Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Betty Roland

Betty Roland was born Mary Isobel Maclean at Kaniva in Victoria in 1903. Over the course of her life she wrote plays, screenplays, novels, childrens books and comics. After a start in journalism during her teens, Roland wrote highly regarded plays in the twenties with her award winning play, A Touch of Silk, performed and radio broadcast many times over the years, most recently on Australia's ABC Radio National earlier this year. After the failure of her first marriage Roland booked passage to England and upon the voyage began a relationship with wealthy Marxist intellectual Guido Baracchi, one of the founders of the Australian Communist Party. After experiences in the USSR and Nazi Germany Roland's later work became agitprop and of a political nature. After separation from Baracchi in the 40's Roland supported herself and her young daughter writing radio plays and a daily comic strip, The Conways, for The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Conways was illustrated by commercial artist John Santry and ran from 10th November 1946 to the middle of 1949 when it was replaced by American strip Kit Conquest. In 1952 Roland moved to England and wrote for magazines such as Harper's Bazaar, Woman's Weekly, and Woman's Own. She also wrote adventure strips and stories for Eagle's companion comic Girl and their younger counter-part Swift. In 1951 she legally changed her name to her pen name Betty Roland.

Roland moved back to Australia in 1961 and wrote many novels in her latter years as well as helping found the Australian Society of Authors. Steve Holland at Bear Alley has an excellent article covering her work in English comics.

Angela and the Runaway Heiress from Girl Annual 1962. Written by Betty Roland and illustrated by Dudley Pout.

Sources: Steve Holland at , Panel By Panel - John Ryan, Girl Annual 1962, National Library of Australia

Thanks to Phil Rushton from the forums for tipping me off to Betty Roland

Stitt Autobiographics

Guest's gathered in RMIT's Storey Hall on Tuesday 15 Sept to celebrate the launch of Alexander Stitt's, Stitt Autobiographics, from Melbourne publisher Hardie Grant. An over-sized coffee table book, Stitt Autobiographics features over 1800 illustrations drawn from Stitt's fifty year career in graphic design. Animation stills, Advertising campaigns, comic strips, credit sequences, childrens books and more are included demonstrating Stitt's stylistic use of imagery in various aspects of Australian media.

From the Hardie Grant press release:

Stitt's virtuosity is the stuff of legend among his family, friends, colleagues, clients and associates. He singlehandedly produced some of the first television commercials ever seen in Australia before he turned 20. Stitt Autobiographics started as a digital assembly of work produced over Stitt's 50-year career as a graphic designer and evolved into a personal account of how, why and for whom the work happened, who helped and how it all worked out. The book includes more than 1800 illustrations, as well as pages of comic strips and whole small books, storyboards and film title frames. It has some terrible flops as well as some fabulous success stories. Like most of what Alex Stitt creates, the book is a one-off original.

Buy a copy of Stitt Autobiographics with free shipping and at half retail price here.

Alex Stitt watches as Phillip Adams alludes to their creative circle having been replaced by  replicants from Philip K. Dick novel 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?'

 Alex Stitt and cartoonist Peter Foster. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Seduction of the Innocent

 From the Fri 4th Dec 1953 edition of Brisbane's The Courier Mail:

From Sat 3 Oct 1953 edition of Brisbane's The Courier Mail:

Australia and New Zealand experienced their own 'Seduction of the Innocent' with the frequent publication of articles about the 'comic book menace' faced by parents of the day. The article above paints a picture of 'sub standard literature' to the amount of an estimated sixty million copies being sold annually during the 1950's across Australia.

 From Thurs 22 July 1954 edition of Brisbane's The Courier Mail:

'A number of comic books will disappear from Queensland bookstalls after next week-end.They are publications which have been classed as 'objectionable' by the State Literature Board of Review. A Government Gazette order banning their distribution will be published on Saturday. After yesterday's Literature Board meeting, the chairman (Mr. W. G. Hamilton) said the board 'did not intend to release a list of publications at present.' 'An offence' Mr. Hamilton said: 'The board decided to prohibit, by order, the distribution in Queensland of certain publications of the type popularly known as comics. 'The order will be published in the Government Gazette on Saturday, 'Upon publication in the Gazette, the distribution — including sale and offering for sale— of any of this literature in Queensland, will be an offence.' The board last week drew up a list of about 10 publications it regarded as objectionable. Almost all of these were comic books.'

Several years earlier this article from the Sat 17 Sep 1938 edition of The Courier Mail states that newspaper strips such as Larry Whittington's Fritzi Ritz, Chic Young's Blondie and Floyd Gottfredson's, Mickey Mouse would be subject to censorship.

In 1950 a Mrs E. Perley in attendance at a Liberal Party convention in Sydney made the claim that 'immoral' comic strips were being smuggled into Australia via letters and cigarette packages. A resolution to consider the banning of publication of these strips was carried unanimously.

The Courier-Mail Saturday 24 July in 1954 had the following article outlining bannings of specific titles and examples of immorality.

In the 10 Sept 1951 edition of The Courier Mail Professor Murdoch wrote in defence of comics, encouraging reform rather than abolition.

Sources: The National Library of Australia

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Walking to Japan Comic Launch

Melbourne Cartoonist Ben Hutchings launches his new comic, Walking To Japan, this Tuesday at the Toff in Town. Walking To Japan is the first of a few projects he has lined up with Milk Shadow Books. I had a quick chat via email with Ben about his new work.

What was the basis behind publishing Walking To Japan in Newspaper format?

We were thinking of alternative sizes. The mini size is too small.  Normal American size is annoying, and A4 is ugly. Then I suddenly remembered and thought that would be a novelty, and great for the detailed panels. It's a 16 page story I think, and the whole comic is 20 pages. There are a few full page panels that I spent one or two days on.   

What else do you have lined up with Milk Shadow Books?

You Stink #10 is underway. I had already posted most of it online though, and I thought that would be disappointing for a lot of people. So I am replacing most of it with new content except for one or two of my favorite stories that people will have read online. The style of most of the strips in #10 is that really loud, ridiculous style with fairly crude drawings. So we are talking about releasing that within the next couple of months. Milk Shadow will also be doing the third Lesson Master reprint, and Handball Heaven too! We even talked about the possibility of doing the second You Stink collection 6-10. How rad would that be, eh?  

What do you have prepared for the Walking To Japan launch party ?

Yeah, the first hour will be just be us selling our comics, and swanning about chatting and being charming to everybody, so turn up on the dot OK? But i wanna recommend people do stay for the bands and burlesque. The reason is that after chattin' comix, we'll be sitting and drawing while the bands play with the lights down and I get such a kick out of drawing stupid drawings for people, especially when they actually look good, ho ho.

Do you think you'll publish in newspaper format again?

Wow, I haven't even seen it yet. Gotta touch it and smell it and inspect the line quality close up. James sounded excited by it on email, and the process of making it was really fun.  Ask me again after the launch!

Walking To Japan preview here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sunday Star Times - Comics

From the Sunday Star Times July 2nd 1995. Mark Paul pictured in the article founded the Mark One franchise of comic shops in New Zealand that at one point numbered 17 across the country.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stuart Peterson


 Stuart Peterson from Vane Lindesay's Drawing from Life

(Archibald) Stuart Peterson (1900-1976) was one of many Australian journalists and cartoonists during the hey day of newspapers that spent a portion of their career in New Zealand. Born in Adelaide Peterson studied at the National Gallery Schools in Melbourne before taking up a position as editorial cartoonist on the New Zealand Free Lance (1927-34).  Returning to Sydney in 1934, Peterson worked freelance before becoming the main political cartoonist for the Sydney Sun and Sunday Sun after Tom Glover's death in 1938. Tom Glover, an englishman raised in New Zealand, cartooned for the Truth in New Zealand for eleven years before crossing the Tasman to work for the Sydney Bulletin and the Sydney Sun. Upon Glover's death in 1938 at 47, he was regarded with such prominence that a State funeral procession was held through the city. Peterson also contributed cartoons to The Bulletin in the 1920s and 30s.

The Following examples of Stuart Peterson's work are taken from the New Zealand Freelance February 28, 1934.



Whilst in New Zealand Peterson produced book plate designs for the New Zealand Ex Libris Society.


Published in two volumes in 1930 and 1934, Legends of the Maori was illustrated by Peterson and edited by early New Zealand historian James Cowan from the writings of Sir Maui Pomare. Peterson's illustrations for Volume two can be seen in full here. During April 15th - May 6th 1931, Easton's Gallery at 55 Willis St Wellington hosted an exhibition of 59 of Peterson's drawings and etchings including work from The Legends of the Maori volumes.

Examples of Stuart Peterson's work for Legends of the Maori

Sources: Vane Lindesay - Drawing From Life, Ian F. Grant - The Unauthorised Version A Cartoon History of New Zealand,  Joan Kerr  - A. Stuart Peterson Biography , New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, New Zealand Freelance and Pictorial Weekly, The New Zealand Railways Magazine.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Drawn From Life

With more than a dozen events involving cartoonists in the Melbourne Writers Festival this year the expanding presence of Cartoonists has seen the production of a cartoon newspaper featuring 27 local and international cartoonists. Oslo Davis edited and produced the project and answered a few questions for me about Drawn From Life.

What was the print run of Drawn From Life?

35,000. We handed out 12,000 at 6 train stations on the morning of Friday the 26th of August, and the rest were handed out and picked up at the Melbourne Writers Festival at Fed Square and ACMI.

Were there any difficulties in coordinating the twenty-seven cartoonists featured in Drawn From Life?
Not really, there were some people who were too busy to be involved, but mostly I got who I wanted and everyone got their work in on time. A couple struggled with the concept, and I left my own contribution to the last minute so felt under the pump a bit, but we all worked through it.

I really enjoyed working with everyone, especially the extremely talented Colombian Diego Patino who did the cover - that was a very important part to get right.

With the expanding presence of local and international cartoonists in the Melbourne Writers Festival program do you think Drawn From Life could become a regular fixture?

Many people have asked if this could become more regular, but I am not sure if I could be the one to continue it. Not that I haven't enjoyed it, mind, but I need to step away from it for a while. Also, it will depend on funding and sponsorship.

What was the response to the distribution of Drawn From Life on selected train routes in Melbourne?
Very good. People came to the stations looking for it. Most were surprised to get it (in many cases it was thrust into their hands so they didn't have a choice!). There was no one 'type' of person who took a copy: everyone from students to business men to old people to housewives (or at least people who were dressed like housewives, whatever housewives dress like ...) took a copy and read it.

How did you go about selecting contributors for Drawn From Life? and what was the lead in time?
I had the luxury of a lot of time to select the artists I wanted in Drawn From Life. I came up with a 'hit list' and then worked with Steve Grimwade and the staff at the Melbourne Writers Festival to refine the list and contact the artists. I was in the fortunate position of choosing people whose work I liked, and those whose work I wanted to see more of, hence the mixed-bag nature of it all. Obvious I have been a fan of Bruce Petty and Ron Tandberg for many years, but I was also keen to see them alongside some up-and-comings and little-knowns, like Rebecca Hayes and picnick.

Interview conducted via email September 2011

Drawn From Life Contributors

Sarah Howell    Bruce Mutard     Fiona Katauskas    Jon Kudelka     Mandy Ord     Andrew Joyner    Judy Horacek
Matthew Martin    Jo Waite

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bits and Pieces

Comic writer and Milk Shadow Books maestro James Andre teams up with Ben Smith for a reading at The Bendigo Hotel in Collingwood, Melbourne this month. This is the first part of a series of readings of lower brow literature put on by Horror Sleaze Trash. Snazzy poster by Jase Harper.

An upcoming Melbourne Exhibition of works by Tim Molloy

Katie Houghton Ward talks about her work from Wellington, NZ

Click here for an Mp3 of Jim Woodring's recent talk at the Melbourne Writer's Festival. Link Expires 10 Sept 2011.

 Panel from Jim Woodring's contribution to the Drawn From Life free Newspaper produced for the Melbourne Writer's Festival 2011

A preview of Illustrator and political cartoonist Chris Grosz's graphic novel adaption of Kimble Bent: Malcontent adapted from James Cowan's novel. For those with short attention spans comics start around the 2.00 mark.

From Random House's release:

Kimble Bent: Malcontent vividly portrays Bent's life as a Pakeha Maori, his assimilation into tribal life and his observation of Hauhau war rites. Bent was privy to some of the fiercest and most infamous battles of the New Zealand wars, including Te Ngutu o te Manu and Tauranga-ika, and was acquainted with some of its most legendary personalities, such as master strategist Titokowaru and pacifist Te Whiti. He was there when von Tempsky was slain, and ran for his life with the Hauhau from Kepa's formidable kupapa forces.

Rendered in scraperboard, a bold black and white hand-drawn style, this exhilarating graphic novel is based on James Cowan's original book published in 1911, The Adventures of Kimble Bent.

Bernard Caleo and Jo Waite will be presenting a tribute to Tintin as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2011. Composed of a Tintinesque paper diorama by Jo with imagined Tintin panels by other cartoonists floating over the landscape like hot air balloons. To see this collaboration get down to the Castle Window, 681 Brunswick Road, Brunswick, Melbourne 2nd-9th October.