The first (above) is a hardback anthology compilation of Australian artists and cartoonists (and all ladies). "Fly the Colour Fantastica" is a compact 150 cm wide, 215 cm depth and 150 pages long, all in colour, book that is so well-presented to the highest possible standards that I am going to call it a work of beauty. The funds raised to produce the book were crowd-sourced (and I here declare that I was one of the Pledgers, although I did not pick up my copy until Melbourne's Supanova). The anthology was compiled and produced by Vikki Ong and Eri Kashima (I think!) who aimed to "present a fantastical and enigmatic collection of stories with a ‘post-anime’ visual style".... Each writer/artist has approximately the same number of pages to tell their story, and perhaps it is the visual style that gives the total work a sense of well-rounded whole. Given the number of lady creatives who worked on this project, this is no mean feat.
The works are by some whose works that I am familiar with and others that I am meeting for the first time. They are: Serendipity by Natasha Sim (from Melbourne), Permanence by Sydney's Sheree Chuang, Freedom by Alisha Jade (my way, Brisbane), Belonging by Viet-My Bui (Melbourne), Intercept by Alicia Braumberger (Melbourne-based), Synthesis by Melbourne's Eevien Tan, Unity by Sai Nitivoranant from Sydney, Capture by Rebecca Hayes (another from Melbourne), Diversity by Eri Kashima (I'm not sure where Eri lives: Melbourne I'm guessing), Clarity by Sydney-based Sam Jacobin, Acceptance by Nadia Attlee from Sydney, and Threshold by Melbourne's Vikki Ong. I was hoping to direct you to an order page where you can buy this $30 bargain, but all I can find on their web-site is a $10 PDF version (available if you click here). The $30 physical version, to be really honest, is the version to buy. Click here and ask if copies are still available (I understand there is a 500 copy limited print run). My challenge to you when you have a copy in your hands: which story do you think is the best? I have had the book for over two weeks now and I still cannot make a choice! A beautiful book, well-presented and immaculately bound, and well-worth adding to your Australian comics Library. http://www.colourfantastica.com/
My second pick from Supanova (below) is also an anthology, but that is about the only similar feature between the two! "Decay" has been regularly appearing at comic conventions since 2010 and is a horror anthology now on its 19th issue. This, on its own, should be reason to celebrate, but regular writer-publisher-sales promoter Darren Koziol has actually excelled in this production that screams out to all those who recall the fabulous Australian comics from the late eighties and early nineties: "LOOK AT ME!"
What started as a plan to include an all-new Southern Squadron story in celebration of the characters' 30th anniversary, Darren says "snowballed" into becoming an anthology of so many Australian independent comic characters from the past. And, what's more, written and drawn, in the main by the original creators! So you have an all-new Southern Squadron story by Dave de Vries (and illustrated by Dargan Vignievic), there is Bug & Stump by John Petropoulous and Mark Sexton, Jason Paulos working on a brand-new Hairbutt the Hippo tale again, Tad Pietrzykowski writing an all-new Dark Nebula (with art by Colin Wells), and wait (there's more!) Da 'n' Dil by creator Dillon Naylor (and, after too long an absence from the medium, art by Greg Gates), and Michael Michalandos and Tim McEwen's Greener Pastures rounding up the "Aussie Classics" issue of Decay.
Many of these characters in their day, as some of you may recall, were printed in black and white on mostly newsprint paper, so the inclusion of colour in all the adventures (bar Greener Pastures) on high-quality paper gives them a real shine that they have never seen before. Reading the issue was like meeting a whole bunch of old friends at a party and talking about the good times. Publisher Darren Koziol seems well-aware of the historical importance of such a gathering. To highlight the occasion he has given each artistic team the opportunity to design a different cover for the issue. Some will see the eight variant covers as a marketing ploy (I am sure it is), but it also allows Darren to gauge present-day market interest in each individual character as well as highlighting his horror anthology. To date, Darren told me that there is no one cover that is presently outselling all the others. So, from a marketing sense, the idea is an outstanding success.
From a comic reader's point of view, the issue is a success too. Darren has included some of his characters (The Sisters and Oz Zombie) within the volume, and all-told the whole issue reads very well. The magazine retails for $10 each (or $14 including postage from Darren's web-page), with 52 large magazine size pages (most in colour). My personal preference, if I had to pick one, was Jason Paulos' Hairbutt story: Jason has learnt how to pace a story well, it was funny, and -- most of all, for me -- he demonstrates how his art has continued to develop over the years. (He was the only one who did a wraparound cover too.) Decay is one Aussie magazine well worth supporting. If you see Darren at any convention, go up and say "Hullo" (and tell him Comicoz sent you!), or click here to be taken to his Decay web-page. Many Australian comic retailers also sell Darren's magazine, so ask for it by name and hopefully #20 will continue the high standard this issue has set...