Luck Of The Irish
♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer Scott Braden gives us his ninth in an regular series about comic series that never were. Today it’s the turn of Bob Hall’s Armed & Dangerous: Irish Eyes …
Bob Hall’s Armed & Dangerous: Irish Eyes
Writer/artist Bob Hall is no stranger to comic book fans, since his was the mighty pen behind Valiant’s top-selling Shadowman – as well as Marvel Comics’ groundbreaking Squadron Supreme limited series with legendary scribe Mark Gruenwald.
But even though those titles brought the acclaimed creator fame and fortune, he’s perhaps best known for a gritty, little, black-and-white crime series he did for Valiant/Acclaim when he moved overseas to Ireland.
It was called Armed & Dangerous.
“When Bob Hall’s Armed & Dangerous was first announced,” said Gemstone Publishing’s Vice-President of Publishing J. C. Vaughn, “I really didn’t have any good expectations of it. The thought I shared in common with many of the others at Gemstone’s Overstreet’s FAN when we read the solicitation copy was that it was simply taking advantage of the market created by Frank Miller’s Sin City and David Lapham’s Stray Bullets.
“Forget Bob Hall’s creative resume to that point, we more or less said. Before we saw the first issue, we called it Stray City or Sin Bullets. Pretty harsh.”
“And, as we discovered,” Vaughn admitted, “very, very wrong.”
“After finishing my run on Shadowman, I wrote and drew two, four-issue story arcs and one salacious special about the New York Irish Mafia,” explained Hall. “I was about to start the third arc, called Armed & Dangerous: Irish Eyes, whichbrought a running character from the New York series to Ireland to sort out the death of an old friend from the 1960s Irish Republican Army (IRA). It was a stand-alone project, giving space to Uncle Mitch, who is the protagonist former IRA man.
“This was while I was living in Dublin, so I started research: taking pictures, making notes, drinking Guinness, and listening to stories from local characters. And, there were plenty of those.”
“Then I got a call from Fabian Nicieza,” Hall said, “who by this time had taken over from Bob Layton, saying that the company was on the verge of going under, and that I should write and draw as much of the four issues as I could, as fast as I could, and they would keep paying me as long as they could. I completed three issues before the company folded.”
According to Hall, those issues were never published, and the art was never returned to him. That was 1996.
“Jump ahead to 2016,” Hall said, “I get a call from Greg Goldstein, CEO at IDW, saying that he had been an office flunky at Acclaim. When it went bust, Greg had been given a cardboard box full of original art with orders to return it to the artists as soon as possible. Some 60 pages of Irish Eyes had been in his garage for 20 years.
Hall admitted that he was happy to see it all again.
Hall explained, “Greg liked the work and said IDW would consider publishing the story if I owned the rights. But I don’t. I was under contract to Valiant/Acclaim and so it wasn’t a creator-owned project. Nor could I find out who did own the rights currently. New Valiant never gave me an answer, and to investigate would have required hiring a private detective. That was beyond my wallet. So, I assume the story will remain unpublished.”
“I had always hoped that the new Valiant would collect it and even consider doing more,” Vaughn said, “but I suspect that with Dinesh Shamdasani’s departure that any such dreams are dead or close to it. Too bad. It was a tremendous world with a lot more exploration.”
“In the meantime,” Hall confessed, “the original returns have disappeared. Whether I accidentally left them at a convention, or that someone stole them, or that my dog ate them, I don’t know.
“Obviously, the project was not fated to be.”
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