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Dublin: 12 °C Saturday 25 October, 2014

Stunning Titanic graphic novel was seven years in the making

Irish illustrator reveals his labour of love – a graphic novel that chronicles the experience of photographer Fr Frank Browne on board the doomed ship.

An illustration from Get Off That Ship.
An illustration from Get Off That Ship.
Image: ©Alan Dunne

AN IRISH ILLUSTRATOR has created a 120-page graphic novel to chronicle the experiences of Fr Frank Browne on the Titanic.

Browne, a Jesuit who became one of the most important photographers to capture images of early 20th century Ireland, was on board the Titanic for the Southampton to Cobh leg of its maiden voyage. A piece on TheJournal.ie earlier this week (The luckiest priest on the Titanic…) outlined how Browne was ordered off the ship at Cobh via a wire from his Jesuit superior, known as the Provincial. The message read: “Get off that ship. Provincial.”

Alan Dunne, a Dublin-based graphic designer and illustrator, has created an intricately-drawn record of Browne’s experiences on the ship, the historically-important images of Titanic he captured – and the cleric’s response to the news that the liner had sunk after he had disembarked. The first chapter of the graphic novel – called Get Off That Ship – is available to view here.

The project was carefully researched by Dunne with painstaking attention to Frank Browne’s own writings and interviews, as well as the important and unique images he left behind of the doomed Titanic.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Dunne said that the novel began as a project for his college course in 2005 after he heard Fr Browne’s Titanic Album author Eddie O’Donnell being interviewed on radio about Browne’s photographic legacy. (O’Donnell discovered a large number of Browne’s Titanic photographs in 1985). Dunne said:

I thought he (O’Donnell) was very interesting and I thought: there must be a visual way of telling such a visual story.

After embarking on the idea of making a graphic novel of Browne’s story and the story of how the iconic images were taken, Dunne said he continued it beyond college. He has spent almost every spare moment outside of his day job since then, researching, writing the script for the novel and creating the illustrations. He said:

I try to strike a balance with the time spent on it – my girlfriend and friends would be annoyed if I didn’t but, yes, I do get asked sometimes: ‘Have you finished this bloody book!’

The first chapter of the book – consisting of 22 pages of painstakingly-detailed illustrations – has just been published on GetOffThatShip.com. The research and thumbnail illustrations for the remaining chapters are complete and the book will have around 120 pages in total. Dunne is hoping to get it published in book form.

Looking at this sample of images from the book, so are we… (It’s worth looking at Dunne’s blog too to get a sense of the time and effort that has gone into the project):

Stunning Titanic graphic novel was seven years in the making
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  • Get Off That Ship - © Alan Dunne

  • Get Off That Ship - © Alan Dunne

  • Get Off That Ship - © Alan Dunne

  • Get Off That Ship - © Alan Dunne

  • Get Off That Ship - © Alan Dunne

  • Get Off That Ship - © Alan Dunne

  • Get Off That Ship - © Alan Dunne

  • Get Off That Ship - the process

  • Get Off That Ship - the process

  • Get Off That Ship - the process

Read more articles about the centenary of the sinking of Titanic>

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