INTERVIEW: Jason Connors Of The Wren
I’m delighted to present an interview with the man behind one of Ireland’s most successful indie books of recent years. Jason Connors concieved The Wren in 2005 and over the course of a few years he worked to get his ideas in print with the help of several associates. Now with the next issue going to be the first to be done in full colour there is no better time to catch up with Jason and get an account of The Wren’s jurney so far and what is to come than right now.
David O’Leary: Hi Jason, Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.
Jason Connor: No, thank you sir for the opportunity.
DO’L: The Wren launched in 2007 in a collaboration with Mark, Sean and Phil. What circumstances brought you together as a group to bring this new title to comic stores?
JC: I think the idea came to me really around 2005 but didn’t seek to do anything about it until 2007. A conversation arose as they do in the pub and I mentioned to Phil what I wanted to do. Then the hard part started, actually creating the characters, city, and world in which your story takes place.
DO’L: The book is an entertaining all ages book in a time where all ages books are rare. What was the thinking behind making the book kid friendly when so much more material was being focused at a more mature audience?
JC: Honestly, it’s the kind of story I wanted to tell. U.S Superhero comics and cartoons is what I grew up on and still love. Comics purely aimed at adults do not really interest me. I am more of a Doug Tenapel or Paul Dini fan than Garth Ennis or Frank Miller.
DO’L: What character traits did you deem important when creating the protagonist Jack McCormack?
JC: Jack is twelve going on thirteen and so that naturally has its adolescence ups and downs. He is a boy at the start of an adventure and all the excitement it holds. He idolises the Flying Column and all they stand for. He knows the world he lives in is full of dark powers fighting to take control of Hibernia but he also knows sometimes the good guys win. His Mother fell defending Hibernia and this he aims to honour as best he can. He just needs to learn to listen and not jump in with both feet but that’s the adolescent boy coming to the fray. It’s funny when you write a character and they come to life on the page. It’s no longer what I want him to be but what he wants to be.
DO’L: The book is now running for five years this year. How can you look back at the earlier issues now with a more experienced eye and what do you make of the earlier efforts of the book?
JC: Issue one of the Wren actually came out in Dec 2009 but yeah, we had started working on it in 2007. This was something I never really had tackled on such a level before and so it was total learn as you go. Mark Kirwan came in and helped me work on plot while Phil Roe stepped up and took lettering on. We didn’t know initially what we were doing but it was fun learning. I think we could have spent years tweaking and tweaking and like many a comic book idea, it would have never made it to print. So, we just put it out and started. Looking back? Yeah, there are edits needed but no regrets. I recommend anyone who wants to tell their story, just go for it.
DO’L: Are there plans to collect the earlier issues in a trade?
JC: When issue six came out, we put the first five issues together as a trade. It sold out which was totally amazing but I think we will break it into two trades and some extra bits and pieces added this year. So yeah, volume one should hit this summer. We also are at the finishing stages on the website due the end of February and there is a facebook fan page already for people to check for updates on our progress and fan art by some well known names and the fans themselves.
DO’L: With the next issue of The Wren you are making the jump to full colour. What made you take the book in this artistic direction now?
JC: It has always been colour in my head and the one thing fans had said is that they wished it was in colour. It is an ongoing journey creating a comic book and colour is another hill to climb but it’s actually seems to be working, fingers crossed. I am loving the results so far. The Wren deserved to be told in colour and so I hope I do Jack and the readers justice.
DO’L: The next issue will be the eighth issue produced which is a great achievement in the small press industry during a tough economic time. What keeps driving all involved to produce and succeed?
JC: Jack McCormack is part of us now and his story needs to be told no matter how long it takes and we are very thankful first and foremost to the readers for jumping on board since issue one . That’s honestly what keeps us going.
DO’L: The books run has been quite centric on Dubh Lynn. Have you plans to set the book in other locations in future instalments?
JC: The first main story arc is set in Dubh-Lynn but yeah, plans are in place. The Wren is going to be having some great adventures across Hibernia and beyond.
DO’L: The book has a feel of a Saturday morning cartoon. Was this a deliberate influence and if so what ‘toons were forefront in your minds while creating the book?
JC: Totally, Ben 10 is my hero! as is Secret Saturdays, Earthworm Jim, Transformers, Generator Rex, Darkwing Duck, Scooby Doo, Looney Toons, everything by Bruce Timm etc etc etc. All these things are in the liquidiser that is my brain mixed with Nigthwing, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Superboy, Supergirl, Jinglebelle, Power Pack, Young Justice, Teen Titans etc etc etc. Not to mention tons of European Folklore, Natural History. You get the picture.
DO’L: I loved Earthworm Jim. 🙂 What does the next year mean to the company in terms of a production schedule?
JC: Well, we have a couple of parties interested in getting involved but it’s early days yet. The plan is to get the issues 8, 9 and 10 out this year, two graphics of earlier issues, and one spin –off project and another title up and running.
DO’L: Thanks for your time Jason, take care.
JC: Thanks so much to ICN for the awesome support they give the Wren. We truly are grateful guys.
DO’L: You’re very welcome, best of luck this year.