These events, and with the current destruction of bushfires still ravaging the Australian landscape, make an 'announcement' of what I consider the "Best Australian Original Comic Book" for 2019 seems somewhat trivial and unimportant, and have continued to remind me more than ever of my own mortality. As a result, this year I have spent more time than usual reading comics that I have generally put off reading, to ensure that I continue to make the most of my time remaining. So, books that ordinarily would not be on my 'Reading List' have made it there. As two examples: the Lee-Ditko Amazing Spider-Man run, and Will Eisner's early The Spirit Archives (with help from Dr Kevin Patrick in the USA, who has kindly attempted to source volumes I am missing to ensure I can complete this 'task'). It's also been a motivating factor in seeking to have the room (actually, garage) I store my books, comics and music made a little tidier, although I'm sure Carlene would say she cannot see any progress being made there!
I've been to less 'bigger' comic-related shows this year. My time at Melbourne's Supanova, for example, was more to introduce my Granddaughter Charlotte into the event's joys, rather than with any set purpose to sell more books. And it was pleasing to see her picking up some comics along the way. The shows that I have enjoyed over the year were smaller affairs.... Comicstreet in Brisbane's Queen Street Mall, the Hidden Laneway Festival (again in Brisbane), Bendi-Con (in Bendigo, Victoria) and Adelaide's Papercuts Festival. If Melbourne's Indi-Con hadn't been held on my birthday, I may have even considered attending that too.
One thing that sticks in my mind as I attend out-of-state events, is that I know I won't be able to do it once I retire from work. The income I receive from book sales never seems to outweigh the costs of not only getting to events, but also supporting the local creators by purchasing comics that I find of personal interest, or the works that seem to have something to say. I am sure it is the same for the many creatives who travel the country seeking to get their comic in as many of the reading public's hands as possible. Apart from Adelaide, there seemed to be less Australian comics being published last year, and a general tiredness within the local industry. Or is that simply my own personal malaise that clouds my objective view of the medium and its local creative efforts over the year?
As has been recorded elsewhere, a couple of my publications were short-listed for awards in 2019 (always a great honour), and I was overwhelmingly proud and happy (it's difficult to describe the exact emotion at the time) that one of my books, Julian Voloj and Thomas Campi's The Men Behind Superman, was the recipient of this year's Gold Ledger Award. It was also pleasing that my beloved Australian Cartoonists' Association was one of the sponsors of the event, and that there were many members of the Committee in attendance in the audience (Jules Faber, Cathy Wilcox, Ian McCall and Steve Panozzo).
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After editing a magazine each three months for the past five years (first nine issues of Oi Oi Oi! and then a further fifteen issues of Inkspot), in 2019 I made a decision to resign my role as Editor (of Inkspot). It was a tough decision, but one that I now feel was the right one. At first, I really missed sitting in front of my computer each morning before work, but after a while I began to realise that I had needed to free up a bit more of my time to spend with other important things …. like reading and sharing more moments with Carlene. Will I return to it? Well, never say never.....but at the moment, my answer is "No".