Archive for the 'Personal' Category

15th Nov 2018

It’s been a while

I’ve just noticed I haven’t updated this site for more than a year. I’ve also been thinking about how the internet is becoming centralised on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, and it was better when people had their own sites, so I really out to put my money where my mouth is. So, here we are.

It’s been an eventful couple of years. I’ve moved house, and been promoted in my day job. My band has risen, fallen, and is in the process of rising again. I got a bit estranged from comics, and got pulled back in by my writer mate Mark McCann and the local 2000AD-based fanzine Sector 13, edited by Peter Duncan and Lawrence McKenna.


Sector 13 is created by a fantastic group of creative people, and operates with 2000AD‘s blessing so long as it doesn’t make a profit, and stays kind of tangential to what they do. So we have stories set in the worlds of 2000AD characters that don’t focus on those characters – judges who aren’t Dredd, that kind of thing – and “Future Shock”-style short strips that don’t bother anybody’s copyright. As well as your standard drawn and/or painted comics, there are also digitally-edited photo-strips featuring our legion of cosplayers and prop-makers.

My first strip was in issue 2, published in November 2017. Mark had written a strip called “Humane Options”, a time-travel crime-and-punishment short, and I think the artist who was orginally slated for it wasn’t able to do it for some reason, so Mark asked me if I would draw it. I did, and really enjoyed it.

Sector 13: Humane Options

Mark gave me another script, called “Zero Sum Brain”, for the next issue. But then we had a conversation in rather poor taste about the Dark Judges and the “safe space” movement in universities that made us both laugh, and inspired Mark to write “Terminal Apotheosis”, a story about some cadet judges getting catastrophic hold of the wrong end of the stick during “Necropolis”, when the Dark Judges took over Mega-City One. I drew that one for issue 3, which was published in May 2018.

Sector 13 issue 3: Terminal Apotheosis

Issue 4 is in preparation, and I’ve drawn “Zero Sum Brain” for that. It’s an alien world civil war brain transplant story, and I’m really pleased with it. I think it’ll see print late this year or early next.

Sector 13 issue 4: Zero Sum Brain

The other thing I’ve noticed in perusing my site is that I started re-serialising Ness, the prequel to The Cattle Raid of Cooley, in March last year, got seven pages in and stopped. That was about the time I moved house, and it evidently fell by the wayside as I had other stuff to do. I’ll have to get that restarted.


The Proposition at the American Bar, July 18

My band, The Proposition, started out as the Proposition Blues Band a few years ago, but we changed the name as our repertoire became a bit more varied. The core of the band is myself on vocals and guitar and Anne Duffy on vocals. We had a stable line-up for a while – above is us playing the American Bar in July 2017 – but our drummer and bass player both decided to quit a few months ago. We’ve recruited a new drummer, Stephen Campbell, and a new bass player, Brian McCoy, and are rehearsing towards a private gig in December. Onwards and upwards.

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07th Jan 2015

The Old Year and the New

I’ve put off writing a review of 2014, because it has a great big memory well on 9 November when my mum died, and most of my other memories of the year have fallen into it. But there are some things worth remembering about it.

My sister-in-law Louise turned 40 in April. She is amazing and has been a rock over the last couple of months – I don’t know how I could have got through it all without her. She and my mum were very fond of each other, and mum’s death must have hit her as hard as it hit anybody, but she’s done everything in her power to keep everyone’s spirits up, and I will never forget that. I did her a caricature for her birthday:

Louise Brown 40th birthday caricature

My good friend Stephen McCartney also turned 40, a bit later in the year. He lives in London these days, but came back to organise a monstrous party with a band, and performed a couple of songs with it. We went for a walk along the beach at Helen’s Bay, something I hadn’t done for ages, and he complained that the music in the charts these days is all crap. “Of course it is,” I replied. “You’re 40.” Here’s a caricature I did of him for the occasion.

Stephen McCartney 40th birthday caricature

I found myself a little less engaged with comics last year, for whatever reason, but even so I did two MCM Comic Cons, in Dublin and Belfast, and both went very well. I also appeared on a comics panel at TitanCon, a fantasy and science fiction convention, with PJ Holden, Andy Luke and Rory McConville. I got interviewed about The Cattle Raid of Cooley for international Irish magazine The Wild Geese, and the Cattle Raid got reviewed, very favourably I thought, by The Comics Journal. I did a 24 hour comic, A Personal Narrative, at the 24 hour comics event organised by Glenn Davidson at Farset Labs in October.

And in November, right after mum’s funeral, I went to the Thought Bubble comics festival in Leeds. I’d already booked it but didn’t really feel up to going, but my family talked me into it, and I’m glad I did, because everybody was brilliant. Comics people are good people. Also, my entry in the 2000AD Future Shock art competition made the last eight. Click the thumbnail below to see the full pages.

Future Shock: Family Business


In terms of reading comics, my favourite comic of the year is Outcast, a demon-possession horror series written by Robert Kirkman, drawn by Paul Azaceta and coloured by Elizabeth Breitweiser, from Image. The story is very good, the line art is excellent, but it’s the colouring that really sells it to me, done with a limited palate with a lovely dry-brush overlay effect. Here’s a sample:

Outcast, by Robert Kirkman, Paul Azaceta and Elizabeth Breitweiser

In August my singing teacher, Róisín Magee as was, McKenna as is, got married in Newry Cathedral, and we, her class, were honoured to do the music. Fionnuala and Bill did a haunting version of Alison Krauss’s In the Palm of Your Hand that had me spellbound. I played guitar, and led the group on Here Comes the Sun as the happy couple left the church. In December we put on a cabaret show, Strictly Not the X-Mas Factor, that raised over £1,200 for Cause and the Thomas Devlin Fund.

And at the very end of the year, my dad got married. It was nice to end the year with a happy event. He and my mum had been separated for over 20 years but for various logistical reasons it had never been practical to get divorced, and he’d been with Rosie for ten, and we could all tell from very early on it was the real thing. They make each other happy. And you can’t take anything for granted, it’s not so very long since Rosie had a bleed on the brain and was touch and go for a while, so they were just right to solemnise their relationship as early as they could. It was a quiet affair at the City Hall, followed by lunch at a very nice restaurant. Rosie read a couple of verses from “Us Two”, from A. A. Milne’s Now We Are Six, my dad’s favourite book, which he said he’d been given a copy of on his sixth birthday, although he no longer had that copy. Until I found it the next day, inscribed from his auntie Lila, in a box of books I’d brought home from mum’s house.

Unfortunately, 2015 began with a sad thing. My mum’s cat Eccles needed a new home, and dad and Rosie took him in. He seemed to settle, but then got spooked by another cat staring him out through the window. A couple of days later a door got left open, and he snuck out unnoticed. Whether he was just exploring and got lost, or decided there was no territory for him here and went to look for another one, or was trying to find his way back to his real home, we’ll never know. My brother Simon found his body a couple of days ago. He’d been hit by a car. Poor old sod. He was 16, which is pretty old for a cat, and had lived with a lady who spoiled him, and got one of my Special Head Rubs every time I came to visit. He didn’t have a bad life, just a shame it had to end the way it did. Bye, old man.


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21st Jan 2010

Off gallivanting again

Tomorrow morning I’m off to Rome on a long weekend with my brother, so chances are next week’s update schedule will be disrupted. There’s virtually no chance of being an installment of Under the Bed on Tuesday, as I’ll be in transit all day Tuesday, and a very slim possibility of an episode of The Cattle Raid of Cooley on Wednesday, although if I manage it it’ll be later in the day than usual. Your forbearance is much appreciated.

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19th Jan 2010

Speak up for Kurt Westergaard and Free Speech

On New Year’s Day, a man attempted to kill Kurt Westergaard with an axe, because four years ago he drew a picture.  The man was a Muslim, and he was so upset that Westergaard’s drawing linked his religion with violence that he attempted to commit an act of violence in the name of his religion.

Today, an auction in aid of the victims of the Haitian earthquake rejected another cartoon, with no religious connotations, that Westergaard had donated.  His hairdresser has told him she will no longer cut his hair for fear of reprisals.

Freedom speech benefits everyone. I’m an atheist, and I’m glad I live in an age when I have the freedom to reject and criticise religion without reprisal from the state or the faithful. Not everyone thinks like me. Lots of people value their religion, and are upset when people like me don’t treat it with what they consider due reverence. But think: if you are offended by Westergaard’s cartoon, or The Satanic Verses, or the Life of Brian, or Jerry Springer the Musical, or Bezhti — freedom of speech means you can criticise it as volubly and vociferously as you like, and disseminate that criticism as widely as you can manage. Freedom of speech is as much yours as it is mine.  We must not allow fanatics the power to bully us into sacrificing that freedom. A fanatic with power is a tyrant, and tyrants don’t value the freedom of anyone but themselves.

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13th Jan 2010

Another feeble excuse

There will be no installment of The Cattle Raid of Cooley today. I held off saying so because I thought I might be able to get it finished this afternoon and uploaded by the end of the day, but it’s not going to happen. My recent TV adventures (see team captain Stephen Downey’s write-up) involved two very early mornings, little sleep, a somewhat dodgy Italian meal and an incipient cold, all of which has left me feeling completely zonked, so my priorities have been revised away from drawing and in favour of bed. Apologies.

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08th Jan 2010

Some news

I’m going to be on the telly! On Tuesday I will be travelling to Glasgow with the League of Just Us, a team of Belfast-based comics folk, to appear on the BBC’s quiz show Eggheads! From left to right: PJ Holden (Judge Dredd, Battlefields); Me; Reggie Chamberlain King (the forthcoming Layer Zero: The Exile); Aidan Largey (Layer Zero: Choices, our reserve); Aimee Durkin (Stephen Downey’s model and girlfriend); and our intrepid leader and team captain Stephen Downey himself (artist of Cancertown, Slaughterman’s Creed and the team drawing; also a man who talks faster than the human mind can comfortably process). Wish us luck!

Then, on Sunday 17 January, I will be stallholding again, selling an ever-growing selection of Irish small press comics at the Black Books book fair, the Black Box, Hill Street, Belfast. Andy and I have decided to call our stall, to tie in with the theme, The Black Panel. Unfortunately Andy will not be able to make it as he’ll be in London to hear Mark Thomas, so the role of glamourous assistant will have to be filled by someone else. More when confirmed.

And finally, someone who has too much time on their hands has rewritten The Big Lebowski in the style of William Shakespeare. As The Knave says of his rug, while playing ninepins:

It was of consequence, I should think; verily, it tied the room together, gather’d its qualities as the sweet lovers’ spring grass doth the morning dew or the rough scythe the first of autumn harvests. It sat between the four sides of the room, making substance of a square, respecting each wall in equal harmony, in geometer’s cap; a great reckoning in a little room. Verily, it transform’d the room from the space between four walls presented, to the harbour of a man’s monarchy.

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15th Oct 2009

A momentous occasion

The dread day has arrived. Today, for the first time ever in history, I am forty. The world will never be the same again.

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10th Dec 2008

Postgate reminiscences

My own little tribute to the late Oliver Postgate, who died the day before yesterday.

A few years ago I was at Landsdowne Road in Dublin, watching Ireland at a Six Nations rugby international against Italy.  Ireland had a scrum, or a ruck, or possibly a maul, one of those piles of bodies with the ball in the middle they have in rugby, near the goal line, and were trying to push over for a try.  “HEAVE!” went the crowd. “HEAVE!

And I couldn’t help adding, in my best squeaky falsetto,

The marvellous… mechanical… MOUSE organ!

And got the strangest looks from the people around me.  I don’t think they showed Bagpuss in the Free State.

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19th Sep 2008

Me meme

Meme: Take a picture of yourself right now. Don’t change your clothes, don’t fix your hair… just take a picture. Post that picture with NO editing. Post these instructions with your picture.

After Garen Ewing

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13th Sep 2008

The week and a bit in webcomics (4-13 September 2008) and AOB

Couldn’t do one of these last weekend because I was in Scotland, specifically the western highlands, even more specifically Oban.  Nice place.  All the good weather in the entire British Isles seemed to go there for a holiday the same time as we did.  FlyBe forgot my bag on the flight back (there was a last minute change of plane, which probably had something to do with it) but they got it to me by courier the following afternoon, so overall I’d have to say that was some pretty good customer service.  If you’re interested, my photos from the weekend are here.  Steeve, who’s a proper photographer with a camera that cost about as much as my car, also took some pictures, which can be seen here.  Here’s one of Oban at sunset which I’m quite proud of:

Now.  Webcomics.

Wonderella is running for Vice President…

The FreakAngels, or two of them, anyway, drink foul alcoholic beverages and make plans. Then there’s the morning after

Our heroes (and our heroine’s depraved brother) come under attack, in Lilly MacKenzie and the Mines of Charybdis

Two takes on the CERN particle collider black hole contraption from Jesus and Mo, and Welcome to the Future

And finally, not a webcomic, but an old-fashioned printed one.  The DFC, the subscription-only kids’ weekly from Random House, has a new strip called Mezolith by Ben Haggarty and Adam Brockbank.  It’s a stone age adventure about a young boy who wants to be a hunter, and it’s gorgeous – look!

Definitely the highlight of the current lineup, which also incudes Philip Pullman’s John Blake, Emma Vieceli’s Violet, Peadar Ó Guilín and Laura Howell’s Sneaky, the Cleverest Elephant in the World, the Ethrington Brothers’ Monkey Nuts, and loads more.

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