Occupy Vs Zombies !

That’s pretty much it. In ‘Flesh Mob’, Belfast’s streets run riot with anarchists versus zombies, and a survivors get ready to make the final push, the calendar enters parade season!

Political? Nah. You’re having a laugh!

Really. It’s just a right riveting read, a blaster of a thriller. It appears in  ‘Tense Situations’, which finds it’s way onto Kindle today. The listing says the book contains work from my friends in the Belfast Writers Group, so, right on it. Proceeds go to Action Cancer.

Tense Situations

 

Download from Amazon

New main image tb edited

The Daniel O’Donnell Podcast: Episode 1

A brand new feature! Two scatter-brained friends on the roads of County Donegal review the sights they’ve seen, and verbalise excrement as the sun shines out of their asses.

New main image tb edited


Download this episode (right click and save)

In this first episode, Sarah and Andy review ‘Shaun the Sheep: The Movie’, along with the small seaside town of Bundoran, near Ballyshannon. Sarah loses her podcast virginity and Andy loses his Donegal virginity. Discussion includes new concrete versus old concrete, knocking over rabbits, internet fame and ghost stories, as well as the first of our regular 10-minute outros. This podcast was recorded at night, which explains why the sound quality sucks boke. (20 minutes)

Amusement Tokens

IMG_20150207_172737

OH OHS BONUS EPISODE

Sarah and Andy talk about an 80s/90s fundraiser in aid of NI Children’s Hospice, taking place at the Westville in Enniskillen this weekend. (3 minutes)


Download this episode (right click and save)

24 Hour Comics: What the hell was I thinking?

As you maybe know, I’ve done pretty good out of the 24 hour comics experience. Gran, Absence, Don’t Get Lost, each very personal. The fourth one was produced last October at Farset Labs. I’m very happy with how it turned out, the mercurial speed required this time, tapping my strength for quick dialogue. The two pages below are typical of how many words I was cramming on those pages. I don’t intend publishing this one as a comic. I gotta have something I can sell, right?

I did promise I would post a few pages though. The comic has a sitcom quality to it, as based on my experiences with Occupy Belfast. In particular, a very real run-in with BBC NI’s shock-jock, Stephen Nolan. So, as they say in the circus, without further ado, here’s a sample from ‘Occupied: Mixed Up Media’.

Occupied - 24hr comic

I promise, it gets inked. Last night, I signed a contract with Studio NI for a very different story featuring Occupy, and zombies; that should appear over the Summer.

Full strips from the Farset Labs session available:

Paddy Brown: A Personal Narrative
Ellie Rose McKee: The Adventures of Captain Customer Service

 

Paddy and I agreed this would be our last 24 hour bout, as we’re not young men anymore. Then again, we said that the time before and time before that. I think there’s got to be a happy medium of form that lets us crank out a lot of pages quickly and doesn’t break our souls. Look out for the 20 hour comic challenge later this year?

 

 

 

A tale of bile and flurry, told by an eejit, signifying anything

Caution: This post involves people you might like acting dislike-ably, and it will upset before it gets better.

I’ve kept quiet about this a long time: three years. At the tail end of 2012 I posted an article on Irish Comic News, an opinion piece relating to the ICN Awards, then in their second year. The piece was deliberately provocative in addressing the negativities of such awards. It took to task the attitude of vanity arts culture, and did so with an undercurrent of slap-dash satire.

Perhaps the editor was right to pull it. It was constructed within a few hours after the better piece I’d written the year before went missing. I got the news it had been pulled in the same short email that instructed my future blogging required approval. Well, now, I completed my journalist training waay back in 92 and had been blogging about comics since 2000. There was hardly a wealth of real journalism at the site. Besides, I told the publisher, he was taking this way too seriously. Two emails later and Andy Luke is “no longer welcome at ICN”.

Yeah.

Fuck!

Well, I was angry, and I honestly feared for the mental health of this bloke. I spoke with mutual friends, asking them to chat with him, look out for him. Maybe the damage can be repaired, I thought. I was told in the same conversation, “I’m sure there were faults on both sides” or “I don’t want to get in the middle of this”. One (wisely) asked me in the week after not to write about it. That, was more or less it. As far as I know I was mentioned only once again on ICN, possibly to do with a wash-out comics festival I had a hand in, as ruined by Belfast’s pro-flag Unionist community.

I did a few pieces for DownTheTubes and BleedingCool, but the enthusiasm wasn’t there anymore. It was a few months later I really felt the bite of the ICN blacklisting. Yes, that’s what it was. I had gone self-employed, wanting to earn money making comics, and I’d just done ‘Absence’ and ‘The Invisible Artist’. It was my own fault my business plan didn’t work, I didn’t produce for the market as I should have, but “no longer welcome” saw what comics work I did create go unpublicised by that site. I’m thankful for the opportunities offered me by Avalon Arts, Titancon and the Arts & Disability Forum working with me on comics in that time, along with those who wrote about it: DTT, BC and the wonderful people at the FPI weblog and Broken Frontier. The Hold The Phones re-release came out at just the same time Alex Jones and Piers Morgan went head-to-head, and for a few hours Richard’s cover for the comic topped Google. Still, I’d lost a valued friendship and had to watch many of my friends rave about his ICN. Aided by the paranoia depression brings on, I felt more socially and professionally ostracised…too strong maybe…divided, from the Irish comics community. I made the odd veiled internet snipe about Cyanogen iodide (ICN), and got angry with some people not to blame, but largely held my tongue hoping things might be walked back. Who wants to be the guy shitting in the punchbowl? What good would it have accomplished?

At the same time I was running the Black Panel but the main ‘news’ door to promoting these comics, the site I helped build, was closed to me. Market laws in Belfast became so restrictive, business dried up. I left “comics”, and wrote prose, finding an incredible freedom denied by comics. I read my short stories publicly. I completed my first rough draft of a novel. Having the door slammed in my face was a total kunt move but I led myself to adapt.

Last week I was reminded of my LAST (!) foray into comics. Back in 2013, Belfast City Council awarded sole trader grant money which allowed Ruairi Coleman a little amount to draw ‘Bottomley’ for ‘To End All Wars’. The book, edited by Jonathan Clode and Brick and published by Soaring Penguin has been nominated for two Eisner awards in Best Reality Based Work and Best Anthology. These are the Cannes of comics, one of the higher accolades. They’re voted on by pros; just being nominated is a big deal. The tale Ruairi and John and I created is one among thirty compelling pieces. It richly deserves to win and I won’t be surprised if it does.

In the year after I left, all but two ICN founders stepped down. In 2014 (having heard nothing), I asked the publisher ‘if I am no longer welcome at ICN, would you remove my work?’. All that was needed was an apology, perhaps some small explanation. But this was “done”, and the following week, he stepped down.

Having mental health problems is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is not a badge of pride either. If that publisher couldn’t grow up, he was right to move on.

I wish ICN…well, I have no feelings really. They can’t be held accountable for dickheadery of publishers past. Visited the site twice for news since I was fired. I don’t even know if they’ve reported the Eisner nominations. I’ve written a brilliant graphic novel which I’m adapting into a screenplay for Channel 4’s Coming Up submissions, and it looks…brilliant.

Well, my voice is back, my health is emergency-free, and I’m making a concerted effort to return to writing. There’s little to announce in new projects. Oh, there’s TitanCon. Yes, TitanCon is back this year, after feeling it was pretty much the last one in 2014. Phil has planned Joe Abercrombie for popular author guest, and Pat Cadigan, Ian McDonald and Peadar O Guilin are all making a return. I’m planning to pitch Phil (working title) ‘GameofThronesy, GameofThronesy, GameofThronesy’, a comic condensed theatrical which I scripted last year. Next job is recruiting a few actors, and the buoyant Pebble is already up for it, which bodes well.

I guess the big news is that I’ve settled on going self-employed as an author come July 1st. ‘Don’t quit your day job’, they say, but my day job is working to claim my next JSA benefit, so I think I qualify as an exception.

rockford - writers pay

It’s mostly back-end stuff at present: reading a bunch of Wagner librettos to re-write the book-ends of my graphic novella and the re-pitch, and re-writing the ending on my piece for the Belfast Writers Group anthology. I do have some travel writing in the can, three monologues (a triologue?), and a series of camp pulp thriller ebooks to call on.

Of Belfast Writers Group, they get a lovely write-up courtesy of Donald Swain at Culture Hub Magazine, and interview with our facilitator Lynda into the bustle of it all.

Illmess

No blogging lately. I’m beginning Week 5 with laryngitis. It began unassumingly; three cigarettes near the rain, one bed-sheet less for a sleep-over, under-funded Ulsterbus, and then Bam! Cough, Hack, Phlegm, Cough, cough, full-on bastarding cold: a resumption of the bronchitis that left me bed-ridden most of December.

Prior to that I’d been tying up final accounts on The Black Panel, the Irish comics market set up by Paddy Brown. Nothing happened with it in two years and it had become another weight on my neck. As I sorted through payments and returns, I transcended negative feelings about Irish comix. Though Paddy and I were responsible for our achievements and shortcomings, the aims, as I saw them, sprang from my time with London Underground Comics, when Oli Smith and our gang made the work of selling comics, art; something fresh, something zeitgeist.

With that mood and mission I travelled to Dublin, deciding the ailments of the last two days weren’t going to upset the comics cart. I even wrote John (Robbins) a rhyme:

In Exchequer Street Central Hotel
Where the girls aren’t from the ghetto
You might set your eyes on Sweaty Andy Luke
He wheels comics with bone marrow, through aisles wide and boxes narrow
Crying Small Press, Mini-Comics, to be away by Five-Oh-Oh

Five Oh-Oh, Five Oh-no
A meal with Gar Shanley
Paddy Lynch’s birthday party
Forget it, lets just go

Except come the day, I wasn’t singing. No, I’d lost my voice. I grew comfortable with it later but then, I was startled at being only a robot Cookie Monster away from sounding like a telephone sex pest. Additionally, the diseased monkey virus I was spreading might necessitate Translink open a new line called Ebola. As happy fates would have it, Paddy Lynch bailed on me for lack of a sitter, meaning his children are safe.

I hope I can vouch for Gar, John, Richard (Barr) or the staff and serviced at Café Bliss at Montague Street. I was struggling to breathe through our meal. My choking sounded like boking, vomiting that is, only from a cough out of control. The Health Police weren’t called and I enjoyed two of their Vita-C Flu Buster speciality smoothies.

There was a good chat about creativity and business, and Gar’s recent film work.

(Aside: the Black Panel returns were difficult. A number of comixers didn’t want stock back and said I should do the second thing I wanted to do with it. I don’t know what that is yet. Maybe something involving Free Comic Book Day? Answers through an e-code)

On return to Belfast, I spent much of the next fortnight in bed. For all the meds I’ve been on, the fever pretty much broke when my parents took me out for the day. Further improvements came when Sarah took me out to an Idlewild gig, camped over with Chinese takeaway and Naked Gun, then took us on a drive-round the following day, including a trip to the foot of Black Mountain. I’m okay with being a lonely person, peace made, but add some illmess and I’m terrified. A few friends breaking the solitude…well, if you’ve a friend in illmess, take the time to visit; ten minutes even, say you wanna come over.

Yesterday the doctor said I’ve two weeks to find my voice or I’m off for scans and scopes. He cautioned me against pushing myself to be heard by other people.

Save Uranus. End. Cue Ad.