I have to be honest here. I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the response I received from Sally Browne's Monty Wedd - Ned Kelly feature story in the U on Sunday supplement that ran in Queensland's The Sunday Mail today.
Thank You to all who have emailed or placed an order for the book. I shall attempt to respond (by email or by posting copies of the book) to you all as soon as I possibly can. Due to the volume of orders today for Monty Wedd's Ned Kelly book, there are now less than ten copies of the (200 copy) signed edition remaining! Just remember, there is no extra cost for a signed edition: it is simply a case of first in to obtain this piece of Comicoz publishing history!
If you do miss out on the signed edition, please don't despair -- there will still be regular copies of the book available. As it is, even orders arriving after the 200th signed copy is received will still find a special surprise in the Ned Kelly package sent out! And of course, I won't say what that special surprise is, or it wouldn't be a surprise, would it??!
I must publicly thank Sally Browne for such a wonderfully detailed feature article. Richard Waugh's photograph of myself felt a bit spooky on seeing it for the first time, but I am really pleased with it: it has a great mood to the shot.
Here is - I think! - a link to the first page (click here) of U on Sunday. The feature article appears on pages 24 and 25 of the supplement. Unfortunately,there are no direct links to the article (unless you choose to become an On-Line Member of The Courier-Mail newspaper). As Non-Queensland and Overseas readers may not be able to obtain copies of the paper (and may not wish to become an On-Line Members), here is an exact copy of the feature....
* Note: If you have come to this site, seeking information as to where to purchase a copy of "Ned Kelly: Written and Narrated by Monty Wedd" please click here.
PRESERVING WEDD"S KELLY
For 40 years, they lay dormant in newspaper archives, but now a Brisbane publisher has put together the complete Ned Kelly comic strip in a restored collected edition
WORDS // SALLY BROWNE
There's no Australian who doesn't know the name Ned Kelly. He's a figure who has inspired stories, songs and films — a legendary icon whose heart-thumping tale is part of our cultural landscape. And he even inspired a comic strip.
Ned Kelly, the comic, was a must-read addition to the Sunday papers in the 1970s. Written and illustrated by historian and artist Monty Wedd, it was a feast for the eyes and imagination and told the story of the 19th century bush ranger in lavish detail and historical accuracy. It was syndicated in several papers, including the Sunday Sun in Brisbane, between 1974 and '77
But for almost 40 years, it was forgotten, until a Brisbane publisher decided to dust off the archives and put it all together in one volume. The complete tale has now been collected and published in a hard-cover coffee table book by comic lover and publisher Nat Karmichael of Margate, north of Brisbane.
Karmichael's passion is comics old and new —his company Comicoz publishes both rediscovered and yet-to-be-discovered works, and he is particularly keen on telling Australian stories. So was Monty Wedd, who was an enthusiastic collector of Australian memorabilia, even opening his own museum.
Karmichael. who also works as a psychiatric nurse, remembers first meeting Wedd at a comics event in the late-1980s.
"He was so easy to talk to," he says. "He had a lot of history in his head of the olden days of Australian comics. I wondered why he'd never put Ned Kelly together in one volume. We said we must do it some day."
Unfortunately, Wedd didn't live to see the completion of the book — he died in 2012, aged 90 — but Karmichael has continued to work with Wedd's family to preserve his legacy.
Wedd, who grew up in Sydney, began working as an illustrator in the 1940s. His comic characters included Captain Justice, a vigilante bush ranger, and The Scorpion, who was banned in Queensland. Wedd said: "The authorities objected to The Scorpion not being brought to justice, but if he had been I wouldn't have had a series." He also created the animated dollar bill character that sang in the introduction of decimal currency, and developed historical series such as Captain Cook's journal, Bold Ben Hall and the Birth of a Nation. He worked on animated series in the US, including The Lone Ranger and Rocket Robin Hood. But Wedd was a big believer in telling Australian stories.
In the 1970s, he was commissioned by News Limited to do a Ned Kelly series following the release of the film starring Mick Jagger. It was a project he took to with gusto, stretching out the original 30-or-so weeks proposed to three years.
"He meticulously researched it," Karmichael says. "He went to the places where Ned Kelly attended court. He went to all the townships in order to get accuracy to the nth degree. This was the days before the internet of course."
Wedd was very much a character himself. He was also something of a collector, and in 1998 opened a museum in Williamtown, on the central coast of New South Wales.
The collection features several military uniforms and a propeller from Sir Charles Kingford Smith's plane.
"Some people would call him a hoarder and others would call him a historian," Karmichael says.
"Monty liked collecting artefacts that pertained to Australian history. He was very passionate and thought the best way to educate young people was through mediums they could relate to. He felt that history books were boring and didn't get the kids involved.
"He was concerned that we were getting too much education about things that happened external to Australia. He was keen to relate it to young people and thought comics the best way to do that."
In the 1940s, when Wedd began drawing, Australia had a thriving comics scene. The government had placed an embargo on overseas comics, which meant that local artists were creating at a rate of knots. Titles would sell up to 00,000 copies.
"There were a lot of publishers locally that were willing to put out Australian comics on the newsstands," Karmichael says. "That lasted for a long period up until about 1959, when the government relaxed the ban."
Then, there was a huge hunger for American product, and Wedd even sent his character Captain Justice to America, something he was reluctant to do.
Now the comics scene is thriving again, with numerous local producers putting out their works in print and online. Karmichael hopes to help those creators with a platform for their work. He has published a new collection of works by Rob Feldman, Cartoons, Comics, and Cows in Cars, which he describes as "bizarre Pythonesque humour". And he is publishing Oi Oi Oi! - an anthology of new Australian comics which will be available at newsstands on July 1.
The first volume involves a story about a guy who gets drunk on New Year's Eve, which may seem a little odd, Karmichael says, but has a uniquely Australian feel to it.
"Stories like that I think have to be preserved for people to read and think hey, this is not only a cool story, this is a funny story, this is also an Australian story that I can relate to."
Karmichael hopes to promote more work.
"There are a lot of artists and cartoonists today who don't really have a medium in order to express themselves," Karmichael says. "I think Australia has become a very diverse population. We've got a whole range of stories that Australians want to tell.
"I've always been fascinated by Australian comics - both past and present. I think comics are a reflection of Australia and its history. Comics represent our way of life - how we think and our vernacular - so I think comics are historical artefacts of our past."
He hopes those cultural treasures don't get lost. Among his stable. he has also published two collected works of Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor, by John Dixon. which ran in The Courier-Mail from 1959 until the 1980s.
"Because they've all been in newspapers, I'm concerned that some of those things get forgotten. The reason for starting my business was to try to preserve some of those comic strips so that future generations can look back on the past."
And he hopes to tell the stories of the future. "There are so many talented artists and cartoonists who want to see their work out there because there are so many different stories that they want to tell, Australian stories, local stories, stories that deal with our culture right now."
Ned Kelly by Monty Wedd. limited edition, is published by Comicoz and distributed through Dennis Jones and associates. Details: comicoz.com
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