Comic Book Illustrators on Creating Irish Comics: DCC March 2023

On Saturday 11th March 2023, it rained in Dublin City Centre. It rained a lot. Those entering the doors of Spring 2023 Dublin Comic Con did so with wet shoes, whether they queued with an umbrella or not. Yet still, the rain could not dampen the enthusiasm of DCC attendees who wanted to celebrate comic books and pop culture. Limit Break Comics were on hand once again to help celebrate the comic book side of DCC by delivering another panel on the process of creating comic books.

Working on the theme of Comic Book Illustrators on Creating Irish Comics, moderator Seamus Kavanagh of Limit Break Comics was joined by Mari Rolin (Turning Roads and Down Below), Eoin Barclay (Irish and Rebecca Reynolds (Valerie and Old Game Plus) who are all Comic Book Illustrators with their own bodies of work to draw from. The focus of this panel was comic books from the Illustrator’s perspective and each panellist gave insight into their own creative process and also some tips and areas to consider when working as part of a team.

Mari Rolin began the panel by speaking about an Illustrator’s need to establish their level of creative freedom at the outset, which will be dependent on whether they are working as part of a team or creating a project that is entirely your own work. With a comparison of the avenues of digital vs traditional comic page creation, Mari was able to showcase the aesthetic differences between both but with a focus on key areas such as the ability to make changes or updates, which could be quite important if there are other creatives who may request alterations (if practical).

With respect to work flow, Mari highlighted that planning ahead what materials she will need helps her to focus on the story and the necessary steps. There are many stages involved in the comic creation process and getting stuck at one stage is a very real roadblock which can stall projects. The idea to plan ahead and have an overview of the process across the project was certainly great advice as this can help with avoiding tunnel vision and opening up the idea to skip to another part of the project and return to a difficult area at a later stage.

Eoin Barclay was next up and he began by speaking about the tools of the trade, the physical items and technology he uses to create his comics. Eoin was keen to highlight that the cost barrier to creating comics should be low. Illustrators get better by practising and making mistakes so a steady supply of lots of cheap paper and pencils would serve far better than expensive materials which will wait only for perfection.

This theme of practicing and improving was a focal part of Eoin’s section of the presentation. As a fan of web comics, Eoin highlighted some web comics that he was a fan of and encouraged any who enjoy web comics to return to them and compare the latest page to page 1. It is very clear to see how Illustrators improve as they put out more work and that was a lesson which gave Eoin his own motivation to create his own web comic, BARCS. Eoin then closed his section quite well with a side by side comparison of his own work from 2019 to a recent page from 2022.

Rebecca Reynolds focused her presentation on what it’s like to work with a Writer on a project. She spoke about reviewing a script, gathering references and the layout process. Rebecca was able to demonstrate the process in full by showing an example of a page from Shine (Limit Break Present’s #1), starting with script, moving to thumbnails, on to initial sketch, line art, the stage of flat colours and then adding shadows and effects, thereby finishing the page.

A highly practical element of Rebecca’s presentation was how the Reader’s eye should follow movement across the pages of the comic. Illustrators can plan their pages to set the flow for Readers to follow through character movement across the panels and pages. She also touched on an area Eoin also highlighted, which is that colouring can add its own layer of storytelling to a comic. An appropriately planned and well deployed colour scheme can really add to the atmosphere and world of the story and its certainly worth consideration as part of the preparation process.

While all Panellists were given the same brief of focusing on the Illustration part of comics creation, each of the Panellists covered different areas and, their individual presentations complimented one another quite for a practical and informative session. Those in attendance who sought tips and inspiration certainly found lots of it during this panel.

To close out this post on the Spring 2023 DCC Comic Creators panel, we’ll feature one creative tip from each of the Panellists from their presentations. Mari highlighted that ideas should be a kept in a notebook, giving reference to a situation whereby she discovered a solution to a problem by casually flicking through old notes and unexpectedly finding a solution waiting for her. Eoin has keen to encourage creators to just keep going. Eoin referenced that even one panel of a comic a day is 7 panels at the end of a week, leaving you with a full page over that period. Rebecca empathised that creating comics is fun, whether that be working with a Writer of creating your own fan art. Creatives should create what feels right for them and the more they do, the better their skillset will evolve.

Limit Break Comics are thankful once again to Dublin Comic Con for facilitating an opportunity to host a panel at their show. We are also grateful to Mari, Eoin and Rebecca who put a lot of work into creating engaging and constructive presentations, sharing their own insights for the benefit of future Irish Comic Book Illustrators.

Left to right, Eoin Barclay, Mari Rolin, Rebecca Reynolds

Written by Seamus Kavanagh

How to Write a Short Comic: Our DCC Panel

Limit Break Comics was founded on the back of a shared desire to see Small Press Comics grow in Ireland. Over the years, Limit Break have put out 10 titles which have created opportunity for Irish Comic Book Creatives to find and work with liked mined Individuals to realise their ambition of creating their own comic books.

On Saturday 6th August 2022, Limit Break took this initiative in a new direction with their first Dublin Comic Con panel on how to create short comics. Paul Carroll, Alice Coleman, Seamus Kavanagh and James Killian joined together to speak about editing, lettering, writing and illustrating comics respectively. While Paul is a Founding Member of Limit Break, Alice, James and Seamus have all contributed to Limit Break titles in recent years.

The purpose and aim of the panel was to educate those in attendance on how short comics are made, in the hope that examples within the presentation will be the inspiration needed for others to create their own comics.

Seamus Kavanagh began by speaking about how he wrote the 4 page comic “A Warrior’s Journey” from Old Game Plus #1. He began by speaking about how he looked at his love of running, Street Fighter games and travel lead him to inspiration about a story that would take place at locations around the world, locations selected from his own previous travels. 

Seamus then highlighted how he framed the story about a Fighter losing toward the final round of a tournament, which opened up a reason for that Character to reflect on their journey, fitting into the travel theme with global locations. The story was then tied together with an upbeat ending that allowed the main Character to look positively toward the future and the next challenge. 

Creative credits for the above: (Illustration) Ruairi Coleman, (Inks) Barry O’Sullivan, (Colours) Timothy C. Brown, (Letters) Kerrie Smith

Finding inspiration for a story can be difficult so it was certainly useful to learn how a story can be inspired by different ideas and then distilled into a structured short piece.

James Killian as Illustrator then spoke about his process for bringing scripted pages to visual life. This was a highly educational part of the presentation as James covered the basics of the materials he used and then went through a step-by-step breakdown on how to draw a comic; covering what to note when reading the Script, how to research and gather references, Layouts, Pencils, Inks and final Edits.

James delivered excellent detail for each of these stages and went so far as to provide some of his own reference phots which he has used for Character poses, as we can see with the image below:

James then finished his piece by showcasing some of his recent work, visible with the image below. James gave focus to the elements he regards as important in the illustration process. The structure and layout of a page can add to the story elements of the Script by helping to focus on key areas and enabling a flow for the eyes across the pages.

Creative credits for the above: (Illustration) James Killian

James finished up by detailing some of the overlooked basics such as saving the work as print size, the right file type and ensuring a smooth hand over for the Colourist and Letterer. 

Next up, Alice Coleman delivered an insightful presentation on comic book lettering. An often-undervalued piece of the comic book process, Alice detailed how a Letterer has opportunity to really elevate the work of the creative Team and add their own contribution to the story and world of the comic.

Alice’s process for lettering begins with studying the script, planning the flow, establishing the graphic language, executing the plan and finally adding in special effects. With a deep and varied body of work to pull from, Alice was able to showcase some great examples to illustrate the various stages of her process. 

The slide below from Limit Break Present’s #1 features a Millennial Adventurer interreacting with an Ancient Guardian. Many comics would feature standard and uniform word balloons for such an exchange between regular type characters yet Alice chose to give them separate and fitting font types. The Millennial Adventurer has a standard and clear text where the Ancient Guardian has an archaic style to his text, further helping to recognise that Character’s voice.

Creative credits for the above: (Illustration) John McGuinness, (Colours) Ellie Wright, (Letters) Alice Coleman and Writing (Seamus Kavanagh)

In the next sample, from Irish Graphic Novel The Guards, Alice gave a great example of finding opportunity to trying something new and fun. In the context of the below panel, the Character is beginning to lose interest in what is being said to them and so Alice was able to trail the text off toward the end section and see it break away, reflecting the action of the comic at that point in the story.

Creative credits for the above: (Illustration) Kevin Keane, (Letters) Alice Coleman and (Writing) Shane Ormond

Finally, Paul spoke about one of the more practical first steps in getting your first comic created; finding Collaborators. He highlighted some of the regular comic book focused events that take place around the Country where it’s possible to meet people creating comics and make connections to find writing, illustrative, colouring or lettering collaborators. Paul also spoke about great online Irish Comic resources, such as, a website which publishes a new comic page by a different creative team each weekday. has become a great showcase for Irish Comic Book talent. It hosts a database of Comic Creatives, detailing their skillsets, and has a great archive of completed comics to view for free.

As Editor of Limit Break Comic’s Anthologies Turning Roads and the forthcoming Down Below, Paul gave examples of opportunities to pitch to have your comic published and gave some tips on how best to pitch your comic. Covering the basic of preparing and hosting a portfolio, Paul gave practical guidance for pitching toward the theme of the target Anthology what should and should not be included and how best to make your submission stand out.

Each of the Panellists crafted an informative presentation, full of useful and practical tips against their own areas of illustrating, lettering, writing. Summer 2022 Dublin Comic Con was a sold out show and the Convention Centre Dublin was full of energy and enthusiasm about comic books across Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th August 2022. Limit Break hope to return at future Dublin Comic Shows with more panels to help aspiring Creators to get that first short comic made and be on their way to their own full comic book.

Limit Break Comics & Small Press Day

Once upon a time, before the founding of Limit Break Comics, there was an event. Specifically, the 2017 Small Press Day celebrations organised by Forbidden Planet Dublin. At that time, Paul and Gareth were working together on a few little Meouch projects under a different label, with the first zine – How to Live With Your Cat (When Your Cat is an Internationally Renowned Assassin) – launching on Small Press Day. It was before Paul’s first Dublin Comic Con behind a table, before any grand notions of publishing several books a year, and before the Irish comic community really found its place in the wider world. (A lot changed very quickly on that front.)

Just before that 2017 event, an article popped up online. Why the Comics Industry Needs Small Press Day. It got a lot of people talking, not least because the writer was Irish, and highlighted the Irish event on a US-run site. When said writer showed up on the day, there was an easy talking point already established, one that led to post-Small Press Day drinks.

If you haven’t already clicked the link to the article, that writer was Gary Moloney.

Over the next 12 months, the three founding members of Limit Break Comics would find themselves talking more, working together in different ways (Gareth literally helped Paul get a real Grown Up Job when he was out of work), attending events together (like the Cork Comics Expo in April 2018) before finally figuring out a name for their little collective.

On Small Press Day 2018, Limit Break Comics officially launched with its two debut titles: Mixtape and Life & Death.

Four years later, we’ve had: four successful Kickstarters (including two mammoth successes), multiple anthology appearances, one change of country (we miss you Gareth!), one addition to the team (hi Seamus!) and one new-born (Baby Moloney), along with job changes, exam successes, convention staffing, the founding of a webcomics platform, a viral spreadsheet tweet, and the small matter of a global pandemic.

With all these changes, the 2022 Small Press Day event in-store at Forbidden Planet Dublin was slightly reduced in scale for the LB team (and generally speaking!)

Paul Carroll represented the team in-store, alongside Leeann Hamilton, Clare Foley, Hugh Madden and Barry O’Sullivan. Even with the limited LB space, thanks to the shape of our projects, every single artist at that table had been published in at least one book under the label.

Leeann appears in both Plexus #2 and Turning Roads (with Kerrie Smith). Clare was part of both of our debut titles, Mixtape and Life & Death, as well as working with Emmet O’Brien on a story for Turning Roads. Hugh Madden worked with Hugo Boylan on a story for Turning Roads, while Barry O’Sullivan was one of the artists in Plexus #2. The number of creators in Ireland that Limit Break worked with is enormous, so it’s easy to accidentally load an event with people in our books.

With limited space for each creator, the Limit Break titles made available for Small Press Day 2022 were: Plexus #2, Limit Break Presents #1 (to get something by Seamus in there!), Lens (since Gary couldn’t attend) and Turning Roads (the book that most people know us for.)

It took some effort, but we managed to get a selfie. (The problem was getting Hugh to walk the six foot to be in frame.)

So much of our history is embedded in Small Press Day. We’re delighted every time we get to attend an event. With some luck, Paul and Barry will be able to team up again next year to make the day even bigger.

And, we suppose, we should probably get some new button badges for that event to celebrate our fifth birthday.

Thanks again to Forbidden Planet Dublin for organising and hosting Small Press Day. The Irish comic community needs events like this to continually remind the public that yes, we exist, and yes, the books that are put out by the dozens of creators around the country are as worthy of your time as those from distributed labels. And hey, we want people to support our friends.

See y’all at the next event – the Dublin Comic Arts Festival, September 10th-11th in Richmond Barracks. For now, we’re only tabling on the 10th. Come say hi!

Dublin Comic Con Round-up (August 2022)

This past weekend, the Limit Break Comics team assembled at Dublin Comic Con. This was our second major Irish convention since 2019, and it highlighted a few things for us as a collective as we continue to publish new titles.

Friday Set-up

When we first set up Limit Break Comics, all three founding members were based in Dublin. Now, Gareth lives and works in the UK, and Gary has a baby. This left the setup of two tables to one person. Thankfully, we’re experienced at this, but it did mean it took three hours and a significant amount of planning in terms of how much stock to bring to the convention.

New additions to the table included our new zines and Paul’s bookmark corner. (Side note: the zines will be available through our store from next week – Paul is currently working from home as a Covid preventative measure post-con, and won’t be making post office visits.)

We also had, for the first time at an Irish show, Twisting Time, a collection of science fiction stories about time travel that Paul Carroll and James Killian contributed to. Add to that the fact that Paul also works with Cupán Fae on a number of anthologies – our table space is becoming more limited!

Saturday – The Con

For us, Dublin Comic Con is a vital part of getting our books in front of people. The key difference between March and August this year was the number of new books on the table. More to the point, we didn’t have five new titles to launch this time. This was our first chance to see how the table would manage with readers when there wasn’t a whole lot of new stories to pick up.

We were, thankfully, aided by having a panel to speak on, and a mighty team assembled.

Seamus Kavanagh will be doing a complete write-up on the panel later this week. In the meantime, we’re delighted to report that it helped us reach new readers, and provide some advice based on our own experiences. We focused on the production of short comics, and ended up speaking to several people in one-on-one sessions later over the weekend.

One of them even bought every single comic we had available.

It’s always a delight to be able to help others on their comics journeys, and to meet new creators who are one opportunity away from entering the Irish comic scene.

Saturday – The Socials

One thing we missed about conventions and noted from Glasgow Comic Con was a strong social aspect. When artists are hiding behind tables all weekend, it’s difficult to get talking to people, especially those who aren’t already within our social circles.

To counter that, we organised a small gathering to get to talk to people outside of the convention in the evening. The big highlight for me was getting to introduce people to folks they’ve only ever seen on Twitter.

Sunday – The Con

Sunday at DCC is usually quieter. It’s also usually the day people show up late, thanks to issues with Sunday transport in Dublin.

The one big issue we faced on Sunday was stock levels. We sold out of Lens early in the day, and sold out of Meouch #1 completely, with no more stock left in reserve. We’ll need to do another print run before the next one!

On the bright side, we cleared our last stock of The Wren, and sold out of Twisting Time, so getting home was easier. We also had a visit from the littlest member of the LB Family, Baby Moloney.

Sunday – The Dead Dog

We don’t call it this, officially, but it’s a term from fandom cons – the post-con socials when no one can move and words are hard to find and all you want to do is go home, but also not leave.

We were joined by a few of the Octocon folks who had been about on the Sunday at the convention, which resulted in stories about conventions, clowns and Star Trek. There will be no context for the clown talk.

The Accidental Uniform

What happens when people don’t communicate over what they’re wearing to a convention? This:

This is the new unofficial Limit Break Uniform now (we will never do this again). Artists in salmon pink shirts, writers in the exact same shirt from Next, and the lads from outside Dublin with their hands on their hips.

We didn’t plan the outfits, or the poses, but we couldn’t pass up on the photo op.

What’s next?

We have a few more events for the rest of the year, and some work to do on various other projects. For now, here’s a quick glance at the rest of the year’s confirmed details:

  • August 13th, Small Press Day
  • September 10th, DCAF
  • October 15th and 16th, Octocon
  • November 12th and 13th, Thought Bubble

The last event also marks the official launch of Down Below, which will pair nicely with Turning Roads at conventions. We’ll also have details on the next anthology around that time, too. No rest for the wicked!

The Zine Scene

Dublin Comic Con is this weekend, and Limit Break Comics has been busy behind the scenes working on a new addition to our convention circuit: zines!

What’s a Zine?

The word ‘zine’ is an abbreviation of ‘magazine’, but that’s about as far as the connection goes. Zines are one-topic publications, sometimes hand-made, other times printed and bound professionally, sometimes a mix of professional printing with a hand-made finish. In our case, we went to our trusty printers with four zines, created by Paul Carroll and Gary Moloney, with design work by Paul, and a cover by Gareth Luby. (You’ll know it when you see it!)

How to Thrive & Survive in a Horror Movie

Paul’s a big horror fan, binging franchises in his spare time, writing horror stories for comics and prose, and generally diving into the spookiness of Halloween as soon as possible. In How to Thrive & Survive in a Horror Movie, Paul shares the rules of the Scream franchise with additional commentary.

The zine is meant to be a fun collection of the many rules the characters in the franchise must remember to survive – provided they have a horror expert to explain the rules first!

The Daredevil’s Advocate

Cover by Gareth Luby

When Paul and Gary first started talking about the zines, the first one on Gary’s line-up was a zine adaptation of his article The Daredevil’s Advocate. The conversation quickly turned to asking Gareth to draw the cover.

Gary takes a hard look at Charles Soule’s Daredevil: Supreme, its place in the series and how it addresses the law. One part academic, one part entertainment, The Daredevil’s Advocate is for fans of comics who like to read a little bit into the subject matter.

What’s It Like Being a Twin?

If you didn’t already know – and you will when it comes to Dublin Comic Con, at least! – Paul’s a twin. His identical twin brother, Conor, is an artist in the convention scene in Ireland. And they’re always asked one question: What’s it like being a twin?

This zine is designed to answer that question, and address the many other questions and topics that come up as a result of having an identical twin brother. It also features a centerfold of the dumbest question they have ever been asked. More than once. By several people.

A Novel Murder

To round off the first wave of zines from Limit Break Comics, we have a prose story from Gary Moloney. A Novel Murder is accompanied by some work by Paul to create a designed narrative approach to the story.

Interspersed throughout the zine are pull-quotes with a punch, looming steadily closer to the reader as the story progresses. We’re keeping the details of the mystery hidden, though – you’ll have to pick up the story to find out what happened!

Where Can You Get One?

Our magazine rack has seen better days, but it’s still perfect for housing our new line of titles alongside Paul’s enamel pin collection – before either one grows, that is. The first set will launch at Dublin Comic Con on Saturday and Sunday, August 6th and 7th 2022. We’re in the Artist Alley on the First Floor, tables AA15 and AA16.

Come say hi! And if you like our zines, let us know if we should make more!

Dublin Comic Con: Comic Creators on Creating Short Comics

This Saturday, Limit break Comics is entering the world of convention programming with a specially curated panel for Dublin Comic Con: Comic Creators on Creating Short Comics.

The panel will be moderated by Seamus Kavanagh, whose latest title Old Game Plus marks his debut with Limit Break Comics. Seamus has previously run panels on writing for comics at Dublin Comic Con.

This weekend’s panel will focus on the craft of creating short comics, with a specific focus on the teamwork involved. Seamus will speak as a contributing writer.

Joining him are James Killian and Alice Coleman, the artist and letterer respectively of their forthcoming story Strength in Numbers, to be published in Down Below later this year. Alice has previously worked with Seamus on his stories for Old Game Plus and Limit Break Presents #1. This story marks the first time Seamus and James will have worked together.

Paul Carroll will be on the panel as an editor, speaking on the ways in which anthologies come together, the sort of things editors look for in submissions, and how creating teams like that of the other panellists can serve to strengthen an application.

The panel will take place from 2pm-3pm in the Geek Ireland Panel Room on the 1st floor in the Convention Centre – outside the entrance to the Artist Alley.

Thoughts from Thought Bubble 2019

Last year was the first time Limit Break assembled at an international convention. Then, as last weekend, it was Thought Bubble. We weren’t tabling, but we did have comics with us to pass along to friends and other interested parties, and we were afforded the opportunity to meet up with some friends we know the Irish comic scene and from Twitter.

With its new venue in Harrogate, Thought Bubble was all under one roof. This has its pros and cons, of course – the biggest con being that the ATM outside ran dry fairly swiftly and it was a walk to the next nearest! All in all, we were impressed, both with the convention organisers and with the comics and other assorted wares on show. (Ask Paul about his enamel pin haul!)

There’s something special about a convention dedicated to comics. No movie stars, no media guests at all. If you were getting something signed, it was by a storyteller in the industry. Almost every trader had comics to look over. There was an Irish Aisle in the Comixology room.

All in all, it felt like home.

We all take something different away from a convention like Thought Bubble. Some of us got to meet our heroes, some of us upped our game on socialising (while Paul demonstrated a capacity to sleep through almost everything), and all of us had a blast.

We don’t have many photos from the weekend, but Gareth was able to snap a few from inside and outside the convention. The incredibly lovely Kerrie Smith also took a group shot for us at the mid-con party.

Thought Bubble 2019 was a blast. It remains one of the best conventions out there. We’re already looking forward to next year, when we hope to be setting up shop in the trading halls.

Until then, we’ve got some reading to do.