I have always wanted my Comicoz web-blog (this page, here) to be a representative recording of the modern-day Australian comic scene. With the advent and immediacy of Facebook, and some of the events happening in my personal life of late, the blog has become more reflective than a record of what's been going on. The past month, in particular.
Certainly, Dennis Jones and Associates going under really took the wind out of my sails... and my sales! It was so unexpected and totally soul-destroying for a while. And, at time of writing, I have still not found an alternative book distributor.
A great part of the reasoning for that is that my wife Carlene returned from her almost-annual southern sojourn unwell. Last year, she ended up in (Bendigo) Hospital just before her 1st November return, and this year on her arrival (in late August) I drove her straight to the Redcliffe Hospital where she had to be admitted. Earlier in the year, we had purchased a motorhome, and had made plans to take our first trip together in attending the Rotary Cartoon Awards....
As it was, I chose to drive down in my car (with much residual anxiety, knowing Carlene was not 100% well, and realising she would have to fend for herself). I felt some obligation to do so, given the Wedd Family would be present for the Friday launch of Monty Wedd's Bold Ben Hall. Even though the event wouldn't have set any world records for attendances, it was pleasing to launch it at the Bunker, now the National Cartoon Gallery.
The work this organisation does in promoting the cartoon arts is amazing. That they do it mostly with a band of volunteers is even more astounding and something that my beloved Australian Cartoonists Association somehow needs to emulate. I shared a room with life-long cartoon-fan Ian McCall and stayed for the Rotary Cartoon Awards, held on the Saturday night. It was pleasing to see so many members of our Association there, and being able to share the evening with some of the winners was an experience I won't quickly forget.
I'll deliberately choose not to list all the winners here. That's a role the next Inkspot can fill. Let me say, however, that it was lovely to be able to witness first hand, Phil Judd's reaction to his wins! The cartoon of the year was topical, well rendered ...and very funny: a deserving winner! As I was mindful of Carlene being unwell, I chose not to remain in Coffs Harbour for the Sunday, even though it might have been useful to recoup some of my weekend costs at the inaugural Coffs Coast Cartoon Festival selling some of my books.
I'm pleased to report that Carlene has improved in health over the course of the month. My activities in the world of cartooning and comics has, however, been unhealthily absent. In my paying job, my Boss has suffered an accident (outside of work) and has been out of commission. As a senior staff member -- and I am not referring to my age here! -- I have had to share the leadership role with two of my other colleagues. As Carlene has improved, my work role has assumed a Monday to Friday schedule. Ideal, one would think, for being able to enjoy the fruits of the end of season football finals: but it has also meant long working hours throughout the week (from leaving for work at five in the morning to some days arriving home just as Home and Away begins at 7 p.m. in the evening).
The controversy surrounding Mark Knight's cartoon on Facebook and Twitter has been intense to say the least, and posting the cartoon on my Facebook page (and commenting on how I felt people's opinions were better vented on things that I thought more deserving of vitriol) brought many quick responses of condemnation that took me by surprise. Some people's threats to Mark and his family were totally unwarranted, and I remained (and remain) disappointed that the Committee of the Australian Cartoonists Association (of which I am a member) did not quickly rally to support a fellow cartoonist (as was done, even somewhat hesitatingly, for the late Bill Leak).
Indeed, my stance in our debates in the Committee of late have become more of the minority, and I don't know if that is because I am out of touch with modern thinking and I am no longer genuinely representing the rank and file of members' viewpoints. I did want us to canvas views of the membership about the nature of the Annual Stanley Awards Night, but my motion was vetoed and I am beginning to feel increasingly isolated in my opinions. Even Inkspot is being subjected to decisions that I am having difficulty accepting. But maybe if I can't stand the heat, I ought to get out of the kitchen? Well, that's one saying. There's also another that I subscribe to: "I pray for the strength to change what I can, the inability to accept what I cannot, and the incapacity to tell the difference!" Perhaps it's about time I started working on the next issue...if I can find the time.
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