This Thursday is the first Thursday of September, which means it's time for the monthly comics creators pub meet in the Garrick on Chichester Street. If you've never come before, we normally start arriving about 9. If the back bar's free, we'll be in there, because they've got nice big square tables we can put our art out on, but if it's not free will be in the front bar trying to perch our drinks and drawings on the wee round ones. Here's what it looks like:
There's a new comic strip by Malachy Coney, "The Coney Express", on Tales of The... today. Malachy's been making comics in Belfast since the late 80s, most of that time as a writer (many of the comics in Seán Doran's Necrocomicon are written by him, and he also wrote for Crisis in the UK and Fantagraphics and Image in the US), and in more recent years as a writer-artist - a regular strip called "Ouija Board, Ouija Board" in Fortnight magazine, and his own Good Craic Comics, the second issue of which is apparently on the way. He doesn't have much of a web presence as far as I know, so here's his bio on the Irish Comics Wiki.
There's a new article of Belfast interest on the Irish Comics Wiki, on John Campbell (1883-1962), an illustrator and theatre designer of the Irish Revival who also drew political cartoons and caricatures for magazines like Nomad's Weekly and newspapers like Bulmer Hobson's The Republic. Here's one of his illustrations from a book of Irish folktales.
Back in the early 1990s, when I first started thinking of doing my own comics, the Belfast comics scene was basically Malachy Coney and Seán Doran, who created the outrageous gay superhero strip Major Power and Spunky, starting out as a locally-published photocopied small press booklet and going on to be published by Fantagraphics' Eros imprint in America in about 1994. Mal's still about, and working on the long-awaited second issue of Good Craic Comics, but Seán's been living in London and working in illustration and computer animation in recent years. But he's back, at least for a while, and has added an archive of his old comics to his website.
So far he's posted his 1991 Star Wars parody Bug Wars, and the Major Power spin-off Quiteaguy, whose main character will be oddly familiar to anyone who shops at the Belfast Forbidden Planet, which features possibly the most outrageous device to break your fall from a high building in comics history, and which might not be entirely safe for work. There are empty pages for other comics, including Major Power, Catholic Lad, Nick Elephant and Misfits, which hopefully he'll be uploading before too long.
All we need now is for him to draw some new comics...
Insomnia Publications, a Scottish comics publisher, has, over the last couple of years, signed contracts with loads of writers and artists to create new graphic novels, and said writers and artists set to work. Unfortunately, Insomnia are going out of business, and the Comic Book Alliance are helping the writers and artists get our of their contracts so they can publish their work elsewhere. In return, a bunch of them have put together an 192-page anthology of short comics called Sleepless Phoenix Survival Stories, proceeds of which will go to the Comic Book Alliance.
They're doing this through Kickstarter, the online platform for funding creative projects. To cover the up-front costs of publication they need $3,600. There's a sliding scale for pledges - $5 you get an ebook of the anthology, $15 you get a printed copy of the book, and various points above that you get the book plus bonuses like a signed art print or an original page of artwork. You'll also get the knowledge that you helped free up Andrew Croskery's Kronos City, Bryan Coyle's Babble, Rich Clements' Corvus, Barry McGowan's Oz: Fall of the Scarecrow King, and many other exciting graphic novels, to be completed and published. Worthy cause I think.
Dave McElfatrick, late of Coleraine and I believe based in Belfast these days, is one of four cartoonists, and the only non-American one, who produce the cynical stickman webcomic Cyanide and Happiness. He wants to go to America to work on some animated shorts with his co-creators - but they won't give him a Visa, apparently because they don't think he's an important enough artist. There's a petition set up, so if you want Dave to go to America, go and sign it!