The older I get the more I tend to reflect on things past and society's current directions. I remain concerned that as a society we are not kind enough to one another, and I'm not really sure why that is. There is certainly a loss of the sense of community in areas where we now live, and if communities are not connected, then the country as a whole is not. And as a result, further from there, countries are not: already we see countries becoming more suspicious of each other. Discord is sown, sometimes to the point of not being able to go back. As I reflect on recent past history, we know where that leads to, and I remain concerned that people (well, especially those in the West) have forgotten the horrors of war. It remains something foreign to us, but unless we start working on first improving relations between our neighbours I (sadly) fear that that may be the direction more communities may experience. I hope not, and I remain committed to ensuring as best I can that it does not happen.
It was World War II that brought American cartoonist Bil Keane to Australia. He was a serviceman, stationed in Scarborough, Queensland (not far from where I now live). He met his sweetheart while here, and they married and settled in the United States. Eventually, Bil created the comic strip The Family Circus, which detailed his family life. In the late 1980s I communicated with Bil, and spoke of commonalities: living nearby where he had served, and having a family. One of my daughters was called Penelope Joy, but she asked to be called "PJ" (perhaps because it was easier to 'spell' at school!) -- and she still is called that name today.
I met Bil's son Jeff, who now carries on his Dad's newspaper strip, just a few years ago now when he came to Queensland to meet his Mother's side of the family. What a wonderfully generous man he is: in January a calendar arrived in the mail, sent by Jeff. The calendar details some of the exploits of his Family Circus, still with his Dad's gentle humour. Some find it a little too sentimental, but perhaps I see it as a reflection of where I'd sometimes like to see where we, as a society, could be. In a kinder, gentler place. Writing to Bil, having a loving daughter PJ, meeting Jeff: these are just some of the highlights of my life. Today, I have reproduced this month's cartoon that appears on Jeff's calendar. I hope you like it. Be kind to each other.
...acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to elders past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all First Australian peoples.
Over the past decade (2011 - 2020) Nat has self-published ten comic-related books and was Publisher-Editor of Oi Oi Oi! - the last nationally-distributed comic book of original comics stories to appear on Australian newsstands. He edited Inkspot, the journal of the Australian Cartoonists Association for 14 issues from late 2015 to 2019 and is a current member of the ACA's Committee. In his spare time, he is a husband, a father (to six) and grandfather (to fourteen), and works in the Psychiatric Emergency Centre in Queensland's largest public hospital.
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.