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Archive for the 'Ness' Category

12th Aug 2019

Things are happening

A significant redesign for my website. My serialised webcomics have been taken down, because I’m on the verge of publishing them as collected editions.

My first Ulster Cycle comic, Ness, was serialised in 2007-2008. I wrote and drew it in an improvisational style, in red pen, no script, no pencils (here’s an old blog post on how I did it), but originally converted it to black and white to post it online, and published it as an A5 black and white graphic novel in 2008. The first print run sold out, and I reprinted it with a new cover in 2013.

That run’s now almost gone, so I’m going back to print. This time, though, it’s being printed in oversize (17.7 x 25 cm) format, and in red ink, as originally drawn.

In even bigger news, the follow-up, The Cattle Raid of Cooley, is being collected in a single 284-page volume. Starring the grandson of the heroine of Ness, it’s an adaptation of the ancient Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge. I serialised that (in red) between 2008 and 2015, and have been printing it as a series of ten comics since then. Keeping those issues in print has been a bit of a struggle, and I figure it’s about time I published it in in a more manageable format.

I’ve created my own publishing imprint, Beetletongue Books, for these books. More news to follow.

Elsewhere, I’m continuing to work with writer Mark McCann on short strips for Belfast’s 2000AD fanzine, Sector 13 – and we potentially have something longer in the works. More news to follow on that front as well.

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04th Jan 2009

Ness reviewed at ArtPatient

Delos from webcomic review site ArtPatient has reviewed Ness!

A pretty good review, and has pointed out stuff about the comic that I wasn’t really aware of, which is always a sign someone’s paying attention.  Thanks Delos.

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03rd Dec 2008

Some reviews

In the wake of the Dublin City Comic Con, Some people have been saying nice things about Ness.

Rich Johnson of Lying in the Gutters , reviewing a selection of comics he picked up at the Con (scroll down to “Comics Irish Style”), describes it as “A wonderful period graphic novel” and “Primitive but gripping”.

My tablemate Tommie Kelly, creator of Road Crew, says “This book screams professionalism and dedication”, and suggests if it was translated into Irish it’d make me a millionaire (possibly overestimating the number of Irish speakers who want to read comics, but there you go).

Meanwhile Rol Hirst, despite having been nowhere near Dublin, describes it as “excellent” and praises the “crisp dialogue that doesn’t get all bogged down trying to sound of-the-era” and the “wonderfully expressive artwork”.

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24th Nov 2008

Con Report

The Dublin City Comic Con went extremely well, after, it has to be said, a fairly shaky start.  I arrived in Dublin on Saturday morning, tried to checkin at the hostel I’d booked a bed in, and when asked for money, discovered I’d left my wallet at home in Belfast.  The con organisers were very understanding and were happy to let me off paying for my half of the table until Sunday, after I’d made the trip home and back again.

First time I’ve been to a con as an exhibitor rather than a punter.  I was extremely lax at taking photos, I’m afraid.  Here’s a shot of my half-a-table taken on Friday:

I was sharing with Tommie Kelly, creator of the excellent webcomic Road Crew, and his glamorous assistant Vanessa:

Met a bunch of people I’d previously only met online, reaquainted myself with some people I’d  met at 2D, and made the acquaintance of a few people who were entirely new to me, and embarrassingly got Stephen and Aidan, who I know from the monthly Belfast comic creator pub meets, mixed up on a couple of occasions (sorry).  Stephen Coffey unveiled his secret weapon, Barry McGowan, who’d painted his comic Rosemary Herbb: The Return in a style that looked like a tighter version of 2000AD‘s Simon Davis.  Declan Shalvey and Andy Winter launched their hilarious one-shot comic Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag, which among other things includes a wicked parody of Garth Ennis’s The Boys and a novel version of what Judge Dredd, sorry, “Magistrate Grudge”, looks like without his helmet.

The launch of the collected edition of The Ulster Cycle: Ness was a great success – I shifted more than half of my initial print run, and several of the people who bought it on Saturday came back on Sunday to say how much they’d enjoyed it.  (The quality of the printing, by The Fallen Angel, was also complimented, deservedly so.  Thanks Mallory.)  I made an impromptu appearance on a panel for newly launched small press books and did it reasonable justice I thought.  I’m not quite ready to launch the book online, but I will shortly once I figure out how much I’ll need for postage and can get a PayPal button sorted.

Edited to add: Tommie’s put up his own report and photos (including one of me looking pregnant).

Edited Tuesday 25 November to add: Declan Shalvey has his report up.

Edited Wednesday 26 November: link to Andy Winter’s impression.

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02nd Feb 2008

The Ulster Cycle – things to come

Chariot

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23rd Jun 2007

How it’s done

I should be getting back on track shortly. I’ve been running around between work, home and my dad’s house for the last couple of weeks and really had very little time for drawing. Or for thinking about the story, which is probably more important. I don’t have a script. I have a rough idea of the shape of the story, and I try to work a couple of scenes ahead in my head, with events coming into sharper focus the closer I get to drawing them. The flood and clearing up after it have taken up most of my mental energies over the last couple of weeks, so upcoming scenes just haven’t been able to clarify themselves yet.

It occurs to me as I write the above that some of you might be interested in how I go about creating The Ulster Cycle. I have, it has to be said, a fairly peculiar working method.

gridAs I said before, I don’t have a script. I’ve tried writing scripts, but when I have a script I’m happy with I kind of feel “job done” and can’t motivate myself to draw it, and I’m a creative megalomaniac so I don’t trust anyone else to draw it. I also don’t pencil. For some reason my drawings lose a lot of the life and spontaneity the more preparation I put into them. Ever since I started doing life drawings in permanent marker I’ve felt my best drawings are done quickly in indelible media. I did some minicomics in this style about ten years ago and found it liberating. Having spent the last year or so trying to prepare an adaptation of The Cattle Raid of Cooley, the central story of the Ulster Cycle, and getting well and truly blocked on it, I decided to break the mental logjam in this tried and tested way.

My only concession to preparation is a grid drawn in black marker (see left), dividing the page into two, three and four tiers and columns, from which I trace the panel layout onto A4 printer paper in red biro, having given some thought to what note the page starts on, what it finishes on, how many and what size and shape of panels I’ll need to get from one to the other. Then I just start drawing, mainly still using my trusty red biro. If I’m lucky that’ll be the only tool I’ll use, but I usually also have recourse to a bit (or a lot) of Tippex. On occasion, particularly early on, I’ve used a pink highlighter pen for tone, and in one instance finished a panel in black biro because detail and depth were getting lost in red. Dialogue is roughed in as I go. It’s not unheard of, if a panel goes badly, to redraw it on another page and paste it over the original. Below is what the pages look like when they’re drawn.

pages

Then I scan the page in RGB colour, greyscale it, and darken it by adjusting the brightness and contrast in Photoshop. Heavy biro drawing sometimes crinkles up the page and creates shadows on the scan, but these can be removed by deleting the red channel before I convert it to greyscale. The lettering is done in Photoshop using a font I made from my hand lettering using High-Logic Font Creator, and sometimes I’ll take the opportunity to redraft the dialogue.

I decided at the start not to use word balloons, but to connect the dialogue to the characters with a simple tail, like Brian Talbot did in the original version of Luther Arkwright, and Eddie Campbell often does in his autobiographical strips. It’s a stylistic thing that appeals to me for some reason. More artists should do it.

Anyway, that’s how it’s done.

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20th May 2007

The Ulster Cycle

No story page today, but here’s a colour sketch I worked up. All the characters have appeared in the story except one, who hasn’t been born yet.

colour sketch

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