The first is LOOK!, which I understand was created by the State Library of Victoria, and features a wonderful array of original artworks, sketches and drawings by more than forty of this country's most talented illustrators. I know this is not really a comic-centric exhibition, but the artwork is so superb that it would be remiss of you not to attend to see just what talent there is in this particular genre of illustration. Leigh Hobbs (who appeared in person at the November Stanley Workshops), along with Shaun Tan, Graeme Base, Bob Graham, Terry Denton, Lucia Masciullo, and Stella Danalis ... are just a few of the artists' whose works are on display.
One of the most marvelous thing I learnt from the exhibition, was the size of the original artworks. Whilst most comic strip and book artists work one or two up from the eventual printed size, many of these illustrated works are eventually reproduced in book form in the exact size of the original. This made some artists' work (Shaun Tan, as an example) even more phenomenal - the exquisite detail just took my breath away!
If you want to catch this FREE Exhibition, you have until March 4th (so there is still some time); my suggestion is to go at 11 a.m. on February 10th and/or 11th when Curator Mike Suttleworth will take you on a tour of Queensland Children's Picture Books held at the Library.
The Cane Toad Times ran from 1977 to 1979 and then again from 1983 to 1990: its by-line was originally 'The Eccentric Voice' before being made available in various interstate locations as 'Australia's Humour Magazine'. Essentially, however, it was a Queensland vehicle for the writers and cartoonists from the era when to be a political activist in Queensland was tantamount to treason! If you did not grow up or live in Queensland in those days (as I did), it is difficult to explain the political repression that took place in those days; and The Cane Toad Times was seen to be such a subversive magazine that one could only help by supporting it and buying copies when they went on sale (if one could find it)! I am uncertain where my old copies went to, but reliving the original artworks of cartoonists like Judy Dunn, Matt Mawson, John Shakespeare, (and, for me especially) David Tyrer and Max Bannah was a really overwhelming and emotional experience when I saw the Exhibition the first time round. I really found the Nostalgia hard to handle in a manner I cannot articulate.
In a certain way it makes me sad to think that there is no national magazine that sets out to challenge the norm in our society today, or at least allows Australia's creative cartoonists a forum for their works. Besides The Cane Toad Times, there has been a short history of some Australian magazines that have done this in the past ...Smith's Weekly, Oz and The National Review (to name a few) ... why can't there be another?? (While The Lifted Brow tries and I subscribe to it, it hasn't quite reached the pinnicle of those just mentioned. Even The Bulletin gave cartoonists' a medium, and in its prime sought to challenge.
I cannot recommend this Exhibition highly enough. It runs at the State Library of Queensland until March 25th. If you are unable to attend, then at the very least have a look at some of the information you can find about it at the Library's web-site, by clicking here.