Could this just end up being the worst news possible? On Friday I received an email from my book distributor, Dennis Jones & Associates, to inform me that they are going into voluntary liquidation. I admit being stunned. They had only just agreed to carry Bold Ben Hall, Trundle, The Men Behind Superman and the work-still-in-progress, From Sunbeams. And had let me know that any book I publish, they would be interested in getting into bookstores around Australia.
Of course, the first thing I had to do was to let all the creative personnel involved know. The second thing was to work out where to go from here!
Following that, the most important thing is to share those future plans with my loyal readers and supporters (you!). Which is why I am writing today. Although tentative plans for publishing future books might be temporarily placed in limbo, I plan to go ahead with the plans to publish From SUNBEAMS by Graeme Cliffe. The book is just too important to be let go.
As a sign of that commitment, Designer Ryan McDonald-Smith and I have been in conversation this very morning, and we are - yet again! - working on the author's corrections to the text draft this weekend. The book will be printed. The book needs to be published. Seeking out another Distributor will be one option, keeping you informed is another: Stay Tuned!
I'd like to invite everyone reading this to The Bunker Cartoon Gallery in Coffs Harbour on Friday 31st August where we plan to launch Monty Wedd's Bold Ben Hall. That will start the whole weekend of activities in that northern New South Wales town! On the Saturday night, there will be the 30th Anniversary of the Rotary Cartoon Awards, and Sunday will feature Australia's first Cartoon Festival. So, if you want to be a part of history, you know where you ought to be that weekend!
Some of the history of the Bunker Cartoon Gallery, and of the Rotaries have been covered in the latest issue of Inkspot that I have edited. I don't do it solo, though, so thanks need to go to Steve Panozzo (layouts, proofreading and sub-editing), Phil Judd (who runs some of the regular features in the magazine) and Jules and Mary Faber (who get the copies out to the members of the Australian Cartoonists Association). It's a great magazine -- even if I say so myself -- and the first five people to comment that they have read this far can have one for free!
Inside the magazine there's great coverage of the Ledger Awards. There was a special surprise (that I talked about last post). Graeme Cliffe and I were able to talk about Graeme's upcoming book "From SUNBEAMS To Sunset: The Rise and Fall of the Australian Comic Book (1924 - 1965)" on stage, and it would be remiss of me to not thank Ledger Director Gary Chaloner for allowing us that honour. While we were on stage, I pre-arranged with MC Bernard Caleo to bound on and interrupt us, to present Graeme with a proof copy of his book! He was really surprised! I'd like to thank everyone to date who has pre-ordered a copy of the book, and I'd especially like to acknowledge the people interested in the special limited editions of the book. The discount rate ends today, but the preparation of the book doesn't. We've had a set back in so far as our Designer, Ryan McDonald-Smith, is having to take some time out for some personal matters, but we know he'll be on track soon. Which gives Graeme and I time to continue re-working on how we would like to see the internal pages....
As far as the Ledger Awards themselves go, I've illustrated some of the winners (above). The number (of winners) were less than in previous years (not that that mattered), and the event was an even greater success (even if some found the venue difficult to locate). In case you weren't there, haven't been told, or yet read Inkspot, the winners were:
Reported Missing by Eleri May. This is a cracking good read (especially because it is true). I was alerted to this story when I was working out who I was considering for my own 'Comicoz Award' earlier this year, when I invited nominations on Facebook. The story is not available physically, only on line, and fortunately it remains in cyberspace. Here's a link:
Giant, Trolls, Witches, Beasts by Craig Phillips. Craig is a friendly guy and was really interesting to talk to at the Gold Coast Supanova, where I picked up a copy of his book. It has a professional feel about it and, in my opinion, a well-deserved winner. You can obtain your own physical copy from the publisher (Allen and Unwin) by clicking here:
Craig has another book out called Jack Scratch that is at the moment, I think, between publishers. One to pick up if you can for the little ones (Craig made it for his daughter)...
Black Magick (issues #6 to #10) by Nicola Scott, Greg Rucka and Chiara Arena came out via DC Comics. To be honest, I read the first series but have yet to read this, so I can't really comment. Similarly, Tom Taylor's Injustice 2 (also by DC Comics) is another I have not read. Which I now must do... Both are, most likely, available at your local comic shop. It's great to see Chiara Arena doing well in the comic field. Where do we know her? Ahh, as the cover artist on Oi Oi Oi! Issue number 5, no less!
Home Time by Campbell Whyte was published by Top Shelf Productions, and was another book recommended to me by me Facebook Friends earlier this year. And I have it ready in my bookshelf... waiting for the time I can give it some time! Here's where you can read some of the loveliness: http://www.campbellwhyte.com/comics/
My Struggle with Crohn's Disease by Safdar Ahmed has already been mentioned on my Blog, and it was rewarding to know that perhaps my tastes are not so eclectic after all! This remains a most powerful story, rivalling Safdar's Walkley Award-winning look at life inside the Villawood Detention Centre from 2015. Both are available for viewing on his personal website by clicking here: https://safdarahmed.com/my-comics-and-zines/
Finally, another winner already nominated on my Blog earlier in the year, was Chris Gooch's Bottled. Published by Top Shelf Productions. Well worth the read. Available by clicking onto this website: http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog/bottled/973
Of course, there are other celebrations at the Ledger Awards, including one I proudly take part in. The Ledger of Honour, whereby we honour those artists who have either retired or have since passed. This year, the winners were announced earlier in the year, at the Australian Comic Arts Festival in Canberra. My role, as Lead Judge, is to simply get all my fellow Judges involved in discussions before making our selection. I must say it was a much smoother process this year, with the decision made reasonably early and painlessly. How wonderful to see the families of Yaroslav Horak and Moira and Kathleen Bertram there to see these Australian comic pioneers so rightly honoured!
Finally, the night came to a close, with the Platinum Ledger being awarded to an astonished and deserving Tim McEwen...
So, where to next? I am working with Graeme to get his book ready for the printer. (It is taking much longer than I think we all anticipated.) Carlene is soon returning from an extended 'holiday' down south looking after some of the grandchildren, before we head off to the Rotary Cartoon Awards. Margaret, the Manager of the Bunker, and I are going to be in some in-depth discussions about a well-loved Australian cartoonist (see clue below). Then, before long, the Stanley Awards will be upon us (it's in Canberra again), and I am looking forward to hosting American cartoonist Jeff Keane as he explores some areas of this part of the country that were familiar to both of his parents. There are some exciting new projects (plural) that need working on (one of whom I have left a clue, below), and I really need to do some more promoting of the books I already have out there. Getting this website updated hasn't happened, and I tend to get behind in updating my news (apologies, dear reader). My wife will want to see some of the comic items in the garage sold, so the office looks a little tidier. All things said, it looks like it is going to be a busy tail-end of the year...
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