The Australian Dollar is now worth $1.07 against the American Greenback - a record high since our Dollar was first floated back in the early 1980s. Have a look at the US cover price of US comic books at our local (Australian) newsagents: DC Comics are listed as $2.99 each, with Marvel Comics slightly higher. So, if the Aussie Dollar is relatively stronger against the US Dollar, surely that means that US comics should retail for a lesser amount on our stands? But most US comics are retailing at A$6 or more each at our Newsagents. (I'm uncertain if Australian comic shops are reflecting this change in the exchange rate, as I rarely go into comic stores. Someone please let me know....) Quite simply, someone is ripping off Australian Fans of US comic books, and that just isn't right.
On the upside, it may explain why there are new Australian publishers contemplating entering the Australian marketplace again - with the overinflated prices of Overseas material, local publishers are now able to undercut (from a price point of view at least) the DC and Marvel product. So, am I complaining or not? I would dearly love to see more Australian comics on the newsagents' stands, but I also don't like to see Australians being ripped off. And someone is ripping the Australian US Comic Book Fan off!
From a new Aussie publishing venture, Silver Fox Comics, comes this new Australian comic that I saw (and bought) on the weekend: Zorro! Now for those who remember Zorro from years gone past, I strongly urge you to check out this little beauty! It won't be what you expect! http://www.silverfoxcomics.com.au/ is the web-site that it is available from, but it is also available in...the newsagents!! How refreshing to see an Aussie comic once again on the stands! (When was the last one seen there? Come on, comic trivia buffs, let me know the last you can recall!) So, take a bow Sorab Del Rio: it is an effort to be applauded and celebrated. Besides publishing the magazine, Sorab has also written the two adventures within, "The Defeat of Destiny" and "Love Never Ends". I am not familiar with the artist, Emerson Dimaya, but he has nicely paced the story and gives the whole package a wonderful professional look. Letterer Don Ticchio rounds up the creative panel who worked on the book. As with most Australian comics the internal pages (48 of them!) are in black and white, but I feel that that adds to the feel of the stories. Colour would have diluted some of Emerson's work in my opinion. The cost of the book is a most reasonable $4.99 (although as we no longer have 1c pieces, I am uncertain why it wasn't simply rounded up to $5). If I were to offer one criticism, it would be that there is no invitation to readers to submit a letter to the publisher/creative group, although some industry 'names' have given their evaluations. Granted, there is an email address in the indicia (that people like myself utilise), but sometimes it is good to ask for readers' reactions to the Issue. Letters (snail or email) are always a good tool to assist in making an assessment on how well the readers feel the creative group went; they are, after all, the life and blood of any comic magazine or book.
Another book that I just accidentally found when surfing the internet for goodness knows what now, is this project from Melbourne. "Word Balloons" is published by Second Shore, "a boutique Australian publisher" (whatever that is supposed to mean!). You can read about it and learn how to order it at the web address at the bottom of this collumn. This is going to be another project that is going to get my $$ sight unseen. Why? Simply, the man behind this fanzine is none other than Philip Bentley. For those not in the know, Philip was one of the initial driving forces behind Australian comics' resurgence in the early 1980s, with his Editorial hand assisting in two wonderful projects: Inkspot and The Fox. He was also co-founder of what was once known as Minotaur Books (now simply "Minotaur" I understand). Minotaur Books (ah, old habits die hard!) was always supportive of the emerging local comics scene at the time, and I can recall a wonderful array of (comic) magazines that were supported by the store until the focus switched to Sydney in the late 1980s with the arrival of Cyclone Comics.... So, here's the web page: http://secondshore.blogspot.com/2011/04/word-balloons-12-april-2011_15.html Let's get behind these great Aussie Products! And just let everyone know you read about it here on the Comicoz web-page! (And if you know of any other comic-related projects, please contact me so I can tell the world!!)
There is a wonderful array of new Australian comics seeing print recently and most are deserving of mention in this space. Paul Power is an Aussie living the comic-artist life in Los Angeles: drawing story-boards for movies and drawing comics... He's even contributed to a future cover of an upcoming John Dixon's Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor book; which is especially touching as he is the only artist to have worked for John Dixon to be still drawing these days! (Geez, Paul, doesn't that make you sound 'old'!!). Paul is best known for his Professor Om work from the late 1970, and has even been doing some of his own publishing these days....
Let me point out the first comic volume that Paul has put to print just recently: Jon Fury in Japan. This features some wonderful vintage artwork from one of America's most-respected comic artists, Alex Toth. The comic-book is 68 pages in length, all in colour (or "All in color" as the Yanks say!), and features an interview Paul had with Alex, just before he passed away in 2006. Paul makes it quite clear that he is a Fan, but this doesn't diminish from the end product which is well worth picking up. Some may feel that the $11 cover-price is a little steep, but with the way our Aussie Dollar is looking, I say it is well-worth finding. The artwork here is Copyright, and reproduced with permission of Paul Power. Paul has his own web-site, and you can check out some more of his work here: http://www.paulpower.com/
I spent last weekend in Victoria, so I missed the most recent comic-related launch in Brisbane recently from the Queensland Comic Artist and Writer Collaborative. If you are interested in learning more, check out the web-address: http://ashcan.com.au I must be honest and tell you that I have yet to view ASHCAN the comic, so cannot tell you what the contents look like. (It's actually Issue 2, and I also have not had the chance to read #1 either! Not much help, am I??!) The thing that I find wonderful, as I said, is that there is an undercurrent of a lot of local comics work seeing print lately. Let me mention some more: Bad Teeth Comics appears in RAVE magazine and also at:
One of my favourite comic strips that also appears in RAVE Magazine (a free weekly Brisbane music street press) is Girlie Pains. Mel Stringer is the writer/artist, and I love her work. She has a Blog (which is what I list here), but I personally would be more interested in seeing a site filled with her cartoons. I just like the themes she expresses. Anyway, for what it is worth: http://www.melstringer.blogspot.com/
Personally, I prefer all of the cartoons that appear (on a semi-regular basis) in RAVE Magazine to Fred Negro's work in (Brisbane's) TIME OFF Magazine. Although Fred has been around for what seems like ages (his PUB strip in Melbourne's InPress - another free weekly street press! - is now up to its 1088th episode), and it can be a funny read; but some of the newer comics works interest me more (than Fred's) because of the gentler humour. (Mel Stringer's work particularly.) One recent development with Fred's work, however, is that it is now available on line: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/frednegro Maybe one day his works will be collected in a Volume...? I think it deserves to be unleashed on the Australian public!
Also appearing in Melbourne is a new comic, Friedcat Comix (http://friedcatcomix.weebly.com/). Again, I have not seen the finished product (launch date is April 16th at Geelong's Barwon Club Hotel), so I cannot comment further.
Finally, a comic that I 'discovered' only through Cefn Ridout's review in the Weekend Australian dated March 19-20th - Uncle Silas: Genetis by Adelaide cartoonist David Follett. I liked enough of what I saw on David's Blog (http://unclesilas.blogspot.com/) to purchase his comic pack!
All in all, a lot of things are happening in the Australian comics scene all of a sudden! If you know of any other comic activity that is Aussie based and happening, give me a good old nudge on either the Community or Contact tag at the top of this web-site so I can give them a free plug!
Years ago (oh, about 1990, give or take a month), when publishing Air Hawk Special, the first Air Hawk comic book exported to the USA and UK, I made the crucial mistake of not getting a printer's proof before the comic was printed. After all, Issue Three and Four's cover had turned out perfectly; and besides, I didn't want to have to wait for the proofs to arrive (via post in those days!) from Sydney..."Everything will be all right," I thought.
Learn a lesson here, would-be comic book publishers! ALWAYS have the printer's proofs!
Due to the distance (Sydney seemed such a long way from the Redcliffe Peninsula in those days!) there was a major breakdown in communication between myself and the printer. Someone who shall forever remain nameless (mainly because I don't know who it was!), re-inked over John's work and printed from my colour guide. (As opposed to printing from John's work and using my colours as a guide!) I found the photocopy of the original artwork last month (when trying to 'clean up' my office) and I include it here for posterity. I don't know if you can see the difference on a computer*, but as John said at the time, when he saw the finished product: "It looks shitty". Certainly, the most embarrassing moment I have had to deal with, in reprinting John's work in the past.
And one I don't wish to repeat. So, when I was given the opportunity to view proofs for Volume One recently, I jumped at the chance! And am I glad I did! There were quite a few glaring errors, so I have spent the past week - with Carlene down south again! - correcting them.
* The difference in the artwork is in the lower right hand corner: Janet's hair, the arm of Jim Hawk holding her were all re-touched; and ALL of the coloured GUIDE was printed over the top of the art, making the whole page look incredibly muddy and, well, BAD. At the time it was a major disappointment.
Co-incidentally, the story John's artwork illustrates ("Yowie") will appear in the Second Volume of John Dixon's Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor! I did seriously consider re-using John's artwork (and I may yet reprint it inside), but after seeing Michal's artwork I felt there was no option: it is absolutely stunning! In fact, I am so excited about it, I have decided to deliberately NOT include it in colour on this web-page until after the Volume is published. To include it here would devalue the impact it will have on all Air Hawk Fans when they see it for the first time!
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 has been 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