The very first of these artists I came into contact with is Anthea West, a comic book writer and artist from Dublin. I first encountered Anthea through Bebo (so you know we're going back a few years!) back in 2007 (or possibly 2008 - it's hard to keep up with this stuff, sometimes.) We were both part of a writers group I set up in 2007, and both contributed to a book of short stories for charity. However, Anthea's biggest break came in 2013 when she published her first graphic novel: The Earthbound God. Aside from containing fantastic artwork, the book demonstrates what's possible for a young artist in Ireland. She wasn't restricted to selling the book online, with Forbidden Planet and Sub City in Dublin both selling copies. Few Irish artists her of her generation have made it as far on their own, and fewer still had a poster for their book in a shop window for weeks on end.
You can find out more about Anthea and The Earthbound God at her website: http://dustbunny-studios.com/ (check out the store to get your hands on a copy of the book, too!)
Shortly after joining Twitter, I came across a fellow Irish author: Alison Wells. Aside from being a mother of four, she's also one of the first Irish authors in recent years to successfully self-publish a novel that found its way into Irish bookshops. Publishing Housewife with a Half-Life in 2012, Alison was accepted into Hughes & Hughes Dundrum for her launch night. The book was launched by Colette Caddle, greeted warming by friends and family and other Irish authors from Twitter, and demonstrated clearly that it's possible to write and publish a book in Ireland, it can be done with four children to take care of. Somehow, she managed to pull together three ebooks of short stories, too.
Check out Alison and Housewife with a Half-Life (and all her other books, too!) at her website: http://alisonwells.wordpress.com/
In April 2012, I made my first encounter with one of Ireland's biggest and best known comic book artists: Will Sliney. Hailing from Cork, he sat for hours in Forbidden Planet at the launch of Avengers Vs X-Men doing sketches for those who attended (I came out with Nightwing, though I'd asked for Nightcrawler; I still laugh about it to this day - Will remembers me by that sketch). When it came to his published work, it wasn't until Fearless Defenders #1 came out in 2013 that I got to see what he was really capable of. As one of the few Irish artists to ever make it into the illustrious ranks of Marvel Comics, things became even more exciting when his first graphic novel was released by O'Brien Press: Celtic Warror: The Legend of Cú Chulainn. An adaptation of the story of the Táin, it emits a battle cry that Irish comic book artists are to be taken seriously!
You can find out more about Will Sliney by looking at his blog: http://sliney.blogspot.ie/. Celtic Warrior is available in bookshops and comic book shops across the country.
Last, but certain not least, I encountered the duo of Jason Connor and Phil Roe through their comic book series The Wren. Radically transforming Ireland as we know it into Hibernia, with superheroes of De Danann (Irish gods) decent keeping the country safe from the Dark Sidhe (evil fairies!). Their hero, Jack McCormack, goes by the name of the Wren. He's the youngest hero Ireland has seen, and heads up an all-ages comic book series. The comic has been going since 2007, with nine issues to date (issue ten on its way in June at the 2D Festival in Derry~Londonderry.) I happened across it while looking for an Irish superhero, and was fortunate enough to find that Forbidden Planet keep it in stock. It's definitely one to check out, full or fun and adventure and suitable for parents to share with their children!
The Wren website can be found here: http://www.thewrencomic.com/
Each of these people have something to offer Irish publishing (though they're not alone in what they're doing). These artists have shown that Irish storytelling is still going strong, and over the past few years I've been blessed to find them and discover their work. Theirs are names to be remembered, artists to be regarded highly, with work that's worth reading and admiring for yourself.