Northern Ireland comic fans will get a chance to meet the authors and artist of a stunning-looking, brand-new supernatural graphic novel, The Witches of Islandmagee, at Forbidden Planet International, Belfast, later this month.
The Witches of Islandmagee is a brand-new supernatural graphic novel by Dr Andrew Sneddon and Dr Victoria McCollum, absolutely loaded with haunting visuals by artist David Campbell, set on a misty isolated peninsula on the coast of County Antrim. It’s based on the successful history of Islandmagee witches by Andrew, Possessed By the Devil, released in 2013, that book getting a re-release later this year.
In 1711, in County Antrim, eight women were put on trial accused of orchestrating the demonic possession of young Mary Dunbar, and the haunting and supernatural murder of a local clergyman’s wife.
Mary Dunbar, a woman with demons of her own, began a quest to root the evil out of her village. She was the star witness in this trial, and the women were, by the standards of the time, believable witches – they smoked, they drank, they just did not look right.
With echoes of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, in fact Mary Dunbar repeated many of the reports from the Salem Wtich-trials word for word in court. This is a story of murder, of hysteria, and of how the ‘witch craze’ that claimed thousands of lives in Europe between 1300 and 1750 played out on Irish shores.
The stakes are real. The Devil is real. This is a spine-tingling feminist folktale of fear and faith set in Northern Ireland.
The launch event on Saturday 25th February 2023 for the graphic novel at Forbidden Planet International, Belfast, will include a Meet n’ Greet, giveaways, Live Drawing, Signings and Special Edition Copies will be available. Everyone’s Invited! Quiet rebels, leaners-out and introverts especially welcome.
The Witches of Islandmagee – The Creators Creating 1711…
Dr Andrew Sneddon is a social and cultural historian, with a special interest in Britain and Ireland, viewed in an international context. He’s a leading expert on the history of Irish witchcraft and magic and has published widely in leading, international academic journals, as well as edited collections, in the fields of British and Irish early modern social, medical and political history (c.1550-1800).
In addition to presenting papers at academic conferences, both national and international, he gives talks to local community, heritage and educational groups, and is working with leading practitioners to turn his books into museum exhibitions, graphic novels, VR apps, and video games.
His latest book, Representing Magic in Modern Ireland: Belief, History and Culture was published in paperback last year, by Cambridge University Press. He is currently writing a monograph for Cambridge University Press (Disability and Magic in early Modern Britain and America), and editing a collection for Bloomsbury on the cultural history of magic in enlightenment Europe.
Dr Victoria McCollum holds a PhD in Film Studies and a BA (Hons) in Media Arts from Ulster University, and an MA in Film Practice from Queen’s University (Belfast). Her research interests include filmmaking, popular television and video games. She is especially interested in the cultural politics of popular culture and how it is deeply entangled with ideological positions and contemporary political, cultural and economic conflicts.
She has previously held positions at the BBC and ITV (Northern Ireland), the Irish Film Board (Ireland) and HBO (United States). She joined HBO, Time Warner Inc. at their headquarters in New York, developing, marketing and promoting HBO’s licensed products both within the US and internationally. At HBO, she collaborated on projects with Apple, Cartoon Network, Cinemax, Facebook, New Line Cinema, Sesame Street, Telltale Games, Time Warner, Twitter and Universal Music Group.
Victoria joined the School of Arts and Humanities at Ulster University in 2015 as a Lecturer in Cinematic Arts. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and sits on the board of the Digital, Creative and Financial Technologies Group in Derry. She was an editor on Blumhouse Productions – The New House of Horror, and editor and contributor to Bloody Women – Women Directors of Horror, both published last year.
David Campbell is a Designer, Illustrator, and Art Director based in Derry, Northern Ireland, who currently work as a graphic designer for Games Workshop.
He’s worked extensively in graphic design, illustration, education and event programming and management, and was Artist-in-Residence at the Verbal Arts Centre from 2006 – 2013, where he worked to promote visual storytelling, publishing, the comics artform and the wider creative arts.
David was also the founder of the 2D Northern Ireland Comics Festival, an internationally acclaimed event which ran from 2007 – 2013.
The graphic novel is part of the wider 1711 – The Witches of Islandmagee Project, that includes a stage play and a game. This collaborative, multidisciplinary, creative public history project aims to deliver a digital toolkit that uses creative writing and new technologies to explore Ireland’s last witch trial. The toolkit comprises numerous custom-made assets based on the trial: digitised trial records, the graphic novel, a ‘serious’ video game, an original musical score, and a Virtual Reality Experience.
Working with Project Social, the 1711 project brings together an interactive experience to showcase the events of the last witch trials in Ireland in 1711 like never before. This involved cooperation with other students across Ulster University, as well as other creatives, including a composer, David Campbell, and game designers.
The Witches of Islandmagee Project brings together those intrigued by the topics of witchcraft, history and the supernatural. Exploring the last witch trials in Ireland in-depth it’s hoped it will allow people and participants to acquire fascinating knowledge about the event, and delve deep within the story visually, aurally or via the written word in a new, exciting interactive experience.
• The Islandmagee Witches – Official Launch, 2.00pm Saturday 25th February Forbidden Planet International 52-54 Ann Street #52-54 Belfast BT1 4EG | Reserve a Spot
The Islandmagee Witches © Copyright Victoria McCollum and Andrew Sneddon 2022
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.