Members of the Ledger Awards Organising Committee, Major Sponsor Supanova Pop Culture Expo, Other Sponsors, Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen...I thank you for allowing me to say a few words as I accept this Award on behalf of John Dixon.
In the 1930s reading comics was one of the limited entertainment options available to the Australian public. In the 1940s, following the bombing of Pearl Harbour, the Australian Government banned the importation of foreign (mostly US) comics into this country, allowing a local industry to develop and flourish.
Such was the Australian public's appetite for this medium, that circulations of up to 70,000 copies for a single locally produced comic were not uncommon. John Dixon, then a young man still under the age of 20 years old, entered into what is now considered the Golden Age of Australian comics.
He is acknowledged as one of the more successful talents of the era, writing and drawing The Crimson Comet and Tim Valour Comics (and other titles) during this time.
However, by the late 1950s two events occurred almost simultaneously, leading to the end of the Golden period of Australian comics -- the lifting of import restrictions on the cheaper, more brightly coloured American comics and the advent of television.
After much effort, John Dixon's newspaper adventure strip Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor was sold to various Australian (and later overseas) newspapers in 1959. It was published in over 15 countries and many languages, with the daily strip running continuously from 1963 to 1986 -- an astonishing twenty-three years.
Feeling he was burning out and that story ideas were evaporating, in 1986 John moved overseas and accepted a post as Art Director for an American magazine, Defense and Foreign Affairs. When that magazine ceased production (due to the end of the Cold War), John Dixon accepted other freelance work, before returning to his first love -- comics. John drew for Valiant Comics in the US before deciding to retire in the 1990s. He now lives with his American wife Sue in southern California, and was unable to be present tonight.
Sue Dixon has asked that I read a few words on John's behalf: "With Lewy Body Dementia, John at times has difficulty in making himself understood, and yet at other times his speech is clear. His condition is up and down, but he has a lot of pride and is sometimes aware of how he appears to others. What an honour for John to receive this tribute. This is deeply appreciated."
I am truly honoured and humbled to accept this Ledger Award for Lifetime Achievement in Australian Comics on behalf of my friend John Dixon. Thank you.
The text of a speech I gave to the Ledger Awards, held at the State Library of Victoria last Friday evening, April 11th (2014). "The Ledger Awards acknowledge and promote excellence in comic arts and publishing in Australia." I'll add a few photographs taken on the evening when I return to Queensland, after this weekend and Melbourne's Supanova...