Completing the discussion on what to expect in the Second Issue of Oi Oi Oi! (in all good Australian Newsagents' stands from tomorrow), it seems appropriate to discuss the fabulous cover artwork by Lesley Vamos.
I first met Lesley at the Gold Coast Supanova earlier this year, and was enchanted by her book of postcards (From Me to You co-produced with Jimena Sanchez). I have tried to find a place on the internet where you can still buy these beautiful, whimsical pieces of Art, but I may have to ask Lesley herself. Her website link is here if you want to ask her yourself. In the meantime, I have enclosed a few of the pieces of artwork that grabbed my attention. The small nature of my reproduction on this web-page really doesn't do them any justice.
I don't think I was game enough to ask Lesley if she might be interested in drawing the cover of the Next Issue of Oi Oi Oi! until Melbourne's Supanova. But luckily for me (and Oi Oi Oi!'s Readers), Leslie agreed even though she only had a proof copy of the First Issue to flick through. Here's a wander through the creative process...
I actually turned down Lesley's first attempt at a cover for Oi Oi Oi! I felt really bad about this, as she had clearly put a lot of work into it. At the time, Anton had just done animals on the First Issue, and I thought the magazine needed to move on from that. Just remember that this was written in early June, and at the time I had already decided (why I cannot now remember) to make the book an all-female Australian Cartoonist and Artist affair. I had also just secured a contract with Integrated Publication Solutions, and I was anticipating having the Second Issue out on the newsstands sometime in November or December. (The contract was later changed when I agreed to have the First Issue of the magazine released much earlier in the year...)
This is what I wrote to Lesley to let her know what I was looking for at the time: "...something with a touch of Summer approaching might be useful. [A cover that] may not appear at first glance as a comic-book cover; but rather as a beautiful piece of ART." (My emphasis at the time.) I then gave Lesley a couple of ideas...
"The sun setting by the beach, tide just gently lapping, maybe someone surfing, people playing, and someone (maybe a couple) under a jetty reading a copy of Oi Oi Oi! without a care in the world. OR An apartment building, or a home, perhaps someone (or people individually) reading (perhaps a copy of Oi Oi Oi!) in each apartment, windows open to keep cool, maybe with the TV on but ignored, perhaps with an ironing board with the ironing forgotten, with the sun going down in the background, another day done...."
Lesley followed this brief and allowed her own instincts to lead, suggesting "I'd love to go along the lines of a house in Paddington -- one of the terraces, with a couch out the front for people watching, bike against the gate, washing out of the window, people lazing about with bowls of curry and coffee in odd mugs...."
From then on, there was little I needed to do to guide Lesley, and it was a joy to see the progress made in the art over the coming weeks. Few modifications were needed, although some were made.... This picture (at the left) is what Lesley calls "VERY rough", although it clearly gave me an idea of the direction she was taking (and one I was most happy with).
The 'modifications' were superficial things really. It was my wife Carlene who suggested some of the 'changes' that I relayed to Lesley. Given the position of the cat, there was a likelihood she would get lost in the logo, and she adds an interest in the illustration. And with the issue being all female artists/cartoonists, the suggestion was made that all the characters in the cover could be female, with modern styles: piercings, tattoos and girls' washing on the line. Carlene also suggested "a small stray dog wandering along the front of the property"...
...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.