To be honest it wasn’t that calculated. I had wanted to do an Irish themed book and the original characters I came up with were Roisin Dubh and Glimmer Man which then led onto the League which seemed to open a floodgate of ideas. Somewhere along the line with GM I just thought it would be cool to place him in a team book, I did some research and tried to come up with a cross section of characters that would represent different facets of Ireland.
Blood Rose was a character that stuck out to me. A strong female character seems to be a theme in the Atomic Diner books. Is this something you think about or was their creation very much organic?
I have to say it was more organic but that’s not to say I’m not aware of the lack of female characters in the comics medium. At the moment I’m working on two new male characters so it really depends on what’s going through my mind at any given time.
With so many characters, and only 2 issues to showcase them all so far, we’ve seen the announcement for the Black Scorpion one shot with Stephen Downey. Can you tell us a little about this?
As you say there are a lot of characters and for the moment giving them all their own series is a bit out of reach so I think it’s a good idea to showcase them in one shots and this way we can give a little bit more of their history and background. The Black Scorpion issue is looking really well. Stephen Downey is a great artist and it’s always exciting to see what he’s going to send back from the initial script. The story is set in WW1 and involves soldiers swapping tales of their sightings of the Scorpion, we also showcase a British team of heroes called Legion Brittania so I’m looking forward to seeing what people make of them.
League of Volunteers is very much set in an important time in Ireland and the characters have links to other historical periods of note. Do you feel a responsibility in maintaining those heavily Irish elements when you add in the more extravagant themes (say Nazis and Vampires, etc)?
First and foremost the League is a fantasy comic but obviously people have opinions on their history and it differs from person to person, especially when your talking about subjects like the emergency. I do feel some responsibility not to lean too heavily on either side of the argument about our place in the war and hopefully we can be respectful of the history but still have some fun with the stories.
League of Volunteers, Jennifer Wilde and Roisin Dubh all have black and white art in common. Is this due to budget, because it would be very difficult to imagine any in colour since it suits each book (differently) so well?
To be honest it is to do with budget but as you say the black and white does suit the feel of the books. I may venture into colour at some point and see what the reaction is.
You co-plotted both Jennifer Wilde and Roisin Dubh with Maura McHugh, who scripted. What’s that collaboration like?
There is collaboration in all the books, whether with another writer or if it’s me and an artist. Everybody brings something different to the work. With Maura it’s very easy and because she is such a talented writer there is very little editing involved with her scripts.
Next year should see some of the creative teams mixing it up a little. I’m editing a couple of stories for the League at the moment done by other writers and Barry Keegan is also doing two of his own League stories, one of which he will also draw himself. We have a couple of new writers who have already established themselves both in comics and novels respectively and who’s names we will announce soon. At this stage I fell very comfortable working with other writers and its always a thrill to see what other people do with the characters.
The irish comics scene appears to be on the rise. Have you seen a significant difference as both a writer and comic shop owner?
I have certainly seen a big increase in my own publications which I think has a lot to do with the subject matter and it has proven to me that there are a lot of people out there willing to read comics if you give them something to peak their interest. As for the shop it’s a very positive time with DC’s New 52 which has proved to be a massive success so like the Irish titles, comics need to keep broadening their horizons to attract new readers.
What particular writers, in or out of comics, have informed your work?
There are certain writers I like in comics, people like Brubaker, Morrision and more recently Scott Synder but I don’t feel they have influenced me. I think the biggest influence on my writing has just been my love of different genres and in more recent years an interest in history.
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