Beware the Evil Eye of BALOR... or Don't – An Interview with PETER HARTE
Peter Harte bids adieu to Molly Malone, travels Raglan Road, boards The Irish Rover, and sails all the way to the Yeti Cave to discuss the comic Balor, currently on Kickstarter. It may be a long way From Clare to Here, but contributor Jimmy Gaspero is always up for a bit of craic, so we're going to have a pint and discuss superheroes and Irish mythology.
COMIC BOOK YETI: Peter, thank you so much for joining me here in the Yeti Cave to talk about your current Kickstarter for Balor #2. How are you doing?
PETER HARTE: I’m doing great. Thank you!
CBY: What is your comics origin story both as a reader and a creator? Have comics always been a part of your life?
PH: I have been reading comics since I was 6 when my grandmother picked me up Ultimate Spider-Man #1. I’ve always loved comics and superheroes, especially the flawed ones.
As a creator, I have a comic podcast called The Superior Comic Show, which opened the door for me to talk to some amazing writers and artists. It was through this that I started to ask myself “why not create your own?” I have always loved writing and comics, so why not put the two together?
CBY: Do you have a “day job” when not writing comics or hosting the Superior Comic Show podcast and how do you balance working, family, and creating comics?
PH: I do and like most indie creators I’ve spoken to, I find it difficult sometimes. I have two young kids, a fiancé, and a full time job, so balancing all of that and writing Balor has its challenges.
Luckily for me, my partner is amazing and we set aside days that she will put the kids to bed so I can work on writing for a few hours a night. I think that’s important in terms of balancing family and creating. Having someone who believes in you enough to take an extra amount of work so you can work on a dream is amazing!
CBY: That's very true. This is your second Kickstarter campaign after Balor #1, what’s the crowdfunding experience been like so far?
PH: A piece of cake! No, I joke, it’s been challenging to get the hang of it. I learned a lot during the first campaign that I then applied to this current one, but then I found I still have a lot more to learn. In terms of the people around crowdfunding, I’ve met some incredible creators, readers, and promoters. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that indie comics is really one big family.
CBY: You were kind enough to send me Balor #1, thank you, but rather than hear it from me, can you tell CBY readers what Balor is all about?
PH: Of course! Sean James is just your typical young Irish lad, that is until his brother is murdered when he accidentally stumbled upon a drug shipment for the biggest drug lord in Dublin, Don O’Donnell (He thinks it sounds cool and so far nobody has been brave enough to disagree). With the justice system not doing its job (shocker), Sean’s grief remained, but now he had the added darkness of feeling powerless. On a trip to Loch Na Suil, Sean goes swimming and stumbles upon the shrine of Balor. He is then gifted the reincarnated powers of Balor (The faeries who guarded this power had added enough of their own magic to keep the evil at bay). With his new powers Sean decides to take the law into his own hands and track down O’Donnell.
I won’t spoil too much, so all I will say is that he doesn’t find him in issue 1, but he does find evidence of another powered person and a uniform patch for the mysterious S.C.M.P.
So you may be asking who was this Balor? In Irish mythology, there was a demon warrior known as Balor whose destructive power came from his third eye which had been corrupted by the fumes of a Druid spell.
CBY: That's great. I love Irish mythology. With so many superhero stories in comics, I would think it can be tough to put a unique spin on the genre, yet you and the creative team have managed to do that with the source of Sean James’ powers being steeped in Irish mythology. What do you think makes Irish mythology a good source material for modern storytelling?
PH: Thank you very much! I chose Irish mythology as I think it is an untapped well. In terms of mythology-related characters, we have only really gotten the big ones like Thor and Hercules, but there are so many more interesting figures in worldwide mythology.
I chose to start with Irish [mythology] because it’s a subject I have studied growing up and in my head, I have plans for so much more Irish mythology to get the modern superhero spotlight. We are adding mythology from other countries, also. Acalica who will be introduced in issue 2 is actually from Bolivian mythology.
CBY: What elements do you think are essential to a well-executed superhero origin story?
PH: That’s a great question and I guarantee everyone gives a different answer.
Motive, I think, is the most important one. Why does your character want to be a hero? Is it for personal gain, ego, revenge, etc?
I also think morals are vital as you want your hero to have a limit to what he/she/they are willing to do.
Then, of course, you need to build that conflict off the bat. It’s an origin so your character is very green to this line of work. They need to figure out, who are villains? Who are allies?
Then there are so many sub-elements that are necessary, too. I could go on for days and still, some would disagree and that’s the beauty of comics.
CBY: For Balor #1, you worked with artist Amii Muir and you lettered the comic, as well. For issue #2, you and Amii have brought on colorist Grace K and letterer Paul Carroll. How did the creative team for issue #2 come together and what do you think each member brings to Balor that makes it shine?
PH: Yes, Amii and I duetted issue 1 and by the end of it, we were exhausted, haha.
So for the future, we decided we needed to bring in some talented professionals for the lettering and colouring. Paul is a gent and a fantastic Irish creator. I reached out to him about lettering and sent him Balor #1. He was more than happy to join the team and I think with him he brings experience, knowledge, and some gorgeous lettering ability.
Grace actually responded to a tweet I sent out looking for a colourist. She sent her portfolio and, from the moment I clicked, I knew she was perfect for Balor. Her ability with colours can only be described as natural talent, but it was her work with the lighting that captured me.
I believe I am the letdown of the team at the moment as I am the promoter and these individuals deserve a far bigger audience than I have drawn in so far. In my opinion, all three have mainstream-level talent.
CBY: You’re from Dublin, right? I visited Ireland twice, but it’s been many years since I was there and I long to return. When I went I stayed in Kilmallock in County Limerick and made day trips to Dublin, Kinsale, Dingle, and a few other places. If someone wants to travel to Ireland, Dublin specifically, what do you think makes the quintessential trip to Ireland? What’re the non-touristy things that folks should do there?
PH: I am, indeed! I think you need to hit the pubs (reinforcing a stereotype here, lol), but not the flashy ones in Temple Bar. Head to the smaller pubs if you want some genuine Irish atmosphere.
The Dublin mountains at nighttime provide a gorgeous view of the city lit up.
Howth for fish and chips.
If you’re over during the summer, you could grab a ticket for a GAA or hurling match in Croke Park.
And then, of course, there’s the touristy things that are also quintessential like the GPO, Glasnevin Cemetery’s 1916 memorial, Kilmainham Gaol, Croke Park museum, and The Phoenix Park.
CBY: I wish hurling were more popular here in America. I fell in love watching it when I all too briefly visited Ireland. Are there any comic creators working today whose work inspires/influences you?
PH: Al Ewing, Kelly Thompson, and Donny Cates would be the three writers I always find myself gravitating towards. I would love to say you can see elements of them in my work, but I think it would take years to even get near their level.
CBY: What comics/books/tv shows/movies are you currently enjoying?
PH: Amazing Spider-Man is always top of my list (especially with Ben Reilly being the main man recently), Superman: Son of Kal-El, Green Arrow comics are also a regular on my pull list. There are so many more, I just really love comics, haha.
In terms of TV, I loved episode 1 of Moon Knight and I have just finished season 3 of Titans (I know it has issues, but I enjoy it).
I fell off the CW DC shows a while back, but I would love to catch up eventually.
CBY: If you were the curator for a comics museum, which 3 books do you want to make absolutely sure are included?
PH: Amazing Spider-Man #121 & #122 (I know I may get in trouble for this, but you need the complete set for "The Night Gwen Stacey Died").
Action Comics #1 (No brainer really).
This will be controversial…
Deadpool #20 (2017) - This one is on this list as it is a great story in terms of mental health from a character you wouldn’t expect.
CBY: Any other projects CBY readers should check out?
PH: No other comics just yet, but you can check out The Superior Comic show on Twitter and YouTube. We have had some amazing writers, artists, and actors on the podcast.
CBY: Where can you be found online?
PH: On Twitter we can be found at:
Facebook: Balor Comic
CBY: Thank you so much, Peter, I appreciate you taking the time to join me in the Yeti Cave and good luck with the rest of the campaign for Balor #2.
PH: Thank you very much for the opportunity! I really appreciate you having me.
Also thank you for the amazing work you do here for the comic book community.