Reviews

Review: Swift

With Thought Bubble’s comic convention on its way this weekend, Aaron Fever (Ship WreckedFrozen WasteArtos) is launching Swift, the latest interpretation of the superhero genre from an Irish writer. The creative team involved gathers a lot of experience and talent in one issue, with line art by George Kambadais, colours by Rebecca Nalty, letters by Hassan Ostmane-Elhaou, and Declan Shalvey as Editor. I was fortunate enough to get a digital copy sent to me by Fever for the sake of this review.

Swift is a classic coming of age story, about a wheelchair bound teenager waking up on the sixteenth birthday to discover he has a superpower, and needing to figure out his place in the world with this sudden change. (That’s all you get out of me on that; aside from a no-spoiler policy, I’m not here to summarise the book for you!)

Compared to other superhero books by small press creators, it makes a delightful change. We’re not given a world-saving hero in Swift, but a real, human boy who just wants to paint. We’re not given a star athlete turned Superman-knock-off, or a team of eclectic Irishness in spandez. Fever uses the genre to tell a story about how a boy finds his place in his family, and in the world.

Kambadais and Nalty perform excellently together, giving us a charming family tale with the spark of Marketing Buzz that the heroes of Swift seem to demand. There’s a lot of movement throughout the comic, with the feel of a montage rippling through the pages, loud splashes of colour making up for the silence of paper (or the whirr of my laptop fan.) With the additional of Ostmane-Elhaou’s letters, the comic guides us through one of the more difficult times in a person’s life (growing up; not all of us go through superhero training at the age of sixteen) with all the excitement of possibility, and the dread of change, blended in a way only comics can achieve.

I adored this book. There are no other words for it. Perhaps it’s the superhero fan in me, or the Young-Adult-obsessed reader that’s yet to give up on the classic coming-of-age narrative, but I didn’t want to stop reading the book once I’d started, and wanted to go back and read it again once I’d finished. It doesn’t bury itself in unnecessary complexity; Swift is an honest story, packed with wit and humour. If you’re fortunate enough to get to Thought Bubble this weekend, this is one for your shopping list.

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Photos from DECAF, April 23 2017

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.

Web Series

Community | CO/MIX Episode 3

From the outside, the comic book community looks like one big, happy family. A closer look reveals the relationships between the various sub­-communities in Ireland, the nature of the people involved in bringing together the comic book community as a whole, and explores the notion of just how different the Irish comic book scene is to its American counterparts. From drink­-and-­draws at a local pub, to large­scale conventions across the country, to a small port village in Cork, the community in Ireland is spread far and wide.

Paddy Lynch / Cardboard Press / Dublin Comic Jam / Stray Lines

Paddy is an illustrator and sequential artist based in Dublin. He hosts the Dublin Comic Jam, and co­founded the Comic Labs. He illustrated ‘Big Jim’ (The O’Brien Press) and is co-­owner of The Cardboard Press.

http://www.patrickl.net/

Anthea West

Anthea is a sequential artist and cartoonist from Dublin. Her debut graphic novel, ‘The Earthbound God’, was published in 2013. She is currently producing ‘Fate’.

http://dustbunny-studios.com/

Triona ‘Tree’ Farrell

Tree is a sequential artist and freelance illustrator from Dublin. She is a former member of the Superhero Help Desk, and has produced two comic books; ‘Swords & Sisters’, and ‘Azure Capricorn’.

http://treedesigns.portfoliobox.me/

Stephen Lynch & Tina Branigan

Stephen, AKA Widdle Wade, is a voice­-actor by trade, as well as costume and prop­-maker. A regular to the convention scene in Ireland, he is also a member of the Emerald Garrison. Tina, AKA Cyanide Kisses, is an alternative model and cosplayer, and coordinator of volunteers at Dublin Comic Con.

https://www.facebook.com/WadesWiddleWorkshop

https://www.facebook.com/CyanideKissesCosplay

Will Sliney

Will Sliney is a Cork based artist currently working on Marvel Comics’ ‘Spider­Man 2099’ with Peter David. He has previously worked on ‘Fearless Defenders’ (Marvel) and ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ (Egmont/Titan). He published his debut graphic novel, ‘Celtic Warrior’, with The O’Brien Press in 2013.

http://sliney.blogspot.ie/

 

CO/MIX was produced as part of the M.Sc. in Multimedia in DCU, 2014-2015, by Matthew Ashe, Paul Carroll, Darragh O’Riordan, and Ciarán Byrne.

Matt: Matt is a Fine Art graduate from IADT, experienced in video exhibitions, visual effects and 3D animation. He worked as Director of CO/MIX. He runs The VR Agency as its lead producer and editor.

https://ie.linkedin.com/pub/matthew-ashe/70/769/970

http://www.thevragency.co/

Paul: Paul is an English graduate from Mater Dei, and a freelance writer and multimedia producer. He worked as Producer of CO/MIX. He runs Comix Ireland, and assists in the organisation of the Geek-Mart.

https://ie.linkedin.com/in/paulcarroll1

http://paulcarrollwriter.com

http://comixireland.com

Darragh: Darragh is a Marketing graduate from DIT, and worked as web developer in Javascript on the CO/MIX project.

https://ie.linkedin.com/in/darragh11

Ciarán: Ciarán is an experienced graphic designer and sound designer. He led the sound engineering and graphic elements of CO/MIX.

https://ie.linkedin.com/in/mrciaranbyrne

http://soundcloud.com/adeyhawke