Archive for the 'Irish artists' Category

18th Oct 2013

The Irish Comics Shadow Hall of Fame

I’m a contributor over at Irish Comic News, and currently running is the third annual ICN Awards. This year, rather than do it entirely by public vote, the editorial team has put together an anonymous panel who have come up with the nominations, and put those nominations out for a public vote – and may the best creator win. The Cattle Raid of Cooley is nominated for Best Irish Digital or Web Comic, and you may or may not want to go and vote for it, but please do check out the other nominees as there’s a lot of talent out there, and it deserves recognition.

The only problem I have with the ICN awards is one I have with pretty much all comics awards in the internet age – recentism. There are two Hall of Fame awards, one for individuals and one for comics, and with the exception of Paddy Brennan, DC Thomson adventure strip artist from the 40s to the 70s (see below), they’re all for contemporary artists and publications. If a Hall of Fame is for anything, it’s for recognising the greats of the past. So if you’re going to vote in that category, I’d suggest you vote for Paddy Brennan.

But I’m also going to start what I hope will be a new tradition. Every year from now on, while the ICN Awards shine a light on what’s going on in contemporary Irish comics, I”ll induct five creators into my own Shadow Hall of Fame. Creators you may never have heard of, but who I think you should have. The decisions are entirely my own, so it doesn’t have the authority of a panel or a vote, but I think I know my stuff, so trust me. And this years inductees are:

1. Paddy Brennan.

“The White Witch”, The Topper, 1960s, art by Paddy Brennan

Dubliner Patrick “Paddy” Brennan (dates unknown) started drawing for small British publishers in the late 1940s. One of his characters, Marsman (1948), later appeared in Moore and O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He started working for Dundee comic giants DC Thomson in 1949, drawing adventure strips and literary adaptations for The Beano, The Dandy, The Topper, Bunty, Judy and others until at least the late 1970s, and his work was always robust and dynamic. The illustration above is from “The White Witch”, an adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s She, from The Topper in the 60s. Long-running characters he created include The Beano’s “General Jumbo” and Judy’s “Sandra of the Secret Ballet”.

2. Marjorie Organ.

Marjorie Organ and her comic strip "Little Reggie and the Heavenly Twins", New York Evening Journal, 1902-05

Marjorie Organ and her comic strip “Little Reggie and the Heavenly Twins”, New York Evening Journal, 1902-05

The daughter of a wallpaper designer, Marjorie Organ (1886-1930) moved to New York with her family when she was a child. At the tender age of 16 she joined the art room of the New York Evening Journal, working alongside comic strip pioneers Richard Outcault, creator of “The Yellow Kid”, and Rudolph Dirks, creator of “The Katzenjammer Kids”. She drew her own strip, “Little Reggie and the Heavenly Twins” (1902-05), about a nervous chap mercilessly strung along by a pair of beautiful young socialites, said to be based on Organ herself and her pal Helen Walsh, who married Dirks. “The Wrangle Sisters” (1904-05) were another pair of fashionable girls-about-town, and other strips she drew had titles like “Strange What a Difference a Mere Man Makes!”, “Girls Will Be Girls”, “The Man Haters’ Club” and “Lady Bountiful”. Her career as a professional cartoonist ended in 1908 when she married painter Paul Henri, after which she effectively became his manager while continuing to paint and draw. She died of cancer in 1930, aged only 44.

3. Charles E. Kelly.

Cartoon from Dublin Opinion by Charles E. Kelly, date unknown

Cartoon from Dublin Opinion by Charles E. Kelly, date unknown

Charles Edward Kelly (1902-1981) is perhaps the most prolific and versatile cartoonist Ireland has ever produced. He started out as a teenage messenger boy in the Irish Civil Service, and in 1922, at the age of twenty he, fellow cartoonist Arthur Booth and writer Tom Collins founded Dublin Opinion, a humorous magazine that quickly became a top seller. After Booth’s death in 1926, he and Collins edited the magazine until it closed in the 1960s. An untrained artist, Kelly taught himself from the work of the leading cartoonists of the day, and drew cartoon after cartoon for the magazine in a bewildering variety of styles, also contributing cartoons and illustrations to The Capuchin Annual, exhibiting his watercolours, and climbing the greasy pole of the Civil Service, where he became Director of Broadcasting and Director of National Savings. He died in 1981. His son Frank Kelly is well-known for playing Father Jack in Father Ted.

4. William St. John Glenn.

"Ballyscunnion" from Dublin Opinon by William St. John Glenn, date unknown

“Ballyscunnion” from Dublin Opinon by William St. John Glenn, date unknown

William St. John Glenn (1904-1974) started contributing cartoons to the Belfast sports paper Ireland’s Saturday Night in his teens. In 1925 he created a comic strip for its parent paper, the Belfast Telegraph, called “Oscar”, that ran until 1936. Oscar was an ugly but witty little man, and his attempts to chat up girls gave Glenn the chance to draw fashionably dressed young women, which he particularly enjoyed. When Glenn married a glamorous young woman called Dorothea, so did Oscar, and from 1936 to 1939 Glenn drew a strip called “Dorothea” for the Daily Mail. Readers were so impressed by his attention to ladies’ fashion they assumed that “Glenn” (as he signed his work) must be female. Meanwhile, from 1938 until the ’60s, he drew a weekly scraperboard cartoon, “Ballyscunnion”, for the Irish humorous magazine Dublin Opinion, in which the exploits of the inhabitants of a fictitious Irish village commented obliquely on national and world politics. He worked for the UK Ministry of Information during the Second World War, and afterwards became head of the Daily Mail‘s cartoons department, where he drew the paper’s long-running funny animal strip “Teddy Tail” and a strip based on The Diary of Samuel Pepys. He retired in 1961, and was elected an Honorary Academician of the Royal Ulster Academy in 1968. He died in 1974, at the age of 70, after a series of operations to remove brain tumours.

5. David Wilson.

David Wilson self-caricature from an ad for shaving soap, date unknown.

David Wilson self-caricature from an ad for shaving soap, date unknown.

David Wilson (1873-1935) was born in Minterburn, County Tyrone, the son of a Presbyterian minister, and grew up in Belfast. After he left school he joined the Northern Bank, taking art classes in the evening, and sold his first cartoon to the Daily Chronicle in 1895. He contributed full-page caricatures to Alf S. Moore’s Belfast-based satirical magazines The Magpie and Nomad’s Weekly, around the turn of the 20th century, his bold brush style, influenced by German Art Nouveau illustration and Japanese prints, superb eye for a caricature and surreal political imagery setting him above his local rivals, and he was soon drawing cartoons for magazines in the UK like Punch, The Graphic and The Passing Show. He moved to London, where he set up the Sphinx Studio in 1908. He also painted theatre posters and, during the First World War, propaganda posters, and illustrated books. From the 1920s on he concentrated more on fine art painting. But he never recovered from his son Jimmy’s suicide in the early 1930s, and died himself in 1935.

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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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14th Apr 2010

Black Books, 18 April

This Sunday is Black Books day at the Black Box on Hill Street, Belfast, and The Black Panel, aka Andy Luke and myself, will once again be selling a selection of comics by the finest writers and artists in Ireland, north and south. We have some new additions to our stock – books by Bridgeen Gillespie, Rob Curley and Gerry Hunt. Click here to find out more!

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01st Mar 2010

New on the Irish Comics Wiki – February 2010

from New articles added to the Irish Comics Wiki in the last month:

The featured article this month is on David Norman, an illustrator and storyboard artist from Dublin based near Düsseldorf in Germany, who has created the comic album Luna, Hektor und der Professor: Der Schatz von Aschkor (“Luna, Hektor and the Professor: the Treasure of Aschkor”, image right), an archaeological adventure for the German market.

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05th Feb 2010

Black Market this weekend

Andy and I will once again be running the Black Panel small press comics stall at the Black Box, Hill Street, Belfast (it’s in the Cathedral Quarter – here’s the Google map) on Sunday. As well as our own, we’ll have comics by Patrick Lynch, Philip Barrett, Deirdre de Barra, Hilary Lawler and the rest of the Longstone Comics crowd, the Berserker Comics boys, Stephen Downey, John Robbins, Gar Shanley and Cathal Duggan, Alan Nolan, Deirdre Ruane, Tommie Kelly, Edel Ryder and Gareth Hanrahan, Davy Francis, Aidan Courtney and friends as Gaeilge, Lee Grace and his band of illustrators and graphic designers, and, new to the Black Panel this month, Malachy Coney!  With variety like that there’ll be something to appeal to just about anybody. Hopefully see yez all there then.

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31st Jan 2010

New on the Irish Comics Wiki

Malachy Coney's "Ouija Board, Ouija Board"The Irish Comics Wiki can now boast over 500 articles! The featured article for February 2010 is Belfast writer and cartoonist Malachy Coney (Ouija Board, Ouija Board, right), taking over from January’s featured article on Kilkenny animator and comics artist Tomm Moore.

Articles added to the wiki in January:

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12th Nov 2009

Brocas and Rowlandson – I think I’ve cracked it

Regarding yesterday’s post about a cartoon that’s credited to both Henry Brocas and Thomas Rowlandson, I think I’ve figured it out.

According to this potted biography, Dublin printer John Exshaw started out importing English magazines, and then started publishing his own – Exshaw’s London Magazine, later Exshaw’s London and Gentleman’s Magazine, reprinted material from the London Magazine and the Gentleman’s Magzine, alongside original material of Irish interest.  This was in the days when illustrations were printed by woodblock. If Exshaw wanted to reprint a cartoon from one of his English magazines, he would need either to get hold of the original blocks, or get the cartoon re-engraved. Brocas was, among other things, an engraver. So Brocas’s “The Loves of the Fox and the Badger”, published in Exshaw’s Magazine in 1784, is very likely to be a re-engraving of Rowlandson’s cartoon of the same name and the same year.

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11th Nov 2009

Henry Brocas and “The Loves of the Fox and the Badger”

When writing my history of pre-20th century Irish comics, I came across an article called “The Brocas Family, Notable Dublin Artists” by P. J. Raftery from the journal Dublin Historical Record Vol 17 issue 1 in 1958.  It said of Henry Brocas, who I’d already discovered drew cartoons of British atrocities during the 1798 rebellion for the Irish Magazine in the early 1800s:

One of the earliest efforts of Henry Brocas, Senior, was a political
caricature ” The Loves of the Fox and the Badger
” a rude
etching, which was published in ” Exshaw’s Magazine
” for 1784.

One of the earliest efforts of Henry Brocas, Senior, was a political caricature ” The Loves of the Fox and the Badger” a rude etching, which was published in “Exshaw’s Magazine” for 1784.

I’ve since come across a cartoon of the same name and date, credited to the British caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson – and the only online copy of it I’ve found bears Rowlandson’s signature.

However, another source, a catalogue of items in Princeton University Library, credits it to Brocas. Perhaps there are two cartoons of the same name, one by Rowlandson and one by Brocas. Perhaps Brocas did a copy, or Rowlandson drew it and Brocas engraved it – Brocas was, after all, an engraver. I don’t know. I’ve added a caveat to the article, and would welcome any correction by anyone knowledgeable on the subject who might be reading.

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01st Sep 2009

David Cousley – illustrator and painter

When I was growing up I was always pretty good at drawing, but my ego was always kept in check by the fact that my cousin, David Cousley, could draw rings round me.  He’s now taken the plunge and gone online at Flickr, where he has a selection of his paintings and illustrations.  Here’s a few samples:

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02nd Feb 2009

Belfast artist Stephen Downey

CancertownStephen Downey, a Belfast comics artist and a mate from the monthly Belfast comics creator meetups in the Garrick bar, has been working on Cancertown for what seems like forever. It was originally going to be a limited series before the publishers decided that was commercial suicide, and it’ll be going direct to graphic novel when it’s done.  It’s a sort of supernatural horror fantasy thing written by a guy called Cy Dethan, and we’ve been getting previews of the pages as they’re drawn.

From what I can gather the main character has a foot in two worlds, the real one (drawn in ink) and another one full of grotesques, monsters and giant eyeballs (drawn in pencil). I was particularly impressed by the sequence where the writer, as comics writers do, asked Stephen to draw a character becoming a whirlwind of daggers – not metaphorically, actually turn into a spiral storm made up of countless pointy metal weapons – and Stephen not only did it, but did it so you went “wow”.  Stephen draws in a kind of heightened realist style that would fit in quite nicely at places like Vertigo, teaches Irish traditional music, and talks faster than the human mind can comfortably process.

And he’s done an interview about his process and inspirations over at Red Eye, his publisher’s blog, and he’s been good enough to give me a wee plug. Favour returned, and I’ll keep you posted when the book comes out.

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