Dawn Lennox, Norma Thierfelder & Andy Luke Do Magnificent!

On September 22nd the Games of Thrones-centric Titancon held at The Europa, Belfast, hosted the debut of Andy Luke’s Magnificent One Day Comic Book Factory, raising £25 for Action Cancer producing and selling  small run mini-comic that same afternoon. With the authors permission, we re-present three of the strips drawn in an hour more-or-less.

DAWN LENNOX (BELFAST)

Dawn Lennox

 

NORMA THIERFELDER (GERMANY)

norma-744x1024

 

ANDY LUKE (BELFAST)

Andy-744x1024

 

You can see two other strips of The Titancon Factory Sessions from PJ Holden and Patrick Brown here.

My TitanCon report is on Livejournal, including Flickr pics of the Titancon at The Giant’s Causeway.

EVENT REVIEW: Morrison’s Superhero Renaissance, Academic Conference 2/2: Lightning

Grant Morrison And The Superhero Renaissance was an academic symposium held at Trinity College Dublin on 14-15 September 2012. The conference was organised by Dr. Darragh Greene (UCD) and Dr. Kate Roddy (Trinity) In the second of a two part column, the Andy Lukes of different timelines commune to call forth their notes and  memories of the experience. You can read the first part of the report here.

Katie Chaos’s Joker-like rampage across Dublin betides woeful hangovers upon those who accompanied her trail. It was 4am when we got in. I went to sleep resigned to missing the early presentations, and remembered Gar Shanley told me foxes congregated outside the room were I slept and cried like babies. Gar lives almost entirely on boiled eggs, and so restored me to health, fit to return to the Long Room Hub for the second day of the conference.

Morrisonposter

GOOD AND EVIL

 

Muireann O’ Sullivan’s ‘God is Dead: Long Live Superman!’ discussed the sociology of fan culture. It looked at the relationships between gods, man and superheroes to find an inverse relationship between the first two and latter two. The talk apparently looked at Morrisonian characters in terms of faith, (“these heroes are creations in man’s image, rather than humanity being created in God’s), and belief, and why the superhero genre is so magnetic while rejecting conventional religion.

O’ Sullivan’s peer at Trinity, Nicholas Galante looked at the author’s use of Christian religious symbolism in ‘Our Father, Who Art in Gotham.’ It seems to have been largely a study of Arkham Asylum, looking at character shifts relating to each situation within the chaotic, illogical environment that the book examines.

Dr. Will Brooker (Kingston University London) was good enough to forward me his paper, ‘The Return of the Repressed: Grant Morrison’s Batman RIP’ . It describes a particularly stimulating work of collection (52 worlds), and integration: Morrison sews together the differing tones, including 1950s and 1960s stories Batman might like to forget. Tales of The Dark Knight encountering pink tentacled monsters, UFO aliens, The Joker with his helicopter which looks just like him, Bat-Mite, and others, in a manner which would probably have turned Frederic Werthram onto cannabis. Brooker informs that sometimes these came as dreams or hallucinations or X-Files adventures, but have been re-pushed by Morrison to sit alongside the inter-weave of the works by Miller, Moore, Grant and O’Neil, and create a new conservatism. Just as with the ‘Spectrum of Supermen’ discussed by Will’s student Philip Bevin on Day 1, Morrison treats Batman to a “Prismatic Age”, as suggested by Duncan Falconer. This was a great paper, so I’m going to take the opportunity to quote from it some.

“Morrison returns Batman and Joker not to a single earlier era, but to something more complex: a matrix, a network, a conversation between past and present…… Rather than containing him, neutralising, deadening and dampening his meanings, as the title Batman Rest in Peace initially suggests, Morrison digs up the character’s past and encourages a sense of unrest, of activity, diversity, carnival and liberating uncertainty. The story’s central protagonist is still a Dark Knight and grim vigilante, but we – and Batman – are never allowed to forget the rest, the repressed: the rest of the Batmen, shattered, scattered and surrounding him, in every rainbow shade of the spectrum, like ghosts from alternate earths and other histories, like fragments of a magic mirror, in a halo of mosaic pieces.”

RainbowBatman

HUMANITY AND SUPERHUMANITY

Two more papers on All-Star Superman: Jennifer Harwood Smith looked at the narrative were solar poisoning saw the man-hero make farewells to his loved ones, intertwining the senses of the personal and the epic.  The Trinity speaker also spoke of Superman and history and how this informed relationships as death approaches.

Shaun Treat from the University of North Texas explored the supermythos ret-con in myth and commodity, as “a quasimystical medium for expanding consciousness, altering perceived reality and exploring themes central to the human condition.” Morrison’s Utopian MystiFiction in the “holy alien trinity of Kal-El, Clark Kent and Superman.” This was a gripping piece, and I think it addressed my problems with Arno Bogaert’s notion on Day 1 that realistic, pro-active superheroes are on “a slippery slope.”

“the holy alien trinity of Kal-El, Clark Kent and Superman operates as a global Lacanian fantasy wherein the power of the story ennobling humanity to being/becoming/be stronger than we think ourselves to be also demands we accept and channel our inner-Ubermensch. Because Superman is a fictional meditation upon the Nietzschean and Fascistic potentialities of the Ubermensch fantasy, a desirous circuit that is inspired by rather than inspiring the ambivalences of the human condition for what Henry Jenkins finds is a multiplicity of ‘becoming’. Morrison invents a fantasy that inverts and mystically re-shapes our conditions for ‘reality’ as a ritual enactment of invented fictions. In short, within this Utopian Mystifiction of Morrison, readers are invited to become participant co-authors with a SuperGod who is dreaming the promise and perils of all humanity…and ourselves.”

INTERLUDE: LUNCH

There was a great camaraderie amongst the twenty odd attendees, and a sharing of tales and tips. I perched myself on the sidelines though, having broken the rule of Con gatherings: Don’t drink heavily on the night of Day 1. Darrin O’Toole mentioned a local group of comic creators were having a launch party: the Lightning Strike people, and I’d promised to look in, so the two of us took to the streets.

lightningstrike cover

After twenty minutes of maze-work we hit upon the art space/shop type venue, marked out by beautiful girlfriends, Victorian adventurers (hello, Ciaran Marcantonio), and storm-troopers. Large comics arts pages graced the walls by a fellow who might
give the super-improved Stephen Downey a run for his money, and I discussed a project I was pitching, and our mutual plans on distribution and profile-building. A quick goodbye inside, yelling at Ger Hankey, “You and Me For IDW” before returning to the conference. Ger talks about his contribution, Hybrid, and the launch, in interview with Ciaran Flanagan on the great 2dcast earlier this week. Ger’s art featured heavily in the promo material, re-interpreting the Lightning Strike character collection for publicity. Although I adore his 1980s-ish Transformers stuff, his approach of mostly drawing with ten year olds in aim doesn’t appeal to me. Lightning Strike looks to be an incredibly diverse anthology with painted Vertigo Hellblazer stylings of intrigue, steampunk people riding dinosaurs, and monkeys, just because. So yes, toss aside your scepticism and pick up a copy.

MASCULINE IDENTITIES

And so I managed to miss most of the second leg of Day 2 as well. I was really looking forward to hearing from Tim Pilcher, an ex-editor for DC Comics when they were operating in Londonduring the 90s. A friend of Grant, we’d swapped our own Morrison stories, and some of these may have been recounted in his talk on the author’s use of playing multiple personalities when in front of the media lens. ‘Transvestitism, Transgenderism and Transformative Personalities in the Life and Work of Grant Morrison’ also looked at ‘liquid personality’ and a malleable sense of self across his characters, manipulated by internal or external forces, including Morrison for use on himself, as noted above.

morrison-fluid-personalities

Dr. David Coughlan from the University of Limerick gave us From Shame Into Glory. The subject was the hyper-masculine; armoured against the feminine, yet read as expressing shame and inadequacy. Coughlan spoke of “the idea of diffusing the hard body” present in Animal Man andFlex Mentallo, and the life defined by shame, guilt, fear and hatred in the character of Ned Slade in The Filth. Slade’s secret identity is that of a paedophile, but he is a super-cleansing hero dedicated to his cat. The Filth, according to Coughlan, examines the superhero’s part in redeeming man from shame “through the interactions of perversion and policing.”

META

Charles Stephens from Texas A & M University presented Morrison Meta-Continuity Within the DC Universe: Creativity as the Ultimate Superpower. Touching upon many of the themes of the conference so far, he also brought in more view to Seven Soldiers and Final Crisis, and the subject of continuity. Charles looked at the subject of Grant’s metafiction avatars, and the movement by other authors and contemporaries to do likewise. My memories of this are hazy – this may be when we discussed John Byrne’s run on She-Hulk (around the same time as Animal Man #26), but my notes tell only that I should read the book on Jerry Siegel, ‘Men of Tomorrow’and Susan Blackmore’s The Meme Machine, which picks up where Dawkins left off on The Selfish Gene.

Clare Pitkethly (New Zealand?) presented Alienated in the pages of a Comic, on the subjection of his characters to comic book textuality. Inhabited by alien discourse are his characters, while Morrison in his comic assumes the role of language himself (through means of his proxies and signifiers) The characters and their environments take on “self-reflexivity” qualities recurring.  acquiring “a distance from the illusory worlds around them”, yet become aware of this. Language speaks the speaker (written from somewhere else), and characters are spoken by the author.

The final talk was by Roy Cook of the Universityof Minnesota. Royis the author of The Art of Comics which we should  for in paperback shortly, and a contributor to Pencil, Panel, Page a comics theory blog. His talk sounded frivolous, but in fact was fun and infectiously brain-occupying. The Writer and The Writer guided us through The Death of The Author in Suicide Squad #58. Written by John Ostrander, the Squad was joined on three or four pages by Grant Morrison, as visualised in Animal Man #26, with the power of prophecy, events unfolding on his word processor. Until blown up. Cook’s theory is that Old School Ostrander is having some fun poking at the young hipster writers with their kooky ideas and fancy literary foppery. But, he remarks, here’s where it gets interesting. “This issue forces us to re-conceptualise the relationships between the author as creator and the author as meta-fictional construct within his own creation, at least when this creation is a massively fictional universe like the DC continuity.” Rob then goes on to lay out five universes:

1. Wily E. Coyote, Road Runner cartoons

2. Crafty, Wily E’s Animal Man avatar and Chas Truog, who precedes Morrison and appears by paintbrush.

3. Grant as The Writer, along with his house, nearby parks and paths (visualised through Truog’s interpretation of course), appearing in Animal Man #25-26.

4. The Writer’s appearance in Suicide Squad. Technically,John Ostrander’s avatars for Grant and Chas, filtered his own perspective.

5. Our world, were everybody above and everything mentioned exists.

The-Writer

Closing

Dr. Chris Murray summed up the conference was  “a rich view of Morrison’s oeuvre and his techniques.”

Someone suggested Moore was a guru, but yet an old school teacher standing at the front and instructing, while Morrison was an escatonic new ‘we’ll all be friends’ teacher.

There was chatter about the rise of writers along Morrisonian lines.

Speculation we would yet see a diverged Superman, and coalesced Batman.

Consensus: to learn about continuity, go to Morrison.

Two things we didn’t talk about at all: the Kathmandu experience, and Quitely and Morrison’s conversation with the stranger who dressed and looked exactly like Superman.

Two things we did talk about: The Black Zoid saga, and what Grant might have thought of all this – that he’d be interested, surprised, but mostly amused.

It was a fantastic few days of thinking, learning and cooking academic esteem.  I’m really glad it happened.

I got back to Gar’s place and we had a good old bitch, while eating more healthy boiled eggs. We watched his award-winning Foxes, which was fantastic and very creepy, and I enjoyed my first views of Cloverfield, and The Mist.

Thanks to Darragh, Kate, Gar and everyone who worked so hard for such a unique weekend. I hope Dublin has another comics barcamp or conference in 2013.

Andy Luke would like 1,000 readers to check out his great comic, Optimus and Me, so he can justify  publishing the beautiful colour sequel, The Moods of Prime, on his website for free. He’s currently working on strips for Courageous Mayhem, including ‘Underwater Billiards: A True Story’, due out in Winter 2013.

PJ Holden and Paddy Brown do Magnificent!

Two weeks ago the Games of Thrones-centric Titancon hosted the debut of Andy Luke’s Magnificent One Day Comic Book Factory, raising £25 for Action Cancer producing a limited print run mini-comic that same afternoon. Two of the hi-speed comixing-in-an-hour have made it online, and here they are.

Paddy Brown

Paul J Holden

PJ Holden - Magnificent

Next week we hope to bring you a few more. Meanwhile you can read my TitanCon report on Livejournal, or look at the Flickr pics of the trip to Giant’s Causeway.  (Including the video featuring Irish horror author and DFC contributor Peadar O’Guilin in a nail-biting horse-backie joust!)

 

Morrison Symposium: Part 1/2 – Mayhem

Grant Morrison And The Superhero Renaissance was an academic symposium held at Trinity College Dublin on 14-15 September 2012. The conference was organised by Dr. Greene (UCD) and Dr.  Roddy (Trinity) In the first of a two part column, tutor and transcriber Andy Luke plucks a series of references from his rowdy notes. Turn back now if you only want to read the words,

 “This stuff, it’s fookin easy!” 

Powerpoints were loaded, the hosts welcomed us, and Dr. Greene decided he would forego the accent to read a surprise welcome from the big yin of zen who wished us a scholasticism interesting and entertaining through to sore sat butts, in keeping with the the best university conferences.

Morrisonposter

 

Renaissance

Arno Bogaert’s opener, ‘From Superfolks to Supergods’ raced through US comics history: from the war-time golden-age of good Vs evil, Captain America Vs Hitler, in defense of the normal, to preserve society; to the silver age, were Lee’s The Thing indicated being a superhero isn’t always something some-one would want. The hyper-history reminded me to read Robert Meyer’s Super-Folks, and proposed a theory of interest.Arno suggested that DC’s characters were age-less, while Marvel’s characters did age, until sometime in the mid 1980s. This was the Watchmen era were superheroes became more realistic and pro-active, whichArno noted was “a slippery slope”.
All-Star-Superman-GN
I found that latter pro-Morrison conclusion contentious: certainly some aspects of early Animal Man stories would be in emotive discord with it.Arno interestingly suggested Morrison’s role at the end of the series was akin to an anthropologist and cited other views of authors in their work. Lee and Kirby’s comics’ appearances were among them: the Marvel offices in the pages of Fantastic Four as “constituting an embassy of deities”.Philip Bevin of Kingston University examined the portrait All-Star Superman and stories of Action Comics, as part of DC’s New 52. In these, Morrison creates a spectrum of Superman/men and the villains become different hyper-states of Superman with their own perspectives. In All-Star, Superman tries to get his enemies (and friends) to change their outlooks (to be more like him.) Action contains a more pro-active, socialist ‘blue collar rough and ready’ Superman. Not a re-boot, but rather a re-packaging of established authorial ideas, and as ‘Superman Beyond Binaries’ effectively suggested, seems to be a valuable case study in brand Morrison at DC Comics. Bogaert and Bevin created interesting primers, laying out many of the themes and areas key to the conference.
Fantastic-Four-10
Superworlds

Ulster-man Dr. Keith Scott of de Montfort Uni inLeicesterwas an active talker through much of the event, and I was all the richer for it. His was the cleverly titled, ‘Let me slip into someone more comfortable: Fiction suits/Semantic shamanism and Meta-Linguistic Magic.’ The work primarily took in The Invisibles and Gnosticism. I didn’t understand much of what was said but learned. There was talk of McKenna, Philip K. Dick and Michel Bertiaux. Morrison’s works concern meta-, inter- and trans- and The Invisibles contains all three aplenty, “stretching potential in expressing philosophy, AND IT’S FUN!” It’s ludic, designed to be re-read over read. A Karl Rove quote on journalists and the nature of reality is similar to the villainous Sir Miles. The alphabet of Invisibles has sixty-four letters, and Keith ended by comparing it with the alphabet of Dr. Seuss.

barbelith-alphabet

 

Morrison-Krypton

 

Symbolism

Dr. Darragh Greene presented “The Jungian Stuff”, examining the solar Christ Clark/Kal-el God of humanity and divinity, and his death and resurrection in All-Star Superman. The ego (neo-consciousness) transcending being the point, cut short by death but the addition of that transcending death, beats, trumps it. Superheroes in an envelope (Flex Mentallo) Dan Jurgens’The Death of Superman also came up in comparison, as did Furman’s returning resurrections of Optimus Prime,  the shameless Transformers fan that Darragh is.

Co-host Dr. Kate Roddy presented a piece on Morrison and Bathos entitled, ‘Screw Symbolism and Let’s Go Home’. Bathos was Alexander Pope’s attempt to shame the poetic bunglers of his day, often used by accident. When used consciously by a writer it can expand the limits of a genre and test reader expectations. Kate measured Animal Man and the Dadaist and absurdistDoom Patrol in relation to Morrison’s feelings towards post-Crisis editors, before looking at the less pervasive use of bathos in All-Star and Batman RIP, which Kate considered more up-lifting and conclusively, sublime. Therefore, Morrison, meaningfully challenges Pope.

 

Keynote

 

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Chris Murray from the Universityof Dundee. Chris pointed out that recursion is a central motif in Moz’s comics, allowing him to explore linguistics (Chomsky), and the recursive patterns of fractal geometry (Benoit Mandelbrot), which develops recursively natural structures, moving us between time and space to collapse and reform distance. This was related to Morrison’s playing up of his identity as part of the ‘acid house culture of comics creators (Peter Milligan, Brendan McCarthy etc, those appearing in Deadlineand Revolver particularly) Douglas Hofstadter’s “strange loops”  disappear hierarchy into heterarchy – these overlaps, repetition, multiple and divergent relations were originally part of Warren McCullough’s 1945 studies in neurology and revolutionised cybernetics. Murray spoke then of a work by Groensteen called A System of Comics (1999) Groensteen talks about not just page recursivity, but one narrative-based. Panels braid or weave together, a metaphor for how the reading of comics works. Morrison manipulates space-time of the multi-frame (or hyper-frame), using immersive strategies, a recurring motif being that of a character looking at their own hand. Another was The Droste Effect of an image within an image within an image (mise en abyme) Recursion links the physical world (fractal geometry), with cognition and communication theory. Using Hofstader, Godel, Escher and Bach, we get an eternal golden braid, to enjoy logic and abstract maths. Murray concluded showing us some cool pictures of other fractals, such as the Fibonacci Spiral and Sierpinski Triangle.

morrison-fractals system of comics

Booze

The wine reception was held in the the upstairs Ideas Space, which Keith suggested might be more of aMoorething than Morrison. I suggested referring to it as Ideas Pace might be more appropriate.

 

(Sidenote: When I was in a crappy teenage band I wrote a song called ‘Ideaspace’, summarising the conceptual consciousness and it’s universality of access by all of us through synchronistical claiming. I later discovered that at the same time,Moorehit upon the same name and properties independently of me. I’m never sure if anyone believes me – perhaps they originated the name and properties independent of both of us?)

I couldn’t stay though, as my man arrived. Two nights in Dublin were spent with Gar Shanley, the funniest blogger in Ireland, and writer-producer behind Foxes, a short film which won a 2011 O’Emmy type award and is touring internationally. We left for a walk and talked about Morrison’s relationship to recurrence and to what extent he was guilty of plagiarism. I recounted what I’d learned about Morrison’s approach to Zenith, that of a DJ, mixing panels from other strips into a new narrative.  But the real reason Gar didn’t like Moz? The DisinfoCon lectures,

“This stuff, it’s fookin easy. It’s easy like. Magic is easy, anyone can do it. It fookin works!”

“It works! It works!”

A restaurant meal: cheap, suave and secret. Then, Pub. Going away party for Elida Maiques, of Slow, and Irish comics anthology Romantic Mayhem, which Gar edited and published, and won a milky bar and rave reviews. Other Irish comics alumni were out: Archie ‘Layout King/Forger’ Templar, Phil ‘The Cap’ Barrett, Paddy ‘Listener’ Lynch, and Katie Chaos Blackwood. Katie demanded to find out what was on at the Van Morrison Symposium. Elida’s pizza ended up on my list of abstracts, making this a very real possibility. The night ended in another bar with Paddy and I trying to retcon Katie and Gar’s versions of historical learnings in a Crisis on Infinite Irelands.

Andy Luke only wrote this because Elida Maiques and Will Brooker told him to. “Lightning”, the second part of the report is much shorter, and appears later this week. Andy would like 1,000+ readers to check out his great comic, Optimus and Me. In return he’ll publish the beautiful colour sequel, The Moods of Prime on his website, for free.  Like a meme machine.

Interview with Gar Shanley About New Book ‘Romantic Mayhem’

With the release of a new anthology of Irish comics along the theme of romance, I pulled up a candlelight and soup for a date with editor and publisher, Gar “Uncle Fugger” Shanley.

Andy Luke: You’ve assembled sixteen Irish artists to pull together 52 pages of love comics. From my view, it seems they’re drawing on the heritage of the genre. Is this fair, and was the subject matter a nod to the musicality or populist appeal of the theme, perhaps lesser tapped among today’s zombie market?

Gar Shanley: The genre of the romance comic seems deader than a zombie which I think is a pity because they were popular and, had they survived, they would have played a part in keeping comics from being as purely associated with sci-fi as they are today. Romance comics might have advanced and matured (as sci-fi comics have done …um …maybe) and who knows what could have come of it. What really interested me about these comics was the way they pandered to the (supposed) concerns of young girls. Such sensitive stories, often involving a heroine who worries about how she is perceived by others or what some boy thinks of her. It’s very different to the gung ho of boy’s fare of the time. Interestingly, there is a notable difference between U.S. romance comics and British ones from the late 50s to 60s and early 70s. The British heroines are often quite confident and, despite their better judgement, have fallen for some hapless twit who needs sorting out. I recommend Valentine Picture Library for anyone interested. Some of the stories found there are actually very funny in a ‘laughing with’ as opposed to a ‘laughing at’ way.

Anyway, I thought the genre would be a good jumping off point for an anthology but contributors were free to take things in any direction no matter how tangential. Most stuck to the familiar conventions though. The collection is eclectic but coherent. Everyone gave it their best.

Collectively, we are known as National Tragedy. That’s the imprint name dreamt up by Hilary and Ian over coffee. We might do another anthology or two or fifty or none. We’ll see. If we do the theme/jumping off point will change each time.

AL: It’s a more-ish, representing collection of Irish comics artists; trusted names known by ICN readers. Elida Maiques was one I didn’t know and her weblog has some very pretty pictures giving a fashion item element to the package. Knowing Phil Barrett and Deirdre deBarra are in there, I think this would appeal well to readers of Solipstic Pop or Phonogram. How surprised were you (knowing the artists), by what they added to the dreams in your head? What were the group’s influences?

Elida Maiques

GS: With my own collaborations and Tommie’s great cover I wanted to stick to a recognisable send up of the genre’s conventions and provide a few pegs from which to hang the overall collection. I thought that way the others would veer off in all sorts of directions – although I did not prompt anyone to do so. However, everyone had a good look at the Digital Comics Museum and Cover Browser and we all ended up coming from roughly the same place, which surprised me. Contributors brought their own thing to their tales though – John gave things a modern realist twist and Cathal added a large dose of Douglas Sirk. Mindpuss brought the very bizarre body horror (he’s an odd un and no mistake) and Elida did a Fellini on it. (I don’t really see her work as “fashion item” myself. I think it’s very surreal, imaginative and just plain good. You should try and pick up her own mini-comics at Independence Day). Deirdre and Paddy took the look of the original fare and stuck authentically and perfectly to it, not overselling the gag element. Archie brilliantly combines the old romance style with the old EC style – proper narrative art storytelling from him too. Luke F. is probably the guy who thematically ran furthest with the ball, as in right off the pitch and down the road. I like his two pages a lot. He’s unique. Hilary and Ian provide a splash of vibrant spacious ker-powness/lushness amongst the denser content. Al and Davy bring an old school IPC touch which really adds to the eclecticism and Philip did a great job illustrating and very cleverly designing John’s text story. Last but not least, for me the biggest laugh comes in a promo for cigarette filters courtesy of National Tragedy ad man Papa Hotel.

romantic-mayhem-the-thief-flyer-web

AL: If I’m at http://romanticmayhem.wordpress.com/the launch party at 18 Candem Street Lower in Dublin on  Saturday April 14th from around 7pm I can get a copy. Or at the http://independentsdaydublin.blogspot.co.uk/ Independents’ Day Zine Fair on Sunday April 22nd. Or http://2dfestival.com/ 2d in June. How else may I get hold of the book?  There a few different editions?

GS: There’s no online shop yet but contributor Paddy Brown (you should see his on the nail take of the 60s/70s Brit girl’s comic in RM) will be selling it in Belfast and we’ll get it in as many comic shops as possible. The first run is 300 only and also there is Archie’s excellent deluxe Blurb format. The regular edition is a cheap and cheerful affair. Nothing fancy production value wise. I’m thinking of future editions that will be a bit more fancy pants but a few quid dearer. Part of the reason I proposed this anthology was that I heard of a means by which we could get something involving a lot of colour put together for half the usual price. It’s an experiment of sorts.

AL: How much of the style of your weblog Fugtheworld has worked it’s way into the scripts, and can we expect to see the beloved Uncle Fugger blog in book form some time? It would sit very nice next to a Charlie Brooker collection.

GS: There’s a bit of Fugger in my four RM collaborations but I was trying to keep to the more conventional side of my creative self. That doesn’t mean I was compromising, I was just working that way because it suited the project and I love the results (I’m very fuckin lucky to work with artists like Deirdre, Paddy and Archie). I am likely to do anything on the blog. http://Fugtheworld.blogspot.com Fugtheworld.blogspot.com was actually originally a comic called Fugger but there wasn’t that much of a response to it in comparison to the others I’ve done. The blog has a regular following, nothing massive. I’m thinking of putting something together for regular readers of the blog to send off for. I was recently inspired by a small exhibition of the work of Howard Finster. I’d like to do some comics in that style and also rope in some old friends of mine who used draw amazing comics many many moons ago. We’ve discussed it. I think the next comic I do (anthologies aside) will be Fugger. Not sure if I’ll collect the blog together as a book soon. It’s there if you want it for free. Fugger in print would be original and mainly illustrated material.

Thanks Gar. To see a preview of Romantic Mayhem, check out the http://romanticmayhem.wordpress.com accompanying weblog.

Romantic-Mayhem-cover

ComicsWest con report

Photos by Paul O’Mahony from this place on Fissbook

A fairly new comics convention is NUI (University) Galway’s ComicsWest. Organised by one of the biggest societies on campus, the event had a trial run last year and a visit from Warren Ellis in Spring. The best way to get there is to let Paddy Brown drive you, through the natural monument range of Sligo. The stuff, as he said, you can’t do justice to on film. The train journey can be quite pretty, but I’ve no info on planes. Warren Ellis cursed, but he does. Galway is a long oul run.

I’m going back, I say, surely as Roj Blake meant it. The event itself comprised a day of comics and zine makers selling, with some neat stuff like art zine For Flip’s Sake, Kearney and Browne’s relationship book, The Man With No Libido,. Derry’s producers of Zombies Hi  made maybe it’s con debut,  and they give me some good chat on distribution. There was also the obligatory appearance of work by master infilitrator, The Phil Barrett Machine. (He’s in your room; now.)

Nice to see David McDonald there too, who I owe £3 for the Doomlord collection.

Slow

 

Colm McElligott (Committee Host), Conor Keville and John Smith at ComicsWest. Next, Some people are engrossed by our comics, some reckon it is the best cake anywhere in Galway. My long-suffering giant, Paddy Brown, mans the fort. And that might be Hibernia Comics’ David McDonald to the right.

Paddy Brown at ComicsWest

Tea and coffee was on tap, and more provided biscuits than mankind was meant to have. The Society’s reading library was laid out on five tables surrounded by plenty of comfy chairs and lent a nice atmosphere to the occasion. Out back an animation suite had a few animations playing, and a live screening of The Invisible Artist, the film I wrote with Carl Boyle about forty years of Belfast comics creators. (It’s not online until next year, but if you wish you can buy a copy now for £10-£15 from Northern Visions’ website.)  The video room had been the locale of the pre-event gathering, and the reminder that the 1960s Batman movie was actually….bloody awesome. Jim Carrey’s Riddler written by Janet Scott Batchler? No. What weighs six ounces, sits in a tree and is very dangerous?  A sparrow with a machine gun! Yes, of course. Frank Gorshin, Lorenzo Semple Jr., Bob Kane.

NUIG Reading Room Writing for Comics

I hosted a piece on Writing for Comics in the art room upstairs. Followed with organiser  David Burdon  presenting a joyous piece on Science and the Superhero with some scrutiny on propaganda for good measure. Organisers confessed the event could have been better promoted, foot-fall was decent. Few hours dinner break didn’t harm pm panel attendance noticeably. So Mike Carroll, Maura McHugh, Paddy Brown and I sat taking questions from Eoin Butler Thornton and possibly Leigh Ashmore. Very relaxed, very interesting, one of the better panels I’ve sat on. Sure, they all read 2000AD for girls while I preferred adult comics like Transformers, but we had the flow of a symphonic jazz quartet. Someone made cookies.

ComicsWest is set to be one of Ireland’s great cons of the future. It’ll quickly gain the reputation that 2d, Hi-Ex and Caption have for prog innovation and I’d posit the reason for this: the event is well laid out, the people are very pretty and the organisers work well as a team. Very well. The university supports them, the social chemistry is gold, and the attendees are involved. There is of course a post-script to this, but for all intents and purposes, my con report is done. We must go next year.

The social connect was evidenced by me the night before in the bar. I educated the kids on the greatest superhero fight ever: Batman Vs Green “One Punch” Lantern. Eoin and I bonded over shared love of The Wire, and as a guest they were in awe of, I got some free reign to slag off Battlestar Galactica. I’d elected to spend the night in Colm’s free cot. An option that was curiously unavailable the following night after he disappeared from the pub and there might have been some girl involved I’m not sure for no verification documentary evidence is available but at least he got shome. Item A, the empty bottle of Southern Comfort, has now been removed. It was drank by myself, Leigh, Eoin and a third committee member as we spun yarns and shared declarations of mutual awesomeness in a house in the hills. Paddy managed to find me the next morning, and drive me to the emergency Breakfast Shop and all the way home.

So, plan out your trips to festivals be a lesson. Because they might just be too fantastic.

Photos by Paul O’Mahony from this place on Fissbook

 

TitanCon links Fandom, Indy Comics and The NI Economy

Last night I attended the press launch for TitanCon which “promises to be the biggest SF and Fantasy literaty, media and gaming convention in Northern Ireland”.

Initially run as a non-profit event for fans by fans, it has benefitted from part-funding by Arts Council NI. The move came wth the Council’s interest in HBO’s Game of Thrones which has given the city a strong economic and tourism boost.

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A three day series of events, the third day, a Game of Thrones Coach Tour has already been sold out. Friday festivities overlap with Belfast’s free Culture Night and including walking tours of the city and in McHughs Bar, readings from Ian McDonald, Guest of Honour and winner of the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Novelette for The Djinn’s Wife (2006)

The event on Saturday costs £10 admission and is held at The Europa Hotel. It includes tabletop gaming and RPGs, as well as a fighting workshop, and the launch of Boyd and Bradshaw’s “Guards! Guards!”, the Discworld boardgame with the blessing of Terry Pratchett. Local authors T.A. Moore and Peadar O Guilin will also be in attendance, along with film-maker George Clarke, of Battle of The Bone.

Miltos Yerolemou and Kristian Nairn, who play Syriio and Hodor respectively on Game of Thrones will also be in attendance. In contrast to some other conventions, photos with guests are not charged for, and attendees are asked to make a donation of their own choice to Action Cancer. Will Simpson (Batman, Dredd, Hellblazer) was one of the storyboard artists on Game of Thrones. His appearance gives perspectives on local involvement and behind the scenes representation.

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Simpson, began working in comics with his contribution to the Belfast indy Ximoc in 1980, with the strip Cuchulainn the Hound. TitanCon looks to reward that with the recognition of two other independent cartoonists as guests. Paddy Brown, a fellow author of the Cuchulainn tales in the form of The Cattle Raid of Cooley, has been active in comics arts and media since 1994′s A Virtual Circle. His cartooning and comics research has been internationally recognised by the respected Lambiek encyclopedia, and closer to home, by academic Paul Gravett and industry magazine Caption. There are unconfirmed rumours one of Brown’s illustrations are to feature on the front page of the official programme. I began creating comics several years after Brown, with contributions to a number of journalistic bodies, the acclaimed Caption and Barcamp un-conferences, and winning the UnLtd Millenium Award for my work on Absence. (See my CV at the footer for a fuller picture)

There’s also a fourth link to the world of comics. TitanCon has scheduled an evening with The Wireless Mystery Theatre. The Theatre “transports the audience back to the Golden Age of radio… as they present radio plays live on stage” The group has received some critical acclaim and includes Reggie Chamberlain-King, an occassional contributor to the online comics and mixed media site, Talesofthe.com. When announced at the press conference Ian McDonald reached to the person sat next to them and whispered, “they’re very good”.

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McDonald told the assembled reporters and representatives from the Arts Council and NI Screen to “There are a lot of fantastic science fiction roots in NI Culture: CS Lewis, James Shaw.. I ask that you support today’s local writers, be it in cinema, novels or comics.”

With the direct market and the growth of self-publishing having shattered the UK and Irish comics industry, TitanCon‘s adoption of the form at this crucial time is noteworthy.

The event is run by Brotherhood without Banners (a George RR Martin fangroup), Studio NI (Northern Ireland’s largest arts and culture group), and The Other Ones (a Belfast science fiction and fantasy society). Studio NI celebrates it’s 7th anniversary as part of the weekend’s festivities.