Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Xmas to all

Last sunday we went down to the McClaren Vale wine region to pick up a couple of xmas trees for us and my mum. This involved walking around a forest fo an hour looking for not one perfect tree but two! Then having them cut down and jamming them into my small car.
Consequently my car and Saveded Central has a sweet piney smell.
We picked up half a dozen or so wines for the day and my cellar and went to Oscars, for i think, the best pizza in Australia. So sunday was a good start to the week.
I spent the rest of the week making ice cream (5 varieties) and bottling olive oil for friends and family.
Work has been good since most everyone is on holiday and i've been spending my time coding and designing which is way better than my normal project management/problem solving stuff.
Right now Emma's making a huge (1.5 foot) chocolate xmas tree and dancing to her new Dirty Dancing sound track, while my fingers smell like rosemary from preparing the pork roast.
I spoke to my dad yesterday and he's living it up in Thailand and in a couple of hours we'll be going to mum's for lunch with the rest of the family.

I hope everybody's xmas is as relaxed and as fulfilling as mine.
Merry Xmas.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Grates at the Jive bar.

Its hard for me to say I love the Grates, a relatively new band from Brisbane. They’ve only released a 4 track EP and its all a bit brief. I think one of their songs appeared on a Jeans West ad, if not I wouldn’t be surprised if their stuff isn’t coopted in commercials sooner or later because it has that indy cool style/cred while still being approachable for a wider audience. I do know that the lead singer Patience will be my third wife (when Emma and then Cameron Diaz leave me).

It was a Thursday night, so I had just finished grocery shopping at the local Westfield. Gone are the days of getting illicit before a show.

The only interesting thing about getting to the gig was as I walked past Cargo (a club that has been around as long as I remember, at least 15 years which probably makes it the longest existing club in Adelaide – usually most places have a 2 year shelf life) and a guy of middle eastern appearance suggested I smile because things aren’t that bad. Guy of middle eastern appearance was right.

In the club I got pinted and settled in for the show, I scanned for a familiar face and when I spotted one I had to figure out if I actually knew them or just caught the train with them. By the time I tried to figure that out The Grates came on. And launched right into it. Usually because I’m a bit on the taller side, I like to hang back in the crowd so I don’t block people’s view with my large rottweiler head. Only downside, is that people who stand back rarely dance – where as I do. So I was bopping along – in a restrained manner when I got a tap on the shoulder. It was a girl of non middle east appearance “You look like you wanna dance you're welcome to join us!”. Us was two girls dancing around their handbags. Dancing with them would involve not being able to watch the show and having to put my beer down so I declined for the interim. “Cheers for that, I will in a bit though”.

The show continued on, it was really energetic and the crowd got into it, which is pretty rare for Adelaide. But all the regular dickheads were there;

  • The cunt who when hears the one song he knows from the band (usually the hit song/song played on the radio) and races from the back and slams through the crowd to get to the front, leaving in his wake spilt drinks and teetering girls. One particular curly haired muppet of non middle eastern appearance did it twice and was close to being lynched.
  • The cunt that enjoys the gig so much he dances but has no sense of personal body space or even less of a sense of balance. He’s the lonely mosher who crashes into the people around him. At this particular gig this was sort of me - except i brushed against people rather than crashed.
  • The cunt who has to talk on their phone right next to you.
After a couple more songs dancing girl requested the dance so I downed the remaining pale ale and started to dance proper like. I was started my Breakfast Club impersonation and did a really good job of it as well. I think I shouted something pretty innocuous “They’re pretty good” or “good turn out” or “check me out I am lord of the dance”. I can’t remember what I said but then dancing girl turned around and tried to convince black clad emo kid to get off the couch and dance, leaving me doing the Molly Ringwald shuffle ….alone. On relating this to Emma later her reply was “How many slices of garlic bread did you have with your Italian pizza with extra garlic before you went?”
The music came on unrelenting and the lead singer bounced and bounded around – it was quite astounding. I’m sure more of the sexist one track minded fellows in the crowd thought “fark I bet she’d be a powder keg in the sack”, I thought “Good show! What an energetic lass, such stamina and endurance why I suspect and surmise she maintains some sort of exercise regime”.
And then it was done. After cajoling (“sigh”) they did a 3 song encore. I hate encores especially ones which are part of the set and only need three members from the audience to clap a bit longer to 'drag' the band back from the wings.

After it was done I left with a happy buzz which is all I can ask for.
Oh and I love the Grates.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

<title>Rob Clarkson at the Grace Emily</title>

Lately I’ve been ripping my whole music collection to my hard drive and its making me feel a bit musical. So I dragged my domestic self to a couple of gigs in the past two gigs.
<unnecessary context>
Rob has been around for at least 15 years, the first time I heard him was a song that got heavy rotation on JJJ, back in 1995ish. I remember enjoying the song that I always referred to as “beautiful boys go out with beautiful girls” though I could never figure out what it was called or who sung it because of a short attention span when dealing with the radio. The song sort of stuck with me for awhile, so much so that when I discovered the internet in 1998 (I was late) I’d routinely try and search for the song using altavista – but I always came up empty handed. It was a lost cause. Then last year I was at a lucksmiths concert when the support guy started singing that tune. I may have done a spit take with my beer but I did remember the name. Rob Clarkson.
Well, Rob hadn’t released a new album for ten years or so besides a best of compliation /live double cd recorded in the mid90s. So last week he did a free show and I went. And about 15 other people (not including the 15 people at the front bar). It was a Thursday and I had spent the previous couple of hours shopping for groceries – sigh – Emma was out at the channel 7 Xmas party swanning it up with the weather girl and a reporter from Today Tonight (actually I’m not sure who was there – she went to the channel 10 xmas party in sydney the week before and drank with Sandra Sully – so from then on I decided not to enquire who was at these functions because the jealousy would kill me. Plus Emma doesn’t tell me who is hosting these parties anymore because she then gets a list of complaints to pass on to the station “Can you please ask them to stop fucking with the Shield?” “Can you get me tickets to Foo Fighters?” “can you get them to stop fucking with Arrested Development?” “Can we see more of Sandra Sully’s knee and less of skelator?” Etc). Today she had a meeting with Channel 10 and she told of my mispleasure/alarm of having to see 40 year hairy minge expelling humans on a saturday night at 7:30.
</unnessary context>
<gig review>
I turned up half way through the support act. I completely missed who she was, part of my brain wants to say Sugar Barker – but I think that has more to do with lunch coming up than her name. Anyway, folksy singer with a guitar who was pretty good.
</gig review>
She did have the annoying habit of introducing her songs with loads of context. “I wrote this song when my new flat mate moved in with me about 15 months ago. When he moved in with all his stuff it seemed like we had known each other for a really long time and we are best friends now, so I wrote this song on how familiarity isn’t always borne out of family” and “I wrote this song when I was 16 and I found it recently and discovered that it was still pretty good, I wrote it when I had a crush on a boy in my high school but he was blah blah blah”. Doesn’t she know that long unnecessary context is my schtick! I was worried that there was going to be an exam.
<more gig review>
Anyway she finished and Rob came on. He looked a lot different from what I remember, less shaved head dero more mulleted first year accountant but once he started to sing he’s easily recognisable, a nasally high pitched whine which is actually and surprisingly enjoyable to listen to. That very night motorhead/motely crue were playing so he did a version of “bad medicine” which was quite humorous. Rob’s a humorous guy and he writes humorous songs which is all well and good, there’s something very Woody Allen about him, that mix of laughter and sadness (in films like Manhattan, Annie Hall) creates this melancholic atmosphere which seems to get the “point” across (for example the nature of love and relationships in Allen’s Films).
</more gig review>
But recently, in the last ten years or so, there’s this culture of cute where everything has to have little injokes or be filled with bratty/witty characters. Guys like Tarantino, Whedon, Bendis, Prince Paul seem to be less interested in making a point and more interested in being smart, showing off their influences and whatnot and it gets a bit boring. I know this’ll get cries of anguish but the idea of watching wacky 2D characters fly around in space making smart alec comebacks for 90 minutes in Serentity fills me with dread. Tarantino’s self indulgence, Bendis’ witty dialogue but inability to write fully formed characters in a proper plot, the DangerMouse/MC Doom Saturday cartoon inspired album just bores me; its all so superficial, pandering to nostalgic nerds and essentially meaningless.
Rob seems to skim that culture of cute; one song about him relating to friends with kids hits home with me but then there are little ‘clever’ lyrics like </span>“you propagate the species but did you have to mention up faeces” sort of bring me out of the song (even to think ‘oh how clever’). Then again, at the gig with a bunch of other people – I forget that sort of thing and just stand with a pint and enjoy it.
</additional gig review>
Except for all the friends of the support act who would stagger from the beer garden and do bullshit kisses bye and leave. That’s all well in good in a crowded pub when a gig is going, but there was only about 12 people in a small alcove, so when Johnny Public Servant in his crappy slip on leather shoes from 2002, who’s dragging his nervous looking girlfriend goes to say goodbye to folksy art singer in her oh so retro frock and they all make a big song and dance about
“Oh thanks for coming”
“no problem, erm you were good see you at work tomorrow”
“moi moi”
it’s all a bit fucking distracting and verging on rude when you consider the support act is involved.
<gig review conclusion>
The show went for about 45 minutes, so I was slightly disappointed that it was so short and he didn’t play many songs from his old days but for free I can’t complain. For the first show I’d seen for a couple of months it was pretty good.
</gig review conclusion>

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Public enemy are enemies of the public, i know this because they told me so

I have been a Public Enemy fan since 1988, where i actually bought their first album, "Bumrush the show" on vinyl LP, instead of doing the dodge and going tape to tape with mates (ask your parents if you are under 20). I'd proudly wear my black public enemy tshirt, every so smartly, or as they said back then, really grousely matched with my adidas enforcers track pants (black with florescent orange stripes running down the side, with a florescent green strip horizontally across the calf). I've seen every gig they've played in Adelaide (their last concert in town they played for 2.5 hrs which was awesome)(also i think the last time i was punched in the head was at one of their concerts when a wild punch strayed from a fight in the mosh pit).

I still have that tshirt which is now a very dark shade of purple but its is signed by Chuck D, Flavour Flav and Professor Griff - it seems that i will have to fly the East Coast of the Americas to get Terminator Xs signature. I did go off them, in a ways in the late 90s because they went internet only and it was too much of a hassle to get their stuff. All in all i have pretty much everything they've released and enjoyed it all.
So it was with a bit of disappointment that i have to say that their latest "New whirl odour" is a bit crap.

Firstly, the title makes a pun/joke of something that is 15 years old, i can sort of let that go since there's a whole Bush snr/jr thing going on but the opening track is Al Sharpton telling us that Public Enemy is still relevant today. Thanks Al. It all seems to be a bit self congratulatory, especially with a revisit to something they did on "Fear of a black planet", where they cut up talk back radio comments about themselves and put them to a beat. It worked ten years ago when there was an actual furor aimed at the band, back when rap was seen as dangerous because it actively opposed the social structure at a political level, these days with bling bling and gangsta rap causing controversy due to its inherent use of violence and 'bad' language, its a lot easier for white middle america media to point at them and cry evil! Save the children! To most people Public Enemy aren't dangerous anymore.

But this album just feels like Chuck and the boys are telling at us, if not yelling at us that they are still relevant, still important, still dangerous. Back in the day, their first albums were militant and strong, strong beats with hard rhymes. Now they just seem angry, and in the grander scheme they should be angry, but it just feels like they are just flailing their arms around, reacting like a chubby kid in a school fight. Listen to the militant "Takes a nation to hold us back", they are the guys with a plan, they are a force. It could be i'm older and mellower, it could be because i'm not african american but the explicit anger of some of the tracks just doesn't do it for me.

So i'm left with the music, the beats and the production which just isn't as strong as it used to be. Whilst i'm not a fan of the over sampling done by the super producers of today, it was pretty uninspired on this album. The beats were just sort of washed out too. Sigh. And there also wasn't enough Flavor Flav, which is a crime.

I do gotta say though for the price of the cd, there's a dvd with clips and a documentary (though i haven't watched it yet because i dread it will 60 minutes of people telling me public enemy is still relevant and dangerous). Its released on chuck d's own label so at least he's sticking to his guns (he's a hip hop equivalent of a dirty self publishing zinester).

All in all though, maybe its me, I'll keep buying their stuff (apparently there will be 3 releases in 2006, plus a comic - woohoo, and other things).

And then there is this.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I hate the beach

"Aussies come in chains,
We came in planes"

"We grew here,
You flew here"

It would seem if these groups just agreed on a stance for the relative importance of airplane travel in Australian society - then everyone could just get along.

Monday, December 12, 2005

oh der - people and books i forgot

Small Press;
Dicks - really well illustrated set of vignettes
Seven Swords - its consistently released to a consistent quality (Thanks Tonia)
Foolproof Anthology - this got sent out to me by Nate (thanks nate) and it was really good.
Angry Comic Shop guy - made by an adelaide creator it involves violence against nerds which is always funny.

Probaby my biggest ommission was Nicola Scott for her work on the Star Wars free comic book day comic. Otherwise the other person who could be nominated in the Overseas category is Andie Tong for Spiderman UK.

Otherwise Reed's Crumpleton Expirements should get some respect in either he small or independent press categories; I'm leaning towards the independent press side which is looking like a really strong field this year. I'm hoping Witch King makes out by the end of the year (its not on the diamond shipping list for this week).

And i think that's it but i've probably forgotten something.

but go nominate

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Hand out the big donger - Ledger of Honor

Nominees chosen from Australian creators, publishers or retailers, past or present.

This is a lot harder category to deal with because it sort of whiffs of ‘well you were great back in the day grandpa, here’s an award, shuffle off and let the youngens draw now’. But there are people I want to nominate who have done a lot for the scene AND are still on top of their game. So just because it’s a life time achievement kind of award, please keep living. Plus my knowledge of ye olde time comics (pre1990) is hazy at best.

Michael Leunig
As the most recognisable cartoonist/comic artist in the country it would be quite easy way for the awards to get some media spotlight if Leunig won. Also, he's not a spandex artist and therefore would be a good way for comics to be shown as not all superheroes and not just for kids. It helps that he's very successful at what he's done and deserves it anyway. He should be recognised by us before he ends up in gaol for sedition.

Sam Young
Some people will bristle but a bit of controversy is always good. My first dipping into the Australian comics pool had Sam Young and Issue one floating in the middle. Gave a lot of artists a go and got comics out there.

George Vlastaras
Going through my box of Australian Comics ranging from the past till now, it astounded me the number of ads for Kings Comics that have appeared in local produce for so long. If every retailer was like George, or even half as good, we'd all be winners.

Tonia Walden
I’m not really that aware of Tonia’s older work, but her current stuff is very good but besides her artistic skills, her support for the scene is much appreciated. She has a whole circle of people she sends mini comics too, not just her stuff but she distributes other people’s works. She has created some really solid anthologies “Once upon a time” Eat comics” and “Pirates” giving a lot people their first chance being printed and her own work always looks good. But as they say the night is young.

Dillon Naylor
Always the exception to the rule; you have to concentrate overseas to make it big, don’t bother with magazines and newspapers, kid's comics are dead, there’s no way to distribute work in Australia, blah, blah, blah, wah, wah, wah. Dillon throws a big fist of bullshit at that, 'cause he shows adaptability, innovation and perseverance matters. Plus I used to always refer to him as Dillion and he never mentioned it, so his tolerance is also commendable.

But of course the idea is that other people nominate who they liked so get ye to the nomination forms and nominate.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I loved your work on Thor! - Favourite Foriegn Creator

Favourite international creator (artist, writer etc.) with work released during the year.

This was a struggle, finding foreign creators that excite and make me want to track down their work AND who had released work recently.

Mike Allred
The Golden Plates stuff is probably the worst thing I’ve ever read, but everything else Allred has done has been close to perfect.

Jeffery Brown
I’m waiting till Top Shelf releases a postage sized book (each successive book gets smaller) of Brown’s phone message doodles (I’m not really keen of sketch book stuff). But whining aside, I’ll still buy it because Brown’s stuff is funny and insightful.

Mark Waid
I don’t read everything Waid does, but what I have collected I’ve enjoyed. i like Legion a lot.

David Lapham
Just for Stray Bullets, I was really tempted to pick up his Detective run and I’ll probably get his Punisher vs Bullseye if I find it in a dollar bin.

Brian Augustyn
ExMachina and Y the last man are good reads and I’m tempted to start collecting runaways (but I think there should be a limit to how many teen based comics you can buy otherwise its creepy and old man like myself buying comics about teenagers).

But of course the idea is that other people nominate what they liked. So head down to your local comic shop and buy some foriegn stuff if you must
Otherwise get ye to the nomination forms and nominate.

Friday, December 09, 2005

To the big boys overseas I will not grovel - Favourite Foriegn Comic Book Title or Graphic Novel

Favourite comic book or graphic novel (English or foreign language) released by overseas publishers during the year.

Scott Pilgrim
A complete blast to read. it truly is the definition, if not the essence of Awesome.

Solo #7
Mike Allred's issue. The Batman story was one of the more original versions of the Batman character and a good use of the Adam West/Dark Knight paradigm to tell a story about differing times and cultures.
In terms of story telling, the Doom Patrol Vs Teen Titans showed that sometimes compression is a good thing, you don't need to lead your audience by the hand and show them everything. People make connections between the panels and make up the story for themselves (you have to read it to get what i'm talking about - i hope)

Stray Bullets #39
I'm a sucker for Kurosawa tributes and i like the Amy Racecar issues of Stray Bullets.

Big Head
Just funny stuff.

Samurai Executioner
Not as perfect as Lone Wolf and Cub, but nothing in my mind ever will be that perfect. I’ve read the first 4 volumes and I still don’t see an overarching plot and it seems that every other story involves rape. The art is just simply beautiful and the writing captivating

Only one issue in but AllStar Superman was superheroawesome. And I’ll try and not suck up to another Ledger judge but Langrides Fing Fang Foom special was great.

But of course the idea is that other people nominate what they liked. There's plenty of time (nominations finish early january) so check out and buy stuff.
Otherwise get ye to the nomination forms and nominate.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Key is in the Ignition - Australian Talent deserving wider recognition

In recognition of excellence in 2005. Print or web.

Well, i think that's everybody. But in my nominations I'm going to just talk about people who SHOULD be doing comics

Steve Martinez (Practice Cactus)
When he first started posting at Ozcomics and Pulp Fiction, i thought he was just another drop kick. Later i saw his work - he's a drop kick that can really draw. Draw really well with mature storytelling skills. And he's very funny. He needs to draw comic.

I nominated him last year and now he's disappeared. Which is a shame, a look on his blog and he's even better now. There's not much in the way of sequentials but his still lifes are sweet. Its so good it makes me cry he's not making comics for me right now.

Sam McKenzie
I met him on the sunday of Brisbane Supanova and he is probably one of the half dozen people i've given free ozcomic magazines too. His style is a bit Hewletty but he's 19. Nineteen!!! Also if you check out the Satellitte Soda site, look up Dave Collinson and Dylan McCrae, I'd would have put them in the mix but i can't find any sequentials from them.

David J Cunning
Has that cool graphitti/anima style, reminiscent of Jon Sommariva.

Wayne Nichols
Andy Finlayson pointed out his site last week and that very day he joined up at Pulp Faction. Nice stuff.

I'm awesome, just trust me.

I'm not sure who else is out there that is relatively new and who hasn't produced comics. Gavin Thomson did some nice sequentials as a try out for Phosphorescent, the anatomy is a bit dodgy in places but with a good inker his stuff could really work. I wish it was easier to trawl Deviart for fresh meat, we could then watch Anomic and Liz race to offer them scripts first.

But of course the idea is that other people nominate what they liked. There's plenty of time (nominations finish early january) so check out and buy stuff.
Otherwise get ye to the nomination forms and nominate.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Make it clear - Artist of the Year

Full art, penciller, inker, colourist, painter or multimedia. In recognition of excellence in 2005 by an Australian creator.

Paul Abstruse
I'm pretty glad Witch King is finally getting out, not that it is necessarily my cup of tea, but because i know a lot of people worked hard on it. Paul has an approachable style, it's highly detailed without it being over rendered. It sits in the middle of the very mainstream Yardin/Chaloner style and the cutesy wootsy Holgate/Major style.

Matt Huynh
In terms of comic art; the only way i can describe Matt's art is to point you to that scene in American Beauty with the plastic bag blows in the wind. Its chaotic but captivating. Its very earthy with loads of emotion.

Michael Li
A very evocative artist who has a great sense of story telling. I'd love to see his stuff over sized and in colour.

Ryan Winter
The artist of Azerath, he has shown a great improvement in the 7 issues published so far. He is not great technically, but his stuff is very dynamic even though a lot of the issues are talking heads stuff. One reason I'm nominating him is that he's producing a good 22 pages every three months and he's not a professional (which means he's got school/work/life to waste/fill his time)

Jase Harper
Cutesy Wootsey fun!

It was a close call but Eldritch Kid's Brett Burns is an absolutely phenomenal artist, if I could name 6 nominations he'd be in. If I could have seven I’d add Trudy Cooper, shit if I had 8 spots I’d add Jason Paulos – decisions are hard, but let me just say, I love you all (some of you only physically). I'd like to put Andy Finlayson's name in the ring for his DeeVee story, Canaan Crall also has some fine skills but both of this artists did less than 8 pages this year (that I’m aware of) which is hard to justify giving a Best Artist award to in my eyes.

But of course the idea is that other people nominate what they liked. There's plenty of time (nominations finish early january) so check out and buy stuff.
Otherwise get ye to the nomination forms and nominate.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Lend me your ear - Writer of the year

In recognition of writing excellence in 2005 by an Australian creator. Print or web.

With the Artist and Writer categories I’m really concentrating on the local creators working, you know, locally. The guys that work professionally already get money for their work and they devote a lot of time to their craft – they are expected to be good. The best analogy I can muster is; if I run into a burning building and save someone, then I’m a hero; if a fireman runs into a burning building and saves someone, they are doing their job.

Liz Argyle
Liz was one of the highlights of the somewhat underwhelming "Something Wicked" book. She's been appearing in numerous anthologies and her work never disappoints. Some work is stronger than others but writing 3-5 page stories is a hard thing to do. i think its got clear concepts which she executes well.

Daniel Reed
I think one problem with many writers is that they try to fit too much in to their stories, they weigh the work down and make it boring and a chore to read through, either trying to overexplain concepts that excite them or to make themselves look smart or they have incubated their stories so much they are overcooked with sometimes unnecessary baggage. I prefer writers that just tackle one theme/one concept in the 4 pages they have or if they have 22 pagesi prefer they complete a narrative. Daniel Reed is the exception, incredibly dense writing but the Crumpleton Experiments’ tone and environment just carry all the crazy stuff along.

Daren White
I wish we saw more of the Playwright instead of once a year. Last year Daren had Order of the Beast which was overlooked but coming up in Legends of the Dark Knight, he'll be writing issue 200, which is actually quite a boon.

Mandy Ord
The compassion and thoughtfulness of Flight Path, the whimsy and humour of Nose Bleed and the sensitivity and self awareness of Nanna Shower just show's Mandy's breadth as a writer. I'm of course waiting for her to do Wolverine vs Batman.

Matt Huynh
Matt has a great sense of what is needed in a story and how to pace it out. While some of his earlier work was a bit emo, his writing is maturing quite quickly and will soon be at a high level, just like his art. To me, Matt's a star.

I think I smell smoke.

But of course the idea is that other people nominate what they liked. There's plenty of time (nominations finish early january) so check out and buy stuff.
Otherwise get ye to the nomination forms and nominate.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Overseas they drink Fosters beer - International title of the Year

Titles distributed overseas (via Diamond, Titan etc.) and within Australia featuring Australian talent. Titles by Australian creators for overseas publishers.

Fell by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith
Ben's most traditional comic work for awhile; 9 panel pages crammed with captions and dialogue and Ben makes it work. Plus its some of Warren's more interesting work.

The Dreaming by Queenie Chan
I bought this on friday, I've only read half so i can only judge it so much. But on what I see, just lovely and endearing stuff with an underlying suspenseful drama; it skims the rim of generic but there are little surprises. Also its got great art. Dreaming is a really mature and measured piece of work.

Small Gods by Jason Rand and Juan Fererer
The first arc was really good, the second was overly cliche but the third and final arc is a lot better. Jason's characters aren't overly generic; they all have an individual 'voice' and he's covering ground that is new to me.

Black Panther by Reggie Hudlin and David Yardin
David is back in the jungle and showing off all the beauty and majesty he picked up in Realm of the Claw. Yardin's issues (8 and 9) sold out and had to be reprinted which is quite an achievement.

Losers by Andy Diggle and Colin Wilson
Colin steps out of his Eurocomic glory and does three gorgeous issues of Losers.

Laika: First doggie in space (In Flight) by Doug Holgate
Because of its cuteness (Laika's, not Doug's).

Otherwise, I didn’t see much else; Rand’s other series doesn’t interest me, I didn’t pick up McCarthy’s batman stuff (because I’m burnt out on batman), or White and Best’s Escapists story (because it was a bit pricey). And the IDW templesmith/wood stuff again is pricey.

But of course the idea is that other people nominate what they liked. There's plenty of time (nominations finish early january) so check out and buy stuff.
Otherwise get ye to the nomination forms and nominate.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

There is nothing to fear - Independent Press Title of the year

Over 201 copies photocopied or printed. Any number docuteched (ComiXpress or Lulu).

Its hard to know what the print run of a particular comic is so my choices are based on assumptions and the quality of the printing.

DeeVee Flange
Whilst its not perfect, its pretty damn close; Flight Path and the Werewolf story rock, they couldn't be more opposite in tone and genre but their high standard can not be denied. Same with Playright and Kolchkla's efforts, couldn't be more dissimailar but the balance just works. Something for everyone. Though is this actually International Press?

Azerath 4-7
Though its getting a bit too cute for its own good and bogged down backstory, such that its not going anywhere, its still an enjoyable read. For now. The banter carries it along to a degree but its the art that really makes this stand out. And kudos for coming out consistently. I recommend people try this series out.

Platinum Grit 13
Now thanks to Lulu i can actually read this whilst holding it in my hands. Being a late comer to the Platinum Grit scene, i'm a bit ashamed that i didn't jump the bandwagon earlier. Its not cheap laughs and cardboard characters but well thought out jokes using real characters. The art is sexy as too.

The Pirate Anthology
Like the Piate Movie, this too was made in Queensland. By Tonia Walden (Actually I don’t think Tonia had anything to do with the movie but my knowledge on these things is limited). 64 pages of pirate goodness. I have to admit that I do have a 3 page story in it, with art by Tonia (my first published/printed comic work - whoop) but forgetting that bias, there is some great work in there. I’m hoping this becomes a series; zombie anthology, ninja anthology, cowboy anthology, robot anthology, monkey anthology, all the pop icons. Sigh – I can only dream.

Generations 2005
This is what Oztaku wants to be when it grows up. A classy, incredibly designed book showing off a high class of work. Its a professional in every sense of the word. I think the stories try a bit too much sometimes, I dunno - it feels the creators try a bit too hard to make their stories have 'meaning' or impact but the art is lovely and carries it through. Tang and huynh's story is a stand out.

Happy Birthday Anyway – Matt Huynh
If it wasn’t for the high page count, I would have put this in the Small Press category but at 52 pages its not small. Also I’m nominating 6 because I’m not sure where Deevee sits. This is a very thought out and mature book, its interesting that a lot of guys are telling sensitive stories with females as the main characters (brian wood, adrian tomine, etc). Interesting (well to me anyway), because maybe its easier to write about sensitive girls than sensitive guys and then be seen as wussy (not a stance I take because I’m wussy - I need companionship and acceptance, please love me). But (happy birthday) anyway, Happy Birthday Anyway is a good read, though the character swap at the end was very confusing (both characters wear very similar clothes and hair) it did force me to reread the last section again and again and made me appreciate some of the more interesting graphical elements (the walking into the closet bit was awesome).

Hairbutt the Hippo IV, almost gets through. Otherwise Withheld by Bobby N needs a mention. Technically, while i had trouble with some of the storytelling, which meant i had to flick back and forth between pages, i thought it was a great story. Sporadic #5 is really good, but being cute and pretty gets you only so far, it needs to have substance or laughs to really stand out. And I can’t wait for Witch King (though it is december now and there is still no shipping date so i have fears), the preview for chapter 3 looked good.

But of course the idea is that other people nominate what they liked. There's plenty of time (nominations finish early january) so check out and buy stuff.
Otherwise get ye to the nomination forms and nominate.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Tiny, but never mere - Small Press title of the Year

200 copies and under, photocopied

I'm a bit of a print ninny and have no idea if comics are offset, laser printed or photocopied. So I'm guessing here. Essentially i'm going by page count, cover specs (colour/BW) and general design. Judging on print run is weird but onwards and upwards.

Nose Bleed - Mandy Ord
Mandy gives herself a blood nose. It doesn't go overboard trying to pack the jokes in or become overly neurotic (though Ord's neurotic Dirty little Creep is also very good). Very simple - very enjoyable.

9V - Michael Li

Just a really good read, offering a simultaneously sensitive and awe inspiring world with a satisfying narrative.

Interior - Loren Morris
Loren's Interior is the highest selling australian book at Adelaide's Pulp Fiction Comics. The reason why is because, chapters came out regularly, the story had an interesting hook and the art is expressive and solidly good.

Spider Mickey Mouse - Aaron O'Donnell
It's a very beautiful gorgeous book but slightly hollow. Its an art comic, a very good art comic but I’m more satisfied by narrative. Though, I recognize the importance of art comics in moving the medium forward so…shit I’m rambling.

Brandi - melongod
Its weird having this following Spider Mickey Mouse, because they couldn’t be more opposite. I think in the beginning of the year Doug Holgate mentioned he saw this at his comic shop and thought it to be the worst comic he's seen. I was given a copy at supanova and was a bit hesitant to read it but i was surprised. It was a lot smarter and funnier than i expected; although it didn't help me get a better understanding of the human condition, nor did it make me laugh so hard i peed myself, it was still an enjoyable read. At first I did think it was because it was because I had low expectations but the second issue was also enjoyable.

Dreams of tommorrow - Liz A (edited by)
Part of me thinks this should be in the independent press category, but its a smallish page count (about 30ish) which isn't small but compared with The Pirate Anthology it is. It could go in both, but I'm putting it in here (an anthology category would be nice). I do have a story in this (and it has words and if i remember, a spelling mistake) so i may be biased, or have very good taste for who i write stories for or i may be just full of shit. I think the only criticism i can level at the book is that it sort of lacks a focus; the Grug story, the canaan story sort of don't match liz's stories; while this is ok for DeeVee or the pirates book because the former has no theme (except different voices) and the latter's theme is more tangible. Personally - I look at the cover, look at the title and since i know Liz to a degree i have certain expectations, i expect stories with a political/philosophical/artistic/humanistic slant, something that wasn't really that prevallent in the book.
But then again, dreams never have any real focus do they?

I don't put these in any order, well usually my top chioce is my top choice, what follows is not in order of preference, i just write it as it comes and then too lazy to copy and paste. I may be missing something, stuff like 5041 or Raymondo because its reprinted stuff from the web (maybe a best reprint category next year??) so i'm not sure if its applicable. Everything else just left me wanting. Otherwise, Mandy Ord's Nanna shower is good but i'm freaked out because a) she depicts herself with 2 eyes b) i had my own incident with a naked 90 year old that i'm trying to forget. I wanna say Fat Ankle, Culled from the pages of Phatsville - this is just mad, incredibly funny comicing. I found Plump Oyster a bit confounding/confusing and took too much effort to read, but Gold Plops was good. But all those, I think are reprinted stuff from Phastville.

But of course the idea is that other people nominate what they liked. There's plenty of time (nominations finish early january) so check out and buy stuff.
Otherwise get ye to the nomination forms and nominate.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Here's a little bit of cheer - Single Issue or Story of the Year

In recognition of excellence in a particular issue, story arc or short story in 2005 by an Australian creator/s. Print or web.

I'm mainly going to highlight stories from anthologies because there's already the small/independent/international press categories to highlight the other stuff. I think there needs to be an anthology category – but I think a lot of things, like I think monkeys evolved from humans. Of course if a story is short and I was really taken by it, I’ll list it.

Mandy Ord - Flight Path - Deevee: Flange
I read this on the way home from Brisbane Supanova and I was totally awed by the piece. I'm a massive fan of Mandy's work and I'm restraining myself from nominating her everywhere but for this piece, its too good not to gush about it. Flight Path said something. It had depth. Not many Australian comics have a real depth, most are vigoursly entertaining but few are relatable to our (australia's) culture and society. Flight Path did and it stayed with me for quite awhile.

9V - Michael Li
With an ecomonic use of words and pictures Michael sets up this whole world that is firmly believable even if it isn't our own. There's a sense of wonder and awe that is grounded in sensitivity and everyday tasks. Like Michael's first book 'time i fetched water' (also very good) 9V takes place after some grand war and follows a girl trying to find a battery to play a record she found. It's sweet without being sickly. Highly recommended. It also features beautiful art.

The playwright - Daren White and Eddie Campbell

There's a melancholy surrounding this story but in the end there's a sense of satisfaction as well (shit i think i unravelled the masterbation metaphor - wanking is all well and good but after the fact, deep down its a bit lame too). The principal character isn't living the most happiest of life but he seems quite content with his lot. That sort of complexity is quite hard to pull off (sorry) in a short page count but Darren and Eddie do it extremely well.

The seed - Liz Argall and Matt Huynh - Dreams of tommorrow

A 4 page silent comic but it features some of Matt's funkiest art and another great Liz concept. Plus the flourish of colour at the end was perfect.

Moth & Tanuki - Ian Thomas - Oztaku
There's some fun about it. Ian's isn't the best artist but his work carries his story along. Sometimes its a bit corny, sometimes its a bit melodramatic but never offensively so. Its just really well rounded.

I get the same feeling from David Kerr’s work (Day's of Asha), not excellently executed but to a high, enjoyable and consistent standard. Otherwise, Christian and Tonia's piece in Something Wicked was a highlight in that book, a bit wordy but it was one of the few 'horrific' stories which wasn't a collection of clich├ęs or just badly done. Dan Best's and Andy Finlayson's werewolf story was quite good (though it looked better in deevee than Something Wicked). Most of the pieces in the Pirates Anthology are really good and its hard to pick out a 'best' one, the Azareth boys' "i hate pirates" comes closest. I find the Shitter strip in Phatsville very funny. Unfortunately; David Li's and Wen Huang's work in Oztaku feels like it has either stalled or grown stale (especially Wen who seems to have gotten distracted after starting of brilliantly well), but I haven’t read the latest Oztaku so I won’t close the door on that one yet.

But of course the idea is that other people nominate what they liked. There's plenty of time (nominations finish early january) so check out and buy stuff.
Otherwise get ye to the nomination forms and nominate.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Click here - Webcomic or comic strip of the year

Produced by Australian creators. In recognition of excellence in comics distributed via the web or in magazines and newspapers in 2005.

I know there is a hell of a lot of web comics out there but i see very little of it because i don't try and track web comics down and view them regularly. I'm lazy that way. Plus i spend way too much time in front of the computer, getting hooked on web comics would just mean i'd lose what little non-internerd life i had left (about 7 minutes on Tuesdays). The only ones i see are ones that appear on Live Journal or are forced under my nose by people i like.
So this is what I've seen and liked

Everything by Grug
He has about 23 different web comics which he updates, what seems like, hourly. Or perhaps i'm exaggerating. He has cute animal strips, namely a strip featuring animals trying to escape the forest after they murder the park ranger, which I liked. Then there's one with a monobrowed dolphin, i'm not keen on that because monobrows freak me out (grugs comic self portrait is strangely hypnotic, it looks like the drummer of hanson all grown up but with beard and monobrow – I wanna turn away but can’t). Also, somehow when not drawing he's living a life which he uses as a basis for an autobiographical strip, or maybe its 5 autobiographical strips. Either way for consistency and laughs, Grug is pretty good.

Dean Rankine - Booger Boy and Grossgirl

These appear in Mania, some US based magazines and on Dean's LJ. Its funny stuff. Almost as humourous as a 'how to draw' strip done by Dean.

Jase Harper - Big Happy Pet Land
These appear in Mania and sometimes in his LJ. Funny stuff and its well constructed too. The thing i like about Big Happy Pet Land is that Jase has set up a world where he can tell any kind of story he wants; he's done a raider's spoof, a pirate tale and a rawk! story. Plus by using animals he can fast track characterisation; a slow stupid character - its a turtle, a bully - its a bulldog, that way he can spend more time on plot and gags then setting up characters. All very clever and well executed.

Steve Stamatiadis - Blade Kitten
Consistent, well drawn and beautifully coloured. Though my attention span isn't made for serial comics that only pop up for a couple of pages every month or so, Steve's work looks pretty. And now its been cancelled – sigh.

Raymondo - Patrick Alexander
It doesn't appear in Mania or Kzone and it never will. Nonetheless, its genius. For the November 24th edition I was struck, if not awed, at how good Patrick draws. It looked gorgeous. I can only justify myself by saying that I’m usually to busy giggling and the wank and stiffy jokes to notice the pretty pictures.

Of course, there's Platinum Grit, however because of a hate of shockwave I've never read it online.
Otherwise, there's Dillon Naylor in Kzone for Batrisha and there's Dillon and Ian Thomas in Total Girl with Rock N Roll Fairies. Sometimes there's little grabs of Batrisha on the internet which shows how good it is (it even rocks in german!). However, I'm not a total expert - I'm guessing people like it based on the Kzone polls they used to have on their website and the fact that it has been around for so long. Don't forget Dillon's Da 'n Dill in the Morning Herald, in colour on sunday. That particular strip has been running for 4 years which is very impressive.
Owen Heitman's 5031, is very funny when its good (it usually involves abuse of some sort) but its not that consistent. And Nate Soehardi and Patrick’s “Elbow Wallets” only just started but the first couple of strips were very funny.
Again i'm sure there's more web comics out there, i just need to be directed in the right direction.

But of course the idea is that other people nominate what they liked. There's plenty of time (nominations finish early january) so check out and buy stuff.
Otherwise get ye to the nomination forms and nominate.