QUICK QUESTIONS WITH Maura McHugh
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO COMICS?
I’m Maura McHugh and I’m the writer on two Atomic Diner titles: Róisín Dubh and Jennifer Wilde.
WHAT COMIC ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
All the scripts of Róisín Dubh are done, but I’m editing the dialogue of issue 2. I’m also working on the final details of Jennifer Wilde issue 1, as well as the scripts for 2 and 3.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
Receiving the pages from the artist. It’s a thrill that never gets old: seeing the blueprint I wrote manifested as art.
WHAT’S THE WORST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
I love it overall. There are some sticklers: it’s a lot of work, more than you anticipate since there are many elements that need to come together for publication. Also, nowadays you have to maintain a lot of social media about the comic books, which takes extra time.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER COMICS?
Reading my brother’s 2000AD was definitely a turning point, but I’ve always loved sf/fantasy/horror so anything in any media that told genre stories got my attention. I was an occasional reader for years, but Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles turned me into a dedicated comic book fan.
WHO IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WORK?
Many of my influences come from outside of comics. It’s hard to pick one. David Lynch, Katheryn Bigelow and David Cronenberg in film. In comics: Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Marjane Satrapi (to pick a few). In writing: Sheridan LeFanu, Dan Simmons, Octavia Butler, Truman Capote, Seamus Heaney and Margaret Atwood (a tiny sample).
WHAT TOOLS OF THE TRADE DO YOU USE?
My laptop. For writing comic book scripts I use a handy software program called Celtx. Paper and pen for when I need to doodle and work through plot points. Plus, research books, the library and the Internet. My Android phone, which is becoming indispensable.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE WORK OF WHICH YOU ARE MOST PROUD?
I can’t choose between Róisín or Jennifer – they’d be upset!
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
WHAT IS THE WORST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
Irish stories won’t sell outside of Ireland.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CURRENT IRISH COMIC SCENE?
It’s at an exciting stage. There are a lot of new people coming up who are dedicated and passionate about comic books, and everyone I’ve met has been friendly and welcoming. It’s strangely optimistic compared to most of the gloomy forecasts we hear about Ireland.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN IRISH COMIC IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
We need to continue to grow the community: so regular meetings for comic book creators in locations around Ireland, and better networking – this web site is a terrific addition. We should continue to support each other both in Ireland and abroad. Plus, we need to reach out to fans and readers from all walks of life and get Irish people excited about comic books.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN COMICS IN GENERAL IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
The smaller presses are leading the way with a tremendous range of titles from diverse voices. It’s a dynamic, creative industry and only getting better in the alternative/indie scene. I’m less impressed with the mainstream titles from the Big Two, although there are always exceptions. Ultimately, I want to see exciting, fresh stories illuminated by beautiful art.
WHAT WAS THE LAST COMIC THAT MADE AN IMPACT ON YOU?
I’m reading a lot at the moment, so there’s been a few. Rucka & Williams’ Batwoman: Elegy, Aaron & Guéra’s Scalped, Art Spiegelman’s ‘Prisoner on the Hell Planet” and Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting.
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO START MAKING THEIR OWN COMICS? (And don’t say DON’T :) )
If you’re a writer keep writing. If you’re an artist keep drawing. You only get better through doing. Challenge yourself. Push through the inevitable rejections. Find your community for support when you need it. Persistence and hard work is what separates the amateur from the professional.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
Read widely. There are so many different comic book scenes: webcomics, Manga, alternative, small press, mainstream… each of them has something to offer. Don’t disdain any area until you’ve read it. You can learn from everything.
Maura McHugh lives in Galway, and writes in a variety of media. She’s had short stories and poetry appear in publications in the USA and the UK, including the Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror. Her script ‘Hotel Darklight’ was shot as a short film in 2009, and she co-edited the Campaign for Real Fear competition with author Christopher Fowler in 2010 – the winners were published in British horror magazine Black Static. She’s the writer on the Atomic Diner comic book series: Róisín Dubh and Jennifer Wilde. She also works for the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild as their newsletter editor and blogger. Her web site is splinister.com.