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11th Sep 2013

More apologies, and TitanCon

No page again this week I’m afraid. I have a job interview today, so I’ve been preparing for that rather than drawing.

The weekend just past I was at TitanCon, a fantasy and science fiction convention in Belfast. Here I am appearing on a panel about Irish myths and history in comics (stolen from Nerdgeist’s review of the con). Left to right, Peadar Ó Guilín, science fiction novelist and panel chairman; William Simpson, comic artist and Game of Thrones storyboard artist; Richmond Clements, writer of the Brian Boru strip in Lightning Strike Presents among many other things; Paul Bolger, filmmaker and writer-artist of Hound, a forthcoming graphic novel about Cú Chulainn; a jug of water; and me.

Comics panel at TitanCon

Rich’s face is slightly obscured by the microphone stand, so here’s a pic I did a while back to show that (a) he’s an even more talented writer than I thought he was, and (b) he’s a time traveller.

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04th Sep 2013

Apologies

Tried to get the page done this evening, so at least if it was late it’d still be within deadline, but it’s just not happening. I know what I want to draw, it just won’t go down right. So it’s time to give up and say it’ll next week.

So, something else. For the last year and a bit I’ve been going to singing classes at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast, and the last couple of weekends we’ve done an intensive workshop in the Accidental Theatre Company‘s rehearsal space, culminating in a recording session on Sunday at the Oh Yeah Music Centre. We all had a bit of solo and a lot of harmony, and I played a bit of guitar. Here’s some of us recuperating in the Spaniard afterwards.

Left to right: Kathleen, who we’re losing to her native Canada now she’s finished her studies at Queen’s, soprano; Julie, soprano; Róisín, our teacher, musical director and inspiration; me, tenor; Piotr, tenor; Brian, whose son is in top local band Cashier No. 9, bass; and Anne, alto. Roll on the return of the regular class!

Singing class

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15th May 2013

Still on holiday, new Ness cover

The Cattle Raid of Cooley is still on holiday, but the prequel, Ness, is going back to print as my stock is down to single figures. I thought I’d take the opportunity to do a new cover, as the old one isn’t very dramatic. Here it is. Hopefully the new print run will be ready for the 2D comics festival in Derry at the end of the month.

Ness - new cover

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01st May 2013

The Cattle Raid of Cooley skips a week

No page this week – my mind has been unavoidably elsewhere. There is light appearing at the end of the tunnel, finally – my kitchen no longer looks like an episode of Time Team, and soon I will no longer have to use other people’s bathrooms, but will be able to return to my own.

In other news, the panel at the Dundalk Book Festival went well – here’s a cutting from the local press with our photy in:

This Saturday coming sees the launch of Courageous Mayhem – the follow-up to last year’s Romantic Mayhem, this time parodying old boys’ comics. I have a strip in it called “Heroes from Bible Days”, and it’s full of great work from a lot of the same creators, and a few more. Gar Shanley is once again overseeing proceedings, so it’s guaranteed to be funny, and perhaps a bit sick. Anyway, the launch is at The Little Green café bar, 13 High Street, Dublin 8. Here’s the Facebook Event Page – invite your friends!

Courageous Mayhem cover art by Archie Templar

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26th Apr 2013

Comics panel at the Dundalk Book Festival tomorrow

I’m appearing at the Dundalk Book Festival tomorrow as part of a panel on Irish Comics and Graphic Novels, alongside Tommie Kelly, Hilary Lawler, Rob Curley and Al Nolan. It’s at the County Museum, starting at 2.30.

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13th Feb 2013

Another bloody week off.

Probably ought to call this comic “two-weeks-out-of-three-ly” – but I’d miss that deadline too. Ah, what the hell. This is a serialised graphic novel, and when it’s done nobody’ll care about the odd missed week here and there.

In the meantime, you can always go to Will Simpson’s exhibition at W5, opening tomorrow. Will used to draw comics like Transformers and Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper and Hellblazer and Batman. In more recent years he’s been doing concept art and storyboards for film and TV, working on Rob Bowman’s Reign of Fire, John Simpson’s Freeze Frame, Neil Jordan’s Breakfast on Pluto, HBO’s Game of Thrones, David Gordon Green and Danny McBride’s Your Highness, Dickie Attenborough’s Closing The Ring and the Tom Hanks-produced City Of Ember, among many others. The painting below is of Hayley Atwell from the 2007 Irish film How About You.

How About You by Will Simpson

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23rd Jan 2013

The Cattle Raid skips a week

I know, I know. I’ve only managed two weeks after my Christmas break, and I’m already missing one. In my defence, this is a very complicated chapter, and I have a deadline on something else, various family commitments, and I’ve been moved to a new department in my day job and am learning the ropes. Plus, as I’ve probably never told this blog, I’ve been taking singing classes since last spring, and I have to learn my part of a song from Les Misérables, a show I’ve never seen, for Thursday. And my masked alter-ego has to stop my arch-enemy from destroying the world. All that. So once again, I crave your indulgence.

But I want to give you something. I’ve recently, with the aid of Irish Comic News, the Dublin cultural blog Come Here to Me!, and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia, been able to reconstruct a biographical sketch of Phil Blake, a forgotten Irish cartoonist from the turn of the 20th century, over at the Irish Comics Wiki (check out the page of his cartoons and illustrations as well). Blake was born in Navan, County Meath, in 1869, the son of a farmer and Justice of the Peace, and seems to have started out drawing ads for Dublin businesses and theatre programmes, before taking over as the regular political cartoonist of the Weekly Freeman about 1898. He had a distinctive art nouveau style, and drew for the Freeman until about 1905, even getting a namecheck in James Joyce’s Ulysses. In 1908 he illustrated The Moneylender, a “controversial and scurrilous” novel about Jewish moneylenders in Dublin by Joseph Edelstein, a well-known if controversial member of Dublin’s Jewish community. Some time after that he relocated to Australia, where he illustrated fashion catalogues for a Sydney department store, and designed books of photographs by pioneering Australian photographer Harry Phillips. He died in Sydney in 1918, aged only 49.

Old Love Letters by Phil Blake, 1902

Old Love Letters by Phil Blake, 1902

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16th Dec 2012

New Bookshop on Comicsy!

If you click any of the “bookshop” links on the left-hand bar or in any of the Cattle Raid of Cooley pages, you’ll now be taken to my new Comicsy bookshop. This should simplify the whole buying comics through PayPal thing. You can also now buy issue 7 – here’s what the cover looks like.

The Cattle Raid of Cooley issue 7

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08th Dec 2012

Belfast Comics Fayre in the Haymarket Arcade tomorrow

Belfast Comics Fayre

Tomorrow, Sunday 9 December 2012, there’ll be a Comic Book and Collectors’ Fayre at Avalon Arts in the Haymarket Arcade at the top of Royal Avenue. Entrance is free, and it runs from 12 noon to 6.30. In attendance will be such luminaries as myself, Andy Luke (who made the above poster), and editor Eoin McAuley, writer Ciaran Marcantonio and artist Daryl Cox from the Dublin-based anthology Lightning Strike Presents, as well as hopefully a few surprise guests. Oh, and I’ll be launching issue 7 of The Cattle Raid of Cooley. Don’t, as the immortal Jim Megaw might say, you miss it.

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15th Nov 2012

The next big thing!

I’ve been tagged by Tommie Kelly in a kind of self-promotion chain letter for comic creators. The idea is, we all answer the same list of questions, and then tag three more creators to do the same. And if you break the chain, no doubt something mildly annoying happens to you, like an onion falling on your head or something. The questions, and my answers, are as follows:

What is the working title of your book?
It has an actual title, The Cattle Raid of Cooley.

What genre does your book fall under?
I suppose historical fantasy would sum it best.

Give a brief synopsis of your book:
Ireland, the Iron Age. The kingdom of Connacht launches a winter invasion of the kingdom of Ulster to steal Ulster’s prize stud bull. The only Ulsterman available to defend his kingdom is Cú Chulainn, a talented but untested teenage rookie border guard, who holds them up by challenging them to a series of single combats. He’s the only one available partly because it’s winter and the Ulster army has been stood down, and partly because a couple of deities want to put him to the test. He will come out of his ordeal changed.

Where did the idea for the book come from?
It’s a very old story from Irish mythology that’s very rich in characters and ideas, is a bit of a mess so is very open to interpretation, and is not just from Ireland but from the north, so adapting it appealed to me greatly. It took at least eight years from deciding I wanted to do it to getting to the point where I felt I understood it well enough and was confident enough in my ability to do it justice.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Fergus, Cú Chulainn’s foster-father who’s now fighting for Connacht, is partly based on Sean Connery, but Sean might be a bit too old to play him now. He’s the only one I had an actor in mind for. He’s an old-fashioned macho man starting to go to seed. For Cú Chulainn you’d need to cast a talented, athletic teenage actor who can do tough, arrogant and also vulnerable, and allow a couple of years for filming, because although the story takes place over a single winter he grows up visibly over the course of it. For Medb, the queen of Connacht, you’d need someone very earthily sexy, hands-on and old enough to have teenage children. Láeg, Cú Chulainn’s charioteer, should be played by someone with a talent for deadpan humour. They would ideally all be from the parts of Ireland their characters are from – Medb and Ailill from the west, Cú Chulainn, Láeg and Fergus from the north, so they can do the right accents. Can’t think of any actual names though.

TAG:
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN: Andy LukeRol Hirst, Leeann Hamilton

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