It was around this time last year that Eoin Marron and I began to put together an outline for what was to become the Hero. I’ve spoken about the Hero already, so I’ll keep this short so you can get right to the comic. At the time all we really knew was that we wanted to do a short action piece with a twist ending. We’re both readers of 2000AD and both fans of the Future Shock so it seemed like a perfect fit.
Somewhere between our deciding to work together and my starting the script, Eoin got a pretty cool internship, and darnit all if that didn’t push the man to overhaul the layuouts and designs and put together a excellent comic! See that last panel, that very last panel right there at the end? All Eoin.
We were lucky enough to have approached Triona Farrell at the exact right time, with a reasonable enough deadline that she was able to take on the project, and really turn her colours to the storytelling. I believe her first comment on the inks was “this is going to be pinker than you’d expect”, before proceeding to explain a whack of colour theory that pretty much resolved any issues I could have with her pallet choice and storytelling. I think she did a brilliant job, and it broke my heart that this short first saw publication in grey scale.
I’d be remiss to not mention Kerrie Smith who not only lettered the comic and designed the logo but also prepared the final files for both print and digital distribution. I work with Kerrie on quite a few projects and I’m always impressed at how she changes up her lettering from project to project to suit the line-work and colours.
WOW this year tore in at breakneck speed and here we are already staring down the barrel of another Thought Bubble… I am exhausted!
To provide just a pinch of context here, Thought Bubble is one of the big ones for anyone making comics in the UK and Ireland. It’s a huge show with incredible guests, great exhibitors and some of the most enthusiastic, knowledgeable and fun fans around! It’s the convention that I use to bookend my year and I always like to try and do something a little special for it!
If you’re on the fence about attending Thought Bubble, jump off that fence, book a hotel in Leeds and fly, drive, bus, train, sail, ferry or swim over! It’ll be well worth your time. It’s brilliant!
This year I’ll be returning to the TB Marquee with my long time partner in crime Kerrie Smith! You should come over and say hi, and maybe even buy some comics… please buy some comics.
My New Banner! (Please excuse the blurry photo!)
Kerrie’s New Banner! (It’s so cool, I’m mad with jealousy!)
I’ve already spoken about BLACK, WHITE AND GREY, and you can see a full preview of it here, but that’s not all that’s coming to the big tepee this year! MALEVOLENCE has been receiving some exciting critical buzz since we launched it back in August, and we figured for our second printing, we’d make a few small changes. Mostly on the writing and lettering end, but we have made one exciting addition that I think you’ll want to get your hands on ASAP!
This excellent variant cover by Cian Tormey, with colours by Dearbhla Kelly will be available for the first time at Thought Bubble from Table 101 in the Marquee! Be sure to get there early if you fancy a copy, as we’re only bringing a limited stock to the show!
If you miss your chance to pick up the Tormey/Kelly variant cover, we’re also going to be bringing copies of the first printing with the original cover, so don’t worry, you’ll still have your chance to get your hands on this horrific short crime story!
Making their return to the Marquee this year are limited copies of SUPERHERO HELP DESK SEASON 1: BIJILICKERS! and Kerrie’s award winning GIRLS LIKE YOU! Again, we’re bringing a limited stock, so if you’re dying to have a little more Super Office Action or Feminist Short Stories in your life, be sure to get to us early and we’ll hook you up!
Finally, if you’re at Thought Bubble and feel like picking up some more Irish comic books, I should recommend PROJECT CROSSROADS by Seán Hogan. PROJECT CROSSROADS, and the short I wrote for it “Ducksworth’s Last Stand” really merits its own blog post, and I’m hoping to get to that later this week, but for now what I’ll say is, you can find Seán in the Royal Armouries Hall at Table 37, and you should most definitely pick up a copy of PROJECT CROSSROADS!
You can find Seán at Table 37 in the Royal Armouries Hall!
With art by the excellent Eoin Marron, colours from the always exciting Triona Farrell and letters by the tireless Kerrie Smith, the Hero is a 4 page comic that asks the question, what makes a hero.
When we sat down to discuss our first collaboration Eoin and I had the very loose idea to make a short comic with a twist. Beyond that, Eoin knew he wanted to see the comic in colour and his first choice for colourist was Tree. Somewhere between agreeing to work together and approaching Tree to lend us her pallet, I started obsessing over the role of the “hero” versus the “protagonist” and got an image stuck in my head of a classic superhero being held captive/interrogated by a paramilitary group.
After bouncing ideas around for a little while, we settled on fast paced action piece that would allow us to examine the idea of the hero while building to a twist we could both really enjoy. I won’t go in to too much detail right now, but you should check out the comic to find out more!
In a strange twist all its own, the Hero was fully illustrated, coloured and lettered before we were made aware that the IF Anthology was looking for submissions for superhero stories. This presented us with a very real problem; the IF Anthology is printed in black and white, while the Hero was always intended to be presented in full colour. This was more than a little heartbreaking. Tree’s colours are excellent and deserve to be highlighted, but the IF Anthology seemed like the perfect home for the Hero. Although we agonised over the decision to pitch to Alterna and risk losing a key part of our story in the end we agreed to use Tree’s grey scale shading to bring the inks to life, and trust me they really do come to life! Still, one day soon we’ll get the full colour edition out there!
Tree’s Grey Scale
The IF Anthology features the work of 96 creators over 40 unique and challenging stories and includes the Irish made stories,”Gravity” by writer and letterer Kerrie Smith and artist Hannah Deacon, “We Can Be Heroes” by writer Darrin O’Toole, artist Barry Keegan and letterer Dee Cunniffe, and of course, “the Hero” which you’ve been reading all about.
I wanted to do something a little different with this script. To this point in my comic making my focus had been on using dialogue and captions to tell a story. I’ve always found dialogue to be the part of writing that comes most naturally to me, but in my mind comics can be about so much more than just the dialogue. For Murphy’s Day I stripped all of that away to present a mostly silent script (the exception being the constantly ticking clock and buzzing phone). I wanted to create a short comic that would invite the reader to give it a second or maybe even a third look, and so I played with the space on the page too, counting down from 10 panels on page 1 to 1 panel on page 10. I’ll go in to more detail of why I wrote the script the way I did, and how the artist and letterer on the book managed to make it all flow together and improve on my script in a later blog post.
First Published in Lightning Strike Presents Issue 7, Murphy’s Day tells the story of the day everything went wrong for the titular Murphy.
Murphy’s Day was an exercise in storytelling and using a comic book format in an interesting way. To this day I believe it remains one of my better scripts and it doesn’t hurt that Rapha’s art and storytelling is just really lovely!
Heavy Black was originally scripted in early 2014 as a writing exercise.
Titan Comics had put out a call for 6 page stories dealing with a “lost in space theme”, and that struck me as a great opportunity to play with monster horror and to work on rapid tension building.
In 2015 comic artist Rapha Lobosco approached me for script samples to practice on. He took to Heavy Black and asked if we could produce the short comic for that year’s Comic City Festival. The final edition of Heavy Black (which can be viewed here) deviates from the script in a few ways. For example, we felt that a seventh page would allow for the gravity of Charlie’s decision to stick with the reader. There are several other small differences between the finished product and the script (revealing Charlie’s face immediately and ditching her plasma torch early on being two of the most prominent), I find this is a normal teething process for any collaboration. A script should inspire an artist, not dictate to them.