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.

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

UPDATE:

“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

Facebook.

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.

skechysbelfastfront