NEWS: Alan Nolan's Ennis Appearance Report

I arrived on Abbey Street in Ennis on Saturday afternoon last about a quarter to three. The weather of course was miserable and I entered Ennis Book Shop thankful for the shelter that it could afford me. I browsed the graphic novel section of the store as the buzz of kids milling around behind me filled the air in anticipation of the first comic creator appearance in this store since current Marvel Comics and Vertigo artist Declan Shalvey had his appearance for the release of his Classical Comics OGN Frankenstein. I got to talking with Eagle Award nominated writer Mike Lynch and comics aficionado Oliver Liddy when Wicklow native Alan Nolan arrived. After some chit chat Alan set up at the back of the store in a section that would afford him space to do his thing.

Alan got introduced to the assembled audience by Ri Ra editor Aidan Courtney and we were under way. Alan started with an introduction as I and others watched on jealously as Alan handed out vintage copies of comics he read as a kid in the classic vintage British weeklies. He followed with a breakdown of his three O’Brien Press books published to date in Death By Chocolate, Six Million Ways To Die and The Big Break Detectives. As the amount of kids increased and their gaze fixed firmly on Alan who had grabbed their attention and their parents behind them, some wondering what the attraction was and others like myself watching a successful writer/artist market comics to kids like every company should.
After a brief interruption by a lady in her late thirties who wanted some copies of Alan’s work signed he delved into a step by step guide as to how to draw his characters. It got all children involved including a little girl of about four who I’m shamed to say would outdraw me any day. Every kid in the place was riveted on Alan’s every word. I was standing back and taking it all in, hugely impressed at how Nolan and by extension O’Brien Press were pulling out all the stops to ensure that the joy that comics can bring is enshrined in the young minds who has gathered here on a pluvial October afternoon.
After a lesson on how to draw, Nolan handed out an original unfinished story that he invited the kids to finish using the knowledge that he had handed out so skilfully in the last three quarters of an hour.
Unfortunately for me at this stage real life intervened and I had to leave to go to work but I left the store feeling like the future of home produced comics in this country was for a little while at least that bit brighter and no amount of rain falling on me was going to dampen how good I felt for that.