It would be remiss of me not to mention John Ryan this month. It was forty years ago that John, the Grandfather of Australian Comics, passed away shortly after his seminal book Panel by Panel was published.
On or about the date, I got in touch with his wife of the time, Jan, and arranged a meeting with her and Australian comic writer-researcher Graeme Cliffe. Graeme thought they had never met; but Jan knew otherwise! Way back, earlier this decade, they both attended the launch of my first book, John Dixon, Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor....
John was pivotal in both our comic lives, so it was nice to remind Jan of the great influence he had on us personally, and of course the whole medium both locally and internationally. Jan, in turn, was able to regale us with tales of long ago, when she and John entertained the giants of the Golden Age of Australian comic books in their Sydney home before their move to Brisbane in 1970. John Dixon, Stan and Reg Pitt, Paul Wheelahan, Keith Chatto, Phil Belbin, Monty Wedd: they may appear simple entries in both John and Graeme's books, but Jan was able to talk of all these people in a wonderful personal way, because they were all friends in the day-to-day life of the Ryan household....
The visit was capped off by being able to present Jan with a copy of Graeme's book From 'Sunbeams' to Sunset: The Rise and Fall of the Australian Comic Book (1924 to 1965) (available now by clicking here).
I have long-harboured a dream that there should be a permanent place for a comic museum, perhaps not unlike the National Cartoon Gallery in Coffs Harbour (link here) and the Australian Cartoon Museum in Melbourne (opening up again in Docklands soon). The earlier incarnation of the Australian Cartoonists' Association once held a building in Sydney (many, many years ago). But there has never been a comic-specific one. I have mentioned this on Facebook previously, so apologies to anyone who has heard this all before and feels I am repeating myself!
I imagine such a gallery not only housing and displaying original comic pages (hopefully with an Australian emphasis), but also containing a comic book retail outlet (to raise funds for the on-going upkeep and publicity of such a structure), an extensive library (to allow for comic researchers to study comics of the past), and an opportunity to have some practitioners of the craft to be able to live-in for a period of time (like an artistic residency).
Some of these are already being carried out overseas these day, such as the Canadian Comics Open Library (see link here) and creators of graphic novels in France (link here, if you can read French). There's also an increasing acceptance (at last!) of comics as an artistic medium in some circles of literature, with even countries like Britain and the US now starting to record and reproduce some of their comics from years gone by. Here are just two examples, in links here and here.
Carlene came across a piece of Real Estate recently that seems to be an ideal place to consider bringing this dream to a reality. Suffice to say, I am making some preliminary enquiries. Or is it all simply a fruitless dream....?
It's one of my old mates' birthday today. (I started this blog on the 13th of October.) He's sixty years old. We went to school together. It's my birthday in a couple of months. December. I'm going to be sixty-two. Time. I am so conscious of time, the more it ticks on, but mostly of late. I'm realising (perhaps due to my Mother, my sister and my wife's sister and aunt all passing in the past two years) that I too am mortal. These days, I have more years behind me than in front of me. Which leaves me a dilemma. What further am I going to leave behind?
With the last book I published, From Sunbeams to Sunset: The Rise and Fall of the Australian Comic Book (1924 to 1965), written by Graeme Cliffe, a mate I have known since I returned to Brisbane in 1982, I feel satisfied that of all the books I have published, this book is the one to stand the test of time. That it will be a seminal work in its field. I offered a special bargain price in October on Facebook about it. (IF you've come from Facebook, seeking a copy of the book, please click here. Somehow, though, I feel I have reached my publishing pinnacle. How can I surpass this?
I enjoy the comic shows that I am able to attend (when work allows), and I no longer worry about the sales I make (or don't make). It's now about the camaraderie with the other artists and cartoonists who are seeking to share their comic stories with the public (and with me, as I will always buy something that looks good or reads well). It's about meeting the punters, some who may know my works and the many that do not, some who arrive and are pleasantly surprised, and flick through my books and either buy or do not buy. The Bendi-Con was fun, not only because I caught up with daughter Lora and her children, and Will's children too, but because it was my first time at that show. (Thanks Peter. Thanks Pedro.)
The Papercuts Comic Festival was a great experience too. Not only did I immerse myself in the nostalgia of returning to beautiful Adelaide for the first time in about forty years, but I found attending the Talking Pictures seminar to be most inspiring. There were many comic friends I met for the first time, many I caught up with again, and yet many that I did not have time to get to know. Adelaide made me realise that there is such an undercurrent of creative comic talent within this country that most of us (even those of us in the comic community) do not realise. I left inspired... yet still wondering: where to from here?
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