Sports analysis usually occurs under the lights of the TV studio or in the pages of newspapers, but this time it’s a comic book tackling the issues.
Barry Keegan, 39, is an mixed martial arts fan and in his spare time, a comic book artist. His realisation of The Shadow Realm in mini-comic form focuses on the physical danger fighters put themselves in when they enter the sports arena, and hints at the long-term damage that can be done.
Barry’s short story follows a character discovering a realm visited by fighters who have been knocked out, but as the comic’s creator explains, the idea of The Shadow Realm is not one entirely of his own making, but instead is one he noticed online.
“The concept formed in my mind over time and I eventually had to put it on paper and share it with the community. I guess to me The Shadow Realm was used in a kind of joking way, so I wanted to push back a little on the serious side of it.”
“I guess I see it as a reminder to all watching how much is at stake,” he said of MMA.
“For me, the biggest sadness is a fighter who stays in the sport too long, so I was hoping this story would inspire the people around the fighters to help them when it’s time to hang up the gloves.”
“The reaction has been amazing, a lot of people are connecting with the deeper message,” he said.
“The day I released it on Reddit I found it very difficult to keep track of all the messages, and it’s going strong on Twitter also.
“My graphic novel The Bog Road that is coming out this year is on a different theme, but I would say in the future there is definitely room for more on this idea.”