John McCrea recalls opening Northern Ireland’s first comics shop and meeting Garth Ennis

The Mighty World of McCrea
(Image credit: John McCrea)

Comic book artist John McCrea is currently accepting pledges on Kickstarter for The Mighty World of McCrea, the first of four 200-page hardcover volumes collecting his 30-plus years of creator-owned work.

Vol. 1 will include The Atheist (with Phil Hester), The Tosspot Four (with Garth Ennis), Dinosaurs Rool (with Nick Abadzis), an all-new story, Rocket Station Charlie (with Gerry Duggan), and more. 

But McCrea is also packing the volumes with additional features like interviews, prose stories, never-before-seen illustrations, and for Vol. 1, an essay on Belfast, Ireland's first comic shop, Dark Horizons, which McCrea helped start and had a strong connection to the city's punk scene in the late '70s- early '80s. 

'Good Vibrations and Dark Horizons' also tells the story of McCrea's meeting with a young, upstart comic book writer by the name of Garth Ennis.

"Back home, one of our regular customers was a lad called Garth Ennis, who had been in my younger brother’s year in school,' recalls McCrea in the essay. "As mentioned, during this time I had been working on my comics portfolio – I had quit art college after two months as it really had nothing for me – and was occasionally taking the Larne to Stranraer ferry to Scotland followed by a hateful 10-hour bus journey to London to show my portfolio to the editors at Marvel UK (Richard Starkings) and 2000 AD (Steve McManus). I managed to snag a short Future Shock in 2000 AD written by Northern Ireland’s Hilary Robinson, then two  Action Force stories, Marvel UK’s version of G.I. Joe. 

image from The Mighty World of McCrea (Image credit: John McCrea)

"So anyone who had ideas of becoming a comics writer would always be mentioning their story ideas to me, and Garth was one of those fellas. At the time, Fleetway was publishing a sister comic to 2000 AD called Crisis. This was a socially aware, politically charged comic because comics had grown up, innit!? Fortunately for us, Crisis was in crisis and losing readers, so the editors put out a message that they were looking for fresh new stories from aspiring writers and artists. Garth suggested we team up with a story about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. And the rest is...  well, my comics career."

McCrea and Ennis have of course teamed-up numerous times over the years for projects like DC's long-running Hitman, Avatar's Dicks, and Dynamite's The Boys.

McCrea has agreed to let Newsarama readers read the entirety of 'Good Vibrations and Dark Horizons' as published in The Mighty World of McCrea. Check out the pages in the gallery below and check out the book's Kickstarter page for more info.

Garth Ennis revisits his team-up with John McCrea on the DC anti-hero Hitman in Newsarama's recent interview.

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.