24th Dec 2018

William Drennan (1795-1873), a sketch

What St. Anne’s looked like in the early 19th century Engraving by John Thomson from George Benn’s 1823 History of Belfast

My four-times-great grandfather, William Drennan, was baptised as a foundling at St. Anne’s Parish Church (now Cathedral), Belfast, on 11 October 1795. How foundlings are given their names I don’t really know, but there was a William Drennan in the news around that time – a founder of the United Irishmen, son of a Presbyterian minister from Belfast, and coiner of the term “emerald isle”, who had been arrested for seditious libel in 1794 (and later acquitted). It seems odd that a foundling baptised in the Church of Ireland might be named after a leading dissenter, but who knows who chose the name and where their sympathies lay.

He married Ellen Meehan, or McMahon – transcripts vary. They had a son, David, baptised in St Annes in 1820. Another son, John, must have been born sometime before 1825 based on his marriage record. A daughter, my three-times-great grandmother Jane, was baptised at St Annes in 1826. A son, William, based on his marriage record, must have been born c. 1830-31. There may have been others, but I have found no record of them.

Jane must married my three-times-great grandfather William Magill by 1844, when their son James was born, but I have found no record of their marriage. John married Mary Ann Gaw at St Anne’s in 1846, and I finally find out William’s occupation: cotton spinner.

His wife Ellen must have died before 1849, as William, a widow, married his daughter-in-law’s sister Susan Gaw that year. His age is given as 44, although this is an underestimate – based on his baptism record, he was actually 54. He names his father as William Drennan, labourer, but it’s not unheard of for fatherless children to invent fathers for their marriage certificates. His occupation was again cotton-spinner, and his address was Lepper’s Row, Belfast. Lepper’s Row was later known as Lepper Street, off the New Lodge Road in north Belfast, built as housing for workers at the Lodge Cotton Mill, owned by the Lepper family.

William junior, also a cotton spinner, married Catherine McBurney in 1852. His address was New Lodge Road.

Lepper Street first appears in the Belfast Street Directories in 1858. It is off the New Lodge Road, and contains the Lodge Cotton Mill (Mssrs. Lepper, proprietors), and the Lodge Mill National School (closed at present). G. Faulkner, grocer and haberdasher, is at No. 70, and “The rest occupied by mill-workers”. The same applies in 1863, except the school is now open and run by a teacher called James Weir, and the grocer and haberdasher’s shop is at No. 76 and run by Agnes Faulkener.

In 1865 the occupants are named. Wm. Brennan (sic), cotton spinner, is at No. 91. In 1870 there is a William Drennan, fireman, at No. 83, and a William Drennan, spinner, at No. 95.

William died of paralysis at 83 Lepper Street, Belfast on 28 July 1873. His occupation was cotton spinner and his age is given as 60, again an underestimate – he was actually 78. He was married, so Susan was still alive. His daughter-in-law Catherine was present at his death.

Line of descent from William to me.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under History Comments No Comments »

16th Dec 2018

From Hell – now in colour!

You may or may not be aware – there doesn’t seem to have been much publicity, especially compared to Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old – but Eddie Campbell is colourising From Hell, the monstrous graphic novel he did between 1989 and 1998 with Alan Moore, for the Kindle. Two installements of the From Hell “Master Edition” are currently available from Amazon, containing the prologue and first four chapters.

Chapter 4, page 9. Not much has changed, but suddenly this panel is awash with sunlight.

This doesn’t sound like something that would work – Campbell’s art on From Hell is very black-and-white, and evokes a very sooty and grimy Victorian London. But it does.

Chapter 4 page 12: colour creates both sunlight and depth.

Campbell’s colouring, like his art, is rough and ready in places, but that’s always been part of the charm of his work. It’s subtle and fairly simple – he lays down flat areas of colour, and rarely does any kind of modelling with it. But, combined with tweaks to the line art and occasional outright redrawing, it’s remarkably effective in creating a sense of place. Where black-and-white Victorian London was a distant, alien setting observed from afar, coloured-in Victorian London is a place you can imagine yourself into.

Chapter 4 page 14: simple, flat colour creates more space.

And in chapter four, the tour of London chapter, Campbell pays particular attention to time of day. The chapter starts before dawn with washed-out colours. As the sun rised, the colours become brighter and more contrasting. A shower of rain, and things become oppressive and grey, and as the rain stops, the colours become cold and washed-out again, before darkening as evening draws in.

Chapter 4 page 15: same again.

I wasn’t expecting it to work, but it really does. Highly recommended – and gives me a few ideas…

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Uncategorized Comments 2 Comments »

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.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Blog, Comics, Music, Personal Comments No Comments »

23rd Oct 2017

The Proposition Blues Band at the Sunflower

The Proposition Blues Band return to the Sunflower, Union Street, Belfast, Friday 10 November 2017, from 9pm, £5 in

My band, the Proposition Blues Band, play the Sunflower bar, Union Street, Belfast (map), on 10 November 2017, from 9pm, £5 in.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Belfast, Events, Music Comments No Comments »

01st May 2017

Ness page 7


The Ulster Cycle: Ness page


Page first published 15 May 2007.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Ness Comments No Comments »

24th Apr 2017

Ness page 6


The Ulster Cycle: Ness page 6


Page first published 15 May 2007.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Ness Comments No Comments »

17th Apr 2017

Ness page 5


The Ulster Cycle: Ness page 5


Page first published 15 May 2007.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Ness Comments No Comments »

10th Apr 2017

Ness page 4


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?


Page first published 15 May 2007.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Ness Comments No Comments »

27th Mar 2017

Ness page 3


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.


Page first published 15 May 2007.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Ness Comments No Comments »

20th Mar 2017

Ness page 2


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.


Page first published 15 May 2007.

Posted by Posted by paddybrown under Filed under Ness Comments No Comments »

  • Illustration/Comics

  • Other Stuff

  • Buy my comics!

  • Categories

  • Meta

  • %d bloggers like this: