Normal Service will resume in the middle of next week! Thank you for your patience and for reading this message....
When no new Blogs are written here, when I don't get on Facebook, when I don't answer emails, and I don't return phone calls it means one of two things. One, that I am so engrossed in a new comic project that I don't have time for anything else. Or, two, that I have been given a temporary work promotion (which means waking at 5 a.m. and arriving home after 6 p.m.) and I am too tired to do anything after my work day. Over the past four weeks it has been the latter.
Normal Service will resume in the middle of next week! Thank you for your patience and for reading this message....
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.
The latest issue of INKSPOT, the official journal of the Australian Cartoonists' Association, is now out. Anyone interested in becoming a Member or Associate Member? It's really the only way you can get your hands on a copy! Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am quite proud of this issue. I am the current Editor (this is the third issue I have edited), and I would like to think I could carry out the role for many years to come...
On June 22nd, the Sales Figures for Issue #7 of Oi Oi Oi! came in. They were distressing. It was the first time the sales of the magazine did not pay for the costs of the distribution. I have a $2,000 distribution bill associated with Issue #7.
Let me publically share some costs related to the publishing of this magazine:
Cover artwork costs are between myself and the artist, so let me just say that I pay more for cover art than I do for an individual story.
For each 8 page story I pay $300. There were five stories in Issue #7.
Most issues have had a 4 to 5,000 newsagent print run, and Distribution costs are just under $1 a copy (sold or not).
The newsagents take a 25% cut of the retail price.
I leave you to do the Maths.
Since that time, I have pondered long and hard on the future of the magazine, and I seriously was contemplating ending the magazine after Issue #9. It will still come out and it will be the biggest Edition of Oi Oi Oi! yet (in a way you won't believe) -- just you wait and see! Issue #9 is actually the tenth in the series (remember, the Special Nostalgia Edition was un-numbered), so it would have been a good number to end on.
Ending the series would allow me to work on other projects, like Bold Ben Hall (and there is a movie coming out soon, so a good time to work on it), another Air Hawk volume, one on Ginger Meggs, or works by Phil Belbin and/or Emile Mercier. Or other innumerable projects that I have begun or have talked about working on....
Instead, I was convinced (thank you Jason Towers!) of not cancelling it, but simply putting Oi Oi Oi! on hiatus. I plan on continuing Oi Oi Oi! -- perhaps putting out an annual newsstand issue around Christmas time (in 2017), and sporadic issues throughout the years available at the Fan-venues that have taken place in our communities. (And, hopefully, in some of the Australian comic shops.) So, rather than Oi Oi Oi! ending, it is simply changing into a different creature. I have extended the deadline for the artists keen on seeing their work in print for Issue #9 (to mid-August), and I am working on other plans that I shall share with you on these pages in the months ahead...
Here's a clue about one of them....
It is with immense pride that I can officially announce that the Special Nostalgia Edition of Oi Oi Oi! has been nominated for a Golden Stapler Award. These Awards "for Zine Excellence" are held annually, and will be announced later this month at the ZICS event in a couple of week's time. The Award is chosen by public vote. Oi Oi Oi! has been nominated in the Best Collaborative Zine category.
Which, of course, means this Nomination would not have been possible without the great team that contributed to this issue. So, great big shout out Congratulations go to Cover Artist Glenn Lumsden, Contributors Bruce Mutard, Daryl and Ian Eddy, Jim Stratmann and Rob Feldman, our designer Ryan McDonald-Smith, and King Wang's printing team. Champions all!
You can go here http://goldenstaplerawards.tumblr.com/ to be taken to the Voting Form. Or to check out who else has been nominated. You are under no obligation to vote for Oi Oi Oi! (although that would be nice of you). If you do vote, please remember to vote responsibly.
Designer of Oi Oi Oi! all the way back to Issue #1 is Ryan McDonald-Smith -- an absolute integral part of the Collaborative Team. Here Ryan is shown proudly holding the very first (and so far, only) Award bestowed on Oi Oi Oi! -- The Golden Stapler Award for Best Collaborative Zine 2014 for Issue #1.
I have not been as involved in the organising of Brisbane's Zine and Independent Comic Symposium (ZICS) as much as I would like. Mostly due to commitments to my full-time work, to the next Oi Oi Oi!, maintaining a happy marital home, editing the Australian Cartoonists' Association's INKSPOT magazine, working on the ACA committee to prepare for November's Stanley Awards, and just taking a few lazy days. (Not necessarily in that order.)
However, as in previous years, I did contribute to their Pozible campaign (although not to the financial degree of past years) and I am pleased to report that they got over the line and the Event now going ahead for its fourth year. Despite all the above listed reasons (or excuses) I am also going to be involved in a bigger way than I have been in the past, which is personally pleasing. It is a comic Event that is in my backyard and it is one that I whole-heartedly support, even with my limited past involvement.
I have been asked to convene a Panel discussion, and with my contacts from the local comic scene I have now made arrangements to do just that. So, if you care to, yet another reason why you should attend ZICS this year. The topic up for discussion and perhaps debate: "What are the Opportunities for the Modern Comic Strip Artist?" Whilst I am moderating the Panel, the event can only be as good as the participants, and I am pleased to announce a really top-notch, high-quality team. All of the participants are local cartoonists, each one of them has a comic strip currently being published, and all of them have worked in the industry over the past twenty years, so they speak from a position of experience.
The team: co-creator of the comic strip Beyond the Black Stump and Courier-Mail cartoonist Sean Leahy, Swamp creator Gary Clark, Ian Jones, the creator of Bushy Tales, and my fellow INKSPOT Editor, creator of the comic strip Pet Therapy (that runs in Sydney newspapers), and an over-all great guy, Phil Judd. Together, we will all be appearing at The Edge, Southbank (Brisbane, near the State Library) between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on August 20th as part of ZICS. Hope you can join us!
The Australian Cartoonists Association is now calling for submissions for the 32nd Stanley Awards.
Submissions will be published in the annual ACA Year Book. For full details on the history of the Stanley Awards and the ACA, please visit www.cartoonists.org.au.
STANLEY AWARD CATEGORIES
Children's Book Illustrator
Comic Book Artist
Comic Strip Artist
Single Gag Cartoonist
Interested in becoming a Member? Even if you are just interested -- like I am -- in cartoons. For Details, just send me an email to email@example.com.
Toowoomba! It has been so long since we have been there! And what a beautiful city it is! The streets are tidy, with very little rubbish. There are old buildings (like the Cinema, above) that were obviously modern and iconic in its day, and that continue to exude a present-day charm. Buildings have artwork plastered all over them (have a look at that beauty, above, where we parked the car).
Although the day started with a lot of fog, we were able to delay our start, and still arrived before lunch. And it wasn't too cool (as we expected): a warm winter's day. Just perfect to check out the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery and the Copier Jam! Exhibition curated by Jeremy Staples.
Of course, I didn't just visit the Copier Jam! Exhibition to simply look at all the Oi Oi Oi! works on display. There were many other artworks on display that were well worth viewing too. From a page of Doug Holgate's original pencils that traversed all the way to his completed page, showing the details of his process to get from one to the other. And there were many surprises -- Ben Constantine's original artwork was a lot more detailed than I imagined, and Philip Dearest's was a lot larger than I expected. The Squishface Studios team from Melbourne were well represented; and being a local, it wasn't surprising to see Jeremy Staples' collected Bizoo among the zines on display.
Even Carlene became engaged with the exhibition, and offered her opinions. She found that much of the work -- to her eyes -- was bleak and depressing. This lead us to a discussion as to why this is so. In my opinion, many of the younger zine- makers use the medium as a form of self-expression, and this reflects the type of situation they find themselves in. Many experience unemployment, and cover topics like modern music and drugs. (We were surprised by how little sex was covered as a topic.) But overall, there was a lot of creative energy involved in many of the productions and this was inspiring. It was really worth the drive up from Margate for the day....
If you are local (and if we can drive from Margate, if you live in Brisbane that make you a local!), why not take a trip up for the day? The Exhibition runs Tuesday to Sundays (to 4 p.m.) and is on show until 7th August. Entry is FREE. If you cannot make it before then, just relax: the Exhibition continues to travel around Australia, and is scheduled to appear at The Artspace, Mackay a little later in the year.
While we were there in Toowoomba, I popped into the only comic book store in town, Kaboom Comics in Ruthven Street. Of course, my prime goal was to see if the proprietor would be willing to stock Oi Oi Oi! and some of my other books.
I had seen on Facebook recently that a new Killeroo comic was soon to be released and the store has ordered a special 50 copy print-run, with a cover exclusive to all Kaboom customers. So, I was hopeful.
Without seeking to be disrespectful, the owner was not interested, as my magazine will not fit into their especially designed shelves....designed to fit comics that are American comic book size. On viewing the stock on sale, with little exception, those were the only types of comics on display....
On the other side of the coin, there were a few Op Shops in town (something that Carlene and I will always patronise), and there were some bargains to be found. Here are a couple of hardcover books that I found and already own, that perhaps a student of Australian comics and media might be interested in. Make any reasonable offer; for these are up for sale (as a set). I can post them anywhere within Australia for $14.00 (overseas, please enquire). Once they are sold, I shall state so at the bottom of this posting....
The books are: Remember Smith's Weekly by George Blaikie and The Awful Australian: The Pick of Australian Cartoon Humour compiled by Garrie Hutchinson.
The Awful book has 214 pages of back to back cartoons from Mark Lynch, Ron Tanberg, Gerald Carr, Patrick Cook, Bruce Petty... and many, many more. It was published in 1984 and is in reasonably good condition, although there are two tears on page 203.
The Remember book is the third edition, published in 1967, and runs to 258 pages, mostly text although there are some (small) cartoons throughout. It is a history of that iconic Australian newspaper, Smith's Weekly (1919 to 1950). There are some pencil writings on the inside first page, and some white out on the same page. The dust jacket has some scuffing, and the upper left corner of the dust jacket's cover has a rather large tear. Here are some photos....
Here's a little secret I have been keeping from a lot of people for a while now!
On Wednesday 29th June this year, deep within the bowels of Brisbane City Hall a group of cartoon lovers met to decide the fate of a nation. Well, not exactly. It was decreed that The Rotary Cartoon Awards, held annually at the Bunker Cartoon Gallery, Coffs Harbour, for the past 28 years was to be judged in Brisbane in 2016. And it was a very great honour indeed for me to have been selected as one of the Judges. When you know that you are keeping the esteemed company of some of the Judges of the past, like the late Norman (Mr Squiggle) Hetherington and Jim Russell; Bob Carr, Natasha Stott-Despoja and Peter Beattie; Barry Croker and Jon English, and many, many others, it's better than receiving a knighthood!
Joining me in this exalted task was Rotary Cartoon Awards' co-founder Tom Hamiton-Foster, Brisbane ABC radio announcer Steve Austin, and Sunday Mail cartoonist Brett Lethbridge (when his Editor was unable to attend). And overseeing the whole process, to ensure a fair vote was recorded and that no punch-ups or arguments took place, was Fran Stephenson, the Chair from the Bunker Cartoon Gallery.
To be really honest, it was a lot of fun. Much give and take was needed to obtain a unanimous consensus to judge the winners, but in the end I think we were all both fair and satisfied with our decisions. The Awards Night in Coffs Harbour was held last Saturday night (16th July), so the decisions we made in late June are now official and made public...
Here are the complete list of Winners:
Best Cartoon with a Political Theme
WINNER: John "Polly" Farmer (see above)
MERIT: Christopher Downes
Best Cartoon with an Open Theme
WINNER: Chris "Roy" Taylor
MERIT: Tony Lopes
Best Cartoon with a Sports Theme
WINNER: Chris "Roy" Taylor
MERIT: Lindsay Foyle
Best Comic Strip
WINNER: Shane Hosking
MERIT: Alan Rose
Best Caricature of a Well-Known Person
WINNER: Xavier Ghazi
MERIT: David Rowe
Special 2016 Topic: Social Media
WINNER: Gary Clark
MERIT: Tony Lopes
Rotary Cartoon of the Year: Chris "Roy" Taylor's Open Category Cartoon
There has been so much comic activity for both Comicoz and myself over the past six weeks, I don't really know where to start! But, I'll give it a go....
On June 11th, I joined in with many other Brisbane Indie Comic Makers for the first Comicstreet. I thought the potential for the event was excellent: it was in the city's busiest public thoroughfare, the Queen Street Mall, and was held on a Saturday afternoon when people who wandered past were not at work, and able to take their time with their families and look ...and purchase.
The location of the event allowed the general public the opportunity to see what an amazing undercurrent of comic activity is taking place in our community, and it allowed the creators the opportunity to connect with the members of the public who had long forgotten our entertainment medium. "I have not read a comic since I was a kid" and "I didn't know so many comics were still being made" were common comments among the curious and intrigued members of the public. So, from that point of view alone, I consider this event to be the most successful that I have been involved in ...in all of 2016. It really lived up to its potential.
From a personal viewpoint, it was a bonus having Carlene join me behind the table. She engaged and chatted with the punters and the curious, and even gave me some time out to allow me to have a look at some of the other stalls, meet with creators, and see their works.
It is events like this, that I am (even if ever so briefly) able to talk to creators about their craft, their aspirations within the medium, and even the reasons or motivation behind their work or their processes. It is all fascinating (well, it is to me)!
I thought that I should enclose here a few examples of the works that most excited me in this day of discovery. Above is the first published work by (I hope I have remembered correctly) Phoebe Ayscough that appears as a weekly webcomic on Tumblr. Now, I am not really familiar with Tumblr, but I have completed an "inthemorningcomic" search and found all episodes contained in this publication and more. I suppose I am old school, as I much prefer the physical presence of a book, rather than reading it on line. I imagine Phoebe's idea was to publish Issue #1 of The World in the Morning to introduce readers to her work (as Kissriot), and because I have searched it in order I can write a few words about it here, she has succeeded.
I found Phoebe's artwork to be what drew and draws me in: it is beautifully coloured, and she has a good feel for writing comics in allowing the artwork to tell a sequential story. Although the story could be set anywhere, and there is no indication that it is set in Brisbane, there are enough visual clues that locals will know that that is so. It is always my belief that a comics' artwork and storylines that place works within a specific space and time continuum (even unintentionally), and it is the artwork here that supports my premise although it is not essential to the enjoyment of this short 22 page piece. If I am to be critical about this comic, it is that I found Phoebe's lettering awful. She has a good knowledge of where to place a balloon within the panels and she can write with an economy of words needed in a comic, but the execution of the script (the actual lettering) really spoilt my enjoyment of the end product.
For someone who has never published a comic before, it was a really good solid effort and a personal purchasing highlight. I do hope Phoebe continues to publish her webcomics in this more permanent form, for people like me who don't always have the time to plough through Tumblr to find gems like this...
I found out too late that writer and artist Peter Yong had attempted to crowd-fund his first attempt comic-book story, just a few weeks before Comicstreet. So, I was pleased to hear that he had booked a table and was preparing to sell The Rockabilly Plump Corps with all the other punters at this expo.
Which gave me an opportunity to scan a few of the pages before happily purchasing my own copy. Regular comic book size, this black and white book is a massive 84 pages in length (see the colour cover above at left). Peter has a background in animation, and his artwork showcases a wonderful fluid style that he has no doubt honed over the years in this occupation. He credits his comic idea as being as simple as a couple of sketches: images of 'a rotund rockabilly guy' and 'a bodybuilder in a lab coat' and then imagining the adventures if they should meet.
The result is a visual and hilarious romp that doesn't take itself too seriously, and races at a manic pace all throughout the book. The artwork is lovingly rendered: there are what I understand are black halftones throughout the art, which gives the work a nice retro look. But the story is set in the present day, with President Obama making an appearance, with humourous effect.
The ten-page "Case File" after the story proper didn't really work for me; but that was balanced by a short story near the end of the book, "The Rockabilly Plump Kids!", that I enjoyed. Having a Pin Up Gallery at the end of the book, even though they consisted of artists I was/am not familiar with, was a masterstroke: it gives the sense that there is a community of readers that are both familiar with the characters and are willing to showcase their interpretations of the characters. I can only hope that the readership increases to the point where Peter Yong produces a second volume. At the end of his lead story he urges readers to "tune in next time for more Rockabilly Plump Corp action", and I, for one, am already eagerly awaiting that day. Highly recommended.
Biographical comics, especially those done well, are not often seen in the Australian comics community. "The Big Simp", from Fox Comics in the 1980s is one that comes to mind. (I'm not sure if I should include Eddie Campbell's work here, given he has now returned to England, although much of his autobiographical stuff was done while he was living in Australia.) Dillon Naylor has been sharing some life experiences in recent issues of Oi Oi Oi! and, from recent Facebook postings, Bruce Mutard has been thinking of sharing his thoughts of his past schooldays...
Brisbane artist, Dan Gilmore, who had shared a couple of collaborative projects with Sally Browne under the LUV Comics banner, had a few of his own projects on offer at Comicstreet. Shell, An Autobiography of Relinquished Romances is one I purchased from him that puts many of the others mentioned above in the shade. Most of those have used humour to carry the story and describe events in a reasonably light vein.
Dan's story details the inner turmoil and dynamics of his thinking when he met his very first girlfriend, Lisa, in 2000. Without seeking to spoil your enjoyment of the comic, the book traverses Dan's growth from that time to 2004, 2008 and 2015, with different colour palettes representing the ensuing years. Dan's artwork is what has attracted me to his work in the past, but in this book it is the story that carries the reader. His use of word balloons, especially in conversations, are well-placed and composed with an overall feel for the illustrations within his page design.
The comic, labelled for 'Mature Readers' due to its 'strong language and adult themes', is self-contained and concludes within about thirty pages. However, the book left this reader lingering longer on the pages' thoughts, with a desire to see more work of this nature by this creator. This is an intense and deeply personal work, and Dan Gilmore should be commended for his mature use of the autobiographical comic medium.