warren ellis in Galway

Warren Ellis makes his point, fuelled by Red Bull

Last night at the National University of Galway the Literary and Debating Society and the Comic Book Society showcased a public interview with legendary British comic book writer Warren Ellis.

When I arrived for the event I met Galway cartoonist/caricaturist Allan Cavanagh and writer/editor Stan Carey, and we all sat together. This turned out to be a dogsend because we discovered the Lit and Deb Soc were going to have an hour of their usual debates before the event. Thus, the three of us were subjected to two discussions: “That the House Welcomes the Queen of England to Ireland with Open Arms” and “That the House Endorses Gender Quotas in Politics”.

Alas, the ensuing debates were low on intellectual rigour, and during the second debate Allan and I were barely restraining ourselves from raising our hands to punch holes in the slack arguments (plus the proposer never clearly defined his proposition). Needless to say the House rejected both the propositions, and in the last one Allan and were the among the few people to raise our hands in favour of it.

Thank goodness for Warren Ellis, who perked us all up with his insights to the comic book industry and a discussion about his various projects. His opening observation that he was so hoarse from a cold that it was like he was ‘gargling maggots’ established his forthright and humorous tone.

It’s also a sign of how the industry has changed from when Warren entered it that he expressed a reticence at offering advice at how to start in the field now. He stressed the importance of getting one’s work in print (even if it was just photocopied pages), because that’s where mistakes are spotted.

It was a fascinating, entertaining evening, with lively questions from the audience.

After the talk a crush of people descended upon Warren with material for his signature, and I lingered until most of them had faded away. Then I handed over my copy of Fell issue 1 for an autograph. Afterwards, it was back to the pub for more conversation.

I was delighted to catch up with my mate Will Collins (screenwriter of My Brothers and Song of the Sea), Brian Curley from SubCity Comics in Galway and to meet Declan Shalvey, an excellent Irish comic book artist who is now working for Marvel. Declan is part of the Eclectic Micks collaborative blog, which is the place to visit if you want to become acquainted with even a small sample of the fine artistic talent emerging from Ireland today.

I also chatted with a number of the members of NUIG’s Comic Book Society, and it was a pleasure to spend the time in the company of people who are passionate and knowledgeable about comic books.

I returned home far later than I expected.

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