WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO COMICS?
I wrote, drew and co-published 7 (3 photocopied and 4 printed) issues of anthology comic book Toenail Clippings between 1998-2001.
I contributed a fortnightly political comic strip to The Phoenix magazine and a weekly political strip to The Star on Sunday for 2 years between 2003-2004.
I had a monthly strip in The Dubliner Magazine also for 2 years between 2004-2005.
I also edited designed and coloured three collections for Gerry Hunt – IN DUBLIN CITY, STREETS OF DUBLIN and 1916: BLOOD UPON THE ROSE.
WHAT COMIC ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
I am no longer working in comics. I split my time between being a professional illustrator and co-running a creative agency – The Small Print and OFFSET, an annual creative conference.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
I love the craft of it. Writing an outline of a story, sketching up ideas and making it all come together cohesively. My comics particularly in the Toenail Clippings days were very personal and that was quite a good release being able to find a platform to get those emotions and thoughts out of my head.
WHAT’S THE WORST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
The constant editing and not wanting to let it go out in the world until it was ready…which it never really is.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER COMICS?
As usual I was bought comics as a kid. My favs were Whizzer & Chips and Buster. I later ‘evolved’ to Roy Of The Rovers, Scream, Oink and then fatally to 2000AD.
WHO IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WORK?
I studied Fine Art in college from 1991-96, majoring in Painting. But my minor was in Multi Media i.e. computers graphics and film. The college had just got its first computer, an early Mac with Photoshop 3 on it. I had recently rediscovered comics in the form of Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, Dave McKean’s Cages and Mr Punch and the linework of Carlos Sampayo. I was blown away by Sampayo and McKeans artwork while Pekar’s meticulous honesty was something I was very interested in combining in my work. You know aim high!
WHAT TOOLS OF THE TRADE DO YOU USE?
Good stock A4 paper, 2-4B pencil, Brush pens, Rotring Art Pens and an iMac.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE WORK OF WHICH YOU ARE MOST PROUD?
I’m proud of what Gerry has achieved with his work and the role I’ve played in making that happen. I also hope Toenail Clippings, while far from being perfect, played its part and has a positive legacy.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
Commit to it! This obviously could apply to whatever you are doing not just comics but you can’t over emphasize how important working hard is. Focus, discipline and hard work.
WHAT IS THE WORST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CURRENT IRISH COMIC SCENE?
Considering what the ‘scene’ was like when we launched Toenail Clippings in 1998 it’s remarkable how far along it is. I love the community spirit there is and the ambition of those involved from the guys working at the Majors to those involved in self publishing to those who go along to the 24hr comic jams. Also without a thriving comics scene there might not be The Comic Cast, and I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t listen to Liam and Craig giggling like school girls at each others lame jokes!
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN IRISH COMIC IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
Continue growing and for people to enjoy making comics.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN COMICS IN GENERAL IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
No real thoughts here. I can see it becoming more of a digital medium especially in the distribution world, I guess that would be good. Like most comics people though I like my shelves of comics and books.
WHAT WAS THE LAST COMIC THAT MADE AN IMPACT ON YOU?
Hmmm…impact, impact…these aren’t recent but I guess either Ben Katchor’s Julius Knipol, Real Estate Photographer or Julie Doucet New York Diary stand out as books that made me feel like comics were worth making again, although I still haven’t made any. I lost interest in Chris Ware’s work for a while, he seemed to get lost in the design but his last few Acme Novelties are a real triumph and a return to the emotional.
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 🙂 )
You have to love it and practice a lot!
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
BRENB is an award winning illustrator working in editorial, design and advertising work in Ireland and internationally. His clients include Absolut, Jameson, AIB, Dublin Bus, The Irish Times, SONY, Audi, Lucas Arts, MINI Cooper, etc. His work has been awarded and recognised by ICAD, The Society of Illustrators of America, 3X3 Magazine, AMPAC and Semi Permanent while his work has been exhibited in Dublin, London, Seville and Kentucky.
He is co-director of OFFSET, a creative conference that brings the best in international and Irish comic artists, designers, illustrators, photographers, animators etc to Dublin for a weekend of lectures, presentation, debates and dancing. Speakers have included Dave McKean, James Jean, Tara McPherson to name but a few.
He has lectured on illustration in NCAD and Limerick College of Art as well as given presentations on his own work at conferences in New York, London, Dublin, Limerick and Belfast. He is co-founder of Tiny Little Horse, a design collective based in Dublin, designing screen printed and digital gig posters for acts such as CSS, Feist, Morrissey, Battles and Flight of the Conchords.