Creating Comics: David McDonald, publisher of Hibernia

Hibernia - House of Daemon

Hibernia is an independent publisher based in Ireland that has long championed classic British comics. Over the years, alongside the Comic Archive series (non-fiction titles dipping into British comics history), Hibernia has published several comic collections, including House of Daemon, Doomlord, The 13th Floor, The Tower King and more. More recently, they’ve teamed up with The Treasury of British Comics (an imprint of Rebellion) to produce The Angry Planet, Cosmic Comics and The Indestructible Man.

The core team at Hibernia is David McDonald (publisher, editor and writer) and Richard Pearce (designer, reprographics and writer).

Having heard that The House of Daemon collection has been reprinted, downthetubes flew ace newshound Matt Badham over to Ireland to get some answers about the project from David McDonald (Shurely some mistake! I thought they chatted by email – Ed)

Things have changed since I last interviewed you. You’re working with Rebellion. How did that happen and what are the benefits?

Hibernia is a separate entity and we also work with other publishers at times, such as The Dan Dare Corp.

Rebellion have been great. I really love what they are doing with the vast archive that they own. Imagine 10 years ago being told that The Trigan Empire would be one of the best-selling collections in the UK or that The Leopard from Lime Street would be collected AND appearing in new adventures on newsagents’ shelves!  Having the opportunity to play in Rebellion’s sandpit is just so good, getting to bring these classic stories to a fresh audience. Rebellion has the biggest English language archive of comics and story papers so the choice of material is amazing. They are so well-versed and passionate about the material.

Please tell us about the reprint of The House of Daemon.

Because our print runs are relatively small and sell out fast we get a steady request for reprints. We tend to concentrate on new releases, but do occasionally look at reprinting and The House of Daemon is one of the more frequent requests. 

Please tell us more about the strip itself?

The House of Daemon is written by John Wagner and Alan Grant, with art by José Ortiz. Originally published in the Eagle, it’s a classic haunted house story with a twist. It lays the ground for The 13th Floor by the same creative team. It’s a classic Wagner and Grant script, fast-paced, action-filled, funny and creepy with some of José Ortiz best artwork, up there with the best of his work for Warren Comics.

Hibernia - House of Daemon
Hibernia - House of Daemon
Hibernia - House of Daemon

What else have you got in the pipeline? 

An article on the history of Marvel UK Action Force and interviews with its creators, people like Richard Starkings, Simon Furman and others involved in Marvel UK. That’s for a Kickstarter book titled Total Action Force Vol 2: International Heroes. That should be out very soon. 

I’m also reprinting the Eagle Adventure Special, which we released back in 2016, which should be out in a few weeks. 

Eagle Adventure Special #1 - Cover

We have pushed back Sergeant Strong  to the new year because of the looming postal strikes in the UK. Time Quake should be out in time for Starlord’s 45th anniversary in May 2023.  We have plans to put together a Comic Archive  to celebrate that anniversary as well. I’m a big fan of Starlord!

Over the last year I have done a series of articles for the Treasury of British Comic website on everything from Robot Archie to annuals. They are a lot of fun to do. These will continue over the winter, with the next one all about The Steel Claw. 

The Fleetway Files - Captain Condor - Cover

And what past products would you like to mention and plug to our readers?

Captain Condor by Frank Pepper and  Brian Lewis has gone down amazingly well. We are so pleased that Lewis’ art is getting the exposure it deserves. Richard Pearce did an amazing job restoring the art. He’s Hibernia’s designer, art editor and art restorer. He does extraordinary work bringing scans of old newsprint back to the way the art should look. We work pretty closely on the content too. I do most of the scanning, choice of material, editorial content and all the publishing side, i.e contracts and printing etc. I still work full-time so both myself and Richard do all of Hibernia’s titles in our spare time. 

Doomlord [we’re also proud of and we] still have some copies left of our first collection left. It’s one of Wagner and Grant’s great stories. That first photostrip is chilling and showed the potential of fumetti, it really deserves to be collected in full, but until that happens, Hibernia have our collection, Doomlord: The Deathlords of Nox ready to go! 

What would you say about the importance of the work you’re doing in terms of cultural heritage; preserving Brit comics past?

Comic creators entertained a generation of kids from Britain and Ireland right across the globe as far as New Zealand. The creators of these comics deserve to have their work brought to light again and have their efforts celebrated. Comics are also an important social document of things like social attitudes, art styles and fashion trends, and that’s just from the stories. The adverts also open up a new window into the past.

Who are the unsung heroes in this area? The people who have flown the flag for Brit comics over the years?

Off the top of my head, Steve Holland, Norman Wright, Lofts and Adley, Dennis Gifford, Paul Gravett, John Freeman, Alan Clarke and countless others. Publications like Spaceship AwayEagle TimesCrikey!, Comic Scene, Eagle Flies AgainJeff Hawke’s Cosmos have all done their bit as well.

In that vein, do you have any blogs, books and websites on the subject you’d like to mention that our readers could check out?

Mike Carroll’s Rusty Staples, Richard Sheaf Boys Adventure Comics and Steve Holland’s Bear Alley are my web go-to. 

As for books, any of Steve Holland’s output, any Alan Clark and Martin Barker. I’ve recently been introduced to Loft and Adley’s output, they’re great. So many others too, there are a lot on British comics when you go digging, like works by Denis Gifford and Mary Cadogan. Also recently there have been a few good memoirs, those by Steve MacManus, Barrie Tomlinson and Pat Mills are well worth tracking down. 

What next for you? More of the same, more articles… I wondered if there were books and perhaps even a full-time position in publishing in your future?

Ha! A full-time position would be great, but bills have to be paid! Yes, more of the same, more collections, more Comic Archives, more articles!

• Check out all available Hibernia collections here on Comicsy

Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Collections, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

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1 reply

  1. The artwork on House of Daemon is fantastic imo.

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