A Belfast-born, world-famous comic writer, whose creations have been brought to life on the small screen, is to make a headline appearance at Enniskillen Comic Fest later this month.
arth Ennis’ comics Preacher and The Boys were turned into TV shows and he has also worked for both Marvel and DC.
He will attend the event to launch his new hardcover anthology, Battle-Action, along with artists who worked on it.
Ennis’ appearance at Enniskillen Comic Fest is a huge coup as it’s one of only two events that the US-based writer is attending this summer; the other having been in London at the weekend.
The Battle-Action special includes seven new stories written by Ennis, whose work also includes Hellblazer and The Punisher, and war comics such as The Stringbags and The Lion and the Eagle, both drawn by Belfast artist PJ Holden.
Battle Picture Weekly was where the revolution in British comics began. Created in 1975 by writers and editors Pat Mills and John Wagner, it introduced new grittiness into comics with its cast of anti-heroes and misfits, which was then built on by the editorial team into the best war comic on the market with Major Eazy, HMS Nightshade, Johnny Red and the iconic Charley’s War.
Battle’s bombast and energy sparked a change in what comics could do, leading to Mills’ creation of the controversial Action and the globally influential 2000 AD. The Battle-Action special celebrates the merging of this landmark title with its controversial stable mate Action in November 1977, a combination that took the two comics to even greater heights. Now, 40 years after the original, some of the best-known British comics talent are bringing these classic characters back to life.
Paul Trimble, one of the organisers of Enniskillen Comic Fest, said it is an honour to have Ennis come to the event to launch his new work.
“This is a huge deal for us as Garth is one of the most popular and recognisable creators in comics,” he said.
“The fact that he comes from Belfast as well will make him a big draw. He has a great knack for writing entertaining and popular comics.
“His name on a comic is a good guarantee of great sales.”
Ennis’ most famous works include his Marvel adults-only MAX imprint version of The Punisher and the Vertigo series Preacher, which he co-created with artist Steve Dillon.
Preacher was developed into a TV series for AMC, starring Dominic Cooper and Ruth Negga. It premiered in May 2016 and ran for four seasons.
Novelist Stephen King later said his comic books series The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born was influenced by Preacher.
The Boys was also adapted for TV under Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the same production duo as Preacher.
It aired on Amazon Prime in 2019.
Ennis is known for his use of graphic violence, black comedy and his dislike of organised religion, a by-product of his Northern Irish upbringing.
He is also known in comic circles for his loathing of the superhero genre, although he has admitted to having a soft spot for Superman and Wonder Woman.
Mr Trimble said that as a result of the pandemic, Enniskillen Comic Fest would be a smaller event than in previous years, but he still expected a lot of interest.
“There is a big comic community all over Ireland and people travel from all over to attend our Comic Fest,” he said.
“While big shows like ComicCon are more about film and TV, ours is purely comic-focused.
“We draw fans from Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast, England, Scotland and France. We even had an American man travel over one year. We generally have a diverse group of artists and writers but due to the lingering effects of Covid, this year’s event will be somewhat smaller.
“We put on a show unlike others though and we will still be doing that this year. If you’re interested in comics, this is the event to come to.”
The Battle-Action special will be available at the Enniskillen Comic Fest in both the standard cover and a special Enniskillen variant cover so fans will have the opportunity to have it autographed by Ennis along with the four artists Mike Dorey, PJ Holden, Keith Burns and Patrick Goddard.
Also appearing will be Marvel artist Declan Shalvey, who illustrated the Moon Knight series, and David Hunt, who oversaw the glory days of Battle and went on to edit Eagle in the 1980s.
Writers of 2000 AD Michael Carroll, Maura McHugh and Rob Williams will be in attendance, as well as Batman and Judge Dredd artist William Simpson, also from Belfast, who was storyboard artist and designer on Game of Thrones.
Entry to Enniskillen Comic Fest on Saturday, June 18, is free. The event takes place at St Macartin’s Cathedral Hall