This entry is my first in many days on any electronic device. I have been "off the grid" as some describe it. No internet, no emails, no Facebook, and no phone calls to or from anyone. Some may see it as somewhat rude, and I shall live with that. Let me explain in the most simple of ways:
Please allow me, if you will dear Reader, some time and thoughts of personal reflections that I usually refrain from placing on my web-page. As it's my page, I can really add what I want, and if you wish to not to read any further, that's fine. Come back another day!
The Blues singer-songwriter and performer Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil at a local crossroads in order to achieve musical success. And even though he died at the age of only 27 years -- like so many other musicians! -- his influence has continued from his recording dates from the late 1930s right through to the modern era. What price would you pay to be successful in your chosen field, and what price should I pay to be a successful comic-book publisher? Let me share a story with you that I don't often talk about....
Earlier this century, Carlene and I were living in Bendigo while I was completing my tertiary studies, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Nursing Science (in Mental Health). While I was only able to work every second weekend, Carlene had to work seven days a week as a community nurse to help support us. In doing this, she cared for a certain client with muscular dystrophy -- amazingly, someone she had known earlier in her teenage years when she was growing up in Bendigo! Despite requiring the use of a wheelchair and daily nursing care, Russell was never one to be defined by his 'disability' and was a prominent Bendigo businessman. (You can learn more about him by clicking here.)
Carlene's work day always finished by caring for Russell, and we ended up socialising with him regularly, initially with DVD 'movies' every Tuesday night. Just as Russell didn't see that his business dealings had to stop because he was in a wheelchair, Carlene was able to show him that his disability was not an impediment to him enjoying an even fuller life. We learnt how to help him into his automatic and modified car -- that he drove -- to AFL matches and other shows we shared in Melbourne (including Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band). We shared the highs and lows of his life. Looking back, it was an amazing time in our lives.
Sadly, we eventually had to leave Russell and Bendigo when Carlene obtained work at the Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital (in Thoracic Medicine), and I obtained a position there soon-after in the Mental Health ward. Still, it was Russell's belief that his disability never prevented him from being able to do anything, that inspired me to commence publishing the Australian comic anthology Oi Oi Oi! There's "no point dying without trying" and "never let anything stand in your way in pursuing your dream" were two mottos of his that continue to inspire me and remain in my psyche.
Carlene wasn't keen on my working on another comic project, especially in light of the fact that we still had boxes and boxes of the first volume of our first Air Hawk volumes unsold. She said, "I'd rather you put the magazine out there [in the marketplace] after you arrange a distributor." And the day the distribution deal came through was the day we had to return to Bendigo to attend Russell's funeral, making the day bitter-sweet....
History repeats. After Dennis Jones and Associates fell into liquidation, I fell into some despair about ever finding a distributor for my books, extra-especially Graeme Cliffe's From 'Sunbeams' to Sunset: The Rise and Fall of the Australian Comic Book (1924 to 1965). I was asked to attend a conference as part of my work late last month, just as Graeme's book was due to arrive from the printer. At exactly the same time as I stepped on the train, I received a message on my phone that my sister Florence has passed away overnight. Again, it was a bitter-sweet day, when that afternoon I entered into discussions and an in-principal agreement with Novella Distribution to carry, not just Graeme's book, but six of the books I have published in the past decade: Ned Kelly, Narrated and Illustrated by Monty Wedd, Trundle by Neil Matterson, Australia! by various Australian artists and cartoonists, Bold Ben Hall by Monty Wedd and the recent Gold Ledger-winning Truth, Justice and the American Dream by Thomas Campi and Julian Voloj….
The day after Flo's funeral, Carlene and I took off in our motorhome. I needed a bit of time to get away. I know this has inconvenienced many people, including work and Graeme (and not least being my distributor, I'm sure) but I trust you all understand. I now feel I have been away for a couple of weeks (it's actually only been a few days) and I now have my batteries all charged up and ready to go....
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