Yesterday was the first time I had been to ZICS, and I wasn't able to go back today for the last day of the Symposium. My reasoning? I had to pick up my daughter from the airport early this morning, as she flew in for a short visit (from Cairns). And because I committed the heinous crime of spending my sister's birthday at ZICS yesterday, I really had be at a family get-together to try and make it up to her today. So my entry here today may be short and fast....
I thoroughly enjoyed myself yesterday: concentrating more on seeing what comics were out there, than worrying about selling my copies of Oi Oi Oi! that I had left my long-suffering wife Carlene to manage. I must say, I was surprised (and I don't know why) to see so many great comics out there on display. Sure, there were zines too, but comics are my main thing and so this will be a report on what comics I found and purchased there that are worth reporting on...
This Blog entry will NOT be a report on the Golden Stapler Awards (of which I was truly honoured to present the "Zinester of the Year" Award) and it will NOT be a report on the Panel Discussion I moderated with cartoonists Gary (Swamp) Clark, Sean (COURIER-MAIL, Beyond the Black Stump) Leahy, Ian (Bushy Tales) Jones and Phil (Pet Therapy) Judd. These are matters I shall report separately to the Australian Cartoonists' Association in their journal INKSPOT.
And I could report on the people I was able to catch up with (talking to Jase Harper, who came as a punter, was a big surprise), those I saw but didn't get to chat to (sorry, Giles Kilham), and I could report on the fun I had in introducing the above-mentioned cartoonists to others (like Kay Leanne) and their reaction. But that is simply not as much fun as the discovery of new comics and being able to share that discovery with you here....
A long time ago when dreams were young, Dave de Vries promised me a Southern Squadron story for Oi Oi Oi! (way back before Issue #5 in fact), and in anticipation I sent an email approach to Wayne Nichols enquiring about his price to do a cover for the magazine. My idea was for him to feature Dave's characters on the cover. For one reason or another (and not seeking to blame anyone here), the Southern Squadron tale did not eventuate at that time. Instead, I thought a female artist might be a nice balance, so poor Wayne was forgotten and Chiara Arena got the gig instead. (This was before she became famous and ended up colouring Nicola Scott and Greg Rucka's Black Magick comic!)
I was -- and still am -- a little embarrassed that I had not pursued Wayne to submit a cover for a future Oi Oi Oi! edition, to the point of evading him at Supernova and other comic get-togethers over the past year or so. Yesterday, at ZICS, I manned up and we 'officially' met for the first time! I didn't tell him this back story: I was too busy doing my first scan of the ZICS room to check out the comics to buy... And when I came around the second time to actually buy the comics I liked -- including a set of Wayne's (the four issue mini-series Afterburn) and with plans of telling him the above tale -- Wayne was actually doing the rounds himself!
Wayne is an absolute champion artist, who would have drawn a dead-set cracker of a Southern Squadron cover, had the planets aligned. So, Dave de Vries, there is a story just for you, as I patiently wait to see your story ...for Issue #9. And, Wayne, I just thought I would confess to you here...wishing I could have told you face to face.
Afterburn looks really great: I bought it solely for Wayne's art. There were other comics for sale by Wayne; but I thought I would buy them next time I catch up with him, with plans for a longer conversation.... IF I can get around the other Fans who love his works...!
I also bought the first four issues of Charles and the Eggman. Co-Created by Tim Fischer and Simon Grey, this looked a fun read. It was a series I was just not familiar with. Of course, Simon and I were familiar with each other: we have been emailing periodically over the past two years, so it was great to finally meet in person and have a bit of a yak. Charles and the Eggman is an great example (no pun intended!) of the problem with present-day Australian comics: there can be a great series produced in one side of the country (in this case, Adelaide) that the other side of the country just does not get to see. Without wider distribution of comics available, or at least a one-stop (perhaps internet-based) shop to stock them, some locally-made comics just do not get a wider audience. (Mmm? Is this perhaps an idea germinating in this comic brain of mine??)
Charles and the Eggman is one comic that deserves to be seen and read by more Australian comic readers. It is presently available from Pulp Fiction (Adelaide), the Sticky Institute (Melbourne) and recently Junky Comics (Brisbane).
Ardent Comics, by contrast, are a publishing imprint that I am familiar with. I have previously purchased head honcho Daniel O'Callaghan's science fiction series The Third Hand at Supanova (or was it at the Australian Comic Arts Festival?). Well, it was somewhere! Daniel ensures he gets around promoting his publications, and he makes sure his comics are available in the local comic shops: Secret Identity, Junky Comics, Urban Fiction and Ace Comics and Games all stock his comics locally; and Mal's Impact Comics! in Canberra, and both Minotaur and All Star Comics in Melbourne carry his titles.
So, because I was so familiar with Daniel's works, I nearly missed seeing his latest publication. Swamp cartoonist Gary Clark actually spotted and told me about the lovely artwork inside Feral Horizon. For once, Daniel has limited himself to writing, and has allowed Jessica Gibson the opportunity to draw this first issue. I hope she continues to work on the series. This is beautiful art and makes for a fine read. This is the best work to come out of Ardent Comics to date, and I look forward to the next issue.
This was, for me, the biggest surprise from ZICS. I have long supported the comic anthology Ashcan Comics. Not only because it is from Brisbane... oh well, really, perhaps because it is from Brisbane. Most of the past issues have been more miss than hit for me, personally. But I have them all. Or I thought I had. I found Issue #10 at ZICS yesterday, which lead me to realise that I must have missed #9 somewhere along the way. I shall have to seek it out to complete my set.
Ashcan Comics is a anthology series founded shortly before I got back into comics again in 2010. Zac Smith-Cameron was one of the leading lights of the project (and he was also involved in ZICS at some point from memory); and it was Zac who pointed out to me that there was a local comic scene in Brisbane. I am not sure where he has gone these days, but I am sure he would be pleased to know that the Ashcan Comics project continues to 'serve as a testing ground for keen, unpublished creators and seasoned veterans alike' as they say in the introduction to this Tenth Issue.
The stories in this edition of Ashcan Comic make it the best issue yet. I am sure some of the creatives like Carlo Angelo, Nick Rees and Emmanuel Hernaez will go on and make more comics. (I, for one, hope they do.) Their work didn't look too out of place with long-time comic artists Jase Harper, Dean Rankine and Giles Kilham whose work also appeared in this issue. Rounding out the issue was a piece by Jonathan McBurnie, who does show some artistic talent. However, the story he submitted, in my opinion, was disappointing and lowered the overall tone of the magazine. The nine pages (and in colour) was a waste and would have been better served with an alternative story. Ashcan Comics Issue #10 does not list an Editor, so I am uncertain to whom I should lay the blame for the oversight of this story's inclusion.
I know who, or rather what, to blame for the rushed feel to this comic by Danikah Harrison. The 2014 24 Hour Comic Challenge produced this little gem. Danikah had a few comic books (and Zines) on offer, and I was initially uncertain which one to pick up. (I was getting to the end of my $70 budget by the time I reached her table.) On speaking to Danikah, a most charming artist filled with enthusiasm and joie de vivre, she reported tending to thrive on these 24 hours challenges, and does so with "copious amounts of coffee and chocolate".
Some of her works that she spends a lot more time on, show the true talent within this artist. Almost all of those were static illustrations, however; and on their own they were most appealing, but there were no works that I could find to illustrate any sequential works (which is what I was seeking). I'd like to see Danikah work on a solo project where she spends time working on her topic and telling a personal story, for I have no doubt it would be well worth reading. But I don't think I should hold my breath -- she excitedly informed me that she was already gearing up for this year's 24 Hour Comic Challenge...!
Wasn't it a few paragraphs back that I said I was hoping Nick Rees would draw more comics? Well, my wishes have come true! Here is a unique comic project by a couple of talented guys who work as graphic designers: Nick Rees (as we have already mentioned) and JW Paterson.
This small comic can be read from the front. If you want. You will read a story (called Bad Quest) that Nick Rees has written and JW Paterson has illustrated. Or you can read from the back, manga style, and read Basket Brawl. This was written by JW Paterson and drawn by Nick Rees!
Know what? It really works! This was such a short, fun read. My only criticism? I don't know how you can obtain a copy. There are no contact details. Which is a real pity, because I would love to contact these blokes and tell them to create some more comics of this calibre! Highly recommended!
The Wilder is beautiful work. It is written and drawn by Honey Randall (yes, she insists, that is her real name). Her line work is clean and crisp; the colours add to the feel of the piece, and although the story appears too short, it surely whets the appetite of this comic reader, who looks forward to the next instalment.
It was awe-inspiring to see Honey using her special brush to create the second instalment of this fantasy adventure tale at ZICS, while the punters wandered around. I am not a great user of Twitter (and don't follow anyone), and am not on Instagram (as I have said before), but if you jump on Facebook (as I shall, as soon as I finish this Blog), you can Like Honey Randall on Honey Elizabeth Illustration. I shall tell her how wonderful I think her work is, and I hope you contact her and find out how you can obtain a copy of this truly wondrous comic.
And yet more Nick Rees! Is this creative everywhere?! The credits for this story The Wilder may be written and illustrated by Honey Randall, but there is also a 'special thanks to Nick for editing and inspiring' Honey to start writing the first part of her story. Good for you, Nick! There is nothing greater than inspiring others to do great work...
Although I did not go to ZICS today on its final day, there was so much talent on offer to see and savour that I can only encourage other Comic Fans or Independent Comic creatives (and Zinsters, too, of course) to come up to Brisbane next year. This event, only in its fourth year, is one well-worth supporting. The volunteers who worked on getting the weekend together should be commended for running an annual event that should be an essential part of everyone's comic calendar.
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