Paddy Lynch – Countdown to Dublin Zine Fair (1)

In the run up to the two-day event taking place at The SupaFast Building near Capel Street starting Saturday, I decided to have a chat with a man well known on both the comics and zine scene, the interesting Paddy Lynch.

Page 11, Issue 1 of Lynch’s Last Bus

Page 11, Issue 1 of Lynch’s Last Bus

Patrick, hope you’re well! It’s an exciting time to be you so it seems. Big Jim, (your book about the infamous trade unionist leader), Stray Lines (a cutting edge anthology with the Hughes brothers, the Judge brothers and the Barrett man) How would you introduce yourself and your work to someone at the Dublin Zine Fair who has never heard of you before? Y’know. If I’m sitting on the other side of the room.

Paddy:
Hi Andrew. I’m very well thank you -very excited about those two projects that you mentioned. It’s been a good while since I’ve released anything substantial so I’m very much looking forward to getting these books in front of peoples eyes.

Generally I would introduce myself as Paddy Lynch, and if I’m asked to describe my work I would usually say it’s ‘observational slice of life fiction’ or perhaps ‘kitchen-sink tragicomic character studies without the tragedy, or comedy’. Is that too evasive? I guess I’m quite interested in how people reveal the flaws and weaknesses that unite us all through their actions, despite whatever outward impression they may give off. That’s a theme that seems to keep coming up again and again in my work.

Andy:
You’ve done quite a few of these fairs now. How would you define your relationship with the punters?

Paddy:
Andy, you should know better than to ask me to define anything. I don’t think I’ve ever had a fight with a punter, so I imagine our relationship is pretty solid. That hardest thing I find about this is battling preconceptions of what ‘comics’ are, but I find people at zine fairs are usually quite open-minded and very receptive to the type of work I produce. I often do better at these events than I do at the more traditional comic convention.

Last Bus by Paddy Lynch

Last Bus by Paddy Lynch

StrayLines, A Comic Book Anthology from Paddy Lynch on Vimeo.

Andy:
This weekend, what are you looking forward to most?

Paddy:
Meeting punters, chatting to them and other zine/comic makers and the general inspirational boost you get from this. Hopefully seeing new work from people such as Elida Maiques, Colm Wood, Phil Barrett, Deridre deBarra.

Andy:
Anything you’re dreading? You’re not allergic to nuts are you?

Paddy:
The inevitable question – “so what new material do you have?” Unfortunately I have no new books ready (Stray Lines is set to launch in late September, and Big Jim will be out in early 2013). But it will be a good chance for people to pick up the various mini comics that I don’t sell online.

LARKIN !‘Big Jim’, written by Rory McConville and published through O’Brien Press.

LARKIN !‘Big Jim’, written by Rory McConville and published through O’Brien Press.

 

Andy:
And finally – any message for the people out there reading this thinking, I’d love to be able to be adored for my version of Bat-Man / recipe for anti-government brownies, and wondering how to get there?

Paddy:
Don’t wait on someone else’s approval to do it. Making and self-publishing a zine/comic/whatever is an incredibly rewarding and empowering thing to experience.

Thanks for the chat Andy- see you on Saturday!

Andy:
My fingers are covered with printer ink and my bag has four things in it. Plenty of room for comics and zines then.

Stray-Lines-217x300 (1)

You can find out more about Paddy’s work at his website, http://www.patrickl.net/ including updates from the Big Jim project.  (Which respectfully, ICN ran an exclusive on in February) You can learn more about Stray Lines via the website or go direct to  http://www.fundit.ie/project/stray-lines-a-comic-book-anthology

The Zine Fair is managed by Sarah Bracken. Click through the image below to go to her website. 

Dublin-Zine-Fair

The questions in this interview were built from models supplied by London’s bounciest superhero, David Baillie.

 

Karen Browett – Countdown to Dublin Zine Fair (2)

This week I’m interviewing a number of comics and zine creators in preparation for the two-day free Dublin Zine Fair at the SupaFast Building, near Capel Street. Today, Karen Browett.

Hi Karen, hope you’re well! I know you’re the comixer behind Astro Chimp and have made some band posters in the past, but besides that I haven’t a clue. I’m out of touch you see, made old by reading too much of Sir Rich Moorisselller’s unisex power fantasy comic The Midgey, published by Coke. Patrick Lynch said I should talk to you, and he’s really cool. How would you introduce yourself and your work to someone at The SupaFast Building next Saturday?

Karen:
Your right, Paddy is awesome! I would introduce myself by a high 5 I guess? It’s my favorite hello.

I am a picture maker and appreciator. For the zine fair, Im representing Wereworms (Tumblr,Facebook) which is a four person art collective. We generally work in the independent music scene, making gig posters, screen printed merch and album covers, but also make art for arts sake together and have put together things like zines, prints of personal work and more. It’s great getting to work with such talented people. The idea was to form a design group of different styled but similarly minded artists that could be contacted by bands, promoters etc when they needed artwork or merch, and that they would be able to either send us a general commission, or personally pick one of our artists from the portfolios. We also sell our work through a growing number of outlets, so we are playing with the idea that we could offer a cheaper price on bulk merch etc if the band wanted us to distribute and sell a certain amount of the work ourselves. Beyond that, we just love working together, so we keep on making stuff anyway, and can often be found at stalls at gigs and independent media events selling personal and commissioned work. It’s a very open and free group with little boundries on what we do which I absolutely love.

werewormslogo-1024x1024

The work I do with Wereworms tends to fall somewhat into the darker/psychedelic/more for adults brackets of art, and I get to grapple with graphic design and creative typography allot. This differs from the other side of my work which is largely as an illustrator. My style of illustration is more suited to children’s books and goofy comics, and is largely based on my stupid sense of humour. Astro Chimp was a really fun comic to do, and you have reminded me that issue 3 is long overdue. It’s about a monkey who was kidnapped and sent to space. Very literary.

A page from Karen Browett’s Astro Chimp –  Wow

A page from Karen Browett’s Astro Chimp – Wow

For my personal illustration work I would love to get more editorial work or a strip in a magazine, but at the moment am focused on a short story I am trying to finish illustrating. My Grandpa ‘Pop’ was an artist for The Dandy and lots of newspaper comic strips and children’s books, and growing up around him I decided that it was the best job ever, so I put myself through endless poverty on the quest to be able to do this full time too! Here is my blog of illustration work, and my general portfolio is up on behance here

Andy:
You’ve just gotten back from another festival. What sort of relationship do you have with your punters?

Karen:
I like to be as involved as possible. Especially since so much of the work Im involved in is to some kind of commission/brief. With Wereworms I feel it’s really important to keep up a presence by having stalls at gigs, markets and other events. With the gig scene, ourselves and the bands we create work for would work very closely and generally be very familiar with each other. We want people to be comfortable approaching us and able to be involved in the creative process. They can openly talk to us and view our work, and we can watch the bands and chat to the promoters, and therefore have a full comprehension of what they want. The art and aesthetics of a band are important and should tie together with the sound, and when a group of people have put so much talent and creativity in to such a personal and unique thing as a band, they usually have a vision of how they picture it on paper. You need to be able to pick up on where they are coming from and what they are trying to put across. Being an active part of the music scene that you work in is vital in that instance to understanding those you work with.

wormywormsmall

I come from the D.I.Y. punk scene, which has grown over the years to encapsulate a lot more than that, but has always been a really healthy, connected, creative and highly supportive scene. The message has always been that you can do things for yourself. If you love music, pick up an instrument and play it, if you love to draw or write, make some zines and put them out there. Whatever you want to do there is a network of people who are all tentatively finding their feet doing something they are interested in and love. Whatever you can offer or do is supported and encouraged, and people don’t need to worry about not being ‘good enough’ or being held back by external factors such as money for example. In the scene I grew up in, if you want to do something, you really just learn to do it. I wanted to screen print so I looked up plans online and build the equipment. Thats how I learnt what I know, no way I could afford the real stuff and there was no specific training about it at the time in terms of courses, and I couldn’t have afforded established studios I could have joined. Of course I was crap at it for a time, and the equipment I built had tons of unforeseen problems, but thats the only way to learn, and people are largely there to support that, not take you down. The D.I.Y. and generally the independent music scene as a whole is more of a community than anything else and it’s essential be be on both sides of it, to produce/create and appreciate/support. The work we make feeds directly from all thats around us and I hope can feed others in return. An artist who stays in the studio all the time is as useful as a guitar virtuoso who is to afraid to join a band. I believe that you have to continue to participate, or you allow yourself to stagnate and become full of ideas of things you would have liked to have done with people, work you would have liked to have been chosen for if you only were more involved with people. In short, without the people my work would cease to be valid and would stop growing creatively. So talking with people and being involved is essential.

Karen Browett – Astro Chimp (2010)

Karen Browett – Astro Chimp (2010)

Andy:
What are you looking forward to most next weekend?

Karen:
Seeing all the other tables. Im always amazed by the amount of talent at zine fairs and independent markets. Especially since in the various underground scenes, there is so much going on that you might not be aware of. Since the internet really took over, I find that while you can build connections fast online, lots of things become lost within groups of friends on social networking media. For example, a gig could happen where your favorite band might come over, but if you aren’t online friends with the promoter or one of the support bands, you might not even hear about it. Social networking is great, but people don’t promote things at as grassroots a level anymore, its more ‘sure I whacked it up on facebook/tumbr etc so people know about it.’ I see less physical zines, posters, stickers, freesheets etc around the place as the internet becomes more and more the platform for peoples work. Im really really looking forward to seeing all the new work and new artists and writers. I’m one of those odd people who when they like art or zines, they want to touch them, smell the ink, feel what paper was chosen etc. The physical heart and soul of the work really comes through when you get to hold, look at and leaf through peoples zines and art.

Im also really just looking forward to being able to talk to people into the same things and have a good buzz, there’s some really great heads involved, incredibly hard workers too who I have a lot of respect for.

Andy:
Anything you’re dreading?

Karen:
Counting. I hate that bit of stalls! Counting and change. It’s cold sweat territory when someone wants more than one thing, despite how used to this I should be! I’ll fill up on coffee and change and bring a calculator this time just to be sure of everything! If you end up trying to get anything from me, be patient with me if I look like I’ve had a lobotomy when you ask how much it is!

Karen Browett – The Road -part of a project drawing a page of comics from a page of film script

Karen Browett – The Road -part of a project drawing a page of comics from a page of film script

Andy:
And finally – any message for the people out there, reading this, wishing that they too were a fashionable publisher, yet personally creative; cool and developing?

Karen:
haha I don’t know about that! Honestly though, what you do is in your own hands. If you want to draw, print, write, publish etc, just find a way to do it. Don’t procrastinate or get caught up in the finer details and the things that hold you back. If no one will publish you, publish yourself as a zine or art book, contact people and send it out, bring it to small shops and events, do all you can with it. Don’t be precious about it. If its something you love doing, its not the only thing you’ll ever produce, so throw it out there and then keep throwing out more stuff again and again as you make it. There is no such thing as ‘not able to’ or ‘no point’ when it comes to having a desire to being creative. Subjecting yourself to those restrictions is usually a way of making personal excuses not to push yourself. To use a cliche, the world is yours. Try as hard as you can to spend as much time in it striving to do what makes you happy. If you want to be an artist as a hobby or a way of spending your free time, just do it, get it out there. If you want it as a sustainable career, work your absolute balls off. Live it breath it be it, because a billion other people do too, but if you put everything you have consistently into what you want to do, it will pay off. What starts small, if its worked on with all your heart and pushed, does go further and further every time you do it. Slowly but surely.

If anyone is interested in illustrating, specifically, I did a hnd in Illustration in B.C.F.E., co-ordinated by illustrator Margaret Anne Suggs, and honestly is was the most amazing course. It’s so encouraging, and the tutors are so full of knowledge, advice and guidance. It’s more like a family than a college there, and I grew about 5 years in terms of my work over the 2 years of the course. By the end you will have a full portfolio to show people and it’s well worth a look if your serious about trying to become a commercial artist in some capacity.

Thanks Karen. You can check out the awesome of Astro Chimp at Karen’s blog, and the WereWorms collective on Tumblr and Facebook.

Dublin-Zine-Fair

The Zine Fair is managed by Sarah Bracken. Click through to her website.

The questions in this interview were built from models
supplied by London’s bounciest superhero, David Baillie.

Comicking: Small Faire

This was my first column for the now defunct Alltern8.com, dated December 9th 2009

Pete Gravett stood facing the map of the British Isles on photo glass, ten by twenty wide in his study suite. Electron Orange lights illuminated the cities of London, Birmingham, Bristol and Palookaville. Technology to be proud of, live internet feeds delivering realtime updates to his 4D comics arts events calendar. He’d noticed the constellation change these last months, spread out to smaller areas in Exeter, in Telford, Leicester, Richmond and Inverness. This had been going on before that, he thought, accelerating since the Sean Olilamden’s stint at Camden market. The celebrity endorsements and music videos made the Camden set a YouTube sensation and their handmade comics led to them being mobbed by teenagers in a manner reserved for Jagger and Lennon. That populist wave continued with Jimi Gherkin, a folk singer, who would recruit an entire picturebook festival as his onstage accompaniment.

“Point of Sales Mode. Increase parameters to Maximum View”, requested Gravett.
“POS View is in Beta Mode. Buffering…”

The lights flickered briefly. From those representing monthly marts, SciFi, Fantasy and RPG Cons, a manifestation outward, multiplying in number. Recognisably mapping out the number of speciality stores, bookstores, libraries, then all over the NASA hardware display, a swarming. A church basement here, a pub there. His palm hovered over the screen for details on new locations. A workers’ co-operative, a market stall in a northern industrial town, car boot sale and a village fete. The whole country was filled with lights. As it began to map out the PubCons, the machine threatened to overheat.

“Shazam”, he uttered. “Its like some crazy Socialist revolution.”

The internet makes available once again the populist comics form for a mass readership. Through access to news and reviews we can determine ordering printed matter. Or find a bookstore or a comics festival within travelling distance. In recent years, the prices for self-publishing cartoonists selling their wares at these venues accelerated well above the £30 mark. The following Table Prices Controversy led to a split between cartoonists among a class income lines, resulting in an official boycott and numerous unofficial non-participation acts. Some self-publishers saw that one of the solutions was small fairs. In 2008, the collective London Underground Comics sold small press comics at Camden Lock Market almost every Saturday of the year. In 2009, Jimi Gherkin’s Alternative Press held a week long fair, three one-day events and ‘twinned’ with eleven or more other events within the community. Unsubstantiated reports have reached me that Gez Kelly of Golden Orbit, distributor at some of the monthly marts of four-colour boxed backing board comics, has begun to specialise in independent products. Add this to the news that a wing of Forbidden Planet International is running a trial small press section in its Birmingham store and access to original new British comics is increasingly fitter.

As a cartoonist and promoter of the form this gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. In the last fortnight, I presented at two small fairs and saw a lovely selection of comics from independent producers.

Dublin Zine Fair 2009

When I left Ireland in 2005, there was a ragtag of sporadic comics publications and an occassional event, little to call it a ‘scene’. By the time I returned, it was more public, more pro-active. Last weekend, I accompanied Paddy Brown, author of partwork mythology, The Ulster Cycle, from Belfast to Dublin. We were attending the second yearly Independents Day in The Co-Operative Food Building in the Newmarket area.

Publicity-shy cartoonist and ex-reviewer John Robbins briefly made his second festival appearance in a decade and help us set up our stall. I met lots of active small pressers whose names I didnt know, which I’m inclined to think is a good thing. Differing from the cosplayers of traditional Comicon standard, the venue was populated by sexy anarcho socialist feminist zinesters with dreads and piercings and tarots and woolens. Behind my swearing robot comix collections was a Vegan cake stall and next to us, the sale of Palestinian hand crafted items by the Irish Solidarity Group. Not a Stormtrooper in sight! This gave me happy memories of Camden, dealing comics to a varied crowd who hadn’t necessarrilly come in search of them. I was selling around ten comics an hour and my voice became hoarse.

Some local self-publishers I met included Gar Shanley, Luke Fallon, and Deirdre De Barra whose ‘Found’ deserves special mention: a beautiful silent comic about isolation, connection and ascension which delivers love straight to the reader. I also picked up the American “Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf: A sex education comic book” which has a responsible and friendly attitude and an illustration style rooted in zines. Long-running Irish punk zinesters Loserdom were there, and they’d managed to get Jimi Gherkin’s Zine Collective stock on their table. Convention afficionado Cliodhna Lyons even appeared for fifteen minutes to pass on some stock, having flown from attendance at the Leeds Thought Bubble comics event the same day.

With a few copies exchanged at days end, Paddy and I packed up and drove out to Belfast for Phase 2 of our plan.

black box market 2009

The Black Box is a pub and nightclub on Hill Street in Belfast, which once a month opens its doors to a market. Exhibiting is free, though donations are expected. Organisers Helen and Ryan Darragh state,

“we have limited space. So we really have to work it out on the day. We try to do our best by each stall holder.”

Paddy and I laid out our comics and those given to us in Dublin, such as the works of Edition Book Arts, a collective made up of Paddy Lynch, Katie Blackwood and Phil Barrett. We attracted a crowd who were delighted to learn there were so many Irish cartoonists producing their own wares.

A cornucopia of wares presented browsers with varied choices. One exhibitor had Playmobil and Star Wars figures dangling from key rings. Local poet Christine Morrow manned a table were bus route images had become badges and Happy Mondays gig posters showed up on sustainable carry bags and mugs. The Handmade Brigade sold tea-towels with stitched in obscenities, which in their own way were quite amusing. Across from us a vinyl record seller told me he enjoyed the welcome opportunity, his usual sales route through Ebay having begun to dry up. Next to him Dale Mawhinney, a local painter who adapted some of his poems into comics. Across, an Anarchist collective who had Spain Rodriguez’s graphic novel, Che, proudly displayed under Karl Marx’s Capital. About ten of the twenty tables sold a few comics. None were quite so concentrated on the form as ours or the traditional collectors stall manned by Scott, Ron and Karen from The Sunnyside Comics Podcast.

During the day Davy Francis stopped for a chat. Davy worked on Oink! And his round and squiggly humour strips such as Cowpat County were an inspiration to me growing up. We were also joined by Danny Pongo, my co-writer over the last month on humour piece, Santa: The White Paper. As it was my birthday, Paddy and Danny took me for drinks after we’d packed up and we admired the unveiling of a new mural-in-progress nearby of celebrity caricatures.

black box market 2009a

As I write this, my email box dances with chatter about the next Black Box Comics Market, an accompanying website and a mini-comic collection to give out free to interested parties. In addition to the market on the first Sunday of the month, theres an additional date on January 17th there withBlack Books, as part of the Out To Lunch Arts Festival in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. In England, Jimi Gherkin has already confirmed the similar 2010 Alternative Press Fair for February 13th from noon to midnight at the St. Aloysius social club, Phoenix Road, London.

Theres a thing about the buzz of so many different people at these small fairs that gets my enthusiasm rising. It happens in a way I don’t get at comics conventions were the public have paid an entry fee and are surrounded by four-colour noise. I like the variety of zines
and baked cakes and comics just fitting in with other stuff, rather than isolated to a hall of their own. Where theres nothing special about comics, theres everything special about comics.
Further comics events throughout the year can be found at Paul Gravett’s always excellent Events list.