Monday, March 17, 2014


"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...

In 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...

So 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.

So 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.

Local 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.)

Sadly, 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) aged fifteen.

(Jesus, I could have finished #3 in the time it took me to put this together...)