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.

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.