Just to share with you that work has just begun on the sequel to Monty Wedd's Ned Kelly work! Bold Ben Hall was the next biography undertaken by Monty. Just to give you an insider's look at the task ahead... Above, is a scan of the original artwork and below, a scan of the same page at the same size as it appeared in the newspapers of the day (pictured is the eighth episode dated 4th September 1977).
Yes! Each and every original piece of artwork has been located and will be used for this project! What makes this an even more daunting undertaking than Ned Kelly, is the volume of the material to work with. While Ned Kelly, the bushranger, is perhaps better known than Ben Hall in the minds of everyday Australians, in the world of Monty Wedd's artistic career, this was a major component of his oeuvre: the adventure strip first saw print on 17th July 1977 and ran until 10th February 1985! (With only two one week breaks!)
Let me put that in more simpler terms: Ned Kelly ran for 146 episodes; Bold Ben Hall ran for seven and a half years or 392 episodes!
The reproduction of Bold Ben Hall at newspaper size would make it a most difficult read: most newspapers printed it at about 19 cm x 13 cm (or thereabouts). The original art (for the piece detailed above) is 50 cm x 38 cm and too unwieldy to be read comfortably as a book. SO, a decision has been made to make the resultant book a companion piece to Ned Kelly. While the number of pages will be far greater, the size of the book will remain the same (that's about 36 cm x 26 cm).
Here is just some of the material in my office that I shall have to go through to bring this book to life! Ah, it's a tough gig, but somebody had to do it!
One thing that has been a revelation this time, besides being able to work with all of Monty's original artwork, is also being able to work with Monty's original photocopies and seeing the various corrections he put in place. Not that these corrections are many, but does it gives an insight into his work and his work ethic. Some of them are where he has made a spelling error or he is unhappy with his own artwork (where notes in the margin read "Fix" or "Fix this"), or like the one illustrated below (from Episode 9 of 11th September 1977), where Monty has obviously corrected an inaccuracy. It wasn't the Boro River...it was the Bolo Creek.
Would the change have changed the storyline? Not one iota! Why was it important? In the scheme of things, you wouldn't think it was. But to me, as a researcher of Australian comics, this example shows to me the detail Monty took to make his work as accurate as he could ....with even the little things.
Now, that leads to other questions! As a publisher, which version do I publish? Do I run with the corrected version as documented on the bromides, as the newspapers received their copies? Or do I run with the original artwork without the correction? As I said, it is a tough gig! I'll keep you posted as to it's progress in the months ahead....!
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