ICN Hall Of Fame Class Of 2021: Tommie Kelly

Around May 2013, I started a comics blog to talk about the stuff I like and do some reviews. I wasn’t really as into the Irish scene at the time so I was surprised when I got a message from then ICN chief, Tommie Kelly, to contribute to the website. I was already a fan of Tommie’s work (The Holy Numbers is in my top 5 Irish books) so was delighted to be asked. I asked his successor (and my predecessor) Dave O’Leary to induct him.

“It is with great pleasure that I can induct into ICN’s Hall of Fame for 2021, our founder and Irish Comics indomitable advocate, Tommie Kelly.

Tommie’s impact on the Irish Comics scene cannot be underestimated as his vision for bringing together the Irish comics community as well as his own catalogue of work in the field ensures that he is most deserving of the award.

I first met Tommie on June 18th 2011 at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin when I was writing for overseas sites and using being based in Ireland to cover, in part, Irish comics and creators for those sites. I was covering a small convention that featured the likes of Rob Curley, Alan Nolan, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, the late Stephen Coffey and more when over the course of the day I got to talking with Tommie who told me about an idea of his that centred on founding an Irish site that wished to cover the Irish comics scene and its creators using the forum to champion and enhance with heightened exposure these ambitious and creative projects. I was asked to join as contributor and to this day can still look back fondly on my time with ICN thanks to Tommie.

With the promise that amateur and professional creators would be afforded equal time and with the aim that ICN be a bed of positivity for creators to look proudly on their works, it was an easy sell to come on board. ICN under the editorial eye of Tommie hit the ground running with an eircom web award nomination in 2012 a particular highlight of those early days.

But Tommie was just as busy churning out his own works as well being responsible for the founding of ICN. His body of work in the Irish comics fields still stands on his own today with Road Crew, a humour strip loosely based on his own experiences as a roadie and sound engineer for rock bands remaining a favourite of mine in Irish comics and the likes of The Holy Numbers and Down being well received. Tommie has also had illustrations on Arctic explorer Leopold McClintock displayed at Dundalk Museum.

In June 2021, ICN will reach the incredible milestone of being 10 years old and it really is in no small part because of the vision that Tommie had that allows to this day creators, small and big an outlet to shout out about their works surrounded by likeminded fans of this passion of ours. Tommie truly merits this accolade and his position in Irish Comics Hall of Fame is wholly deserved.”