Here is an early draft for the cover of the upcoming NED KELLY book. Please feel free to comment and (constructively) criticise to let us know your thoughts....
There are not too many Aussie Comics that make the Issue Twelve mark these days, so I think it is worth highlighting and acknowledging such a creative milestone when a locally produced comic not only reaches such a pinnacle, but when praise for said book is also highly deserving. Burger Force is just that comic,
Written, Directed and Produced by Jackie Ryan, Burger Force has been irregularly and independently published since September 2009 (with a Thirteenth Issue due to be released sometime after Easter 2013). Jackie sums up the story (that she first began writing in 1999) better than I can: "Located beneath the Burger Berserker Takeaway, undercover operatives set aside thick shakes and fries to thwart live-dancers, nefarious dating agency schemes and cock-rockers gone (even more) wrong. Into this strange world wanders an even stranger Mercury, a hapless young man with an unusual and unwanted talent. The Burger Team is tasked with discovering whether Mercury can help save the world as they know it or if that world needs saving from Mercury."
Burger Force is regulation comic-book size and most of the issues produced so far are a full 28 pages in length on high-quality, glossy white paper stock. While the internal pages are printed in black and white, the covers sport a wonderful array of minimalistic use of colour displayed in a highly stylised manner (see left for an example). Twenty-two pages of each issue are filled with the storyline and artwork. The art has clearly been taken from photographs of people and places in Jackie's neighbourhood and illustrated from these photographs. The Burger Force website (which you can access here) http://www.burgerforce.com/ openly admits the comic uses "people and and locations that have been 'comified' [sic] through a combination of software and retouching". In no way does this make the production look amateurish - in fact, just the opposite: I find the artwork, combined with the storyline, gives it a modern edgy feel. The remaining four pages of each of the magazines not filled with the story is editorial content, and the retail price of $4.99 is really Great Value. If your local comic shop does not carry this book, then orders can be placed on line at the website (click here). Comicoz has no commercial interest or relationship with Jackie Ryan, and she has not in any way bribed me to say all of these really nice words about her work, Burger Force. I Highly Recommend this comic series.
A stint of night duty (where I do nothing but work and sleep) coupled with a computer glitch...crash...what-ever you want to call it, has prevented me from taking Ned Kelly, Air Hawk and Rob Feldman's Masterpiece any further in recent days. And, I must confess, I have also been side-tracked reading some great new Aussie comics. You see, I am fast discovering that much Australasian product is NOT available in the newsagencies. Much Good Stuff (and some ordinary work too) is available on the internet.
It does help if your server is working, and now that my computer is going again, I can point you in the direction of some of the Really Good Stuff. If you are one of the few people who has not read John Dixon, Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor (and if you are reading this Blog and you have not - Shame!), then I would like to share this link with you. For some more cracking good reads and more information about Pikitia Press Click Here. If those sites do not completely satisfy you, you are a difficult person to please! But more of the Really Good Stuff is also available at Milk Shadow Books, and you can find more about them by Clicking Here. That should tide you over until at least until Easter! Just in time for you to tune back here, to see what is doing here at Comicoz....
Here is the first new comic to hit the news-stands in 2013!
Well, I suppose technically, the first was 'The Phantom' and I don't mean to be disrespectful, Jim, but I suppose we - I? - tend to take The Phantom for granted at times. So, maybe I had better be a little more accurate: here is the first all new, all original, all Australian comic to hit the news-stands in 2013!
I found my copy within the Aeroplane magazines, but am pleased I saw it! There are so few Aussie comics on the news-stands that this is a cause for celebration. I am not clear when the issue came out (the Copyright is listed as 2012). Hugh's Editorial on Page 1 speaks of 'The Battle of Australia' being the third title in the series (this being the second) and that the third comic 'will be released in February 2013'. I had meant to review the First Issue, with the creative team giving me permission to use images from that Edition for that purpose some months ago, but our moving home got in the way of my being able to do so. So, better late than never...
Issue 1 (with the cover reproduced at left), Gallipoli: The Landing was based on a non-fiction book written by 'Squadron Leader Hugh Dolan' and has used 'original source documents: army orders, battalion diaries, soldiers’ letters and personal diaries'. Artist Mal Gardiner, we are told, was a member of the Australian Defence Force, and apparently used original photographs from 1915 to ensure the machinery detailed were accurate. The comic is magazine size, with a colour cover and 100+ black and white pages inside. The comic retails for $9.95 and copies can still be obtained on line (Click here for details).
The Second Issue is similar to Issue 1 insofar as it presents Australian history in comic book format. (The Second, as you can see from the illustration above, is called 'Kokoda: That Bloody Track'.) Writer Hugh Dolan describes both books as being 'factual comics': and in the more recent edition he has taken great
lengths to report 'conversations, actions and events witnessed by soldiers' and this extends to including the English,
Japanese, Pidgin and Motu languages of the participants. This does give some authenticity to the scripts. However, I'm not entirely sure whether Hugh single-handedly wrote the script for the second comic (Kokoda); the cover gives credit to both Hugh Dolan and David Howell. However, Kokoda's credit page states that David is that battle's expert. (Perhaps it was co-written by both gents? The Copyright is listed as belonging to Hugh, adding to my confusion.)
The artwork in Kokoda is by an unknown (to me) artist, Tea Seroya (according to the cover). I know nothing else about the artist, because nothing else in this volume tells me any more about him/her. The Second Issue has far better paper stock and in wrapped around a sturdy cover: it is almost a paperback rather than 'comic' which may have been the reason I discovered it by accident away from the comic-section of the newsagents. Kokoda is about the same size as Gallipoli, retails for the same amount ($9.95) and - let's give it a big cheer - it is printed in full colour throughout. (When was the last Aussie comic seen in full colour on the newsstands?? Sherlock Holmes by Black House, from memory.) On the down-side, it runs for only 47 pages and is ... "to be continued".
So overall, what did I think? To be honest (as I must), one thing I look for in a comic - even an historic one - is the gelling of script and artwork. In this case, in both Issue One and Two, it just did not happen. The artwork in particular looked stiff, although I thought Mal Gardiner's (from Issue One) was reasonably detailed to keep me interested. I know from my own experience, that it is difficult to sell a comic from the news-stands, and it is an awful job having to work out a reasonable price that the average comic book reader is willing to pay (given that the newsagent and distributor both take a 25% cut). One has to calculate profit margins (if any) and be willing to lose a lot of money unless you can market the product well. Even marketing these in schools may be a 'hard sell' given the overall disappointing quality of the comics. I thought the cover price, taking into account the artwork and script not working particularly well together, made both editions overpriced.
However, the idea (history being made into comics) is a good one. (I'm not likely to say otherwise with Ned Kelly in the wings, am I?!) I did buy the issue, I thought the print job on the Second Issue was a great leap forward, and I do wish the creative team well for their next venture. I do commend them for getting another comic on the stands; I only wish the end result could have been more pleasing to read.
Just for a change of pace: here is a work from an Aussie Artist that I highly recommend you check out - David Follett! Winner of the Australian Cartoonists' Association's Award for Best Comic Book Artist in 2011 and 2012, David is presently working on the Second Volume to Uncle Silas, published by Dark Horse. For information on how the order the First Volume, click here....