From the land of the Irish comes Dublin’s own Paul Carroll of Limit Break Comics to discuss Limit Break, the Turning Roads Kickstarter, the Pandemic, and Irish Based Comics! So come join the fun!
1. Hello there! And welcome to the Mind Meld here at IndieComiX! For those who may not be aware of you, can you tell us about yourself?
Hi here! The simple version of ‘Who I am’, without getting too existential about it, is to say that I’m a writer and comic creator from Dublin, Ireland. I co-founded Limit Break Comics with Gareth Luby and Gary Moloney in 2018 as a collective, to help us push each other’s books and encourage each other on new and interesting paths in the world of comics. I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign for Limit Break’s first open submissions anthology, Turning Roads, featuring over 30 creators telling 18 stories about Irish Folklore.
2. Excellent! Let’s talk a little about the comic book scene in Dublin for a moment, what was it like pre-pandemic? And as well as currently?
Pre-pandemic, it felt like the community was rallying together in a fresh way. A few people had stepped back, either for work or because they were pitching projects to publishers and couldn’t sustain both indie books and pitch preparations – comics aren’t cheap! – and we were all really beginning to get to a point of supporting each other again in a big way.
Then the world came to a standstill, and no one had books to release anymore, because we had no conventions.
We’re about a year into that, and like old friends meeting after a long time, the community has really rallied behind Turning Roads, both in terms in submissions and general support for the Kickstarter. I’ve really gotten a sense that people are backing it because (a) they want to read the comics, but also (b) they really want to support their friends.
We’re a close-knit bunch, entirely by accident, and we’re always welcoming new creators into the community. (I personally love to guide those who are willing and ready around the Artist Alley of Dublin Comic Con and introduce them to everyone who makes comics!)
Sorry, long answer!
We hit the ground running, to put it simply. Myself and Gary co-launched books of our own at Small Press Day 2018 – Life & Death and Mixtape, respectively – and used our shared platforms to help push our books together.
Once Meouch #1 launched in March 2019 (created by myself and Gareth Luby), we knew we had something that could keep people coming back. Three books on a convention table made a difference, and made it easier to move forward with Plexus #1 that summer. After that, we had invites to attend Culture Night at Dublin City Comics & Collectibles, opportunities to run panels on comics at WorldCon when it was in Dublin, and OctoCon when in-person events were a Thing.
Now that we’re at the point of crowdfunding Turning Roads, we’re looking at new ways to release books and help our friends reach a wider audience.
4. Being based outside of America, would you say its been difficult in gaining an audience/fanbase beyond your neck of the woods? Or has that been a hurdle that hasn’t come up just yet?
We’ve been lucky for a strong local community, but outside of Kickstarter and a few comic sites who’ve reviewed our books or given us a spot to talk about our work, getting oversees has been difficult.
We’ll be at the next in-person Thought Bubble, whenever the fates allow it, so we’ll at least be able to showcase our work in a country outside our own. As the world starts to return to normality, then we can start looking at how to expand further beyond our boarders.
5. For those not in the know, what exactly is Culture Night?
Culture Night is an annual event in Ireland that showcases the arts around the country. It’s a full evening of theatre, gallery events, concerts, etc. that’s heavily promoted. Comics almost never gets a look in, but Jay and Doc from Dublin City Comics worked hard to get a listing in the official event programme. It’s a big step in the right direction to have comics included, especially given the sheer volume of comic creators on our tiny island!
6. With you mentioning it being difficult in regards to overseas exposure, what do you think could be done to improve in that area?
Well, a vaccine would be a good start! But from a Before Times perspective, we’ve been looking at international comic festivals and conventions. Unfortunately, trading in the US can be a nightmare situation in terms of customs and transport of stock, so we’ve had to reign in our aspirations on that front. For folks on this side of the ocean, we’ll be better off looking to partner with people already working in the US who can help promote and/or publish our work.
Beyond that, anthologies and publishing online – either as a Kickstarter or as digital comics – are our best chance at getting our names recognised beyond our own boarders.
7. Oh wow, Culture Night definitely sounds like an awesome event! And here’s to good tidings in the future for you guys with overseas relations! Now, in regards to Turning Roads, what sparked its creation?
Part of it came from conversations during and after Thought Bubble 2019, between a lot of UK and Irish comic creators. The idea of creating anthologies came up, as it’s wont to do, and it lingered for months afterwards. I’d had a few conversations with people about it, and then at some point in the middle of the pandemic, I realised I wasn’t going to get back to work anytime soon.
I’ve always loved Mythology, and the appeal of an Irish Folklore book had never quite left me since I started self publishing novels in that area a decade ago, so I put my notion sickness aside, took some support from friends, and decided now was the time to do it while the iron was hot and the pandemic wasn’t slowing down.
8. Mythology (doesn’t matter which) is always fun to learn about and there’s a lot you can do with it for a variety of stories. How strong has the support been so far for Turning Roads? Especially with it being based on Irish Folklore?
We’ve had a lot of people backing the book specifically because it’s Irish Folklore. It’s also what drew a few of our creators to submit. While our stories tend to be a little bit miserable, there’s a wonderful fantasy about them that loans itself to comics, and the retelling of those stories through different genres opens them up to new and beautiful worlds.
9. How’d you go about the recruitment process for Turning Roads?
Recruitment for the book was done through an evaluation of pitches and portfolios. It was my first time assessing creators like that – normally I’m approaching artists I want to work with – and it taught me a lot about the process editors go through on a regular basis. Because I didn’t want stories to overlap in terms of interpretation of ideas, or for stories to attempt too much in just four pages, there was a lot of back and forth over a few of the pitches to decide which was right for the book.
Sending the rejections was definitely the hardest part, and not just because I was battling COVID at the time!
In the end, I’m delighted with the people I have in the book. Hopefully next time – if there is a next time – I’ll be able to open the doors a little bit wider.
10. Are you editing only or planning to include some stories of your own as well for the Anthology?
I was a cruel-but-fair editor and only allowed one story per creator in the book, including myself. I’ve teamed up with James Killian (@Boyinashirt) on art and Tríona Farrell (@Treestumped) on colours to tell a Sci-Fi version of the Dullahan Myth. I would have had a serious case of FOMO if I couldn’t work alongside the other creative teams in the book.
11. Speaking of COVID for a quick minute, how’s the situation in your neck of the woods?
Vaccine roll-out is slow, and public frustration is high. I’m foolishly optimistic we’ll get conventions at some point this year. But hey, if I don’t dream then the wait will be long.
12. Provided the KS for Turning Roads is a success, will there be more to come in a sequel?
A direct sequel to the Anthology is unlikely, but I’ve already been talking with a few folks about what might follow. I’m keen to stick to Mythology, but the shape it’ll take will very much depend on discussions over the coming months. Most likely we’ll be waiting until I’ve packed up the rewards for the Kickstarter before we start putting anything down on paper, but at least we’ll have a roadmap to success to follow for anthologies going forward!
13. Hell yeah on that! Are there any personal favorites for you from the stories in Turning Roads?
It’s still very early days, so the stories aren’t complete, but I was excited about the portfolios of Dominique Duong (@DomDuongArt) and Ember Johnstone (@wispered), whose work I wasn’t familiar with before the pitch submissions opened up.
I’m stupidly excited about what Gary Moloney (@m_gearoid) and Colin Craker (@TheMarvelousMrC) are working on, and there’s a beautiful chaos being churned by Hugo Boylan (@HugoBoylan) and Hugh Madden (@hughmaddenart) that I can’t wait to share with people. Those are entirely off the top of my head – not helped in terms of recency bias from when I last spoke to them!
14. Heh, awesome! Are the stories going to be done in black and white or will there be color?
I was insistent from the start that we’d be going full-colour for every story. This is a personal bias on my behalf. I struggle to read pure B&W comics sometimes, and if I couldn’t read it properly, I wouldn’t enjoy the process as much.
15. What are some long running comics titles in Dublin and through out Ireland itself? Do you guys have your own set of established Super Heroes or is the likes of Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and so forth as deeply entrenched in the culture there like they are here?
Irish Small Press doesn’t quite function on a shared-universe sort of model, but there are a couple of notable long-running titles. Buttonpress Publications (@Buttonpressltd) have four titles running at the moment – The Wren, Artos, Stoat and Thimble. I took over the writing for The Wren for the next volume, and Gary Moloney – my partner in crime at Limit Break Comics – took over the writing of Stoat, both of us working with Jason Browne. The stories all take place in a fictional Ireland called Hibernia, with its own superhero history embedded in Irish Folklore.
There aren’t many other long-running print publications, but two webcomics come to mind as having run for a while. Fate by (@Anthea West) has been around for at least six years, off the top of my head, and (@Aaron Fever’s) Ship Wrecked is entering its fifth season soon!
16. What are some of your personal favorite Folklore in Irish Mythology?
I’m a sucker for the Death Omens. The Banshee and the Dullahan are two of my favourites for the lingering dread they can inspire.
I’m also a fan of the story of Balor of the Evil Eye, an invading giant with one eye that could kill a man just by looking at him.
17. I may have to check out some of those titles in the future! As for my final question, what advice would you give for those looking to get into making comics?
Start small, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. No one expects a first comic to be perfect.
Complete a four-page comic or two, seek advice, study under the pros (there are quite a few books out there!) and only once you’ve found your voice and learned the ropes a bit should you aim to write anything longer.
Editor’s Note: Huge thanks to Paul for taking part in this interview! Turning Roads is currently at 8,429 dollars of its 7,212 dollar goal with 25 days to go! Get in on the fun!