Paddy Lennon has decided to move his Flare series into the world of comics. I decided to ask him about his one-shot.
For those that haven’t read it, can you tell us a little about Flare series?
The Flare books are novels I started writing a couple of years back. I really wanted to try my hand at a superhero story, but I cannot draw. Like, at all. So, due to crippling lack of being able to talk to artists or any people with real talent, I decided to write a novel.
‘Flare’ is the story of Ryan Curtis, a teenager whose parents are superheroes. Some bad things happen and Ryan has to go into witness protection, but people without his best interests at heart come looking for him. While on the run he meets Aimee, a big fan of Ryan’s parents who’s decided to become a masked vigilante. She signs on as his bodyguard and through her he meets Hiroshi, a cosplayer and giant robot fanatic who has built a working mech. Together, they beat up bad guys.
The second novel ‘Shooting Star’ is pretty much ‘what if we threw superheroes into a space war?’ and caries on from where ‘Flare’ left off.
The books are aimed at a young adult audience, so no swearing or sexy situations included. They’re all fairly PG-13. Whether you think that’s a boon or a shame is up to you.
What made you decide to do a comic book tie-in?
A few things, partly I felt an unending turmoil at rocking up to events called ‘comics expo’ or ‘comic con’ in the artist alley and not having an actual comic to sell. Not wanting to feel left out, I asked around for some people to collaborate with to produce a comic. Basically, I just wanted to fit in.
Purely as a business decision, I thought a 24 page comic might get more people interested than a 300 page novel. It’s a smaller commitment of time and hopefully, if people read the comic and enjoy it they’ll take the chance on the novels too.
For story reasons, I’m not fond of reading novels that are so crowded with additional information that the plot is forgotten about. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for world building and throwing in the odd scene for comedy value, but if it’s not helping to tell the story then I think you need to cut it out or trim it back. The stories in the comic touch on background information for a few of the characters while also being fun one off stories that didn’t need to be in the prose novels and readers could enjoy with no previous knowledge.
I always wondered what it is like for writer moving from one genre to another. What was it like moving from writing novels to comic books?
It’s different… I’ve read comics my whole life (borrowing your older brothers first trade collection of ‘Hellblazer’ when you’re aged ten will teach you a lot) but this is the first time I’ve sent a script to an artist and asked them to make art. Luckily, I had Ben Hennessy in my corner and he read the scripts and gave me an artist’s perspective on them. His feedback, which often consisted of ‘Paddy, Why isn’t there only three words in this speech bubble instead of four?’, was invaluable.
With a novel, I have 70,000 words to tell the story, with a comic; it’s much, much less. I cut down the dialogue to a bare minimum to let the artists do their thing. Less banter, more robots shooting stuff!
What was it like seeing your words being transformed into art?
It’s the best feeling. Better than chocolate brownies, craft beer and a purring cat sitting on your lap combined.
You have a few different artists on the book.
I was lucky to obtain the services of Ger Hankey and Nathan Donnell on line art duties. Those guys are complete professionals and did some fantastic work. Chris O’Halloran is colouring Ger’s lines and has been knocking them out of the park. Miriam Abuin will be lettering the book and doing the design work.
Ben Hennessy who provided art for the novels has done the cover. It must be good to have that visual connection between the book and the comic.
Ben’s cover art has sold a ton of books on its own; people see it and just pick the books off the table. Having him come on to do the cover for the comic was a no-brainer. I’ve always really liked Ben’s style (art style I mean, though he’s no slouch sartorially either) and he keeps getting better and better.
Can you tell us a little about the story?
There are three short stories in the book. ‘First Date’ tells the story of Ryan’s parents’ first meeting. I’ve had quite a few people tell me that they wished I hadn’t *Spoiler* killed them off so quickly as they really liked them. So now I’ve brought them back for a brief visit.
‘One Day in Tokyo’ is a little bit of back story for Hiroshi Saito ‘Mech’ and scratches my ‘I need to write a story where a giant robot fights a Kaiju’ itch. We all have that one, right?
‘Lone Wolf’ is an introduction of a character who’ll have a big part to play in the third novel, which is on its fourth draft and will be released next year after several more drafts when it’s no longer ‘absolutely terrible’ and passes into ‘I’m not embarrassed to have others read this’ territory.
It is coming out for Dublin Comic Con?
The art is all done and lettering is ongoing as we speak, so it’ll be all done and dusted in time for DCC.
Any plans for more comics in the future?
Nothing planned at present, I have multiple, multiple more drafts of the third ‘Flare’ book to get done first and another toy guidebook in the pipeline with the long suffering Brian Hickey. We’ll be announcing the complete details of that at the Roll Out Roll Call convention in the UK in July, work on that is coming along really well and it will be released later this year.