Saturday, July 14, 2012

Minicomics of the Month - Andrew Fulton Interview

Melbourne cartoonist and Smaller Comics Capo Andrew Fulton has launched Minicomic of the Month an initiative to get Australian comics into the hands of readers that might not otherwise be able to find them.

I asked Andrew a few questions about Minicomic of the Month and the folk involved.

If I recall rightly this is the second year of Minicomic of the Month (MOTM)? What was the initial response like? What has it been like this time?

Yeah this is the second time we are doing this - the first one Pat Grant kicked off in 2009. You can still see his original pitch here: I got an email one day asking if I wanted to be in it. At that point I had been doing the webcomic for a while but really hadn't done much physical printing of stuff. I think I might have been in a Tango? It ended up being the first proper mini I actually made and stapled for real.

What inspired the use of a subscription format for getting your comics to prospective readers?

The first time sold out pretty much overnight, so the response was great. I think this time it has been a little slower, but still a great response, and spread a bit wider too - we have a larger percentage of international subscribers this time around, which is great.

Not sure that I can answer directly to 'inspiration' as I have just stolen Pat's idea, but I think the subscription is a great way to spread work around. It's a pretty cheap up front cost from people, there's a sort of energy and excitement that's different from buying something in a store. And people probably get a mix of things from people whose work they know, and some they are less familiar with. And just on a practical level it helps keeps costs down - you know exactly how many you need to print, you don't end up with the World's Saddest Cupboard, Overflowing With Unsold Books.


Are the mini-comics in a uniform format? Are the physical comics produced by each individual creator?

Initially I had thought to do a uniform format, and kind of centralise the production and logistics of things to make it a bit easier. But in the early stages of discussion we decided that that took a little bit of the magic out of it. Part of the fun is that someone is making this little minicomic with mostly their bare hands, stapling it up and licking the stamps. There's a personal connection there.

Is the subscription model for MOTM set at a limited run? Will each installment of Minicomic of the month be mailed from the individual creators?

Yeah, we are planning to limit the subscriptions. We kind of agreed on 100 being the most we wanted to have to physically put together and mail. I don't really want it to become a burden, but also I also know it sold out super quick the first time around and a lot of people missed out.

And yeah, each month the individual is responsible for getting it together and mailing it out - although a large chunk of us are in Melbourne so we could get together for a stapling party or two.

 Australian Cartoonists in America: Caravan of Comics

Did you take anything from your experiences on the Caravan of Comics from the American indy/alt/minicomic scene that could be applied to Australia?

The Caravan was probably the biggest inspiration for getting this thing rolling again, and kind of sustain that momentum of getting Australian Comics out into the world. It's kind of a downer but one of the big things I "took" from the Caravan was a reminder of how far away we are from everything. There's a much larger audience for our work that it's not all that easy to connect with from here, Facebook and Twitter and all that aside - $5 shipping on a $3 or whatever is kind of a hard sell. And I guess even worse if someone wants one of my books and one of yours, that's even worse maths. I think I may have lost my point in here. I guess it's maybe that giving people a single point Get a bunch of things from different people at once is a way to combat that? But then, in some ways the answer to that is digital distribution- sensibly we should be doing something like this as ebooks or whatever? Forget about distance. But that comes back to what I was saying about magic. It's the personal touch or whatever that makes a project like this work.

Some of the creators involved in MOTM have books published through large above ground publishers, What do you think is the appeal in producing comics at a minicomic scale?

You'd probably have to ask someone like Pat or Mandy, but again I think it is about the personal touch, about being able to do something quickly and send it out directly to your audience. It's not something you have to spend years toiling over, it's quick, dirty and fun.

Images © 2012 respective artists.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pikitia Press Updates

Moa #2 © 2012 James Davidson

Pikitia Press is now set up as a small publishing concern and I'm proud to announce we'll publishing James Davidson's Moa comics with the first three issues including a new full colour number one due out later this year. Moa is an all ages comic series, each issue a complete story following the exploits of Possum von Tempsky and Kiwi Pukupuku as they journey the land of Aotearoa on giant moa in search of adventure and good times.

Have a look at an eight page preview of Moa #3 here.

Go like the Moa facebook page. Remember every 'like' adds to the chi in James's drawing hand.
Moa will be available from selected outlets and The Pikitia Press Shop.

Pikitia Press has a Tumblr. I hope to use Tumblr as a repository for images, ephemera, and small bits and pieces relating to cartooning and comics that I don't have time to elaborate on in the main Pikitia Press blog. The plan is to post daily but we'll see how that goes.

I'm doing a weekly comics link blogging column for the Australian Comics Journal. Should be there most Wednesdays. Might not do this forever but check it out while it's there.

The first two comics published by Pikitia Press this year were Australian cartoonist Peter Foster's Ballantyne: Where Hidden Rivers Flow (Written by James H Kemsley) and Peter's update of the golden age Australian superhero The Eagle in Return of the Night Eagle. Enthused by the response to our first two publications I decided to get some more of Peter's work in print and a second volume of Ballantyne's adventures is due for release in early August. 

 Return of the Night Eagle © 2012 P.Foster. Ballantyne © 2012 P. Foster, J. H. Kemsley

A new edition of Peter's adaption of the Australian literary classic, For The Term of His Natural Life will be launched at The 2012 Melbourne Writers Festival in October. Expanded to 64 pages, this edition will be in full colour, include background material and a foreword by Marcus Clarke scholar Laurie Hergenhan. More details to come.

For The Term of His Natural Life © 2012 Peter Foster

Kath King - Sydney Ockenden & Phil Belbin

Kath King by Sydney Ockenden & Phil Belbin from Cavalcade Vol 16 No 6 Nov 1952

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Paper Trail

Karl Wills's Princess Seppuku is now available in a Japanese edition from The Comic Book Factory. Wills reports number one has sold out of it's first print run and he is several pages into number two. First New Zealand comic produced entirely in Japanese? Possibly...

Princess Seppuku and the Hunt for Robot-X Japanese edition available here.

 Copyright 2012 Karl Wills

  Copyright 2012 Andy Conlan

Andy Conlan presents his children's book Mr Gloomingdale's Downpour in audio visual form.

Mike Alexander writes about artist and sometime cartoonist Elliot Francis Stewart for

 Copyright 2012 Elliot Francis Stewart

To celebrate the creation of 600+ pages of comics over two years Sarah Laing is offering some hand compiled yearly volumes for some lucky readers. Read her latest post for details.

Copyright 2012 Sarah Laing

Smaller Comics are presenting a second year of MINICOMIC OF THE MONTH. 24 dollars for twelve mini comics from some of Australia's finest cartoonists. Sign up here.

Have a look at: Jackie Ryan's Burger Force

Copyright 2012 Jackie Ryan

Ryan featured on a panel covering writing for cross platforms from The 2012 Melbourne Emerging Writers Festival. View here.

Oslo Davis interviewed by Gather and Fold here.

Copyright 2012 Oslo Davis

Good Ok Bad reviews Pat Grant's Blue

Copyright 2012 Pat Grant

Paul Mason recaps his experiences at the Melbourne Oz Comic-con here.

Paul Mason and Doug Holgate

Dick Sargeson cartoonist Graeme Kirk is one of the contributing artists to Fracked a combined exhibition of Taranaki artists held at The Village Gallery in Eltham 30 September - 19 October.

Copyright 2012 Graeme Kirk

Australian Cartoonist Association President and Ginger Meggs cartoonist Jason Chatfield features on ABC's Insiders here. Chatfield discusses comics on Radio National here.

Today's Paper Trail is brought to you by two Maurice Bramley covers featuring his take on Marvel's Nick Fury character.

Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr Interview Part Two of Two

Read part one of James Andre's interview with Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr here.

Find Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr online here.
Find Milk Shadow Books here.

A lot of your horror work seems to either be set in the prehistoric times or in the future. Your visions of the future and past seem unlike those of the Flintstones or Jetsons. What interests you in these time periods?

  The very fact that these time periods are not in the here and now allows the imagination far greater freedom to explore the kind of concepts and images that we do. Stories set in the present, with a basis in firm reality, make this more difficult to achieve. The more unreal, surreal or bizarre the setting or scenario, the more creative your imagination becomes, resulting in uniqueness and originality. Also, issues such as social politics, et al, can then be addressed in a far more lateral way and remain in the subtext without crowding the story and action. When working within genres such as SF, horror and fantasy, as a general rule, the further from reality the story, the more diverse the interpretation of the readers. We feel that this is ultimately a positive thing. We have found that settings in other realities, in the far past or distant future, or on other worlds, work best for us when dealing with pure “fantasy”

You have released several works with titles such as Gorgasm etc, what do you think of the new trend in mainstream filmmaking, and possibly mass media in general of the pornography or torture porn style of entertainment? Recent works such as Hostel etc?

For a start, it’s not exactly a “new trend”. Do not forget the Video Nasties and the Pre-Code horror comics of the 1950s, or the “Penny Dreadfuls”, the pulps of the 1930s and just as infamous, the Grand Guignol, which featured staged rapes, torture and mutilations such as eye gouging – as do films like Hostel and Saw.

There is far less censorship now than there was in the hideously politically correct 1990s. Back then; it was just too fashionable to be offended by just about anything at all. There is more freedom now, and that can only be a good thing for artists who enjoy pushing the “boundaries”.

We feel that films such as Hostel 1 & 2, Dawn of the Dead remake, Devil’s Rejects, Hills have Eyes remake, and such, are bonafide modern horror films that do not pull their punches. There are many interesting themes and good performances in these films, along with genuinely threatening and confronting images of terrifying violence. These elements make these films much more powerful than your average lightweight thriller.

One thing these films are not, and that’s pornography. While the violence and elements of sadism may well be intense, they contain no porn. Nudity, naked breasts and simulated sex does not constitute pornography. Nor do bucket-loads of SFX blood and guts. Pornographic films have real people indulging in real sex for the camera. These “new trend” horror films are not real. They are created through the use of special effects. No one is ever “really” tortured, raped, mutilated or murdered.
On the other hand, there are women who are involved in the porn industry that clearly would rather be doing something else. In effect, they are trapped. That kind of scenario is pretty depressing. This is simply not the case with films like Hostel, no matter how “offensive” the themes and imagery.

Horror is visual and visceral as well as psychological. In a thriller or suspense story it is the notion of implication and an atmosphere of fear that drives the story and characters. It is not until “that which is truly unacceptable” actually transpires and is shown rather than implied that a story can really become a “horror story”. This is what puts horror apart from other forms, such as suspense and fantasy, etc.

All good stories, horror or otherwise, have a combination of elements– a good premise, strong concepts, suspense, drama, action, interesting characters, a cohesive plot, and in some cases, even moments of impactful violence. But if you intend to do horror, then it’s a good idea to make it horrific – conceptually and visually. Matters of “taste” or theories of what does or does not constitute “porn” and “torture porn” don’t enter into it.

Splash page from Phantastique #4

Can you talk about the relaunch of Phantastique?

Yes, Phantastique has re-emerged as Fantastique. The first two issues are in circulation throughout the underground and a third one is due to be released soon. It includes The Well of Souls - scripted and pencilled by us and inked by Glenn Smith, and Ocean Born, a script of ours that has been illustrated by Tanya Nicholls (of Storm Publishing).

Fantastique is more overtly oriented towards fantasy and science fantasy, but it also contains obvious elements of horror and gore. On the other hand, Charnel House is a hard-core horror comic that is extreme and very explicit.

Ever thought of doing something with some fluffy bears and a nice little romance?

Not likely. Not our thing.

So, what’s up next?
More art, stories, experimental music and comics.

Thank you both for your time.
Thanks very much for your interest in us, and our work.
All images copyright 2012 Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr. Interview copyright 2012 James Andre.