The creatives behind Northern Ireland’s largest published comicbook are to reunite for their popular comics workshop. Absence creators Andy Luke and Stephen Downey have been invited to host a workshop at the Arts and Disability Forums’s Bounce! festival when it returns to Belfast this weekend. Bounce! offers a selection of punk folk, rock, theatre and cabaret but […]
Were proud to announce that this episode of the 2Dcast is the first Irish comics podcast recorded at a speed of greater than 35mph. As we travel to the monthly meeting of the Belfast comic Creators group aboard the 212 service from Derry we offer up our usual reviews and nonsense . We the discuss […]
A sequel of sorts to 2012’s astonishingly sexy Romantic Mayhem, the National Tragedy team have once again come together and pooled their skills and passion into creating the upcoming COURAGEOUS MAYHEM! COURAGEOUS MAYHEM! is a 68 page comic inspired by the Hotspur, Victor and Warlord boy’s annuals of yesteryear. Harking back to a time when […]
This Sunday, 9 December, there’s a Comic Book and Collectors’ Fayre being held in Avalon Arts in the Haymarket Arcade, Royal Avenue, Belfast, from 12 noon to 6.30pm. Confirmed guests include local creators like myself (Paddy Brown) and Andy Luke, and top talent from further afield including Gar Shanley, Paddy Lynch and the Lightning Strike […]
Titan-Con begins tomorrow (and is featured in the Culture Night 2012 so is FREE on Friday) and runs for the weekend of 21st September until the 23rd September. It proves to be an action packed weekend, and this brilliant not-for-profit science fiction and fantasy literature, media and gaming convention in Belfast will feature a […]
An event takes place in Belfast this Saturday whereby Andy Luke and Stephen Downey will be hosting a free comics workshop. Take a look below for details and follow the link to the facebook event page for all the info. https://www.facebook.com/events/422709331108821/?notif_t=plan_user_joined “Learn about and experiment with cartooning alongside other disabled people. If you don’t draw or […]
ANDY LUKE SAYS over at http://andy-luke.com/2012/06/20/the-titanic-troubles-theme-park/ “I’ll be appearing as a guest at Q-Con, the Belfast Gaming and Anime Festival this weekend. The job is to assist PJ Holden and Stephen Downey with a 2000AD Comics Workshop. PJ has written a post here preparing his students for the Sunday morning session. Gareth McKnight and Debbie McCormack of East Belfast […]
Andy Luke has a couple of new homes on the web, http://andy-luke.com/ and it’s companion, awriterwhodraws.com So what’s the plan Andy? “I’ve taken the path of test trading after 15 years of doing this sort of thing for the sake of doing it. I have grand plans, but for the present, I’m treating the process as a level […]
With the release of a new anthology of Irish comics along the theme of romance, I pulled up a candlelight and soup for a date with editor and publisher, Gar “Uncle Fugger” Shanley. Andy Luke: You’ve assembled sixteen Irish artists to pull together 52 pages of love comics. From my view, it seems they’re drawing […]
For a bigger version of todays news in NEWSZOOM style click – http://twitpic.com/8wm6s0/full Not sure what it is yet?…then you’ve got to go click http://newszoom.org/about/ to find out.
Andy Luke and Stephen Downey had a very successful workshop Friday last, so some of the results of the great work produced at it are shown below. Pages 1, 4 and 5 are outlined only so please visit the site for updates and news on this comic and other works in production: http://www.adf.ie http://www.adf.ie […]
http://www.stephendowneygallery.com/ FREE COMIC WORKSHOP As part of the ADF Events (Arts & Disability Forum) series on ‘In Time’ presented by Andy Luke, Stephen Downey will be co-presenting a workshop on creating comics from 11am on Friday morning 24th February in the ADF venue: Arts & Disability Forum Ground Floor Cathedral Quarter Workspaces 109-113 Royal Avenue […]
What is Newszoom? http://newszoom.org NewsZoom takes some of the day’s news stories and converts it into comics form. Tuesdays, Thursdays, 12:30s. Hung on the wall at Belfast’s Arts and Disability Forum. Transmitted out over the interwebs. A physical copy, in your hand. In ten minutes; unless you’ve subscribed in advance to pick up. Like every other […]
Last year Andy Luke made a documentary about comics in Belfast called The Invisible Artist, for local TV station NVTV. It’s now online!
I’ve been meaning to blog about the fantastic ComicsWest convention at NUI Galway since it was held last month, and still haven’t got round to it. In the meantime, Andy Luke has done so on his LiveJournal, and asked me to reblog it here. So here goes… – Photos by Paul O’Mahony from this place […]
Until December 20th, the Belfast Arts & Disability Forum (ADF), will be running a Xmas show featuring disabled artists from around the province. 20% of sales from the show help keep the charity involving disabled people in the arts, with the remainder going direct to the artist. “I’m very pleased to be working with the […]
The following is an adaption and analysis of Judge Nixon’s death penalty ruling on Lennox the pitbull. PLEASE GIVE THE COMIC A FEW SECONDS TO LOAD CLICK IMAGE TO CONTINUE TO NEXT PAGE To Magnify a page, Right click it and choose View Image [portfolio_slideshow] The original document (referred to throughout the piece) can be […]
GET IT HERE GET IT HERE Absence is a comic book. Based on the writer’s experiences over 30 years adapting to a life with epilepsies: puberty, first jobs, college and “sorting it out”. Ten thousand copies of the booklet were produced and distributed with funding from the UnLtd Millennium Award Scheme. The strip was […]
Its sad news round here that both Andy and Gar are leaving the ICN steering commitee. They have been instrumental in the success of ICN and a huge thanks must go out to them. Both Andy and Gar are leaving to spend more time on their personal projects and goals and we here at […]
ABSENCE by ANDY LUKE (writer) and STEPHEN DOWNEY (artist) – reviewed by Gar Shanley Funded by the UnLtd Millenium Awards Scheme and produced (free of charge) by Oxicomics.com, Absence is intended for widespread distribution in libraries, health centres and other relevant civic outlets. Absence explains the condition of epilepsy and living with it in a […]
Andy Luke has a number of high qualiy omics available for you to purchase and download in the Digital Download section . CLICK HERE
I awoke in the dead of night to find Andy Luke at the bottom of my bed again. “I’m thinking of arranging a Comics Barcamp”, he whispered. “What’s a Barcamp?” I asked. He answered: “Barcamp.org describes it as ‘an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open […]
I remember the first time I saw a seizure. As the girl fell to the ground, the staff rushed to place pillows near, and move a table away. I can’t recall what I did, besides watch: I understood it was a horrifying experience and couldn’t turn away. All in the nursing home were aware of her status as an epileptic; as a young care assistant, I preferred they not know about mine.
Absence seizures are invisible. Forgetfulness, blips taking concentration off-track. I’ve had these since I was eight, with rare exceptions, they’re quite harmless. My minor condition wasn’t a burden to prevent me abseiling, bouldering or rafting, in good company. The burden of epilepsy education wasn’t apparent in my youth and tablets kept my system in check. A side effect of both the meds and the condition is mental health problems, in my case low self-esteem. I push myself harder, welcoming the work ethic. The risk has led to multiple regrets, and pride.
The genesis of Absence, the comic-book lies in one such risk. Scott McCloud coined the phrase, “24 Hour Comics”. The object of this exercise is to create twenty-four pages of a comic-book in twenty-four consecutive hours. I refer to it as, “extreme cartooning”, and I’ve done some of my best work with the ethos of ‘just doing it’. In February of last year, Absence was produced. Proved as an underground comix success, it’s been coupled with a reservation regarding my good behaviour by bad example. A major trigger to seizures in my experience has been improper sleep allocation: a symptom found in very unstable people.
Out of curiousity I attended a free creative business course run by Creating Enterprise NI and began sessions with artist and tutor Bronagh Lawson. These helped me consider aims and focus: truthfully, I’d not been much for fine art, preferring creating cheap, disposable comics. Thinking out loud about professional arts was vital to me in pitching for funding from the UnLtd Millenium Awards. The fund recognises social entrepreneurship with a community focus. Voluntary employment is not properly recognised by the benefits system. Yet, the help of Meabh Cormacain and others at UnLtd allowed me to devote respectable attention and some time to the booklet.
I started researching by attending one of the seminar days run by a leading epilepsy awareness charity. Something which should have been done an age ago. Over morning cuppa, I spoke with an old-timer, diagnosed with epilepsy as a youngster. He had kept it a secret; not really understanding what this meant or how to manage it. He had told no-one except his wife, and, she only found out when he was sacked from his heavy machine labouring.
“How could you not tell anyone?”, I asked.
“If you tell them, they will be able to know what to do. Or at least stand a chance.”
He just nodded.
“I didn’t know anything myself. No-one told me. That’s why I’m here today, to find out.”
Dr. James Morrow, an entreprenuer himself, spoke wonderfully of his findings from decades of research. For years, Belfast’s only epilepsy specialist, he mourned the loss of funding in medical provision and warned of challenges ahead. We exchanged books. Morrow’s A Patient Handbook alerted me to the fact that there are around twenty different types of epilepsy, some which appear similar. Epilepsies is the preferred term of sufferers and medical staff. An audience participation forum led me to think on where my book would appear. Most concerning of attention were the workplace, education and surprisingly, in healthcare. Also within the police network. I heard several horror stories that day of tonic clonic convulsive seizures misinterpreted as drunkeness. I should add, the first officer I questioned about epilepsy gave as good a knowledge response as I’ve come across from non-medical staff.
It is safe to say many epileptics have little or no memory of their sezures. Diagnosis is often made by historical eye-witness statements. Epileptics are dependent on this, and vulnerable to these observer accounts. I’ve suffered from several types of epilepsy and a few months ago, I suffered a tonic clonic seizure. I’d known Richard well for ten years, and schooled him well. Yet when it happened, he was unprepared.
My first memories were of the translucent mask affixed to my face by a large domineering stranger in my friend’s flat. He looks me in the eye and points across the room at pal’s distressed face.
“Who’s this? Who’s this?”
“Who is he? What’s his name? Do you know where you are?”
Well, would you tell them?
“You seemed to have enough self posession still to know what was happening to you, so you rolled onto the floor and it was like you were trying to get into the recovery postition, but couldn’t, due to the extrememly violent power and force of the convulsions.”
Richard goes on to record,
“Then you stopped, tried to get up onto your feet, started again and fell sideways banging your head off the coffee table.”
The post-seizure moment, when a sufferer should relax, was altered, by the effects of the oxygen mask. I rode with the emergency team out of obligation to their responsibilities. In the hospital, I spoke coherently with a surgeon and nurses. A lift home from friends had been arranged, but the surgeon interfered with communications over my four hour stay. Staff forcefully neglected my stability and coherency in their forceful preference for an overnight stay. When they listened, I signed myself out against their wishes. By that time I was permitted to use the phone, but as it was after ten, my travel prospects were reduced to two feet and the risk that came with it.
I’ve found maltreatment to be rare but rising, as the result of government interference in an funding-drained, under-knowledgeable national health society. Richard has since cushioned his mouldy old armchair were I took the seizure as “Old Sparky”.
Stephen Downey, based in West Belfast, is like myself a part-time tutor who works in game design. The pull of his passion for the comics form has led to the hit graphic novel Cancertown, and work on BBC’s Torchwood comic. This month, in addition to his work on Absence, he has two other new works published; Slaughterman’s Creed, and Jennifer Wilde.
“Let’s make this a comic.” I said to Stephen. With all the things that means to us: Brilliantly engaging words and pictures meeting in the story experience. None of this ‘boke tract medical screed’ nonsense. Authors like Will Simpson, Garth Ennis, John McCrea and Mal Coney have helped make Belfast a cultural mecca of comic-books. Absence is in that tradition. When you have a read, the bold visual delights will infect your brain with contagious usefulness and coping strategies. Facts AND funnies.
The comic is set for a print run of 10,000 copies throughout the province and for free online through the Apple store and at www.absencecomic.com It will launch at Catalyst Arts, College Court, Belfast on Thursday April 21st at 7:30pm. I look forward to the sharing of stories: all are welcome.
WRITTEN BY ANDY LUKE. ARTWORK BY STEPHEN DOWNEY
Comics Barcamp Belfast it is hoped will pool the knowledge and share it amongst comics creators and other people with an interest in the industry North and South of Ireland. One aim is to see a follow-up event in the South next year.
I don’t know yet what shape it will take. Will it be a Comics and Animation Barcamp? This might certainly attract more people and ensure funding, but would lose some of the speciality. People are free to suggest topics and guide topics. Everyone is a guest. Nobody pays, but everyone contributes.
Have a look around http://barcamp.org – if you’ve not been to a BarCamp before you should probably understand the concept in advance of what you’ll get out of the experience.
To join the discussion group request an invitation from http://groups.google.com/group/comicsbarcampbelfast
Email queries to [email protected]
Barcamp transparency is being organised by Andy Luke
When: Quite Possibly 30th September – October 1st 2011
Where: Quite Possibly Blick Studios, Malone Road, Belfast