I bought my first Fred Negro comic in the late 1970s or early 1980s (Trash Can Comix) and I can't say that much has changed over the years. Fred has a writing and artistic style that is all his own, and that you either like or do not. (I don't think there is much in between.) Week in and week out for over 1,000 episodes now, Fred's PUB comic strip has appeared in Melbourne's weekly Inpress street press, as well as (more recently) another strip in Brisbane's Time Off (another free music-based weekly).
Recently Fred released 'The Best of Fred Negro's Pub, Volume One', a 32-page (one page in colour, all the rest in Black and White), A4 sized tome that is coil-wire bound. I had planned on purchasing my copy at the book's launch at Brisbane's Beetle Bar. When I arrived at the Bar sometime after 2300hrs (following an afternoon shift at work), I was told that Fred's band wouldn't arrive until 12 midnight - far too late for my 0645hr start at work the following day. So I ended up purchasing my copy via the internet. To be honest, I really can't recall which site I used to buy it from now!
The copy I received had its Introduction Page (by Tim Rogers) printed upsidedown. I'm not sure if all copies had a similar fault, and I don't think it was intentional. It certainly didn't detract from the end product; if anything it added to its DIY charm. Do I recommend you buy a copy? I bought a copy, but I suggest you consider the facts. FIrst: cost. The book says copies are available for $15 plus $5 postage from firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com . Second: is this the type of comic you like? If you are not familiar with Fred's work, I would suggest you look at some of the recent strips by clicking here first. Then, finally, it's really up to you!
And from a totally different end of the publishing spectrum....the second book I'm reviewing today...
Brendan Boughen (going by the name Jim in this volume) was an Air Hawk subscriber from the late 1980s when Comicoz was publishing the strip in comic book form as 'John Dixon's Air Hawk Magazine'. For those who were not around in those days, Issue Six was labelled as 'Issue Sex' and had a front cover that featured a fabulous model called Michelle on the front.... Oh, look, I know you want to see it again, so I shall enclose it (below). The comic found its way into the hands of comic readers for the first time, and sold in good quantities...
However, there were some readers who didn't like the photographic cover, and most vocal were many Air Hawk subscribers! One of those was a young Brendan Boughen!
Reading the Introduction to Jim's book (Gone Astray), I suppose I can now understand where he (as Brendan) came from all those years ago. Brendan/Jim spent "the first 30 years of [his] life" dedicated to the Church, and it was only when he finished university that he began to "question everything". This paperback book is a record of a guy called Jeff's spiritual journey that Brendan says parallel's his own path over the past ten years.
Brendan believes that "both (cartoons and religion) are paths to uncovering truth and revealing the meaning of life. But while religion is about finding order and solace in the face of the apparent random swirling chaos of the universe, cartoons are about laughing in the face of that terrifying reality."
Mrs Karmichael (who is not overly religous) laughed out loud at some of the cartoons in this 96 page paperback. Although I found the style of the cartoons a little simple, the ideas and messages behind them make the reading experience worthwhile. The book's size is 21.5 x 15 cms, and it is available for A$30 from Brendan/Jim's website here. Price includes postage and packing all the way from New Zealand. Check out the website to see some of Jim's work before you buy, and while you are there send him a message that you learnt of his work through Comicoz!
Finally, warm Congratulations! to Jim from all at Comicoz for winning the Bronze Award in the Humour Category at the Australasian Religious Press Association’s 2011 awards (see the cartoon in Jim's Blog dated September 12th 2011).
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