"What is Captain Ireland?" I hear you collectively murmur. Well, Rocheteers, prepare to learn (at length) of a secret chapter in my comic book career...
1995, I approached the local Arts Office looking for cash to
self-publish my own superhero series, set in the far-flung future of
Wexford, 2010. The previous year, I had cobbled together a photocopied
anthology series called 'Alternative' with two school chums (Wayne Daly
and Lee Kelly) featuring our own home-grown superheroes that shared a
universe, Image-style. Captain Ireland made his first appearance in the
one and only published issue (though we got as far as completing
#3) along with Buzzer - a non-branded 'Mutant' with electricity-based powers - and Razorblade - an adventurer clad in a living metal, early-90s style - and the comic became a mini-cult
happening, gaining us an interview on the Pat Kenny (God have mercy on his soul) radio show.
(Weirdly this inspired a Dublin-based printer to call in and offer us our own
professionally-printed superhero team book. We realise now he just
wanted his company's name broadcast on air, but we had meetings and he
asked us to cobble together a first issue to go to print in under thirty
days, in the same month we were due to sit our Junior Cert (mid-high school) exams.
Having completed the project - and almost failing the exams - we traipsed
up to Dublin only to be told it was a no-go...) The other two lads lost
interest, but I smelled glory, and if there's one thing better than the
smell of one's own farts, it's glory...
I decided to have Captain Ireland go solo trying to solve the case of
local businessman-turned-bodypart -cleaving serial killer, Abattoir.
Why was the hero called Captain Ireland? Fuck knows. A hubristic delusion that
MY superhero must be better than everyone else's in school (When it was
clear that Wayne's Razorblade held that honour) was probably the basis
for it. The name of my home country was the sum total of my knowledge
about the place, and kind of all I wanted to know. But I think part of
me guessed that it was an easy commercial sell to the scads of tourists - predominantly American - that visited my seaside tow in the Summer months.
Lorraine Comer, local Arts Officer, greenlit the comic's production,
and with full use of the local County Council's printing presses too In the time-honoured style of a comics publisher, she wanted the
comic to go into production immediately, whereas I had planned to
stockpile the three issues of the mini-series before dribbling the first one out there. The reason for this was
that it was the start of the summer, and she rightly wanted to capitalise on the annual influx of visitors to the county. Sho' nuff (which is foreign for 'sure enough') Americans sucked this puppy up. It got a
big launch at a local summer festival too, so it was on the radar of the
unsuspecting visitors and townsfolk in attendance. It was my first and best
summer job; having my own comic bankrolled and getting to keep all the
profits for myself.
shops and newsagents carried it, and even Kevin in Forbidden Planet
stocked it, all taking the smallest of cuts. (I think the RRP was
75p) That was the worst thing; distributing the comics and picking up
leftovers, and/or the takings, but there was a kind of buzz around town
about it. Lots of local press and radio coverage. It even got a mention
on cult late-night RTE weekend show The End, or so I hear. ( A classmate gleefully told me of the absolute kicking the hosts gave it.)
only two issues were produced. September came crashing upon me as I
tried to finish #3 while going into my final year at school. I got about
half of it done, but because I'd missed my monthly production deadline, I
figured I'd just have to discontinue it. I didn't realise that it was
the nineties, and late comics were in vogue. (And that in 1995, a comic
late by one month wasn't even considered late.) There are elements from
the comic that still live on in my brainhole, that I think could breathe
again in some form. But either way, it's still a massive deal that I
managed to get something like this off the ground (with a lot of help)
(Jesus, I could have finished #3 in the time it took me to put this together...)