Belfast Comics Fayre

This Sunday, December 9th, in Haymarket Arcade, off Royal Avenue, the Comics Fayre comes to Belfast.

Orchestrated by Avalon Arts with some arrangement from yours truly, the event is billed as a family fun day with FREE admission. There are exhibitions of comics art, workshops, comics launches, panels, talks, face painting, fancy dress, a cafe and a bar.
We’ve a few special guests from across the border: Darrin O’Toole (Writer, Tales from the Void), Eoin McAuley (Editor, Lightning Strike), Ciaran Marcantonio (Writer, ‘A Clockwork Universe’ for Lightning Strike), Daryl Cox (Artist, ‘Monkey of Oz’ for Lightning Strike) as well as Belfast’s very own Patrick Brown (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) Odds are good other home-town comics pros are making surprise guest appearances.
The market, which usually hosts local crafts, will push a surge of comics and geek ephemera such as tables recovered in comics strips, gamer badges and knitted trinkets.
The Stack comics store will be there with a range of graphic novels, and partaking in the re-launch of The Black Panel, an initiative to bring Northern and Southern Irish comics to the viewing public. I’ll be hosting The Magnificent One Day ComicBook Factory. There are also a series of short talks, and I’m pleased to announce that Eoin McAuley will be speaking on developing a small press comic from an idea to publication.

[Facebook Event link]


My christmas card range and new comics will also be showing at the Arts and Disability Forum’s Gift 2 exhibition, (on Royal Avenue) until December 20th. There’s also a special “Seasonal Celebration” wrap soiree on the 20th, with details on Facebook.


Normative, ha! What does normative know?

I am Andrew Luke.



Last month, I visited Nerdtopia in the leafy student district of Belfast’s Stranmillis Road. They were all out of Deli-Lite sandwiches, so instead, I’d a gourmet sausage roll made for the Sultan himself.

It was the morning after Q-Con, an enormous sci-fi and gaming thing, a village. We maintain being wrecked due to this pressurised stint of business, and not the Jack Daniels controlling our neurologies.

I love coffee; the dirty damage of any writer but frankly I’d been up since 6am working on my latest commission* and deserved a soothing addle of hot cocoa hyperdrive.


Nerdtopia Coffee Manager John, quite lovely. Please keep him in work.


Nerdtopia Says Eat Cake  – The coffee making area is perhaps Nerdtopia’s greatest flaw. Not for the vanilla, caramel and chocolate syrups, the size it takes up in the small premises; an industrial length box perhaps ripped from an ice-cream shop.

Around about is a booth for four, round two-person tables, a set of comfies and throws, a reader shelf and accessible pinboard. This informs the realisation I’m sitting in a community space. A business sure, but it feels inclusive, almost organic. The shop has it’s backbone of regulars, explains John, “but we get all ages in here. Many are locals just looking for somewhere with a bit of colour.”


This is Chris, the store manager. Out the back of the shop is a large room ideal for workshops and signings, used by gaming groups on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. They open a little later then.


The comics selection is one black case of about eighty books built of Judge Dredd, Batman, The Walking Dead and Warhammer. They also have on sale key rings, die-casts and brushes; board games, tobacco cases and the United Rizla Papers of Benetton.


The Nerdtopia flyer, with £1 off any large tea or coffee. Hot! They also do a 10% student discount.

In my dream scenario, comics readers are treated as the over 25s and allowed to mix strips, beer and daylight if they so choose, without awaiting allocated convention days. We’re all responsible drinkers, except for the Whovian cosplayers. The next best thing is this social model of selling coffee with comics. The late Jack Brodies in Camden sold Dr. Octopus and orange juice, and I’m told Plan B Books in Glasgow has Satrapi and Sumatra, and that Dublin City Comics and Collectables does Kickass and Kitkats.

I’d taken the 8a there, but it’s really a ten minute stroll back to the city. First, the bladder must be emptied and John points me out to the back room. Then another doorway. a tall enclosure stretching to the celing, it’s outer walls on each side an assuring police box blue welcomes me to travel the streams with the technology within.

Nerdtopia are located at 86 Stranmillis Road, Belfast, BT9 5AD. Here’s a link to their Facebook page.

*Andrew Luke is currently finishing writing the Looking For Work series of books for the Social Security Agency of Northern Ireland.

Belfast work by the co-creator of Judge Dredd: America

Back in 1997, a Belfast collective launched DNA Swamp, a cosmic rock n roll anthology frayed around the edges. Carried in the news-stands it showcased work by a lot of talented people, including PJ Holden, John Farrelly, Malachy Coney and Sean Doran.

Along the three issues there was a habit of pro creators producing the covers. Frank Quitely did the first, Philip Blythe the second, the third was painted by Colin MacNeil.

DNA Swamp 3


That’s it; currently up on ebay for £250 or nearest offer.

You can read more about DNA Swamp at the often reliable Irish Comics Wiki.

September 3rd for UK and Ireland’s first comics barcamp


The date has been confirmed for the second Comics Barcamp in the English speaking world. The venue is Blick Studios in Belfast, who are also co-sponsoring the event. Announced in the week following 2d, Christine James of Blick and Andy Luke confirmed the date yesterday.

A barcamp is essentially an “unconference”, a creative business brainstorming seminar, run along communal lines. The communal element is essential, because if a set number of people don’t take part, barcamp doesn’t happen. It relies on advance planning, but has an improvisational element that keeps the energy fresh. It also generally has reverberating effects after the event such as a web-streamed presentations and blogging.

While employing a plethora of talented imagineers, the comics industry is known to produce mostly bland generic vanity work; rarely sensually relevant, often linked with class trappings. Much like most other media industries. Until recently. the format of comics conventions has remained much the same as it has for over thirty years. Creators are largely used to invites with guest focus promotion, more often being told what to speak on.

Can Comics Barcamp really change that?

With around six weeks to go and little discussion, it remains to be seen if this barcamp will work. Irish comic industry expansion in recent years indicates the gain from events like this could be considerable.

Confirmed attendee, Andy Luke, refused to be drawn into a lone voice mentality, and has invited his imaginary friend to speak on his behalf.

“The possibilities of what Barcamp could achieve are incredible, for humans, autobots and decepticons alike. We must work TOGETHER to raise the credits for this TALK among ourselves and construct fantastical presentations only existent in our imaginations. This is a new day for Cybertron, and for Earth. A FREE BARCAMP. The Living Matrix only knows. Or the AllSpark. Whatever.”

It is unknown if Optimus Prime will attend Comics Barcamp. His enemy Starscream, also lives in some people’s heads, and also supports the idea.

“The universe is ours, rich for the plunder! Now… WHERE IS MY FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUE TABLE OF COMICS CREATORS TALKS?”

Barcamp starts now.

Register for the event
Discussion Group (as well as ICN’s forum)

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) 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 (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.


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

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.

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.

matter_01_sm_01 matter_01_sm_02

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

Comics and Cartooning: UK Election 2010

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

With the UK general election happening this week, democracy gets opportunity to curtail the taint destructive politicians have left on the world stage. I thought it might be interesting to deliver a round-up of what some British cartoonists have been saying on the matter.

Labour or the Conservatives (or ‘Unionists’, as they used to be known, and sometimes are in Northern Ireland) have held power for 65 years. So, care of Sean Duffield, a four page look at the Labour leader, David Cameron,

Cameron Taxi Driver

Ah yes, Cameron’s friendship with Rupert Murdoch, Google-fearer and owner of the British registered Newscorp (BSkyB, The Sun, The Times), which avoids paying tax in Britain.

Might we be seeing this sort of thing in a Murdoch-Cameron Britain?

Dave Brown The Independent 2009

Um, sorry? Dave Brown, 2009

Marc Roberts of Throbgoblins,
“I’ve been playing around on PhotoShop (other image manipulation programmes are available) and have come up with the following. It’s mostly a tad sinister – UK politics and the pending ecological debacle”

Here’s his ApoCameron-lypse,


Crazy internet-fearing Murdoch, drawing threats on the BBC, a public service broadcaster funded by the public since 1933 with it’s aim to present fair impartial reporting.
Here’s a cartoon on favourite LibDem Clegg’s victory by Rich Johnston from the 26th April as originally posted to Guido Fawkes.

RichandMark 26 April

And of course, the always admirable Steve Bell in his work for The Guardian,


So, really a televised leadership election debate should have taken place at the BBC rather than being relegated to third place after the commercially funded ITV and Murdoch’s private BSkyB.



Above: Two more from Steve Bell and The Guardian.

Now the UK have a chance to lock Murdoch out of UK politics and cut the propaganda that has seen the nation’s Green Parties, the welsh Plaid Cymru, the Scottish National Party and others locked out of these debates.

Oh, and this guy too.

fascist guy_72dpi

Source: Duffield


Source: Bell

The image above by Holocaust-denying racist Nick Griffin, parasite to re-opened multi-party politic talk. It’s another by Sean Duffield: Go and donate a few pounds towards War – The Human Cost, a brilliant BRILLIANT anthology he’s hoping to get out.

The BBC brought us the iconic kids show Bagpuss, and here’s Sean take on Gordon Brown.

sagpuss_page1_with_text_78 sagpuss_page2_mice_and_text_78dpi

Marc Roberts goes for high pitch animals too,


This will be the first UK election since Web 2.0 has fully worked it’s way into British culture. Hopefully we’ll not get any Votergate-type scandals and see elected tolerable agenda for the job.

Murdoch isn’t the only unelected dictator we need to get rid of, after all.


Source: Mark and Rich, Guido Fawkes

And what of this man?


By Steve Bell

He may very well be the UK’s new Prime Minister.

Modern politics is driven by who you can’t vote for, rather than who you’d like to. Still, being cooped up in Westminster talking only to other politicians is an uneconomical reality to face.


The above cartoons are by Steve Bell. There are some more of them here.

Dave Brown, then Peter Schrank (The Independent) as to how they’re not really of the same thinking state as many of us,


Some things are just too prescient. Morland Moreton from The Times way back in 2006..


Please vote on Thursday. Sure they’re all crap, but not voting helps keep them in power. Remember, ‘Hung parliament’ is code for greater democracy.

If you’re interested in similar, less conservative attitudes to British political cartooning try the works of BRICK (aka John Stuart Clark), Kate Evans,Polyp and Kate Charlesworth.

The Black Panel Diaries

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

In 2008 I assigned myself to fledging London Underground Comics at Camden Market. I’d just taken to weekly writing for Comics Village. The column was Sheridan Cottage, and it felt like the best comics journalism. In that same spirit, this space once a month I’m chronicling similar: selling homemade comics at a free public market. The Black Box is a club venue in Belfast’s Cathedral Arts Quarter. It’s attached coffee shop is renowned for its finest pizza, says Paddy. Over the following months it wil play host to some of the Belfast Nashville festival, The Vagina Monologues, and gigs by The Fairport Convention, Luka Bloom, and PJ Gallagher. On Sunday mornings it also seems to double as a church social function. Weird. No time for either, I’m trying to sell my grandmother for an electric blanket and a packet of cigs.

black panel

The Black Box gives us chairs and space for a donation. It seems their interest is represented in genuine altruistic community promotion. When the Good Friday agreement spun and arranged post-war Ulster back in ’95, a ‘Peace Dividend’ saw city investment grow and a £1 billion regeneration of the Laganside. The Black Box is in this area that’s steeped with literary history. We’re selling comics from thirty-ish creators across Ireland. There’s a full list on the blogspot I set up.

Ok, time for a smoke.

It’s a cold Sunday at 1pm and my trade route in the new brick streets is blocked by a speaker and a group of student types. He’s talking of how three decades of Troubles created an attitude were no-one goes inside or even near the thriving Arts Quarter that they pushed so much money into. Proving his labelling theory, he leads them away.

It’s quieter today although my emergency heating bill is topped up, helped by giving away free mini-comics. Young and old come chat with us. Malachy Coney and his colloquial folk-tales are the subject of a few of these chats. Davy Francis, Will Simpson, Garth Ennis, PJ Holden, and John McCrea. For years, Coney too, has been an authentic Northern Irish known league comics creator. His four book Holy Cross series relayed the experience of Northern Ireland life even better than Ennis’ acclaimed Hellblazer: Heartland. The first Good Craic Comics gives the same poetic flavour with a decisive foray in the adventure genre of a local character. Mycroft Moriarty travels iconic Belfast landmarks: the city hall, the Ulster Museum and it’s sarcophagus, well-known culture spots of the old surviving the renewal.

The second issue of Good Craic Comics has been finished a few years, but funding body NI Arts and Culture rejected Coney’s application. What may have affected the decision was the author’s preference for a local printer rather than out-sourcing to cheaper England. The decision was appealed. Some wonder if there’s something about Mal’s type of comic they just don’t want to publish? Or was it part of the £400 million allocated to building a shopping complex to look like it was created by Michael Bay?

I sell a final comic and must make good on my pledge to copy up a new one for next month. Five copies, says Paddy. We quickly scriblle out the poster for ‘Playing with A Full Decker’ but it’s forty minutes to pack up. Another NI Culture endeavour at the Box, Black Books, is to run fortnightly and we’re invited along for the ride. So Feburary 23rd, we’ll be back again. Camden it ain’t, but there’s something there.

Mal Coney on the Irish Comics Wiki
Cue & Ehh? Interview with Mal.

Comics Pub Meets: Ireland

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

In the second of a four part article on creative and social networking and fandom across the UK, we’re going to turn our attention towards Ireland.

After hearing about the success of pub meets in Birmingham in 1997 I fly-postered around local comic shops in Belfast for a monthly meet. Numbers were small, four to six creatives amid ramshackle crowd noise. It did serve as an opportunity to compare reading tastes and art tips and nurtured a few good friendships. Busy workloads meant the group drifted apart as many do. When I returned in 2009, I was welcomed into a new group, which was larger and better organised. The Belfast Comics Pub Meet takes place on the First Thursday of the month at the Garrick Cloth Ear from around 9pm or so. For further details, drop myself or Paddy Brown a wee line.

belfast comics pub meet


“That’s not Ron!” screamed his missus in block caps.

Dr. Sketchys has been replaced by Real Sketchys, which runs at The Black Box, Hill Street, Belfast on the first Thursday of every month from 9pm. The Drink n Draw also offers artists the chance to sell their work. Contact point might be Adam Turkington (@AdamTurks)and Seedhead Arts, here on 

belfast sf


Eugene Doherty runs the Belfast SF Group at the Errigle Inn, Ormeau Rd, Belfast on alternate Thursdays. There’s an emphasis on hard science word has it, but also a bit of craic. Contact Eugene for more details.

“The Other Ones” is a younger (20s-30s) SF,  Fantasy and gaming group meeting alternate Wednesdays at the Metro Bar, Botanic. Their emphasis is largely on the social, those misfits, and their Facebook group is here.

The Dublin Comics Jam is well attended by a colourful bunch, and held around the 3rd Thursday of the month at Lord Edward (opposite Christchurch), Dame Street. This has Drink and Draw aspects although I’d wager a lot of networking and friendship goes on too.  I’m told Kyle Rogers is a good contact, though they have a mailing list which you can join at dublincomicjam (at) gmail(dot)com for updates.

Out on the remote coastline of Galway, Donal Fallon sends me news of the Galway Pub Scrawl,

“The Pub Scrawl started in response to the Drink & Draw in Cork. We get about 10 people or so every week, with more some weeks. We’ve been hanging out in McSwiggans, which is kind of small and dark, so I guess if I got the numbers up we could get some bigger, brighter pub to make provisions for us. It’s fairly informal, we just chat & draw and mess around. Some of the guys (including myself) are into comic book work, but we haven’t discussed it much here. The NUIG Art Society do a comic class of some kind at the moment. I’d have to search around to get you more details, but some of those guys come to the Pub Scrawl. If you see Ruth Campion’s name in the Pub Scrawl group, she’d be in the loop about that kind of thing.”

UPDATE: Since writing this I’ve been invited twice to ComicsWest, a great comics festival run by the Comic Book Society at the University of Galway. They’re dedicated and it’s likely they run a pub meet or two. Here’s the link to ComicsWest facebook page.

“You can certainly list me as the contact, but there’s no formality or leadership. It’s more an exercise in getting people to draw who might not, or getting those who do to share their skills/approaches in a comfortable setting. I’m hoping to get it up to 30 or 40 people over the next few months. Considering we have an Art School and a Comic Shop here in Galway, there should be the audience!”

Galway Pub Scrawl happens weekly in McSwiggans between 8:30-11:30. You can contact Donal or others and get more information through the Facebook group.

The Cork Drink n Draw Cork Donal mentions are indeed on Facebook

Drink safe!

Omitted from the original article: Dr. Sketchys, which no longer runs at the Menagerie. Here’s the original graphic for posterity.