Just have to share the news that Dillon Naylor's book, Batrisha and the Creepy Caretaker (published by Comicoz) has today been nominated for an Australian Shadow Award, run by the Australasian Horror Writers Association (AHWA). The Association, founded in 2003, is a non-profit organisation that provides a community and unified voice for Australasian writers of dark fiction, attempting to foster the evolution of the genre within Australia. Dillon's book has been entered in the Graphic Novel-Comic section. Interested in reading the group's blog page? Click here! Or if you're interested in knowing more about the Association, please click here. Dillon and I would like to sincerely thank Jason Franks for letting us know about this Award...
There's too much going on in our household during the school holidays (with wonderful grandchildren visiting) to try to work out how to remove the middle border in this illustration. But there was enough time yesterday morning (while everyone else slept) to pick up a copy of Frew's first comic release of the year. I wasn't fussed about the internal pages (although they looked pretty, all in colour).... it was the wraparound cover that caught my eye. The editorial credits as by being drawn by an Australian artist that I don't know and am not familiar with: Daniel Picciotto. I'm going to have to question my comic mate Jeremy Macpherson to tell me what he knows about Daniel! It's such a cracking cover, I just had to buy a copy to share the illustration with you here.
The winner of the Comicoz Best Australian Original Comic of 2022 is ....
No, no, no! Hang on there! For those that come in late (to borrow a time-honoured saying), this totally arbitrary annual award has been chosen by myself for the sole purpose of stimulating discussion within the community of people who are passionate about Australian comics. And one of the stipulations I make is that I cannot choose a comic I have published (or, in this case, co-published) within the past twelve months. So, Dillon Naylor's Batrisha the Vampire Girl: Ze Collected Comics, Volume 1 is off the table. So too, Batrisha and the Creepy Caretaker and Emile Mercier: A Selection of Cartoons. The selected winner is bestowed no financial reward, there is no scientific basis to the selection, and the winning creative did/cannot bribe me to select their creation. I must tell you too, that I have no way of knowing every comic published within Australia during the past 12 months, so the selection is totally subjective. Also I must admit that I don't believe that I have been to any comic conventions in 2022 (much as I would have liked to have, mostly on account of my professional work life in 2022, which has remained plagued by the effects of COVID-19). (There's a lot to be said for being retired, or working Monday to Friday! Perhaps soon!) Most of my selections are those I have discovered via social media posts (mostly Facebook), crowd-funded sites, newsagent stands, or word of mouth. In reviewing my list, I remain somewhat embarrassed that there are so few (well, no) female creatives within the list. Some books I discovered too late (that is, they were published before 2022 even if I did not read them until this year), so for example I have not included Safdar Ahmed's quite brilliant Still Alive in my list. (I hope he will not be offended. His book was in everyone else's lists. And I have reviewed the book for an upcoming issue of Inkspot.)
The reason I publicly make my selections on 5th January, is because it is the birth date of Australian comic book creative Monty Wedd. It's a nice way of remembering a wonderfully warm human being (whom I first met in 1988). He was born on this day in 1921 ... 102 years ago. Sadly, during 2022, his wife Dorothy passed away. Dorothy and Monty's son Justin kindly supplied some photographs of the couple in earlier years for the Australian Cartoonists Association's Stanley Awards held recently. They didn't use all the photos, but this seems an opportune moment to share just one of them (right).
Last year, on this date for the first time, I put in place the Comicoz-Wedd Mentored Australian Graphic Storytelling Project allowing Australian comic creatives to share with me, along with fellow-judges Dr Bruce Mutard and Dean Rankine, a yet-to-be published 100-page comic project that creatives would allow my publishing imprint Comicoz to publish. I had planned to announce the recipient at the Comic Arts Awards of Australia, but instead chose to delay that announcement until today. So, drum-roll please! Runner-up in the project was Ken Best. Ken wrote, drew and coloured a fast-paced action comic tale that I hope he someday puts to print. Sadly, though, there can only be one winner. And so (bigger drum-roll please) the winner is ...
Todd, Molly and the Penguins from Outer Space (a tentative title) written and drawn by Peter Player. Peter has just supplied a colour draft of the front cover for us all to see ... and you're seeing it here first. I'll talk a little more about the work in the months ahead.
In the meantime, I want to thank all the people who registered an interest in the project. To all those who entered. And to the judges, Dean and Bruce; and to Julie Ditrich who offered her whole-hearted support of the project.
In the meantime, what of the comics for 2022? (I mean, that's why you are reading this blog, right?) Just to recap, here are all the past winners of the Comicoz Best Australian Original Comic Award over the past eleven years:
2011: Insanity Streak - Striving for Quantity by Tony Lopes
2012: Kinds of Blue (anthology) Karen Beilharz (editor, contributor)
2013: The Long Weekend in Alice Springs by Josh Santospirito
2014: The Anzac Legend by Dave Dye
2015: Struggle by Darren Close
2016: These Memories Won't Last (interactive web comic) by Stuart (Sutu) Campbell
2017: Post Traumatic (anthology) by Bruce Mutard
2018: A Week in Warrigilla (web comic) by Teloka Berry and Pricilla (Pi) Wu
2019: The Phantom (Issue #1850) by Matt Kyme (writer/artist), Graeme Jackson ('digital special effects') and Roger Stitson (editor); Frew Publications (publisher)
2020: COVID-19 Diary (web cartoon-'article') by Jason Chatfield
2021: The Riddle of the Grey Malkin, by Glenn Lumsden (writer), Jason Paulos (artist), Glenn Ford (editor); Frew Publications (publisher), running in Issues #1899-1903 and #1905-1907.
There were more reprinting of older comics in 2022 than ever before, and some that I have included on my list. Perhaps I am showing some bias here, but I enjoyed seeing John Dixon's work in print again. This offering from Frew Publications was one of my favorites: Giant-Size Phantom, Number 23, featuring mostly past works from John Dixon, with a fabulous cover by Glenn Lumsden. At 100 black and white pages for $10.50 this issue was exceptional value. Copies might still be available at your local newsagent, but if not you might be able to score copies from the publisher. Here's the link if you click here.
Throughout 2022, there were many issues of their main publication The Phantom that struck my eye, and many featuring so many Australian creatives that I was almost tempted to take out a subscription! I want to make a special mention of issue #1930. Check it out if you can! Matt Kyme produced an absolutely stunning cover.
There were a couple of other comics that contained reprinted material that I'd like to mention that caught my eye in 2022. Both were written and illustrated by David Hodson and both published by David Bird's Paper Tableaux imprint. Anyhowtown (Book One) is planned to be the first of three volumes. In David's (three-part) Introduction, he relates that the story first appeared in Fistfull of Comics, an Adelaide anthology (that I was familiar with) as well as a later graphic novel released in 2012 (which I was not aware of). This 90-page plus graphic storytelling narrative is printed as a softcover in black and white, evoking personal memories from my past (having lived in Adelaide in the late 1970s). Other people may find other emotions stirred on reading it. "His town was no longer like any other. The streets were deserted. Weirdness in the supermarkets was not pretty. Now there were strange, roaming mobs. How could all this be real? Something had happened to 'normal'." That's the blurb on the back cover. In the Introduction, publisher David Bird suggests the book is "a surrealist fantasy", reporting that Australian comic historian Dr Kevin Patrick describes it as "a meditation on childhood nostalgia, overlaid with a creeping sense of dread...". As for the author? He feels "it's a bit of a satire". While some would find the artwork rudimentary, I feel it works well within the storytelling, and whatever you do, I suggest you don't ignore it. Pick up a copy. This is local Australian graphic storytelling at its finest. I highly recommend it.
The other volume, Still Truly Confused: Excerpts from a Perplexing Life, is much more autobiographical in tone, and for the average reader much more accessible than Anyhowtown. These strips first appeared in another anthology, Melbourne's Fox Comics (in the 1980s between issues #14 to #27) under the title True Confusions. A volume with the same name was co-published by Fox and Fantagraphic Books in 1991, and this volume is said to carry the extra twenty pages of all-new work that was slated to appear in the second issue (that failed to see print). The wait has been worth it! These mostly single-page stories are simply drawn, but give a broader sense of David Hodson's overall personality. His ability to laugh at his life, and be able to share those moments in a manner that most can relate to, are both charming aspects of this 60-page softcover book. Which do I like more? I couldn't split them! Both are the best reprinted comics of 2022, and both are available by contacting publisher David Bird by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org Better tell him that you're over 18 years of age, too, as Anyhowtown "is not intended for persons under 18 years of age" so the cover says.
In 1988, I visited former Frew publisher Jim Shepherd in his Sydney office. He regaled me with tales of his early experiences with publishing, and his future plans for The Phantom (including having some Australians having their works published!) At the time, he had decided to branch further afield and had just published a comic reprinting some earlier Mandrake the Magician tales. He spoke too, of one day hoping to include boxing, one of his many passions, into a comic. So, I can only imagine how rapt he would have been to see his comic business incorporating both of his passions within his comic... and in colour! Until the Final Bell, written and drawn by Dr Paul Mason, was my favourite Phantom adventure in 2020. The lead story was a reprint of an earlier newspaper strip adventure of the character written by Lee Falk and drawn by Wilson McCoy, The Masked Marvel.
Crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter have been an increasing means of getting a wider audience for Australian comic creatives in 2022. "Big" Tim Stiles from Canberra has learnt how to market his creation Gorilla My Dreams through this medium over the past few years. His fun book from 2022, Gorilla My Dreams Team-Up was a well-written, extremely well-illustrated volume that left me with a few questions (and no answers) in making my annual selections. Do I include works that are written by local comic creatives, yet illustrated by overseas artists? Do I include works that are published by overseas publishers, yet carry some Australian creatives? (Tom Taylor's great current run on DC's Nightwing comes to mind. Darren Koziol's increasing reliance on overseas artists for continuing his full-colour and highly-recommended Retro Sci-Fi Tales series is another.)
*If I have not included you, and you are one of the Australian artists featured within the book, please forgive me! There were just too many names to mention! Tim McEwen, Samuel McEwen, Stelios Papadakis, Joan Ross, Abdul-Rahman Abdullah ... see? I could go on....
Of course, it's not always possible to catch up with all crowd-funded campaigns. Sometimes budgetary considerations come into play, sometimes I'm simply too busy at work to be searching, sometimes poor marketing, or marketing in areas I don't see come into play. (I've spent less time on social media this year than in previous years (although I fear Mrs Karmichael might disagree). Hard Struck, a graphic novel by Codey Anderson, is one such publication. Cody discloses having worked in the Australian Army as a soldier before turning to civilian life as a full-time illustrator. This book seeks to "consolidate [Codey's] passion for veterans [sic] mental health ... to produce something that can really help people". As a mental health professional, I often encounter soldiers who come to our service suffering PTSD, anger-management issues, anxiety, depression and other ailments. Codey has managed to share his inside knowledge of the army to produce a the most powerful of all stories that I am recommending this year. Although he maintains the work is one of fiction, I feel that there are some close home truths to this tale. The book's hardcover binding is impeccable. Here's a link to purchase your own copy.
The following softcover anthology was a Kickstarter campaign that ran from Newcastle, New South Wales, that I am pleased succeeded. (Although I initially thought the campaign was on shaky grounds, for reasons I need not go into here.) Producing the End of the World is a 72-page full-colour softcover anthology, with all stories "curated and edited by Anthony Pollock". Gary Proudley is listed as the Assistant Editor. There are various stories inside that mainly cover science fiction, dystopian and apocalyptic themes. There seems to be some confusion in attending to the published website, so I've asked Anthony to please clarify. (It appears a webstore is coming...)
The colours are bright and colourful, and the stories are a lot of fun. My only criticism of the book is that the spine's gutters are too close together, so if you want to open the book to read it, you risk creasing the cover (and it then no longer looks like a brand-new book). Yeah, I know, first world problem.) Fortunately for me, I obtained a PDF copy of the book, so that is not likely to happen, but it's a production flaw that a lot of people seem to overlook when publishing. (Heck, I was almost guilty of the very same thing when producing the Emile Mercier book...)
In order to further engage the younger set (and clearly that is where Darren seems to be aiming this comic), he's included a sticker and a black and white colouring book with a great number of illustrations by many Australian creatives. There's nothing like giving something for free as a little bonus extra to ensure younger readers become enamoured with your character! Younger readers become older readers... Want to find a copy for someone you care about? Or want to explore the series? Darren has supplied this link (click here)!
Toby and the Magic Pencil is another comic book aimed for the younger reader, and is so much fun that it's no wonder it's Reverie Publication's best-selling title. Written by publisher Gary Dellar and illustrated by Ben Sullivan (although I notice the copyright is owned by Gary), this comic is just filled with so much class and joy. I've suggested to Gary that he market it to a wider (overseas) audience and I'm really hoping he takes up the suggestion. Not unlike Darren's comic, the comic I have selected as one of my picks for the year gives the reader a bonus - in this case, some 3-D glasses! I'm assuming (correctly?) that the 3-D special effects were by Frantz Kantor; I couldn't see a credit. The comic is American comic book size, 26 pages of story (making it eminently suitable for the foreign market), and in full colour. Copies of this issue (and all previous issues) are available from the Reverie webpage by clicking here. (There are other Australian comics there too: why not check them all out while you are there?!)
I probably harp on about this yearly, but I'll do it again. Anyone interested in Australian comics and cartoons can't do much better than to consider becoming an Associate Member of the Australian Cartoonists Association. For your $66 Membership, you receive four copies of their journal (Inkspot) each year, and the opportunity to mix and mingle with some of this country's best comic book illustrators (and other cartooning professionals) at their annual conference and Stanley Awards night.
I no longer edit Inkspot but I still try to contribute a story here or there. Steve Panozzo is the current editor and is doing a mighty fine job. The current issue (seen left) is filled with so many articles of interest.
For starters. There's a wonderful history of the Australian comic book artist John Richard Flanagan written by comic book historian Daniel Best. Who is John Flanagan? Never heard of him? That's why this magazine is just so essential to anyone interested in the local comic medium! Other articles within: a profile on Brisbane-based cartoonist Rev. Ian Jones, an article on Damian Castellini's graphic novel Pip! (which, I confess, I have not yet read), an article on Emile Mercier by famed Australian cartoonist/author Vane Lindesay, a moving tribute to the late Max Foley, some tips on animation by animator Peter Viska, a professional who runs a Melbourne-based studio, and so much more. The current issue is chock-block with 40 pages of information!
The downside? The magazine is not available in stores: you can only get a copy by becoming an Associate Member (or Full Member, if you're a professional cartoonist). Feel free to message me if you need more details. Disclaimer note: I am no longer on the Committee, so no-one has paid me to say these words!
Another publication not available more widely, is Tale Town ("Tales from the Hermit Kingdom"!) This sixteen-page newspaper was, I understand, released at Perth's Comic Arts Festival that, unfortunately, I was unable to attend. (Dr Bruce Mutard kindly sent me a copy, so I shall publicly thank him here for his continued generosity.) This was a joy to read. Comics abound in the whole sixteen pages from Australian creatives like the aforesaid Dr Bruce Mutard, Stuart Medley, Campbell Whyte, and (once again) too many more to mention!
But I will mention some of my favourite pieces (besides the aforesaid creatives): March 13 by Elizabeth Marruffo, a wonderful piece by Sarah Winifred Searle about the Pandemic, This Life That I Choose, and Soolagna Majumdar's busy but engaging piece, Live Laugh Love. This comic newspaper was one of the highlights of my comic-reading year, showing - once again - what creative talents there are around the country that so many of us are simply not aware of. Oh! For a national comic publication that could share some of this talent more widely (if it could only be financially viable)...
And, so, now we come to the Award. Which piece was THE highlight of my comic-reading experience? Thank you, dear Reader, for coming and I trust, reading this far. Drum-roll, please. The Comicoz Best Australian Original Comic for 2022 is ....
Flock, Chapter #1 written and illustrated by (Doctor) Paul Mason.
Created, written and illustrated by Paul Mason, Edited by Amanda Bacchi, Lettered and designed by Wolfgang Bylsma; published by Gestalt Publishing Pty Ltd. Buy your copy by clicking here.
As with other properties, this large 48-page, full-colour comic was first made available via Kickstarter. There is nothing like getting something like a bonus extra. And what a bonus! Dr Paul offered a 36-page "Process Zine" sharing rough pages, concept art, ...the works. Thirty-six pages! What a joy to see the way the project came to life from conception to completion! Thirty-six pages! I was blown away when the package arrived.
So, what's the story about? "Part action/adventure, part war story, part comedy, part pigeon ...? Add a smdgen of science-fiction and a dash of history and one thing's for certain: This is a story you'll not soon forget! Join The Flock now!" Well, so the back cover blurb says. But they always wax lyrical, don't they?
Look, in my opinion, (Doctor) Paul Mason's comic art, for too long, has been seriously underrated in this country. He brings a dynamic feel to his characters, he can visually convey a story (even without words): he work as an artist is as a storyteller. And usually telling other people's stories. Here he gets to tell his story. It's the best Australian comic book story I've read all year. No. Cancel that. This is the best comic book I've read all year. The Flock is hereby awarded the Comicoz Best Australian Original Comic for 2022. Do yourself a favour (as someone once said!) and check it out for yourself. Tell me if you've read better. As always, dissent and discussion most welcome....
I'm writing this a few days before my 65th birthday, and a week into (finally) falling prey to COVID. So many of my work colleagues have fallen ill over the past two years, that it was only a matter of time for me to become so smug that I didn't think I would fall ill for it to happen! In retrospect, I'm not surprised. I'd worked fourteen days (out of sixteen) in the leadup to contracting the illness, and I'd also pushed myself in the month beforehand by attending the annual National Cartoon Gallery's Rotary Cartoon/Australian Catoonists' Association's Stanley Awards, working in the garden, trying to maintain a daily schedule with the launch of my Patreon site, among all the other personal family things that make up my life ... that it simply lead to me getting too, too fatigued. So, looking back, as I said, I'm not surprised...!
So, I'm presently pausing my Patreon site. I really need to be able to commit to it on a daily basis. And that is clearly not possible at the moment. That's not to say I don't have a few comic plans ahead. Because - and I am sure you can hear my wife sighing in the background, right? - there are a few. (Some that I even picked up at the Australian Cartoonists Association's conference...)
First of all, let me be clear. This (above) is a work in progress. And, yes, I does seem like I am going back to the future. I began last decade by publishing a John Dixon-Air Hawk book ... and here I am again? Yes, I did. And, yes I am. ...And there are many more comic surprises ahead. Some I have flagged earlier, some I have not. Stay tuned!
Before I get too far ahead of myself, though, maybe I ought to share the details of the Stanley weekend. I drove down with Gary Swamp Clark, and we shared a room together. There's nothing finer than getting to know someone better than by sharing life in such close quarters: and although Gary and I have known each other since ... yes, since 1981 ... this was a particularly wonderful opportunity to really get to know each other.
One of the funnier things to happen (and I won't publicly share them all!) was driving back to the Motel from the Rotary Cartoon Awards at the National Cartoon Gallery on the Friday night ... to find that the road was so dark we didn't realise that we were in fact heading in the wrong direction ... until we were almost thirteen kilometres closer to Sydney ... !
Here are some of the visual photographic highlights I took of and on the Saturday Stanley's night:
Just before Gary and I headed off to the Stanley's, we allowed Rob Feldman to use our room to change into his suit. My wife Carlene (who, as many of you know, is not really fussed with the whole cartooning thing) had opportunity to speak to Rob before the Staley's event, and suggested that if I should dare attempt to purchase anything at the Silent Auction, that he had her permission to slap me silly....
Well, I've taken the plunge! I've signed up to Patreon! You can be one of the first to have a look by clicking on here!
That's not to say I won't be posting here, dear Reader: this web-page will still have the shared public information that's available on Patreon. It's just another means of getting the Australian comic book message out there. Like Facebook and Twitter. However, I'll probably share more information in more detail to those people who pay for the highest tier of my Patreon site. At present I feel this site and the other social media outlets limit what I can say, for example, when I am negotiating for a property, or I have plans for a proposed book that is not yet become fully formed. With my highest Patreon tier, I'll feel I am speaking to confidants that I can share more things with. Well, let's see how it goes!
The main reasons I joined, though, is to firstly, limit my reliance on running campaigns on Kickstarter and other crowd-funding sites. Even though the results are good (when successful), they do take a lot of time to work on. And less commercial or less known ventures that might need to see the light of day are perhaps not as likely to succeed. Secondly, with my recent decision to soon end my working life as a Clinical Nurse with all the inherent shift work (and, erk! night duty), I might be able to fund my own retirement "hobby" of publishing comics. Of course, this is all dependent on enough people believing in my publishing ventures to put down the cold, hard cash every month. And to that end, I've made the tiers as low as I can make them for people to feel they are all making a wonderful contribution. As they would be. It's really a team effort between both parties.
Because, at the end of the day, the reason for the Patreon site, is to ensure the world gets to read more Australian comics, whether reprinting old classics or publishing new ones! And that, to my mind, seems the most important reason for having taken the plunge!
Today I have formally announced to the President and Secretary of the Australian Cartoonists Association that I will not be seeking another term on the Committee when the elections are held next month. Over the past few months - mostly due to work schedules - I have found it difficult to attend committee meetings. For similar reasons earlier this year I chose to withdraw from the honorary position of Lead Judge of the Ledger of Honour Awards. Neither of these decisions were made rashly or impulsively, and they were not made because I had any difference of opinion with the general direction each group was heading in...
Again, due mostly to my shifts at work, I was not able to make the journey to Perth to attend the Comic Arts Awards of Australia's annual ceremony. Held on the 6th of August, it was the first one in three years not to have been held virtually, as society worries less about COVID. I would have been honoured to have accepted the Ledger of Honour (or, if you will, Hall of Fame Award) for creatives passed on behalf of Monty Wedd's family. It would have been a bitter-sweet time for the family, as Monty's widow Dorothy sadly passed away on 29th June, a short time before the ceremony.
For the purpose of posterity, here are the winners of the CAAA Awards, 2022:
Still Alive by Safdar Ahmed (Twelve Panels Press)
Stone Fruit by Lee Lai (Fantagraphics Books)
Patience & Esther: An Edwardian Romance by Sarah Searle (Iron Circus Comics)
As You Drive by Nina Dakin (in Myth #6, a comic anthology from Curtin Illustration Club)
Turtlenecks by Steven Christie (AdHouse Books)
Underground by Mirranda Burton (Allen & Unwin)
Platinum Award (given to "an individual or organisation presently active in the Australian comics publishing scene, who best represents the ideals of the Awards"): Papercuts Comics Festival. Well-deserved, in my opinion, as 'George Rex' (Georgina Chadderton) and Owen Heitmann have worked hard to produce the best comic festival in Australia. Not that I went in 2022, although what I saw in ... 2019? ... greatly impressed me for its professionalism.
Ledger of Honour, or Hall of Fame (that I oversaw for the last time):
Monty Wedd* (for a creative no longer living)
Norman Clifford (to a creative still alive)
*I abstained from voting when deciding the final result here, to prevent any perceived conflict of interest, given I have published some of Monty's works.
I have written a review of one of the Gold Award recipients, Still Alive, for the Australian Cartoonists Association's journal Inkspot. (Let me know if you'd like a copy when it is published, and I'll see if I can obtain one for you. I'll place the full review here on this site when it is published, but in the meantime, here's an excerpt of my thoughts:
Interspersed with Safdar’s tale, he allows some of the refugees to tell their stories, most particularly Haider*. (*Not his real name.) Both narratives intermingled with each other, and both used first person pronouns, with the same lettering font and illustrating style, making the first-time reading of these different chapters initially confusing.
Safdar’s illustrations are pleasing to the eye, although he seems to lack a certain sequential storytelling that would allow the work to flow more consistently throughout the book. Part of that is no doubt due to the mountain of factual information that he seeks to impart to the reader about the detention system and its clear failings to those detained. Periodically, he allows some of those who have joined his art workshops a space on the pages to demonstrate their experiences through their drawings. I would have liked to have seen some of those highlighted a little more: perhaps a page to each of their works would have been better, rather than squeezing two illustrations to a page.
The decision to quit the Ledger of Honour Awards was one that filled me with more guilt than the position on the ACA Committee. Since informing the coordinator of the group that I needed to resign my post, I've been told that the Comic Arts Awards of Australia (Ledger)'s 2021 Annual may have to be placed on the backburner and that the very future of the Awards are now looking problematic. This is no-one's fault: it's an extremely time-consuming venture (for no financial reward), and Gary Chaloner, Tim McEwen, and Dr Bruce Mutard need to be congratulated for continuing it for the past nine consecutive years. Perhaps because the Awards have been running for so long, and because I can recognise that the Awards will be a future historical record of the local comic medium, I really hope that they can continue. If not for my present commitment to my workplace, or rather the need to earn a living, I would have volunteered to take up the challenge!
In the meantime, some will be asking, what became of the Comicoz-Wedd Mentored Australian Graphic Storytelling Project? I had planned to announce the winner at Perth's CAAA ceremony. I have now decided to announce it on the 5th January 2023, when I make my annual announcement of my thoughts on the year's best Australian comics.
Work has overwhelmed my life over the past few months. Since COVID, I have worked full-time again. And there have been extra double shifts and overtime shifts. Especially over the past three months or more. From a comic-publishing perspective, I have been fortunate in not having had too many comic projects to work on. I've been able to work on our garden, read some comics, and 'tidy-up' my music-come-comic room (with Carlene's 'supervision') in some of my spare time....when spare time has been available.
So without any pressing comic projects, and with work so hectic, the spare time that I have had, I have begun to enjoy life away from work. Given my age -- I'm 65 in 2022 -- I have started contemplating my life without any of the pressures of employment and a regular salary. For a while there, I thought it might be endless days of reading comics, visiting grandchildren, gardening, walking (my main passions), but just lately that fire in my belly for the comics medium has returned, as people have again approached me about publishing works that interest me. Resorting to Kickstarter for each individual project seems so time-consuming. I'm contemplating commencing a Patreon page. You heard it here first. I'll explore more and share with you later ...
Today, I'm going to give a plug for a book I have not published! "Neverlanders" was created by two talented Australians: writer Tom Taylor and illustrated by Jon Sommariva. I've met these guys over the years at various comic conventions, and they are always up for a chat with fans: really down to earth! This book just looks lovely and is well-worth supporting. Available in all good bookstores ... now!
Why not surprise someone you love with a copy of Dillon Naylor's Batrisha and the Creepy Caretaker this Halloween? Special discounted price from now until the end of October! Click here for details.
As Australians today wake up to learn that Queen Elizabeth II has passed away, there will be many filled with grief and sadness. Many more will be feeling an increasing anxiousness about the future. She has, after all, been a part of the lives of most of us – the Australian Head of State since 1952. Whether you agree or disagree with the notion that a foreigner ought to be in that role is a question for another day.
“Always look on the bright side of death – just before you draw your terminal breath!” is a well-known couplet from a Monty Python film. And while it’s not a time to be flippant, one of the proven means of reducing stress, increasing our energy levels, and promoting a sense of well-being is by laughing. Australians have had a long history of being able to laugh at themselves.
One of “the funniest cartoons in the world” was how the 1933 Stan Cross cartoon “For Gorsake, Stop Laughing – This is Serious” was once described. The era was known for the early construction of city skyscrapers and rising unemployment, and these buildings were seen as a sign of optimism for the future. The cartoon features one of the workers losing his grip, saved only from certain death by grabbing the pants of one of his mates.
And with the death and destruction of World War II all around them, Bluey and Curley were two comic strip diggers who shared laughs with Australians during their darkest days of the War. It’s a humorous heritage that has spanned decades, sustaining us over the trials and tribulations of the past. Simply, comic strips have been around since the turn of last century, and we have been a happier nation for their presence.
From Ginger Meggs, now running in newspapers for over one hundred years, to more recent features like Swamp and Insanity Strip, comic strips have done more than entertain us. Over the years, they have released endorphins, a natural chemical in the body promoting a sense of well-being in Australians. These daily features are well-loved, and for so many years and for so many people, are the bedrock of the reading experience of a newspaper.
So, who would decide to remove them? Some unsmiling bean counter from the Murdoch Press, apparently. From the 11th September, a decision has been made to remove all daily comic strips from all Murdoch newspapers. It’s unclear why. Economics, perhaps. Just as staff artists, photographers, and journalists have been cut over the years, someone has decided that the daily comic strip feature must go. It’s a short-sighted decision, to my thinking.
When life is difficult, or when we’re in a disagreement with someone, having an ability to laugh or having a sense of humour can help. Isn’t that how we got through COVID? Without laughter, we are lesser people. Cancelling the daily comic strip in Australia is a serious decision. It indicates to the world we have stopped laughing.
Today’s headlines are filled with grief and sadness. We can’t bring back Queen Elizabeth II. Someone somewhere can choose to ensure the daily comic strip continues in the daily newspapers. We need laughter to bring some light to an already grim world.
Here's the link: nationalcartoongallery.com.au/rotary-cartoon-awards/
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