Ferguson’s 7 Questions With… Paul Carroll

On this edition of 7 Questions, we have a co-founder of Limit Break Comics, who have a lot of books on sale at DCC and a Kickstarter that just launched. It’s 7 Questions With… Paul Carroll.

What was the first comic work you did that was published?

The first script I’d written, that was properly intended as a comic, was Blood Bounty, published in Life & Death. (The wonderful Clare Foley did the art on that one!) The collection was all supernatural stories, my first attempt at putting out a solo book.

What is the biggest thing you have learned since that book?

Just one thing?

I think for me, outside of the actual writing process, I learned more about the production of comics from the publication of Life & Death than I expected to. It helped me to figure out the sort of work that really goes into putting a book together, a lesson that’s revised and revisited every time I put out a book. When it comes to making comics, there’s more to just writing the scripts and hoping it all looks the way you thought it would.

In small press, a writer can often take up the mantle of publisher. I was lucky with Limit Break Comics in that the pressure of building a brand wasn’t all on me, but when it comes to my own books, I still need to be responsible to speaking to critics and reviewers, lining up interviews, securing spaces at conventions – which fill way before the convention – and finding ways to market the book to wider audiences. All while working on the next one.

What is your process for writing a comic book?

My writing process for comics is about the same as it is for prose; I have to start with a plan, always, before I can write a script. With comics I tend to send a pitch to the artist in advance, so I can fix things before I write anything. There’ll still be editing involved later, but this way I get a first pass on the pacing across pages, and then I can move onto the busy work.

I have a tendency to jot down a couple of bullet points per page before writing a script – or breaking down every panel really roughly.

When it’s all written, I’ll go break it a little with a proverbial red pen before it goes to the artist.

What is the biggest influence on your work?

This varies widely depending on what I’m writing.

The work of Skottie Young – in particular, I Hate Fairyland – influences Meouch. For Plexus, I couldn’t pinpoint a single title; the broad spectrum of science fiction media tends to feed into what I want to write about and how it comes out in a script. When I write for Buttonpress Publications, I’ve been leaning towards Spider-Man as a character influence for The Wren, though I’ve to age it down a bit. Anything horror related recently is influenced rather heavily by The Magnus Archives from Rusty Quill, written by Jonathan Sims, without leaning into the specifics of what the characters deal with.

What are you working on right now?

From a writing standpoint, I’m working on some horror comics. A big part of that is a graphic novella, which I’m behind on thanks to some mental health stuff (thanks pandemic) and a broken wrist, but it’s a story that’ll come together in the script pretty quickly. Associated with it, but not connected to the story, are a bunch of shorts about a few homebrew cryptids I’ve had whirring around in my head for a while. 

What do you have out now or coming out next?

The last release was Turning Roads, my big ol’ anthology of Irish folklore comics. It’ll have its proper Irish convention launch at Dublin Comic Con this year. Launching with it will be Meouch #2 and Plexus #2, along with a host of other comics from Limit Break Comics.

For the first time since we launched in 2018, we’re publishing work from someone who wasn’t part of the original three creators. Seamus Kavanagh is joining the Limit Break team with Old Game Plus and a story in the first issue of Limit Break Presents, a sort of anthology series with no set release schedule. From the point of view of a publisher, it’s exciting to get to bring Seamus’s work to conventions going forward.
And of course, the spiritual sequel to Turning Roads – Down Below – is going to Kickstarter in March! 

What is your favourite Irish comic?

It’s really hard to pick a favourite, so I can only really talk about things that I’ve looked at or spoken to people about recently. From the small press community, an old favourite is Rabbit and Paul from Seán Hogan. On a completely different tone, Valerie by Rebecca Reynolds holds a really special place in my heart. It’s a really beautiful book. I’m also really loving Mr & Mrs Van Helsing from Hugh Madden and Aaron Fever, and they didn’t ask me to say that. I’m looking forward to when the story is completely published so I can read it all in one sitting.

Aside from those specific titles, I’m excited to see more work from Aaron Losty, Philip Barrett, and Debbie Jenkinson, and for Gary Moloney to get some more stories out in the wild!

From the pros, Scarenthood (IDW) by Nick Roche and Chris O’Halloran is a recent favourite publication. I’m a sucker for local horror. I’m also loving Time Before Time (Image) from Declan Shalvey, Rory McConville and co. Some slightly older work that I love is Half Past Danger from Stephen Mooney; something about those books just gets me excited to read them.