A standout year for Irish comics

 

2012 produced more top-class Irish comics than ever before

This year could be classed with ease as a stand-out one for the burgeoning domestic comic scene.

Irish comic fans saw a dedicated and professional creator-packed convention return to our shores for the first time in several years. It was also a banner year in terms of content with creator-infused material having regular release.

Putting together a list of the top five comics of the year is difficult without acknowledging the efforts of so many of the creators across the island who rose to the occasion.

Rob Curley’s Atomic Diner imprint continued its vision of a shared superhero universe set in Ireland; Newpark Comprehensive in Co Dublin produced an anthology of students’ work; Jason Connor’s The Wren went full-colour and spawned a spin-off title; Nigel Flood and Frank J Right produced The Celtic Clan through FundIt.ie; Tommie Kelly’s The Holy Numbers was immense; Alan Nolan brought the curtain down on his Murder Can Be Fatal series of books from The O’Brien Press; Stephen Coffey got Celtic Knights off the ground with a new artist; DOT Comics and Darrin O’Toole got the fantastic Tales From The Void out in time for the Dublin International Comic Expo in September, and Lightning Strike’s anthology was a veritable who’s who in Irish indy comics. And there are so many more.

Heading into 2013, the Irish comic scene is in a very strong position with the following top titles paving the way.

Top five Irish comics in 2012

1 NESTORClare-based Abandoned Comics released this two issue mini-series written by Ennis duo, Mike Lynch and Martin Greene, from an idea by Greene.

Illustrated by Omagh’s Paul McCallan in issue one, and Clare man Anthony O’Neill in issue two, this horror series tells the tale of Nestor, a vampire content to live out of the spotlight until he is forced to avenge the death of his girl. A sharp tale with stylishly contrasting visuals between the two issues, this two-time award-winning book in the 2012 Irish Comic News Awards was well received by critics and readers alike.

2 ZOMBIES HI! ZOMBIES HI!This is published by Uproar Comics, a Northern Irish company which has taken the Irish comic scene by storm in a little over a year. It’s a tale set behind the city walls of Derry after a zombie apocalypse has brought about a worldwide catastrophe. With a rotating list of creators this immensely entertaining comic uses both sequential story telling and prose segments to relay the fallout of the event but still maintains good characterisation amid the chaos. Recent issues have begun to explore the effects in areas outside Derry.

3 GHOST OF SHANDONAlan Corbett’s book was released in August following some interesting teaser artwork. The Cork man didn’t let us down with this all-ages graphic novel telling the tale of a young boy, Ronan, whose friend Aisling brings him back in time to 18th-century Cork city. A visual feast and a highlight of the year with a strong story and a lead character who should find an easily relatable audience.

4 AT WAR WITH THE EMPIRE: IRELAND’S FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE

Published by The O’Brien Press, this book by Gerry Hunt, author of the acclaimed Blood Upon The Rose, is a graphic novel that tells of the guerrilla war fought by the Irish rebels during the War of Independence. Hunt uses his vast knowledge of the history to create a linear, essay-like story while also providing the visuals with Matthew Griffen on colour duties.

The book got a shout-out from Ryan Tubridy on his “best of” on the Late Late Toy Show mirroring the critical acclaim it received this year.

5 MacGYVER: THE FUGITIVE GAUNTLET

Yes, that MacGyver. The 1980s’ icon has made a comeback in comic form courtesy of Lee David Zlotoff, writer Tony Lee and Will Sliney.

With the first issue gone back to press for a re-print after a sell-out, this Image Comics title has all the bells and whistles you associate with the character but brought into a more modern setting.

Boasting a strong plot with astounding art from Sliney (regarded as next year’s “big thing”) this book will appeal to casual fans as well as regular readers who crave a thrilling action tale.