Ah, the Footy Finals are here! Always an exciting time of year (especially if your team has made the finals)...
I have just received an email from someone asking me if I still have copies to sell of the first comic to carry the Comicoz logo on it: The Wally Lewis Story from 1992. I thought I would share here some of my reply to this person, and some of the history behind this rare and hard-to-find comic.
The Wally Lewis Story was a limited edition comic written (and Edited and Published) by myself and drawn by Joanne Applegate (now Brooker) in 1992. Only 500 copies were published. All were numbered, and all were supposed to be signed by Joanne and myself, but we had a falling out and Joanne refused to sign the copies. I have had limited contact with Joanne since then (mostly shared Facebook comments, where we have more recently became "Friends"), but we have not conversed in person or met since those days.
It was Joanne's first foray into comics, and it lead her to obtaining a job at (then) Queensland Newspapers. I remember being a little peeved off at Joanne at the time, because she used the project to obtain work, and wouldn't complete the Wally Lewis job because of this work (well, that's how I saw it then, and how I recollect it now). (To be fair, she may have been too busy to be able to afford the time to complete it in those days.) I think I was also disappointed with her lettering: I thought it looked too amateurish. (I ended up lettering most of it myself.) So these things caused so many delays in publishing the thing, to the point I eventually decided not to publish it straight away. Those were part of the reasons and the cause of our fall-out. I also suspect Joanne was hoping the cover would have been in colour. The printing was done a couple of years following the completion of the job, so the story (when it did see print) was a little old; Wally had retired, and he was no longer in the public eye. I simply printed it, because that is why we had done it; but it was not the mass produced product Joanne may have thought was going to take place a couple of years earlier. I remember picking up the copies from the printer and taking them around to the Queensland Newspapers offices (then in Bowen Hills) to give Joanne some copies. And to leave them for her to autograph. But she refused to come and meet me in the foyer, even thought the staff said she was there in the building....
Most copies have been given away, as very few were sold. Many were given away at a People for Peace concert I organised on the Redcliffe Peninsula in 1995, to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima. I have occasionally contemplated reprinting it; although I will have to locate Joanne in order to gain her permission to do so. Given the time that has passed, she may be more willing to do this now. I still think the story reads well, and the art is passable. Given the advances in printing technology, a colour cover would be a given: printing is so much cheaper these days too...
I am not bitter towards Joanne about it: there were a lot of things going on in my life at the time. It was the last comic I worked on as a creator; and the last comic I probably will ever work on with an artist. (Happy to be proven wrong on that count in the future!) At the time, I was moving away from the comic world (for reasons that are not important now). Since then, as you Dear Reader will know, I have gone on and published many more comics and comic-related books (by many other artists and cartoonists). Joanne, too, has gone on to bigger and better things: she won the Australian Cartoonist of the Year from the (then) Australian Black and White Artists' Club in 1999 and is a well-known and respected painter these days....
Script and Letters: Nat Karmichael; Art and Letters: Joanne Applegate (Brooker). These images have NOT been used with Joanne's permission, but I do hope she will not mind me reprinting them here for the purpose of the historical recollections. Happy, too, if she wants to add her view of our creative relationship (which I will gladly publish here, without censorship).
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 was 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