"VDS is cigarettes and acid and funerals."
Uber busy Melbourne based cartoonist Simon Hanselmann recently launched Victoria Drug Scene, a 76 page anthology of established and young cartooning upstarts primarily from Melbourne. Contributors include Michael Hawkins, HTML Flowers, Marc Pearson, Lashna Tuschewski, Michael Fikaris, Magic Sweater, Sam Wallman, David Mahler, Katie Parrish, international guest Josephine Mairead King Edwards.
Victoria Drug Scene will be available in the next few days from the Silent Army Storeroom. ( Proprietors of many fine Australian and New Zealand comics.)
I asked Simon a few questions about the production of Victoria Drug Scene.
You're quite a busy cartoonist at the moment, producing work for multiple publishers around the world, what inspired you to edit an anthology?
"It's basically like when Eminem blew up and got kinda popular and did the whole D12 thing, getting all his old friends together and being a group and saying, "Hey, look world, here are my cool friends. Give them deals and money, please. I love them and hope you will too."
Also it's a direct rebuttal to the recent documentary film "Graphic Novels! Melbourne!" (LOL). It's my opinion of what is the most vibrant, exciting, interesting work being produced in this city."
Did you take cues from any particular anthologies when producing Victoria Drug Scene? Did you have any themes or particular visions for the anthology?
"I staunchly specified "NO THEME" to all of the invited artists. I'm not a fan of themed anthologies. I wanted people to do whatever it is they do best and whatever the fuck they wanted to do and I just had to hope that people wouldn't fuck it up and I wouldn't hate their pieces and have to tell them they screwed up.
My vision was for a cheaply produced anthology of interesting local work that could, "Compete on a global level", by people who know what's happening in the world of comics, literature, fine art, film and fashion and whose styles are fully formed (or near fully formed).
No zombies or Star Wars references. No cute, meandering, artless, poorly-paced bullshit by boring people with nothing to say.VDS is not "geek culture". VDS is cigarettes and acid and funerals.
Regarding other anthologies that may have provided inspiration: It's it's own thing. It's Melbourne comics in early 2013. It can't possibly be anything else."
Panel from Megg and Mogg by Simon Hanselmann
I moved to Victoria from Tasmania in early 2008 (and before that I'd always been aware of Silent Army and most of the interesting stuff coming out of the state. I kept tabs on everything happening whilst I was away in the UK from late 2008 to early 2011 (lots of interesting young people started making comics and self publishing in that period. HTML flowers, Lashna Tuschewski, David C Mahler, Marc Pearson, Katie Parrish etc).
Victoria is, in my opinion, the state producing the best comics in Australia. no other state even comes close.
I guess most of the artists in VDS are kind of coming at comics from an arts background and are not aware of, or interested in "mainstream comics". Most of them are in their early twenties and know their shit.
We all tabled together at the Melbourne Zine Fair and were referred to as "The Cool Kids" and "The stoners that sneak alcohol into the event". "The Pretty Weirdos"."
Panel from Megg's Therapy by Simon Hanselmann
Will you be producing further anthologies?
Yes. VDS will be a quarterly publication for the foreseeable future. There are more young, emerging Australian artists that I will be asking to produce pieces for future issues. Evie Cahir, Tom Hunter, Hamishi etc.
I'll also continue to invite different international guests like Josie Mairead King Edwards from the first issue. I met her on tumblr and think she is utterly brilliant. And she's 17. I put her piece right near the front of the book as a warning to the other artists, "LOOK. look what Josie has done. Pick up your game." I may also start to feature small amounts of related "fine art", sculpture and fashion photography.
Can you name some cartoonists more people should be aware of?
Local: Marc Pearson. Marc has impeccable taste in the current global comics scene and is one of my favorite people to talk shop with. His last two books have been wonderful and he's blossoming into one of our best writers.I predict big things for him in the future.
Michael Hawkins is eternally unique and brilliant and one of my oldest friends in comics, his Frosnall Graaf series is the Australian Twin Peaks.
Lashna Tuschewski is probably one of the coolest people in the world.
M P Fikaris is running the Silent Army Storeroom which holds all the best comics to be found in Melbourne, he's also been releasing his anthology 'Dailies', a wonderful snapshot of the broader Australian scene. Pretty much everything that "matters" is in there.
Worldwide: there's too many people to mention, here's some of the top of my head: Aiden Koch, Lala Albert, Patrick Kyle, Jonny Negron, Noel Freibert, Royce Icon, Ines Estrada, Alex Schubert, Heather Benjamin, Edie Fake, Charles Foresman, Dane Martin, Zach Hazard Vaupen, Mickey Z, Joe Kessler, Gabriel Corbera... those are most of my current favorites...
I buy all my books online, usually direct from the artists. Australian comic book stores are pathetically behind the times and completely unaware of what's new and awesome. They're too busy selling toys and trinkets. Minotaur disgusts me. It actually smells in there. Plus they put those fucking metal price-stickers on all the "graphic novels" and they either tear the books up or leave greasy stains.
(I'm actually quite shocked that we have so many comic book shops in the city centre. Minotaur. All Star. Comics R Us. Comix... I hate all of them and find them poorly curated and totally useless. I wish at least ONE of them had ONE employee with taste who would order in interesting NEW small press and "art comics". Instead there are life-size plastic batman statues and pinball machines. ugly t-shirts. *Sigh*)"