QUICK QUESTIONS WITH Gar Shanley
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO COMICS?
I’m Gar Shanley. I’ve been doing smallpress comics on and off for 15 years. The ‘off’
bit was between 1994 and 2008. I’ve written and drawn the following comics: All
Rise (with John O’Neill and Antonio Carty) and Fugger (by myself). I wrote Windell
Superhero and Supernatural Showcase comics for the artist Cathal Duggan. I have
collaborated with the cartoonist Deirdre deBarra on a couple of short strips (Some
Blue Bloke, Dimension 5). I also do an online comic called Crap Man and, to fit my
drawing style, it’s shit.
WHAT COMIC ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Deridre and I might do an online comic for kids called Snowglobia. Besides that, not
much. The odd Crap Man. I’m busy using my imagination for film purposes at the
moment but I’ll soon get to work on an anthology comic for some artists that have
been kind/dumb enough to express an interest in working with me. I’ve no idea what
it will be about but aim to have it out by summer 2012. I also might do a Crap Man
collection in print called Essential Crap Man (which won’t be essential at all) but I’ll
need the help of a graphic designer for that one as it’ll be a format nightmare.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
As a writer it’s the first time you see what the artist has done with the script. As an
artist it is finishing the thing.
WHAT’S THE WORST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
Dealing with the shops. Trying to make people aware of your work.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER COMICS?
No joke, you’ve just made me remember – a nun, a complete stranger, gave me a big
fat Marvel comic when she saw me at a train station. For no reason. I was tiny. My
sister helped me figure out what was going on in the comic. I feel bad about doing
characters like the Rabid Dog Christ when I think of that nun. Strange, I’ve made
good acquaintanceships with a couple of nuns since then.
WHO IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WORK?
I could list all the comics and comic creators I’ve enjoyed but have they all directly
influenced my work? No. The comics that have influenced my ‘work’ most are
probably Viz comic, U.S. Underground comics from the 70s and 80s, Charles Burns
and Chris Ware. I’ve directly stolen from Gary Panter too.
WHAT TOOLS OF THE TRADE DO YOU USE?
These days, a laptop, a foolscap and some crappy pens. I used draw with Rapidograph
WHAT IS THE SINGLE WORK OF WHICH YOU ARE MOST PROUD?
The Windell stuff. Mainly because of the dedication and effort put into them by my
friend and collaborator Cathal Duggan. There’s 80 pages of that stuff.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
Without Deirdre deBarra these days or Cliodhna Lyons when I was getting back
into doing comics, I doubt I’d know what’s going comic wise in this country. I’ve
never really received any advice content wise unless it’s from Deirdre or Cathal when
we’re working on something and John Robbins made some interesting and useful
observations on my work which was greatly appreciated. Tommie Kelly roared advice
at me once too but that was more disturbing than anything else. I sometimes dish out
unsolicited advice but that’s because I’m a shithead.
WHAT IS THE WORST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
No real bad advice unless you include the rare occasions I’ve been advised to “do
stuff people will like” or “play the game”. Quite often this advice comes from people
who mean well and would like to see me “do better” or something and is more from
the film end of things than comics.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CURRENT IRISH COMIC SCENE?
Even if something is not to my taste, I can see the quality in it. Most are good, some
very good, but does anyone besides others making Irish comics know they are good?
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN IRISH COMICS IN THE NEAR
I’d like it if Irish comics started to leave the shops a bit quicker than fifteen a year.
I’d like to see people become more aware of Irish comics. I bitch about the shops but
most display Irish comics well to be honest. What can be done?
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN COMICS IN GENERAL IN
THE NEAR FUTURE?
I’d like for the English speaking world to take more of an interest in non-superhero
comics. I’d like to see less alternative comics that are about comics. I am guilty of
WHAT WAS THE LAST COMIC THAT MADE AN IMPACT ON YOU?
The little I’ve seen of Chris Reynolds (Mauretania), I can’t get out of my head. I plan
to track down more.
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE
SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO START MAKING THEIR OWN COMICS? (And
don’t say DON’T 🙂 )
Don’t print that many. Always do a launch. Sell them online. If you’re going to do
something heartfelt dig deep and be genuine. If you’re going to go nuts then please
go nuts and let the Id run free. Don’t be insipid and don’t be insincere. Sorry if that
sounds a bit …y’know.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
Not really. Apologies if I went on a bit.
Gar Shanley is a screenwriter and occasional teacher of various aspects of
filmmaking. He has produced Windell Superhero Showcase and Windell Supernatural
Showcase with the artist Cathal Duggan and has worked with the artist Deirdre
deBarra. He has written and drawn the comics Fugger and All Rise (the latter with
John O’Neill and Antonio Carty). He blogs and does an appalling online comic called