Showing posts with label comicoz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comicoz. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

ComicsOz - Nat Karmichael Interview

To my knowledge Nat Karmichael was the first person to republish classic Australian comic strips through his Comicoz imprint with six issues of John Dixon's Air Hawk produced during 1988-1990. Nat has been actively writing about Australian comics on his Comicsoz blog since 2009. 2011 saw the publication of an Air Hawk book collecting five Air Hawk adventures and an assortment of biographical features on Air Hawk creator John Dixon. Nat has recently launched a pozible campaign to raise funds for three new books through Comicoz, a long in development collection of Monty Wedd's Ned Kelly strips, a collection of Sydney cartoonist Rob Feldman's cartoons and a second volume of Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor. More details on the pozible campaign here.

I asked Nat a few questions about Australian comics and his recent projects.

When did you first encounter John Dixon's Air Hawk?

I always knew of AIR HAWK in the Brisbane COURIER MAIL and SUNDAY MAIL, but as a kid I did not read it - I was too into the cartoon comics rather than the adventure strips. We did not get the COURIER MAIL every day, either. (My parents purchased the afternoon Brisbane TELEGRAPH more regularly).   

However, in 1974, I wrote to Australian Comic Historian John Ryan. In reply, he sent me a lovely letter (which I still have) and many of his writings when he was a member of a mailing group (I can't recall the name of it as I sit at work, but I have it at home....somewhere). One of the articles was on the history of John Dixon, which I read and became more familiar with his works. It wasn't until I left home and began reading the COURIER MAIL in the boarding house I was living in 1975 that I began to read it more regularly... And I have been hooked ever since!

What are some of the changes you've seen in publishing since your initial series of Air Hawk magazines? in terms of production and audience?

The biggest change has been in the ease of which to publish books and magazines these days. The computer has transformed information and the ability to produce magazines and books like never before. The last Air Hawk book, John Dixon, Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor from 2011, was all done on the computer. My First Issue of John Dixon's Air Hawk Magazine from 1988 was a matter of writing to John and his agent by mail, that is the post...and having to wait for responses, then the cut and paste affair of producing the magazine, physically taking it to the printers, mailing it out, and the like.  

These days there is less likely to be waste, with Print on Demand printers everywhere: if five people want to buy the latest issue, you print five copies only. No sense in having 650 copies lying in the Garage (which, sadly, is where a lot of my first print run still is). This second volume of Air Hawk will be print on demand. I am hoping it is of better print quality too - Volume One was not the sharp blacks that I was expecting, and this was disappointing. But with every print job, you learn how to make the following issue a better product.

The comic audience in terms of numbers may be lesser these days. There is much more competition with other forms of entertainment. But there is still, I believe, a need for comics and comic strips as an entertainment medium. Look at all the recent movies lately - comic related, a great deal of them. There is still nothing like a great story complimenting great art and vice versa, and so good stories will always be welcome by a core of fans who love the medium. The audience is probably easier to contact and maybe a bit fussier than those in generations past - they expect a certain high standard and should not be disappointed, as dollars are tight in this day and age - this is certainly not a bad thing.  

I wish there was a means of having at least one financially viable national Australian comic that appears regularly on the local news stands. I discount The Phantom, as it is a licensed US product. I believe that such a comic would generate a means of galvanising the local fan base, and improving the quality of our local output. It would also ensure Australian stories are being told for and to an Australian audience. The local comics shops presently carry out a part of this function (of uniting Fans) in their local communities, but more could be done to give a greater sense of national community to Australian comic fans. 

I think the [newsstand distributed magazine] Inkspot from Minotaur Books managed to start this to a degree in the early 1980s, and the resultant fanzines, The Fox by David Vodicka and The Australian Comics Collective by Cefn Ridout, went some way towards addressing that goal in that decade [the 80s]. Cyclone Comics gave us a taste of what can be achieved in the late 1980s, and I suggest this has lead - ever so slowly - to a greater love of comics with the fans of this day and age.

I have a few ideas about carrying this off, but maybe I am an old man living old dreams, and really comics are from a bygone era that has passed. I supposed I do not believe this and I live in hope that I - in a small way - can contribute by highlighting some of the comics and comic strips from the Past. And the present.  I am amazed at the talent available here in Australia; a reason why I want to publish Rob Feldman's work - that guy is so talented, and he needs a medium to see his work in print.

Apart from the Australian comics you're working on can you talk about some other 'lost Australian classics' that deserve republishing?

There are so many Aussie works that I feel deserve to be republished so that the readers of today can appreciate the quality in some of the older comics and comic strips. I will not make a definitive list here, but here are some that I have a passion for....  (Some I have actively sought out the rights to, some I have not, some I want to...Seriously, I know I am going to run out of money to acquire all the rights to all the material I would like to publish! (I never publish anything without offering some monetary award to the Copyright holder.)

Syd Miller's (comic book and comic strip) work is cruelly under-rated.  He has (last I looked in 1990) only one piece of work in the NSW Art Gallery collection.  Others: Phil Belbin's MAN Magazine work, the comic strip by Allan Marshall and Doug Tainsh, Pat O'Sullivan's FELIX the Cat (this is a long story, deserving of another long email or discussion another day, Matt), Bluey and Curly, Michal Dutkiewicz's work (uncompleted so far) for Ian Gould's EUREKA! comic;  George Needham's The Bo'sun and Choclit, All of Emile Mercier  comics, and Roger Fletcher's TORKAN and STARIA (I am going to 'work on him' about this next November!)....Hal English, Eric Jolliffe...I wish I were younger and had more time to publish more comics.... 

Please consider supporting the Comicoz Pozible campaign here.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Queens Birthday Discounts From Comicoz


Comicoz are offering discounts on the pre-orders for three publications due this year, Monty Wedd's Ned Kelly, Vol 2 of John Dixon's Air Hawk and The Flying Doctor and a collection of Robb Feldman's cartoons. Offer valid for the duration of Queen Birthday weekend.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Sun-Herald Comic Section February 17 1974

Thirty eight years ago comics were plentiful in Australian newspapers with the Sun-Herald containing an eight page supplement of Australian and international cartoons. The following pages are from The Sun-Herald Comic Section February 17 1974.


John Dixon's Air Hawk and the Flying Doctors ghosted by Hart Amos as featured in Australian papers from 1959 to 1986, commencing in the Sun herald on 14 June 1959. Over the years Dixon was assisted by Paul Power, Phil Belbin, Mike Tabrett, Hart Amos, and Keith Chatto. Nat Karmichael has recently published a significant collection of Air Hawk strips available from Comicsoz.

The Potts is said to be the longest running strip produced by one artist. Originally created by Stan Cross as You & Me in Smith's Weekly who worked on it for nineteen years eventually passing it on to his colleague Jim Russell in 1940 who worked on the strip for the next sixty-two years.