Live Comics at the Source Art Centre

 

Poster by Alé Mercado

Recently I was fortunate to be able to travel to Thurles for the live comic reading event in the Source Arts Centre. The event tied in nicely with the exhibition of comic art by Alé Mercado that has been on display throughout the month of December and finishing on January 20th.

Since I had arrived a little before the event kicked off I had some time to read the series of comics on display. As a comics fan, it was a really pleasing sensation to be able to read large comic pages on the walls of a public space. Both the exhibition and the live reading event were run free of charge and open to anyone who wanted to view the pages or attend the event.

Alé Mercado welcoming the audience to the live reading (Picture by Sarah Bowie)

Mercado began proceedings by informing the audience they were part of a special moment in Irish comics. They were in a exhibition space surrounded by comic art with an afternoon of live comic readings and comic discussion to enjoy. It was an enthusiastic start to afternoon from someone who is passionate about the medium.

With the greeting and introductions taken care of the artists began the live readings. Joining Mercado for the live readings were Alan Dunne, Sarah Bowie, Debbie Jenkinson and Paddy Lynch.

The audience enjoying a live comic reading by Sarah Bowie (Picture by Alé Mercado)

Being a follower of the various artists on social media, I had seen mention of the live comic readings before but never had the opportunity to attend one before this event. The comics had a variety of stories told with a mixture of music, sound effects as well as live and recording reading. It was an engrossing experience throughout the various readings. Myself and those around me (young and old) were entirely focused on the comic strips playing out before us.

The live readings were a great way to show the public that both the medium and content of comics is much broader than they may think. And based on the response to the material I saw from the audience it was an illuminating experience for those that weren’t overly familiar with the medium.

After the comics collective had completed their live readings, a discussion took place (guided by the Artistic Director of the Source, Brendan Maher) between the artists and audience. The early part of the discussion saw Maher questioning the artists about their influences and how they how they ended up making comics. It became apparent as the questioning progressed that the artists had interests in growing a comics community much like those that exist in other countries.

 

Encircled by comic pages, the audience watches Sarah Bowie perform a live reading (picture by Alé Mercado)

It was great to see some audience members ask the artists for recommendations of comics to read as the superhero comics didn’t do much for them. It’s a credit to the artists and live readings that people were beginning to consider that there might be comics out there for them beyond the superhero comics.

There were also a number of people asking about beginning to make comics. And because the event had an indie/small press slant the answer essentially boiled down to “you just start”. It also helped that the audience were exposed to more varieties of comic illustration than they may have previously seen before. Getting online and engaging with the Irish comic community was also suggested to help with motivation for the comic making.

The event was in that the exhibition and live readings were the bait to draw the public in. But in it was in the discussion that it was made clear that the artists wanted more people reading comics, and to even consider making comics. And there were some that did say they could see how they could possibly make use of comic making in their workplace for example. A person could go and get enough from the comic  art and live readings. But the event was also planting seeds in the audience mind through the discussion segment that they might consider getting involved in the Irish comic scene. Which something I really liked. What’s not to like about inviting more people to make comics?

The comic day at the Source Arts Centre was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon. A big thank you to the people at the Source Arts Centre for putting on the exhibition and live reading event. And the same to the artists for giving up their time to put on a free comics event that hopefully will lead to more people getting involved in the Irish comic scene.

About contributor.
Comic-loving bookworm. Scribbler of words and images.
Not Irish international soccer player.
Can be found on Twitter @Stephen_C_Ward.