INDIE SPOTLIGHT ON EMMET O’BRIEN

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For our next Indie Spotlight segment we’ll be featuring the regional talents of Cork, Ireland. Editors James O’Callaghan and Sean Leonard hail from the County Cork and are active members of the local comics community. Through their connections Grayhaven has had the opportunity to work with and engage with several Irish comic creators.  Like Grayhaven focuses on The Gathering anthologies, many of Cork’s local creators have been involved with Turncoat Press, which publishes anthologies featuring regional talent.

Over the next several weeks we’ll chat with many of Cork’s comics professionals, feature their acclaimed anthologies and individual works, and discuss comics outside of America.

Today’s spotlight is on Emmet O’Brien.

GH: Tell me a bit about Turncoat Press. What are the company’s goals?

EO: The main goal of Turncoat Press is to just produce quality work and get some great comics coming out of Cork. We felt that there was a potential to create something here and we all have a passion for the medium.

Next up will be moving away from the anthology format into one shots and longer form storytelling.

GH: How was Turncoat Press first conceived and created?

EO: It was a suggestion by Chris O’Halloran that we put out a book. He and I had toyed with a long series for a bit but it was just proving too unwieldy and his idea of getting shorter stories out made sense. We both knew Colin O’Mahony who had the same desires to get work out and it just seemed like a natural fit. Turncoat was born.

GH: I was fortunate to get a copy of Turncoat Press’s first publication, “I’m Awake, I’m Alive.”  This anthology’s point of unity is the creative talent rather than story themes. How has that impacted your promotion of the collection?

EO: The interesting thing about “I’m Awake, I’m Alive” is that beyond the merit of the material, I think it was a statement of intent. We love the wide range of comic genres and approaches and the book was about showcasing that.

 So we tackled super heroes, romance, westerns, avant garde etc. and it was our intent to show that many different sorts of stories could work.  I’m so proud of it but it was tough enough to pitch to people since it was so stylistically all over the place. Future publications will strengthen the overall themes of a release and this will have a nice knock on effect to the promotion. It should make it more clearer what each book is all about.

GH: Since your creative teams are in a localized region in Ireland, were the creators all in direct contact with one another?

EO: Oh yes. And it was also during the creation of “IA IA” that we began to have the Cork Comic Creator meet up which also allowed creative teams to be in the same room with each other. Internet contact is great and vital but nothing beats sitting down with your artist/ writer and just talking the project through.

GH: How do you feel that being able to communicate directly with collaborators impacts the comic creation process?

EO: It really helps because so much is conveyed in how folks interact. When I’m excited about a project and I can get that passion across to my collaborator and vice versa that’s when stories really start to happen and when projects click.

GH: For your next anthology you put together “The Cork Horror Comic,” which is available free for download on your website. Did focusing on stories in the horror genre change how you approached the anthology?

EO: I had next to nothing to do with that project aside from being a general sound board for when it started. Colin and Alan shepherded that along. I purposefully didn’t submit an idea because we wanted fresh voices and I had just been part of a newly released book. I love the idea of doing horror stories so hopefully in the future I shall.

GH: And just recently you put together “The Cork Sci-Fi Comic”, which I believe will also be available on your website soon. How has reception been towards the book so far?

EO: I was delighted to have a story in this one! Wonderfully well received, sold out in 8 hours and any feedback I’ve gotten very positive. That was a really fun book because I’m a huge fan of both science fiction and Cork city and having a chance to marry those two elements was ideal.

On a personal level as well, my stories tend to skew older thematically or approach wise so the all ages factor here was appealing because it let me tap into a more straight ahead fun vein that could delight a younger audience!

GH: What are your hopes for the future of comics in Ireland?

EO: In general the scene is on fire at the moment nationwide.  Dublin has had a pretty vibrant scene for a few years and I’m so happy to report that Cork is following suit. In the space of a year we’ve accomplished so much on the small press scene and with people like Will Sliney flying the flag in a bigger more mainstream arena things are the best they’ve ever been. I just hope that run continues and that we get more a steady stream of varied and interesting books emerging from this town.

GH: Do you find that there is any difficulty in getting local literary and arts communities to take your work seriously or are the communities supportive?

EO: A few years ago there might have been a stigma with comics but that seems all but vanished now. Comics have become so engrained in pop culture that people see the value of it. It feels like it’s been legitimized and that has been felt in the support of the library for the Cork Sci-Fi comic for example or just how successful the recent Cork Expo was in Mahon Point. Outside industries are really helping us out.

GH: Does Turncoat have any plans to offer or release their works outside of Ireland?

EO: We’re still a young enough venture but it is something we hope to look into. We have on-line versions that anyone can but worldwide so for the moment that’s how we’re handling that stuff.

GH: Finally, what are the current plans for Turncoat Press? What can we expect to see from you in the next year?

EO: We are releasing our second book, a sci-fi anthology named “Life Signs” on June 13th in the Franciscan Well and there will be other books before the end of the year. Tantalizing, aint it?

James’s Addendum: To clarify, just in case you’re curious , Mahon Point is the shopping center which held the Cork Comic Expo. It’s probably the closest thing to a proper mall we have right now. And the Franciscan Well is a bar, just across the river from our apartment. It’s one of the most popular bars in the city, hosted the first Cork Comic Creators meet-up and currently hosts the bi-weekly Drink and Draw sessions.

 

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