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#ComicsAtDCC 2017

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.

Fate by Anthea West. Click here for our review.
Freya, Written by Tracy Sayers, Art by Trisha O’Reilly
Wren #13, Written by Paul Carroll and Jason Browne, Art by Jason Browne, Lettered by Phil Roe
Rabbit and Paul Cover
Rabbit and Paul, by Seán Hogan. Click here for our review.

Small Press

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.

The Guards
The Guards, Written by Shane Ormond, Art by Kevin Keane
Chuck, Written by Paul Carroll, Art by Conor Carroll
100-times-cover
100 Times, by Katie Fleming Deluxe Edition launches at Dublin Comic Con with additional material. Click here for our original review.
Brain Fetish Cover
Brain Fetish by Kinga Korska. Click here for our review.
Carrie & Rufus, by Ben Hennessy
The Broker, Written by Wayne Talbot. Massive creative team listed in review
Will Sinister, Written by Hugo Boylan, Art by John Quigley. Check out our review here.
Clone, by Hugo Boylan, Tara Ferguson, Rebecca Reynolds and Kerrie Smith. Check out our review here.
Hoda Machine, by Leeann Hamilton
Red Sands, Written by Ciaran Marcantonio, Art by Cormac Hughes, Colours by Triona Farrell
How to Live With Your Cat, Written by Paul Carroll, Art by Gareth Luby
Meouch, Written by Paul Carroll, Art by Gareth Luby
The Waves That Breaks, by Aaron Lotsy
Frozen Waste, Written by Aaron Fever, Art by Clare Foley
The Fort Night Comic Project, Written by Dave Hendrick, Art by Peter Marry, Colours by Dee Cunniffe
solstice-1-winter-cover
Solstice, Written by Danny McLaughlin, Art by Nathan Donnell. Books 3 launches at Dublin Comic Con. (As far as we are aware!)
project-crossroads-cover
Project Crossroads, Art by Seán Hogan, Stories by Hugo Boylan, JP Jordan and Adlai McCook, Colours by Stephanie Reville and Dearbhla Kelly, Letters by Kerrie Smith, Flats by Louise Fitzpatrick. Check out our review here.
Solo-Q by Jeklly Draws

Special Mentions

Sometimes, writers and artists work on things that aren’t comics. Launching at DCC, or just released this year, are:

Maelstrom, by Paddy Lennon – Book 3 of the Flare Series
A Little Book of the Coen Brothers, a Sketchbook by Brian Burke

A Death in the Family, by Paul Carroll, launched at K-Con earlier this year

Guests

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.

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Reviews

Review: Fate

One of Ireland’s longest running web comics is taking its first three chapters and going into print. Fate, by Anthea West, is launching with a collected volume of its first three chapters (and an exclusive print-only prologue!) at Dublin Comic Con this year. The book comes with cover colours by Triona Farrell, a map by Katie O’Meara, and additional colours by O’Meara and Rebecca Nalty. Following an incredibly successful Kickstarter earlier this year, West is ready to bring her beloved back to the convention floor.

Fate is an all-ages comic that combines West’s great sense of humour with a fun and vibrant adventure story. Following the misfortune’s of the only talking dustbunny – later named by another character as ‘Bunny’ – Fate builds up a large, fantastical world with each twist and turn. In a world populated by humans, fauns, dustbunnies, mermaids and demons – and probably a whole lot more – there’s a lot to be discovered with every turn of the page and addition to the site.

West’s sense of humour and style of illustration are perfect for her intended audience, painting a colourful story world filled with friendly and easy-on-the-eye protagonists, and menacing beasts with their eyes (and stomachs) settled on hunting down Bunny. With her art loaning itself equally well to its adorable protagonist and all the nastiness that aims to devour him, readers are in for a visual delight.

The book is certainly a lot less serious than most of the other titles released by Irish creators, but that doesn’t stop it dealing with themes of friendship, prejudice, and finding courage as an unwilling hero. While it’s still quite early in the tale, there’s a lot to uncover within the story about the world, its people, and the things that bind them together. Definitely one to check out, especially if you’re looking for something child-friendly from the Irish small press creators.

Check out Anthea on Twitter at: @antheawest

 

Reviews

Review: Clone

Clone is another new comic from Hugo Boylan, one of Ireland’s most prolific small press writers. This time, he’s teamed up with Tara Ferguson on the story, who also took up the role of artist for this mind-mess of a comic. Joined by Rebecca Reynolds on colours and Kerrie Smith on letters, this is one of those books that makes you question everything from dinner to your reflection (and, in some cases – like mine – your twin brother.)

I was warned that this would be a weird book. I did not expect this sort of weirdness. It’s the sort of lingering weirdness that akin to sand on a beach, getting everywhere, even long after you think you’ve cleaned it all up. But it’s also akin to the lasting sensation of a good drink. It’s maybe not good for you, but you want it to last a little bit longer.

When dissecting a comic, I don’t normally start with the letters, but as Smith’s intelligent design in the book comes early in the story, I’ll start there. A pair of stories unfolding simultaneously in the book’s opening pages requires either (a) the audience to figure out which is more important or (b) smart lettering. Smith helped with the latter, adding opaque speech bubbles to the messy subplot of the first act. (I mean messy in a “get it off me” sort of way; on a narrative level, it worked incredibly well.)

The story deals with a lot with identity, responsibility, regret, and insanity. There’s not a lot to say that won’t spoil the book that’ll spoil your appetite, so let’s say this: I really enjoyed the story – which isn’t for everyone, but which is worth trying – and while I won’t say it had a nice ending (nice in the “you look nice” sort of way), it was ended well. Nothing in the story is “nice”, which is perfectly fine for a book that doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.

Ferguson’s art style is simple, but suitable. With a relatively complex story to tell in a few short pages, there’s no room for playing around with mind-numbing artwork – though I can see something more complicated being suitable for her storytelling in the future, if this book is anything to judge her taste and style by. I should note, simple isn’t a bad thing. Simple makes the story tell itself, and simple worked. The visual elements of the book were, when they weren’t supposed to be otherwise, easy on the eye. There’s a lot to fit into the book – a lot that’s supposed to look the same, if the title didn’t give that away already – and she didn’t let herself down.

Adding the Reynolds’ vibrant colours, we’re given a slightly chilling dichotomy of easy-on-the-eye images against a story that might make you want to rip your own eyes out – just to be safe that what you’re not seeing isn’t there.

Again, this isn’t a book for everyone, but fans of sci-fi horror would probably find something they like in it. It’s worth trying, and it’s worth telling Hugo and Tara how insane they probably have to have been to write this book. The comic launches at Dublin Comic Con on August 12th.

Check out the creators on Twitter:

Hugo Boylan: @hugoboylan

Tara Ferguson: @TaraaFerguson

Rebecca Reynolds: @brobexx

Kerrie Smith: pocketkerrie

Article

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.

Rabbit and Paul Cover
Reviews

Review: Rabbit and Paul

Over the past few years, there’s been an explosion of Irish comics. Last year, the most Irish comic ever was published by Offaly-native Seán Hogan: Rabbit and Paul.

Set in the small town of Bally’O’Jhaysus (+2 Irish-ism Points), the book follows the tale of Paul and his anthropomorphic rabbit-friend, Rabbit. Rabbit is acquired in a Tat Shop (+1 Point), despite warnings from Paul’s parents about not bringing any more tat into the house. (+1 Point) Through a bizarre series of events involving a strange, illegal candy (+1 Point for vague drug dealer reference), a fascination with a particularly large Chinese restaurant (+1 Point), and a range of hilarious Irish phrases (1+ per use… I think you get the idea: extremely Irish book), the journey of the titular duo is mapped out in bizarre fashion.

This is a unique celebration of the peculiarity of Irishness, capturing Irish humour in its purest (and most PC) form in its smallest details. Anybody with a notion of experience with Ireland will immediately understand the references made throughout the book, though it should be said that the Irish audience will benefit most from the tiniest jokes hidden in the pages.

Rabbit and Paul is a charming, witty book, enough to keep readers laughing long after the last page. Barely after finishing it did I feel an obligation to get my hands on a second copy as a gift for a friend. Anyone who can get past the anthropomorphic line in the blurb is sure to love the story, told with a great capacity for what it means to be Irish.

Hogan has produced an impressive debut, both in its writing and its illustrations. The comic will leave readers wanting more. For the moment, a conversation with the book’s creator will have to suffice. You can catch him, and Rabbit and Paul, at Dublin Comic Con.

The Earthbound God Cover
Reviews

Review: The Earthbound God

In 2013, Anthea West released The Earthbound God. Six years earlier, I became acquainted with her online. I’ve been a supporter of her work since she started producing comics; I need to state this before I get into the review, to be clear that I adore her work, and consider her a vital friend in the comic book world.

When I picked up The Earthbound God, during its initial release, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that shortly thereafter, the book sold out, and Anthea West needed to print more to meet demand. I can only imagine what might have drawn people to this book – pun definitely intended. It must have been – and I really can only guess – the beautiful concept of the book, one that inspired me to support her IndieGoGo campaign for the first print run. I was not disappointed with the book, and I know that I am not alone.

West tells a wonderful story of wayward sisters in a frozen world, sisters by bond rather than blood, travelling from two very different places in the mountains. During the winter, they must find and kill the Earthbound God, Mij, a bounty kill that would secure their future. Through their journey, West paints a clear picture of a strange world, where language is a constant barrier and a superstitious force, and something to be played with in the writing. In few words, West shows readers the importance of story in a world without electronic communication, where instances to find food and warmth can be few and far between.

Of vital importance in this tale is the relationship between the sisters by bond, Yaeya and Eusha, dressed in thick furs, with remarkably expressive faces. Their relationship is complicated, but understand easily in the ways they interact throughout the book.

This is a fully fleshed out book, drawn in black and white in such a way that the frozen-over world can be felt through the pages. The creative use of panelling, and the value placed upon blank space, draws a complicated picture.

With clear influences from Princess Mononoke, and a long history of her own creative drive in character and monster creation, West delivers a powerful book, with a disturbing antagonist and a harsh environment to offset the embodied enthusiasm within our heroes.

The book is available through Forbidden Planet Dublin; if you ask nicely, and if she has copies available, Anthea might be able to bring copies to Dublin Comic Con. (Update: Anthea will definitely be bringing copies of the book to DCC.)