They say nothing is created in a vacuum but MBLEH! sort of was.
After eagerly lapping up Freak Brothers, OINK!, 2000AD, Archie Ninja Turtles in my early teens, I stopped reading comics for years even though I was always trying to make them. From 1996-1998 I didn’t buy a single comic, let alone go into a comic shop. I still know nothing about them. I’ve never read Watchmen, never read anything from Neil Gaiman, Chris Ware, Warren Ellis and even Tintin to name a few. I only read Robert Crumb for the first time at 27 years of age.
I really am an idiot.
I should have exposed myself to every type of comic before making my own because now I learn something new every time I pick one up.
So MBLEH! and I suppose a lot of my work was stunted because of this odd isolation.
Around 2001 the first substantial Irish comic Toenail Clippings came out. After seeing how relatively easy it is to gather material and just pay a printer to make your book I was decided. What I was going to do with them after they were printed didn’t even come into my mind. I had no contacts in the comic world and even less business sense. It was existential angst more than anything else that made me do it. I just needed to get something out there. But it turned a few heads and sold well all considering.
I had no computer at home so the entire thing was coloured and assembled during lunch breaks where I worked. I had no idea what I was doing but eventually figured it out. Like all my work prior to 2006 I was using the red headed stepchildren of the graphic design world: Corel Draw and Corel Photopaint instead of Adobe. It was like trying to eat a bowl of soup with a matchstick.
* The house where I was living during the MBLEH! years was a few doors away from where the tabloid celebrity killers The Scissor Sisters lived
* MBLEH! like it’s little pal The SHIZNIT appeared in some awful Irish Tv shows. I signed a release to let MBLEH! be used in a scene of The Big Bow Wow and then later The SHIZNIT was in The Roaring Twenties…both fucking awful pieces of Irish television. I’d prefer if they appeared in one of those videos where they saw off the hostage’s head off rather than those shows.
* To save costs I actually developed the film used to create the printing plates myself in an epic struggle of trial and error.
Issue one came out in May 2003.
Downright awful mostly with no cohesion. It was just a collection of things I had randomly built up. I both laugh and cringe when I see it now. Some pages were scanned in at low res, most of the comics are terrible. I still like the cover though.
It was a bad idea calling it MBLEH! as nobody could pronounce it. The ‘m’ is silent. Like everybody was meant to know…
BUT for all its faults and roughness it really did cause quite a commotion and people really seemed to love it. It was picked up by Diamond Comic Distributors and sold good enough overseas, that was my dream come true; to receive fan mail from American girls. Actual letters, people still used to send letters in 2003.
The best thing to come out of MBLEH! was Mister Amperduke which appeared as 6 page story in issue three.
And the cover of issue three above with the worm was a personal triumph.
I still have a handful left if really want to buy them at an exorbitant price.