Friday, 2 December 2011

Better Angels

Andy Luke alerts me to a new webcomic - Better Angels, by Belfast writer Tony McVeigh and American artist Jordan Kroeger. Early days, but it seems to be a superhero comic based in Christian mythology, with the main character, Faith, having her angelic powers awakened by an encounter with another angel, and finding she's being pursued by the sinister Seraphim. She's also got a very bad temper. It updates in monthly three-page episodes. The website design, with its huge and hideous navigation buttons, is pretty dreadful, but that's just cosmetic. The comic itself looks promising. Artist Jordan Kroeger seems to be a fan of Bryan Talbot, and while he's not in Bryan's league, that's not a bad influence to have.

Tony also has a blog, You Are Comics, where he reviews a lot of Marvel and DC comics.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

PJ Holden signing in the Forbidden Planet on Saturday (and pub meet on Thursday)

On Saturday 3 December from 1pm to 3, PJ Holden will be signing comics in the Forgotten Pelmet on Ann Street. That should include the first issue of Strip Magazine, in which he draws Black Ops Extreme. I'm sure you could also persuade him to sign recent issues of the Judge Dredd Megazine, for which he drew Numbercruncher, the miniseries Robocop/Terminator: Kill Human, and older stuff like Battlefields and Fearless.

Also, pub meet on Thursday! If you're in the vicinity of Belfast and make comics or are interested in making comics, we'll be at the Cloth Ear on Waring Street from 9pm. Here's the Facebook event page.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Events upcoming: pub meet and talks at the Linenhall Library

First up, this Thursday, 3 November, it's the regular monthly pub meet at the Cloth Ear on Waring Street, from 9pm. If you make comics or are interested in making comics, it'd be good to see you there. I have heard of a couple of incidents of people getting turned away for being under 25, so we might have to consider a change of venue. Bring ideas.

Next week there's a couple of lunchtime events of interest at the Linenhall Library. Tuesday week, 8 November, Dr. Gordon Gillespie examines comic books and graphic novels produced in response and reaction to NI’s political turbulence. Then the following Friday, 11 November, Linen Hall Librarian John Killen takes the audience on a historical tour of political cartoons created throughout the 20th century. Both events are free and start at 1pm.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Ards Arts Big Scribble 2011

Ards Big Scribble 2011
On Friday 28th and Saturday 29th October, Ards Arts in Newtownards, Co. Down, is inviting people to come and draw on the walls of their studio. The Ards Arts Big Scribble is part of the UK-wide Big Draw campaign, and aims to get people drawing a create a piece of collaborative art. They're inviting local businesses and schools as well as the general public to come and make their mark. In residence will be local illustrator and urban artist Shauna McGowan.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

ICN Awards - let voting commence!

Nominations have closed, and voting proper for the inaugural Irish Comic News awards can now begin.

Belfast-related nominations include:

  • Myself for Best Self-Published artist
  • PJ Holden for Best Mainstream-Published Artist
  • Garth Ennis for Best Mainstream-Published Writer and Hall of Fame
  • The Cattle Raid of Cooley (by me) and Felicity (by Adam Law) for Best Webcomic
  • Absence (by Andy Luke and Stephen Downey) for Best Self-Published Comic and Overall Best Comic
  • The Boys (by Garth Ennis et al) and Numbercruncher (by Si Spurrier and PJ Holden) for Best Mainstream-Published Comic
  • Sunnyside Comics for Best Blog/Podcast
  • Forbidden Planet Belfast for Best Comic Shop

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Culture NI on Batman Live - with PJ Holden and Malachy Coney

Over at Culture NI, Peter McCaughan has written a piece on the Batman Live show opening tonight at the Odyssey, with contributions on what makes Batman so enduringly popular from Belfast comics luminaries PJ Holden and Malachy Coney.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Stephen Downey's Jennifer Wilde on Cosmic Treadmill

You'll no doubt have seen the first issue of Atomic Diner's 1920s supernatural mystery comic Jennifer Wilde, drawn by our own Stephen Downey, on the shelves in the Forgotten Pelmet, and if you haven't picked it up, go and do so, because it's excellent. It's got some attention from new UK-based* comics news site Cosmic Treadmill, who have reviewed issue 1, and interviewed Stephen and the writer, Maura McHugh, and the publisher/plotter, Rob Curley. Check 'em out.

*Chris from Cosmic Treadmill contacts me to point out they're actually based in Cork.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Irish Comic News 2011 Awards open for nominations!

Irish Comic News, a great site covering the comics scene north and south of the border, announces the inaugural ICN Awards, and is inviting nominations in a variety of categories covering creators and comics in the self-published and mainstream fields, comic shops and websites. Go and vote, and ensure that Belfast, and the north in general, are well represented!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

TitanCon is coming!

I've been a bit slack blogging here of late - even forgot to plug the last pub meet at the Cloth Ear on Thursday 1 September, and have yet to write up last weekend's Barcamp. A lot of my blogging efforts have been redirected to Irish Comic News, which you should all be following, but I have also just been a bit inactive online due to meatspace factors. Couldn't be helped - sorry.

But anyway. There's a new science fiction and fantasy convention coming up in a few weeks: TitanCon. The main event is on Saturday 24 September at the Europa, and features guests including sf author Ian McDonald and various people involved in making the Game of Thrones TV series - not to mention myself and the estimable Andy Luke, representing comics. There's also a preview night at McHughs on the Friday, and a Game of Thrones bus tour on the Sunday, but I believe that's sold out.

It's a tenner in, and it looks excellent (and I'd say that even if I wasn't a guest). For more, see Andy's write-up at Irish Comic News.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Black Box Bazaar tomorrow

The Black Market is no more. In its place, the Black Box Bazaar. Which is exactly the same. Andy's taking a break, but I'll be there as usual with the usual range of self-published comics by artists from both sides of the border, alongside all the other handmade crafts and buns and old vinyl records and everything else. And they do great slices of pizza in the cafe in the front. Tomorrow, Sunday 14 August, at the Black Box on Hill Street, 12 to 5 pm. Come along and see what creative Belfast has to offer.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Comics Barcamp 2011

There's a new kind of comics event coming up in September - Comics Barcamp Belfast 2011. A barcamp is a kind of communally organised conference where people gather to learn and share their knowledge, that started in the IT industry and has spread to other fields.

Comics Barcamp Belfast is the brainchild of Andy Luke, who has secured a venue, Blick Studios on the Malone Road, on 3 September 2011. He's set up a wiki for planning the event, and a Google discussion group as well. What he needs is more participation. We have two proposed sessions, writer pitching with Andy and outlets and distribution with me. Barcamp is participation only. If you want to give a presentation or lead a discussion on any subject regarding creating, publishing, selling or promoting comics, anything you can contribute from your own experience and thoughts, we'd be delighted to have you.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

New outlet for Belfast self-publishers

The Head record shop in the Victoria Centre has a section for local artists. They currently carry books by Wayne Simmons, DVDs by George Clarke, CDs by loads of local musicians, and comics by the Berserker lads, George Clarke and Miguel Martin, and me. Their terms are extremely generous, so if you self-publish locally, call in and ask to talk to Viv.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Pub meet this Thursday

First Thursday of July, the 7th, is time for our regular Belfast comics creators pub meet! If you make comics, or are interested in making comics, and are in the vicinity of Belfast on Thursday, then join us at the Cloth Ear, attached to the Merchant Hotel on Waring Street, from 9pm. Click here for the Facebook event page, where you can invite your friends.

This blog's been a bit quiet lately - I'm afraid my blogging attention has been elsewhere, on the new Irish Comic News site. Check it out.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Attention self-publishers

You might be aware that the Belfast Book Festival, run by the Crescent Arts Centre, is about to start. One event that might be of interest to those of us who publish our own comics locally is the Northern Ireland Publications Resource event, held at the Crescent Arts Centre on Saturday 18 June at 1pm. The blurb goes:

Ever wondered how to find out about books published in Northern Ireland or how to get your own book published?

Visit the Northern Ireland Publications Resource in the Helen Lewis Dance Studio to see a selection of the hundreds of books published here in the last ten years and to get advice on how to find a publisher or how to become your own publisher.

Members of the NIPR team will be on hand to offer advice and to show the range of services offered, which include editorial services, guidance on legal issues like copyright and deposit, and suggestions on how to bring your publication to the notice of readers.
It's free, but you have to book a ticket, so follow the link.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Slaughterman's Creed FP Belfast Signing

To celebrate the launch of Slaughterman's Creed, the new original graphic novel from Cancertown writer/artist team Cy Dethan and Stephen Downey, Forbidden Planet Belfast will host a signing session on Saturday 11th June from 1 to 3pm. 

Selling and signing copies on the day will be penciller Stephen Downey, inker Andy Brown and cover painter Ryan Brown. There is a FREE sketch with every copy bought on the day and if you've already pre-ordered the book, feel free to bring it along and grab a free sketch. Andy Luke will also be in taking part, signing and giving out FREE print copies of his and Stephen's Absence comic.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

2D is back!

2D, the Northern Ireland Comics Festival, is next weekend!

As ever, it's held in the Verbal Arts Centre and Sandino's Bar in Derry (or Londonderry if you prefer). There's workshops for schools on Thursday and Friday, and then the show begins for the rest of us on Friday evening with a couple of panel discussions at Sandinos, before the big open day on Saturday at the Verbal Arts Centre, with all the guests signing and sketching (the theme this year is robots - I'll have to brush up on my robot drawing skills), workshops, talks and competitions. Finally, there's some more panels in the evening. Guest of honour is the legendary 2000AD art droid Mick McMahon. Most importantly, all events are free! Dowload the programme here. It's always a great event, so I hope we'll see lots of yez there.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Writer looking for artist

Been in touch with a guy called Ian Royle, who's a Belfast-based writer looking for an artist. His story is in the vein of Tolkien or David Gemmell, and in terms of art style he's after something akin to Kick-Ass or Batman. Anybody fancy that? Contact him via Gumtree.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Cormac (1946-2011)

Just found out that Brian Moore, aka Cormac, passed away on 12 March after a short illness. I met him  in January at the Steve Bell talk at the Black Box, and he was booked in for a round table discussion on the Belfast People's Comic for a documentary Andy Luke is making with NVTV, but he couldn't make it, probably due to his illness.

He's best known for drawing the "Notes" cartoon for the Sinn Féin paper An Phoblacht for more than a quarter of a century. I have to admit the subject matter of much of his work makes me profoundly uncomfortable. He was part of the faction of the Belfast republican movement led by Gerry Adams that ultimately led to the IRA ceasefire, but prior to that was quite comfortable with "armed struggle". However, when I met him he was a very funny and personable chap, and, most importantly, he made a significant and influential contribution to our medium in our city.

He started out self-publishing in the small press - ten issues of Resistance Comics between 1975 and 1978 (CAIN have a pdf of issue 4 to dowload), which featured his self-caricature Paddy O'Looney of the Irish section of the sixth intergalactic revolutionary movement, and Red Biddy, who sounds like an Irish Millie Tant. He also drew for the Belfast People's Comic. In 1976 he was hired by Danny Morrison to draw for Republican News, which merged into An Phoblacht a few years later, and he carried on until early 2004. Here's a link to an archive of his later strips for the paper, and here's one from 2000 that shouldn't discomfit anyone (okay, me) politically:

He also drew for British socialist magazines, and scripted "Dog Collars", a regular strip lampooning the clergy drawn by Ian Knox, for Fortnight magazine in the 1980s, played, sang and wrote songs for a republican band called The Men of No Property, and wrote plays. RIP Brian.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Liam de Frinse exhibition

In another bit of last minute news, Liam de Frinse (who used to do comics back in the 70s and 80s) emails me to tell me about a new exhibition he has on at the Engine Room Gallery, 414 Newtownards Road, called "Heroes + Villains + Pricks". It consists of of 150 stencil paintings of the heads of well-known people from all areas of high and low culture, and viewers are invited to vote which ones are heroes, which are villains, and which are pricks. It starts tonight, 7-9.30pm, and continues until 28 May, open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-4pm.

Culture NI on the Belfast comics scene

Over at Culture NI, Peter McCaughan has written a nice wee piece on comics in Belfast, talking to Mal Coney about the forthcoming Good Craic Comics #2, The Catalyst Arts guys about their exhibition, and Andy and Stephen on Absence, and even gives this blog a plug. It's called More Than Lycra? Comic Book Artists Make the Case - go and read it!

On the subject of Catalyst, Mark tells me their planned event with Malcy Duff this evening has had to be cancelled for unavoidable reasons. However, Saturday's workshop is still going ahead with Superhilbo! creator Hilary Lawler. It'll be a hands on exploration of what it is to create a comic, focusing on developing ideas into a comic format and getting them down into panels, also touching on skills such as thumb-nailing, character sketching and comic themes. There are still a few places left on the workshop which will run from 11am - 3pm. Lunch will be provided! If you are interested in taking part please email

Friday, 29 April 2011

Weekly Mini-Comic Market Update

Now, most Saturdays!

At the Red Barn Gallery, Rosemary Street. In sight of Delaney's, but directly opposite TK Maxx.

Award winning manual labourers Paddy Brown and Andy Luke will be selling as per usual and it's rumoured other experts might show up to sell the great Irish comics industry.

Andy will be signing his new free comic 'Absence', a comic about epilepsy.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Black Panel

The Black Panel sells a collection of over thirty independent comics by artists from the North and South of Ireland. For the last year and a while, Paddy and I (Andy) have been at The Black Box Market in The Cathedral Quarter on the first Sunday of every month, between 12-5pm. Entry is free.

Well, now the stall branching out.

Thursday 14th April - 5th May - ¿@#!*$ Exhibition at Catalyst Arts, 5 College Court,Belfast (ask the office)
Friday 15th April - FanSciCon, UCD Students Centre, Belfield Campus, Dublin 9am-10pm
Saturday 16th April - The Red Barn Gallery, 43b Rosemary Street, Belfast BT1 1 QBy, 11am-5pm and further selected Saturdays
Thursday 21st April - Absence Launch Party, Catalyst
Sunday 1st May - The Black Market, Black Box, Hill Street, Belfast

As always, entrance is free.
Check out the blogspot for more details

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Bob Curran's Bog Standard Comix

Back in the 80s there was a comic published in Belfast called Ximoc. Among strips by the likes of Will Simpson, Davy Francis, Ray McEvoy and Ivor Lavery, it included a science fiction adventure strip called "The Scavenger", by writer Bob Curran and artist Desi Hughes.

Haven't been able to track down Desi, but Bob got himself a doctorate and has written a slew of books on werewolves, fairies and other folkloric subjects, and worked in community relations and on cross-border initiatives at Stormont. And he's getting back in the comics game. He's set up Bog Standard Comix and is working on three forthcoming series with artists Adrian Lutton and David Dale (who worked together on a promo comic for the W5 Discovery Centre a couple of years ago). Bob and Adrian have put up a seven page preview of their alternate-history sci-fi series Space 1949 (pages 1-3, pages 4-8), which looks marvellous.

The other two titles in the pipeline are time travel adventurer Doc Lazarus, by Bob and Adrian, and 17th century witch-hunter Joachim Darke, by Bob and David.

Don't forget, tomorrow (Thursday 7 April) is the Belfast Comics Creators Pub Meet (Facebook link) at the Cloth Ear on Waring Street. We'll be there from about 9pm.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Stephen Downey on Jennifer Wilde

Stephen Downey blogs about his new comic, Jennifer Wilde, a 1920s supernatural espionage mystery in three issues written by Rob Curley and Maura McHugh. The three of them will be at FanSciCon at University College Dublin on Friday 15 April to promote it.

Catalyst Arts presents ¿@#!*$


This unpronounceable series of symbols stands for an exhibition and series of events incorporating the artistic mediums of Comics, Illustration and Zine making, held at Catalyst Arts Gallery, 5 College Court, from 15 April to 7 May, with a preview on 14 April. Exhibiting artists include:

As well as the work of the exhibiting artists, Catalyst is also playing host to a library of zines and comics from all over, and there'll also be a series of events held over the course of the exhibition, including:
  • The launch party for Absence, a comic about epilepsy written by Andy Luke and drawn by Stephen Downey, on Thursday 21 April from 7.30 to 9pm. There's a Facebook page - invite your friends.
  • Secret Cinema, unknown date, unknown location. Follow Sweet or Salted on Facebook to find out more...
  • a Comic/Zine Fair, Saturday 23 April from 12 to 5pm, when the Gallery space will be handed over to creators of comics, zines and all things illustrative. Stalls will be set up pedlling wares ranging from cakes to comics, posters to bags, zines to doodles on pieces of paper. Stalls are FREE but spaces are limited, so if you are interested in reserving one then please contact
  • Live Music & Live Drawing, presented by the collective Pretty Circus on Sunday 1 May from 7pm to 1am. A night of live performance with music and illustration combining for a unique take on the collaboration of the two art-forms.
  • The Simpsons, a live comic performance by Malcy Duff, Thursday 5 May, 8pm
  • The Dog Walking Technique, a FREE workshop by Malcy Duff, exploring non-traditional approaches to drawing and comic storytelling. Malcy shows us how he uses sensory drawing to create ideas and characters, and the techniques he has developed to turn these into comics. Held Saturday 7 May from 11am to 3pm. Lunch is provided, but spaces are limited, so email to book your place.

Friday, 11 March 2011

John Kindness: a Big Fish who started in our small pond

These days John Kindness is an internationally renowned artist, working in all kinds of media. He paints on car parts, remakes classic works of art as cereal boxes, paints modern cityscapes in the style of ancient Greek vases, and, of course, makes public sculptures out of mosaics of found objects. He's best known in his home town for the Big Fish on the Waterfront, a symbol of the city which this blog has appropriated as its logo.

But back in the 70s, he drew small press comics in Belfast, and those of us who do the same today can regard him as our founder.

In about 1976 he self-published The Hand: A Tale of Old Belfast, a 12-page story of a young lad from north Belfast whose short life causing minor trouble on street corners was cut short in a drive-by shooting:
The following year, he was one of the artists involved in the Belfast People's Comic, a local anthology that also featured work by Ian Knox, Cormac and a very young Davy Francis. Here's a complete 2-page strip from the first issue:

The Shankill Bulletin, a local community paper in the Shankill area, was launched in 1978, and the early issues featured another Kindness creation, "Screw the Bap and Head the Ball", a full page comic strip about a pair of ne'er-do-wells who got into all kinds of satirical scrapes. After a couple of years he handed it over to Davy Francis, but here's one he did in the second issue:

John became a full-time artist in 1986, and left comics behind. Or did he? In 1994 he was invited to propose an artwork to be included in Heathrow Airport's new Belfast Lounge, and devised Belfast Frescoes, an autobiographical tale of his childhood in Belfast in the 1950s, told in a sequence of 20 lime frescoes on slate. Heathrow didn't commission it in the end, but the originals are now in the Ulster Museum, and the whole sequence was published as a book in 1995.

Coleraine: Comic Book Design Workshop

"To mark Creativity Month, Coleraine Library will be hosting a workshop on comic book design with local illustrator and author Trisha Deery, taking place on Wednesday 23rd March at 2.00pm"

The workshop is free; places are available through booking only. More details at the NI Libraries website.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

March pub meet at the Cloth Ear this Thursday

Like the heading says. This Thursday is the first of the month, so if you're in or around Belfast, create comics or are interested in creating comics, please come along - we'll be there from about 9pm. Here's the Facebook event page.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Upcoming Belfast Comix Festival: Call for Submissions

First official word from Mark de Connik at Catalyst Arts on the three week comics exhibition and festival coming to Belfast, mid-April to early May:

Mark writes,

"Us here at Catalyst Arts are currently in the process of putting together a publication to coincide with our upcoming exhibition based around Comics, Zines and illustration.

Taking the form of a twenty-four page, black and white, newspaper print, we are currently looking for artists/writers to contribute their work to this publication, which will be distributed thro ughout Ireland.

We are open to all forms of work relating to the exhibition that would lend itself to such a publication.

If you are interested in becoming a part of this project, all submissions of work are to be sent to by no later than 5pm, Friday 4th March.

The dimensions of the publication will be A3 in size. Basically a similar size to the Vacuum publications. We are looking for work submitted that would fit the standard size of A3/A4 etc, the layout and formatting is to be done after the submissions so re-sizing of peoples work will take place where appropriate. "

Monday, 14 February 2011

Okay, so I can't spell my own name

Anyone who's tried to contact me at the email address in the "what's all this about" sidebar and hasn't been able to reach me, I must apologise. There was a typo in it. Duh. It's fixed now. Thanks to Jeremy Briggs from Down the Tubes for spotting that.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Down the Tubes on Northern Irish comics

The excellent comics newsblog Down the Tubes, prompted by the announcement of the dates for this years 2D Festival in Derry (2-4 June), has given us a very nice wee writeup as part of their survey of comics activity in Northern Ireland. They also have a free events calendar, which we'll have to start using.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Black Market is back this Sunday

The Black Market is back, for the first time since before Christmas, on Sunday 6 February. Our stall will be there as ever, selling the finest selection of comics from Irish artists from both sides of the border, not to mention a few ex-pats.

We'll have two new titles available: First, Waiting for the Mothership, Deirdre Ruane's second collection of strips from her Wasted Epiphanies webcomic (and we've got a restock of her first, One Word For Everything, as well). So more autobiographical musings, whimsical science fiction vignettes and "Tempin' Bear", this time in colour!

Our other new title is Supernatural Showcase, in which the satirical wits of Gar Shanley and Cathal Duggan, who previously brought us Superhero Showcase, turn their attention to horror, with even funnier results.

Not to mention our many other fantastic titles. Hope we'll see you there!

Monday, 31 January 2011

Pub meet at the Cloth Ear this Thursday

Our new venue, The Cloth Ear on Waring Street, seemed to go down well last month. Hopefully we'll see you all there this Thursday, 4 February from about 9pm. If you get there earlier, you might you might catch a bit of live music or be able to order some food. Here's the Facebook Event Page - invite your friends!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Courses at the Crescent

Happy new year! The Crescent Arts Centre has published its course programme for this term, and there's a couple of courses of interest to comics creators.

The Visual Narrative: Drawing for Illustration is a 10-week course, taught by David Haughey, starting on Wednesday 19 January. It aims to explore the relationship between text and image within the context of illustration, taking in composition, line, form, colour, and preparing artwork for print, and coinsidering both sequential and individual illustrations. 16 years and up, £70, or £65 concession.

The Cartoon Masterclass, with John Farrelly, is also ten weeks, starting Saturday 22 January at 11am. It covers, cartoons, comic strips and caricatures, including writing, drawing, what tools to use, and creating appealing characters. 9 years and up, £65, £58 concession, £53 under 16s.