Dublin Comic-Con 2018 took place on the 11th and 12th of August in the Convention Centre, Dublin. The ground floor was filled with stalls full to the brim with comics and merchandise. On the first floor lay Artists Alley, with stalls ran by Irish comics Indie talent. ComicsVerse sat down with Seán O’Reilly, comics artist and one-third of The Nice Gang, an illustration collective based in Dublin. Seán O’Reilly was promoting his own work, including his CHUMP series, along with the launch of The Nice Gang’s first publication, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ZINE,  an anthology by 12 artists about fictional bands.

Editor’s note: This interview was transcribed and edited. 

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Beginnings

ComicsVerse: Hi Seán, first of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself and SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ZINE?

Seán O’Reilly (Seán): So I work in animation and I just have been drawing forever. I’ve been in a band from the age of 16 and we broke up a couple of years ago. The ways bands work, I am so fascinated by it. Y’know, you get a drum kit for Christmas, someone gets a better amplifier. Then a SingStar mic gets swapped out for a real mic and someone gets a weekend job in a garage and you’re able to afford whatever and it’s just this slow build-up. I’ve loved being in a band and the whole process of it for years.

And I just had this idea, I was drawing little punk guys fighting each other in July last year. I’m really slow at work, my style is quite specific. I don’t rush it, it takes me a while to get there. I had the idea, I was sat next to Neev [Brennan]d, one of the organizers [of The Nice Gang], and I said to her, it would be cool if it was a book, right? What if it was a book about fake bands as if it was a real band? It could be interviews, album covers, comics, illustrations, and photo-shoots. Create this fake band and a whole world around it as if they were real. You might pick up a book about David Bowie and it’s just stuff about him through the years. What if you did that for a fake band?

Seán O'Reilly
Courtesy of The Nice Gang

Getting The Band Together

And then my next thought was, well I’m so slow, it would take me literally another year to do this. Funnily enough, it did end up taking a year. Anyway, me and Neev are real good buds and our styles are quite similar. I have another friend, Dee [McDonnell], she’s one of the other organizers.

We get on really well, and our styles are cool too. And then I thought about my friend Joe in college who’s also in [SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ZINE] and I thought if I pulled all these people together, I could get it out so quickly and it would be this nice collection. We added more artists from there.

The money is going to Focus Ireland. That kind of came about because I thought there was so many of us and we couldn’t really pay all the artists, because we’d be saying ‘here’s a tenner’. So I thought people would be willing to contribute their time to a charity, and people were happy to donate their talent and time to the book. I just thought it would be cool to do something for a good cause.

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Choosing A Charity

CV: Why did you pick Focus Ireland as your charity? 

Seán: At the time, when we were organizing which charity to choose, I had in mind just a charity, we didn’t really have specifics. The abortion referendum [was happening], it was in the midst of it when we started organizing [the book] and Dee kind of suggested what about that, but people were doing a lot for that. The homeless crisis is spiraling out of control, it’s heart-breaking. It’s hard enough to rent anyway, but you literally have nothing, what are people doing for you?

Seán O'Reilly
Courtesy of The Nice Gang

Focus Ireland

I’m just a dude, I don’t know the answers, the ones who are in charge should, and don’t seem to give a fuck and it’s heart-breaking and I can’t do anything except for this. If everyone did a little bit maybe the world would be better, I don’t know. So it was sort of picking a cause first and then finding out which charities who do work for those causes are the best. To be honest, it was [between] the Simon Community and Focus Ireland, they are equally as good as each other. You know there’s big charities, you hear about them, a lot of the money goes to paying their staff, 70% of it, maybe more sometimes. Focus Ireland, they don’t take a wage, its all volunteer work. They are all quite good but this one was cool, so yeah.

From cartoons to comics

CV: You have a background in animation. How did that leap from animation to comics come about?

Seán: Animation takes so long, it’s heart-breaking, takes a long time. So my last year at college I was making this short film by myself. I had a little bit of help, but I wrote it, I animated it, I edited it, I did the sound, y’know. I didn’t get it finished in college. Honest to god, I was crazy depressed about it. This thing, you wanted it to be so good. I wasn’t getting it done and every day I was seeing myself slip further back.

There’s a musician I like called Jeffery Lewis, and he makes his own books called FUFF, and I think he’s probably put out 10 in about 13 years. I went to a show and I saw his books and I bought a bunch of them and they made me realize you don’t have to be doing a webcomic every single week to create something, you can slowly plug away at it. So I wanted to do something that was quicker than a movie.

So I came out of college and everyone had finished these films and went to film festivals and were showing them. I didn’t get any of that, I just wanted validation for my efforts. I kinda say that at the start of CHUMP, it still ended up taking me six months, it wasn’t the rapid fast validation that I wanted.

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Chump begins

I really believe at just plugging away at stuff and you’ll have a body of work eventually. CHUMP 1 was the first book that I did. It’s just quicker I guess and it’s unrelated ideas. It’s illustrations and comics and cartoons that don’t relate to each other. I’m going to do longer stuff soon but the reason I love CHUMPs is because I do one page and I can just move on. If you’re doing long form comics you have all these ideas…

Sometimes I have these ideas and I know, realistically, I can’t get to that for another year, gotta put it on the back burner. But when the turn around is a page, you can have so many ideas packed into one thing. You can get it done relatively quickly. So that’s where the books came from.

Seán O'Reilly
Courtesy of Seán O’Reilly

The future

CV: Before we wrap up, is there any upcoming projects you’d like to mention?

Seán: I’m looking into starting a podcast about art but it’s very early days. This [SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ZINE] has been in the works for a while and I haven’t really had anything else going on while I’ve been doing that. Nothing really to shout out just yet.

One question I didn’t answer is why The Nice Gang? Me and Dee were just joking. I had this idea for jacket patches. Jacket patches are hardcore and kinda punk. We [thought], what if they were just like the Nice Gang, an aggressive looking thing but it was all about empathy and kindness and positivity. So we just joked about that idea…
On the back of this book [SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ZINE], this is our logo. Dee designed it.

The origin of the logo

The way [the design] came about was, myself and Dee and Neev were out having drinks one night and I was telling them about this idea and Dee and I had been joking about this Nice Gang thing a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know who it was but one was like, what if we call it The Nice Gang? As soon as it was said, we thought, yes that’s it! Our logo basically is three people trying to shake hands. The night we went out, we took a photo of the three of us doing it and it just looks so feeble and pathetic. We thought it was hilarious and kind of sums up our friendship. It sort of was a joke but we liked the idea.

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Support your local scene

The project is about… it all kind of came together, y’know. We called ourselves The Nice Gang, we said, what if it’s for a good cause. Then we came up with SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ZINE and didn’t realize it was all related cause the project is about kindness and taking care of people. The Nice Gang feeds into that. We had this name for about 6 months. Two weeks ago I realized, it’s not only music, because ‘Support your local scene’ is a phrase I always hear about bands, go to shows, buy their merch. ‘Support your local scene.’

It’s not only music, it’s not only supporting the arts scene but there was a third meaning. We were trying to finalize what the blurb was going to be, trying to come up with the idea, trying to verbalize what it is that we’re doing. That’s when I realized there was another meaning to the name. It’s about taking care of your local area. Ireland is so small, there is no reason anybody should be homeless, it’s nuts. It’s about taking care of your neighbor, I guess. Those are kinda the themes behind the idea, y’know?

Want To Know More About Seán O’Reilly?

You can purchase SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ZINE here. You can also visit Seán’s website and follow him on twitter @DrawBoySeanie.

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