Look upon my works ye mighty and despair

State of the (Comics)Union.

Hello all,

I thought I’d write down a few random bits and bobs to give an update as to what’s happening and what’s coming down the line between now and the end of 2015, both in terms of projects and con appearances etc.

Let’s start with the comics, shall we? 

My next release will be Anarchrists issue 1, which will launch at DICE. It’s been drawn by the amazing Cork artist Bernadett Sarosi, and once again I find myself in Will Sliney’s debt for pointing her in my direction.

I’m keeping the premise of Anarchrists extremely close to my chest, but I can hand on heart say it will be the single most offensive comic you’ll ever read, well that is if you judge it on the first few issues alone. No doubt someone will be gunning for me once its released, but I’ll ask you all to play the long game with the book. I have a very clear and definitive message that I want the book to convey, so stick with us, even if it initially offends you to do so. You have my word that I won’t let you down on the payoff. 

Follow @anarchrists and anarchrists.tumblr.com for further updates.

Next up will be Lady Babylon issue 2 with Alan Hurley. An apology, if you are a fan of this book, we really should have had this out by now! Unfortunately other commitments slowed us down on this one, but we’re looking forward to more of Leila’s story into your hands. Hopefully this one will be ready for DICE too.

Also ready for September will be Glimmer Man issue 3 for Atomic Diner, with art by Luca Pizzari, who has just announced he’s working on an Image book. This is the final issue in the arc, and we are extremely happy with how this has panned out. People have seemed to love what we’ve done with the book and thats a great feeling as we’ve put a ton of work into upping our game for this series. 

While I’m talking about collaborating with Luca, myself and Luca have a short story in The Sakai Project, a 160 page hardcover by Dark Horse which is paying tribute to the legendary Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo series. The book features art by some of the industry’s top professionals including Dave Gibbons, David Mack, Art Adams, Adam Hughes and many,many more. We’re extremely humbled to be included amongst them. Be sure to buy a copy as it’s for a great cause, and it should be out by Sept also.

Another project I’m also really excited about people seeing is my story “Red Lotus” which is included in issue 5 of Lightning Strike. Red Lotus is a 10 page story that in my opinion features the best work of artist Cormac Hughes career. It’s a little heartbreaking for me that I wrote this story a year ago and thought it was an innovative work of genius(I say with heavy satire) but Edge of Tomorrow has since hit cinemas and shares a lot of ideas with it. The zeitgeist works against me yet again. (If you’ve read my first book Tales from the Void and remember the story Ghost Writer, this is exactly what it’s about!) Red Lotus is coloured by the outstanding Dee Cunniffe and some great lettering by Miriam Abuin, and Lightning Strike 5 should be on sale in Sept also.

So that’s September and the bulk of my comics will be released around this time.

October sees me heading to sunny Malta as a guest for the Malta Comics Expo(www.maltacomicsexpo.com). This will likely be my final con appearance of 2014 and I’m really looking forward to it. They’ve a great line up of guests and the venue looks amazing, so if you need a holiday why not take up one of their packages and check out the expo! As a result of doing this con, I won’t be doing thought bubble, so be sure to see me somewhere else if you are expecting to see me in Leeds. I may be there to socialise, but I won’t be at a table! I’m hoping we’ll have issue 2 of Anarchrists ready around this time.

Upon my return I will commence work on a very large project that I can’t discuss yet. It’s for a very large organisation in the US but isn’t in mainstream comics. More on this as I can share it, but this will take a couple of months to complete.

"But wait, where’s Earthruler Book 2?Where’s Trace? Where’s Tales from the Void 2?" you say….

Well, Shawn will begin working on Earthruler Book 2 once he’s completed his work on Rapid City, his book with Josh Dahl. We’ll be running a kickstarter in Summer 2015 for you to get your hands on the final chapter of the book. We can’t wait to get Rykaal’s story back into your hands!

Trace, which for those who don’t know is my book that tells the story of Ireland’s missing women in the 90’s, is on the shelf for now. It’s a story I very much want to tell, but it’s not one I want to rush. Other projects have come along that meant Trace had to take a back seat for now. In the meantime, I’ll keep researching for the book, but Trace won’t appear in 2014 and possibly not in 2015 either if the work keeps coming in.

Tales from the Void issue 2 is in a similar limbo. A dispute with the artist over the visual content(I wouldn’t allow what I perceived as exploitive and vulgar images in what was always meant to be a book a child can read) meant I needed to look for another artist, so Tales from the Void issue 2 hasn’t gotten going at all. I did release one of the stories “Cubicle” free to all to read via my website www.darrinotoole.com. The fact that Dynamite kind of stole my thunder by releasing a Twilight Zone comic(thanks for that) also had an impact on me holding off on pushing Tales from the Void. But you will get more eventually, and in essence all of my books are much larger versions of the 4 page stories found in Tales from the Void.

So, in closing that’s that. Plenty to expect over September. Lots of quality books, so start saving! 

Now might also be an opportune time(since you stuck with me throughout this whole spiel) to inform you of something I’ve been doing since I started writing. Stealing a line from Tarantino, I have connected every single story I’ve worked on. They are all interlinked and interwoven into a tapestry of vague nods and winks spliced with in your face Easter Eggs. To date, no one has realised this, not even caught one of them. So, while you wait for the plethora of books coming your way in Sept, there’s your excuse to re-read all of my previous stuff. Let’s see if someone can find all the links….impress me!

Yours in fiction,

Darrin.

"Hey, can I meet you for coffee/beer?"

Okay a little bit of a dickish rant here, but its gotten to the stage where it has to be spelt out for a couple of people:

I like to leave social media wide open to interact with people I come across in various walks of life. There’s about a 50/50 split of my “friends” on here, some I have come across through my work in comics, and the rest are from my time playing and coaching football. The vast bulk are people who I’ve met a handful of times at conventions or have bought my books or may have met through a football game or a coaching clinic etc. I would guess of the 1200 or so “friends”, about 200 are actual close friends and family.

Now one thing about keeping my social media stuff so open is I am asked every now and then(at least twice a week) by someone or other “hey can I meet you for coffee/beer sometime?”. Sometimes its readers of my comic or an aspiring creator, other times its someone I may have crossed on one or two occasions from the football world.

It’s extremely nice to know that folk would value my opinion or whatever enough to want to meet and chat about something or other, but I always give them the same answer, which is to politely decline. It’s nothing personal, but rather than take offence at it I’ll offer the following from my point of view…

One of the most common questions I get at cons is about how I manage to put so many books out. The answer is pretty simple, I don’t use my time meeting people for coffee. If I have spare time, I use it writing. In the past 2 months, I’ve even less time to write due to making a huge commitment to getting healthy. Time is the one thing that I prioritise above everything else, and when I give time to something, something else inevitably loses out.

In almost every case, my family or friends are what loses out.

I’ve a young child and wife at home who need my time above all, and don’t get anywhere near enough of it. I have 2 younger brothers who really get the short end of the stick when it comes to getting my time. One of my best friends is my next door neighbour, and I probably manage to get into him for an hour every other month, and he lives next door! My best friend…we probably catch up every 3 months and he lives about 500 yards from me.Michael Carroll and I have been trying to meet up for coffee for close to 2 years now…as neither of us have a lot of free time. On the football front I’ve wanted to grab lunch with my former fellow coaches, this has taken nearly 18 months to get to.It took me over a year to get to a Trinity game once I left the team and they play on my doorstep….I think you’re getting the point by now.

So when it comes to time, I have to prioritise it, and this unfortunately does not leave spare time to meet social media “friends” for coffee, beers or chats. If you are a comic reader or want advice on creating comics, there’s a very easy way to get mine and every other creators undivided attention…get us at a convention!These are specifically why we do so many cons every year, to get out and meet people who share our passion for comics. You can talk the ears off us at them, we’re generally sat on our asses all weekend making ourselves available for this very reason!

If you are a football coach or football person from outside of my old teams looking for my opinion over coffee or beers, the blunt answer is please don’t. I walked away from the sport due to being completely burnt out and it took me over a year to even watch a football game. I don’t want to hear your gripes about the sport, because I spent 5 years telling people about them and generally got no support to try improve the huge flaws in the sport. But I still get calls and emails from all over the globe asking my opinion on how bad this or that is. I have no interest in hearing or entertaining it, and if you really know me well you’d know that I don’t entertain people who gripe in any walk of life. My good friends and former players at Trinity Football and old teammates at Dublin Rebels have my phone number and can always contact me if needs be, but they’ve earned that. Outside of that, I have no dealings with football, so please respect that.

Feel free to drop me messages on here or getting involved in discussions about anything, but when it comes to asking “can we meet for coffee?” I’m afraid I just can’t.

Rant over. As I said, don’t take it personally if I refuse a coffee or beer, but as someone who was mistakenly told a few years ago I didn’t have much time left(never trust a doctor), I’ve made a point of giving what time I have to those closest to me, and still wish I had more to give them.

Thanks, and have a good day. 

lucapizzari:

EDIT: New font and little changes done, nothing much but I can finally say, thats 100% done.
Just sent to my man Darrin for approval. Took me 2 days to color this bastard, but mostly coz
A) last night I clicked on the wrong thing with Photoshop and I lost MOST of the day’s work, and 
B) I decided to change completely approach and re-start halfway through. Decided to use a limited palette of colours, using a single hue whenever I had very similar ones:
panels 2 and 3 are made with 3 different shades of a same color (base, light, dark), which were then slightly saturated just for Usagi and girlfriend in the panels.
Similarly, for panels 4 and 5 I tried to use max 2 variations of the same colours for trees, sky and grass, and then differentiated a bit the two panels with different overlays Also, sun uses same dark red from panel 2. Stuff like that. 
GOD, MY RESPECT FOR COLORIST JUST SKYROCKETED…
And now to properly draw…

lucapizzari:

EDIT: New font and little changes done, nothing much but I can finally say, thats 100% done.

Just sent to my man Darrin for approval. Took me 2 days to color this bastard, but mostly coz

A) last night I clicked on the wrong thing with Photoshop and I lost MOST of the day’s work, and 

B) I decided to change completely approach and re-start halfway through. Decided to use a limited palette of colours, using a single hue whenever I had very similar ones:

panels 2 and 3 are made with 3 different shades of a same color (base, light, dark), which were then slightly saturated just for Usagi and girlfriend in the panels.

Similarly, for panels 4 and 5 I tried to use max 2 variations of the same colours for trees, sky and grass, and then differentiated a bit the two panels with different overlays Also, sun uses same dark red from panel 2. Stuff like that. 

GOD, MY RESPECT FOR COLORIST JUST SKYROCKETED…

And now to properly draw…

Gleaming Glimmer-writing Ireland’s finest hero

Hello there,

I’m just about to embark on writing issue 3 of Glimmer Man and I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to reflect on everything thus far, from taking the assignment, to writing both issues, to integrating our story into the wider Atomic Diner world.

Where to begin? Well, it all started back in March, around the time of Irish Comic Book Month events. Rob had asked if I would be interested in finally doing some work with Atomic Diner. It was a long time on the cards and I was more than happy to. I took a stack of the Atomic Diner books and came back with some pitches within the week. Rob Curley(owner of Atomic Diner) came back to me saying he really enjoyed the pitches, but then asked how I’d feel about taking on writing the solo adventures of the leader of The League of Volunteers-The Glimmer Man.

I read all the Atomic Diner books, and I really enjoyed the approach the books took to spoonfeeding Irish history and culture through the window dressing of superhero and action stories. I spoke to some of the talent who worked on these titles. All had a great pride in being involved in them. When talking of The League of Volunteers, all said the same thing; “They are basically Ireland’s Avengers”. 

I thought on this a bit and it made sense. Fionn MacChumaill is Thor, Archer is Hawkeye, Rose is Black Widow and Druid is Scarlet Witch/Dr. Strange.All of this has lead people to the most commonly uttered phrase I heard about Glimmer Man, “Glimmer Man is the Captain America of the group”.

I had to think about this. Why was he viewed this way? Well, the obvious comparison is aesthetic, the uniform screams patriotism. But surely there had to be much more to it than that. The four League of Volunteers comics to date had done a phenomenal job of building this huge action packed world full of incredible characters, but in order to accommodate all of this the trade off was character development. Other than a few nuggets, we had very little of Glimmer Man’s backstory to go on. Who was he? What’s his skill-set? What led him to become this beacon of Ireland?

These were the questions I had when I sat down to come up with a plan for the first three issues of James Quinn’s adventures. I also had it in mind to ensure that Glimmer Man was different enough to the other League of Volunteers characters to have a story worth telling. Each of them have their own little part of the spectrum covered; magick, super strength etc…so it was important that if Glimmer Man was to lead all these fantastic characters that his story would be of interest in it’s own right.

With all of this in mind, I went back and forth with Rob Curley and we agreed that the best thing to do with his character was to ground him. Make him a James Bond type. So Fionn Mac Chumaill can fight hordes of ancient Irish demons and Blood Rose can fend off vampires in their solo adventures and James Quinn will lead them in to battle whenever the League are called upon to fight Bochanach, Abhartach or any other manner of fiends. But when James Quinn embarks on a solo adventure, we wanted to keep it as human as possible. He attacks the underbelly, the nastiness, and since we’re dealing with an era that saw the world at war, there was no shortage of these types of combatants to face off against  The Glimmer Man.

It was important that now we knew the tone of the solo books, we delved into his motivations. What has made him tick? Why would he be the man chosen to lead these characters of legend and myth?

The first thing for me was to address the elephant in the room and get it off his back before he was seen as a caricature of imitation of another character. “He’s Ireland’s Captain America”. What did this even mean? The important thing to me was to differentiate him as much as possible, but if people perceived him as this, then that is where I needed to start. It’s  a pretty common thread in my work to begin on a path that is familiar to the reader, such as Rykaal’s story in Earthruler beginning with an alien landing on Earth. The important thing as a writer when using this approach is to ensure that a) it’s tonally a quantum leap from what is familiar and b) that the departure from familiar ground  justifies starting there to begin with. No one wants to read a “what if?” about an unknown character. It’s a delicate balancing act to do right, so to do it with Glimmer Man meant I needed to be crystal clear in showing the difference. Those who read issue one of Glimmer Man would say “I see the Captain America resemblance” but upon reading issue two hopefully will say “It’s nothing like Captain America”. Thankfully all the reviews to date have done exactly this, making the approach the right one!

Now that Glimmer Man’s tropes and backstory have been clearly established in his own right, it was time to flesh out James Quinn. Who was the man who opted to become The Glimmer Man? I wanted to do a few things with this side of his character. Firstly, I felt it was important to add some facets here that were unique to James, and one imparticular turned out to be the crux of the story-Jack. Secondly, I felt this was a chance to weave James Quinn into the very fabric of the Atomic Diner universe. 

The first point brings us to Jack. Jack Quinn, hero to the proles and the big brother component of Mary Quinn’s boys. When writing James I thought if he was to be a leader of characters of greater stature than himself, a great way to instil this would be by putting a brother into the mix, and so Jack Quinn came to be. If James was to be our cunning James Bond type, then Mean Jack Quinn would be our bruising gung-ho counterpart. I’ve a brother myself who is completely different in almost every way from myself, so I thought this would be a great way to have us get right into James’ character. Then, we added differing political ideologies into the mix and the whole story suddenly started coming together.

I also used James and Jack’s backstory to lace in some nuggets. I put in backstory of their admiration for The Black Scorpion, which in turn gave us the reason for the masks. It also allowed me to put Paul O’Connor into both era’s, tying the whole thing together nicely.

The first issue ends with a mysterious and shady character. Who could it be? Well, if you’ve read your League of Volunteers issues, you know who it is! It was then important through the second issue, that the paths of The Glimmer Man and this character never really cross throughout the issue, letting us tie it into the continuity of the previous books in a faithful manner.

The ending of issue two leaves the reader knowing clearly who James Quinn is, who he isn’t, and why he is a leader amongst men.

Luca did outstanding work on the art, and Rob gave me some great stuff to incorporate(including the opening location, a boxing match in Dublin). The plan from the get-go was to start with the definitive Glimmer Man, and I truly hope we are delivering just that.

Thought Bubble!

Hey all, so to confirm, I shall be at Thought Bubble in Leeds on Nov 22nd to 24th.

I’ll be at TABLE 70 in the ALLIED LONDON HALL.

Books on sale:

Earthruler(Shawn Langley/Stephen Mooney covers) £8.50

Lady Babylon: An Occult Romance  issue 1 £4.00

Tales from the Void issue 1 £3.50

Glimmer Man issue 1 £5.00

Glimmer Man issue 2 £5.00

Various prints at £5.00 each.

DOT COMICS BUNDLE:

Earthruler/Lady Babylon/Tales from the Void/2 exclusive prints  £20

I’ll be sharing the table with Amrit Birdi, who drew my story “Singularity” in The British Showcase Anthology, so grab a copy from him and we’re both on hand to sign it.

Lastly, I’ll be hunting an artist for a high profile project, so be sure to stop by my table with your portfolios.

Tales from the Void and The Twilight Zone

Okay I’m going to jump in on the whole Twilight Zone comic thingy.
Fans of J. Michael Straczynski claims you can’t do an episode of the Twilight Zone in a small amount of pages.
I would say Dynamite obviously should read Tales from the Void, but they did, as I sent it to them. They coincidently went off and got the license to The Twilight Zone after this. Not saying the two are linked, but they were aware of a book that was doing these kind of tales.
I’m a huge, huge JMS fan. Midnight Nation, Rising Stars, Supreme Power and Dr. Manhattan are in my favourite books ever. I’m also a fan of Dynamite’s pulp books. But I can guarantee that the format we used in Tales from the Void works far better on these tales than the format planned for The Twilight Zone. 2000AD’s being using it for years with futureshocks, which was my initial inspiration for using the small story format. The original Twilight Zone shows were about 22 mins long each, hence why I believe stories trying to stay faithful 
I’ll buy a copy of The Twilight Zone. I’ve every episode of the original TV series and all the original The Outer Limits shows too. I think we did a damn good job with Tales from the Void in paying homage to those shows. I can’t wait to see how their book turns out, because ours bloody nailed it.  
If you haven’t tried it yet, go find out for yourself. It’s on sale at www.comicsy.co.uk/dotcomics  or on the comixology platform.

ICN Awards nominations

I was just headed to bed last night when I saw facebook and twitter light up with people buzzing about the ICN nominations.

The nominations and awards celebrate the cream of irish talent working in the comic industry today.

I was delighted and honoured to be nominated in two categories for best writer; best writer published in Ireland and best writer published outside of Ireland. 

The nominations include some of Ireland’s top talent, so it is a real honour to have been named on both lists.

Earthruler is also nominated for best book, which I am extremely proud of. Glimmer Man has received a nomination for best cover, thanks to Luca’s amazing work on it.

Head over to irishcomicnews.com and place your votes for your favourite creators:

http://www.irishcomicnews.com/2013/10/icn-awards-2013-voting-now-open/

An open letter to small publishers re requests for stories.

I’ve had two requests from small publishers this month asking me to write stories for inclusion in anthologies for them.
Thank you for the request, but I am taking a very clear stance on these kind of requests going forward.
If you plan on charging customers for the book, then I plan on charging the publisher for my writing. The way I see it is if you are charging $10 or more for a book, then someone is making money from the book. 

If you are claiming that the book won’t make money, then you seriously need to look at the quality you are letting into your anthology or your distribution network.

I’ve been a self publisher for just over a year. I also write all my own content. I negotiate with artists and other parts of the production process including printing, shipping, digital media etc. Most creators like myself can give a reasonable estimate of how much a book needs to make to break even.

If you are doing an anthology with 20+ creators, that should give you a huge base to pull sales from and promote your book. If you sell 20 books to friends of the 20 creators, at a modest 15.00 per book, you’ve just made 6000. Subtract your printing costs and that is 4000 profit, none of it going to the creators. That’s 4000 profit before you sell a single book in a comic shop or to a by passer at a con. 

The other thing that small publishers who run such anthologies tell talent is “you’re doing it for exposure”. I’ve had a look at about two dozen of these kind of books this week as an experiment, and have noted that none of them had any creators names on the front cover. Almost none of them had any names on the back page either. So I have to ask, where is this exposure coming from?

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be a hypocrite to say I haven’t said “you’re doing it for exposure” to some of my co-creators on our books. But therein lies the difference, they are coming on board as co-creators. If Earthruler gets optioned for a movie, Shawn Langley gets just as much a split as I do. He put the work in on the book, and as a result owns as much of the IP as I do. We’re both also likely to make the exact same figure from it if we sell all books, and we paid our other collaborators. Plus Shawn has received plenty of exposure from attaching his name to the book. That’s a big difference to being one of 10 artists crammed into an anthology with a sub par colourist/letterer ruining your work.

So yes, this is kind of a rant. I did 3 anthologies last year while working to break into comics. Of the 3 anthologies, one was comprised of entries into the Dundee Comics Prize. That is the only one that didn’t set out to exploit talent and paid prize money to the winners, who then saw their entries printed. A great job by Chris Murray and Phil Vaughan at the University of Dundee may I add. The profits from sales of this anthology went directly back into the Dundee Comic Prize, which once again this year puts it’s profits into trying to inspire and promote a new breed of comics talent.

On the flip side, other “publishers” have talked of “doing it for exposure” while putting a hefty price on the book, put tiny credits into the books, asked for ownership of IP’s despite not paying for the story and one even tried to pay by giving out a pdf of the book! I shan’t name these publishers, but if you’d like to know who they are, visit my list of books at www.darrinotoole.com and if I am not promoting the work there, there’s good reason(I have however offered to sell them advertising space, which oddly hasn’t been taken up).

New talent needs avenues to get their stuff out there, and these anthologies need new talent to fill their books. I would suggest new talent ask the question up front, and if you don’t like the answer, go another route. When you are told you are doing it for exposure, ask the question “who worked for you that has made it as a result?” and go find the creator and ask them if working for no money on an anthology furthered their career. You’ll have your answer then whether it is worthwhile or not.

So in closing, thank you to the small publishers who ask if I’ll give them a story for their upcoming book for the exposure. I’ve worked tirelessly over the past year to build an audience for my books. It’s a growing audience of amazing people who pay their hard earned money to enjoy the books I write.Thankfully, and thanks to them, I am now at a stage where we can keep putting books out with the money these great folk give us for our books. These books promote some great new creators and we’ve even been able to give a modest fee in exchange for their hard work. That is all possible thanks to our growing base of loyal readers, who buy our books partly because they enjoy them and partly because they support what we are doing.

These readers will buy our comics for the reasons stated above. So by writing a story for your anthology, we would be giving you our readers hard earned cash, and they would not see it channeled into further projects by the creative team. You would be taking that money, rather than investing into the talent who make your book worth picking up. Without the talent, you publish empty journals, and they don’t sell at 15-20 per book.

So, I ask you, small publisher, who is really getting the exposure out of these deals? Because it sure looks like you are.

 

anappynerdgirl asked: Was Tales from the Void a one-off book or do you plan on doing more at some point? Cheers, ~ANNG

Hey,

Thanks for the question. People definitely seem to have dug Tales from the Void. It has a real special place in my heart as it was the first book published with my stories in it. As a Twilight Zone/Outer Limits nerd, it’s great to see that there is still an audience for those kind of stories!

I’ll definitely be doing another one, in fact I announced it at my panel at arcadecon and we’re about midway through putting it together!

A. Kaviraj will be returning, and will be joined by Glimmer Man artist Luca Pizzari who will also be doing a variant cover for the book, and we may have a few other surprises in there.

Hoping to get it out there in early 2014. Until then we’ll have The Earthruler graphic novel, and 2 issues of both Lady Babylon: An Occult Romance and The Glimmer Man to keep you entertained :-)