By Bob Byrne, formerly at clamnuts.com, 6 January 2006
Ghost of a doubt - Greg O' Brien InterviewEdit
Ghost of a Doubt is written and drawn by Greg O'Brien. By his own admission his art needs approving but the writing and overall feel of the comic is top notch slice of life autobio stuff. Greg seems committed to making more issues and will definitely be a force to reckoned with once he learns how to draw hands.
- Was there any particular comic/book that made you want to create your own?
Well there's no particular comic that made think i want to make a comic, but there are a number of comics that I found inspiring and some comic artists that i take a lot of inspiration from and who made me really want work on my own comic. i guess my favourites are John Porcellino, Ben Snakepit, Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes and Harvey Pekar to name a few. When i was in my early teens i read a lot of superhero comics but i kind of lost interest in them. Then over the past couple of years i've discovered comics that i really enjoyed and that were far different to anything i had ever read and they were the comics that made me want to create my own. It's funny though, when you tell people that you're interested in comics, by and large they'll think of superman, spiderman or the x-men and really its the same with music, often when you tell people you play music you'll get the response "oh so, we'll see you on pop idol some day soon no doubt", after a while you stop trying to explain.
- The first story in issue 1 'Nothing evers seems to work out right' deals with your anxiety about your life not being where you'd thought it should be by the age of 25. Has your existensial angst lowered now that you have the comic out?
No not at all, issue 1 was an important mental hurdle, i needed to prove to myself that i could actually put something together on my own, but that sense of angst hasn't died down at all. I've often said to friends that at times i wish i could just go home in the evening and sit down, watch t.v. and not think about working on music or comics but i can't i need to feel as if i'm being productive. The only time that sense of angst is lowered is when i really feel as if i am being productive, but once i'm finished a project i kind of get uptight about working on something new. i've been more anxious than ever over the past year and particular in the last couple of months, but as a result i am probably more productive now than i have ever been.
- You say in the intro that you learned alot making issue 1, in what areas?
Well i actually feel really dumb for this but Issue 1 was actually drawn the way it appears. i drew six panels onto an a5 sheet, scanned to my computer and then tidied them up a little, i've meet a couple of comic artists since then and they've looked at me like i'm nuts. So i've found by and large that people work onto a3 sheets and draw their art work nice and big and then bring it down to size on the computer. So i've started drawing my panels much bigger and it's much much easier, i don't know what i was thinking in the first place.
- Tell me about the plans to include a cd with issue 2.
i've always loved music and over the past couple of years i've gotten really into comics, but the thing is the two don't meet very often. So i'm not sure how aware people who are into music in ireland are of whats going on as regards comics in ireland and visa versa. So in a way it would be nice to introduce them. Comics and music are both great ways for a person express themselves, tell a story or do whatever it is they want to do. There is huge scope for experimentation within both areas and it i think is important that people see that there a lot going on right now in both music and comics in ireland that they might not necessarily be aware of. Also for me there is nothing better than sitting up on my bed reading a comic and listening to some music, that's the life.
- Your old band was called 'Our Space Age Army', I have a crazy book from the fifties by the same name. I presume one of you has it too or just a mad coincidence?
Yep that's where it came from, i borrowed that book from the library. 'Our space age army' was the first band i was ever in and it took us a long time to settle on a name. We were pretty loud when we used to practice at my house and during practice one day a buch of books fell off the wardrobe and Our Space Age Army was among them and so we agreed to name the band after the book.
- I thought you dealt well with your inablity to draw hands, what else don't you like drawing?
em, feet and for no apparent reason horses though i have no plan to feature a horse at present, i just don't like the idea of drawing one.
- Any funny tales from your day job? Sounds interesting.
God, where to start, kids will consistantly give you gold for writing, at some stage i wan't to write a comic about what kids have thought me. Recently, in class, a kid told me quite matter of factly that if you belch for longer than five seconds you can die, this is due to the fact that you rupture your stomach and have kidney failure, so i wouldn't advise that you try that out.
- How's issue 2 coming along?
Great, i have a couple of weeks off over christmas, so i plan to get a lot done in that time and have issue 2 in shops for february. As i've already mentioned i plan to have a cd and some other bits with the comic so that'll take some time but it'll worth it when it's done.
- Besides local shops in Dublin have you tried selling outside of Ireland?
At this point ghost of a doubt is only available in shops in Dublin, I hope to make it available further a field in the very near future, but aside from selling it outside of ireland i've found difficult finding other places in ireland that will take it on.
- Webcomics eliminate all the cost and distribution hassles, can you see yourself getting into them?
Yeah, there are some cool web comics out there. I'm interested in them and i guess it would be better for the environment if more people decided to publish on the web. To be honest though i don't really like to read from a p.c. i just don't enjoy it as much, recently i was reading a comic called 'shuck' on the internet and i really enjoyed it but after a while i just decided i'd order the paper copies because i'd prefere to sit down a take it easy rather than be hunched in front of a p.c. Also, maybe this is a bit selfish, but i prefer to own a hard copy, i'll always prefer a comic to web page just as i'll always prefere a c.d. or vinyl to an mp3. it's just nice to have that piece of art work in your hands, also if its all on computer there is always the worry that your computer will die and you'll lose all your stuff.
- Tell me more about the teaching Drugs awareness to kids. How did that come about?
When i was in college i had a saturday job working in a youth centre and when i finished college a full time job came up so i took that, then after a year they advertised a part time job teaching drugs awareness so i went for it and got it. it's a pretty sweet number and to me it's worthwhile work, i like it because we dont work from a "drugs are bad" kind of ethos, really we just talk to kids about drug related issues and a lot of those kids would be at risk so i think it's pretty important work. i worried a lot about the first comic in issue one, i felt i was being a bit moany because really there are a lot of people who would kill to have a job like mine, but on the other hand you can have the greastest job in the world but if working that job isn't how you want to spend your days or you don't find time to do what you really want then you'll never be really happy with it.
- Would you be able to handle sex education to kids?
At this stage i'd be grand with it, as a part of the drugs program i do a session on HIV/AIDS. Really the kids tend to get more embarrassed than i ever would, there are a couple who'll always try to test you but i think it would be a mammoth task to shock me and i tell them there is nothing that they can say that i haven't already heard, generally at the start of that session i'll tell them that we'll be discussing sex related issues so they should get there giggling done with early on and i play the "your in sixth class now so i expect your mature enough to discuss this issue" card. So i don't mind talking about sex with them now when we need to, because first of all the HIV/AIDS topic is a really important issue for them to get straight early on and secondly i think they repect it more coming from someone my age rather than a 50 year old priest (no disrespect intended). The hardest part of discussing sex with young people is generally trying to keep yourself from laughing at some of the stuff they come up with cause if you break a smile the doors are open for them to run wild with it. Last week i was working with a group and i asked how do people get aids and straight away there was young lads shouting "Bum sex" and "Poo pushing", it all comes down to how you handle it.
- What was the last film you saw that you disliked?
That last Harry Potter film, i thought it was terrible (i actually fel asleep for a while), a couple of people said i'd have to read the book, if i have to read the book after watching the film then why did they bother making a film?
- Without googling can you identify these characters [left]?
1. Some sort of care bear, BraveHeart? no wait that was Mel Gibson.
2. oh i know this one, its "Denver the last dinosaur, he's our friend and a whole lot more", i was thinking about that lately, how exactly was he a whole lot more to those kids? no wonder those guys (i think it was the fbi) were always after him.
- Neh-heh. That's Teddy Ruxpin and you're right on Denver the Dinosaur. It's touched on in the first issue but where do you see yourself in 10 years?
i honestly don't know, i cant even say where i see myself in ten days let alone ten years. As long as i'm still free to work on comics and music it'll all be cool though.
- Any closing comments?
nope, just thanks for the interview, i'm off for a beer or two and a snooze.