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 Comics.ie) 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