This month marks the tenth anniversary of this Comicoz website. Each month for the past ten years, I have added (at least) one post relating to comics, and most entries describe my involvement in Australian comics here. Back then, I was about to release my first book: John Dixon, Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor. Since then, I have published nine other books, nine comics, and have become much more active in the Australian 'scene'. From (re-)joining the Australian Cartoonists Association to nominating for the position of President, from leading the judging of the Ledger of Honour to increasing my involvement in the National Cartoon Gallery, these have been heady days.
Looking back to my schooldays, I remember always wanting to be a cartoonist (or a Minister of Religion in Grade Four!), so in some ways I feel I am living my life-long dream (even if my professional occupation is totally different). Looking forward, I know I have limited time available to me. I plan to fill it by mostly dedicating what time I have remaining to the cartooning-comic medium, with the understanding that I must also be a breadwinner, a grandfather, father....and a husband. Without Carlene's willingness to support my passion, I wouldn't be here reflecting on these ten years that have just flown by. I must offer her my unending thanks.
Over the past weekend, the Australian Cartoonists Association has called for nominations for positions for the 2021-22 Committee. It was on these pages that I first announced my intention to run. I had a second-thought about doing so (Carlene would prefer I wait until I have retired from work, to allow me more time to attend to any Committee position), and there is a degree of fatigue about voting in these parts. (We had our State Election on Saturday, and there is the U.S. Election being held as I type this.) Nonetheless, I decided to run, because I fear for the future of the Association if it doesn't find a new direction. I don't want to stand idly by and just 'let that happen' when I feel I could have contributed to ensure it doesn't. So I put my hand up.
The Secretary has informed those nominating that there are only three positions that went uncontested: Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary. Which means someone else (presently unknown) is also running for the President's position! Here's what candidates were asked to supply:
Rather than just a straight brief biography, feel free to include a short "elevator pitch" with your bio; something that tells other members why they should vote for you. Perhaps you might have dreams or hopes for the ACA? Perhaps you just want to give back to your industry.
Anyway, for better or worse, I am giving it a go, and this (for posterity) is what I wrote (giving away some of my future publishing plans in the process):
Over the past decade Nat Karmichael has self-published ten books on Australian cartoonists. He was Editor-Publisher of Oi Oi Oi! – the last nationally-distributed comic book of original cartoons to ever appear in Australian newsagents. He edited Inkspot for 14 issues from late 2015 to 2019 and is a current member of the ACA Committee. He is presently working on a book of Emile Mercier cartoons for the National Cartoon Gallery and one on the 1970s Melbourne comic strip Iron Outlaw for his Comicoz imprint.
These are trying times for professional cartoonists, and there is a need for a new and dynamic leadership to take the Association into its next century. Nat is seeking your support for his nomination as President of the Australian Cartoonists Association. He plans to work towards an increased communication between the Board and our ACA membership. Nat believes that there needs to be a greater community awareness of our Association, especially with our fast-approaching centenary in 2024. To that end, he is seeking a mandate to increase the ACA’s support and sponsorship of cartoon-related events, like the Rotary Cartoon Awards and the Ledger Awards, as well as sharing our history in publications of our own.
Nat Karmichael lives in Queensland with his wife Carlene, and together they have fourteen grandchildren. He really wanted to say something witty and funny for this nomination, but you can’t laugh as voting’s a serious matter. Please choose your candidates carefully.
I have just heard the news on the Australian comic grapevine that Melbourne-based comic artist-cartoonist-publisher Ian Eddy has passed away. He was a pioneer of the early comic self-publishing movement in the early 1980s (when it wasn't as cheap to do so as it is today). His influence on the local (Australian) scene and his enthusiasm for the medium cannot be overstated. He experimented with his artistic style, with his story-telling.
Back in those days, you had to write to each other (no such thing as emails!) and we were reasonably prolific correspondents. I once came down to Melbourne especially to meet him while he was still living at home with his parents. A meeting of comic minds. He was so enthusiastic, full of ideas. We had a long conversation (the exact contents I can no longer recall) that went on for far longer than I imagined. I know he chided me for some of my earlier publishing conditions ("no profanity"), something that inspired him to write his "No Man is an Island" piece, when he contributed to my very first comics anthology in 1982. He was later fully supportive of my efforts to publish a Felix the Cat comic (and wanted to illustrate it). He left me two comic stories in the early 1980s that remained unpublished for many years.
Years later, when I was seeking to reprint one of those stories, I found it difficult to contact Ian. He didn't have an email address I knew of and he wouldn't reply to letters I sent. I'm still not sure why. Somehow, I was able to obtain his phone number, and tried to call him, but as soon as Ian knew it was me, he terminated the call. I eventually contacted his brother Daryl (who co-wrote one of the stories), seeking permission to publish one of the stories. Permission was obtained. So the last published Ian Eddy story ran in the Special Nostalgia Edition of Oi Oi Oi! It was always my favourite piece, so I am pleased it - eventually - saw print.
Ian Eddy's page in the history of Australian comics can now be written. Not only have we lost a great Australian comic artist-writer-publisher, there are those who are grieving for the loss of a fine human being. My condolences to all who knew and loved Ian Eddy. He won't ever be forgotten in these quarters.
It was Vane Lindesay's one hundredth birthday yesterday. I tried to talk to him, but couldn't get through. Too many congratulatory calls, I'm sure! One hundred years! Pretty amazing! For any not familiar with Vane's works, here (above) is a short video produced by the Australian Cartoon Museum a few years back. It's not the best summary of his works or history, but it will suffice.
Vane drew a cartoon in the Australasian Post (1946-2002) every week for an amazing forty years. But more than being a simple cartoonist, Vane was also a book designer and has had (and still has) an interest in the history of the cartooning medium. He contributed to articles to Inkspot when I was editor recently, and continues to do so. He is best known for his book The Inked-in Image, A Survey of Australian Comic Art (first published by William Heinemann in 1970). My favourite book of Vane's is The Way We Were, detailing some of this country's popular magazines between 1856 and 1969. I have a long way to go to catch up with the man: he has had published about 18 books on cartooning. (Or so I am told.)
My fondest memory of Vane is at my first Australian Cartoonists' Association Award Night (then the Bulletin Black and White Artists' Club Awards) in 1988. Have I told this story before? I was sitting in the back of the room (perhaps because the organisers had no idea where to place this new member). I was in seventh heaven! I was in the company of Dan Russell whose comic work I knew (and that he was chuffed to know I cared), and others that I came to know that night: Tony Rafty and Vane Lindesay, and many more. (It was the same night I met Monty and Dorothy Wedd in person, although they were not at our table.) How our table erupted with cheers and congratulations when Vane won the Silver Stanley (now the Jim Russell Award) for his 'significant contribution to Australian Black and White Art'. It was a fabulous night, where many friendships were forged. Here's my record of the night (below). I went around like a fan-boy and obtained the autographs of all who won Awards that evening...
Happy Birthday - 100 years - to Vane Lindesay!
All people who have purchased copies of Graeme Cliffe's book, please note that Graeme has continued to research more material since his book has been published. The above file -- which you are welcome to download -- contains those details to place with your treasured volume.
Just a small note: it starts about four minutes in....
I received a wonderful surprise in the mail today. Glenn Ford has sent me some copies of the latest Frew publication: the Giant-Size Phantom, which -- to my delight -- covers little about the Phantom and much about dear friend John Dixon. Touted as a 'John Dixon Special' there are plenty of reprint examples within to keep readers, and John Dixon fans like myself, thrilled. From the second issue of Captain Strato, to the first issue of The Phantom Commando (which has nothing to do with the purple-clad one), a Catman (and Kit) reprint (number 7), and a later issue of Sir Falcon (number 37). Of course these are all properties that Frew owns (or have been given the permission to use), so there are none of John's later works. I'll have to get myself into gear to get that one going! Dr Kevin Patrick has written a nice summary of John's career for those who have come in late, which wraps the issue up nicely. Check out your nearest newsagent to pick up your copy: only $10 for over one hundred pages is great value. And made all the more special with the fabulous Glenn Lumsden cover. Search it out today!
I'm looking forward to posting copies of the magazine to John's children and to someone who will get extra kick out of seeing his work -- his sister, Shelia.
On a totally different subject, I didn't get an opportunity to view the National Cartoonists Society's show that I promoted on this website last week - not due to the hour, but merely because it was a reasonably busy night at work, with no down time available to see it. I do believe the event has been preserved on YouTube, so I shall see if I can put the link here in the near future.
Dear NCS Member,
We’re excited to be counting down to NCSFest — a FREE virtual festival — which takes place this Saturday, September 12 from 10am EDT.
This year, we’re bringing the Festival to you, in a reimagined virtual format. For the first time, you have the opportunity to join us—wherever in the world you may be—for a day of conversations, short films, and fantastic panels, featuring some of the most talented and influential cartoonists of our time.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Q: Do I need any special software or a link to access NCSFest?
A: No. The Festival is free and open to the public. All you need to do is visit NCSFest.com on the day, from 10AM EDT to watch the live stream. We will be streaming on multiple platforms, but primarily on Youtube live, so you don’t have to download any software to view it.
Q: Can I watch it on my phone or tablet?
A: Absolutely. In fact the stream will be optimized for whatever device you are viewing it on, be it your Desktop PC, Mac, Laptop or any other internet-connected device that has a screen.
Q: Can I tune in for just one panel or do I have to watch the whole thing?
A: You’re welcome to drop in for however many sessions you like. The full schedule with times is available at NCSFest.com/schedule. The timing may be slightly off from time to time depending on internet connection speeds, the individual streaming platforms or other factors, but these are the times for a guideline for which sessions will appearing and when.
Q: Will you be announcing the awards?
A: We sure will! All divisional nominees are up online here, and the Reuben nominees are up online here, and we will be announcing the winners in blocks of four awards throughout the day. We considered that this was a better way to announce the awards than having you sit through a 4-5 hour live streaming ceremony over Zoom. We hope you'll agree!
We hope that you’ll join us for this, our first online NCSFest presentation. We were devastated to have had to cancel our Kansas City Reubens this year, and we're making the best of a bad situation, so please be patient with us if there are any technical hiccups on the day. We’re hoping it will all run smoothly as planned.
Remember to visit NCSFest.com/schedule for the full rundown of the day.
*Lastly, PLEASE share this with all of your fans and friends who would love to tune in. This event is FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC to show everyone who the NCS is, and what we do.* Make sure you’re subscribed to the official NCSFest mailing list to get regular updates on the festival, the guests and special announcements.
Thank you to all of our participants, sponsors and supporters.
We look forward to seeing you all at NCSFest 2020!
National Cartoonists Society
After (almost) becoming used to not working on any comic or book publishing projects, and enjoying the quiet solitude of my recently-tidied comic-music room, I am soon going to venture back into the world of publishing. Here are two (of four) projects I am soon going to undertake. Oh, it's a tough life: but better than any alternative. Stay safe, dear reader.
When Australian comic artist Phil Belbin (1925-1993) was unsuccessful in seeking to have his proposed adventure strip The Earlybirds accepted into the Australian newspapers in 1969, what did he do? He kindly offered the artwork to his good mate, John Dixon (1929-2015), and allowed him to incorporate into a 1973-4 Air Hawk adventure, Early Birds. Just how different the story was, I'm not sure. (I'll see if Phil's son Graeme has any proofs from the era, and let you know.) From the indication here, there doesn't seem to be much variation in the script or even the artwork....
Later in life after John had given up Air Hawk (in 1986), it was Phil Belbin -- then a well-recognised and established artist -- who encouraged John to try colour illustrations. He once said to me (in relation to Phil), "I'm still not sure if I should thank him or beat him over the head. It's a tough medium."