John Walsh has joined the teeming millions of artists who are looking to Kickstarter to provide a better life: He has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $5,000 to finish his webcomic Go Home Paddy, which chronicles the experience of Irish immigrants in Boston in the mid-19th century. Initial response has been good; as of this writing he has reached 37% of his funding goal.
Walsh talked about the origin of the story in an interview with The Boston Bibliophile:
I was in a Irish bar back home in the Bridgeport, Connecticut area and the bartender was an old school Mick who was lamenting the then current state of the city of Bridgeport. The bartender told tales of the Irish playing a large part in Bridgeport’s glory days. And then this crotchety old Irish-American bartender decided to not only blame Bridgeport’s problems on a certain minority group, but he also used a particularly offensive racial slur to describe this minority group. And I thought, “Why the Hell does he think it’s okay to say this to me?!?”
So while it’s historical fiction, Go Home Paddy is also timely, reflecting prejudices that still exist but are directed now against minorities and immigrants. Walsh depicts the Irish the way the Victorians did, using a “simian” style that makes them look more ape than human, then subverts that stereotype by telling the story of one individual and getting the reader to care about him. (I reviewed the comic here a while back.)