Ness: Preview

Ness is the first in the Ulster Cycle series of comics, set in Iron Age Ireland and based on ancient legends.

When the king of Ulster is powerless to stop a murderous outlaw, his daughter Ness turns outlaw herself to hunt him down. But with war looming between the kingdoms of Ireland, will her father’s house still be there to come back to when the job’s done?

Ness is 72-page graphic novella, collecting the full 72-page story in black and white, plus full colour cover, pronunciation guide and seven pages of notes. It’s available in print and as a digital download, and the first six pages are available to read below!

Buy the book (£5+p&p) | Buy the ebook (£3)


The Ulster Cycle page 1. 1. Two fianna, cloaked and armed young men watch a settlement from an overlooking hill. A chariot arrives at the settlement, a roundhouse surrounded by a circular palisade, and the passenger steps off the back. The host welcomes him with open arms. Fianna 1: That's the twelfth. Tell the chief. Fianna 2: Righto. 2. Inside, a teenage boy servant, Ilann, roasts a pig, while middle-aged noblemen gather around with drinking horns. The host, Dáire, addresses the guests: First off, let me welcome you all to my house. It hardly seems like twelve years since the king put his daughter into our care, but we've all played host once, so I suppose it must be. 3. In the forest, the fianna sit and stand around a campfire. Their chief, a tall, shaven-headed man, stares off. Fianna 2 arrives with his news: Chief! They're all here. 4. Close in on Fianna and the chief, who continues staring into space. Fianna 2: Chief?
The Ulster Cycle page 2. 1. The chief reaches up and a bird alights on his hand. 2. He holds the bird close to his face, and it sings a note. 3. The bird flies away. Chief: Thank you. 4. Chief, close-up: Okya, lads. Take your positions and wait for my signal. 5. Back in the house, Dáire: Now our little girl is growing up fast, and it can't be long before Eochaid finds her a husband, so this might be the last chance we get to do this. 6. Dáire puts his hand round the shoulder of Ness, a pretty young teenage girl, and raises his drinking horn, as the other guests raise theirs. Dáire: So let's hear it for our Ness! 7. Outside, the fianna storm the gates, killing the guards.
The Ulster Cycle page 3. 1. Dáire hears something, and positions himself in front of Ness. Dáire: Shh. 2. The fianna gather outside the house with flaming torches. 3. Dáire puts his hands protectively on Ness's shoulders and turns to face the others. Dáire: Ness, stay close to me. Fiacha, what have we got? 4. Fiacha, a guest, holds a spit and a carving knife, disdainfully: Spits. Carving knives. The fire. 5. Dáire guides Ness through a door into a side-chamber, and calls to Ilann, who pays attention. Dáire: Ilann! Grab a carving knife and come with me. Ilann: Sir. 6. Inside the side-chamber. Dáire, Ness and Ilann approach the bed, a wooden box with a cloth-covered straw mattress, pillows and a fur cover.
The Ulster Cycle page 4. 1. Dáire pushes the bed to one side and reveals a concealed tunnel. 2. Dáire takes hold of Ness's shoulders. She's close to tears. Dáire: It comes out in a secret place in the forest. Ilann knows the way from there. Run to your father. Don't stop for anything, d'you hear me? Anything. Ness: Snf. 3. Dáire turns to Ilann: Ilann. Guard her with your life. Get her safely to the king, and all your family's obligations to me are discharged. All the cattle your father has of me will be his property. Ness is my witness to that. Ilann: Sir. 4. Dáire turns to go back into the main hall. Dáire: Get going. We'll hold them here. Ness: Papa Dáire? Aren't you coming with us? 5. Dáire: This is my house. What sort of host would I be if I wasn't in to visitors?
The Ulster Cycle page 5. 1. Ilann, knife held in his teeth, crawls along the tunnel, Ness behind him. 2. At the mouth of the tunnel, Ilann pushes the branches covering the opening aside. 3. Ilann climbs out. A silhouetted figure hides behind a nearby tree 4. He offers his hand to Ness, who's climbing out behind him. The silhouetted figure moves toward them. 5. The fian-chief grabs Ilann's shoulder from behind and cuts his throat with his sword.
The Ulster Cycle page 6. 1. The fian-chief lets Ilann's body fall in front of him. 2. Ness, shocked. 3. The chief calmly resheathes his sword. 4. Ness, nowhere to run. 5. The chief stands, not making any move towards her, letting her get a clear look at his face. 6. Ness cowers on the ground in front of him, back to a tree. 7. He turns and walks away, smiling. 8. Ness watches his back as he walks into the woods. 9. Same viewpoint. The chief disappears into the forest. 10. The fianna watch the house burn. One holds Dáire's severed head.

Enjoy that? Want to read the rest?

Buy the book (£5+p&p) | Buy the ebook (£3)


6 Responses to “Ness: Preview”

  1. Marc Raab Says:

    Wow. I’m hooked. Thanks for creating this.

  2. jim lemon Says:

    I’m sure I would enjoy the strip, but your ‘about’ column is placed right on top of the right-hand side, so I can only read the panels on the left. Am I missing something?

  3. paddybrown Says:

    Your screen’s probably too low resolution. Sorry. I probably take my monster screen a bit too much for granted. I’ll see if I can figure out some way round it and get back to you.

  4. Niall Mor Says:

    Hello! I blundered across your site by accident while trying to find out more about Irish mythology, and I’m intrigued to say the least. I’ve wondered if some of the great Irish hero tales could be adapted into comic/graphic novel form ever since I read some of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo stories. He uses anthropomorphic animals and freely adapts Japanese history and mythology for his source material.

  5. Jamie Says:

    I’m enjoying this, I love Irish myth and your art really suits the story. Think you’ve got page 5 up twice instead of page 6 here.

  6. paddybrown Says:

    Thanks for spotting that Jamie – fixed now.

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