James Mulholland is an independent filmmaker and webcomic book creator living in the small town of Dundalk, Ireland. Thanks to the limitless power of self-promotion on the Internet, Mulholland’s work is accessible to readers across the world, and it’s something that needs be read. It was his latest webcomic, Proud, that inspired me to reach out to Mulholland and conduct an interview with him, which can be read below. But first, I would encourage anyone interested in how to tell a short-form, compelling narrative to check out Proud at Mulholland’s website: http://shortstories.webcomic.ws/comics/16/
GNN: When did you start writing?
JM: I’ve been writing, in general, since I was 18. I started with short screenplays. I wrote my first feature screenplay around a year later, but it wasn’t good enough. I decided to devote my time to creating my own writing style and trying to improve my writing before attempting a feature script again. I wrote and made my first short film in 2011, What If?.That film went on to gain nominations and festivals in Ireland and got my name out there. In 2012 and 2013 I wrote two more films, My Father’s Son and Forgiving Amy. Both films brought my name to more people as they were very well received at film festivals and critics. Since Forgiving Amy, I decided I wanted to start writing features as I felt it was time and I was ready, so at the moment I am currently re-writing a feature Ruins of Life, currently 40 pages into another one, The Only Child and developing another one.
GNN: After beginning a journey into film, what brought you into the world of comic book creation?
JM: I was reading comics for a couple of years, but had never thought of writing them, but I read Brian [Michael] Bendis’ Daredevil run, and when I finished it, something changed. I got all these ideas for comics, so in September 2013 I wrote an outline for an ongoing series and I wrote a 24-page issue. That issue is getting finished up at the moment. While waiting for that to get finished I decided that in 2014, I wanted to write a lot of short web-comic stories, that eventually, I could release as an anthology book in print. My goal was to put myself under pressure, come up with three story ideas and write them in one day. I wanted to see what I could do if I had a deadline and needed to come up with something quick, could I achieve it. So I only give myself one re-write on each story, which is basically a lettering pass when the art is completed. It challenges me, but it’s also interesting to get audience feedback on stuff I’ve come up with in one day.
GNN: What kind of feedback have you received so far [on your webcomics] and how has that influenced your creation process moving forward?
JM: Feedback has been extremely positive. More positive than I could have ever hoped, to be honest. My first web-comic (A Dead Good Friend) got a lot of people interested in my writing. They also enjoyed that story so much that they asked me to continue a story in that world. So, one day, I got an idea to continue Joey’s story and that script is with the artist at the moment. I felt really nervous putting my work online, I wasn’t sure how people would feel and it’s always hard to take, if people don’t like your work. I’ve been lucky in the response from people. I don’t know if it’s changed my creation process, but I have gained a lot more confidence in my ideas and in my writing.
GNN: Where did the idea for Proud originate?
JM: It came from me writing a short screenplay to apply for funding. All my film work (which is a lot different from the stuff I write in comics), deals with family issues, working class citizens, drugs, etc. So I wanted to write a film that was very bright and child like, about a kid superhero, but the last image would be the reality of this “dream like” world.So the script came from that idea, when I figured out what exactly the last image was (without spoilers for the comics), I re-wrote the whole script based on that idea. I was waiting for the application date to open for funding, and I got the idea that I wanted to try this story as a comic. I wanted to know, could I translate what I do with my film work, into my comic work, and how would people re-act to that?So from there, I started to adapt the story into a comic book story, trying to use the medium to enhance the story to something more, and hopefully touch people and make them think.
GNN: How did you get hooked up with your spectacular artist, Caitlin Soliman?
JM: I saw a web comic that she had done for a man on deviantART, I knew her style would fit perfect for the story of Proud, so I got in contact with her through that site, sent her the script, she really liked it and came on board. I was really lucky to collaborate with her on this project. For me, she nailed it 100 percent.
GNN: You mentioned wanting to eventually release all of your web comics as a collected anthology. How many more do you plan on writing and how do you plan on distributing?
JM: Yeah, my plan is to release them as a trade paperback book, 64+ pages, in the summer of 2014. I have four stories currently online, I have two more in production at the moment, A Dead Good Friend Part 2, and John (this title will more than likely be changed upon release). I have also started to outline, A Dead Good Friend Part 3, which will be the final part of that story. I have an eight-page zombie story that I’ve outlined, and two, four-page sci-fi stories. So there should be 10 stories in all, including the three parts of A Dead Good Friend. I might write another story, that I won’t post online, so only people who get the book get to read it. I plan on self-distributing it, I only plan to get around 50 copies made. It’ll just be for friends, family and any people out there who want to own my work in print.
To check out James Mulholland’s webcomics and keep up-to-date on his new projects, visit his website at http://Shortstories.webcomic.ws/.