Savage Town draws a dark shadow at Limerick exhibition

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One of the Savage Town images that will feature in the Limerick exhibition.

AN exhibition celebrating the graphic novel ‘Savage Town’, loosely based on gangland Limerick, opens this week in Ormston House on Patrick Street.

On show since Thursday January 25 and running until February 17, the exhibition features artwork, live performance and panel discussion with authors Declan Shalvey and Philip Barrett.

The exhibition will celebrate the release of Savage Town, a graphic novel set in Limerick, loosely based on the rise of gangland in the early noughties.

Shalvey, originally from Ennis, studied Fine Art Printmaking at Limerick School of Art and Design and spent a number of years living in the city. He now makes a living drawing comic book legends such as Batman, Captain America, Deadpool and Punisher for Marvel and DC Comics.

“Back in the summer of 2003, I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I had just finished my final year of art college and I didn’t have a clue what to do with it,” Declan recalled this week.

“I grew up in Ennis. To me, Limerick was the big city we would go to where my mum would go do her fancy shopping, and I would get to go to toyshops and comic shops. There used to be a Forbidden Planet on Patrick Street back in the day and I would spend all day looking at all the comics they had, until that horrible day when the store closed down.

“I’ve always wanted to draw comics, ever since I was a kid. But, saying ‘I want to be a comic artist’ is like saying ‘I want to be an astronaut’ to regular people. ‘Comics eh? So you want to be an art teacher, is it?’ No, I do not want to be an art teacher. I want to tell stories and make a living doing so. That was a pretty unimaginable goal, but it’s all I ever wanted to do,” the writer/artist told the Limerick Post.

However, Declan is now living proof that dreams can come true. From sheer hard work, dedication and a lot of luck, he is today living his dream.

“When I finished school, I still didn’t know how I was going to become a comics artist. I mean I lived in Clare, how was I ever going to get the attention of Marvel Comics from there?

I ended up applying for LSAD in an effort to give myself a broader art education. Moving to a ‘big city’ was pretty intimidating to me. During my four years attending LSAD, and the following years I lived in Limerick, I learned a lot.

“Ultimately, I had to leave Limerick. I had it too good being close to a city I was comfortable with, close to great friends. I had to move on and dedicate myself to what became a kind of vocation, a real dedication to becoming a comics creator.

I began working for Marvel Comics in 2010, drawing characters like Deadpool, Luke Cage, Captain America, Wolverine, Venom, characters that are now household names known on the big and small screen. I’ve gotten to draw Batman for DC comics, more recently I’ve started writing on Deadpool comics and James Bond comics,” he added.

The Savage Town exhibition will open at Ormston House this Thursday, January 25 at 7pm and runs until mid-February.

by Alan Jacques

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