Brand New Retro: Yellow Press 1991 – 1994


Posted 8 months ago in Brand New Retro

BIMM May 29 – Jul 5 – Desktop

Yellow Press was an Irish comic published from 1991 to 1994. Describing itself as the ‘premier periodical for the nineties kind of person’ and ‘not suitable for young children’ it ran for eleven issues and featured work from over twenty Irish cartoonists.

Irish politics (not too much, thankfully), pop culture, sport, religion and sex were the references which inspired its stories and characters. Strips included Pat Plank, Jarlath McCann (the Special Branch Man), Johnny Blotto (he won the lotto), Rick O’Shea (of the Old IRA), Larry the Leech, the Madd Lads and Desperate Dana. A typical issue contained thirty two pages, mostly cartoons and with little advertising. By 1994, a couple of music and opinion pages were added with musings from Jim Carroll and Donal Scannell.

Cartoonist Gerard Crowley was a major contributor to the comic. Active from the start, he created a handful of different characters, worked on all issues and was its editor. Brian McMahon of Brand New Retro met up with Gerard to flick through some old back issues and to find out more about his Yellow Press days of thirty years ago.

 

How did Yellow Press come about?

Yellow Press came about when a bunch of cartoonists got together and decided to try and put out a comic. There was a precursor, The Crack, which never really got off the ground except for one issue.

 

Where did the name come from?

Following a torturous meeting at which several name suggestions were mooted and discarded, we settled on Yellow Press by cartoonist Billy Drake as a tribute to sensationalist newspapers in days of yore.

 

Who drew the characters and strips?

The contributors were most of the cartoonists working in the country. Sadly, we could barely afford to pay, so we all pitched in for gratis.

 

How did you become editor?

I was kind of press ganged (ha!) into being editor. One of the others rang me up and said congratulations, you’re now the editor. No one else wanted to do it!

 

It was the early 1990s, were computers used in the production?

All of the cartoons were drawn by hand. Mostly good old pen and ink. Joint editor and production maestro Willy Brennan used to put the whole comic together.

We used an early mac, I think, plus layout paper, spray mount, pritt stick, letraset and that awful amberlith stuff (look it up!)

 

How many copies did you sell per issue? 

I think at its height the comic was selling about 2000/3000 copies, which was fairly surprising.

 

What strips/characters did you do?

I did Chris Begrudged, Rick O’Shea, Thaddeus the TD and a few others.

 

What were your own influences?

As a child I always had a pencil in my hand and would draw, draw, draw. I devoured the Beano, Dandy, Beezer and all the British comics. In later years my influences ranged from the Private Eye cartoonists to Tom Mathews, Billy Drake and Scratch (Aongus Collins) in In Dublin Magazine.

 

What about Viz?

The early issues of Viz were definitely an influence. Seeing a “home made look” comic in print and being successful provided inspiration and encouragement that we might be able to emulate it to a small degree.

 

Any chance of a reunion or a special edition that might put the characters in a modern-day context?

There have been faint rumblings of getting a new issue published, probably online. We’ll see!

 

Words: Brian McMahon, Brand New Retro

Cover Credits*

Issue 1   1991 Charlie Bird  by Jim Cogan

Issue 2   1992 Summer Special  by Gerard Crowley

Issue 8   1993 Selection of Yellow Press characters.by various

Issue 11  1994 The Guinness dance man, by Mike McCarthy

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