THE BIG INTERVIEW: Darrin O'Toole Gives ICN A Look Behind The Scenes At His List of Projects

We’re delighted to be joined today by Dublin writer Darrin O’Toole. Since bursting on the Irish comic scene last Autumn with the critically acclaimed ‘Tales From The Void’ O’Toole has teased a number of projects recently so it seemed like the right time to catch up with him to get all the info on a number of projects. Hardly an overnight success with some projects being concieved as far back as 2003, O’Toole has bided his time to begin releasing his projects with this interview getting a scoop on his new project later this year from Arcana Studios. To see all this hard working creator has going on, read on…
David O’Leary: Hi Darrin, thanks for joining us.
Darrin O’Toole: Thanks Dave.
DO’L: You landed with a splash last Autumn with the release of Tales From The Void. Were there any other projects for you prior to this?
DO’T: I had several scripts written but hadn’t moved them any further than script stage. I had the scripts for several issues of Streamliners complete, plus most of Earthruler in the bag, plus two other books, “Anarchrists” and “The Unnaturals”. I decided last year to start taking these and other ideas to the next level. Oddly, circumstances all kind of lead me to hold these and go another route, so Tales from the Void became the logical launch project for me.

 

‘Singularity by Amrit Birdi’

DO’L: We are several months removed from Tales release, can you tell us your reaction at the critical acclaim lauded on the book?
DO’T: I’m delighted with how Tales from the Void has been received, both by readers and those in the industry. The books received some great reviews and sales have been extremely good. The biggest thing for me was to show a range, hence the short story format of my first comic. It meant there was hopefully a tale in there for everyone’s tastes. I’m thankful of the pros that took time to read it and its kind of been a springboard to acceptance as someone who is serious about their writing, but ultimately they were short stories and I’m looking forward to showing more depth and range over the next few books.
DO’L: You came in to the tail end of last year with several books at various stages of production. Can you tell us at what stage these books are now at?
DO’T: Earthruler is nearest completion with it at colour stage right now. The plan is to release it as 2 60 page trades rather than release it as 6 issues. It looks like we’ll have book one ready for DICE.
Lady Babylon has two scripts done and Finnish artist Juha Veltti is working on it right now. Lady Babylon is a pretty complex book in terms of its tone, so Juha will be using several different art styles and techniques. If you are a Vertigo fan then this would be the book I write that you may like. It’s on course for an early Summer release and I cant wait to get it out there as it’s got some wonderful characters in there in Leila Waddell and Aleister Crowley.
Streamliners has scripts done but is awaiting the artist to free up for it, whilst High Rise, my tale of growing up in Ballymun in the 80’s, is with an artist at the moment so I hope to have that one to close out the year.

‘Earthruler by Shawn Langley. Colours 

DO’L: What can you tell us of your work on the Markosia anthology this March?
DO’T: The “British Showcase Anthology” is packed full of some of Britains’ top up and comers. It’s a sci-fi/horror anthology. I have two stories in there, “Singularity” which is drawn by the amazing Amrit Birdi, and then I bring A. Kaviraj on board for “Bodyjocks”. Both are entirely different stories and the art that’s come back so far has been amazing! It looks like it will hit Previews Mar/April for a Sept/Oct release.
DO’L: You are doing an online comic for Irish Comic Book month this March with Barry Keegan, do you have any story details on that one?
DO’T: Yes! Once I heard of Irish Comic Book Month, I just had to get involved. I managed to rope Barry onboard despite his big workload. We are keeping the story close to our chest for now, but I wanted to write something about Ireland and about heroism. We’ve come up with something pretty touching and I think people will enjoy it and not expect it.

‘Lady Babylon by Juha Veltti’

DO’L: It looked like you got a good response to putting Perspective on line for free several weeks ago. Is this something you’d like to repeat?
DO’T: To be honest when I did, I didn’t know what to expect. It picked up great momentum and I thought it might get 1000 reads, but a little over a month later and its at over 3600 reads, thanks in huge part to promotion from ICN, bleedingcool.com and it being retweeted by some great comics pros.
I decided once it hit 2000 reads that I’ll do 3-4 per year, and use them to be more experimental, and work with creators that I otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to.
DO’L: Word broke yesterday (Monday) of work at Arcana later this year. Is it too early to tease details?
DO’T: This kind of came out of nowhere. My regular collaborator A. Kaviraj was working on a story for the second volume of their “Steampunk Originals” line of books. The story wasn’t working so I was asked by him to step in and write a new story. We had just 8 days to turn it around, including colours and letters, but we work extremely fast so we got it in just in time, thanks to our colourist Lancelot Catan and letterer Magnus working non stop to hit the deadline. The book should be ready around November, so hopefully I’ll have it in time for Thought Bubble.
 
DO’L: You appear to have struck lucky with the high calibre of artists on your books with one I believe even going on to work at Marvel. How do you go about sourcing your collaborators?
DO’T: As a writer, this is the hardest part to making comics. I had to shelve projects until the right artist came along. Thankfully nowadays there are great places like digitalwebbing and deviantArt where you can find artists, but it requires a lot of work to find the right mix of talent and professionalism on those sites. I found A. Kaviraj and Juha Veltti thanks to this approach, and even came across John Tyler Christopher on there some years ago, who was working on “Streamliners” with me before he got snapped up by Image and Marvel. Thankfully the cover for issue 1 is drawn by him  and looks amazing.
“Earthruler” artist Shawn Langley came to my attention thanks to Mark Waid, who retweeted some of his work, so I reached out and it was the right project for him to take up, so it was a case of right person at the right time. Amrit Birdi, who is drawing “Singularity” came to my attention by bringing his portfolio to my table at Thought Bubble, I took one look and just had to work with him!
DO’L: You obviously do a large job selling yourself. You clearly have some success stories but do you have advice for budding creators
going down this route?

DO’T: The main thing I find to work is to be professional. I try to be fast, courteous and respectful with the creators I’m lucky enough to work with. I also think it’s important to only sell yourself when you have something to sell…people probably think I’ve come out of nowhere this year, but I’ve been working on these projects since 2003, and kept a low profile until I thought I was ready to get these books out and only then started promoting them. Also put work out! Every editor I’ve spoken to or heard speak says the same thing, if you want to break into comics, then make comics.
It’s also important to seek advice from those that know the business, professionals, retailers and editors. Sometimes the advice isnt always what you want to hear, but if these people are willing to give it, then you should be willing to listen to it.
DO’L: Apart from the above, do you have anything else on your plate this year?
DO’T: Well I am working on a project with the amazing Gary Reynolds and some others which is a reboot of a classic animated series. I’ve also got my novel “The Pantheon Bell” to complete and hopefully some more stuff stateside for the second half of the year.
DO’L: Darrin, thanks for your time take care.
DOT: Thanks and thank you for the support of Irish comics!