Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Si's Sights And Sounds Meets: Danny McLaughlin

The Derry-based comic book writer, a martial artist, conceptualist, strategist, promoter and lover of all kinds of media tells Si's Sights And Sounds all about the Zombies, Hi!, and much, much more...

As far back as you can remember, did you always want to be a comic writer?

No, not really. In all honesty, I wanted to be an engineer! I wanted to build, solve problems and fix the world. And ironically enough, that's what I still do, but my own worlds. I build in my imagination. When you design and create stories, you are problem solving. And hopefully, when someone reads my work, I imbue in them a sense of morality, so hopefully on some level I am fixing the world!

I do remember making up little characters and situations in my head when I was younger, but to me, that was just fun. Like every other kid in the galaxy, I always felt a close relationship with heroic figures like Batman, Superman and the X-Men. And then, one day, I received my first comic book, and saw those people in masks and uniforms fighting for a better world. Through that, home, school and karate dojo I was imbued with not just my morals, but high ideals and philosophical dilemmas. I was hooked from that moment on.

Since then, I've been creating stories around those ideals and philosophies, building characters that are part of my ego, who then set out to explore and answer life's big questions. To be honest, I believe that we are all writers, creating ourselves to answer such questions.

What was the catalyst for your writing career?

Firstly, I must mention reading the opus that is Watchmen, by the awesome but odd Alan Moore. It was just the book I needed while I was growing up, because that was when my love affair with comics began. It was when I realised that comics, childish throwaway books with pretty pictures and 2D characters, could, behind their innocent facade, completely catch you off guard and deal with massive blows of reality.

Having found Alan Moore's work so appealing, I next read Swamp Thing, and I found myself questioning what the title character questions: Who am I? What can I do? It was then that I began to ponder such questions myself, and realise that if one could truly answer questions like that for themselves, then he or she would be happy in life. So I decided to find out who I was and what I could do - through the power of the written word.

Everybody's talking about the Zombies, Hi! How did the comic originate, and how did you come to be involved?

It all began as a concept. Me and artist Kevin "Gio" Logue have been firing stories together for quite some time, and one day, we wondered, "How do we tell the story of Derry?" We had loads of ideas, but no bad guy! Fortunately, me and Gio realised that zombies are bad guys who need no introduction, so we threw them in and essentially got on with telling the story of our home town and characters that we know and love, based on people we see every day! People always say "write what you know", and for us, that's Derry. So I created a world inspired by the locals, the history, the way we speak and the troubles we face every day. What we've ended up with is basically a love letter to our hometown, an epic story that always has been, and will continue to be, inspired by local pop culture.

 Danny McLaughlin with artist Kevin "Gio" Logue

What was your favourite cartoon growing up?

Thundercats! HOOOOO! I was a wee bit obsessed. And the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Then there was the Batman animated series... actually, there might be too many to mention.

Whose drawing style, or styles, do you admire the most?

Even today, I couldn't tell you too much about artists or their styles. But what I can tell you is that I do love, or am at least influenced by, a gritty but strong anatomical style. I also have a soft spot for really clean, cartoony artwork.

Tell us about the latest news, and also what's in store for you, in regard to Zombies, Hi! and other projects.

The seventh issue of Zombies, Hi! will be out in time for Hallowe'en! And with a dedicated team, as opposed to a skeleton crew working on it, it will now be out every two months, and hopefully every month sometime after Christmas. Also the comic is in the process of being transformed into an interactive app, with animated scenes, interactivity, games, music, sound effects and hidden bonus material all included.

As for me, if I get the time I'm looking to produce two scripts. One is a really gritty story about a broken man and his struggle to pull the pieces of his life together after years of it falling apart. The other is a retro spiritual/steampunk tale, currently titled "The God Conundrum", which explores a world that relies on science until the breakthrough in atomic sciences brings proof of Godliness to the forefront.

How proud are you of Zombies, Hi!, and how much further do you see it going?

Very proud. It's my first outing as a writer and the flagship comic of our company, Uproar. As I mentioned before, it's my love letter to the people of the city I grew up in. I love the lingo of the town, and no other comic in the entire universe uses the Derry accent or slang! And most of all, I take pride in talking to the people who have been influenced and impassioned by our story and the comics. Of course, I would love to see the comic go on forever, but I do have an end date set in mind. Issue 24 could well be the ultimate conclusion for the series. But it definitely won't be the end for Uproar. We plan to keep roaring louder and for a long time to come!

Uproar Comics will be hosting a Hallowe'en Party entitled Outbreak! at the end of the month. For more information, check out Uproar Comics on Facebook.

To buy copies of Zombies Hi! Volumes One to Six, visit the official Uproar Comics website at