Along with these thoughts, I remain convinced in my belief that comics reflect the changing mores and fashions in our community. Certainly there have been changes in comics in the past twelve months. Mirroring the monetary tightening of the corporate environment, Murdoch’s newspaper press has cruelly truncated the daily offerings, especially the quality Australian strips. After running for many years, Gary Clark’s Swamp and Roger Fletcher’s Staria, were both unceremoniously dumped. Comic books on the other hand, seem to be undergoing a bit of a renaissance. More creators are producing more product – and of a higher quality and a greater content variation – than have been seen in years. With the introduction of computers and the availability of cheaper printing processes, the local comic book scene reminds me of the DIY (do it yourself) ethic of the music scene from the late 1970s with the advent of punk and new wave.
Whether there will be a large enough local fan base to financially sustain this wonderful creativity has yet to be seen. I am optimistic, though, that these changes can translate into a greater public acceptance and embracing of the comic book medium. At the present time, there are pockets of imagination in differing parts of the country. I remain hopeful, that there may yet be an opportunity for someone to develop a national magazine that captures the imagination of all Australians. I’d like to think that Comicoz might be able to position itself into becoming one of the major players in that scene.
Reflecting the growing optimism in the local scene, is the re-emergence of the Ledger Awards. Announced just a short while ago, these have been "established to acknowledge and promote excellence in comic arts and publishing in Australia, [and] are being re-launched with a ceremony to be held in Melbourne in April 2014. Inaugurated in 2005, they return after a five-year hiatus with a new structure and a new major sponsor: Supanova Pop Culture Expo." (Please click here for more details.) In order to promote itself in the growing Australian comics community, Comicoz plans to attend most (or maybe all) six events in 2014.
Only one book has been released by Comicoz this year: John Dixon's Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor (A Second Volume). The signed copy of this volume was made available just a few days before Christmas. Earlier this year, savvy readers of this Blog were offered a copy at a pre-publication price of $25. Savvy readers again take note: all autographed editions of the book will be sold on a first come, first served basis! There are only 50 signed editions available and they will be the same cost as the regular price of the book! The book (shown in the photograph above) is -- in my personal biased opinion, of course -- a vast improvement from its predecessor. Michal Dutkiewicz' cover illustration leaps of the page, with its beautiful colours. Besides the three Air Hawk stories inside, there are two historical pieces included: a history of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and an index of all of John Dixon's daily Air Hawk adventures from 1963 to 1986. You can order a copy on line (simple click on the Store Tab of this Blog); and when you are there, why not order one for a friend?
In my next posting, I will look to detailing the delays to our other books that were slated for late 2013 release (Monty Wedd's Ned Kelly and Rob Feldman's Cartoons, Comics, and Cows in Cars) and when to expect them. I hope to announce other Comicoz projects for 2014, as well as our annual Award for Best Australian Original Comic Book for 2013. Until then, dear Reader, I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And keep reading comics, especially the local variety....