THE IRISH COMIC NEWS HALL OF FAME CEREMONY
Hello and welcome to the 2014 HOF Ceremony. I decided to do something different with the HOF Awards this year. I think the Hall of Fame needed to be outside the public vote as these things, largely, end up being a “what have you done lately” vote. Also, I thought there were a lot of people who were long overdue a place in the HOF including people who might not be known to the everyday comic book reader. From the response I have received, I think people agree that it is a very deserving group. Thanks to Irish Comic Wiki for some of the biographical material I used in this piece.
Anyway, to the awards. I have lined up some creators to say something about some of the inductees. I’ll also be announcing the HOF books.
“Michael Carroll doesn’t talk about writing, he writes.”
“Perhaps this is why Michael is occasionally overlooked in Ireland, because from 1993 when he began being published professionally he kept his focus on the business of writing and went about it steadily and without braggadocio. He has been such a friendly part of the Irish sf landscape for over two decades that his constant output and continuing success is more often celebrated by those outside of Ireland, than by us within its shores.”
“That’s why I’m so pleased that Michael has been inducted into the Irish Comics News Hall of Fame, because he has earned this spot through his perseverance and ascent within the comic book sphere, especially for his work for 2000 AD – a publication that has established the credentials of so many fine creators.”
“While Michael initially garnered attention via a plethora of best-selling novels, he has always written comics, and has been reading them since he was a kid. Like most career-driven writers he demonstrated his ability by writing for small presses and fanzines until bigger opportunities arose thanks to his smart scripts and professional attitude.”
“His significant break into comics happened in 2007 with his first Future Shocks short in 2000 AD entitled “Back to the Führer” (with art by Gary Erskine). It featured the requisite twist and the sly humour for which Michael is best known. He continued chipping away and by 2010/2011 was landing regular scripts for 2000 AD, including the most prestigious of all gigs: writing Judge Dredd, a feat few Irish writers have accomplished.”
“Since then he has become one of the most popular writers of the taciturn Judge, as well as recently finishing a memorable story on Jennifer Blood for Dynamite Comics.”
“I’ve no doubt that Michael will continue his trajectory upwards to greater creative heights within the comic book business, because he has the dedication and talent in abundance.”
THE FIRST HALL OF FAME BOOK: FINN AND FISH
Finn & Fish is a comic about Finn MacChumhaill and his sidekick the Salmon of Knowledge, created and self-published by Leeann Hamilton, with the first issue released in 2010. It is currently into its sixth issue as of 2014. The book brought a unique Manga style art to the Irish scene. It also gave a unique twist to the Finn MacChumhaill story.
Next up we have BARBARA NOLAN.
I was aware that the ICN HOF class was an all boys club so I wanted a female creator in the class. That being said, I didn’t want to have someone added as a token female either. Thanks to the ICN team, I found out about Barbara Nolan. She lived in Allihies, West Cork, and had been a cartoonist and illustrator since the 80s, working in newspapers, magazines, educational books and advertising. Back in 1986 she drew a weekly strip, Moya, for a newspaper we have yet to identify, from 1993 she drew “Me and Me Gran” for The Den magazine, and in 2004 she wrote and illustrated a children’s book, Who is my Angel. She died in 2012 making her the first posthumous inductee. I think you’ll agree that she is a deserving addition to the HOF class.
THE SECOND HALL OF FAME BOOK: FREAKSHOW
Freakshow was an Americana-focused supernatural detective comic written by Rob Curley and published by Atomic Diner. A one-off, pencilled by Terry Kenny and inked by Lisa Jackson and Len O’Grady, was published in 2003. The series proper was published in two volumes, the first consisting of 15 issues drawn by Stephen Mooney and Stephen Thompson published between November 2004 and July 2006, and collected in three trade paperbacks, the second consisted of two 60-page issues, drawn by Declan Shalvey and published in 2007 and 2009. There has also been a full-colour one-shot special, drawn by Bob Byrne, published in 2007.
“Gerry Hunt is the comics writer and artist behind In Dublin City, Streets of Dublin, the fantastic 1916 Easter Rising book Blood Upon the Rose and At War With the Empire, which retells the story of the Irish War of Independence. I first met Gerry at comic expos in Dublin and we soon became firm friends – Gerry is as enthusiastic about comics and comic art as I am, and is a source of huge encouragement, not just for me, but for everyone in the Irish comics industry. He is a retired architect and this shines through in his work – every building, house, mounument and outhouse of Dublin is rendered beautifully. As steeped as he is in comics and comics art, he is also steeped in the labour movement and this is reflected in his political subject matter.”
“I have been lucky enough to work with Gerry, contributing design and lettering to his wonderful Draugr: in Dublin City, a tale of Viking vengeance from beyond the grave, and on his equally compelling 1916: Larkin’s Labour War where I provided colours, design and lettering. I’m very much looking forward to working with him on his latest O’Brien Press project, a biography of Bobby Sands, later this year, if only so I can visit with Gerry in his Dublin City house, the walls of which are covered with the most incredible original comic art from the 40s up to the present day. Gerry has truly lived a life in comics and I hope he continues to do so for a long, long time to come. I would love to see him inducted into the ICN Hall of Fame.”
THE THIRD HALL OF FAME BOOK: SANCHO
Sancho was created by Alan Nolan and Ian Whelan, Sancho, aka José Maria García, is a Mexican paranormal adventurer and former Roman Catholic priest. As a member of a secret Vatican exorcist squad called Victory, he travels the world battling demons, zombies, vampires and possessed naked ladies (Sancho’s particular favourite ;)), along with Tom Frost, his six-inch sidekick. The book takes horror stories and adds an “Irishness” to them including the humour.
The next inductee is PADDY BRENNAN.
Again, I have to thank my ICN colleagues for bringing this creator to my attention. He was a comics artist from Dublin who primarily drew adventure strips for Dundee publisher DC Thomson. He worked for them on the basis that his work was anonymous and did not cooperate with anyone who wanted to write about him, so virtually no biographical detail on him is available (hence no photo for this piece). Leo Baxendale (creator of the classic Beano strips including Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids) recalls that he split his time between Dublin and London, working six months of the year in each city, and that his name was Patrick, but he insisted, perhaps ironically, on being called Paddy. Comments online suggest he died, possibly around 2000.
THE FINAL HALL OF FAME BOOK: IN DUBLIN CITY
Written and drawn by Gerry Hunt, it is a two-issue comic series published by Atomic Diner in 2003, later collected as a graphic novel by Dublin Comics. A legendary poker game set in a grim Dublin pub, and a woman leaves Dublin to search the seven seas for her wayward child’s father.
“There used to be a great little stall in the Grafton Flea Market that sold comics. Myself and a friend, Stephen Thompson, used to head in there every Saturday morning during our mid teens and pick up some Jim Lee X-men, or maybe some Whilce Portacio X-Factor if we could find them. The fellow that ran the stall was a quiet young guy named Robert Curley, and his stall was Zenith Comics. It was ace. Years later, myself and Thompson still frequented Rob’s comics spot, except now it had ballooned into a full-sized bricks and mortar store on Exchequer Street, named Sub City Comics. Every Thursday (as it was back in the good old days… none of yer New Comics ‘Wednesday’) we’d make the same trek into Rob’s store and grab our books, then head for our traditional six-pack of Dunkin’ Donuts on Grafton Street to read the new material.”
“In 2001 I graduated from the Classical Animation course in Ballyfermot, and began working as a Layout artist in the wonderful Boulder Media on Thomas Street. One week while picking up my monthlies, Rob inquired as to whether Thompson and myself still wanted to draw comics. We did. Rob described a new Irish publishing house that he had grand designs of setting in motion: Atomic Diner Comics. Rob had some great story ideas that had been swirling around his noggin for years, and was finally at the stage where he was both willing and able to commit actual cash-money towards making them a reality. He was willing to pay a page rate, and a half decent one at that. Irish comics? With genuine production value? Sign us the hell up.”
“The first books Rob and Atomic Diner put out were the Clockwork Monkey sampler issue, and then the Naked lunch anthology book. Thompson and myself drew stories in both; our first printed work. The flagship series Freakshow soon followed, with the two of us rotating as artists. Freakshow was massively ambitious. Rob envisioned a 50-issue series that explored his personal fascination with the 1950’s Americana and somewhat shlocky horror genre he grew up loving. It was incredibly intricate and ambitious. Sometimes the book’s reach exceeded its grasp, but the end result was still some very worthwhile and interesting material. The first series ran for 15 issues, and was a massive success. It was in Previews, like a real comic! People in other countries bought this thing!”
“And so it went. Other titles soon followed: Atomic Rocket Group 66 (featuring the debut artistry of a peppy young Will Sliney), The League of Volunteers, Róisín Dubh and many more. These books all featured first or early professional work by the likes of Declan Shalvey, Stephen Downey, Stephen Byrne, Bob Byrne, Maura McHugh and many more. Genuine pillars of the current irish comics scene. Most of whom were given their start by Rob. Turns out he has some eye for talent! More importantly though, he was willing to take a punt on something he genuinely loved. Atomic Diner went from strength to strength, shepherded unflinchingly by Rob for years. I don’t know if the venture ever made him any real money, but it certainly scratched that other great itch: creative satisfaction.”
So that concludes the HOF ceremony for this year. Thanks to all the creators who took time out of their busy lives to contribute. I think you’ll agree it added something special. I hope you enjoyed the piece. We’ll see you again next year.