Enniskillen Comics Fest

I’ve told less than ten people this month, and now I can reveal I’ll be interviewing Alan Grant, the Guest of Honour at the first Enniskillen Comics Festival. Phew! Alan, is of course, a massive influence on comics, having co-written most classic Judge Dredd stories, thirty years, about ten years on the US Batman comics. He’s the author of some of my favourites: The Bogie Man; the House of Daemon, Manix and Doomlord for Eagle. He’s written Lobo and L.E.G.I.O.N. and JLA for DC, but it’s 2000AD for which he’s best known, on Strontium Dog, Ace Trucking, Robo Hunter and Judge Anderson.

Massive, massive honour. I expected to be the last person to be called on, never having been with the Class of ’77 hardcore 2000AD fans. The organisers, gods bless their mad, mad minds, think I’m a unique choice. Well, you could say that. I’m giving this my best and hope to do Alan and yourselves proud.

Closer to my comfort zone is the self-publishing panel I’ve been asked to host. I’ve been on ten of these and hosted a few. This time I’m putting together something with a lot of pizzazz and I’d really like attendees to put their heads through the door. I’m pleased to announce those joining me are Una Gallagher (Two Lives, Faust, Something in the Tae), Austin Flanagan (The Revenants), Jenika Ioffreda (Vampire Freestyle, Midnight Tea), Danny McLaughlin (Zombies Hi, Andrew’s Comic, Revolve Comics.) and…oh, I couldn’t possibly say. We’ll be talking about more than the boring copy-shop slog, we’ll be talking character and story, ghouls and tea. Please come by.

The Enniskillen Comics Fest is the first such event in the town. It’s a free event with an all-ages focus and a wise choice by the Arts Council funding body. It’s on May 6th-7th, at the McArthur Hall, Wesley Street, and Enniskillen Library on Halls Lane, just five minutes walk. Just look at who they’ve got:

All that linkage! No biggie, I had all the info to hand for posting to their Twitter account, which you can search for. My friends at The Comic City podcast are doing a feature on the Fest in the next few days so keep an eye out for that, or visit the #EknComicFest Facebook page for more details.

Friday

Map

Saturday

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.

 

Comicking (news tidbits)

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

 Walking On Broken Diamond

I raised an eyebrow at the serious empathy shown Diamond Distribution when they raised their minimum unit number recently. The cat’s out of the bag though, from this very long story about Checker Comics cutting ties, tweeted by the impressive and often Geoffrey D. Wessel.

People will be keeping an eye to see if this could threaten to dissolve the time-space continuum of comics distribution as we know it.
(Rich Johnston on Steve Geppi’s house-sale)
Solipstic Pop Takes London

Out soon. New work by loads of people.

Solipstic

“Book two of Solipsistic Pop contains 64 pages of sequential art from some of the best comic artists, illustrators and designers working in the UK today. With a 12 page newspaper insert, gorgeous gatefold cover and specially designed tote bag, it’s a must have for any comic fan.”

Check the website for details. The images above were put together by Luke Pearson.

 

Comics Festival Fortnight Ireland

Ireland has two comics festivals coming up. In the north, Derry hosts the wildly popular 2D festival, now in its fourth year. Special guests announced include Pat Mills, Leigh Gallagher, Rufus Dayglo, Garry Leach, Jamie McKelvie, Kieron Gillen, Gary Erskine, Colin McNeil, Ilya, Will Simpson, Davy Francis, Bridgeen Gillespie, Phil Barrett, Maeve Clancy, Paddy Brown and this one. For starters. 2D is made possible by the Derry Verbal Arts Centre, David Campbell and a host of hard working volunteers. It caters for the academic nerd and the whole family and does so quite well. Phew. Taking place this year from Thursday 3rd to Saturday 5th June.

The Point Village in Dublin, if this brochure is anything to go by, is a spanking new exhibition centre, a bit big and shiny like Birmingham’s ThinkTank.On Saturday 12th June Hilary Lawler (Longstone Comics, SuperHillbo!) is putting together a special comics festival. I’ll be there with Paddy Brown and many other well-known stars of the Irish comics scene. Special guest Jenika from London will also be there. Jenika is known for creepy lovely vampire goth comics. Also for having a chair at festivals in the hall part of her table for weary travellers to sit. Stylish. Tables are free, contact  02villagefreetable(at)gmail(dot)com for details.

More news on both these events as they emerge over the coming month.

Four Colour Love

Comics Tutor Steve Bissette of the Centre For Cartoon Studies to the comics frat as the cartoonist behind Alan Moore’s ground-breaking run on Swamp Thing and author of the self-published Tyrant, chronicling the early life of a tyrannosaurus rex. Also as publisher of Taboo, the anthology which kick-started From Hell. Oh, and 1963, which with Moore and a host of mainstram and alternative artists brought us the most wonderfully fun superhero comics series of all time.

Retired from the industry, Bissette has no wish to invoke the Moore scotch but wishes to leave a legacy for his children and students. To that end, 1963 characters N-Man, The Fury, The Hypernaut, and Sky Solo are to appear in Tales of the Uncanny – N-Man & Friends: A Naut Comics History, Vol. 1 from About Comics. This 200 page volume  features new work from Bissette and accompanying-universe characters from his students. Contributions are on a work-for-hire contract, Bissette retaining the trademark for characters he has designed and students apparently retaining theirs for new work in the book.

Worth a sponsor I suppose. The book is ready at the end of the year and the preview given out at Mocca can be ordered via paypal from Mr. Bissette while stocks last.

The Above News Story Via Rantin’ Rich Johnston.

Oh, and eventually CBR and TCJ

Why Is Everyone Ignoring Paper Tiger Comix: War – The Human Cost ?

Seems I was wrong on my initial predictions that pre-orders necessarry for publishing this book would be reached within the month

There are still about two weeks left to get a comic that contains a host of professionals such as Spain Rodriguez, an album containing a host of professionals such as  Michael Franti and the Spearheads, and donate to Campaign Against Arms Trade.Pre-subscriptions are required for printing costs. See Paper Tiger Comix and IndieGoGo.

Free Runaway Who

Oli Smith, revolutionary mini-comics dealer has his first Doctor Who book, The Runaway Train, imminent. This Saturday the audio version, voiced by Matt Smith and Karen Gillen, is being given away free with Britain’s Telegraph paper. This is sure to disappear very quickly and probably highly ebayed, launching Oli’s career nationwide. No delays to that platform then.

And hopefully, he’ll not end up looking like Tom Baker when he’s old.

Swipefile.

The new eye-in-the-stalk from Victory of the Daleks, Mid-April.

(Image Missing)

The new comic by Ralph Kidson, Early March.

(Image Missing: The story refers to “Dalek Home Guard”, which was created around about the same time as production on “Victory of the Daleks”. Both featured Daleks serving tea from eye-stalks uttering, “Would you like some tea?”)

Hate to say I told you so.

A Comic In 366 Frames

Warsaw cartoonist Dennis Wojda writes,

“I’ve decided to make a comic. I will draw one frame each day during one year plus one day. That’s 366 frames. I have no script and I have no story. It’s an experiment. It’s a flow.”

But who will review all these comics?

Matthew Murray is “Reviewing zines and minicomics every day.” on his 365zines blogspot. He has a stack of unread gear, but is welcoming to trades. (Source: Matt Badham)

Filmish

Matt sent me a copy of ‘Filmish’ by Edward Ross, which appears to be degree assignments on film theory essays in comic strip form. As such it reads too McCloudian on occassion, but for all its flaws I’m very happy that work like this exists. 24 A5 pages of black and white comic book for only £3 plus p+p. Now available with Paypal for UK, European and U.S. customers!

Irish Cthulu


Talesofthe.com is worth a mention. Featuring Stephen Downey and Andrew Croskery of Insomnia in Irish arts freeform. The new site contains comics, paintings and music. Featuring Downey’s debut directing short films with a brilliantly disturbed Malachy Coney in the lead role. Worth a see.

 

In Absentia

The print version of my new comic launched in London and Belfast last week.

Number 25, Quarter Centennial. Check it out in the display in the Hoxton district in London’s East End at Bookart Bookshop before the end of the month. Look for it to appear in Belfast’s Black Market, Derry’s 2D festival and Dublin’s Point Village Market. Interested retailers get in touch.

Contact me for news stories, stuff and things at drew.luke(at)gmail.com or join us on the forums.