Interview: Lightning Strike Publisher Eoin McAuley

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2015 is going to be a big year for Lightning Strike so I thought I’d have a long overdue (on ICN’s side) interview with Publisher Eoin McAuley about the history of Lightning Strike, his role and about some of his own projects.

How did you first get involved with Lightning Strike?

In the summer of 2011 I had just completed my first year in Trinity College studying history and went about finding summer work. Unfortunately, the economic climate at the time was not favourable for the jobseeker and my options were few and far between. But then in a local Tallaght newspaper I came across an article about a new grant being awarded to 16-25 year olds who could present a good business plan.

I’ve always held a strong interest in comic books and had just read ‘Supergods’ by Grant Morrison and was totally enthralled by his early accounts of breaking into the comic industry. Putting two and two together in my head, I came up with a business plan for a new comic book label and called it Lightning Strike Comics. The name was inspired by Morrison’s reference to the significance of lightning in superhero mythology.

At the same time I began hanging out at Dublin City Comics on Bolton Street which served as a real hub of creativity and met other like minded individuals. Among those I met was Robert Carey who suggested the idea for an anthology book. Robert put together the first creative teams for our first anthology and within a year Lightning Strike was in print.

Unfortunately, the grant which I applied for (a government sponsored grant) just disappeared without a trace. So we had a book ready to print and our first con table sponsored by Dublin City Comics for Kapow! but no money to print.

Fortunately, I managed to raise the funds and get the book in print and since then we have gone on to print 6 editions of our anthology (it will be 8 by the end of the summer), work on two video game adaptations and we have several other custom projects currently in the works. All in all the Lightning Strike con table displays eight different products ranging from video games to graphic novels to anthology comic books and one-shots.

You’re the Publisher, what does that involve?

As Publisher for Lightning Strike Comics responsibility for bringing a book print lies solely with me. It is up to our many contributors to produce the material for print and for our editors like Ciarán Marcantonio to coordinate teams and set make sure they meet in house deadlines. But when all is done it is up to me ensure that everyone’s work was not in vain and that our books are printed and ready in time for whatever deadline we have set (usually a convention).

I am sent a final PDF of our latest book from editorial. I then arrange the data storage for the file and delivery to the printers. From here a PDF proof from the printers is delivered and I proof that. Once I give the OK the book goes to printed proof. The printed proof is delivered in a matter of days and I examine it to make sure everything is OK and then I confirm the main print job. Once this is complete and the books are shipped to me and I then deliver them to the next con we are attending.

The invoice for printing is then paid by me and all necessary paperwork is completed (bank drafts, VAT, ISSN registration, postal tracking, etc.). My role mostly involves a lot of paperwork and admin work but I always contribute Lightning Strike’s continued growth to the fact that we have someone in our organisation focused on this role which allows the creative teams to be free from having to worry about it. They complete the work and have peace of mind in knowing it will see print.

I also handle Lightning Strike’s finances, I make sure our bills are paid and our con tables are covered. I’m also on hand to sell our books at shows and interact with our customers.
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You’ve had a lot of creators and stories published over the years. Is there anything that stands out?

I’ve always seen Lightning Strike as one big collaboration. Imagine it as a fine tapestry, each and every story and book makes up one strand in that tapestry but to pick one out would unravel it. So I find it impossible to pick a stand out project, I just really admired every story that has come our way and feel blessed to have met so many talented people to collaborate with.

2015 is going to be a big year for Lightning Strike with 3 issues of anthology, your Sherlock Holmes project and Afterworld. You must be a busy guy!

It has been quite busy in the office the last few days but also productive! Ciarán is keeping our anthologies on track while I focus on getting Afterworld and the Sherlock book to print. Afterworld looks fantastic, it is a new mini-series from Stephen and Robert Carey. We previewed a part of it at Cork Comic Expo last April and we will have another preview ready for Arcade Con next weekend. We’re aiming for an August release but pre-orders are already open at irishcomicimprint@gmail.com.

Can you tell us a little your Sherlock Holmes book?

Yes I can. The Sherlock Holmes book is called the ‘Life and Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’. We’re producing it as a Dublin Comic Con exclusive (it won’t be on sale anywhere else after the show) and all proceeds are going to Temple Street Hospital, Crumlin hospital and Tallaght Hospital’s Children’s Ward. The story is also being produced with the kid permission of the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate.

The story itself is a short narrative contained in a letter by an elderly Dr Watson re-capping the life of his friend Holmes. A number of illustrators will be contributing to the story including; Mike Collins, Stephen Downey, Robert Carey, Cormac Hughes, John McFarlane, Oisin Roche, Alice Coleman, Amrit Birdi and Paul Bolger with a special pin-up by Nick Roche and introduction by Simon Furman. All illustrations will be in black and white to reflect the original illustrations of Holmes by Sidney Paget.

You can reserve a copy at the show to be collected at the Lightning Strike Table by e-mailing comics@dublincomiccon.com and putting Holmes Comic in the subject.
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I’m a Doctor Who fan so I really enjoyed your Twelfth Doctor short story. What was the background behind that?

Thanks. I did a short two page story called ‘The Doctor’s New Clothes’ on spec for the editorial team of Titan Comics. Nothing came of it but I still wanted to share it as Oisin Roche did a fantastic job on the art work and Miriam Abuin on lettering. I’m working on a few other spec scripts for Dr Who and hopefully we’ll see what happens. You can catch the Dr Who Pages over on my twitter account @mapscauley.
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Have you more of your own work on the horizon?

At the moment I’m lining up a few other books to publish for people but not much in the way of my own writings after Sherlock. But I have been approached to do some lecturing on the subject of entrepreneurship and comic publishing so we’ll see what happens there.

What’s in the future for Lightning Strike?

We have a revamped website rearing to go, once all of our books are wrapped up I can launch it. I have at least one new book ready to add to the label and of course we have the Speakeasy graphic novel by Bob Etchingham still available and LS #6-#8 lined up as well as Afterworld. I’m also planning a trip to NYCC and will be doing some networking for Lighting Strike.

I also want to take the time to thank ICN and all of their contributors for the stellar work that they do here in supporting the Irish scene and wish you all the best with your continued work.