Wednesday, January 31, 2007

John Law arrests Gary Chaloner

...for using a splash page.

Gary Chaloner's work on John Law gets highlighted on the new Will Eisner website (which looks like it was designed by Gary - but i'm only guessing).

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Young Creator gets grant

Seems like a local comic creator has earned a scholarship to attend Canberra Uni doing illustrations

Monday, January 29, 2007

when Lulu is a booboo, when comic xpress doesn't impress

I'm not a fan of the way Print on Demand comics is done by most local comic creators. This article describes some of my concerns about POD and name drops Dean Rankine.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Old movies i watched on the telly

This last week I've been watching a bunch of older movies, it probably started with Bridge at Remagen a film i had never heard of until i saw it at the video store. I've been playing Call of Duty on the Wii and for some reason going through a WW2 movie hankerin'. Well Bridge at Remagen is a great film, surprisingly quiet negative - filmed when Vietnam was turning bad for the US, allowing many film makers to actually say 'war is bad', instead of the jingoistic rah-rah that the 'win' of WW2 perpetuated. The best thing is Robert Vaughn's portrayal of a proud member of a military family who happens to be fighting for homeland, instead of Nazism. To me Vaughn was always the hammy actor in Magnificent 7, who would reprise the role in anything from Battle beyond the Stars to Kung Fu: The next generation (or whatever it was called). But in B.A.R. he actually acts portraying a range of emotions, with great dignity its a treat to watch. Kind of like Sidney Poitier in Lilies of the Field (why does channel 7 always show great movies on public holidays when i'm always off doing stuff); sure great narrative comes from conflict but sometimes the quieter stories are so much more compelling. Me and Emma have been watching Northern Exposure and after much discussion and pondering we discovered we liked it because there are no villain characters, no great or even petty conflicts - stories unravel or melt as the case may be. But yes, we were 2 hour late for the Australian day BBQ because i wanted to watch Lilies of the Field and it was worth it - stories of redemption and hope always get me.
It was even great watching Shalako, with a Sean Connery fresh off his 3rd Bond movie playing a cowboy. Problem is that i couldn't understand a word anyone said, Bridgette Bardot, the dude that plays the Baron, Connery, all sounded garbled to my dyslexic ears but it was fun to watch all the same. And finaly Marty, a film i'd never seen was such a simple story; old dude (at 34!) meets an ugly girl (well see had 2 pimples on her chin) and they fall for each other but told with such warmth and humanity. Borgnine laments that there are no good movies, i think the problem is there is no more quiet movies.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Another Australian Graphic Novel

After last years release of the Matthew Flinders graphic novel, here's another, this one seems like its original (not reprinted like the Flinders book).

Secret Army - Operation Loki by Sophie Masson and Anthony Davies published by ABC Books.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

comic tease

Why is it, when i google Doug Holgate the second search result is "Comic Sex pages" and why does lead to a blank page?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ebay Aquistitions

I try and buy at least one peice of original art every year and the most recent piece was this

The pencils are by Gene Colan which is a nice bonus but the real draw was its got inks by Klaus Janson, who i have been a big fan of since i saw his pencil work in Gothic (The Legends of the Dark Knight mini, written by Grant Morrison) and later his inks with Romita Jr.
This page comes from Jemm, Son of Saturn which is a series that I've barely heard of, probably one of the 12 part minis that got pumped out by DC in the early 80s. I've been trying to find an affordable by Janson page for a couple of years but because he has worked alot with Romita Jr, Byrne and Lee - it was always quite expensive. There are some earlier pieces available from the mid 70s but I prefer the looser more textured inking style he developed after his work with Miller on Daredevil - which this piece has in spades.

The other buy is more nostalgic - when i was 12 i spent a summer in Slovenia with relatives. An uncle from San Francisco was also visiting and as we drove around in his rental car he'd play all this great blues music which pierced my hip hop ears and blew my mind. He gave me a whole bunch of cassette tapes and i'd pour over them, i never knew who was singing what because everything was unmarked. In 1993 when i was in SF i clumsily tried to hum and sing tracks, trying to get him to recognise what album and artist these tracks were from, particularly what seemed like a live concert. He smiled and told me that it was actually an acquaintance who had died recently, he smirked and wished me luck trying to find a copy. Well, 14 years later I know have SnakeFinger's History of the Blues LP.

This was actually recorded in 1984 by avante garde guitarist Snakefinger (who played with the Residents a lot) in Germany and is kind of rare. But it has great sentimenatal value of a fun summer and an awesome uncle. Of course now i have to buy a record player to listen to it, maybe off ebay.

Monday, January 22, 2007

supanova podcast

Doug Holbeck is an arsehole - I know this because Holgate told me.

Join Doug, Nicole Scott, Stewart McKenny and Jason Rand as they talk Australian Comics in this podcast from last years Supanova. Its 50 minutes long and interesting.

Discover Doug being sick of working at a comic shop, Nicole being clapped alot, Jason buying the Gen13 dvd cheap, Stewart rooms full of Star Wars figures. Actually they talk about reasons of the lack of an Australian Comic Industry, how they got into comics and being geeks.

You can skip the first 3.5 minutes of nattering from the presenters.

Sureshot Presents DHAAA @ Kings Comics

Sureshot Presents Doug Holgate's All Adventure Annual featuring TWO stories by one of Australia's leading comic creators is now available at Kings Comics, Sydney.

This issue has sold phenomenally fast - so grab it because I probably won't have any left for any reorders.

Sureshot Presents also available at Phase Two Comics, Impact Comics (ACT), Minotaurs (Melbourne) and Pulp Fiction Comics (Adelaide). Brisbanites, ask for it by name where ever you shop or wait to Supanova.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ledger Awards 2006 - Ledger of Honor

My consideration for nomination for this acclaimation, requires an examination of publications, creations as well as occupations of those who have, you know, done stuff for comics in Australia.

This year is probably a good year to provide some congraulation to Aaron Burgess, for his work with Comics Australia. It was an invulable resource providing hints and tips, news as well as a distribution point to sell comics. If it wasn't for Comics Australia I wouldn't have discovered Anthony Woodward, Mandy Ord, Leigh Rigozzi or a stack of other talented creators. Comics Australia was retired this year and i think it had a great impact on the scene that needs to be acknowledged.

From last year, I'll nominate Tonia Walden again, because she does a bunch of stuff behind the scenes which needs to be validated. What really is cool about Tonia is that even after being around for at least 10 years in the national comic scene she isn't at all cynical, that's amazing - i was cynical after about 6 months of hanging out at Ozcomics. But she mails out mini-comics to people, does a shop for friends who can't make it to supanova and generally is awesome. Her anthologies have given a lot of creators their starts (she even drew up one of my stories) so I think she deserves a nomination.

I think retailers who support local books need to be recognised - George Vlastaras has been supporting books for years, buy purchasing copies, buying ads and doing stuff like instore signings.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ledger Awards 2006 - Foreign Creator of the Year

I don't follow foreign creators with out much zeal anymore - i used to love Romita Jr's stuff, Peter David's stuff, a lot of mainstream creators - but then they started working on titles that just got ruined by decompressed storytelling and company marketing (crossovers). And on the indie side, where you used to get some sort of regularity, going to trades has meant long delays in releases and with the wait i just forget to pick titles up.

So I'm just going to list names of creators that have been behind comics i've liked - its not well considered or well researched but pretty off the cuff

  • Brian K. Vaughn (Ex Machina, Y the Last Man)
  • Naoki Urasawa (Monster)
  • Bryan Lee O'Malley (Scott Pilgrim)
  • Grant Morrison (All Star Superman)
  • Jeffery Brown (I can be small)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ledger Awards 2006 - Best Foreign Comic Series or Graphic Novel of the Year

Now, in terms of nominating i was considering detailing those books from international Publishers that featured Australian creators.
Those books would be (in no particular order, well possibly alphabetical)

Amazing Joy Buzzards #5 - Doug Holgate on art (admittedly i haven't read it but the preview looked great and it is Doug)
Birds of Prey #100 and 101 - Nicola Scott on art
Dectective comics #815 and #816 - written by Shane McCarthy
Fate of an Artist - Eddie Campbell on everything
Fell - with Ben Templesmith on art
Storm - David Yardin on art

and if it wasn't ruined by the art White and Campbell on Legends of the Dark Knight #200 would get a nod too. Was there any other books by Aussie creators from the 'big boys'?

but what foreign books did i like, which lacked australian creators?

Monster - tight gripping mystery adventure
Spirit and Batman - Funny and retro with great art
Scott Pilgrim #3 - just awesome
All Star Superman - Makes me actually like Superman
We can be small - funny Jeffery Brown angst and cuteness

Ledger Awards 2006 - Talent Deserving Wider Recognition

Ok, after a couple of days off wandering and wondering what this even means - because its pretty much everyone. Everyone in Australian comics needs more recognition, writers, artists, retailers and the readers all need to be recognised.
i used to just use the 24 hour challenge as a quick guide, who did a comic in thatt - that was really cool but who hadn't had anything printed or didn't have a web comic. but this year it got hard - i wasn't really paying much attention, trawling deviart and LJs, looking for someone out of the regular circle of creators.

So, the only thing i've got is a couple of zines and mini comics that i picked up at supanovi and douijicons, and zine fairs.

Again, I'm being lazy and not putting up links and images, but just so i can milk a bit more from the whole Ledger thing, I'll try and find stuff later on whenever the nomination form actually goes up.

Sean Tay - has done some stuff in Oztaku (the last issue had some great comics in it, i just wish the design of the whole thing didn't look so amatuer). I grabbed his 'New Ragey' book and its quite cool and flash - lots of zipatone which works well in the even lined inking. He has a great sense of storytelling and a very funky sense of panel layout. Very impressive.

Sebastian Grigull - his work has appeared in NeoBragi, but it was his mini Angel Feathers that caught my eye. It has a very eyecatching colour (even though its just b/w) and
very neat story - completely wordless, it still creates an interesting world, that even after 10 pages i want to know more. As an artist he actually quite well, using detail when necessary to enhance storytelling and mood like a good artist should.

I did nominate Mel Stringer's 'girlie pains' for small press but I'm nominating her for 'new talent' as well because she's saying something different, sure its still autobiographical like a lot of aussie stuff but this isn't as depressing or dark; its cute and sweet without being sentimental and saccharine, there's still enough of an edge to make it cool (mainly by way the art which forgoes anatomy and consistency to emphasis character and mood).

Whilst there may be murmurs of parochialism I have to mention some of the Adelaide crew. One of the cool things with catching up for drinks with adelaide creators is seeing sketch books and works in progress. Sarah Milne's Mary comic was around for a couple of years back in 2002 but its progressed since then - she does one panel comics which makes me laugh without resorting to explosions and poo jokes (though there's always room for improvement). She's also a very good writer and underrated artist. Clare Oakes is an awesome artist, with comics full of feelings and emotion that are a joy to read. And lastly Lucas House is a great writer who just fell on the wrongside of the cut to be nominated for Best Writer (though when nominations do come through that may change). He did a miniseries called Anthologyof Alvin which once you got past the art was very good. It started off a bit melodramatic (though i've loved melodrama since Degrassi High) the very exciting thing is the variety of techniques he employs; regular comics, narrated pin ups and he writes smart, makes the reader fill in gaps without expositioning everything, his dialogue is very close to spot on (a bit angsty at times but that's the genre I suppose). Fuck it, - he's made the cut.

but the one person who needs to be recognised wider is this dude

Friday, January 12, 2007

zap! pow! blog!

Taking a break from my ledger nominations (i think i've sed up my quoata for using the words, 'nice', 'good','cool' and 'really') , there's a really cool discussion happening in Kev Patrick's blog related to the comic exhibition I should have said something yesterday).

Some smart people, talking history and motivation. More info at pulp faction, while the actual blog is here.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ledger Awards 2006 - Artist of the Year

Some really nice art this year, with a lot of people to nominate. Finding art to post is a bugger so if you are interested start googling.

Paul Abstruse work on Witch King was pretty cool, it has a touch of Mcfarlane that tickles my geekbone. Michael Li did a stunning job in his story in Generation 2006, he so effortless creates a mood and environment, its breathtaking. Probably the creator with the most pages to his name is Ryan Wilton this year and its all pretty funky stuff, well paced and expressive (appearing in Azerath). Doug Holgate’s Sureshot Presents All Adventure Annual was some of his best (though that gridiron stuff he posted on his LJ looked awesome) – and yeah I might be biased.
Steve Martinez (Practice Cactus) is an outstanding artist, with a huge natural talent - his Mojo and Fuzz lacks a polish but the anatomy, design and storytelling is phenomenal. I hope he pulls his finger out and does some more sequential work.
I would love to see Canaan Grall do some more comic stuff that breaks out of the comic strip format, his Gypsy and Astronaut stuff was really good.
Probably the new name on the block is David Babore, he did a really cool 24 hour comic in 2005 and has done some really expessive work in Yum Yum comics (probably my favoutrite out of the more cartoony artists mentioned). And lastly Tom Bonin work on Dicks is quite nice to look at, his line isn't as clean as most of the other artists mentioned but that's part of the charm.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ledger Awards 2006 - Writer of the Year

I haven’t been exactly bowled over this year -nothing really stood out but there was some strong writers that deserve nomination.

I think the pace and plot in Azerath kind of slowed down (maybe even slumped a tad), a lot of ‘lets move from this wacky situation to the next’ which can get a bit tiring. But Daniel Lawson’s characters and dialogue are still a lot of fun to read and my complaints are really very minor criticisms. Though I’m not that into cyberstuff Matt Godden's Surfing the Deadline had some really nice moments specifically some of the internal monologue stuff.
In terms of breadth, Graeme Macdonald produced a bunch of differing titles through the new Local Act Comics publishing group. Kids comics, to scifi to crime; each title had its strengths; Millie the Pup was generally fine for a kids comic with a couple of funny moments but generally I’m not the audience and there wasn’t enough sex and/or violence or subversiveness to really enjoy it. The Ma B previews was incredibly clumsy and tedious to read (the same 3 plot points repeated on all 6 or so pages) but it looked pretty. These too comics aside Afterlife was a good read, a very slight read but still good. Vigil was the best of the lot with some strong plotting/story structure and characters, that’s got me wanting more.
Even though I did publish it, I think Doug Holgate’s writing for both his stories in Sureshot Presents All Adventure Annual as being much better than the regular competency most writer/artist creators display; in both stories the ending are a bit naff but not so much to ruin the whole thing. Checkmate Wordsworth was an imaginative and fun rollick.
It would be remiss to not nominate Christian Read for Witch King, it was a solid read – and I actually liked the various beats and plot points until the magic demons popped up to which I just rolled my eyes and remembered there’s a reason I don’t like fantasy. What I did like though was the proactive nature of the main character – not some farmboy you finds a magic wingnut that will defeat the blah blah blah but some rich kid that gets bullied and wants revenge. Now I don’t know how original that is but it doesn’t matter -i liked it.
Lastly, Daniel Reed for Crumpleton Experiments, continuing a longer story line it hits my freaky nerve.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Legder Awards 2006 - Independent Press Title of the Year

In terms of nominating great independent books (those of commercial formatting) its impossible to go past Witch King - Read, Abstruse, Magahelles, Close, Rahner, Kwok have but together a beautiful book. Whilst it is not my type of thing, the art and colour are just amazing.
I'd be a bad publisher if I didn't put Sureshot Presents in the mix, there have been 3 really strong efforts released this year that I'm insanely proud of.
Back to the Phosphorecent Comics, I'm a very big fan of Azerath and think Daniel and Ryan have done great work, whilst this year the stories have been a bit light without much direction (especially after the marketplace issue) I think its a symptom of the 4 issues a year publishing schedule, if this came out monthly/bimonthly then i could handle having such slight issues but with so few issues published a year its slightly frustrating that nothing really happened. The Azerath graphic novel might be worth a nomination as well.
As I said couple days back Generations 2006 was probably the strongest issue yet, part of me wishes that the book had the ferocity of Oztaku's marketing.
I think Phatsville is one of the most exciting anthologies released today. There is never a dud strip that looks like its been cobbled together at the last minute, the art always looks finished and professional - and whilst i may not be a fan of some of the art I can appreciate the edginess and rebillious of it and wished there was more of it in Australian comics.
In terms of anthologies I think NeoBragi should get a look. Boosa Nova Baby is also a strong book.
What happens When I Die by Jules Faber is a wonderful deep book that thankfully isn't soggy with angst and emo posturing. It is extremely well written, using metaphor and a nicely paced structure that is very satisfying. Jules also did a very nice painted book in Golgatha#1.
Welcome to Woodville by Shannon Browning was a fun clever book parodying monster films of the 50s, something quite hard to do in a fresh way.
A couple close calls was Matt Godden's Surfing the Deadline and Local Act Comics' Vigil and Afterlife, these books were written well, but the art held it back (Afterlife was well illustrated except it looked like it was a regular 6 page comic which they made into a 24 page comic by making each panel a splash page which is a bit frustrating)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ledger Awards - Small Press Title of the Year

Very tough category - my definition of small press is slightly different to the one stated at the Ledger Site; to me Small press is more like a classic zine; lo-fi production, b/w cover, less than 28 pages. It's not designed to be commercial.

Probably my favourite were the Mojo and Fuzz books by Steve Martinez (especially #1). Fun reads with a very good level of craftmanship (they are made up of 24 hour comics so there's that consideration).

Mr Smilie Face by David Thor Gunnarson is really deceptive, at first i thought it would be a one joke story, that meandered until the creator got bored and then disappeared. Whilst it certainly is tongue and cheek its nicely structured and feels like Deathwish staring Pacman but a mean drunk pacman out for revenge.

Pretty Zombie #1 was just fucking hilarious. Sex and Violence and I'm there. One page joke strips that are either incredibly cute (i like cute) or awfully gross. Well done EvilDan and Jing. (Pretty Zombie #2 is not as good , more cute with a longer storyline that wasn't as filled with the HAHA).

Whilst it has a colour cover (and not really lofi/small press) Girlie Pains Comics by Mel Stringer is so sweet and revealing that its a joy to read. Some of the strips don't make much sense but whilst they don't provide a meaningful narrative there is a nice mood which engages and satisfies.

I'm probably biased but the last 2 issues of Fist Full of Comics has been really good (the last one did feature me but it was stil good).

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Ledger Awards 2006 - Story or Single Issue of the Year

For this category i only usually nominate stories that have appeared in Anthologies, since Small Press and Independent Press can deal with the whole issue stories.

Even though there was a large number of books released in 2006, there weren't as many anthologies so it was kind of hard finding stories which had a sense of gravity and craftmanship.

This year's Generation book was probably the strongest so far with a (as always) wonderful story by Michael Li. Queenie Chan and Polshua (who's actual name i can't remember) also have really nice peices in that book. (Low Flying Spacecraft, The Two Dollar deal and Angelic Deal, respectively)

I might be biased but Mandy Ord's Comic Teacher and Poor Little Thing in Sureshot Presents Ordinary Eyeball were very good, the latter is a bit lighter but still has a bit of pathos to capture the reader.
Probably a polar opposite to Mandy's work Doug Holgates Checkmate Wordsworth in Sureshot Presents All Adventure Annual was a fun ride while being well told.

Even though Neighbours by Dean Rankine was another retelling of the Good Samaritan story it was still good.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Ledger Awards 2006 - Webcomic or Comic Strip of the Year

Usually i gloss over comic strips because they rarely satisfy my narrative needs but i've discovered a couple that have made me laugh.

Simply put - sex and violence will make me laugh pretty much everytime. In that vein, Angry Comic Shop Guy #1,#2,#3 by EvilDan were a fun read. My alltime favourite is Benson and Hedges by Giles from the Phatsville is just awesome - it appeared in Phatsville #8 and #9 and its own book this year (though a lot were repeats). Also i might be biased but i think my own VS is pretty decent.

Out of Canaan Grall's body of comic strips i liked A Girl Named Bruce the best (because of the sex and violence).

I think Owen Heitmann's Basic Wage Kids is really getting into a good groove (note i wrote 2 strips sometime back), its main advantage is consistency and the longer storylines has allowed Owen to build on jokes and characters. It does lack an edge but i can see that Owen is going for a more general audience.

I usually try and nominate 3-5 but there were so many great strips I'm including Jase Harper's great work on his daily comic (it was dailyish in september/october and had another burst in december). It was tidy simple stuff but it was actual fun, full of personality.

Lastly Sirive's Face stuff is very funny and a daily read for me ("Less rapes more japes").

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ledger Awards 2006 - Production Design of the Year

In terms of design, I wasn't that impressed, looking at the covers of the various books scattered around my office floor nothing is really jumping at me - there are some shockers and some decent looking books but very few 'wow' books.

Probably the standount is Witchking, it has a strong cover, sensible layout and fantastic colouring. As a matter of fact most of the Phosporescent Comics stuff in recent years has looked good (Azaerath #10 had a very simple eyecatching cover). Their new website looks really nice (i always forget websites are included) so I think Karen Howard should get some props.

Matt Huynh's Lost Baggage is very nice in its handmade well-considered look, as does perennial design wiz Tonia Walden's Meus Officium Est Abyssus, but part of me thinks that these hand made books are all well and good but are so limited in distribution because of the cost and time required to make them very few people get to see them. Making things for mass market requires an ability to cut corners but still make things stand out. But having said that, these two creators still have produced lovely books.

I very much liked the way Canaan Grall's books were packages at Supanova, simple personalised brown paper bag, (yes i can be easily impressed with brownpaper) the comics themselves were very nice with colourful covers which gave you a sense of what the comic is about. Similarly The cover to Rocksalt #1 is eyecatching but the book suffers from some glaring admissions like price, date and credits.

And I'd like to put up my own name for Sureshot Presents, i'm biased but i think that they are smart looking books that are value for money.

Otherwise for non-comic books Gary Lau's Shiranui looked very hot and as a more traditional zine Bad Teeth by Glenn Manders was hell sexy.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ledger Awards 2006 - Retailer of the Year

I visited a couple more shops this year, and though on a visit or two its hard to appreciate the level of service people with pullboxes, these are some of the shops i've liked.

Pulp Fiction Comics - Adelaide
This is my home store but i only shop there because of the passion and enthusiasm of its owner Peter. The shop is small and looks cluttered and the lack of natural light makes it look dirty, but in terms of service its awesome. Every month the shop sponsors drinks at a local pub where fans and creators chat and drink. The website might look a bit 2000, it has all the information you need. A fine supporter of local comics - he has a designated area near the entrance and cashier. He goes all out for FCBD and actively seeks media attention for his shop (biased alert - the shop sponsored the 24 hour challenge). He is building a relationship with libraries which can only be good for the visibility of comics as a medium.

Impact - Canberra
I've never been to this shop, but Mal is a big supporter of Sureshot Presents and other Australian titles. A sponsor of the 24 Hour challenge, i really like his annual signings as a way of people connecting with local creators - i wish other shops did this.

Otherwise I think, besides the shrinkwrapping, Minotaur is doing a good job. And Kings is always a good clean respectable store.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Ledger Awards 2006 - Achievement of the Year

The output of Australian books was pretty good, i have a stack of about 100 books scattered on my floor all released in the last year. Not that I've been keeping track but that seems really high, so it seems people were head down ass up and drawing comics, instead of doing other stuff.

I scratched my head thinking of nominees.
I don't usually nominate people for the simple act of releasing a book or getting work, that's what is supposed to happen so with a red raw scalp;

Kevin Patrick's Victorian Gallery exhibition on the Histrory and scope of Australian
comics is very good, whilst i haven't seen it, it does have a high profile and seems successful.
Benzin Bullock and Brett Weekes also both held exhibitions in Adelaide and Brisbane which went well.

Avi Bernshaw (Egofreaky)'s Doujicon was fun, not particular successful from my point of view as a seller but still quiet the feat in organisation. I'm looking forward to the next one, where some of the kinks get knocked out.

In terms of being slightly biased, the Ozcomic 24 Hour Challenge was very good in 2006, because of the hard work of Troy Keally, Jacen Carpeter and Maggie McFee (I was also slightly involved- the fuck ups were mine).