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.

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incandescent-memories-1-cover
Reviews

Incandescent Memories #1-3

Brian Burke, one of the creators of Incandescent Memories, sent me all three books for review. It’s been some time since I actually received them – and I already had a hardcopy of one, so I was able to see the sort of quality intended in the printing of them – but various complications got in the way of actually writing a review (including thinking I had already done so, and not realising for another few weeks. Life is difficult sometimes.) But here we are: three issues of a comic by Brian Burke and John Devlin. As per usual, I don’t get overly critical. (The Irish comic creator circles are quite small, and they’re all so lovely it’s difficult not to become friends with them. Being a voice of reasoned applause and pointing out things I like is easier for me on a personal and editorial level.)

Collected Comics

The first thing that one should know when picking up Incandescent Memories is that the book collects several stories in each issue. Each issue holds one thing in common, aside from its creators’ names on the cover: The Bandit King. Serialised across each issue, it’s the one continued narrative throughout each book.

Otherwise, the books present us with separate, fun stories from each of the two creators.

incandescent-memories-3-cover

Taking turns in writing and illustrating each others’ work, Burke and Devlin give us a fun look at what each of them is capable of. Issue 1, the bumper four-story book, contains stories with each creator taking alternate roles, as well as providing solo stories where they act as writer and artist.

The first issue remains my favourite, but it has the benefit of containing more stories than the others. While readers can’t reasonably expect the same volume of work every issue from these two creators, it works as a great introduction into the sort of material the two Dublin creators like to make. The additional concept art in issues 1 and 2 also help to show off the drawing styles of each artist isolated from the actual stories within the books.

Overall, Incandescent Memories is an exciting comic to watch as new issues are released. With the continued tale of The Bandit King – a humorous fantasy story – written by Burke and drawn by Devlin, returning readers have something to look forward to, while new readers have additional stories to entice them into the potential of each creator.

Highly recommended, and a good sign of things to come from Dublin’s comic crowd.

Celtic Clan Cover
Reviews

Review: The Celtic Clan 1-3

Nigel Flood from Punt Press sent me The Celtic Clan 1-3 to review. Looking at this from a Road So Far point of view, I’ve combined the review of the series to this point into one post, taking a look at series overall, rather than on an issue-by-issue basis. As always, I aim for the most positive aspects of a book as much as possible in my reviews.

Another Irish Superhero Story?

For such a small country, our comic creators love to create large teams of Irish superheroes. Buttonpress have one. Cremona Press have one. And, though they also release other titles, Punt Press have one. There’s always a problem with scale when it comes to superhero stories – just how many characters should you attempt to fit into one story? – and I think for the most part, Flood and co. have the max figured out. The Celtic Clan featured in the book, if you ignore the additional ensemble of supporting heroes, is enough to make the difference on the panels, and allows for a few different stories to be told at once.

I should say, I preferred Flood’s other work – The Globalists – but there’s a lot of fun to be had in the pages of The Celtic Clan. It’s definitely a more jovial comic, not quite on the all-ages spectrum of Buttonpress comics, but with a lot of the humour that a more violent comic needs when the cast are wearing spandex.

Villainsssssss

When I initially read the comics, I thought the idea for the villains was a bit…silly? I’ll settle on silly. I even thought that when I was tired and made my notes for this very review. Several days later, and taking into account everything I’ve already said, I revise that statement.

The villains of the comics are snake people. Yes, snake people. Lizard people, maybe. But definitely reptilian in nature, with a fun throwback to one of the strangest conspiracy theories we still occasionally hear about – the underground lizard people who rule the world!

Flood takes advantage of this to cast an eye back into Irish history, and manages to create a greater sense of mythos within his comics than three issues should really allow. (Bravo on that!)

The books are fast-paced, and artist Frank J Right succeeds in driving the story along expertly, and fleshing out the details on a wholly bizarre set of characters, seemingly without issue.

(And, it should be said, the characters vary in so many different ways. There’s a cat-man, lizard-people, a pixie-esque-woman, a classic warrior, a barbarian-ish old man, a speedster in spandex, and a monster made from whatever the ground can provide, be it turf, concrete or street poles. Despite the massive mix, he manages not to deviate from his style, and depicts everything skilfully.)

All in all, The Celtic Clan is a fun series. It’s worth checking out if you like superhero comics and want to support small press. How long we’ll have to wait for issue 4, however, remains to be seen.

The Globalists
Reviews

Review: The Globalists #1

Nigel Flood of Punt Press got in touch with me lately to see about reviews of a few of his books – and he was quick to send on issue #1 of The Globalists, and issues 1-3 of Celtic Clan in the mail. So, full-disclosure for this review, they were free review copies. Reminder, also, that when it comes to comics, I’m not overly critical; I love to explore the reasons I think people will enjoy a particular comic (which helps in recommending the books people would enjoy!) With that said, onto the review.

Not Your Average Superhero Comic

The first thing that will be apparent from the cover of the book: it’s a superhero book. It looks every bit the genre; Kevin Keane certainly knows how to draw for the market. The characters – and we’ll get onto them in a minute – are fully brought to life in a way that’s typically expected of the Big Two. Before readers get into Nigel Flood’s tale, there’s an instant feeling of familiarity that helps ease newbies to the writer’s work into the book.

And what a book.

Intriguing from the very start, The Globalists presents us with an unknown narrator in a prison cell, a glimpse at the snarling face of one Adolf Hitler, and a concise expository history lesson on the Superhuman Arms Race. From there, it’s all downhill. And uphill. It depends on your perspective.

As a first issue, the book manages to fit in a lot. We’re given a measure of the powers at play (pun 100% intended), the backstory to the issues at hand in the modern day, a glimpse at the protagonists, and a sense of the scale of danger presented by the antagonists. I’m a sucker for superhero stories. I devour them greedily. And I need more of this from Flood and co.

While some stories start a little unsure of themselves, Flood gives us an established dilemma and philosophy, to be explored in greater detail as the series continues. All we need now is a release date for the next issue. In the meantime, you can get a copy of the series debut from Punt Press directly, or in Forbidden Planet Dublin, while stocks last. Recommended for fans of superhero comics looking for a fresh take on the genre.

Dublin Comic Con
Article

Dublin Comic Con 2016

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.

100 Times, Helion #2, The Circle, Flare One-Shot, Malevolence, Finn & Fish The Rinse Cycle #2, Finn & Fish The Wash Cycle, Rubenette Preview, The Guards
100 Times, Helion #2, The Circle, Flare One-Shot, Malevolence, Finn & Fish The Rinse Cycle #2, Finn & Fish The Wash Cycle, Rubenette Preview, The Guards
Day Job, Big Bastard #1-5, Wren Vol.1 (colour edition), Stoat #1, "3"
Day Job, Big Bastard #1-5, Wren Vol.1 (colour edition), Stoat #1, “3”
Hound 2, Con Jobs, Something in the Tae, Schlock, An Bruid on the Moors Part One, Oh No Comics!, The Warrior Maidens, Sakura #1
Hound 2, Con Jobs, Something in the Tae, Schlock, An Bruid on the Moors Part One, Oh No Comics!, The Warrior Maidens, Sakura #1
Innocent Tales #1-3, Pulp Stories, Paul J Bolger Inktober Sketchbook, Sleep Tight, Rover Was Here
Innocent Tales #1-3, Pulp Stories, Paul J Bolger Inktober Sketchbook, Sleep Tight, Rover Was Here
A Clockwork Universe, Phantom 80th Anniversary, Speakeasy, The Fantastical Sombrero, None Shall Pass (Preview), Double Dead
A Clockwork Universe, Phantom 80th Anniversary, Speakeasy, The Fantastical Sombrero, None Shall Pass (Preview), Double Dead

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.

Small Press Panel. L-R: Seamus Kavanagh, Eoin McAuley, Leann Hamilton, Kinga Korska, Keith Keane, Hugo Boylan, Paul Bolger, Charan Marcantonio
Small Press Panel. L-R: Seamus Kavanagh, Eoin McAuley, Leeann Hamilton, Kinga Korska, Keith Keane, Hugo Boylan, Paul Bolger, Charan Marcantonio

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.

phantom
Article

New Releases at Dublin Comic Con

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)
  • Speakeasy
  • A preview of None Shall Pass

You can also find their anthology comics on their table.

phantom

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.

stoat

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.

Sleep Tight

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.

Hound Book 2

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.

The Guards

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.

Junker

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.

Flare

“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.)

Anything else?

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.

Small Press Day Dublin
Article

Small Press Day 2016

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.

Small Press Day Dublin
Drawn and Coloured by Eoin Marron and Rebecca Nalty

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 and Kinga Korska

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.)

John Cullen and Sean Hogan

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 and Sarah Bowie
Crowd-bustling meant I missed the fact that Sarah’s eyes were closed. She was not sleeping on the job.

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

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 and Rob Curley (rep)

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 Barret and Olly CunninghamOlly Cunningham

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 LinesDodgy Pills. Trippy and risque, it stands out for dealing with a more controversial topic than most artists address with their first issues.

Leeann Hamilton

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

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

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.

Scott FPD
Scott from Forbidden Planet, with the original artwork for the poster
poster
A close-up of the drawing by Eoin Marron, fitted onto a signed board

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).