I have been doing a couple of media interviews recently (mostly about Monty Wedd's Ned Kelly): one for The (Queensland-based) Sunday Mail and - just yesterday - for the local Redcliffe and Bayside Herald. And People magazine have promised to run a review of Monty's book in their July 7th issue, on sale on June 23rd. I shall include any coverage on this Blog.
In the meantime, in response to Someone (Mrs Elsie Someone, from Kerang in Victoria), I shall include a link to the audio interview I did with Sonja Hammer at the Ledger Awards earlier in the year talking about John Dixon. (My goodness, that was only in April!) Sonja is the Producer and Presenter of Sci-fi & Squeam on Joy 94.9, Australia's only LGBTIQ Science Fiction and Horror and Genre radio show (based in Melbourne), and showed a real interest in John's works even though she knew nothing of him before the Awards! Thanks, Sonja for helping spread the word about John Dixon! Click here for the link.
Norman Frederick Hetherington’s 93rd Birthday
Google Australia today features the Norman Hetherington Google Doodle. Norman Hetherington was a famous Australian born Artist, Cartoonist, Teacher, Puppet designer and Puppeteer. Ask any Australian who “Mr Squiggle” is and you will find out just how well-known “Mr Squiggle” and Norman Hetherington was and the impact his puppets had on Australians.
Norman Hetherington was born on the 29th of May 1921 in Lilyfield, New South Wales, Australia and he died on the 6th of December 2010 at the age of 89 in Greenwich, New South Wales, Australia. He is mostly remember for “Mr Squiggle” the long-running Australian children’s television show Mr. Squiggle, and as the sole operator and voice of its star performer, the Mr. Squiggle marionette.
Interestingly Norman Hetherington formed part of the First Australian Army Entertainment Unit during World War II. Boosting Australian Troops morals during the war. One of his best acts included visiting some of the troops before the show, and making sketches of them, personalizing his show to the specific troops, making his shows even more personal and entertaining.
Norman Hetherington attended classes at the National Art School and once the war was over, he continued his studies attending four after hours classes during the week. At 15 years he sold his first cartoon to “The Bulleting Magazine” and become a regular contributor to the magazine. He used the pet name “Heth” to sign his cartoons adding the last two digits of the year to “Heth” to mark the year in which he did the cartoon.
Norman Hetherington interest in Puppets started in 1935 when his father bought him the “Popular Science Monthly” USA magazine edition. This particular issue contained instructions on how to create a puppet and sparked Norman Hetherington interest in the art.
There is no denying that Norman Hetherington made a huge impact on kids in Australia, and his puppets, cartoons and teachings had a great impact on Australian Kids, and many will think of him fondly today!
This in an exact copy of the article written on Google. I am not yet sure who wrote it (so I have not presently acknowledged Copyright), but I thought it was good enough to share here for posterity. I have written about Norman previously, and have not opportunity to add any further comments at this time. Except to say he was a wonderful gentle, soft-spoken man and is dearly missed by his Family and Fans.
As the only Member of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association to attend all four days of the Supanova Pop Culture Expo (at both the Gold Coast and Melbourne leg of the events), I thought it might be prudent to share my public thoughts and insights on the events. This is an edited version of a letter I recently sent ACA President, Jules Faber.
First of all, I believe as an experiment (by the ACA) and as an experience (for myself) I thought the exercise was well-worth exploring. The ACA has never been represented at Supanova, and it was also the first time I have attended such a gathering (although I had thought about attending many times in the past).
From a personal point of view, it was good to see some of the cartoonists working with the general public. Paul Harvey didn’t stay long, but made a great impression. Jules Faber helped a young lady make an equally good impression with her partner with a spontaneous but planned impromptu marriage proposal – you just don’t get that every day! And Jenner was the hardest working of all – he was just non-stop all Sunday in Melbourne with his caricatures of and/or animal illustrations for the public!
It was good to see how Gerald Carr does his pencils and inking, and there were more than a few interested spectators watching him quietly working away on an Australian super-hero page! Great to meet one of my all-time favourite comic book artists: Colin Wilson! And even though I only sold a total of two copies of Ned Kelly, Narrated and Illustrated by Monty Wedd (and none of Air Hawk!) I personally found both weekends well worth attending.
Given the number of ACA Members in Queensland and Victoria, there were only a handful of Members willing to help out; but all who did I think had a good time. (I have not mentioned everybody who attended here. And I have not mentioned - or pictured - some of the wonderful sights our position availed us!) I do encourage any Members who have never been before - or even if you have - to come along to the Sydney Supanova: help out and have some fun! I do feel it is so important for the ACA to maintain a presence at events that are associated with the cartoon world.
My understanding is that the idea of Supanova grew out of the early Australian comic book conventions of the late 1970s-early 1980s when “Comic Fandom” became collectively more organised with the growth of many comic specialty shops in most of our major capital cities; in many ways mirroring the Direct Market trends in the American comic book scene of that time. And whilst the initial plan may have been to cater for the comic book fan and allow them the opportunity to congregate with each other in celebration of that medium, the initial essence of that sense of genial community seems to have now been lost. And somehow I feel the ACA appeared equally lost in the general positioning of its stand at both the Gold Coast and Melbourne’s Supanova events.
Rather than being located in the area allocated with Groups and Collectives, the ACA would be better placed within the Artists and Comic Publishers section (“The Alley”). Given that most of the ACA members are Artists and Cartoonists, this simply makes sense. And, fortunately, two of the Founders and Organisers of Supanova (Daniel and Tim) seemed to recognise this when we all spoke about this during the waning hours of Melbourne’s event. From my understanding, Tim McEwen – as a Supanova founder and organiser and ACA Member – will ensure that the ACA is better placed at Sydney’s Supanova event. With Tim able to wear two hats, we are fortunate indeed to have him as a Member of our Association, because he knows our needs and is best able to advocate for us a more suitable position within all future Supanova events.
Okay, I have taken some liberties with the photo sequence, but the essence remains! I am sure you will join me in wishing Susan Rowe and Sia Bandarian-Balooch every good wish for their future happiness! Congratulations Lovers! The Caricature was done by Cartoonist (and ACA President) Jules Faber at the Gold Coast Supanova.
The problem I see with Supanova, however, is that it has become too big, and this is something that Tim and Daniel are really unable to control (unless they consciously seek to limit their profit margins). As I said, the earlier goals for the event were to celebrate the comics community; but gradually over time the introduction of television, film and other ‘personalities’ (which were invited in order to bring in a larger crowd, which in turn leads to a more profitable event, allowing more ‘names’ to be invited…) simply leaves comic fans and publishers marginalised in an expo that was once designed for them. As a result, the majority of the ticket-paying public who do attend are not comic fans.
This leads to another reported result: the many cartoonists, artists and/or comic publishing store-holders that I spoke to, said they are not making much of a profit from their stands if at all. In comparison with other store-holders at Supanova, most cartoonists, artists and/or comic publishing store-holders told me the returns from their sales either just cover the outlay of the table’s cost or they leave with a small loss. However, in order that the comic-buying market is made aware of the existence of their comic or book’s presence, the cartoonists, artists and/or comic publishers feel they have to be there.
Without being privy to the financial outcomes of the ACA’s presence, I wonder if that was a similar result of four day’s attendance for our Association. Throughout the four days of the Gold Coast and Melbourne Supanova Pop Culture Expo, the ACA Members actively sought out potential new members from artists, cartoonists and members of the public. The outcome of this “recruitment” may not be known for some time yet, but longer-term this may prove to be a financial boon for the Association, and may yet justify the ACA presence at this year’s Supanova.
Supanova has actively attempted to give back to the Australian comic community this year. (Perhaps in response to the disquiet among the creative comic people who have held stores at the events over the years?) As Platinum Sponsor of the Ledger Awards (“Promoting Excellence in Australian Comics”), in 2014 Supanova helped organise an Awards Night that was held in the State Library of Victoria on the Friday Night before the Melbourne (Supanova) leg. The Ledger Awards were open to the public, although to these eyes most of those in attendance seemed to be from the comic community. Given the concentration of cartoonists, artists and publishers attending these Awards, I wonder if the ACA’s financial investment might produce a better outcome (than the hiring of tables at multiple Supanova Events) by sponsoring one of these Awards.
This commentary does not reflect the official position of either the Australian Cartoonists' Association or Supanova Pop Culture Expo. The view expressed are purely my own based on reflection of my first experience at Supanova and discussions with numerous stall-holders at the Expo, and a desire to advance the goals of the ACA and the well-being of the general Australian comic community.
So, who is going to purchase the FIFTIETH signed copy (of FIFTY numbered editions) of John Dixon's Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor: A Second Volume? Yes, that's right! Only ONE signed Edition of Volume Two remains! And it costs no more than the regular edition of $35 (which includes Postage and Packing to anywhere in Australia)....
Signing the Second Volume is Cover Artist Michael Dutkiewicz, his brother Dr Adam Jan Dutkiewicz who designed the Back Cover, and someone named Nat Karmichael. Just remember (if you haven't been paying attention), John Dixon (the Writer and Artist of Air Hawk) has NOT signed this Second Edition, as he is presently UNABLE TO SIGN due to his illness. To avail yourself of this loveliness, head on over to the Store tab on this web-site...or simply click here, if you are worried about GETTING LOST.
IF you would like what is now becoming a RARE COLLECTOR'S ITEM - a copy of Volume One that IS signed by JOHN DIXON (when he was able to sign), simply ask Nat Karmichael nicely, pay him the regular cost of the first edition ($45, which includes postage and packing anywhere in Australia), and he may send you a copy. Also signing Volume One is Cover Artist Eddie Campbell, and Cover Designer (and modern Air Hawk logo letterer) Michal Dutkiewicz. And if you ask really nicely, Nat may even offer you Volume One and Two together for an extra special price. But you MUST ASK and you MUST ASK NICELY, because that will make this world a NICER PLACE...
On Page 21 in the Review section of today's "The Weekend Australian", kind words were written by Cefn Ridout about Monty Wedd's Ned Kelly. Click here to be taken to that newspaper's web-page...or simply read it below!
Comic-Strip Ned's no cartoon cut-out
By Monty Wedd
Comicoz, 160pp, $60
IF Ned Kelly didn't exist, we'd have to invent him. Few Australian legends have inspired as much creative and commercial enterprise as our most notorious bushranger. And the endlessly turned-over minutiae of his short life seems only to spur further efforts to shed new light on the man and his contested legacy. Even the humble comic strip took up the challenge four decades ago in the form of a syndicated newspaper serial narrated and illustrated by award-winning cartoonist Monty Wedd, who died in 2012.
Published in the early 1970s by the Sunday Mirror to capitalise on the 1970 Ned Kelly movie starring Mick Jagger, which was partially financed by the newspaper's then proprietor Rupert Murdoch, Wedd harboured greater ambitions for his strip. Creator of the popular colonial comic book crusader Captain Justice and a forceful advocate of the comic medium's potential to illuminate and enliven Australian history, Wedd swayed his editor to elevate his Ned Kelly from a short-lived film tie-in to an open-ended, "warts and all" expose that eventually spanned 146 weekly instalments. Its success led to Wedd creating two further long-running historical strips: Bold Ben Hall and his opus The Making of a Nation.
Now commemorated in a lavish, coffee table edition, Wedd's Ned Kelly may appear, at first glance, a little old-fashioned to readers more familiar with the slick styling of contemporary adventure strips — but that is its strength. Mindful of his primarily young audience, Wedd's lucid, meticulously researched narrative is never less than engaging, while his sharp visuals and densely detailed storytelling bring a persuasive clarity to his account of Kelly's life. Though he occasionally gets side-tracked with tangential incidents, for the most part Wedd shrewdly balances the dramatic and educational aspirations of his story as he strives for authenticity and Ned neutrality.
At pains to be even-handed, Wedd's contribution to Kelly mythology won't settle the on-going debate that casts Ned as a hounded folk hero cum incipient revolutionary or a cold-blooded killer with an acute persecution complex. While acknowledging the Greta Mob's disrepute as horse and cattle thieves, Wedd also displays considerable sympathy for the Kelly family's plight, as they endure constant harassment and false imprisonment at the hands of a largely venal, bigoted and inept legal system.
Wedd clearly outlines how the litany of injustice Ned and his ilk experience convinces the once and future outlaw that they will never receive a fair go from the powers that be and their squattocracy mates. From his boyhood clashes with the law and apprenticeship under gentleman bushranger Harry Power, to his three-year stint in Pentridge jail on trumped-up charges and the wrongful incarceration of his mother, to the fateful shootout at Stringy-bark Creek and the doomed Glenrowan siege, to his rushed trial and execution, Wedd fleshes out Ned's character and motives, underscoring the tragic trajectory of his life.
As the central protagonist, his Ned matures from a reckless, wily youth into a moody, volatile yet charismatic man driven by vengeful righteousness. At the same time, Wedd sketches brisk, convincing portraits of the main supporting players, including Kelly's redoubtable mother Ellen, his loyal brothers-in-arms Joe Byrne, Steve Hart and Dan Kelly, and his chief persecutor, pompous Commissioner Standish. He takes care to show that not all cops are cut from the same corrupt cloth — Ned clearly respects the bravery and skill of some of his pursuers — but the craven, expedient politicians and judiciary, fearful of an uprising among Kelly sympathisers, don't get off lightly.
As narrator, Wedd purposefully tries to distance himself, not always successfully, from the events he's dramatising, at times adopting an almost procedural, textbook approach, complete with maps, staging instructions, explanatory asides and visual aids. The strip's studied period vernacular and antiquated design reinforce the illusion, capturing the appearance and tone of illustrated Victorian pamphlets.
An accomplished draughtsman, Wedd effortlessly blends an expressive, cartooning style with intricate cross-hatching that emulates the look of 19th-century engravings. And he readily uses cinematic flourishes when the occasion demands, such as the exciting, impressively staged Stringybark Creek and Glenrowan set pieces. The latter vividly conveys the chaos, farce, tension and pathos of the confrontation. That he achieves this while observing the conventions of a serialised comic strip, with its recaps and cliffhangers, is testimony to his skills as a graphic storyteller.
In recent years, American and British publishers have begun reprinting seminal newspaper comic strips in deluxe, archive volumes, in pursuit of an ageing, cashed-up readership. Sadly, the collected edition of Monty Wedd's Ned Kelly falls somewhat short of their exemplary production standards, being let down by inconsistent printing and less than robust covers. Those quibbles aside, it's encouraging to see Comicoz, a small independent Australian publisher, make effective use of crowd-sourced funding to celebrate and share this forgotten gem, a unique and worthy inclusion in the ever-expanding Ned Kelly canon.
Cefn Ridout is a commentator on graphic novels and sometime comic book writer and editor.
theaustrallan.com.au/review May 17-18, 2014 review
NED KELLY Distributor, Dennis Jones & Associates, have just asked for another 100 copies of the book, after the first 100 copies they took were sold to various Booksellers around the country. Does your Bookseller have a copy? Ask them to order a copy it, so the message gets out there! No news yet on when The Weekend Australian is going to run Cefn Ridout's Review of the book... So, given that there has been next to no media coverage of the book (not that I haven't tried!), sales figures are very encouraging... I have been meaning to approach some of the Australian Comic Specialty Shops about carrying the book, but time has yet to allow me to do so. I know Ace Comics and Games in Brisbane and Hunters for Collectors in Newcastle have copies, and I welcome any retailer getting in touch with me, as it may be a while before the reverse happens!
On behalf of Comicoz and all comic book Fans, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to Rob Feldman and his extended family on the very recent loss of Rob's Father. It was only last February that Rob had to farewell his Mother. (Said Rob: "My dear Dad had a great innings - 93 years - and he's off to join Mum for some serious partying".) Rob is well aware that many comic book Fans are looking forward to reading his book "Cartoons, Comics and Cows In Cars", so he has passed the book's files on to me (Nat Karmichael) to assist in getting them completed. I trust that all Ned Kelly Pledgers and all Rob Feldman Fans will join me in sending our thoughts and condolences to Rob during this time of his and his family's personal sadness.
Free Comic Book Day sounds like a boring old concept. Giving comics away free for only one day.
So, Comicoz is going to jazz it up for six months. For the next six months, each and every person who orders Ned Kelly, Narrated and Illustrated by Monty Wedd from our Web Store will receive absolutely free a copy of John Dixon, Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor (the first volume). No questions. No fuss. What are you waiting for?
Click here now.
There is NOTHING in this Blog entry about comics and there is NOTHING quite like going to visit Family to recharge the batteries when they are feeling somewhat depleted. I have made no entries on this Comicoz Web-Blog for some time now (as you may or may not have noticed!). I shall post an entry here (sooner but most likely later) about my thoughts on the Gold Coast and Melbourne Supanova Experience. In short, there were lows and highs, but I have not said too much about it. But I shall.
In the meantime, Carlene and I are in Cairns (that's north Queensland, for those not in the know). Little Miss Two is turning Three tomorrow, and we would be really remiss as Grand-parents if we missed that milestone, wouldn't you agree? Not that it is easy catching up with everyone's birthdays these days...with ten grandchildren scattered around the country, we can't really get to EVERYONE! But we have decided to come for this one....
We are staying at my sister Rose's place. Rose is what is termed in the Art Community as an "Emerging Artist". I am not sure what this means. It is not as if she has appeared from the back of her lounge suite last week. In fact, I have known her all her life, and she has always been into Art. It just these days she is more active in the scene than she used to be. You can read all about her here.
But much as I would like to talk about my sister Rose, and no matter how she tries to bribe me to talk about her, I shall resist! As a few artists and cartoonists occasionally read my Blog (and maybe you are one?), I thought I should tell you about an Art Exhibition and Award that my sister is organising in Cairns. International, national and regional artists will be in the running to receive awards from a prize pool of at least $5000. Why not enter yourself? You can see the 'Call for Entries' above. And you can find more details about it by clicking here.
This year the push is for innovation and unusual print media alongside the more traditional and technical forms of the genre. Cartoonists who have created original artwork can produce an edition of their artwork on a digital printer and submit the works for selection in the Exhibition. So get PRINTING!
The above is a Community Event attached to the Exhibition. Giant Images created collaboratively by Primary, Secondary and University students will be printed by the local Rugby Union team and their Rugby Scrum Machine. Rose says it is "Fun for everyone else and a organisational challenge for me". A bit like publishing comics, really. And I will return to the comics theme next time, when normal service will be resumed....
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