Showing posts with label Geoff Harrison. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Geoff Harrison. Show all posts

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pikitia Press: 2014 Publishing Season

Taking a break from our 2013 in review surveys, here is a sampling of forthcoming comics from Pikitia Press for our publishing season during the first half of 2014.

Barry Linton's Lucky Aki - The first in a series of volumes featuring the stone age adventures of Lucky Aki.

Die Popular - Collection of new material and classic material from MVH's wonderful Die Popular.

The Art of Harry Bennett - Collecting the art and story of H. W. Bennett, a professional cartoonist in his teens who went on to create a one man publishing industry in New Zealand. Written and compiled by Tim Bollinger, Geoff Harrison, and Matt Emery.


 Tim Bollinger's Wellington Stories

Bob McMahon's Claire Melody - Bob's second Claire Melody book in the vein of DC Thomson and IPC adventure comics. Read about Bob's background in New Zealand comics here.


New Zealand Reprint Comics - A comprehensive survey and catalogue of comics published in New Zealand reprinting foreign material from the 1940's - 1970's. Written and Compiled by Geoff Harrison.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Real Life Adventure

Advertisement for Real Life Adventure from back cover of Conquest Magazine

Real Life Adventure was published in New Zealand by A.H and A.W. Reed. There are no dates or credits included in the comic but the advert above from Reed's Magazine For Youth, Conquest, indicate Real Life Adventure was published in early 1947. A prolific publisher of the twentieth century, Reed published over a hundred publications annually including some with comics content although Real Life Adventure is the only example of a monthly comic I have found. Featuring adaptions of stories from the Bible, Real Life Adventure is a rare example of a New Zealand comic with colour pages from this era.

The art style is very similar to the Russ Denver strip featured in Conquest magazine. It is possible Real Life Adventures was the product of an artist or artists from the Haythorn Thwaite Studios in Auckland.

Real Life Adventure #4 courtesy Geoff Harrison

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ross Gore (1904-1981) - Baby Face Artist?

It Happened in New Zealand was a newspaper feature produced by artist, writer, and historian Ross Gore in the 1950's. Combining illustration, text and word balloons Gore detailed historical events and mysteries from pre-european times through the European colonisation of New Zealand. Many of Gore's strips focused on clashes during the Maori Wars as well as myth and folklore. Some stories were adapted from accounts related to Gore such as the tale of sailor Albert Roberts who was pronounced dead during the seven months he spent missing presumed drowned whilst shipwrecked on a rock several miles from Auckland in 1907.


Gore's father Henry Morland Gore (1864-1930) painted landscapes and served eight years as President of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. Gore's brother Eru Digby Gore (1906-1947) was a land agent and Secretary-Manager of the National Art Gallery in Wellington. Gore's daughter Jenny Gibbs recalls Gore carrying a sketchbook all his life, drawing and painting wherever they went – family holidays in their old army tent and family picnics up rivers.

Unexplained mysteries were a feature of Gore's work with tales of mysterious artifacts, premonitions, and hidden treasures.

It Happened in New Zealand was featured in many papers all over New Zealand. The Evening Post, The Auckland Star, The Christchurch Star-Sun, The Taranaki Herald, The Southern Cross, The Greymouth Evening Star, The Southland Daily news and The Students Digest all carried it at a time. The Students Digest published a collection of 48 strips in 1953. Atypical of other newspaper features of the time Gore attributed copyright to himself or the person who's story he was adapting in the bottom right corner of each strip.

A second collection of 30 strips, Thrilling Tales of Rotorua was published in 1958 by Wellington publisher A.H. & A. W. Reed.

As well as the 78 strips featured in the two collections at least another 130 were completed. 208 original pages of Ross Gore's cartoons were donated by Gore's daughter Jenny Gibbs to the cartoon archive at the Alexander Turnbull Library in 1995. Gore worked at just over double up size with his six panel strips being reproduced at 14.5cm by 21cm in contrast to his originals that typically had a working area of 31cm by 53 cm.

Stop Press was a 32 page digest of stories and cartoons produced during the 1940's by Wellington publisher, Mcdonald Publications. Typical of the era there are no authors or artist's credited short of the occasional artist's signature. Patsy Kane was a one page comic serial in the vein of Norman Pett's Jane launched in England twelve years prior. Like Jane Patsy Kane becomes involved in intrigue whilst spending a portion of each episode scantily clad or nude.

Patsy Kane has no artist credit but I theorise it may be the work of Ross Gore. In the August 12 1944 episode above Patsy meets a man by the name of 'Ross Gawe'. This could have been a subtle way of Gore 'signing' his work.

The episode below features a 'D' in the bottom last panel which again could be Gore's masked way of signing his work by using the initial of his middle name.

The illustration below from the same issue of Stop Press is signed the same and is very similar stylistically with the work of Gore's It Happened in New Zealand strips.


In the episode below Ross Gawe is revealed to be a villain. Another possible theory is this comic is the work of an acquaintance of Gore who has named his villain after Gore as a prank. it's not unknown for cartoonists to slip their colleagues into their work.

Ross Gore's daughter Jenny Gibbs suggests that at the time Patsy Kane was produced her father was stationed with other artists in the camouflage unit of the Trentham Military Camp. He may have been disinclined to sign his work if he was moonlighting from the army and perhaps by it's salacious nature. She also commented, 'The name is surely not a co-incidence & stylistically it looks very like his work.  None of the language or phrasing seems unlike him.'

The Stop Press digests feature adverts for Auckland publisher Jaycol Comics including Victory Feature Comic that is clearly the work of the same artist as Patsy Kane, referred to by New Zealand comic enthusiast's Tim Bollinger and Geoff Harrison as 'The Baby Face Artist' on account of all his characters having similar features.

The same artist illustrated the lead story in Meteor Comics, a fourteen page Flash Gordon-esque Sci-fi adventure. None of these comics feature artist credits or dates but it is probable they were published in the mid 1940's with Victory Feature Comic likely appearing around the time it was advertised in Stop Press late 1944.

It is possible Ross Gore is one of the pioneering figures in New Zealand comics. There is no conclusive evidence but hopefully more information will surface.

Sources: , , , Meteor Comics material supplied by Geoff Harrison, Victory Comics Cover supplied by Tim Bollinger, Stop Press Digests supplied by Anne Emery, Thanks to Geoff Harrison, Jenny Gibbs and Tim Bollinger for additional information. All It Happened in New Zealand images copyright estate of Ross Gore.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tim Bollinger Interview Part One of Three

During correspondence with Herge in his late teens, New Zealand Cartoonist Tim Bollinger announced to Herge he would be popping over for a visit and embarked on an ocean-liner voyage to meet his comic-hero in Belgium. Herge was elderly and unwell at the time and Bollinger was unable to see him but did visit his studio and spend time with Herge's Secretary Alain Baran. Baran encouraged Bollinger not to let geography be a barrier to the making of comics.

Tim Bollinger has been active in the New Zealand comics scene since he was 17 with his initial contributions to Wellington student Newspaper, Salient, (Joe Sputnik & the Mystery of Ravioli's Father). Through the eighties and nineties Bollinger produced over a dozen comics and many contributions to anthologies, newspapers, magazines and educational material.

Stories Strange But None The Less True (1981)
For a time Bollinger served as an editor and cartoonist for Tearaway magazine (a free monthly for young people) which also featured work by notable New Zealand cartoonists Toby Morris, Willi Saunders and Dylan Horrocks.

Back of Beyond is the title of a New Zealand comics history volume that Bollinger has been researching and writing for over 20 years. With a long standing interest in the history of New Zealand comics and cartoonists, Bollinger has managed to record many aspects of the local industry that would have otherwise been lost to time.

 Tim Bollinger, New Zealand Comics Weekend 2010. Photo from Adrian Kinnaird

Bollinger has also curated and contributed to exhibitions examining historical aspects of New Zealand comics. Notably 'The Work of H.W Bennett' and 'NZ Comix in the '70s' both held during New Zealand Comics Weekend in Wellington April, 2010. Adrian Kinnaird's blog has coverage here.

Noah from White Fungus Magazine #9 (2008)

The following interview was conducted via email over February and March 2012.

When and what were the first New Zealand comics you encountered?

The first comic book that I consciously remember noting as a New Zealand-drawn comic was in the late 1970s at Printed Matter Bookshop on Plimmer's Steps in Wellington. It was a copy of 'Strips' No. 3, with a cover by Dick Frizzell (who I'd never heard of before back then). I think it had a cover price of 80 cents.I guess before this, I'd encountered all the strips that ran in the NZ Listener (Murray Ball had some strips before Footrot Flats like 'Kids' and 'Stanley' and he had some predecessors in there as well), but my real interest was in longer comic narratives. My favourite comics at the time were Tintin, Asterix and Donald Duck.

 Even though it presented itself as a kind of fanzine, 'Strips' was a real comic book. The thing that struck me most about it was how good all the artwork was, from Flexible Shaft's 'Maureen Cringe', through to Colin Wilson's carefully crafted European-style adventure stories. All were really well drawn in completely different but equally unique styles. All of the artists' lines were really thick and clear, with lots of interesting pointalist and other black and white inking techniques that helped to create depth and tone, with lots of strong flat blacks. To this day, I think clarity of line and image remains a characteristic feature of many local comics.

Yet despite the slick artwork, it had a real underground feeling about it too - for a start it was in black and white - but it also had a radical, hippie bent that seemed to allow for freedom expression in the sexual, political and experimental comics of the likes of Barry Linton, Laurence Clark and others.Compared to most of the other underground comics I'd seen, and Printed Matter carried a few, given that the store at that time was being managed by Leo Hupert, who ended up founding VMS (Visual Media Services) which later became 'Graphic' (in the Cuba Mall, Wellington), 'Strips' was a really well-put-together book. It included comics criticism and historical reviews as well as strips (Australian comics historian John Ryan even had a column). I committed  the comic's Waiheke Island publishing address to memory: Wilma Road, Ostend.

  Strips  #1 - Cover by Colin Wilson

The other thing that I took mental note of was the type of ink drawing pen depicted by Colin Wilson in his strip on the inside back page. It was an 0.5 Rotring Rapidograph - a refillable tech pen favoured by architectural draftsmen of the era. I went straight out and bought one, and that's what I used to draw all my comics with until Rotring discontinued the model in  favour of, firstly the refill cartridge-based Isograph, and then, for the fully disposable one-piece Rotring ready-made fit-for-the-landfill each time the barrel's emptied - I guess the manufacturers finally figured that us cartoonists weren't contributing our share to the devastation of the planet - now all that's changed. Each one might as well be the barrel of a loaded  gun, and I no longer draw with an easy conscience.

Who were the first local comics creators you encountered?

These were the artists I first consciously encountered (on paper). Encountered in real life, well...I never actually got a comic book of my own printed and (self-) published till 1981-2 - 'Stories Strange But None-the-less True'. I sent a copy to 'Strips' to review. They did. Then I visited them during a distribution trip to Auckland. Back then there were no comic shops, so you circulated them however you could, through University bookshops, and  second hand record and magazine stores, like the one in St. Kevin's Arcade, which I know is where the likes of Cornelius Stone first picked up copies.

On that trip, I met Laurence Clark, Barry Linton and one or two others. Barry made the biggest impression on me, and despite long intervals between meetings, it's been a life-long friendship.

What sparked your interest in researching and writing about New Zealand Comics? and when did you start work in earnest on Back of Beyond?

Ah well. I did a politics degree. It was a lot of hard work, but I developed some skills. Delving, fossicking, researching, writing, reference-checking, cold-calling, fronting up, conducting interviews and recording and transcribing them. I was doing some research into Foreign Investment in New Zealand, sponsored as things were in the new corporate world of the early 1990s by Tradenz, a government qwango that wanted me to prove how good it was for the New Zealand economy. I'd pretty much figured out that it wasn't.

So, almost without even thinking around the end of 1991, I started to apply these same academic techniques to everything I could find out about locally drawn comics. I had in mind a book I called 'Back of Beyond' which would document all the great comics I'd seen published over the years in my lifetime. It was a great idea. I got in touch with all the usual suspects, most of whom I'd never met, but whose work I'd seen through the 80s and 90s: Chris Knox,  Dylan Horrocks, Cornelius Stone, and the Langridge brothers in Auckland;  Peter Rees, Lars Cawley and Ian Dalziel in Christchurch; Tim Cornelius, Anthony Behrens, Robert Scott and Tony Renouf in Dunedin.  

 Noah from White Fungus Magazine #9 (2008)

But there was another strand that I hadn't counted on. I knew of no New Zealand comics from before the 1970s, but I wanted to include and document  any in my book if I could find some. So I went to visit a well-known Wellington antiquarian who used to reside at the top of Cuba Street (pre-Bypass) above a Victorian villa turned into a junk shop, called 'Mr. Smiles'. I knocked on his door. He answered. When I asked him about New Zealand comics, he mentioned 'Strips'. He said that he remembered a comic book published back in the early 80s by a guy called Tim Bollinger. I said that was me. I said I wanted to find some really old stuff. He had a bit more of a think, and then he said he thought he might have one or two things in his collection. He took me upstairs and pulled out a bunch of old comic books, among them a slightly amateur-looking Buck Rogers imitation called Crash Carson that immediately jumped out as a New Zealand comic book because of a little kiwi stamp imprinted at the end of each row of panels with the letters: EANDI. This was the signature of the artist Eric Resetar  (behind which there's a story that I'll tell in my book...when I get round to finishing it!). The comics had been sent to Mr. Smiles (Possibly from Sam's Book Exchange), with an accompanying note explaining their origin, and summarising Eric and his brother's publishing achievements as children in the early 1940s.

 Attitude Problem #2 (1995)
There was no address, but Resetar was not a difficult name to track down in the Auckland telephone directory. I think Mr Smiles might have given me Geoff Harrison's contact too. Harrison has also written about early New Zealand comics, and probably has some of the best knowledge of what was published in New Zealand before the 1960s and 70s. Anyway, that's how I got started.