This evening, from 7pm – 9.30pm, in the Odessa Club in Dublin, will see the first meeting of Laydeez do Comics – Dublin.
Our guests speakers will be the multi-talented writers/artists Sarah McIntyre, Alan Nolan, and Maeve Clancy.
It’s the perfect event for anyone who loves comics or enjoys hearing creative professionals discuss their craft. All welcome!
Laydeez do Comics is an international network of meetings celebrating the diverse expressions of the comic book medium. Started in 2009 in London, it now has groups across the UK, America, and now Ireland.
It should be a fun and informative meeting tonight, so I hope many of you can make it along.
There are times when I go into the woods and it seems to open up and show me vistas of ethereal beauty. Those heart-stopping moments don’t always translate well to photographs. Photographing inside of woods is difficult. It tends to come out as one undifferentiated blob. Plus, there is the constant problem of the shade from the canopy (as a rule I never use a flash).
Every now and again the mystery combines with good light and gives me a decent image.
Of course, like all images this is just an approximate, but it is close enough to make me smile.
Today I found entire sections of Coole Park carpeted in bluebells. It was transcendent. The light didn’t help me out, alas, but I got a couple of decent images.
Minnie even got into the action.
But, there are many plants and flowers at this time of the year pushing up and out, which are just as attractive, but easily overlooked.
I love ferns. They are ancient plants, and a testament to the durability of good design. At this time of the year they practically radiate green life.
And the ordinary, ever-lovely daisy. I’m constantly charmed by this flower. I cannot imagine how anyone would not want a lawn speckled with them.
We are always surrounded by beauty. Even in the smallest, most ordinary things.
I recently had a few encounters with creatures, both in my house and about. I try to get to a camera to capture these instances if I can.
For instance there was the spider in my sink. It spent a lot of time trying to escape, and I checked on its progress on a couple of occasions. Clearly it was not going to make the vertical climb. It stopped, probably exhausted by its failures. Eventually I encouraged it onto the silicon spoon holder that I keep beside my cooking hob – hence the science fiction landscape.
That’s a scary looking creature up close.
Yet, I appreciate the fact that spiders eat other pesky insects, so I never kill them. I release them outside where they can menace the fly population. I’ve lived in houses where I was the designated ’spider-catcher’. I’m not a fan of touching spiders, but I do prefer to rescue them from terrified humans, and let the spiders get on with productive lives.
And always I’m intrigued with what we designate weird or disgusting or gross. These creatures have a purpose, and when it is at odds with us we have no issue destroying them. And fair enough, I have no love of ants, mosquitoes, or flies, but there are birds and spiders that eat them. I try to force myself to check my innate revulsions and be a grown-up about these things.
Here’s a great example.
I do not like slugs. They creep me out, and if you are a gardener you probably hate them. The other evening in the woods it was slugappaloosa – they were all over the paths, and I was practically doing hopscotch to get around them.
I forced myself to hunker down and take some shots of them. They were quite shy and retracted their horns as soon as they sensed my proximity. Up close, they become something different – strange and kind of alluring. I wondered how they perceived the world, and what my giant presence signalled to them. An otherworldly encounter between two alien beings.
Another swallow flew into my house. I must be on their flight path. On this occasion the door was only open a few moments, and it darted in while I was loading bags into my car. Minnie the dog got quite excited by this one as it flew about a lot more. I thought it was going to do a Houdini and escape through the open door (a rare feat for panicked birds), but it flew at the blocked windows like all the rest.
I caught it and let it go. This time Minnie gave it a great barking farewell – ‘And don’t come back!’
This lovely chap (or chapess) was in a pet shop. A sedate, inquisitive parrot, with intelligent eyes. It was crawling about on top of its huge cage, and apparently the shop attendants weren’t concerned about it trying to leave. When it whistled I repeated the pattern. It paused, and tried a new one, which I then copied. It liked this. I was its echo for a while. Basic communication, but sweet.
Finally an image of Minnie, who ran into shot while I was taking pictures of the wooded path. I liked the patterns of the evening shadows. In the light, and blurred movement, she appears more like a giant feline prowling through the forest.
Or perhaps a wolf.
I’m sure there are moment when she leaps through the undergrowth and in her heart the memories of a wilder age stirs.
Fri, 17 May 2013 2D 2013
I’m delighted to announce I’ve been asked to be a guest at 2D, the Northern Ireland Comics Festival, which is happening from 30 May – 2 June in Derry. It will be my third year attending and my second year as a guest.
There is a fantastic list of talented artists and writers attending (including Rob Curley – so Atomic Diner will be well represented). Since this year Derry is Europe’s City of Culture the festival has been extended, and Saturday and Sunday the comic book fair will be in the Millennium Forum (free entry!), along with the Heroes & Legends show. As usual on Friday and Saturday evening there will be discussion panels in Sandinos.
2D is one of the most welcoming comic book festivals I’ve attended. Dave Campbell and his team, who run the behind-the-scenes organisation, are friendly, helpful, and hard-working. It’s a treat just to go, and a privilege to be asked as a guest.
I’m looking forward to catching up with friends and colleagues during the weekend, and geeking out about comics.
Wed, 15 May 2013 at home
I visited my parents for a couple of days recently. They have a lovely home and a beautiful garden, thanks to the hard work of both my parents.
My mother had a small arrangement in a little vase by the kitchen window, which looked amazing in the sunlight.
The weather is completely bipolar at the moment – one minute happy, glorious sunshine, and the next moment despairing grey skies and hailstones! All aided by gusting wind.
But, whenever we had sun I tired to take advantage and snap some images. The close up of that flower display was magical when the light hit it right.
When I had a small snack that afternoon my Mom placed the vase of flowers beside my food. There are times when such a small touch of beauty and thoughtfulness breaks your heart with love.
And in the garden there were very tall bluebells – over two feet tall in some cases. It was a lovely sight for me, as I’m bluebell mad and the season is pretty much at its peak now.
Scattering among the violent bluebells were some pink ones, which looked gorgeous whenever we had a spell of sunshine.
It’s funny how ‘home’ can still mean ‘where my parents live’, despite having left the house many, many years ago.
Mon, 13 May 2013 brewing
The other morning I was brewing my first herbal tea of the day. I was using a small steel infuser ball, and it was sitting in a glass cup. Just at that moment the sun streamed through a temporary gap in the clouds, and bathed everything in warm light.
I picked the cup up ready to leave for my computer, and about a second later my brain issued a stop notice.
I had seen a particularly lovely reflection from the light going through the cup and onto the counter. I was going to ignore it, and get on with work, but instead, I quickly found my camera, replaced the cup and started taking images. I had to wait as the sun was playing tag with the clouds, but my patience paid off.
Then I had a look at the infuser in the glass cup. All the colour from the tea remained at the bottom of the water. Viewed up close the steel infuser looked stranger.
I’m often taken by how differently ordinary objects appear when you view them up close, or just examine them properly. We use so many objects every day we forget to consider them at all.
It reminded me of a photo I was pretty sure I’d never uploaded. I searched it out this morning and put it up on my Flickr stream, as it’s nicely themed with this post.
A couple of summers ago I grew a plentiful peppermint plant just outside my door. I had a glass teapot, and would infuse the leaves for a gorgeous peppermint tea regularly. It kept the plant trimmed, and made me happy. The bright, fresh scent alone was enough to put a smile on my face.
One morning I took this image of the light coming through the teapot and and how the leaves, light, and water interacted.
My teapot recently departed to the great recycling bin in the park, but at least I took the few minutes to stop, and consider how beautiful it looked that morning.
My dog Minnie doesn’t like being photographed. Mainly I take to take images of her when she’s not looking – when she’s occupied sniffing at something in the woods she doesn’t care if I snap some images of her. Otherwise I have to pester her to get a good shot.
Yesterday I was delighted to see bluebells in a spot in my local woods where I’ve never seen them grow before. I stopped to take some photos and Minnie sat further up the hill and got into the shot.
Minnie gets very impatient when I pause to take photos on our walks together. After all, in her opinion it’s a walk, not a walk, and stop. She’ll sit down a little ways ahead of me, and emit occasional whines of protest.
I often wish Minnie had a slightly different temperament. She’s not a dog that likes hugs or cuddles – she tolerates them, but prefers her own space.
But, she is who she is. I’m sure she often wishes I was different – someone who walked her three times a day, fed her nine times a day, and played with her twelve times a day.
I guess neither of us are exactly as the other wants.
But on the days when I take her to the beach, all is forgiven. Then, both of us are happy.
She is caught up in the multitude of smells and the play in the waves, and her joy and delight makes me smile.
There is nothing like a happy, grinning dog to cheer you up.
It’s another entry about comics today, with the newly-released cover of Jennifer Wilde, issue 3, which was drawn by the wonderfully-talented Stephen Downey.
This concludes the three-issue arc I’ve written, which is called ‘Unlikely Revolutionaries’. I’ve had a blast writing the fabulous pairing of Jennifer Chevalier – artist, ghost speaker, and amateur detective – and Oscar Wilde – poet, playwright, and fashionista.
This issue sees them finish their three-nation tour and land in Ireland in 1921. All going well the comic should be published by Atomic Diner Comics in the coming weeks.
The art and lettering is by Stephen Downey, the script is by me, and it was created by Robert Curley.
Here’s something to cheer my heart, the cover of Róisín Dubh, issue 3, drawn by Stephen Byrne.
This issue should be released by Atomic Diner in the next month or so. It will be great to have all three issues out.
I’ve had a busy day so there’s not been much time for blogging. And yet, there exists an itch to put something down. These days when I get like this I start looking at photos and see what pops up.
I look this photo a couple of days ago. I’m not sure what it was about the subject that beckoned to me. It got flagged in my peripheral vision, and caused me to take a step back, pause, and take the shot quickly. There was a pleasing quality about the composition.
The double ivy sitting like two lonely hearts upon a severed trunk. Love (growth) despite death?
What is it that attracts some of us to a person, object, or place, and not another? Something as mundane as ivy on a tree – there is ivy all over the forest – can in a fleeting glance seem worthy of immortalising.
Taste is such a personal, temporal thing.