The comic booklet: once a mass market media form, some would argue it has all but disappeared from newsagents shelves in the last 20 years – but comic creation continues apace across the UK, including Northern Ireland.
A new film released via Vimeo online, featuring comic artists such as 2000AD and STRIP Magazine artist PJ Holden, explores the hidden heritage of Belfast-centric cartooning that goes back centuries.
More recently, the vibrant underground publishing scene there, from The Belfast People’s Comic (1977) to Patrick Brown’s The Cattle Raid of Cooley (2011), has begun to attract attention from establishment arts bodies. The Invisible Artist look at the stories of committed creators in this black sheep media and how they have informed our contemporary culture.
The Invisible Artist was written by Andrew Luke and filmed and edited by Carl Boyle of Greater Belfast community group Northern Visions TV. Once a training ground for Channel 4 film-makers, NVTV is free-to-view, and hosts its programmes on Channel 62/799.276MHz in Belfast, with a weekly and omnibus edition, before joining the archive screenings looped rotation.
Shows also appear online in the months after airing. NVTV are hoping to raise their broadcasts to appear on Freeview next year. This film was originally screened on 7 November at 4:30pm, and again on 12th, at approximately 12:30.
“I’m indebted to Carl Boyle for stepping in to cover the editing and production when my workload became too heavy to cope,” says Andrew of the production. “The documentary was shot in a short space of time in early 2011 and captures the vibrancy of the time.
“In many ways, The Invisible Artist? is also the story of Davy Francis, a man at the crossroads of four decades of comics creation in Belfast. I’d like to thank Carl, Davy, Paddy Brown, PJ Holden (who called by at the last minute to help out), and everyone who gave their time to make this film happen.”
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.