Northern Ireland

Comic book creation brings Somme to life

For Valour Image copyright Monaghan,Armagh & Banbridge Museum/Stephen Mooney
Image caption The comic book tells the real life stories of three people from Armagh, Craigavon and Monaghan

Comic books are usually used to relate the adventures of Spiderman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

But three museums are telling the stories of real life heroes of the Battle of the Somme in a novel way.

Armagh County Museum, Craigavon Museum Services and Monaghan County Museum have managed to come up with a different way of telling the story of its horrors through a comic book.

They recall the real-life stories of three people from each area.

Image copyright Monaghan,Armagh & Banbridge Museum/Stephen Mooney
Image caption Pte Tommy Chambers from Armagh kept a diary during the war

The comic tells the true stories of Pte Tommy Chambers from Armagh, Pte Thomas Hughes VC from Monaghan and Anne Acheson from Portadown.

'Reach out to young people'

The curator of Monaghan County Museum, Liam Bradley, said the museums had worked closely together to create the comic, but there was one particular genre they were keen to attract.

"There is a cohort that all museums struggle to attract - that is typically teenagers and secondary school pupils," he said.

"We were looking for ways to attract and target them. With the huge amount of impact that comic books have on film, art and popular culture, we thought this was a good way to tell the personal stories."

"All the creators involved in the were very mindful the subject matter.

"We were in contact with all the family members and wanted to make sure they were happy with what we were doing and how we were telling the story.

"For the most part they were over the moon to see their their relatives being portrayed in such a light," said Liam.

"We wanted to tell a story that was realistic but it also had to be attractive and punchy," he added. "I think we struck that balance".

Image copyright Monaghan,Armagh & Banbridge Museum/Stephen Mooney
Image caption Anne Acheson from Portadown's story was told in the comic

The museums enlisted the help of comic book designer Stephen Mooney.

He had studied animation - before getting into the rather niche area of comic book writing, after the owner of a local comic shop enlisted his help with writing his own comics.

Taking about the Somme project he said: "They were stories worth telling, and I was very aware when I was writing the scripts it had to be okayed by members of the family, so always had that in mind."

Image copyright Monaghan,Armagh & Banbridge Museum/Stephen Mooney

You can download a copy of the complete comic here.

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