Back At The Belfast Mart: An Interview With Roddy McCance

Originally published on the Belfast Comic Mart website. Reprinted with permission.

Local writer Roddy McCance returns to Belfast Comic Mart in February and we had a chat with him about comics and more!

BCM: Before comics what did you do or aspire to do?

Roddy: I’m not really sure there was a ‘before comics’ with me. Ever since I was young I was into comic books. One of the first series of graphic novels I bought was Titan’s reprints of 1980’s Transformers; I was a huge Transformers fan ever since I was a kid and as a teenager I devoured those books. Obviously can’t wait for the Transformers themed Comic Mart! I always wanted to be a writer of some kind, then when I was in my early 20’s I went to University and got a bit lost.

When I was 27 or so and going through a really bad time, I just thought I tried everything else, so why not try to follow a dream I’ve had since I was young. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, not just in comics, but in prose and poetry too and I feel like I’m making good headway at the moment. I think my 18 year old self would be happy with how I turned out.

BCM: How did you get in to writing comics?

Roddy: I don’t know if I can pinpoint it. It always lingered in the back of my head, but then one day I just took it seriously and decided that I can do it. I joined Comics Experience, a really great forum for learning about comics and it was vital in my development. I started learning about the craft of writing (and more specifically reading books/comics on writing comics). Then I just started writing my scripts. I had a lifetime of ideas built up and I was always writing notes and ideas down, but I never really crafted anything from start to finish and comics helped me do that. I started to get quite prolific after a while and then I’d always heard writing short comics and submitting them to anthologies was the best way to ‘break in’ so I tried to do that and I think I was relatively successful at it, or maybe I was lucky in that I got accepted by a few different anthologies!

BCM: As a burgeoning comic writer who would you say are your influences?

Roddy: I usually tell people that I don’t really have any influences from comics, maybe I do and it’s clearer to a reader than it is to me. I feel like most of my influences come from music, film and literature. I love Richard Linklater films like Before Sunrise, Slacker and Boyhood and many more. I love stories that have meaning and a message, but can also entertain.

Music is a big thing for me, I usually am happy enough reading a book and sticking my headphones on. Those are the things that inspire the stories for a lot of my stuff. In terms of people writing in comics, I love Scott Snyder and his ability to create emotional stories full of drama and I’ll always love anything by Brian K. Vaughn, he’s just a phenomenal writer. So I love those two and they maybe influence me in terms of craft and creativity with their work and it’s how amazing how prolific they are.

BCM: Who, in the comic industry, would you most like to meet and why?

Roddy: I think the comic industry is pretty open, like I have been lucky enough to meet some of my favourite writers and artists at conventions. I love how the comic industry is very open like that. Most creators are very visible and there’s loads of artists I’d love to meet. Alex Ross is one of my favourite artists, so I’d love to meet him and tell him how incredible his stuff is. I guess I’d like to meet some more editors to discuss working together haha!

BCM: What are you working on currently?

Roddy: I’m actually working on quite a lot, trying to juggle a few different projects is a tough one. Rolands Kalnins and I make The Night Terrors Podcast it’s a mixed media project with a webcomic and podcast working together to tell a story.

At the moment I’m trying to write the podcast version of the first episode. While I’m doing that I’m also working on the follow up to Tales Of The Fractured Mind which is a sci-fi anthology called Tales Of Fractured Worlds.

I have a lot of different artists working on the various different short stories, so it’s pretty crazy to try and organise it all. If that isn’t enough I’m also writing on Tales Of The Fractured Mind 2 and on a miniseries, which I can’t really say more about!

To top all of that though, we are going to be creating a comic with Inspire (a mental health charity) here in Northern Ireland with service users from a creative writing class I took. Oh and while I’m not currently working on it, there is a Kickstarter currently active, which I was involved in about David Bowie, it’s a really cool project with loads of amazing creators and artists involved.

BCM: Is there any single project you have worked on that you are most proud of?

Roddy: I’m really proud of all my stuff so far. ‘Top Ropes Blues’ which was in Kayfabe: A Wrestling anthology was the first story I got published, so it has a special meaning for me. I got into the British Showcase Anthlogy #2 and that was great cause it was the first publisher I worked for. Then I have ‘He Calls You Home’ which was published by FutureQuake Press and that was cool cause I got to write a folk horror set in Northern Ireland and I love this part of the world. (I’m trying to develop HCYH into a miniseries at the moment too, forgot to mention that). I had ‘On The Shelf’ published in a GrayHaven Comics anti-bullying anthology and I think that was the start of the socially conscious comics thing for me.

I think though what I’m most proud of is Tales Of The Fractured Mind – it’s an anthology of stories about mental health that was funded through Kickstarter. It’s amazing to see how far it has come in less than a year. I’ve put about almost 3 years of my life into it, beginning with the first story I wrote. It’s been a really amazing experience and I’m really proud of what both Rolands and I did with it.

It’s given me so many opportunities, such as attending conventions and gaining experience with that side of comics, but it’s also given me an opportunity to work with Inspire and most importantly it has helped people from the feedback I’ve been given. That is an amazing feeling to me and certainly one I don’t take lightly.

BCM: So how did you and the artist on “Tales of The Fractured Mind” Rolands Kalnins come to work together as he lives over in Latvia?

Roddy: Rolands and I actually met on the internet and only met in person for the very first time when he came over to visit (and take part in the very first Comic Mart!). I was working on a script for the night terrors and it got accepted into an anthology. Unfortunately it all fell through and the artist that was working on it fell out with the publisher leaving me in a strange limbo. I just stuck up an advert one day and got talking to Rolands. I think we just ended up clicking, he’s got a great work ethic and his art work is incredible!

BCM: What’s your favourite current comic book?

Roddy: I tend to buy a lot of #1’s and see what I stick with, I also get graphic novels and back a lot of Kickstarter’s so I’m not super into the new comic market, which might sound bad! Oh dear. I really am enjoying Batman: White Knight and Mr. Miracle, they’re both amazing DC titles and I also love the Dastardly and Muttley series.I think my favourite series is Head Lopper though, it’s just a beautiful book and it’s finishing up another run in December. You can’t go wrong with Southern Bastards either and there’s a whole ton of amazing indie comics and comics on Kickstarter that are just pushing what comics can do.