Last two episodes of Air Hawk and The Flying Doctors Sunday strip "The Missile" illustrated by Hart Amos in collaboration with Air Hawk creator John Dixon, and published in October 1974. Amos worked with writer/artist Dixon on Air Hawk from 1970-1977. Two collections of Air Hawk strips are available from Comicoz with a third volume due this year.
The revamped Ledger Awards are on tonight at the State Library of Victoria. The ceremony starts at 7:30pm and features a performance of the Shipwright and the Banshee by cartoonistmuso's Christopher Downes and Joshua Santospirito.
Among the sponsors of this years awards are the wonderful Jeffries Printing in Sydney. Admire their stunning Pat Grant graphics below:
The shortlist for the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards are:
Ambient Yeast. Pat Grant (self published)
The ANZAC Legend. Dave Dye (self published)
Art as Life. MP Fikaris (Silent Army)
At Work Inside Our Detention Centres: A Guard’s Story. Sam Wallman, Pat Grant et al. (The Global Mail)
Awkwood. Jase Harper (Milk Shadow Books)
Brothers. Andrew Fulton (self published)
Blood and Bone. Tom O’Hern (San Kessto)
Bug. Scarlette Baccini (self published)
Burger Force #15-18. Jackie Ryan (self published)
Captain Congo: The Perils of Pug. Ruth Starke, writer. Greg Holfeld, artist. (from The School Magazine)
Dark Hope Legacies. Phil Spinks, Chris James Melkizedek (Dark Hope Comics)
Dies Horny and Afraid. Andrew Fulton (self published)
Fortress of Regrets. Katie Parrish (self published)
Frankie Holliday. Nic Lawson (self published)
Gasoline Eye Drops. Chris Gooch (self published)
Gazer. Carla McRae (self published)
Gente Corriente. Vincent Zabus, writer. Thomas Campi, artist. (Ediciones La Cúpula)
In the Tasmania. Christopher Downes (self published)
Itty Bitty Bunnies in Rainbow Pixie Candy Land Save Xmas. Dean Rankine (Action Lab/Danger Zone)
Kudelka and First Dog’s Spiritual Journey. Jon Kudelka and Andrew Marlton (self published)
Megahex. Simon Hanselmann (Fantagraphics)
Modern Polaxis. Sutu et al. (self published)
Monster Zero. Frank Candiloro (FrankenComics)
Mr Unpronounceable and the Sect of the Bleeding Eye. Tim Molloy (Milk Shadow Books)
Ned Kelly. Monty Wedd (Comicoz)
Neomad #3. Sutu & Love Punks (Gestalt)
OI OI OI #2 .Various (Comicoz)
Onna-bugeisha. Frank Candiloro (FrankenComics)
Pinocchio. David Chauvel, writer. Tim McBurnie, artist. (Editions Delcourt)
Pistoleras. Frank Candiloro (FrankenComics)
Seven #4. Alisha Jade (self published)
The Squidder. Ben Templesmith (44Flood/IDW)
Squishzine Brunstown. Various (Squishface Studio)
Teen Dog #1-3. Jake Lawrence (Boom! Studios)
Thistle. Sarah Howell (self published)
Tristian and the Gaza Strip. David Blumenstein (self published)
Two Posh Old Ladies Who Found Themselves in a Bit of a Zombie Apocalypse. Nic Lawson (self published)
Very Quiet, Very Still. Chris Gooch (Optic Pop)
We’m. Andrew Fulton (self published)
“When is A Door Not a Door?” Jen Breach, Douglas Holgate (from Explorer: The Hidden Doors, Amulet Books)
Roger Langridge writes about the year to come.
All Star Comics in Melbourne are my LCS, happy to see them relocating to a bigger main street premises at, ground level, 53 Queen Street in 2015. The Eisner winning All Star are a great example of comics retailing done right and well worth seeking out if you are visiting Melbourne.
Comicoz announce an ambitious coffee table anthology of Australian cartoonists for 2015. (picture possibly not relevant but it was handy.)
Catching up on 2014 links: AV Club interview Simon Hanselmann.
Above: Examples of John Dixon's Crimson Comet comics from the 1940's. I mentioned it yesterday but as an excuse to run some more lovely John Dixon art from yesteryear: Nat Karmichael via Comicoz recently shared the news of veteran Australian cartoonist John Dixon entering into palliative care in his Californian home. Nat has suggested any fans of Dixon or Australian comics in general to send well wishing cards to Dixon via Comicoz.
Hey look at these New Zealand editions of Flash Gordon comics that I couldn't afford to bid on.
Kelly Sheehan reviews Nothing Fits by Mary Tanblyn and Alex McCrone.
Paper Trail masthead courtesy of Toby Morris.
Australasian Comic reviews by Philip Bentley
Oi Oi Oi ! #2 (ComicOz, 2014)
As stated previously it is not my intention to run repeat reviews of ongoing series every time a new issue is released. Having explored the work as initially presented my preference is then to allow it to find its own way out of the harsh light of constant critiquing. However Matt has specifically asked me to review this issue so here goes…
The first issue of this newsagent distributed anthology presented a wide variety of strips, that whilst often individually excellent, to my eyes, failed to jell as a whole. This issue delivers a much more cohesive selection, even if I don’t feel they reach the heights that some of the former issue’s strips did in isolation
Some may attribute this greater cohesion to the fact that all contributors are women, but that seems a fairly fatuous proposal – all bar one of the creators in the first issue were men and there was no apparent concord. Instead the cohesion appears to be fostered by there being a more harmonious mix of styles and stories, and also via some thematic and narrative linkages – a number of the strips are wordless, or largely so, and the theme of metamorphosis/rebirth is evident. But that an entire issue is capable of being filled with quality strips by women is still worthy of note. For much of the last century most comic readers and creators, both here and overseas, were men. So this move does indicate a significant and welcome shift.
The two stand out strips for me are Madeleine Karutz’s untitled opening story and Scarlette Baccini’s “Bug”, as it would happen the two wordless contributions. A wordless strip is generally more challenging to produce, but both these creators pull it off effectively presenting some evocative scenes. Alisha Jade’s “Seven” shows promise and demonstrates a pleasing art style, but given it is but chapter one of part one it is hard to be sure on the story. The other strips are by, Caitlin Major, Sarah Firth and Mel Stringer, with the latter’s fairly naïve style being at bit at odds with the rest of the work, and not as well-realised as some other strips I have seen by her. Kudos also to Lesley Vamos for a nicely delineated cover, even if I fear it is too lacking in a dominant feature to fully fulfil its purpose.
But in case all this has been seen as a disincentive to purchasing let me be clear in stating that despite my reservations about some elements, on average I find both issues to be of decent quality and certainly worth picking up. Merely from a monetary point of view $8 for six or seven quality strips is a steal. And a point that I neglected to mention above is that half this issue’s 36pp is in full colour for no extra cost. (It is particularly well-utilised by Baccini; not so sure that Major makes as good use of it.) You may not like every strip but that’s part and parcel of the anthology experience. But you may also find you end up liking work you wouldn’t otherwise have read.
Oi Oi Oi! #2 is currently available in bookshops and newsagents across Australia as well as from the ComicOz online store.
Australasian Comic reviews by Philip Bentley
Oi Oi Oi ! #1 (ComicOz, 2014)
Dailies #4 (Silent Army, 2014)
When local comic production spluttered into life again in the 1980s after a lull of around 20 years, non-themed anthologies were the initial mode of choice. From Inkspots to Fox Comics and on to Ozcomics and Cyclone, anthologies were seen as a way to showcase the greatest number of creators in the shortest amount of space. However all of these publications struggled to reach their market which wasn’t that big to begin with. Newsagent distribution proved an expensive and wasteful procedure, while local comic shops (and their patrons) were fairly disinterested.
Since those times we have had the brief ‘golden summer’ of the 1990s, when local comics seemed to gain some sort of foothold only to lose it just as quickly. Later in the decade Deevee, a non-themed anthology, sustained itself for just under 20 issues, primarily through overseas sales, by anchoring itself with a creator with international clout (Eddie Campbell). Deevee, though, was the last of its kind. Since then the preference has been for themed anthologies or single story books. The received wisdom has been that anthologies, whether themed or not, do not sell that well despite them being popular with creators for providing an outlet.
So it is interesting that over the past few years a few significant non-themed anthologies have re-emerged. I welcome this as personally I feel this mode has a lot to offer. The two above come at it from different directions, so a comparison is revealing.
Nat Karmichael’s Oi Oi Oi! seems a throwback to the 1980s with its emphasis on its Australian roots and newsstand distribution. In other ways it has gone beyond these times by proposing a quarterly schedule and paying contributors. But that some element of the 1980s is present may not be that surprising given Karmichael also made a contribution to anthologies in that decade by being involved with The Australian Comics Group (one issue, 1982). Later he published a magazine reprinting the newspaper strip Air Hawk (six issues, 1980's-1990), with a softcover collection in 2011 and a second volume in hardcover of Air Hawk in 2013. He followed it up this year with one of another newspaper strip, Monty Wedd's Ned Kelly.
Since the cessation of Tango in 2009 local comic aficionados have lamented the absence of a substantial anthology to showcase the burgeoning talents this country has been producing. So Karmichael is to be congratulated at having a go at providing it. The results though are mixed. From a perspective of the work alone Karmichael has been wise enough to largely use established creators so there are no duds to be found. That said, to me, the book is largely lacking any inner cohesion. Now I admit this is a fairly abstract element and there are no rules about how you achieve it, but for me the best anthologies have any inner synergy where the works spark off one another to produce something that is greater than the sum of its parts. For me this element is absent here.
It’s true a number of the works do address some element of Australiana, but otherwise they have little in common visually or thematically. Cartooning flights of fancy from Rob Feldman and Glenn Le Lievre are juxtaposed with more dramatic works, such as a tale set in 1930s Tasmania by Tony Thorne (making a welcome return to the printed page after a gap of 20 odd years), and one of Steve Carter and Antoinette Ryder’s patented fantasy adventures (considerably toned down from their usual fare). These are leavened with an amusing slice of life tale by Dillon Naylor, a thought-provoking commentary on the medium by Bruce Mutard and the first nine pages of Joshua Santospirito’s renowned graphic novel Long Weekend in Alice Springs. All of these would be acceptable on their own but here just seem to be taking the work in too many directions at once.
Karmichael may have felt that bringing together as wide a collection of styles and stories as possible would help his cause. I’m not sure if this is the case. It depends what purchasing criteria his potential readers use. It’s true that some people use an ‘opt in’ approach where if they see a few works they like they will buy the book regardless of there being some that they don’t. But others use the opposite approach and won’t buy anything that contains a number of strips that don’t appeal.
But again I am not sure what market Karmichael is aiming for. The comic reading community in this country seem more diverse than ever and I’m not sure that many would purchase an Australian comic purely because it is an Australian comic. Judging from his cover, contents and editorial, though, Karmichael may have set his sights at a general readership above and beyond those who identify with being comic fans. This is a big ask given that while comics may no longer be a pariah medium in this country there is still a general indifference to the medium. I have observed some greater interest amongst the literati and Gen Y but I wouldn’t have thought these would have been ones to be particularly swayed by an emphasis on Australiana.
Certainly from the perspective of the general market I would have to query the inclusion of Mutard’s strip – probably too self-referential – Carter and Ryder’s – even toned down possibly too violent – and Santospirito’s which reads like what it is – the beginning of a much longer work.
But I do welcome the book’s existence and wish it a long life, even if I fear that like most of its ilk in this country its tenure will be brief.
The Silent Army occupy what they call the experimental end of the comic scene in this country, in particular Melbourne. Having begun in the early 2000s, from roots in the 1990s, they have some history in the medium and over the years have published approaching 30 different works. Originally a loose collective these days the major organising appears to have fallen to Michael Fikaris, who has been responsible for this journal, four issues of which have been published since 2012.
Originally non-themed this issue takes as its theme Melbourne, although this is pretty loosely interpreted in many cases. Over the 64 pages a variety of artists, both new and established, ply their trade in approximately one page per contributor. Some provide illustrations rather than strips and there are other oddities like strips in untranslated Indonesian.
This brevity does limit the amount of depth contributors can reach so perhaps it is not surprising that the most successful strips, for me, come from established creators such as Jase Harper, Andrew Weldon, Tim Molloy, Mandy Ord and David Blumenstein. Other worthwhile contributions come from a couple of older creators making welcome returns, at least to my eyes, Amber Carvan and Stratu.
Most of these works could be loosely termed ‘undergroundy’ or perhaps ‘indie’ is a better description as there isn’t much here that could be called taboo. How much is ‘experimental’ is debatable, but one man’s experiment is another’s confusion. In my eyes, though, experimentation can be as much to do with the story as with the art. Interestingly, in this regard, I would actually say that Oi Oi Oi ! contains works that are more experimental, or at least novel, in terms of story. Mutard’s exegesis on the comic form certainly fits the bill and how many other works have been set in 1930s Tasmania or prehistoric Australia?
But despite the ephemeral nature of much of this I still would say there is a greater amount of cohesion than is found in Oi Oi Oi! Most of these artists appear to be on the same page creatively and partaking of a similar mindset. Thus it is unfortunate that this is apparently the last Dailies for the foreseeable future as Michael Fikaris wishes to put his energies elsewhere.