* The last major issue of stamps featuring cartoonists was way back in 1988....
Great to see Ginger Meggs being offered an opportunity to be honoured by Australia Post this week. On behalf of the Australian Cartoonists Association I've written to the Philatelic group who decide who gets a gong and who doesn't, to at least consider another release on Australian cartoonists*...preferably in 2024, when the Association celebrates its centenary. No definitive reply just yet!
* The last major issue of stamps featuring cartoonists was way back in 1988....
It’s difficult in these modern times to recall a simpler, less-complicated time for people that live in Australia’s most populated city, Sydney. The running rampant COVID-19 virus seems to have stripped the humourous heart out of Sydneysiders, and indeed the country. People, everywhere, are increasingly anxious and fearful for the unknown of our future.
Perhaps it’s time to look back at a gentler time, when there was a different sense of community, and there was humour in the everyday. Cartoonist Emile Mercier was able to find such joy and shared it daily with his cartoons in the Sydney newspaper The Sun from 1949 to 1968. There were no politics in his drawings, rather he highlighted the everyday places and people that are the soul of a city – the drunks, the privileged, the housewives, and the alleys, the buildings, the sporting events, and more. He also captured an inner-city Sydney now long gone, with the terraced-houses, backyards, with the cafes and pubs.
Mercier was well-qualified to comment on the humour he saw in the city. He came as an outsider, from New Caledonia where he was born in 1901. His father threatened to cut him out of the family fortune if his abandoned his heritage. Emile remained determined; he wanted to carve out his own future when he arrived in 1919.
As he did. Mercier worked in a variety of occupations including a spruiker at the Royal Easter Show, a deck hand, an office boy, and many others, before he was encouraged to become a full-time freelance cartoonist. His cartoons and comic books reflected his love of people, and what he saw as the strangeness of the Australian way of life.
ir streets, their homes, and always with a humour that steered far from politics. After twenty years as the newspaper’s daily cartoonist, Mercier retired in 1968. He passed away in 1981, leaving behind a collection of his works and a cartooning legacy that continues to be recalled by many devotees to the craft.
For many years after Emile’s death, his son Michael had pondered on what to do with thousands of his father’s original artworks. A couple of years ago, he decided on donating them to the National Cartoon Gallery, in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. The Gallery holds the largest collection of original cartoons in the southern hemisphere and seems a fit and proper place for housing them.
However, given Emile Mercier was the chronicler of the everyday Sydneysider, it seemed a travesty to just to store them and have them forgotten. In these grim times, the world – and, especially, Sydney – is again in need of his humour to lift the spirits of people.
Member of the Australian Cartoonists Association and comic book publisher Nat Karmichael was entrusted to work on bringing a collection of Emile’s cartoons to greater prominence. Enlisting the support of a small group of cartoonists, academics, and some everyday Australians, Nat and his team selected many cartoons for publication.
The result is a book, soon to be released, called Emile Mercier: A Selection of Cartoons is in the end stages of production. Queensland-based Karmichael has launched a short crowd-funding campaign to raise funds for the project. “With all the anxiety and distress in the world today, there’s an even greater need to be able to laugh at ourselves to lift our spirits and hope for a brighter future” Karmichael said.
That’s exactly what Emile Mercier hoped for when he left his home in New Caledonia, arriving as an immigrant to Sydney just over one hundred years ago, and it’s his humourous slant on life that is again going to be shared with Sydney, and the world.
Emile Mercier: A Selection of Cartoons
ISBN (softcover): 9780994362339
Includes a short biography by Lindsay Foyle, former editor of The Bulletin, and an Introduction by Emile’s son, Michael Mercier. The book contains some never-before-seen personal family photos of Emile.
Get your copies early! The link to the Kickstarter campaign can be found here: http://kck.st/3kS78hx
After the campaign, limited copies can be obtained from the National Cartoon Gallery or at all good bookstores. Books will be distributed nationally by Novella Distribution.
For media enquiries contact Nat Karmichael at email@example.com
I always like to inform my Blog readers first. So, here is where you can click to go and check out the Emile Mercier Kickstarter campaign: kck.st/3kS78hx
For readers of my Blog only: I have this morning submitted my Kickstarter for the Emile Mercier book to benefit the National Cartoon Gallery. We're due to get approval on the last day of this month ... Happy to take your feedback!
Many people my vintage (and younger?) might remember Ian "Molly" Meldrum (a television 'personality' on Channel Two) urging music-lovers to go out and purchase a particular Long Player (a record, a devise used to play music from) that had struck his fancy. I can now offer similar advice. Since my last blog, I've been offered an account with United Book Distributors, allowing me to be able to purchase books on a wholesale basis. This in turn is going to allow me to channel any profits made into my personal book publishing. Interested in seeing what's on offer? Click here for all Graphic Novels and Manga. I can allow you, as a reader of my blog, an 'Introductory Offer' of 20% off retail price (does not include shipping, and cannot be offered to overseas readers, sorry). Let me know which title/s strike your fancy, and then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you more details. (No minimum amount needed to order.) "Do yourself a favour; do it today!"
Here are just some of the books on offer... Click here! for more books to select from....
Lately, there have been a proliferation of Australian comics being published and marketed locally via a range of crowd-funded sites. And, really, it's quite easy to see why. As I found out the (financially) hard way with Oi Oi Oi! -- there is no future in publishing and releasing comics the 'traditional' way via local Australian newsstands. Newspaper circulations are dropping, as more people obtain their news via the immediacy of television and, even more so, other social media platforms. As a result, newsagents are slowly going out of business. The only comics found there these days (in Australia, at any rate) are reprints of Mad magazine, occasionally 2000 A.D., and The Phantom, the latter of which is surviving because the publisher has - at last - acknowledged that there is a talent pool of local artists and writers willing to contribute to the character, and there still remains a loyal readership. For how long, though?
There is certainly a lot to like about the ability to market a comic book via crowd-funded sites. At the present time, it seems to suit most participants. Set-up costs for writer-artist-self-publishers are relatively small, and there appears to be a dedicated consumer base willing to support and successfully fund most campaigns of late. And while Comicoz was one of the earlier pioneers of the crowd-funding model to fund some of its high-quality comic-related books within this country (and with plans to soon market some new books through this method), I'm increasingly concerned that this particular marketplace is slowly becoming saturated with comic product, local and international. With the increasing number of publishers entering the market, there will need to be an increasing quality of product (and incentives) to attract potential readers, and I fear that there remains a limited or even decreasing number of potential supporters of the medium.
One of the problems is that I don't believe the reader-base is expanding. Comics are not the entertainment staple that they were when I was younger. As a result, there are less and less younger people knowing how to read comics. The big two comic book publishers (DC and Marvel) seem more intent on focusing their efforts on catering to collectors, with their various covers of the same issue. The other side of this, is that there is an increased diversity of product (that is, not mere superhero comics). Although this diversity seems to be the province of the smaller publishers, enthusiastically entering the market to create perhaps the biggest range of comic available to readers since the advent of the direct-market system.
Another problem (locally, at least) seems to be the ever-present scourge of COVID-19. From lockdowns to people losing regular work, people are finding money tight. While the government paints a rosy picture that the economy is going to bounce-back once "we get to the other side", I fear that the many small businesses, the local comic shop retailers who support the comic medium, will struggle to stay afloat. Compounding this concern, is the recent decision by Marvel and DC (and other publishers) to leave Diamond Distributors. While I have no problem with an increased competition within the marketplace, I wonder if there will be smaller discounts offered by the new distributor, Penguin Random House, thus putting a bigger squeeze on the local comic book store. From the major publisher's perspective, it increases the visibility of their product (and hopefully sales), and perhaps makes the comic medium (particularly the graphic novel) more aligned with literature -- which is something the industry has long wished for.
Okay, so I am keeping off Facebook (and just about all social media) while I complete the steps required before the Emile Mercier book is ready to run on Kickstarter ...
You're going to hear it here first. It looks like Iron Outlaw might yet be a goer ...!
Below is an early draft of the text for the back cover for such a book.
The story lines of Iron Outlaw were sensational for their time. The year was 1970: Australia was going to Vietnam and China was emerging as a world power. The Australian identity was under threat from American TV and Japanese products. This resulted in a sudden surge in Australian Nationalism.
Iron Outlaw set out to lampoon all that was going on – cutting into the political attitude of Victorian Premier Henry Bolte and the Chief Secretary Arthur Rylah, and all the other attitudes of the time. The artwork and story text were produced by Greg and Grae, two young men just out of Swinburne and looking for things to do.
The strip appeared in the Sunday Observer and Nation Review. It lasted for a single year, and had three editors – Michael Cannon, David Robie and Kevin Childs – over its brief life span. Political correctness was not the force that it is today, so it needs to be taken in with the same sense of humour it was created in.
The establishment hated Iron Outlaw but the restless prols loved it! Today’s Melbourne would love to have Iron Outlaw tackle Chairman Dan and the associated Lockdown Lunacy. We need more of this biting satire, and a complete reprint of this Australian comic strip is worth celebrating: Long live Iron Outlaw and his mate Steel Sheila!
"Iron Outlaw is a minefield of commentary waiting to be misconstrued.
"We may not be sued but there would be definite attempts to shut it down and a name and shame campaign for those involved.
"We have a 1970 curiosity of a couple of young blokes attempting social engineering that has no place in today's world.
"I realise Nat that you ... would like to bring it to life and give it a new sense of place and value.
"I must say that the cost to our lives and reputations could far outlay [sic] the benefits.
"For these reasons I cannot have anything to do with a reprint of Iron Outlaw."
Sad and disappointed. That pretty-well sums up how I feel. For the third time this year, I've been denied permission to reproduce a property that I felt would have added to our collective comic history. The history of Ginger Meggs' cartoonists over the past one hundred years ("A Little Bit of Ginger" by Lindsay Foyle), the collected "Us Girls" by Syd Miller, and now "Iron Outlaw" by Graeme Rutherford and Greg Mac Alpine.
Still, I am always one to respect all creator's wishes (or the copyright holder, if it's the family of the creators). "No" means "No". Without permission I just have to let it go. Sad and disappointed I may be, I'll simply have to move on to other projects ...
Can the Kickstarter campaign be far away now?
I wanted to share this with you, my Blog Readers first, before Facebook, Twitter, and everywhere else. So, thanks for reading!
Cover designed by my great Designing Mate, Ryan McDonald-Smith. You want him to design your next project? Here's a link: youniquecreation.com/
...acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to elders past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to all First Australian peoples.
Over the past decade (2011 - 2020) Nat has self-published ten comic-related books and was Publisher-Editor of Oi Oi Oi! - the last nationally-distributed comic book of original comics stories to appear on Australian newsstands. He edited Inkspot, the journal of the Australian Cartoonists Association for 14 issues from late 2015 to 2019 and is a current member of the ACA's Committee. In his spare time, he is a husband, a father (to six) and grandfather (to fourteen), and works in the Psychiatric Emergency Centre in Queensland's largest public hospital.
Comicoz is Nat Karmichael's publishing imprint. Nat is committed to preserving a permanent collection of Australian comic and comic strips. He feels that there is a need to recognise comics' contribution to and depiction of Australian culture.