Part 3: To The Point and Black Panel Tour

Comics are distributed in and out of Ireland by small pressers visiting different festival cities on tour. In Part 1 of this column I’ve recounted our experiences at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in Belfast and in Part 2, at the 2D Comics festival in Derry.

At the 2D Festival I’d picked up Phil Barrett’s BlackshapesGer Hankey’s Short Sharp Socks and three new Tommie Kelly titles for sell at our stall.

Also, probable liver damage.

tommie kelly is talented but also an arsehole

(Above: Tommie Kelly’s new book From Rags To Rockstars and a piece from the new Something Wonderful series. If you’re funds are low on the ground, Tommie has made Something Wonderful available as a legal torrent: see the second link above for details)

6th Juneben1
It’s a two hour scenic beauty ride to Belfast by Translink’s Bus service. I’d taken the insomnia ticket the night before. It had come in at a few seconds. The Black Box is a fifteen minute walk from the Europa Bus Station. Paddy’s mum had the car out, and dropped me off to set up our monthly stall. Paddy wisely went home to Doctor Who. While I performed the gargantuan feat-breaker two comics festivals in a row without a stop?

Nay. It was “dead”.

Not a single sale. Barely a look.

The market looked finer than it ever had. Stalls were front loaded with a variety of miscellany, a harem of printed papers, silks, badges, poi staffs and knitted wear. Ben Allen afforded me a few words of comfort. Ben is great like that. He’s a regular fixture at the market who plays around with pop art and printmaking. He takes his inspiration from artists who are fans of music, Peter Blake, Robert Crumb…
If you’re on Facebook, take a look at his profile or read an interview about his work on Northern Irish iconography.

Cara Cowan by Ben - drypoint etching

Above: Ben Allen’s drypoint etching of Cara Cowan, from his workings out of The Creative Exchange.

As it turned out, everyone in Belfast may have been recovering from festivals. The Hay Festival and Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival. Would it be too much to ask of my home city to get over flogging a dead ship?

June 9th

Alice Quigley, Black Market organiser mentions new creative academic and bursary opportunities in Belfast. She seems keen I give it a go, but it’s worth a mention for other interested parties.

The weekend has left me feeling spiritually drained so perhaps it’s time I started thinking seriously about this.

June 12th
Bloody Hell O’ Clock, Paddy might have said. Having slept for most of the last day, I’m a bit chirpier. I jump around sunlit fields looking for a laptop socket and the conductor informs me we have none. The sea outside Dublin looks the finest. I’d gotten a day return for £10 online, well worth it, and the tram to the dockside was 3 euros return. It was a smooth but unusual ride, as if Gene Roddenberry himself had returned to drive me by limo to the end of a street. We wander around for a while, looking into buildings still being completed. Sat outside on benches with cigarette and gourmet hotdog. More building fronts visited, with concrete and dust and hardhats coming and going. The front is laid out with tents offering ghee and cakes and paintings and prints and trinkets. Paddy spots a group of tents off to the side, four of them. And we set up stalls.

Point Village Comics Fest by Rob Curley

Point Village Comics Fest by Rob Curley

Point Village Comics Fest by Rob Curley

Point Village Comics Fest by Rob Curley

Above right: Barry Keegan, Gareth Gowarn, Robert Curley, Maura McHugh and Stephen Daly. Both photos made available via Rob Curley.

I was a bit nervous about selling comics outside but the sun never stopped and the wind was weak. English-based creators had come over for the day: Leonie O’Moore (There Goes Tokyo) and Jenika Ioffreda (Vampire Free Style) I’d my sales patter working fine and teamed up with Paddy to offer a special on our 24 hour comics which worked well.

Opposite, an attractive woman named Anna sat on the bench engaging the comic I’d written about my late grandmother, Eileen Lucas. Beside her, laid on the bench was her boyfriend taking in the sun. I watched them for a while and it was very pretty. The boyfriend exercised his legs and came over to the stall.
“My girlfriend says if I wish to know what your comic is about I should get to know you.”
Shyly, he retreated. I watched them for a few more minutes before joining them on the bench where we talked for ten about family, nationality, weather, comics and all sorts. Connecting with complete strangers are either side of the space between panels in a good comics festival.

(IMAGE MISSING)

Parts of the day went by like tumbleweed too. There were workshops for kids on creating comics and a pop-up book workshop by Maeve Clancy which I would have loved to see.
I suspect festival organisers part-agenda in workshops for kids is to prevent established creators from abandoning their stall-hosting responsibilities.
(Check out Maeve’s pop-up book created for Lisa Hannigan’s video to “Lillie”)

I did manage to abscond for a few hours though, checking out the spit-roast pig, sharing coffee with a lovely environmentalist and visiting other stallholders such as Damien O’Reilly, whose Pinback Magazine is a glossy follow-on from his 2000-era artzine, Paper Cuts. (And well it looks too) The evening ended with a few beers at Maeve Clancy’s home before the Roddenberry tram treated my weakened bladder most delicately.

(IMAGES MISSING)

The Point Village gig was organised by Hilary Lawler. This is the link to her weblog where there are a number of lovely drawings.

The Black Panel will be selling the works of Irish mini-comics creators at The Black Box, Hill Street, Belfast on Sunday 4th and 18th July. We’ll also be picking up new comics at Summer Edition 2010, Filmbase, Temple Bar, Dublin on 24th July for selling in Belfast on August 1st.

Part 2D: Derry Comics Festival

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for (now extinct) Alltern8; Comicking.

Photos by Ciaran Flanagan
Following on from last week’s report, the indie comix tour picked up at Sandino’s Bar in Derry for the fourth annual 2D Festival in Derry, NI.

Or rather outside the bar. The pavement has some seating (and twenty kegs), and as 2D “raises the bar”, each year the street fills further.

2d by Ciaran Flanagan

Inside, I was missing the ‘Social Commentary in Comics’ panel where Pat Mills spoke about Crisis, and ‘Everyone’s a Critic’, (photo above) which didn’t seem to have much focus in the twenty minutes I sat in it. (Though Ron from the Sunnyside Podcast was throwing out some great comedy moments.) On top of the drink and the food I came down with a dose of professional jealousy. I’ve slogged away at comics criticism for a decade. Oh well, I groaned. I’d wanted to put more time into making comics anyhow. (Skeptical readers can look out for my appearance at the Breaking into Comics panel in 2017 folks.)

This was pretty much the end of my getting any more professional revenue from the 2D Festival 2010. The rest of the evening was spent having mystomach operated on watching Mark Stafford dance like a Baachanalite pro.Lew Stringer
Conversing with Phil Barrett, Paddy Brown, Ger Hankey and Aiden, the editor of Irish language comic, Ri-Ra.

I’d managed to drive all but Phil away, spreading my arms over the back of the dumpster, beckoning for a fight.

2000 AD ain’t shit! Come on, why should I should read 2000 AD? It’s not so feckin great. Who’s man enough? Give me five good reasons. Bring it!”

After Phil had calmed me down on the mob’s behalf, Ger and Aiden returned. The conversation led to the importance of the Transformers comic in our growing up. (Ger Hankey is the quintessential Transformers professional: his portfolio captures the height of it’s powers: sign up someone!) Every week, we were delivered a cultural injection of action adventure morality in original narrative and cosmic art.

Lew Stringer“, said Aiden.
Lew Stringer is the artist behind Brickman, The Suburban Satanists, Robo-Capers and Combat Colin. The latter two ran in Transformers, and Stringer’s pieces apppeared in most of the 332 issues of the series. So Aiden theorised that the comic’s success was due to him. Redeeming myself, I agreed that Lew’s work formed a central part of this generation’s cultural consciousness.

clint1I’ve long been convinced Mark Millar gets way more column inches than he deserves. In soliciting big name creatives Johnathan Ross and Frankie Boyle in his forthcoming CLint

comic through UK newsstands, he’d earn his current attention. But where was Lew Stringer in all of this?

How could we, one mankind, united brother to brother and sister by Lew’s good works, have a regular British comic without content from Lew Stringer? So, I staggered to the hostel, and created a petition, and fell asleep. I figured this was the kind of thing to do while drunk.

5th June
Saturday of 2D is sales and signings day. I had the misfortune to have my white and black comics in the corner beside the good chaps at Comics and Collectables, the Derry comics store.

My booklets seem to take on a blank space and serve as Coca-Cola bottle coasters for the under-14s. Sales were slow, though this was going around. New stock for the Belfast market was acquired including Tommie Kelly’s From Rags to Rockstars, and two new Something Wonderful mini-comics, which gave the chuckles.

In the evening, food at a fancy meat joint with Barrett, Brown, Maeve Clancy and a few others. We returned again to Sandino’s, as full as my stomach. I had a pleasant chat with Glenn Fabry about mutual acquaintances and locality. However, the rest of the evening was a blur and I left early for the comfort of the hostel.

2d again by flanagan verbal arts

(Above: A quiet moment in the dealers hall, tiny stormtrooper and a talented young artist trying to raise some money to fund his university education. Photos taken by Ciaran Flanagan, 2D assistant and reviewer of graphic novels for the (venue), Verbal Arts Centre magazine. Below: the pub again)

2d sandinos flanagan 2010

My 2D experience this year was a downer. Feelings of depression, inadequacy, missed opportunities and hangovers. By the end of it, I was shattered and giving serious thought to my future with comics. As it has been turning out, this was fundamentally a good thing. Everyone I spoke with about the event volunteered they had a fantastic time. The organisers, David, Ciaran and other creatives handled with a professional respect that should be the envy of many. (I’m told Chief runner David Campbell had become a father only weeks beforehand, which makes this ADDED WINS.) Our sincerest thanks to the team for a great weekend.

 

If you would like to read some more about the event, check out Aaron ‘Ron’ Abernathy’s report for Culture NI on “the most relaxed’ comic con festival around”. There’s also some great video footage from the event.

 

6th June
Ah, but I’ve over-run my word count. Look out for Part 3 over the next few days as the tour moves from Derry to Belfast to Dublin and back.

 

Part 1: Black Panel Tour

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for (now extinct) Alltern8; Comicking.

Black Market CQAF

May 2:

Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival brings to Belfast a wealth of creative acts each year. Traders turn up to the fat gazebo at 10am, rather than 11:35, for the midday start. Big black tent. In retrospect, quarantine zone and reflection of the darkskies. The only lit area is a huge spotlight which spends the day trained on my retinal damage. Paddy says I’m being grumpy today, I think (later), that’s his expression of the same. A room-sized sound system scalps my ears, steals my notions away from the quality of talking with customers. I’m worried the cognitive connect will place us at the marquee, rather than the usual venue. Paddy and I make the same money as a usual day, but not so the artists we’re stocking. I have two days migraines.

Black Market Marquee

The event lasted for only four hours. I wish I’d noticed that before setting my alarm.

Good stuff: I liked the painting wall and peanut butter cupcakes. Ok, the music was okay.

Black Market Marquee 2

Lesson to event organisers: Think about what works. Don’t hit small markets with formed standards of big markets. It’s wanky and regressive.


May 5: We’re invited at short notice to be part of the Black Market for kids special but decline. Ri-Ra, two issues to date, is a great Irish language comic with great artists. Less than half our indy comics are suitable for kids, Ri-Ra and Hilary Lawler’s SuperHillbo are the only ones with an aim close to them. Paddy issued a call for more kids comics last year on his blog. The event was held in a marquee somewhere.

May 6: Belfast Comics Pub Meet is turned into a Drink n Draw. At the request of Stephen Downey I script a quick Batman comedy. Animator Ann Harrison of Celtic Dragon Studios is lashing down pencils and erasers of female characters. (The Pratchett visual opposite is from Ann’s blogspot) Paddy Brown speed-draws Iron Man and Stephen Downey is photographing everything in sight like a contortionist with part tricks.

Email comes through. Upcoming Black Books is our final one. By and large our comics stall has been successful, but we’re the exception. The event is cancelled as a regular bit, asides from a Trans July 18th event. (Trans aim to offer an alternative to Ulster July-festivals, away from the drumming and burning of stuff. They facilitate both the Black Books and Black Market events).

May 8: Interview with Phil Barrett, our best-selling cartoonist. You can read that here.

May 16: The final Black Books and again we draw in the crowds and the cash. I’ve begun to gather a fanbase and get a few sales of ‘Absence’, including off the back of my previous 24 hour comic. I don’t have any photos of this, so here’s one from a previous gig. (missing again)

Left to Right: Andrew Croskery (Kronos City), One satisfied punter with my comic. She also picked up a copy of Cancertown by Stephen Downey, and on the end next to him, beside the comics and handbags, my stall-mate, Patrick Brown.

June 2: Back from the pub meet where PJ Holden is seducing us with his “Ippad”. The printer on loan from a writer friend has been buzzing all week, replenishing stocks of the sold-out ‘Absence’. Map and bus ticket? Check.2D

June 3: The Derry Verbal Arts Centre for the 2D Comics Festival. Gary Erskine is looking over my thumbnails and generally being quite helpful and enthusiastic. Garry Leach comes over for a look too. The twenty other students making up are busy at their thumbnails.

Walking along the walls with organiser David Campbell I’m treated to a view of Phil Barrett‘s new collection which has been run through his printing and publishing service. Also joining us on this downhill trip are Pat Mills and the unexpectedly stable and attuned Glenn Fabry. I’d expected him to be drunk and cursing about women. A total pleasant gentleman.

Before I know it I’m in a sort of green room: softly lit comics celebrities across the skyline. I don’t know any faces to names and spying Barrett in the corner, make my way across before security turfs me out. At dinner, we’re joined by Colin MacNeil who is also pleasant. I don’t know where all these tortured artistic psychos are that I’ve heard so much about.

Then, it’s off to Sandino’s Bar. Glenn has heard it’s a socialist conspiracy venue full of rant and rage. I miss the first panel as I stop for a Guinness outside in the evening sun. It is to be a harbringer of things to come.

Look for Part 2 of The Black Panel Tour in a few days on Alltern8 as Andy tries to sell his work at three comics markets in a week. If you’re in Dublin on Saturday, you should join in. Details here.

Dublin’s New Cultural Venue Launches With Grassroots Comics Festival

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for (now extinct) Alltern8; Comicking.

Point Village Comic Festival 2010 will be introduced in the Point Village Market on the 12th June. It has been created by Hilary Lawler (creator of Superhilbo!) & Kate Farnon (Events Manager) from VSC Events to help promote comic book creators in Ireland. The stalls at this event are free for comic creators, artists and illustrators and the promotion and organization has been widely supported by the small press community. Hilary hopes this event will highlight further to the Irish public, what talents and wonderful publications are available to them. Often at events relating to comics, the cost of a table or stall hire can have a negative impact on the independent publishers pocket, so she hopes this event gives people a chance to network, promote and sell their comics and art.point village official poster

I asked Hilary for a few more details on the event.

Andy Luke: How many creators have you lined up?

Hilary Lawler: At present there are 35 people who are confirmed for the Point Village Comic Festival event. These range from comic creators to illustrators, animators and artists. All are involved in publishing a range of artistic endeavours from stand alone pieces, webcomics to regular volumes of work.

AL: Who’s attending? I notice a few names not local…

HL: From the list (off the top of my head and in no particular order) there are familiar names in comics such as Longstone Comics, Sancho, Road Crew and Atomic Diner, but there are also some names that may be new for most people such as Neptune Factory and Pinback. Either way it is proving to be a healthy mix of the great range of talents in Ireland.

AL: What can you tell us about the venue at this point?

HL: As the Point Village Market will be opening on the 29th May, it is difficult to give an exact description of the venue. As such the venue can be described, based on the images used for its promotion so far, to be a modern, open plan market with the intention of developing the market into the same vibe as Covent Garden. The Point Village Comic Festival will be an event that runs alongside the market for Saturday 12th June.

AL: Will comics creators be accompanied by other arts stallholders, eg. Camden, Belfast Black Market or Dublin Co-Op Independent’s Day?

HL: To the best of my knowledge the stalls in the market for each weekend will range from food to arts & crafts. The Point Village Comic Festival event is specifically aimed at those in the small press that can’t avail of a regular stall. This opportunity to sell your creations without having the cost of stall hire, is directly aimed at supporting the Irish small press. A creative expression in the form of a comic can be a costly affair, so at least anything sold remains a profit in this instance. It is aimed as a comic event but it is open to artists and illustrators in all areas.

AL: When is the event open from and to?

HL: It runs on the Saturday, 12th June – opening times are to be confirmed and stall holders will be notified closer to the time. The market opening times are advertised as 8.30am -5.30pm. However, the Point Village Comic Festival event time will open a little later in the morning to allow for setting up.

Hilary: It is a free event and some details are still being confirmed regarding workshops and panels. There is an exhibition on for the day so anyone is welcome to avail of the chance to exhibit their work. We welcome anyone who wants to take a free stall still, just email me at:
longstonecomics (at) gmail.com to register your details (blogspot, contact/mobile, website).
It is something I really hope will positively impact comic creators as it is an artistic path that I’m passionate about and love to promote. Seeing how many fantastic Irish creators there are out there, just persevering through the highs and lows of creating, really makes me want to ensure events like this help elevate them further. I know from my own experience that it takes a lot of dedication, commitment and perseverance to keep going in this industry. What does help is having the chance to see the public respond positively to your work, and that can only happen if we encourage and support events like this one.

Ger Hankey Point Village

The Venue: Point Village Centre, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1, Ireland
The Where: Saturday 12th June 2010, 11am-5pm (Stallholders from 10am)
How to get there: Luas Red Line (straight to venue), The Dart, Buses are Regular (esp. the 15)

Last bus: appears to be around 11pm. More info at Dublinbus.ie (also the name of a good comic by Paddy Lynch)
Driving: Look for the 02 Arena out by Dublin port.
If you’re lost: Phone for directions at 086 827 4839
Parking available at various spots nearby.
Entrance Cost: There is not such a thing.

Website: www.pointvillagecomicfestival.com

The accompanying flyer designed by Ger Hankey is shareware and is available from Ger, Hilary, myself or any stallholders involved with the event. Why not put a screen grab on your website? These are available at the Facebook Events page too.

Ger is premiering the print edition of the second issue of “Short Sharp Socks“. As revealed on Alltern8 last monthPhil Barrett may also be premiering a new comic. I’ll have a second edition of “Absence” ready. There’s also the welcome visit of guests such as the creator of Vampire Free Style, Jenika Ioffreda. Well, with a blow away roster like that, even by MS Paint challenged skills couldn’t resist tinkering with a poster design. My attempts are below, complete with graphics from creator’s websites and the venue brochure.

poster muckabout

poster muckabout 2

 

Related news: Readers may also be interested to learn of Edition Book Arts Summer Edition 2010: Artists’ Book, Comic and Zine Fair on Saturday 24th July from 11am – 5pm at Filmbase, Temple Bar, Dublin. Details on that at http://www.editionbookarts.com/

Britain’s Premier Comics Awards Initiates Facelift

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for (now extinct) Alltern8; Comicking.

At the Bristol Comics Expo last week the first hints of a relaunched Eagle awards were unveiled. If you weren’t there, you’re at the mercy of bloggers who were, and they’re strangely quiet.Eagle Awards Initiative

Barry Renshaw (of RedEye and Engine Comics) was brought in to help relaunch the Eagles. Today Barry posted a link to The Eagles Initiative.

Ashcan version: it’s basically a competition for non-commercially published professionals. There’s a small entry fee, with three quality cash prizes and a short publication deal in a well-printed anthology book.

The Eagles have been a stagnant non-event for a few years, which is sad as they also have a prestigous sentiment with which old-timers and the 30s years generation fondly associate. By extending that association, the Eagles should function to serve the next lot of young cartoonists. Certainly, away from charges that awards are self-indulgent.

Entries

SIZE MATTERS

Kenny Penman (of the Forbidden Planet Blog and Blank Slate) sugested that he was unhappy with these restrictions, and I have to agree. Use of this size has increased in Britain but the dominant format (among an estimated four new print comics per day) is A5. Oh, we used to use A4 a lot, much like the Japanese.

Multiple approaches always work better than the singular.

And some of those points might need re-worded…

Entries - originality

….For the purposes of auto-biography or documentary.

BleedingCool.com (up for a Website Award) has it confirmed that current judges are “Peter Bagge, Karen Berger, Tom Breevort, Chris Claremont, David Finch, Dave Gibbons, Geoff Johns, Gilbert Shelton, Jeff Smith, Bryan Talbo(t), Ethan Van Sciver, Mark Waid and Brian Wood.”

On the whole, this is very optimistic news.

As a consequence, future awards will probably widen categories, addressing small-press and commercial independent differently, as part of the UK’s postmodern heritage.

Speaking of the awards, the nominations were also announced at Bristol. Go vote now!

(Bear in mind that the Forbidden Planet Weblog is a brilliant resource and deserves an award for being a great mainstream champion of indy press.)

The results of The Eagle Initiatives will be released in October at the Birmingham Show. The Awards winners are also announced in October. Co-Operation? Well done.

Barry Renshaw will also be appearing at the 2D Festival in Derry on 3rd-5th June to talk about the Eagles Initiative. So, I’m looking forward to asking him who will be presenting the Phonogram creators with their awards, and how they’ll be doing it.

And this…

Eagles Outreach

Eagles Outreach 2

 

Hmmm.

 

2D: Northern Ireland’s Festival of Comics

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for (now extinct) Alltern8; Comicking.

The European City of Culture 2013 is the site for 2D. Although in its early years, the Derry/Londonderry festival is the closest Northern Ireland has gotten to a proper comics ‘con’ (if you must), and shows every sign of holding in there.2D

This year’s guest list is as impressive as previously: Pat Mills, Glenn Fabry, Leigh Gallagher, Rufus Dayglo, Garry Leach, Gary Erskine, Colin McNeil, Ilya, Emma Vieceli, Steve White (Titan), Will Simpson, Stephen Mooney, Nick Roche, Davy Francis, Bridgeen Gillespie, Phil Barrett, Maeve Clancy, Stephen Downey, Joe Campbell and the 2D Collective. Oh, and Paddy Brown and myself will be there too.

Details on the event have been slow to emerge and the organiser wasn’t available for interview. It appears the Facebook page may be the place to watch having supplied the above details and the following events list:

Tuesday 25th May – Friday 4th June – 2D presents ‘Irish Comic Art’ exhibition at the Void Gallery.

Thursday 3rd / Friday 4th June daytime – workshops

Friday 4th / Saturday 5th evenings – panel discussions

Saturday 5th – Comics Open Day

Somewhere among all that, “2D will be hosting the Titan Talent Search with Steve White (Titan senior editor). There will be opportunities for portfolio reviews and there will be prizes for the best portfolios. Anyone interested or would like to find out more please get in touch. Full details to be released soon.”

In previous years, the Thurdays events have typically been aimed at children and teenagers. On Fridays and Saturdays, the approach is much more all-ages, with these events being held at the Derry Verbal Arts Centre, high up the wall and hill. The Comics Open Day there provides free tables for guests and exhibitors, so for artists on a shoestring budget like myself, it’s a godsend. In the evenings, the event is at Sandino’s, a traditional Ulster pub, the sort of place historic yarns might be spun and where the smell of booze is a beautiful thing.

2D banner

My memories of last year’s 2D Festival are alcohol-informed, though not all of it. Genuine laughter, smiles, education, dancing, positive feedback and great conversations. I scribbled notes during the panels but they’re hidden through travel, time and the War on paper-eating Silverfish.

I’d got into the centrally placed Sandino’s Friday night, a colloquial bar with a whiff of heart. Upstairs, ‘The State of Comic Art’ is underway, featuring at centre the visually recognisable D’Israeli and Rufus Dayglo. A seat opens up near Bridgeen Gillespie, but the tiny spirited bar is packed. The ‘Eclectic Micks’ panel right after discusses Irish comics art and industry, and Bridgeen may have went on a bit of a quality rant there. Like she did on this video Fractured Visions, a two-part open source documentary shot around the event.

Fractured Visions: Interview with Malachy Coney

Fractured Visions: 20 September 2009

[UPDATE: The films were made by Craig Smith, “PhD student with research interests including: motion comics, comics, animation, mobile games and digital media.” You can follow Craig @motioncomix on Twitter or via his eponymous weblog on wordpress.]

(Missing from original article, Screenshot from the documentary featuring Bridgeen, organiser David Campbell, Declan Shalvey, David Lloyd and Malachy Coney)

With thanks to Declan Shalvey’s blogging skills for filling in the gaps in my memory.

Cameraman and reporter stand with Dierdre de Barra and Hilary Lawler (Longstone Comics) the following morning. At the Verbal Arts Centre outside by Derry Walls, high and windy, and I can see the whole sprawling city below. It’s kinda magnificent. Inside I take my free table, a bit Friday-fragmented.

(Re-united with Paddy Brown after years and meeting Barrett and Paddy Lynch: that called for a few drinks)

Below: My hangover wears off. Sourced from the Irish Comics Wiki.

2d_andy_luke
The venue is quickly busy and my first chat with the public is a family and child asking me to draw Spider-Man. I’m flattered and panicked: I have the illustrative abilities of an earth-worm, oh, and most of my comix contain cussin. Heavy colouring pencils go into gear, but it’s still terrible. I send them away with a free, inoffensive comic. Sales trickle and rush, but there’s consistent quality interaction as many people come over for a look and a chat. On the edge of the central promenade, I have a clear visibility. When I nip off to check out the rest of the view, Brown is feverously out-sketching the beloved Will Simpson. The large upstairs hall of the Verbal Arts Centre is jammed, so I can only make it through the mosh pit to pass a gift onto David Lloyd before I’m carried out again. The centre’s hall is plastered with drawings from the children’s workshop: a monster drawing wall. D’Israeli has some good photo captures of that (such as the one below)

Monster Drawing Wall 2d by Matt Brooker

The evening session at Sandino’s included more panels and presentations. Whoops went up when Bryan Talbot announced he’d been presented with an honourary degree from Sunderland University for his work on Alice In Sunderland. Organiser David Campbell got in a few jars and distinctly treated me with a level of care and respect I very appreciated. The only flaw was one that every comics festival organiser makes: the venue was flooded with loud music, which cut conversation and willful intent to dance. Outside, the smokers and non-smokers gathered for those. I stood delicately on the fringes of conversations with Talbolt, Dayglo and Mike Collins and others. I wasn’t the only one with a romantic tear in my eye for a truly great festival experience.

Market Matter: Black Panel Phil Barrett

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for (now extinct) Alltern8; Comicking.

Phil Barrett Interview

Phil Barrett is an acclaimed and respected Irish cartoonist, who returned from Canada a few years ago with a style hybridised from the best of both country’s cartoonists. Readers of The Black Panel Diaries series are familiar with my ravings about the great sales of his work at Belfast markets. Over email, Phil tells me this approach has already outsold his online sales this year.Phil Barrett

Oh, and everyone else loves his gear too.

Andy Luke: Hi Phil,

Paddy (Brown) suspects the reason many people pick up your books is the quality line and brush-work. For people who have never picked up a Phil Barrett book, could you please give a brief description of why they might?

Phil Barrett: Ultimately I suppose I’m trying to create an intriguing story to keep the hypothetical reader reading even if they have no clue as to where it might be leading. After you’ve read one of the stories you should kind of know what I’m getting at with the ideas therein but not quite be able to put it into words. Most of the stories are an elaborately constructed set made to look like a blind alley. Hopefully everything else from the artwork to the presentation should serve this end.

AL: Could you tell me about your own experiences selling at comics markets and community fairs?

PB: In my experience selling my own books at fairs and so on has been something of a revelatory missing link. Previously I’d just distributed my comics as best I could via comic shops and other similar shop based outlets where you dropped off a few copies sale-or-return and hoped for the best (often hanging about the shop to see if anyone ever picked them up). There is something thrilling about witnessing the public handing over money for your books – ‘There are real people reading these things!’ When you put so much into their construction, the pride and satisfaction of seeing them go off the table and out the door is not to be overrated.
festival_covAlso you get to meet other cartoonists doing the same thing. Cartooning can be a lonely oul game and the camaraderie and healthy competition is a good boost.
The Black Panel distribution table is an excellent outlet and straddles the best aspects of the comic shop and community fair – an open-minded but not necessarily comics-savvy crowd looking for something original – what could be better?

AL: Is there any chance we’ll have you over at the Black Panel for a signing this year to meet your adoring masses?

PB: ‘Adoring masses’!?! I think you mean a non-repulsed handful!
Once I get something new together to shill – I’ll definitely be up.

AL: What are you working on at present and when can we expect to see your next print comic?

PB: At the minute I’m finishing up some new material for a collection of short pieces that the publishing arm of the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry are going to put out. Hopefully that should be done for mid-May in time for the Bristol Expo.
There should also be a self published mini-comic ‘Ricky’ before the end of May – rejigged from a previous anthology appearance.

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AL: If a reader had only to pick up one Phil Barrett comic do you have one you’d be most proud of?

PB: The Matter blue one ‘Stagnant Pool’ is probably the one I’m most happy with. Even though its a good few years old at this stage it’s probably the one comic I’ve done so far where the potential at the time was fully reached – it doesn’t read as if I wrote it at all! Plus it’s funny in parts. ‘Blackshapes’ is also worth a gawk though it came out a bit more serious than me.

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Above: Samples from Matter: A Stagnant Pool

AL: And readers of your work might also enjoy which comics by other artists?

PB: I would have no doubt those readers would probably enjoy any other homegrown comics available on the Black Panel table – I think they share the slightly mordant humour and surreal worldview of much of the Irish output.

AL: What sort of print runs do your comics usually have and how often do you go back to press?

PB: Unfortunately I’ve never kept accurate figures. I usually print at home on demand and at the moment it’s wholly through fairs and markets and the odd internet order that the comics are distributed. Since it’s been around the longest, the Matter Blue one is probably the bestseller at what I’d estimate at 400+.
AL: You seem to be quite good at selecting disparate images in your comics narratives. (Especially in the blue-covered Matter: A Stagnant Pool) What advice would you give to the kids who want to make a name for themselves as comix storytellers?

PB: Focus on the storytelling more than the comix. It’s the story that people respond to – once they get past the surface of the artwork it’s the story that keeps them reading. It’s worth spending as much time tweaking and honing the story and how it flows as it is on the more obvious return of polishing the artwork.
Keep a sketchbook and use it – ideas disappear as quickly as they appear unless they are noted down. The ‘stagnant pool’ story is practically a jigsaw patchwork of image ideas tacked together.

The Black Panel Diaries season continues over the next month at Alltern8, covering the 2D Festival in Derry and The Point Village Festival in DublinPhil Barrett will be appearing as a guest at both of these events.

Phil’s website is http://www.blackshapes.com/