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Interview with Artist Anthony O'Neill and Review of his book Nestor

by Charlene Bennett | on | in Articles

Interview with Artist Anthony O'Neill and Review of his book Nestor

I have read both issues about 3 times each now. Mike Lynch and Martin Greene, the brains behind the book did exceptionally well, especially being Greene's first publication. Issue #2 offers us more clarity of the story and we really get to see who Nestor really is as a person and how he goes from pacifist to murderer in one night and how this effects him within.

Anthony O'Neill really brought darkness, mood and gore to this issue with his highly detailed illustrations, He has great flow and an amazing talent for telling a story through his art. While MC Callans art suited the first issue, I think the writer's chose well taking on O'Neill as the artist for issue #2. He can do horror unbelievably well without much effort and He really brings out the emotion in Nestor, Lusk and Sara.

You can now buy Nestor #1 and #2 in Ennis bookstore Ennis Co. Clare, Forbidden Planet Dublin and Hollywood Hits Kilrush for a very reasonable price of only 3.50

Anthony O'Neill is a new up and coming Irish comic book illustrator. Originally from Dublin, Anthony is now a part time hard working Co. Clare based artist in which he mainly works for Ennis based writer's Mike Lynch and Martin Greene of the new comic firm aimed at mature readers; ABANDONED-COMICS.


C: Hi Anthony, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I recently read both issues of Nestor, which by all means was fantastic! Can you tell us a bit about your issue?

A: Hi Charlene thanks so much for having me, NESTOR is the new four star (as rated by SFX comic-heroes magazine) two part comic book written by Abandoned-comics; Mike Lynch and Martin Greene. The story is set in the fair city of Dublin, in the first issue which was illustrated masterfully by the great Paul MC Callan, Nestor the main character does his best to blend in with normal every day society. Nestor watches old movies, works in a grocery store and enjoys hanging out with his friend in his local bar. Then one night this all changes when the woman he loves is murdered in their home by a gang of Villainous Thugs. The tale progresses onto the second part which was illustrated by myself, in this part of the story Nestor seeks revenge and is forced to unleash a monster that he thought he had sealed away centuries ago, revealing himself as a vampire.

C: How did you get involved in Nestor?

A: Iv been drawing ever since the age that i could hold a pencil, and iv been reading comics and graphic novels for almost the same amount of time, thanks to this i have formed an almost unhealthy addiction to idly scribbling away whenever i should be doing something Else. One day i was sitting in work buried in a random sketch, when suddenly a girl came over to me and told me that two of her friends were putting a comic book together but needed an illustrator to come on board. Now i have to mention here that although i have been drawing my whole life iv never really had all that much faith in my own work, for whatever reason the dream of being a comic book illustrator just seemed insanely too far out of reach. I eventually met up with Mike Lynch and Martin Greene and it was like a match made in nerd heaven. Mike and Martin the ABANDONED-BROTHERS were so down to earth they were completely awesome, our mind sets were perfectly contrasted and yet so much alike, we began to work together immediately on a short story called "good boy" which was for a world war one anthology called wire and gas, when we wrapped that all up we had another meeting were the lads explained to me that they had a full story with a much larger scope, that they would like me to illustrate, needless to say i was more than happy to continue my work with them and i jumped at the chance of this was once in a lifetime dream come true, this was the beginning of NESTOR.

C: You have been into comic books your whole life. Which comic book story or series inspired you most growing up? Was it this story that inspired you to become a comic book illustrator?

A: As a young kid i loved Saturday morning cartoons i could never get enough, i loved the likes of he-man the thundercats, TMNT(it was actually TMHT back then) and Bruce Tim's batman but what really sparked my senses were Spiderman, Hulk, the x-men, iron man and the fantastic four marvel was my haven and i practically lived for those shows growing up. As the years went on i found myself copying the characters straight from the television, i used to make up my own costumes and stories and even creating my own heroes, but it wasn't until my uncle Paul came to me at the age of about 7 or 8 and explained to me about how these marvel characters that i adored so much from their respective TV shows, were actually recreations of something even bigger, that my sense's truly flared. My uncle gave me a book, it was a marvel annual with tons of the original number 1's in it. Since that day, thanks to Stan the man Jack Kirby Joe Simon and of course my uncle Paul (to whom i owe so much) i feel as though i haven't been able to close my eyes, i wanted everything, every single book i could find, and i wanted to draw it all. The one book that changed every fiber of my soul though, the one the made me say i NEED to be doing this as a living was; The ultimates by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. The ultimates was every fan boy's dream, a nostalgic homage to the great originals, yet still making the content of the story his own, and all done with the greatest team up of all time, Marks genius bled out of this story and tattooed itself permanently onto my subconscious and who better to draw such and intense epic than the mighty Bryan Hitch, these were not simply comic panels these were deeply orchestrated notes of music flowing from one scene to the next with perfect ease, the action, the drama, the detail my eyes were on fire and i knew then and there that i had to try this for myself.

C: I have researched some of your art on your blog and I came across your "green Arrow" image, which displays a lot of foreshortening and perspective work, have you received any training or guidance regarding your illustration throughout the years?

A: No unfortunately i have received no training what so ever, as i mentioned before i have an awful habit of scribbling when i should be paying attention, so even my academic education felt the consequences of my ignorance and i failed to progress onto college, this is a fact that i have always regretted and at the moment i am actually doing my best to remedy. Any knowledge i have regarding my foreshortening or perspective techniques all comes from books and web sites, I'm completely one hundred per cent self taught, but i have never regarded this as an admirable quality en fact its completely the contrary i always wondered how good my work could have been had i focused just that small bit more. Luckily though i have been blessed enough to have a large supportive group of family and friends who have always been there to help guide and push me along the way.

C: Who do you aspire to be like?

A: My aspirations as a comic book artist change all the time, growing up all i ever wanted was to be like Jack Kirby his art was like a drug to me i just couldn't get enough of it, his captain America was like sheer opium, over the years more equally awesome artists came on board like Lee Bermejo, Adi Granov, Simon Bianchi, Alex Ross and Steve MC Niven but the one name that shines like a mighty beacon of sequential greatness above all others for me is and will always be Bryan Hitch, Bryan draws with the heart of poet and the stroke of a composer every line is infused with love and care, and his sequential work is just completely unparalleled. In saying all of that though I hate to use the word influence because the word Influence gives the impression that I'm trying to imitate the masters that i love so much (and i could never do that) for me the most important thing VISUALLY has always been to achieve comprehension while still creating a unique visual style that is dynamic and instantly recognisable.

C: If you could have any super power, what would it be?

A: This is probably the simplest question for me to answer so far because this is something i think about every day. I actually happen to suffer from a very mild case of claustrophobia even if i spend too much time sitting on a compact bus or a train i can become extremely irritated and depressed. When i was young i remember watching Christopher reeve playing superman for the first time, i watched that final scene were he sours past the curvature of the earth into all that open endless space, he stares through the television set right into your eyes and with one simple smile your right there with him, for one simple moment all of the earths tangible gravity and all the shackles of the physical world fall away, but then suddenly... he passes out of view, leaving you behind, only to dream of that amazing impossibility. All my life i have been obsessed with the freedom of flight and if i could have only one power although i am choosing it for extremely selfish purposes, it would most definitely have to be flight.

C: Do you have a favorite band or musician that you prefer to listen to when you are working on a project?

A: That's such an interesting original question. Yes i love to listen to music while i draw, my favourite band above any other is HIM, their front man ville valo is a complete and utter genius, his thought provoking lyrics bring you back to the great eighty's style of rock, but without getting so nostalgic as to sacrifice creativity, the whimsical melancholy of his vocals coupled with the talent of his incredible band are just so unique that they stand alone above any of the conformative styles you hear today, but sometimes HIM as insanely amazing as they all are, are sometimes just not the right tone to invoke that drive you might need to finish off a piece. I remember when i was doing a short story for UPROAR-COMICS Zombies-hi! Issue six Which was written again by the masterful Mike Lynch called "the hiest" there was a final scene were a group of thieves are locked into a bank vault with a horde of hungry zombies on the other side of the door, as i read Mike Lynch's script the feeling of claustrophobia overwhelmed me, but i also had this intense pulse of urgency, and i wanted to try and put all of this onto the page. So after a few flicks threw my CD collection i was blaring the likes of tool, rob zombie, Marilyn Manson and tons of other black metal tracks of the goth persuasion and id like to think it helped allot (maybe my neighbors weren't that happy but it got the job done in the end)

C: Are you working on any projects at the moment?

A:Right now i am working on two separate pieces, one is the second part of a story that was again done by the amazing Abandoned brothers Mike Lynch and Martin Greene called Salvage which is going to be absolutely insane, i cant tell you guys any more about it other than it is going to be amazingly diverse and grippingly appealing to anyone who grew up loving Ridley Scott. Second is something that i cooked up myself and Mike Lynch was fantastic enough to back me up on it with an excellent script, its mainly a promotional type piece but its also still sequential, i have high hopes for this but because of its small size and the unique nature of this story i have to play it pretty close to the chest so unfortunately again i cant say too much other than keep your ear to the ground and your eyes fixed on abandoned-comics website www.abandonedcomics.com.

C: If you could pick any writer to collaborate with, who would it be?

A: Right now i am having one hell of a time with Abandoned-comics writers Mike Lynch and Martin Greene and i would like to remain with this immensely fantastic team and do my part to help the world see how amazing they are for as long as they will have me, at the same time ever since i was a child i have wanted to work in the mainstream and obviously i would love this to be my nine to five so that every ounce of my time can be spent doing it, so if i ever was to get that big break and managed to be noticed by one of the colossal names of the mainstream i would have to say that i would hope that, that name would be Mark Millar.

C: Your previous work with Abandoned Comics (Nestor) and Uproar Comics (Zombies Hi #6) show strong interests in horror, is this the genre you hope to stick with during your art career?

A: You know although known for my contributions to the horror genre it was never actually my initial intention. My greatest comic book love regarding genre has always been for the hero story, I'm a huge fan of the true blue heroes such as superman, captain America and spiderman i love the idea of someone being so far beyond the average understanding of goodness and yet being so blind to how amazingly inspirational that actually is. Don't get me wrong iv had my fare share of the anti heroes too like punisher or spawn but for me growing up it always just seemed too easy, in regards to the story's enjoyment and depth to deal with a threat through murder, rather than finding an alternative route, I'm not saying I'm a pacifist or anything like that there is a place in comics for violent ends, but i just always felt that the feeling of inspiration and responsibility that you get from a hero, out ways that of a bullet any day. I'm loving doing the horror stuff and ill always enjoy drawing monsters, but i hope one day someone will throw my inner child a bone, and let me try my hand at drawing a character that could make someone Else feel, how i felt as a child, when i looked upon those pages; as if i could simply be more than someone who only cared for themselves.

C: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

A:I was asked this question recently on another interview so ill cut a corner here and answer it the same as i did then: Iv never really been one to try and look too far ahead, i try to focus on the here and now and at the moment i am having the time of my life with Abandoned-comics, so Where do i see my self in 5 years time? Who knows but Where would i like to be in 5 years time? Doing exactly what I'm doing now. Thanks for having me and i hope i didn't ramble on too much take care true believers toodle pip :)


You can catch Anthony on Twitter @Antoluke616, and if you like what you have seen here then you can visit his blog:http://www.anthonylukeoneill.blogspot.ie/

You can also find many pin-up pieces that he has done for the Irish comic book site http://www.irishcomicnews.com/tag/anthony-oneill/

You may also find the Writer Mike Lynch of Nestor on Twitter @NestorComic

You can Vote for Nestor for Best Irish Indy Comic on
http://www.irishcomicnews.com/2012/11/icn-awards-2012-voting-now-open/

Review and Interview By Charlene Bennett.