NEWS: An interview with Andy Luke by Gar Shanley


Who is Andy Luke and just what the bloody hell does he think he’s doing? Well, Andy has a long and unique history in the Irish world of smallpress comics. Before we continue, go check his wiki:
Did you check it out? Good, now that you’re up to speed on this creative individual’s past we can press on and discuss his future.
Belfast’s Arts and Disability Forum Gallery (Cathedral Quarter Workspaces, 109 – 113 Royal Avenue) will be hosting a showcase of Andy’s work including his three 24 hour comics – Gran, Absence, and Don’t Get Lost from February 3rd to March 15th. There will also be a residency by the man himself and a workshop, later in the month, at 11 a.m. Friday, February 24th. The whole thing launches at 5 p.m. on the 2nd of February. I decided to grab a few words with Andy for ICN. Here’s how it went:
Gar: How will your work be exhibited? Will the original art be displayed? Will the art be enlarged?
 Andy: That’s 72 pages being blown up to A3. The gallery has portable walls on wheels set into three sections. And for the live ‘Newszoom’, that’ll pretty much appear as is, when it does.
 Gar: Newszoom, a topical twice-weekly comic sheet, will be produced during your six week residency. Tell the boys and girls at home more about that.
 Andy: Ok. I’ve a bit of a journalist/broadcast news background I’ve not practiced of late and this will be attempt to capture the old pipe smell and sense of an emerging heart attack. I’ll be up early (4 a.m.) taking the day’s news from a variety of sources and turning them into a comic. The total “pasting” will be two sides A3, and I’m aiming for it to be quite compact…as much as I can squeeze into that space.
These will be thrown up on the gallery walls by 12:30 each Tuesday and Thursday, also on the web ( or my twitter feed, and a run of print on demand sheets.
Gar: Print on demand? How many copies will you be expecting to have to print? I’ll pre-order all issues now if that’s OK.
Andy: Well I could run mail subs. The nature of the content makes them part-disposable, part-vital, hopefully. Hmmm. About 25p each and a bit for postage.
Or a Best Of.
Gar: A Best Of sounds good. Tell the boys and girls about the panel that is adapted from Joss Whedon’s Angel. Is this the panel from Don’t Get Lost? Why did the ADF choose to focus on this panel in particular, why is it significant in comparison to others?
(link to Don’t Get Lost: )
Andy: The panel is me sat in front of Alexis Denisof whose character is about to fight a doomed battle. In preparing, he turns down the soothing option of an escapism perspective. Fantastic episode, the last one. I guess in context of Don’t Get Lost, it’s about a charge to activism, and respecting your own limits. I’m not sure why the ADF chose it though, perhaps to keep me reigned in. One of the things I’m interested in talking over with the people I meet is that there is the notion of 24 hour comics and how the ‘rules’ aren’t really tailored to those with disabilities.
Gar: What rules or considerations would you like to see included in the 24 hour comics challenge?
Andy: I don’t know. I think considerations have to be defined by each cartoonist with regards to how they think and feel. There’s no catch all but it seems a point for discussion. The term “noble failure” is a bit off-putting.
Gar: I only tried it once. Seems to me you’re one of the few that actually gets the job done. I found it a casual enough thing.
Andy: I made the difficult decision not to do any more. My mum said she was a bit unhappy with the health risks and she has a strong point. I put myself at risk; no more 24 hour comics. I think I work brilliantly jamming in the hours though, so there’s got to be ways of replicating that approach in a shorter session.
(Andy nips to the loo as I suggest he make it 48 Hours with naps, a bit like how I approach a normal 24 hour day in general.)
Andy:  Heh. That seems sensible. A Marvel or DC comic is only 22 pages, depending on which you read. 16 sometimes. Maybe I should do another 24hr comic but approach advertisers first. If I get them to fill the pages it’ll be less for me to draw.
And I can buy German meats.
Gar:  Yeah., but you might end up doing the Hostess Twinkie cake ads.
Andy: Ah yes. I reckon they’re difficult to confine to one page. So, like I was saying, I’ll be asking audiences in the gallery what they think of my work in what the ADF call “Conversations” pieces. Essentially, an artist’s talk followed by a Q & A, so successful they’ve had to cap these at two hours.
Gar: Will both versions of Absence be featured in the show, your original and Stephen Downey’s reworking? 
Andy: Aha. The full version on the walls will be the original from Feb 2010 which feels a bit strange. We’ll have a few pages of Downey’s on the walls, perhaps as a comparison. The Downey version is now out of stock, so we’ll be getting together a new batch to give out to visitors, hopefully for free.
Gar: Do you still have the older stuff, like Andy Luke’s Comic Book or Bob’s? Will any of that work be featured?
Andy: I’m really not sure. Lately, I’ve been rushing together a batch of new Hold The Phones, It’s Alex Jones comics so I can print a complete collection. And Don’t Get Lost will be published in print for the first time, and sat alongside the new edition of Gran.
Gar: It sounds like it’s going to be a really good and interesting experience for you Andy. I hope it goes well. Could you give me some links where we’ll be able to keep posted and/or will you be keeping ICN up to date on progress?
 Andy: Yep, the ADF website and my own Twitter feed – no telling yet where Newszoom will end up online but those links and ICN seem pretty firm leads.
 Gar: To conclude, have you any old copies of that Brookside comic you did. I’ve wanted to see that since I first heard of it.
 Andy:  Ahh. I don’t know. They must be somewhere though.
Gar:  Have a look will you? A proper look.

Andy: Aw Jacqui….I could probably manage to conjure it up. Innit down the close.
And so our talk finished with me mulling over Andy’s last statement. Mulling it over in my mind. Over and over. Anyway, if you’re in Belfast, or bound in that direction at around that time, don’t forget to drop into Andy, have a look at his work and say howdy.