"In my …. years of involvement in the Australian comics scene, I have never seen such an exciting and productive time as now. Quality and quantity are at their highest levels and I believe we're truly in a new golden age for home-grown comics. They deserve wider recognition, celebration and promotion."
Can there be no greater recognition than to win the Platinum Ledger Award? For an individual (or organisation) to be recognised for one's contribution to the Australian comics making community by selflessly helping to further the art form and advance its creators, there can be no greater thrill. Here's a wonderful shot of Tim winning last year's award, as presented to him by his wonderful children, Samuel and Annabelle.
Tim McEwen has most kindly allowed me to repeat (and acknowledge) his passionate words, which I erroneously thought had been uttered by him last year. They were, in fact the descriptors he used when the Ledger Awards were re-launched five years ago. Yet, I believe they also sum up where the industry presently stands in 2018. With so many local comics being made, how does one try to establish which is the very Best?
To be honest, and without meaning to be egotistical, I think two of the best original comic books to have been released in Australia last year were the two books I published in 2018. I have never been happier than with these volumes. Truth, Justice and the American Dream: The Men Behind Superman. Bold Ben Hall. And if it came to just one? I'd give the nod to Thomas Campi and Julian Voloj's volume, because it is original, and it was released on the anniversary of the character who launched so many comics....
BUT. I promised to never select one of my publications, because it does give the appearance of bias. I have always strived to make a book that will last the test of time. Any book I publish has to be of the highest quality. So, to judge the Comicoz 'Award' this year, I have had to find something of equal or greater quality. This is the work I was going to select...
Skies of Fire, written by Vincenzo Ferriero and Ray Chou, and illustrated by Pablo Peppino and Bryan Valenza, is a comic book series, with issues one to four collected in book form last year. I planned on taking a leaf out of the Ledgers Award, and look for some Australian aspect to the book....and there is: Nic J Shaw lettering! Does this make the book Australian?
Well, it certainly does typify the modern means of creating a comic with the aid of modern technology! The creative team come from all corners of the globe: the principals of the exercise are the writers, Vincenzo and Ray, who hail from Italy and the United States of America respectively. Pablo, the lead artist come inker, is an Argentinan national, with colourist Bryan coming from Indonesia. Nic, of course, is from Sydney, Australia. The marketing of the series (and the collected volume last year) has been through the crowd-funded platform of Kickstarter. So, is it an Australian comic or perhaps more a comic from the modern era, with international connections? With some reluctance -- because it is a really great looking comic book (and a wonderfully read) -- I have decided against giving the Comicoz Award for Best Original Australian Comic to Skies of Fire. Instead, I have decided to award it to a comic project that is also a modern means of creating comics...
Internet-based comics are not new. But they are becoming an increasingly part of the local comic landscape. I personally have great difficulty in locating them: I don't know where to look, I don't know how to hear about them. But when I find them, I find myself as engrossed in some of them as I do a physical comic. This year's Comicoz Best Original Australian Comic goes to a web-comic.... A Week in Warrigilla by "Teloka".
How many Australian creators are drawing -- and then publishing -- on a regular basis? 'Teloka' began this web-comic (click here for the link) on March 12 2018, and has been working on the story-lines (two to date) for the whole year, at a rate of over a page a week. The first story ran for fifty episodes and completed in July, and even though the creator/s took a break in between the two stories, the second began in early October and is presently 39 Chapters into this adventure. That's 89 episodes in under a year: outstanding work!
A Week in Warrigilla tells the story of Hazel and Willie, "two girls who get trapped in a supernatural region while road-tripping through rural Queensland". The illustration is wonderfully coloured and designed, in what most would call a manga art style. I have managed to find out a bit about the 'creative personnel' behind the strip, but not enough to write a more detailed entry. Tapas, who host the strip, identify the writer/artist (do I use the plural or the singular?) are from Queensland -- I always like knowing that! -- and there is a link that takes me to the Etsy store (Berry Artistic Shop), which says they are from Brisbane. (Even better!) I have asked the artist for further information, so I hope to have some more to share next time, perhaps including permission to reproduce some of the glorious artwork....
In the meantime, you'll have to do as I plan to: join up and support the writer/artist on Patreon. (Although I seem to have misplaced my password to that site. *sigh* )
Comicoz is Nat Karmichael's publishing imprint. Nat is committed to preserving a permanent collection of Australian comic and comic strips. He feels that there is a need to recognise comics' contribution to and depiction of Australian culture.
Since 2011, Nat has self-published over twelve comic-related books and was Publisher-Editor of
Oi Oi Oi! -- the last series of nationally-distributed comic books of original stories to appear on Australian newsstands. He is a member of the Australian Cartoonists Association and edited the Association's journal Inkspot for 14 issues from late 2015. For numerous years he was the Lead Judge in the Ledger of Honour Awards for the Comic Arts Awards of Australia (formerly the Ledgers). These days Nat dreams of retiring from his occupation as a Clinical Nurse in the Psychiatric Emergency Centre in Queensland's largest public hospital, so that he can spend more time with his long-suffering wife and their six children and fourteen grandchildren. And perhaps publish some more comic-related books.
Comicoz acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay respects to elders, past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all First Nations peoples.
Australian Publications since 1976:
1 x Poster
19 x comics (one a co-production with Cyclone Comics in 1988/9, one a co-production with Cowtown Comics in 2022)
2 x Paperback books
10 x Hardcover books