Look upon my works ye mighty and despair

The Pantheon Bell-Prologue

Hey all,

Thought I’d share a sneak peek at my prose novel, “The Pantheon Bell”. Enjoy:

The Pantheon Bell

by Darrin O’Toole

Prologue



“The pain begins again” Carl Roberts thought to himself as he gazed out the window. He looked at the dull Vegas sky and smirked to himself. “Rare to be cloudy this time of year” he thought. The grey clouds stretched to the horizon encasing the sky as far as he could see from the small window. He remembered the last time he saw clouds like them from an aeroplane window. It was five years ago, and Jenny was sat beside him on a flight which was heaven compared to the misery he endured each week when he boarded this A380 Airbus.

 

Jenny had the most beautiful smile that day. He’d been working non-stop for months and had finally gotten some well earned rest time. Jenny had always wanted to go to Hawai’i and this seemed like the perfect trip to atone for the lack of attention she was receiving from Carl since the wedding. They both knew when he accepted this position that there would be long absences from home, but their love would see them through it. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder, or so they say.

 

Conversation was scarce on the plane to Hawai’i. Carl found it hard to strike up conversation. Jenny had told him about the trip to the doctor, and how excited she was at the prospect of being a mother. She asked about work, but Carl reminded her that he was unable to discuss his current research. Small talk, quickly faded, but Carl was entranced by Jenny’s warm, loving smile, a smile that was just happy to be beside its lovers lips. As the plane descended onto the Hawaiian landing strip, he saw that loving smile devolve into a look of disappointment on Jenny’s face. He turned, and gazing out the window saw the dark, grey clouds descend upon their beautiful Hawaiian sky.



Things have changed since Hawai’i, Carl thought. He hadn’t seen Jenny in over two years. She moved out shortly after Amy was born, blaming his absence from the house for long periods as the reason for her leaving. She just didn’t know him anymore. She said he’d become distant, private. Then in her darkest hour she met James, and James was everything Carl used to be. They live in Malibu now, where every day the sun tears the sky apart with not a cloud in sight.

 

“Why me?” wondered Carl. He’d spent five years in M.I.T. studying quantum physics, and graduated top of his year. He’d been a model citizen all of his life. When he took this job, he thought all of his dreams had been fulfilled…the great house, the dream job, the loving wife and child. Wasn’t this what life was all about?

  

Now Carl reminisced on the previous weekend. The plane returned them Friday night. He jumped on his connecting flight from Vegas to Denver. The cab driver drove him home, and waited outside in his musty cab while Carl left his luggage inside the house. Moments later, Carl returned and the musty cab delivered him as usual to The Back Gate.

 

The Back Gate was Carl’s regular haunt on Fridays. It was a place where a man could find solace in a shot glass, a place where Carl could go and sit without some stranger asking intrusive questions about him or his life. “Just me and my good pal Jack Daniels” Carl often muttered sarcastically as he downed another glass of the dark, apathetic liquid.

 

Hours later, Carl returned to a place that used to be a home. He sat swallowing large volumes of his friend JD and waited for the doorbell. After what seemed like an eternity to Carl it chimed out, and he rushed to the door with eager anticipation.



As the door opened, he staggered back and saw the familiar sight of Rebecca standing soaking wet in the frame of the door. “This was the last time” Carl thought as she walked in, flicking a cigarette back out the doorway as she entered. She moved over towards him and kissed him, a dark shadow of a feeling he’d once experienced in this house. She pulled him past the toppled lamp into the bedroom. The smell of the room reminded him of the evenings earlier cab ride. She turned to him and removed her jacket. She tossed her skirt in the same direction as the jacket, and the rest of her clothing quickly followed. Carl fell on the bed and as Rebecca began working on him he wondered to himself if Fred was doing the same thing.

Pulling himself back from the miserable memory, he turned from the depressing window view on the plane and glanced at Fred. Fred had just boarded and was one of the last few stragglers still boarding the plane on the Vegas runway. Fred sat beside him, Fred’s usual emotionless expression on his face. Carl had seen that stupid expression on Fred’s face twice a week for the last three years.

 

“God I hate Fred” Carl thought as he gazed at the last passengers boarding the plane.

 

Of course, Fred wasn’t Fred’s name, but rather a name that Carl decided would most likely belong to the owner of that stupid beady face. Passengers were not permitted to talk under any circumstances, let alone divulge personal information such as names. Carl noticed that the hostess on the door was new. He looked at her shapely form and bright red hair and decided that she was much more attractive than the old hostess.

 

Carl imagined Fred’s life was decidedly worse than his own. This gave Carl small comfort thinking that no matter how bad his life had become, Fred’s was a living hell in comparison. He imagined that Fred wanted an easy way out more than Carl, but because of the chips implanted in the base of their necks even suicide was a choice they were deprived of.

 

As Carl waited for CLOUDnine to take off he wondered how it would all eventually end. “Maybe a bad meal would end it,” he thought. “Thats it.”

 

As the hostess leaned over Fred and handed Carl the same unimaginative breakfast he’d been eating each Monday morning since the first time he flew on CLOUDnine, he noticed that she was also new.

 

“Why the new cabin staff?” thought Carl as the blonde hostess moved on to the next row of passengers.

 

He looked at the front and rear sky marshals- both new. As the plane’s wheels left the ground, and the hostesses and marshals drew and aimed their weapons, Carl breathed a sigh of relief, thinking how after two years of thinking the same thought every Monday morning whilst aboard this flight, that maybe wishes can come true.  

  

 

"I want to be a comic writer"…

Hi!

This weekend sees me attending D.I.C.E. which is without doubt Ireland’s finest comics con (note I didn’t say “comic con” which has become an entirely different type of thing). If there’s one thing I can be sure of, it’s that on at least a dozen or more occasions this coming weekend, someone will pop by my table and say “I want to write a comic book. I’ve a great idea. Any tips?”, so I thought I’d do us all a favour and jot down some tips here (in a futile effort to not lose my voice again this year from talking too much on such topics).

So, if you passed by my table and asked this question, and I told you to visit here. Welcome! I’m sure it was extremely nice meeting you at DICE, and I hope you find these tips helpful. If you read this before you get to DICE, well then feel free to visit my table and pick my brain further on any of these tips(and you know, buy some books etc).

So first off, I’ll start with some obvious stuff about writing.

1. So, you’re a writer? No one gives a damn about you.

Don’t get me wrong, being a writer is great fun and you get to meet all these great folk at cons, but it’s very important to realise they aren’t “your” fans. They may however be fans of “your” stories. That’s an important one. If you are getting into this to have lots of fans, you’d be better served picking up a microphone and praying you can sing, because writers don’t have fans. We have readers, who are fans of the stuff we write. 90% of readers care about Batman or Wolverine or whoever their favourite character is, and only want to know who the writer is if the comic isn’t up to their personal standards. So check your ego before you embark any further.

2. Ideas are not stories.

I am guessing you didn’t pop by my table and profess your desire to be a writer if you didn’t have some cool idea that you think would be a great comic. Without ideas, comics would be pretty dull. However, you may not realise, that it’s not the idea that makes your favourite comic speak to you, but it’s the story. The story is how you convey the idea to the reader. If you want to excite people with your idea, then you need to learn how to lure them in via the story you are telling them. So put down the laptop or the pencil for now, because you may have a great idea, but let’s learn to tell the story before we go any further, yeah?

3. Learn to read before you write.

So ideas aren’t stories, got that? Awesome. Now you want to learn to tell a story, right? Great stuff. How? You learn how to tell a story the same way any person learns a skill, so for you it’s going to be by studying the art of writing. Yep, studying. 

Structure. Characterisation. Tones. Themes. McGuffins(“Mcwhat you say?”). Pacing. So much more. Plus, you want to write COMICS. Comics are a visual medium, so you not only need to learn all these things I have listed above, but you need to learn them from two points of view, both your own and an artists. You need to learn how to structure your script and how to make it both practical and enjoyable for an artist. 

Still with me?Fantastic. Get your credit or library card handy, because here’s a list of what I would say is required reading if you are serious about learning to write comics;

Understanding Comics by Scott McLoud

Making Comics by Scott McLoud

How To Write Comics The DC Way by Denny O’Neil

Writers On Comics Scriptwriting 1 & 2 by various

Words For Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis

Into The Woods by John Yorke

I’m sure there are dozens more that writers at every table at every con will recommend , but these will get you started on your journey. Notice something that’s missing from this list? Well that brings me to number 4…

4. Don’t read comics to learn how to write comics.

Not just yet, anyways. I mean sure, we all love comics, and thats why you want to write them, but the comics you are reading are written by folk who’ve done all of the above and have worked and worked on their craft to get it to a level high enough to be paid professionals. Plus, they have their own voice. People love them. What people don’t want to read is work that feels like it’s aping their favourite writers, and this is something most writers are guilty of early in their careers( there’s more than a little Morrison or Moore unintentionally in my early stuff, so I’m as guilty as the next person here). What is really important at this stage is that you find your own voice, and in order to do that you can progress to point 5…

5. Read what interests you to inspire you.

Ever read some of my books? Twisty sci-fi, realistic horror and fantasy stuff are the areas I like to write in. Guess what I read more than anything else? Sports biographies. 

"Err what?" you say? Well for me, I’m fascinated by human nature, and what drives people. Sports is a great microcosm of human nature, so I am inspired by accounts by people who face adversity time and time again. For other writers, it’s history books or maybe even political books for others. I know one writer who watches movies to inspire him. 

It’s through reading away from comics that you’ll come up with ideas and concepts that are new to comics. If we all read Watchmen, chances are we’re all writing scripts inspired by what we’ve read, and this will lead to not only uninspiring comics, but it will definitely make it harder for you to stand out from the crowd. 

6. Read what DOESN’T interest you to inspire you.

To write your best stuff, sometimes you need to be taken out of your comfort zone. When I started writing my Glimmer Man arc “A Glimmer of Hope” I really wanted to write the definitive version of that character. To find this version I had to immerse myself in Irish political and cultural history from the 30’s and 40’s. It was through this research that I came up with the idea of using boxing within the book, which was hugely popular at the time. I also looked at the complexity of the political landscape and it was the various opinions that lead me to come up with the character that became Mean Jack Quinn. Without Jack and his completely different political outlook to his brother James, Glimmer Man wouldn’t be the book it is. It’s a book I’m extremely proud of and the reason it worked so well for me was down to immersing myself in unfamiliar territories when researching it(and of course, Luca Pizzari’s stunning artwork). By making your brain uncomfortable, you’ll get it firing and that’s when the magic really happens for a writer.

7. Be Professional.

Write. Write. Write some more. Tired? Write. You’ll get better with every single panel you write and every dialogue balloon will sound more natural than the ones written last issue. Practise makes perfect!

So, there’s a few little tips from my pov as a writer. Remember, writers are only a small part of the comics equation, so “How do I learn to be a writer?” is as much a valid question to ask an artist, a colourist, a letterer or even a retailer! Each will be able to give you opinions and insight from their point of view and remember, all knowledge is priceless!

See you at the con table,

Darrin.

The Anarchrists are rising

Welcome to the revolution one and all!

Have you followed the news lately? Gaza/Israel. Ebola. School shooting of the week brought to you by the good folk at churno cola. Jimmy Saville and those in power having a secret society kiddie fiddling ring that makes the concept of the illuminati tame in comparison. Iraq. More school shootings. TSA body seaches. Anonymous. Occupy.

Ferguson.

Ferguson. Some would say it was inevitable. Somewhere, somehow, order would cross the line and the people would finally stand up and say no more. It’s little flashpoints like Ferguson that are sparks to set the world  ablaze in revolution.

And this brings me back to my newest book.

Anarchrists.

You may have seen some buzz for it. You may have seen some subversive tweets, or been put on mission by the @anarchrists twitter account. You may have seen the logo of the anarchy A with the horns. You may even have caught a sneak peek of Anarchrists leader Lord Misfit. 

But you still have no idea what it is.

Anarchrists is in my mind, me at my purest. It’s the book that doesn’t give a sh*t about what people think. It’s the antithesis of a political correctness in an age where free thought is forbidden if it isn’t the consensus opinion.

It’s the kick to the nuts the comics world needs, and they aren’t going to like it.

These past years have seen me grow fascinated with our duck and cover society. A society that locks it’s doors. A society that sees us unable to let our kids play with the neighbours kids. A society that doesn’t feel safe saying what it truly feels unless its in 140 characters and channeled through a smartphone. A safer, sterile society…and yet one that has something very wrong just bubbling away under its surface.

Columbine. Anders Breveik. Sandy Hook. Anonymous. Jimmy Saville. Marilyn Manson. Facebook. Justin Beiber. 

These are all different points in the spectrum of who we’ve become. The high’s, the lows. The boogeymen.

Bubbling right under the surface. Waiting to erupt.

Anarchrists IS that eruption. It’s the culmination of what happens when the revolution kicks off. What happens to your teenage child. What happens to your friends. What happens to your President.

What happens to your world.

What “is” Anarchrists?

Anarchrists started with one simple question for me, and a revolution erupted in my head with the fallout from that question that lead to this book.What was that question?

What if high school shootings became as popular as Justin Bieber?

100 people, 100 Firestarters, get to light the fuse this Sept. 

Are you ready to be one of them? Just click here to change…well everything.

http://www.comicsy.co.uk/dotcomics/store/products/anarchrists-firestarter-packlimited-to-100/

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.