All present at zombie school

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The varnished wooden floor boards creaked on the second floor of the Verbal Arts Centre on Thursday morning but there wasn’t a zombie in sight.

St. Columb’s College pupils shuffled their way up the stairs, across the creaky floor and took their seats in the room known as the Blue Coat Room.

Kevin Campbell (left) and Danny McLaughlin (right) give a talk about comic books design to St. Columb's College pupils at the Verbal Arts Centre on Thursday.

Kevin Campbell (left) and Danny McLaughlin (right) give a talk about comic books design to St. Columb's College pupils at the Verbal Arts Centre on Thursday.

The year eight and year nine College boys had all asked to be brought to the Verbal Arts Centre where they were treated to a light-hearted talk by ‘UpRoar Comics’ founders and creators of ‘Zombies Hi’ (a comic book series set in Derry), Kevin Logue and Danny McLaughlin. Not present at the event was fellow co-founder and creator John Campbell.

The talk was also the opening event of this year’s 2D Comics Festival.

Year eight pupil, Ryan Campbell, said that he found what Danny and Kevin had to say inspiring and added that the first five issues of their comic ‘Zombies Hi’ have gone to the very top of his shopping list.

“It was so much fun coming here today,” said 12 year-old Ryan.

“I’ve been interested in comics since I was at St. John’s P.S. and I used to draw and sketch every chance I got.

“I think it’s pretty amazing Danny [McLaughlin], Kevin [Logue] and John [Campbell] came up with their own idea and decided to run with it as a comic - I am definitely going to buy every issue of ‘Zombies Hi’.”

Ryan is clearly a comic book fan and when asked for his favourite comic and comic book hero of all time, he showed no hesitation.

“I really like reading all of the old Spider-Man comics and my favourite comic book heroes would be Spider-Man and Kick-Ass.”

Kevin and Danny are are former St. Columb’s College pupils and they said that they were delighted to be able to “give something back” to their old school.

“I actually had two of the teachers who are here today when I was at St. Columb’s College,” said Danny smiling.

“I suppose you could say that we’ve come full circle because instead of us sitting listening to the teacher, they, along with the boys, are sitting listening to us - it’s a great feeling.”

Kevin said that he valued his time at St. Columb’s and added that the school’s art department helped him to development his penchant for drawing and sketching.

“I think that St. Columb’s had one of the best art departments in Europe when I was there. I loved my time at the school and the art teachers were amazing.

“Going to St. Columb’s College definitely helped me to become the artist that I am now.”

On hearing that the both Kevin and Danny went to St. Columb’s College, year eight pupil Eoin McCrossan, said that the talk had given him the belief that he too could create his own comic in the future.

“It’s so inspirational to not only listen to local people but former St. Columb’s College pupils who have created a comic.

“I have always been into comics and after listening to Kevin and Danny talking about they got started I would like to try my hand at it in the future.

“My favourite comic book hero is Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man.”

Year nine pupil Mark Kelly said that he had never heard of ‘Zombies Hi’ until the talk but said he was impressed with what Kevin and Danny had to say.

“I love reading comics and my favourite character would have to be Ironhide from the Transformers,” said the 13 year-old.

“I really like the fact that ‘Zombies Hi’ is set in Derry. It’s so cool.”

St. Columb’s College English teacher, Tony McGonigle, (who is one of Danny’s former teachers) said that if comic books helped young people to read more then they had to be treated with the utmost of respect.

“Young men are the hardest age group to target when trying to encourage young people to read. If comic books gets young boys reading then that has to be seen as a good thing.

“The boys are here as part of our reading week at the school and as you can see they are all very passionate about comics.

“I also thing it’s great to see two former St. Columb’s pupils doing so well for themselves - they are an inspiration to the boys.”

Along with fellow creator and founder, John Campbell, Kevin and Danny have been involved in one way or another with the annual 2D Comic Festival for the last four years.

Kevin and Danny praised the festival and said that it has done wonders for the local comic book scene.

“The 2D Comics Festival is the local comic scene,” said Danny. “Without it, we wouldn’t be doing what it is we are now doing,” said Danny.

Kevin went on to echo Danny sentiments and added that ‘UpRoar Comics’ have some big events coming up in the near future.

“It’s an amazing festival and the organisers are so passionate about it. We owe a lot to the 2D Festival.

“We are so busy at the minute. We hope to have issue six of ‘Zombies Hi’ released by the end of July. We are in the middle of designing an app for the iPad and in just over a week’s time an interactive zombie game that we created will go live in Waterloo Street. It’s all go!”

For further information on ‘UpRoar Comics’ and ‘Zombies Hi’ visit www.uproarcomics.co.uk