Monday, March 31, 2008

Thanks for liberally smoking

Well, i don't smoke. I don't really care if others do, I worked with all types of vile gases and dusts so second hand smoke doesn't bother me. Well, actually I do care about stinking like shit the morning after going out, but I don't really go out anymore so its a moot point.

But I am sort of interested in the way the anti-smoking brigade has pretty much been ineffectual.

Warning labels on packets of smokes - dud
Graphic images on smoke packets - dud
Graphic ads on TV - dud
Lessons at school - dud

None have really seem to have made a great differnce.

I had the idea to do a comic with John Howard thanking smokers for their tax money. The original draft was first written 3 years ago with the intent to finally publish it on No Tobacco day, but since I never actually knew when that was (Its not in my Daily Dilbert Desk Calendar) it sat on my computer. Of course it would have been more powerful with Howard still in power, with Rudd as PM smokers can say "Yeah my smoking is helping do all the good stuff!"
But in my mind MY income tax and money from my groceries goes to education and hospitals, but SMOKER's cigarette taxes goes to pay the wages of Opposition backbenchers and overseas trips.

So a slightly redrafted two pager - Thankyou for liberally smoking

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mitsibushi Closes - navel gazing 380

From about 1989, when I was 14 to 1998 i spent various summers working as a Trades Assistant on various sites. I worked at a foundry and tyre factory and would end up dirty and sooty, coughing up black. I worked a snack food factory which seemed great at first, scooping up hot crisps and corn chips fresh from the fryer but you quickly realise you just ate 10 handfuls of warn unflavoured crap directly from a vat of boiling oil. Plus after crawling through A/C ducts cleaning filters you ended feeling greasy. Working labratories and private homes was ooookay but you had to be so tidy and careful that you spent too much time trying pussyfooting around you never got anything done.
My favourite was working at Mitsubishi - it was close to home (i could walk) and it was relatively comfortable and clean. I enjoyed decommissions - which entailed just taking shit apart - ripping through metal with a grinders and oxy torches, bashing stuff with hammers and pinch bars, destroying 30 tonnes of metal over a couple of weeks. It was more fun than having to lay 5km of pipework 6 metres above the ground or installing massive runs of duct work where the powers that be have it measured it out to the millimetre (with no gap for error) so you spend more time making (ie forcing) things fit than putting things together. Since i was the low man i had to do all the painting (which they always made me do once it was installed instead of beforehand), sealing with sticky-sticky sealant, sweeping (i was always careful not to turn my brain completely off because i feared i'd re-enact Turbo's Broom scene in Breakin') and generally carrying everyone's tools.

But i worked with some great guys; the welder who showed me how to plan out a job and get it done - skills i use in Project Management; the plumber who instilled a love of jazz; the electrician who's general good dispostion after 9 days of 8+ hour days was unfathomable but well appreciated. All guys who i still think fondly about and hope to catch up at some xmas reunion party.
It was good to work as a contractor in ever-changing groups, with all types of people in an effort to get a usually not fun job done. You learn patience, problem solving, keeping personalities from ripping each other apart. Like the guy who would periodically ask "When do you wink at a -insert racial epitaph here-?" and then make out he was looking down a rifle scope. He'd get a bit cranky if you'd finish the joke for him, so you'd have to put up with string of degoratory terms and then meekly laugh. There was the good natured speed-freak who had a new computer component every week which he would describe in great detail in an effort to impress (at this point i had no idea about computers - and some say still don't). There were the bikers (the anglo one who hated immigrants and his Maori mate) who invited me to Bikie events because they were doing security and it would be fun and then were surprised when i declined (i was 16).

The last summer i worked at Mitsubishi, i was the longest serving employee of the contracting company (tells you something about the company) and somehow that gave me the ability to provide Safety Talks that Mitsubishi now required all contractors to undertake. So I mumbled for 3 minutes stuff like 'don't run power leads over puddles', 'wear some type of glasses when using a grinder' 'wash your hands'. That summer i almost killed a group of electricians milling around a console when i dropped a sheet of corrogated iron (.9 x1.8m) from 3 stories up, it missed the group but gouged a nice gash into the cement floor. I skitted down asap and casually picked up the sheet "hey fellas, sure is hot ain't it? how about the cricket?". I believe a walk out was barely averted.

Well, yesterday was the last time those guys walked out. The factory is now closed after 40 years of producing cars. It seemed like a good place to work. The social club raised hundreds of thousands for charity. And simply in a world where things just seem to be made by faceless people somewhere else, it shows that regular people created a good car in good conditions. Its hard to comprehend that there are workers that have been there for 20, 30 years. Belonging to a generation that flits and skips positions at whims, its hard to understand the loyalty of wanting to work for one company for more than 10 years. Possibly more admirable is working in manufacturing for so long - the patience, fulfilment of doing essentially the same thing 48 weeks a year for so many years. And now its over, losing a job you like sucks, especially when that job gets cut from the company for financial reasons. Having to move on, knowing that you did nothing wrong, is hard to do.

Being one of the few factories in the southern suburbs i hope that something takes its place soon. But theres something reflective about watching those guys file out of the factory gates, opening their bags to be half-heartedly peered at by the security just like i had to do 10 years back, looking for the next job.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I couldn't car less

I sold my car couple weeks back and therefore I have no car to call my own. I've owned a car since i was 17 and was pretty much always dependent on them. Truthfully, i was always wary of people who didn't drive - especially those who didn't have their license. What were they afraid of? Fear of failing? What was stopping them? Realise, that this is Adelaide, a suburban sprawled city with a lame excuse for public transport - subsequently driving is necessity. This distrust was exacerbated by working and hanging around people who would sponge lifts, constantly.

My first car was an 1976 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT, a beautiful looking car which could move - from the lights in was mediocre but once it got over 80km/hr it picked up and handled well. Only problem was that it was essentially a italian styled red hole that consumed more cash from my pocket than petrol (an amazing 13L per 100km, which is just crazy for 1.6L engine).
I sold that to a friend - who essentially did the same, did it up and then sold it for peanuts - and bought myself a brand new car; a Hyundai.

It was pedestrian and practical but once i started in the city it was barely driven. I was spending money on registration and insurance and barely doing 500km a year. I got the calculator out and did the mathematics and realised that with the needed new tires and service, plus petrol I'd be better off sticking with Public Transport or if need be using taxis. I could do one return taxi trip to the city, once a week and still be ahead financially.

So yeah, the car is gone and i have to think ahead when organising errands for myself. So I'll be sponging lifts off my friends soon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Instantaneous 3 - Adelaide Comic Art Exhibition

I never did get around to posting an indepth look at the pieces in last year's second Instantaneous Comic Art Exhibition and Auction, held last December. It was a classy affair where 40-50 pieces of comic art, specifically individual panels, were displayed and auctioned with the money going to a soup kitchen charity.

Here's a recap from last year, I tried to get scans of the other pieces but wasn't able to but here is mine, which now proudly hangs above someone's bed. I bought this piece by Owen Heitmann, after eyeballing the competing bidder.

The text in the scan read "He awoke to the remnants of her breakfast and his perpetual melancholy."

It follows on the emo, minimalist shtick i started with my first piece; (3 white dots on a black background).

Which leads us to the next Instantaneous exhibition - pieces are due 21st of March at Pulp Fiction Comics but you needed to pre-register first. The exhibition will coincide with Free Comic Book Day, May 6.

The hardest part for me this year is that i need to figure out how not to draw 3 panels instead of just one, as the accompanying booklet places the panel in context.

Anyway there's more information at Pulp Fiction Comics.

Monday, March 17, 2008

On the Fringe at the Zine Fair

On Day 13 of the Heatwave that Melted Adelaide, the Fringe Zine Fair took place at on old industrial bakery in the middle of Adelaide. It was the first time it had been positioned in a dedicated area as opposed to the first two fairs where it was in a lane just off the main cafe strip.

This lead to the first observation, there were less passer-bys, less traffic BUT those who did turn up were interested enough in zines and DYI publications to make the effort.

I brought the full run of Sureshot Presents and my own VS; 10 copies of each and sold out of Doug's flipbook, sold out of Weber's Crab Allan book and sold 7 copies of VS. I expected the Guide to Australian Comics not to get to many sales - it sold 3 copies. What was most disappointing was Mandy Ord's book which i expected to be right up the alley for alternative hipsters and non-comic people. It grew cobwebs. I discovered that the Sticky stall had copies for sale but I didn't ask if they had sold any. I know that Mandy has sold at least 150 copies and we did a reprint (200 more for her) - I've sold about 130 and have 30 copies left. All in all I sold about half i would sell in a whole supanova weekend or at the first Doujicon which is ok since it cost me a train ticket and 5 hours of time.

I was joined by Owen Heitmann and EvilDan who also sold comics. Jing turned up later to steal my customers. Dan did well selling his Angry Comic Shop guy and Pretty Zombies; Owen did well selling other people's stuff. We left early because we are punk-rock like that (actually i had to scoot home to prepare dinner for 7).

It was a good and I'm feeling like publishing more stuff, so as always if you want to make money from your 32+ page self contained story, let me know

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Adelaide Fringe Zine fair

For the realz culture, the Adelaide Fringe Zine fair is happening at the old Balfours factory on saturday.

I'll be there with the few Sureshots and VS i have left. Owen Heitman will be there and others. It will be cool AND hot.