s first children’s title)
The Phantom 80th Anniversary comic
A Clockwork Universe
Double Dead (available in print for the first time)
A preview of None Shall Pass
You can also find their anthology comics on their table.
New from Buttonpress Publications
Buttonpress, publishers of several all-ages Irish superhero comics, are proud to announce their fourth title for Dublin Comic Con: Stoat. They’ll also have their other titles – Wren, Artos, and Thimble.
New from Anthea West
Anthea, writer and artist behind Fate and The Earthbound God, is bringing a new type of comic to Dublin Comic Con: a horror anthology.
Sleep Tight adds to Anthea’s collection of amazing titles, and isn’t one to be missed.
New from Paul Bolger
Paul Bolger, celebrated creator of Hound, is bringing with him two new books to DCC.
Hound 2: Defender
Inktober 2015 Sketchbook
Fans of Hound – a retelling of the story of Cú Chulainn – and Paul’s art will be happy with these announcements. Keep in mind, Hound books are published in hardback, and so will cost more than the other new releases. Book 1 sells for €25. Keep that in mind when drawing up your budget for the weekend.
New from NP Press
Cork-based publisher, NP Press, are releasing The Guards at Dublin Comic Con. A paranormal detective story from a new press, it’s not one to be missed.
New from Cremona Publishing
Creators of the Celtic Knights, Cremona Publishing are bringing their latest title, Junker the Stinky Knight, to DCC. You can check it out along with more of their books at their table.
New from Flare
Flare, a book series by Paddy Lennon, is getting a one-shot comic at Dublin Comic Con. The novels will, presumably, also be available from Lennon over the weekend.
“3” and New Artbooks
Without any images to work with, you’ll have to settle for my unbridled excitement for new releases when it comes to these new books.
3, a new comic from Dave Hendrick (writer of Granuaile Queen of Storms from O’Brien Press)
Scratched Metal, a new artbook from Art of Helixel
A new artbook from Tríona ‘Tree’ Farrell
I wish I could show some of what you’re in store for from these three, but unfortunately Hendricks has only released one image from within the book, and cover-images haven’t been released by Helixel or Tree. Artbooks are a nice piece to pick up at any convention, providing a good chance to explore an artist’s work outside of a story (particularly if you like someone’s art but aren’t sure of the story that the book’s writer has come up with.)
I don’t expect to have found every new release for DCC. Nor is this list a complete collection of everything you can find at Dublin Comic Con in August. If you’re releasing something, or know of something new coming to DCC, let us know! We’ll update this listing and post about it on Facebook and Twitter.
In celebration of the indie comics of Ireland, Forbidden Planet Dublin hosted an official Small Press Day event at Filmbase in Temple Bar, on July 9th. Featuring a host of artists and writers, and with panel support from The Irish Pubcast and Irish Comic News, the event was a testament to the enthusiasm of comics creators and the variety of work available in Ireland.
Lined up in the room were the works of well over a dozen artists. With work published in four languages – English, Irish, Spanish and Polish – and addressing an astonishing variety of genre and theme, the diversity of comics was unlike anything at Irish conventions gone by. Let’s address a few of the comics from what was on offer.
Clare Foley (left) brought to the table her 1850s mystery, La Grande Breteche. Each page was pencilled and water-coloured to bring Honoré de Balzac’s short story by the same name to life. Kinga Korska (middle), sharing a table with Clare, brought her graphic novel Brain Fetish. The book tells the story of a mother and daughter pair, with a focus on human relationships throughout. (Kinga was also accompanied by Angie on the right, to help talk to people about the book during panel talks.)
Popular web-comic artist John Cullen (left) brought along a selection of prints of his comics, and one pun-filled comic to show off his sense of humour. Sharing the table was Seán Hogan, writer and artist of Rabit and Paul, a graphic novel about a young boy named Paul who gets lost in the small Irish town of Bally’O’Jhaysus.
Aidan Courtney represented Coimicí Gael, an Irish language comic publisher, with Ruaille Buaille in-stock for the event. Beside him, Sarah Bowie – one of the founding members of the Dublin Comic Labs and Stray Lines – brought her comics dealing with introspection and Dublin in fresh and unexpected ways.
Anthea West sat solo with Fate issues #1 and #2, and The Earthbound God, her graphic novel. She also brought her prints and bubbly personality to the event.
Jason Browne (left) is the artist and publisher of Buttonpress Publications, an all-ages comic book publisher in Dublin. With three titles and nearly 20 issues to their name, they’re covering superheroes and the paranormal, and are soon to launch a new title, Stoat, written by Ciaran Marcantonio. (Check that out at Dublin Comic Con.) Beside Jason are Atomic Diner Comics, with a range of Rob Curley comics on sale. Curley’s work covers alternate history and vigilantism, with some paranormal activity thrown in in the former of the ghost of Oscar Wilde in Jennifer Wilde.
Philip Barrett (above, left) brought with him a wide collection of contemporary fiction comics, and an enthusiasm for getting away from his table to mingle with the crowds. Olly Cunningham (above, right; solo) had the first issue of Black Lines, Dodgy Pills. Trippy and risque, it stands out for dealing with a more controversial topic than most artists address with their first issues.
Leeann Hamilton had Finn and Fish, as well as her comic Kiteenies, a collection of adorable kitten stories. On the day, she also produced some astounding illustrations.
Paul Bolger brought with him the first book of Hound. Retelling the story of Cú Chulainn, Hound is unique take on Irish folklore. Book two is set for launch at DCC.
Ciaran Marcantonio represented Lightning Strike Comic Books, and, with his colleagues in the Irish Pubcast, and Irish Comic news, hosted the panel talks during the event. Lightning Strike is an anthology comic, with several stand-alone comics in accompaniment. Launching at DCC in August are The Phantom and A Clockwork Universe.
Not all of the artists are pictured, unfortunately, but the works of Paddy Lynch, Debbie Jenkinson, Elida Maiques and more were to be found throughout the room.
It was a busy day, with the event constantly filled with chatter and laughter; a massive thanks have to go out to Forbidden Planet Dublin for their work in putting it together. In particular, kudos to Scott and Dan for all their work on the day.
Plans and ideas are already in place for similar events in the future, based on the success of the day. In the meantime, keep an eye out for interviews with some of the amazing artists from the day, and reviews of the comics they brought to the table(s).
Taking a look at comic book culture in Ireland, CO/MIX is a web-documentary – soon to be web-series – produced by the production group at Blivet.co as part of DCU’s M.Sc. in Multimedia.
The series, which launches on June 1st, explores four core concepts: Convergence, Connection, Community, and Commerce. Through interviews with some of Ireland’s leading figures in the community and industry, and attendance at over half a dozen events covering the spectrum of what’s on offer in Ireland, CO/MIX provides a glance into the world of comic books from the point of view of four relative strangers to the community.
Interviewees include Will Sliney (Marvel), Anthea West (Dustbunny Studios), Emma Byrne (O’Brien Press), Eoin McAuley (Lightning Strike Comics) Stephen Lynch & Tina Branigan (Widdle Wade and Cyanide Kisses) and Paddy Lynch (Cardboard Press).
Directed by Matthew Ashe, and Produced by Paul Carroll, with Web Developer and Marketing Manager Darragh O’Riordan, and Designer and Composer Ciarán Byrne, CO/MIX is a launch pad for understanding the community and industry in Ireland, from the publishing, convention, artistry and fandom perspectives.
Subscribe Comix Ireland’s newsletter or to Blivet on YouTube to keep up with the series.