Off to Brisbane's Supanova today and the weekend...just as my computer decides to crash!
No postings here for a while then, I suppose.
While you are waiting for Normal Service to be resumed, check this out: http://pozible.com/project/201241
Although these books have not yet arrived at Comicoz Headquarters (indeed, the proof of Australia! has not even arrived!), word is: they are not too far away! The Comicoz Store is ready to take your Orders now, if you wish. Just Click here.
Or, if you would like to know more details about the books first, please Click here.
And, if it's comics that float your boat: this is where you should click: Right HERE!
ACCEPTING THE BEST COMIC STRIP AWARD
In 1981, I was living in Canberra when I first read this new newspaper comic strip called "Swamp". I was so taken by its humour and cartoon style that I immediately wrote a letter to the newspaper's editor (that's how we communicated in those days before emails), asking for more details about the feature. To my surprise, I received a response and learnt that Gary Clark came from my hometown of Brisbane. Gary might be surprised to know that I still have that first piece of correspondence, written by Yvonne, his wife.
On my return to Brisbane in 1982, I met Gary for the first time in person and a friendship developed from that first meeting. However, my visits to Gary were not positive ones: we tended to talk about comic strips, cartoonists and other topics, and Gary got so little work done that Yvonne limited my visits to three per year.
Last month, knowing Gary would not be attending the 2015 Stanley Awards, I asked Gary the "what If" question -- what if he won this Award [Best Comic Strip]? Gary did not feel he would win, but said I could accept it on his behalf if he did.
Ladies and Gentlemen, before I accept this Award on behalf of Gary Clark, I'd like to acknowledge all the Yvonne's in this industry. All the partners of the artists and cartoonists here tonight and the partners of those not here. I think you'll agree, they put up with a lot.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honoured to accept this Best Comic Strip Award on behalf of a great cartoonist and a true Friend, Gary Clark.
INTRODUCING THE 2015 JIM RUSSELL AWARD
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen.
The Jim Russell Award is, I believe, the most Special Award in the annals of the Australian Cartoonists Association. It is an Award that can be won by an individual or a corporation, it can be won by someone whose work is not in the Year Book, and it can even be won by someone not a Member of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association.
It is special not because it is the only one that non-cartoonists, like myself, ever have a chance of winning! But it is special because it is the only Award that is chosen, not by popular vote, but by the Committee of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association.
The Committee considered most carefully the Award for 2015. Which individual or corporation was thought to have contributed most to, or advanced the cause of, cartooning in Australia? We considered very carefully the candidates….
Tony Abbott? Nah.
The winner of this year’s Award has influenced more than mere cartooning in this country – the impact extends to other aspects of Australian culture. Yet, the recipient of the Jim Russell Award for 2015 is attending the Stanley Awards for the very first time tonight.
Our winner personifies mateship; the Australian ability to be able to laugh during tough economic times; and not just at the absurd situations that we can find or place ourselves in, but the ability to be able to laugh at ourselves in spite of the adversity surrounding us. We tend to overlook the mild profanity uttered by the beneficiary of this year’s winner of the Jim Russell Award; in fact, we have overlooked his contribution to the cause of cartooning in Australia, not just this year, but for the past 83 years.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with much honour that I announce the Committee’s decision: the winner of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association’s Jim Russell Award for most significant contribution to Australian cartooning and to Australian culture for 2015 is …
The Stan Cross cartoon “For Gorsake, Stop Laughing: This is Serious”.
Many people who have read my recent editorial in Oi Oi Oi! #6, may believe that I harbour a deep animosity towards The Phantom comic and all who work within their Sydney office. I thought today I could attempt to dispel those myths and let it publically be known where exactly I stand.
Although the comic is published in Australia, I personally do not consider it an Aussie comic. The character is licenced from an American company. For the main, the comic reprints stories that have been published earlier in its publishing life or from comics first published in Scandinavia or from daily and Sunday newspaper strips collated into comics from its American syndicate. I consider the publication in the same light as I would former Australian reprint companies like Murray Comics or even the present company that endlessly reprint comics based on the television show, The Simpsons. (For those who can remember, Murray was a Sydney company that reprinted mostly large black and white volumes of what we now know as DC Comic characters.) When I, as Comicoz, eventually get around to reprinting and updating John Ryan's Panel by Panel volume, there will be little detailed analysis of The Phantom comic (or of any other organisation that reprints non-Australian material).
I particularly find the present practise of reprinting The Phantom's first 200 issues (from Issue 200 chronologically down to its First Issue) exactly as the comics first appeared, including the advertisements of the day, appalling. Sure, I can understand that the earlier issues are rare and hard to find - and when found, are not cheap to purchase - and that Collectors will appreciate the opportunity to have them in their collection. But the fact that the decision was made to reprint the comics as they first appeared seems somewhat hypocritical, to my thinking, when editorially the more recent editions of the comic boast at how they are now reprinting and correcting older versions of the comic that previously had panels edited out or that were incomplete. What might have been a better approach (in my opinion), might have been the complete and unabridged reprinting of the newspaper strip consecutively from the 1936 beginning. Had these been collated in volumes like the Replica Series, not only would the local Phantom Phans have been satisfied, but I believe there would have been a greater overseas demand for the comic, particularly from US Comic Historians. As it sits, it seems to be an opportunity lost.
Rather than everyone thinking that this writing is pure professional jealousy on my part, however, I thought I should acknowledge aspects about Frew's Phantom run that I admire. Let's face it, you don't get to publish 1,768 issues (and counting) of a magazine -- any magazine, let alone a comic magazine -- in Australia, or even the world, without doing something right! The Phantom's fantastic unbroken run just has to be admired...it is an astonishing achievement. Present Publisher, Dudley Hogarth, in Issue numbered #1740 (44 pages, out on sale now at most newsagents, for $5) acknowledges his predecessor Jim Shepherd in his editorial. "There is never a day in this office that I am not reminded of his legacy either by direct reference ie Jim did it this way, or simply because his cheery smile is beaming at me from a photograph taken many years ago..." (Dudley's italics).
For those that feel I am antagonistic towards the people behind the publishers, let me assure you this is far from the truth! Jim Shepherd was most supportive of my Air Hawk comic book venture in the late 1980s, even allowing me to run an advertisement for Issue #7 (that never saw print). Jim also harboured a desire to write comic stories. He was most enthusiastic about that idea becoming a reality when I once visited his Sydney office. He informed me that King Features (the syndicate behind The Phantom) had agreed to allow him to write a Phantom story based in Australia. The story in the current issue is the fourth story that Jim wrote (reprinted and 'remastered' from its original appearance in #1131 in 1996). The artwork, by Sydney-based Glenn Ford, is full of energy and still shines today. (I particularly like the splash panel on page 6, and the sequence on page 33. The pub scene on pages 10 and 11 is the best example of Jim and Glenn working in sync. It's a good read!)
For all my criticism of The Phantom, personally I do believe Jim continued to change the comic during his tenure, and for the better. Jim allowed a wider variety of Australian artists to illustrate the covers, a practise I am pleased to say that continues to this day. He was keen to expand Frew's boundaries, publishing a short run of Mandrake comics that ultimately proved unsuccessful. For reasons that I can only put down to the fact that it is a good read, The Phantom continues to do well in Australia. I confess, I read it as a child: and enjoyed it! Certainly, most major newspapers around the country carry the daily strip. (I am unsure if that is because of the popularity of the comic, or whether the comic continues its popularity because of the strip. For today's readers, what comes first?)
Long-time readers of this Blog will remember my writing, when I was reporting Jim's sudden passing, wondering how the future would go for the comic. I have yet to communicate with Dudley, although I shall do so after this posting, even if to alert him to these comments of mine. I have been pleased with his editorials to date. (I know how hard they can be to write, and I only have to write quarterly ones in Oi Oi Oi!) His frequent two page letter columns (appearing in most issues) are friendly, and give readers a sense of belonging to a community.
And yet, having acknowledged those positives about The Phantom, I am somehow left expecting more. As Australia's longest published comic, appearing on the newsstands more frequently than any other local comic, I see so much potential that the publication could offer the local scene. There could be a section in The Phantom devoted to some of the comic or zine-related activities happening in Australia, or there could be reviews about (or even links to) some of the locally produced comics. I had planned for OiOiOi! to do just that, and I acknowledge my own hypocrisy in making these suggestions -- I know from my own editorial experience that sometimes there just isn't time. Sometimes there is only time to get the next issue ready...
Another thing that I would like The Phantom editorial team to consider (and if Dudley reads this far, maybe he could give it some thought): allowing back-up comic stories, maybe not related to The Phantom. There are so many Australian artists and cartoonists who are looking to see their tales told. Here, at least, I know I am not being a hypocrite! I know Oi Oi Oi! allows this to happen, but I believe there is more room for more players in the market place to do this. If this latest issue of The Phantom can carry an Australian writer and artist, why not every issue running (say) five to eight pages of original Aussie comic stories?
If you want to support a project getting a locally produced Australian comic featuring Aussie Artists and Cartoonists regularly on the newsstands, please click here for more information:
Last November: Lindsay Foyle, former Editor of THE BULLETIN and COMICOZ Publisher Nat Karmichael 'discover' the Holy Grail of Australian cartooning. Sadly absent was Sydney Cartoonist ROB FELDMAN who was instrumental in bringing the work back in the public eye (and who had work commitments on the morning of the 'discovery').
See the ORIGINAL 'Stop Laughing - this is Serious' Stan Cross cartoon for the FIRST time EVER in Melbourne, and in it's FIRST public showing since 1933. This Historic Cultural and cartooning EVENT may NEVER be repeated.
Hurry! For bookings:
If you CANNOT get to Melbourne to attend this event (or if you can't afford it or are otherwise just TOO BUSY), perhaps you could consider READING about it? The FULL story will be published in a Special Nostalgia Edition of my comic OI OI OI! that is ONLY available by Pledging here: http://www.pozible.com/project/201241
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 was 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