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 Paul Carroll, writer, illustrator and colorist. Paul was promoting his novels, comics and prints along with the launch of his new novel SECOND SIGHT FOR SORE EYES, a book about death, but more fun than that!

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ComicsVerse Talks to Seán O’Reilly at Dublin Comic-Con 2018

Paul’s Background

ComicsVerse (CV): Paul, you’re a writer and an illustrator, which of these loves came first?

Paul Carroll (PC): I think I was drawing more as a kid, but I felt more passionate about writing as I was growing up. I started doing very bad comics before I even knew what comics were. I took to writing short stories as prose from when I was in fifth class and didn’t really stop after that. It’s definitely the thing that has stuck with me more than illustration which I kind of picked back up again after I had forgotten how to do anything. And that was even before I got good at anything.

The First-Step Into Publishing

CV: What was the first work that you published?

Paul Carroll: The first work I published was BALOR REBORN. It’s kind of a take on Irish folklore where all the old gods and fairies are coming back and basically killing people. It’s bloody murder. But I started with Balor who – in some versions – he’s the Irish god of death, not in every version. He’s mostly an invader from islands off the north or something like that. In the old Balor stories, he looks at people with his one eye, and they die.

So I decided to modernize it a bit. When he possesses somebody, they grow a giant goldeneye and shoots a death laser out of it. So he destroys a fair bit of Dublin and I try to build a story around that. So I have rules for him. A hero was chosen and now he is basically the only hero the Irish gods and fairies have left to try and fight off the coming tide of people can just have notions about themselves. I published that six years ago, but only as an ebook. So I only have anything in print since two years ago, at the first Geek Mart.

Paul Carroll
Courtesy of Paul Carroll

Going Digital

CV: Why did you go with an ebook?

Paul Carroll: I wrote and published BALOR REBORN in one week. Ebook was the only option. Also, I was working in retail so I couldn’t afford to put anything into print. It’s a short book so I wasn’t looking to have a traditional publisher. I was going for the self-publishing route. It sort of something I stuck with and, I don’t know, one of these days I’ll find something that I feel like I need to submit to a publisher rather than put on a table. At the moment self-publishing is where I’m at with it. It just means I have this building world of Irish folklore along with a new series of supernatural stories. Which is fun.

Irish Folklore

CV: Was Irish folklore something you were always interested in?

Paul Carroll: I had a kind of weird obsession with it for a while. With all folklore. But I wanted to do something specifically Irish when I was doing my own start to a career. It was the first thing I was going to be publishing and I wrote and published it in a week but live streaming on YouTube so I was making a big deal out of it, even if nobody really watched it. I picked up a few books on folklore and was reading through the Irish stories and the one for Balor stuck out. So I saw it as the start of something cool. That was pretty much it. I liked the Irish gods and they’re not really utilised that much in fiction so I wanted to be the one to do something with it.

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CV: You’ve also worked with artist Gareth Luby on Meouch. How did that collaboration come about?

PC: So myself and Gareth are working together on the Geek Mart as part of the organization team. He decided he wanted to do a comic about his cat called Frankie and I had been looking to start writing comics at the same time. So it was good timing and we were in the same location. We hashed out a few ideas together with a couple of friends and then I wrote a script based on all the weird ideas that we’d come up with. And now we’re just pushing it in different ways.

We started with HOW TO LIVE WITH YOUR CAT when Gareth needed a comic for Small Press Day. It was just a simple little zine thing but it’s funny and it gets people’s attention. Then we did an actual mission for Frankie, MEOUCH: OPERATION BAD DOG, where he’s killing a dog that suspiciously looks like a president of a certain country. Then we launched Frankie’s guide to killing, which was FRANKIE’S BIG BOOK OF ASSASSINATION. It’s a full-color thing which I got to color which was terrifying.

A Christmas Gift

The activity book, FRANKIE’S FIRST COLOURING AND ACTIVITY BOOK FOR GROWN UP KIDS, we launched at Christmas. We thought it would be a fun stocking filler if people were looking for anything. We sold a few, one person bought four for all of her co-workers, which is nice. She worked in the Cat Lounge so it was fitting.

Now we’re working on a couple of other stories. We have an eight-pager that Gareth’s working on, and there’s going to be a full length 20-page issue Frankie story which is going to be issue one of three for a set plot line. We’ll see what happens after that.

Paul Carroll
Courtesy of Paul Carroll. Art by Gareth Luby.

Book Launch

CV: You’re launching a new book today, SECOND SIGHT FOR SORE EYES. Could you tell us about that?

PC: SECOND SIGHT FOR SORE EYES uses a character I came up with when I was in either second or third year of college. His name is Kurt Crane. The idea is whenever Kurt dies he comes back the very next day, from birth, he effectively highjacks a womb. It’s really malicious. He doesn’t like it. It is like an automatic thing that happens. He has no say in the matter. He tries not to die if he can help it. But also because when he dies, all the people who he was with, those relationships are going to fall apart on him because by the time he’s old enough to revisit them, everyone’s aged.

It’s set in 2015, so it’s a year and a half before A DEATH IN THE FAMILY which is the other book I’d written in the BLACK PAGES series. It’s Kurt when he’s twenty-seven years old, hasn’t worked as a detective for thirty years because he’s died. He got his first case from someone who managed to get his phone number from a phone book almost as soon as he put the ad in the paper.

Paul Carroll
Courtesy of Paul Carroll

The Black Pages

There’s a magical phone book called the Black Pages. It’s where the series gets its name. It’s where all the magical mystical things are. Kurt has a detective ad in it. He ends up trying to solve this stalker case while at the same time there’s a monster in the river Liffey eating people. He’s in London and there’s something happening in Dublin so he can’t deal with both at the same time. And there’s a psychic in Dublin who’s also experiencing some of the weird stuff with the monster. He’s getting visions of it.

At the same time, Kurt gets a third eye put on his forehead. It’s a magical eye, no one can see it, called the Mind’s Eye. He gets it from Madam Madness. It lets him see things he wouldn’t be otherwise able to see unless he had been practicing magic properly which he hadn’t been. He basically became a lazy millennial stereotype when he came back this time because he had lost the love of his life.

He took the easy way out, but it left him unprepared for the other case. He’s wearing the Mind’s Eye which wears down his sanity. He has second sight, there’s a psychic that has second sight, and that’s how the book gets its title. It’s a race against time to solve the cases before the Mind’s Eye destroys him and before the monster destroys Dublin.

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Paul Carroll’s Other Projects

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

PC: Myself and Gareth are working on the Meouch comics, and I’m working with Jason Browne on the next Wren story. I’ll be at Octocon, that’s the only event I have confirmed at the moment and that’s in October. After that, I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month for people who don’t know. Kat Dodd, who’s an American author, from Arkansas, will be joining me at Octocon as well.

We’ll be joining the ML team for NaNoWriMo which is like community management. There’s an inside scoop, we haven’t announced that yet. But that means we get to help young writers or newbies, or the established people who have been doing NaNoWriMo for a few years to figure out what they want to do and to answer any questions they have about NaNoWriMo and things like that.

It’s a fun little community position that we’re taking up voluntarily that’s going to make us pull our hair out. As part of it, we have to take part in NaNoWriMo, so I’ll probably be writing the follow up to SECOND SIGHT FOR SORE EYES or A DEATH IN THE FAMILY during that.

Want To Keep Up To Date With Paul Carrolls’ Work?

Paul Carroll has a website where you can check out his back catalog of work here. He’s also on Twitter as @writeranonymous.

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