Gerry Hunt: an appreciation

All of us at The O’Brien Press were saddened to learn of the death of author Gerry Hunt on Friday 29 June 2018.

Gerry was an architect who worked with the IDA for eighteen years. He took early retirement in 1986 to give more time to his beloved drawing. His first, self-produced, comic was a rhyming, Spanish-language work that he gave away to friends. In 2003 he created a short series of inner-city Dublin fables told in rhyme called In Dublin City, followed by his crime graphic novel, Streets of Dublin; Streets of Dublin was later included in an exhibition entitled ‘Artist’s Books’ in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Blood Upon the Rose
Blood Upon the Rose: Gerry’s first graphic novel with O’Brien Press

The first book that Gerry published with The O’Brien Press was his landmark graphic novel, Blood Upon The Rose: Easter 1916 – The Rebellion That Set Ireland Free. Gerry’s skills and heritage shone through his graphic art and his ground-breaking historical graphic novel brought the Easter Rising vividly to life in words and pictures. It was followed by the graphic novels 1913: Larkin’s Labour War (about the 1913 lockout), At War With The Empire: Ireland’s Fight for Independence (about the Irish War of Independence) and Bobby Sands: Freedom Fighter (the life story of hunger striker Bobby Sands).Gerry’s books were a labour of love, and in this spirit, he donated all his royalties to Smile Train, a charity for children born with cleft lip and palate, and to St Vincent de Paul. Continue reading “Gerry Hunt: an appreciation”

Presentation Season

Publishing is a seasonal business, based around tourists and kids in the spring, holiday reading in the summer and (hopefully!) gift purchases in Autumn and Winter. 2008 was an exception to the rule that the Christmas gift market is where it’s at for general book publishers like us, and Christmas starts this week (for the Sales department: for editorial much of Christmas is over, and the rest of it in frenzied development)!

For a period of about ten days, we meet, greet and show our autumn wares to all the major retailers, wholesalers and chains in Ireland and do our best to ensure that our pitch — enthusiasm, belief, marketing plans etc — will convince them that ours are the must-have titles for the season. Naturally, every other publisher is pitching their books at the same time, and the retail buyers must get punch-drunk from the whole thing.

So what happens? Well, we show them advance information (AI: not to be confused with Artificial Insemination!) sheets and talk about forthcoming titles and the feedback is collated and fed back into our system and we make a call on which comments to take seriously and which ones to leave aside.

Many books fit into boxes (In The Blood is the next Grand National, Alice to the Rescue is Judi Curtin’s next sure-fire winner, …) but where it gets really interesting is where there is something that just doesn’t fit: is Blood Upon the Rose a kid’s book or a general book? Is it a graphic novel or a history book?

So who is right and who is wrong? We can’t know until the readers have had their say: we use our years of experience to make the best guesses we can on what it is that people want to buy, read and enjoy: and to make those books as readable and attractive as they can be: and ensure that they are all on the tables at the front of the shops, of course … Place your bets!


Dublin 1916 art in

The heat of battle!I just saw some new artwork in that blew me away completely! We have a really exciting project coming this autumn: Blood Upon the Rose: Dublin 1916, a graphic novelisation of the 1916 Easter Rising by Gerry Hunt, with award-winning cartoonist and illustrator BrenB doing the colouring. I had only seen the black-and-white images before, but BrenB has done a really brilliant job on the couple of pages we have here. Continue reading “Dublin 1916 art in”