Well, I suppose technically, the first was 'The Phantom' and I don't mean to be disrespectful, Jim, but I suppose we - I? - tend to take The Phantom for granted at times. So, maybe I had better be a little more accurate: here is the first all new, all original, all Australian comic to hit the news-stands in 2013!
I found my copy within the Aeroplane magazines, but am pleased I saw it! There are so few Aussie comics on the news-stands that this is a cause for celebration. I am not clear when the issue came out (the Copyright is listed as 2012). Hugh's Editorial on Page 1 speaks of 'The Battle of Australia' being the third title in the series (this being the second) and that the third comic 'will be released in February 2013'. I had meant to review the First Issue, with the creative team giving me permission to use images from that Edition for that purpose some months ago, but our moving home got in the way of my being able to do so. So, better late than never...
The Second Issue is similar to Issue 1 insofar as it presents Australian history in comic book format. (The Second, as you can see from the illustration above, is called 'Kokoda: That Bloody Track'.) Writer Hugh Dolan describes both books as being 'factual comics': and in the more recent edition he has taken great
lengths to report 'conversations, actions and events witnessed by soldiers' and this extends to including the English,
Japanese, Pidgin and Motu languages of the participants. This does give some authenticity to the scripts. However, I'm not entirely sure whether Hugh single-handedly wrote the script for the second comic (Kokoda); the cover gives credit to both Hugh Dolan and David Howell. However, Kokoda's credit page states that David is that battle's expert. (Perhaps it was co-written by both gents? The Copyright is listed as belonging to Hugh, adding to my confusion.)
The artwork in Kokoda is by an unknown (to me) artist, Tea Seroya (according to the cover). I know nothing else about the artist, because nothing else in this volume tells me any more about him/her. The Second Issue has far better paper stock and in wrapped around a sturdy cover: it is almost a paperback rather than 'comic' which may have been the reason I discovered it by accident away from the comic-section of the newsagents. Kokoda is about the same size as Gallipoli, retails for the same amount ($9.95) and - let's give it a big cheer - it is printed in full colour throughout. (When was the last Aussie comic seen in full colour on the newsstands?? Sherlock Holmes by Black House, from memory.) On the down-side, it runs for only 47 pages and is ... "to be continued".
However, the idea (history being made into comics) is a good one. (I'm not likely to say otherwise with Ned Kelly in the wings, am I?!) I did buy the issue, I thought the print job on the Second Issue was a great leap forward, and I do wish the creative team well for their next venture. I do commend them for getting another comic on the stands; I only wish the end result could have been more pleasing to read.