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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.

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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.

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.