This entry, Dear Reader, has been a little late in coming. In order to clarify information about some of Comicoz' plans for 2014, there is fair amount of forward planning involved. There has to be an agreement between various parties, copyright matters to be worked through, and just a whole range of issues that will have no opportunity to be discussed today. Suffice to say, it takes a bit of time, and I suppose I have been a little distracted recently by advance copies of a book called Ned Kelly, Narrated and Illustrated by Monty Wedd... due to arrive today....
However, the first thing that I want to share with you is that the long-anticipated reprinting of Panel by Panel, the seminal work on Australian comics will take its first baby steps towards re-printing. In 2014, I will be re-designing and changing different aspects of this Web-Blog. The Comic Related News tab will still be front and foremost on the page, because you, Dear Reader, are entitled to click on to this page and know immediately the latest comic news from these parts. However, in the coming months, I will -- with the full co-operation of the copyright holder -- be transcribing the entirety of John Ryan's book on the Australian Comic History tab, and this part of the Comicoz site will be a treasure trove for all seeking to learn about our local Comics History (to 1979). This tab will be moved to the Second position on the web-page.
While this information will be useful for all who seek this history (and it can be used as such, as long as the correct Copyright permission is sought and given), it will be published on-line for a limited time like an Australian Comics Wikipedia with the express purpose of allowing each and any comics historian to inform me of any inaccuracies carried within the text. Since John Ryan's book, there has been a greater interest in learning more of our comics past. John had a limited time to write and prepare the book (and did a phenomenal job in the short time he was allowed by the publisher), and perhaps this was the reason some inaccuracies are known to have crept into the book.
Let me give you one example: On page 85 John Ryan states "...John Dixon was able to break into the newspaper field in June 1959 with his Air Hawk and the Flying Doctors. The strip made its first appearance in the Sun-Herald followed two weeks later in the Perth Weekend Mail...." John Dixon has sent me a photocopy of a newspaper dated May 1959, clearly indicating that -- despite what John Ryan believed -- the Perth Weekend Mail was the first newspaper to carry his Air Hawk strip.
The idea shall not be to discredit John Ryan: the purpose will be is to simply correct any inaccuracies found in the book's text. So when the book is re-printed (as John Ryan's Panel By Panel: An Illustrated of History Australian Comics -- New Amended and Updated Edition), it continues to remain the seminal reference book in this speciality field. The longer-term goal of publishing this work will still involve much work -- copyright clearances of more recent comic and comic strip work, and accurate assessment and documenting of the changes in the local industry in the 35 plus years since the book was first published, are just two examples. So, getting the initial text correct is the goal of the next 12 to 18 months. Watch this space!
So, maybe now it's about time that I talked about the books to be printed by Comicoz that are closer on track to being published in the near future....
Ginger Meggs is known and loved by the Australian public, perhaps more than any other Australian comic strip character. For the first time in this character's long history, this famous Australian Comic Strip is now able to be read in every major capital city's newspaper!
But what of the men who have illustrated the Ginger Meggs strip over the years? What are their stories? What are their backgrounds? These are questions that have long-intrigued cartoonist and former Bulletin Editor, Lindsay Foyle. And these are the questions he hopes to answer in his brand-new book to be published by Comicoz... With plans to incorporate many examples of the comic strip, books and art from over the years, many taken from Lindsay's own private collection, it is hoped this will become the definitive book on Ginger Meggs and his creators...
Besides comic strips, and comic strip characters, Comicoz is also enamoured by some of the wonderful comic books that have been produced over the years. Besides reprinting some of the classic Australian comic strips from the past, Comicoz believes that some of our comic books are equally deserving of being re-printed...
Three issues of the Brisbane-based anthology Eureka! appeared in 1988. The adventure serial Verity Aloha, created, written and drawn by Michal Dutkiewicz was a Fan Favourite, but has never been reprinted together in its entirety. After Michal did such fantastic work on the recent Air Hawk and Ned Kelly covers, I asked him about the possibility of returning to this character.
So, it is with great excitement that I can announce here today that Michal is returning to Verity Aloeha and that a volume of her re-printed and brand-new adventures will be published by Comicoz! Many who know Michal's work, appreciate the detail he puts into his characters (most especially the ladies!)...
Since our initial discussion, Michal recently told me: "I have been working on finalizing the plot elements for the prologue and new chapters. I have written pages and pages of notes and it is coming together. Meantime, I am still scanning old pages and touching up, sometimes relettering pages...."
Anyone who knows Michal, also knows he goes with his mantra: All the Best. He gives nothing but his best, and this will be a book to savour! Look forward to it being added to the Comicoz roster in the future. In order that Michal does not feel pressured, no anticipated or arbitrary deadline for the book has been set -- which will ensure that this will be some of Michal's finest work in years!
Dare I state the obvious, Dear Reader? These are exciting days for Comicoz and for Australian Comics! Pleased to have you on board! Keep reading here for more news in the months ahead!
I have JUST been told by the printer -- the book is printed! Just had to tell you!
More news soon...! I'm excited....and working on a Media Release...!
Just before Christmas, a letter was sent out to everyone who ordered the Ned Kelly (and/or Rob Feldman) book explaining the reasons for the delays. And just so everyone is kept in the loop…
Monty Wedd’s Ned Kelly has been the most monumental book Comicoz has ever undertaken. The goal was to make this the best-looking Australian comic-related reprint book ever produced in this country. Yes, yes, I know most comic Fans will view that statement with some cynicism, given that our comic industry incessantly sprouts hyperbole. In order to make that the reality, though, everyone working on the project was dedicated in bringing nothing but the highest quality to the end result. No expense was spared in ensuring that that was to be the outcome.
Why the delays? There were many reasons: some of them creative, some personal. There was no one person to blame, as all team-members were united in working towards the common goal. For posterity, let’s list the delays (those that I can now recall): After settling on the initial page content discussed in the first quotation, the printer then allowed for some extra pages to be added in the production. Rather than leave the pages blank, it seemed an ideal opportunity to allow extra pages of text to be written! Not only was there an Introduction, but there was now a reason to add a Foreword, as well as an opportunity for Monty’s son to write a tribute to his father. The Printer and the Cover Artist/Designer were in dispute at one stage over one quarter of an inch in the cover’s layout…that’s the depth of the detail taken to get this project right!
At one stage, I delayed things by heading down south to meet my just-born grandson for the first time. After the uncorrected proof copy arrived, small spelling, grammatical and factual errors in the text were noticed (both within the internal pages and the dust jacket) – so both then had to be re-done! The printer then asked for a further four extra pages to be added to (what was thought to be) the final layouts, to allow for the internal pages to be attached more aesthetically to the cover. The clarity of the printing was questioned, with the printer asking for samples of the colour that was sought. (I didn’t realise there were different “shades” of black!) What might be put under the dust-jacket on the book’s cover? Should it be the same as the illustration/text of the jacket? (The passion this part of the project brought out in everyone seeking to make a decision: wait and see what was settled on!)
Anyway, in the right now, there are no delays. Ned Kelly, Narrated and Illustrated by Monty Wedd, is being printed as this is written. Five advance copies of the book are scheduled for a January 27th release, a little over two weeks away, with the remaining print run ready soon after this date.
Rob Feldman has been under an enormous amount of pressure throughout 2013, attempting to complete an original book of over 80 pages. Ned Kelly and Air Hawk are, after all, books that have been based on previously published material. While there was never any pressure on Rob to complete his book of brand-new cartoons and comics by the Christmas deadline, this had always been his goal. Sadly sometimes Life just gets in the way: Rob had to attend to a personal family matter late in 2013. Rob has told me that he is now back on track and that he is planning on submitting Cartoons, Cars and Cows in Cars to Comicoz’ printer on January 27th. All being well, Comicoz may now be in a position to be able to release both books simultaneously….
INCOMING MAIL (from an Air Hawk Fan):
Dear Nat Karmichael,
The enclosed John Dixon Air Hawk volume would have been a great Christmas present -- but not in the condition received.
As much as I love John Dixon's work, the bumped spine and gouge in the bottom of the front and back cover would annoy the hell out of me every time I looked at the book, so I am giving it back to you to do with it as you will.
As for the Monty Wedd and Rob Feldman books, I have enclosed $30 to cover the cost of postage with proper packaging, as I do not want them to end up the same way. (And my proper packaging I do not mean bubble wrap or padded bags, I mean the book enclosed in sturdy cardboard.)
OUTGOING MAIL (from Nat Karmichael):
First of all, due to the Christmas – New Year break I have not emptied my PO Box until today, so I do apologise for not responding to your complaint sooner.
As a publisher of quality Australian comic books, I pride myself on always striving for the best possible product. As a consumer of Australian comic books, I believe you have a right to expect the same.
Yours is the type of letter that I must say I enjoy receiving. Not because I take any pleasure in reading how you were unsatisfied by the presentation of the latest Air Hawk volume. In a sense it is constructive criticism of how my product failed to meet those standards I strive for and you expect; and – more importantly – how I can improve to meet those most reasonable standards that you expect.
I unreservedly apologise for the condition of the book you received. For me, it will be a lesson well learnt: there is more to a book looking good – the safe arrival and delivery of a book is equally important.
In the next week, I plan to have my printer directly send you another copy of the book: this time packaged in sturdy cardboard. I appreciate your concerns that the other books (Monty Wedd’s Ned Kelly and Rob Feldman’s Cartoons, Comics and Cows in Cars) will arrive in a similar state to your Air Hawk volume. This will not happen again. Not to you and not to any other Comicoz supporter.
Enclosed in this mailing, please find your $30 fully refunded. This experience has taught me a lesson that is far more valuable than that, and I thank you for drawing it to my attention.
I have left until today the announcement of the Comicoz Award for Best Australian Original Comic Book for 2013. 93 years ago today (January 5th) Monty Wedd was born. The symbolism of this Award being proclaimed on the birth-date of one of Australia’s greatest comic book artists was too great an opportunity to miss!
The Award does not bring its recipient any monetary rewards or worldly acclaim, and the Award bestowed is totally an honorary one. After all, as this Blog only has (ahem!) a modest daily readership – even when a weekly post is not written – and there is little likelihood that the Award will translate into any increased sales. But Awards are fun things and they generate discussion, which is healthy for our medium
As writer of the Blog, I make the decision and I am not bribed into choosing the recipient. The Award is simply my summation of who I think is deserving of it, based on the Australian comic books I have read during the past twelve months. As a Reader, you are welcome to disagree and make your thoughts known, but I shall not change my mind, and the Award will still stand…
The winner of the Comicoz Award for Best Australian Original Comic Book for 2013 is....(drumroll, drumroll)....
.... “The Long Weekend in Alice Springs” adapted by Josh Santospirito from an essay by Craig San Roque.
Reviewed earlier this year in our July Blog (dated July 2nd), this book, set in the Central Australian town of Alice Springs, provokes thought and (as I said at the time) “is a brave and ground-breaking tale”. It never panders to the reader; it challenges them to think about the Australian psyche, and is an intelligent read, certainly not one for those readers seeking an easy escapism.
Copies of the book are available for $35 from San Kessto Publications. Click here to be taken to their web-page.