Sam Millar

A Journey with Sam Millar

The-Avengers

Jack Kirby, The Avengers, 4, March 1964 (cover art)

There are many photographs of Sam Millar in the press, and on the web.  On most of them, he looks rather intimidating. On some, you might even feel  a sense of menace.  He comes across as a hard man,  no mistake.  His  reputation, CV, and books, of course, do nothing to change this first impression. Or maybe they  do influence it. Nobody would wish to know  as  much about violence as he does. There is something else also, and his books prepare you for that too, when you meet him : a  dark and constant sense of humour, and a great gift for telling stories, especially stories of tough luck.  And a passion for books, magazines, and all printed matter. The journey between Dublin Connolly Station and Belfast Central lasts 2 hours.   It  feels much shorter. We have barely passed the  viaduct on the Broadmeadow  estuary when he orders coffees, and starts talking about the books he read. His father, a sailor, encouraged him to read;   himself read all the time.  Reading was a political act. When he came  ashore, back to Belfast, he brought books.   From America, he used to bring him Comics;  Marvel, DC Comics, stories of heinous villains and  of superheroes fighting for justice. Sam grew up during the early period of the troubles  in Northern Ireland, reading  Detective Comics made in New York.  The Civil rights movement and the tail end of the silver age of Marvel comics might  have seemed to intersect, not only historically, but at some distant, ideal point. Continue reading

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Names & Places of Irish Noir

WordItOut-word-cloud-Irish Noir

This is a word cloud story of Irish Noir. It is based on a corpus of 280 novels published between 1994 and 2015. The story told by the data represented here details a population of authors, ordered by the respective size of their outputs.  This word cloud indicates  the most productive authors; it suggests that the label “Irish Noir” designates a relatively small, but significant group of writers.

The next representation is based on these authors’ s places of birth.

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In contrast to the previous one, and to where the action of Irish noir series are set (Jack Taylor’s Galway, Ben Devlin’s Strabane-Lifford Borderlands, Sean Duffy’s Carrickfergus, Ed Loy’s Dublin…), the third cloud here reflects  the place of publication of their books. It shows that Irish Noir is actually made in Britain. And to a lesser extent in America. But it also indicates an emergence, of a number of publication places in Ireland : in Dublin, but as well in county Kerry, with Dingle as the headquarters  of a publishing house actively engaged in  the Irish noir phenomenon (Brandon).

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How Noir is Belfast ?

Adrian McKinty and Stuart Neville, in the introduction to the recently launched collection of short stories, Belfast Noir (N.Y., Akashic, 2014) describe Belfast, with some claims, as ” the noirest city on earth”.  The feeling seems to be shared by the international publishing industry. In so far at least as original titles of noir novels set in Northern Ireland have been changed,  in translation or for the U.S. Market, in order to feature the name of the city. Or have been produced originally, abroad, or domestically with a title using explicitly Belfast as a byword  for violence.  Here are a few examples of such “Belfastxploitation”, with some images for a view on Belfast, as reconstructed from the outside…

mILLAR

Sam Millar , Die Bestien von Belfast: Ein Fall für Karl Kane, Translator :  Joachim Körb

Atrium Verlag, Hamburg, 2013 (original, Bloodstorm, 2008). Continue reading

Irish Noir in 75 Dates

Bruen index

Banville, Vincent Death by design Wolfhound Press 1994
McEldowney, Eugene  A Kind of Homecoming   Heinemann 1994
McNamee, Eoin Resurrection Man Picador 1994
Banville, Vincent Death the Pale Rider   Poolbeg 1995
Bateman, Colin Divorcing Jack  Harper Collins 1995  Betty Trask Prize

There are countless examples of Irish Crime Fiction troughout the 20th Century. Admittedly, in some cases the links between  a given  Crime  author and Ireland might be missed, or are by now forgotten. The prolific George A. Birmingham, for example  (James Owen Hannay, 1865 – 1950) was a Belfast born Church of Ireland clergyman. Some Irish authors rank amongst the most celebrated representatives of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, like the Dublin born Freeman Wills Crofts (1879-1957). Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis, 1904-1972) is another famous Ireland born  author of Britsh Mystery novels.The “noir” genre however starts in Ireland much later. For the most part it only began 20 years ago. Continue reading