Showing posts with label new zealand cartoonist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new zealand cartoonist. Show all posts

Friday, April 18, 2014

John MacNamara (18th April 1918 - February 2001)

John MacNamara was born today in 1918. A newspaper cartoonist in New Zealand in the early twentieth century, MacNamara immigrated to England in 1950 and quickly found work in newspaper and comics for Amalgamated Press. From the fifties through to the early seventies MacNamara illustrated the newspaper strip Paul Temple.

Biographical notes and art samples from New Zealand and England.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kiwiman Comics - Matthew Kelly Interview Part One


I first came across Matt Kelly's work several years ago when he was an enthusiastic contributor to the BRD Community. I knew Matt had been serialising his Kiwiman comics online for a while but I hadn't been a regular reader until a recent story caught my eye with a new vertical scrolling format that provides a great showcase for Matt's art. Kiwiman's busy depictions of super-heroic adventure in New Zealand bush through lush brush strokes at times brings to mind some of the great comics of yesteryear by New Zealand comics pioneer Henry William Bennett.

Kiwiman Comics

How did you get interested in comics and what inspired you to make them?
I got into comics because My parents gave me comics from a young age [along with other books]. I was the second child so comics in the house preceded me. One that made a big impression is a comic called Disneyland, which was a British publication as far as I can make out, no prizes for guessing the content. Also Rupert Bear which was a frustrating read because it was almost a comic but had text along the bottom of each panel instead of balloons. These were my earliest exposure and probably can't be overestimated in terms of the impressions they made (notably the British element). 

At some point in the proceedings I was given Burne Hogarth's Tarzan book which I remember as having a profound effect; in fact years later in conversation with Dylan Horrocks we discussed Harvey Kurtzman's comments over the same work, and it's stirring eroticism. I suppose that could read as homoeroticism, and I certainly still like some homoerotic art and images, but I think the figures Hogarth presented are tremendously ambiguous. The nudes have A sort of barbie doll like lump in the crotch (In fact the lump-crotch probably makes things more erotic due to the mysteriousness of it). But everything about Hogarth's drawing style is certainly sensual, almost lurid, certainly fleshy, even the plants, water, boats, buildings. Everything is so melodramatically presented that there is a certain sexual or at least very sensual sensibility at work. Anyway I identify with harvey kurtzman's prepubescent erotic sensation at reading the Hogarth Tarzan book.

Also during my younger days the odd black and white Australian reprint of North American comics would show up. I think my mother would buy them on impulse for us. Some of the art in those books was very impressive, I remember a Batman with particularly nice chiaroscuro. Nowadays I really love picking up old black and white Aussie reprints at 2nd hand book sellers: this is purely subjective, but the aesthetics of these books seem to restate or even change the original stories in a way that lends them a greater legitimacy or perhaps just a more immediate context. Jeez.

When I was older, probably just about to start intermediate school, mum encouraged me to collect a comic title. I think there was a concern that my reading age was slipping bellow the average, certainly I was put through remedial reading classes earlier on, and reading comics was still reading. This may have been why the encouragement.

I certainly read comics. I was crazy for Garfield, and Asterix (but had almost never read Tintin except a light perusal at my cousin's house once; I remember being slightly affronted by Tintin, probably out of loyalty for Asterix. In fact I have only in the last couple of years actually made the effort to read Tintin and collect some of it, it is excellent, I see that now.

Anyway I started buying Buster, a weekly british news print (“children's paper”) comic, an anthology of regular comedy strips featuring probably the same joke (or very nearly) each week. Somehow this lead me to 2000AD, and then something happened in my brain, as powerful as, but perhaps more tangible than the Hogarth Tarzan book.

Something more about Asterix though, because it had at least as profound an effect as anything else. There was a time when I read Asterix the Legionary (the first experience and book of Asterix I owned) almost religiously. Perhaps daily, in fact sometimes even more than that. I have a strong specific memory of myself as a young kid considering whether or not to start rereading Asterix the Legionary yet again or to do something else. It was a sunny day and I had toys and other things I could have been doing, but there was a sense of not only considering whether to reread a comic album, but more intensely whether to submit to or enter into that state of consciousness, not that those terms were familiar to me at the time. I was considering whether to enter a very charming, exciting and entertaining world that existed in the act of reading that book. Of course I did so, with great excitement. It is still very easy for me to spend a great deal of time exploring the panels, the drawings alone give me hours of distraction, but add to that the pace and storytelling, the comedy and characterisation (of the Rene' Goscinny written books) is just spellbinding. I have found nothing as compelling in the Uderzo written books, but I have high hopes for the new book, Asterix and the Picts, written by Jean-Yves Ferri and drawn by Didier Conrad.

Chronologically I came to 2000AD later in life and at a time when I was drawing in a way that including copying or at least copying from memory. My brother, Chris, was also drawing a lot (and was much better than me in my estimation) and his work, based on or straight copying 2000AD images, was in the mix of influences on me at the start of my sequential art endeavours.

As far as being inspired to make comics is concerned, the big thing that came along to actually make me think that making comics was something I could do was the mini-comics and black and white comics of the mid 1980's. In that respect I stand firmly on the shoulders of mini-giants, Terry Rota, Simon Morse, Dylan Horrocks, Corn Stone, Chris Knox.

At one point in the Eighties my mother obtained a photocopier because she was part of a group (family history I think) who needed to store the thing somewhere. It was in earnest that I proposed to make a comic with two friends titled, Geekly Weekly, but one friend objected to this title and somehow my enthusiasm waned. It was a time of fickle interests. My good friend Chris McLaren made his contribution to my notional minicomic: in the end producing his own little book starring his character, Shadowman, a cute style character based loosely I think on the Dick Smith spectrum computer video game of “3d” Batman (if anyone remembers that).

I experimented a lot with comics making, in a very limited sense, making one page comics for friends, giving away the originals, but nothing really came of these. I also started many a longer form project, some with collaborators. But I was unable to sustain anything longer than half a dozen pages and never finished a story.

In the late nineties I met Simon Adams at the ambiguously famous (in NZ) freelance animation school and made some mini-comics with him. I provided scripts for a few short stories that simon drew, lettered and published in his excellent Moebius Strip minicomic. I also collaborated with Ben Nightingale, also a fellow student, he drew a story I wrote and Simon published it in Moebius Strip. For me this was the very beginning in terms of wanting seriously to make things. Animation school introduced me to a lot of great people, to a few disciplines, and to life drawing which I have an undying love of, and pursue to this day.

After meeting Corn Stone, James James, Tim Molloy, Ben Stenbeck, Ant Sang, Dylan Horrocks, Lars Cawley, and many others, and seeing their minicomics I made some of my own.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sir David Alexander Cecil Low (7 April 1891 – 19 September 1963)

David Low photograph from The Political Cartoon Gallery.

Today marks 123rd anniversary of the birth of one of New Zealand's most influential political cartoonists, David Low. Born in Dunedin and educated in Christchurch, Low sold his first cartoons at 11 to The Christchurch Spectator. Low worked for a variety of papers throughout his teens and twenties before moving to Sydney in 1911. After a career in Australian newspapers in 1919 Low moved to England where Low's cartoons in British papers proved an immediately success. Low's antipodean upbringing and attitudes provided a satirical bite in his work in contrast to his peers whose work was still rooted in staid Victorian society. Before and during World War Two Low's stinging depictions of Adolf Hitler and Mussolini led to his work being banned in Italy and Germany, and his being named in The Black Book, a list of prominent Britons to be arrested upon the successful invasion of Britain by Nazi Germany.

From Dr Timothy S. Benson essay on Low.

"A few months later, Bruce Lockhart, as foreign correspondent of the Daily Express visited Germany to interview Hitler. During the interview, Hitler surprisingly mentioned Low in conversation and was full of praise for him in his mistaken belief that the cartoonist's attitude was anti-democratic because of the way he derided politicians and parties in his daily cartoons. According to Low: "At the time I was upbraiding democracy rather drastically for its attitude to European events and Hitler got the impression I was anti-democratic." Hitler then asked Lockhart if he could arrange for Low to let him have some originals to decorate the Brown House, the national headquarters of the Nazi party in Munich. When Lockhart relayed Hitler's request to Low upon his return, the cartoonist obligingly sent a couple as from in his words 'one artist to another'.

Read full David Low essay by Low Historian Dr Timothy S. Benson.
Read New Zealand cartoonist/historian Alan Moir's essay on David Low.

Gallery of Low's work on Te Pikitia tumblr. 

David Low cartoons from the Billy Book.
The Billy Book: Hughes Abroad, collected 50 satirical drawings by Low about the wartime visit by Australian Prime Minister William Morris Hughes to Britain and the Western Front to attend the Imperial War Cabinet from June to August 1918. Copies of the book received by various English editors led to the book became a bestseller and critical praise.  This also led to Low moving to England to take a salaried job at the London Star newspaper in 1919.

David Low cartoons reprinted from British papers in Australian newspaper The Worker (1921).


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lucky Aki in The Stone Age Proofs Have Arrived!


New Zealand's most dedicated cartoonist Barry Linton's Lucky Aki in The Stone Age will be available next month. Printed in our new Pikitia 'Dinky' format on lovely thick recycled paper, This first volume of Lucky Aki will be available for pre-order from the Pikitia Store next week.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

William Blomfield (1 April 1866 – 2 March 1938)

William Blomfield was born today in 1866. Blomfield produced cartoons for the New Zealand Observer a newspaper he had substantial shares in for 40 years. Blomfield was also a local politician serving as second mayor of Takapuna.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Merton Lacey (16th February - 29th July 1996)


Animator/film maker/artist Merton Lacey was born today in Purulia, India in 1902.

Lacey was a newsreel cameraman for Fox Movietone News in Calcutta and between 1926 and 1940 made more than 40 short cartoon film advertisements which ran in India, Burma and Ceylon. Lacey was also artist, cartoonist and publicity manager for The Calcutta Statesman and created a comic-strip mongoose character called 'Benji' that appeared on the Children's Page. In 1947 Lacey immigrated with his family to New Zealand.

An animation created by Lacey at the Auckland Zoo is recorded in the New Zealand Film archive from 1930 although I'm presuming this is erroneous as Lacey presumably wasn't in New Zealand at that time.

Lacey contributed a half page comic strip Nez and Zena to the short lived New Zealand Pictorial magazine during 1954-1955. Lacey also had two comics featured in George F H Taylor's Christmas Annual, Eddie and Tu in Adventure on Wheels (14 pages) and Eddie and Tu and The Treasure (3 pages). I consider the square bound Christmas Annual (published circa late fifties) the first large collection of New Zealand comics with over 100 pages of George F H Taylor's comics alongside Lacey's work. During the seventies Lacey was also involved with the New Zealand Woman's Weekly.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nothing Fits - Mary Tamblyn Interview

 'A group of unlikely heroes: a girl, a clone and an undead mummy attempt to make sense of the strange world they've been thrown into.'

Christchurch comic makers Mary Tamblyn and Alex McCrone have been working on their comic Nothing Fits for two and a half years and recently launched a Kickstarter to raise funds for a print edition. As of this writing Nothing Fits is about halfway to their goal of $5000 with 18 days to go. Serialised online a page at a time since 2011, Nothing Fits tells a fantasy tale of several characters who intercross in a strange world of humans, clones, mummies and anthropomorphic characters. Nothing Fits is an ambitious and impressive first comics project for a couple of young creators please consider having a look at Nothing Fits online and supporting their Kickstarter.

I asked Mary Tamblyn a few questions about Nothing Fits and making comics.
How did you meet Nothing Fits co-writer/artist Alex McCrone?
We met at high school, in Year 12 painting. We didn't talk very much then, Alex is quite reserved, but we both had troubles with the teacher and her opinions on the directions we needed to take with out paintings. Luckily in Year 13, we both had a better painting teacher - and Alex and I were in Sculpture and Print-Making together. There was a lot of free time in Sculpture, and she asked me if I had any original characters (as she had overheard me once talking about them, I think) and I drew them out for her and told her about them. I had tried to start the comic on my own, but I wasn't very good at drawing. Alex sent me a lovely Christmas card that year, saying how she couldn't wait to start Fine Arts at University with me and that we were going to make really cool stuff. She drew some of my characters on the card, and in that instant, I knew we must do a comic together. She had been thinking the same thing, so we quickly started work. I came over to her house for the first time and we just sat in her room and I just spilled all of the information about my characters and the setting to her and she drew all of the characters out, making tweaks and slight re-designs (especially for the hair) and we got to work on the first 3 pages!

Did you have goals in mind when you started Nothing Fits? Has any of the web material existed in print prior to now?
The goals are really to have a printed product, something we can both be proud of and work to do better things in the future. For a first project, we are aiming high, so that when it's finished, and we go on to make other work, that we'll have to work to be better than Nothing Fits. We want to push ourselves to do our best and for a first project, we are pretty proud of our efforts. It's been going online since we started making pages, and without it being online I don't think we would have come this far. The support of the readers and the community on ComicFury (our webcomic host), really helped us keep up the momentum of the story. Actually I really need to post the rest of the pages soon... My laptop is broken so I will have to wait till it's fixed/I get a new one to finish those pages though... But yes, it's always been online. Some people have warned us against doing that, because they feel anyone could steal it from us? But, in the two years it's been up, it hasn't been stolen, and we have all the original hard copies of the pages, so we can prove that it's ours if someone stole it. 

Is there much of a comics scene or community in Christchurch? I don't hear a lot about goings on down that way, I know Funtime Comics used to have more of a national presence although I guess people have had other things on their minds after the earthquakes.
 There really isn't a lot, we go to Funtime every month, but it isn't a huge group of people. There's always Armageddon Expo, but that's not really New Zealand comic focused, so there has never really been much of a comic presence while we've been doing our comic, which is why we turned to being a webcomic. To be honest, I don't know how big the comic scene was here in Christchurch before the Earthquake? I was only 16 when the first September one hit, and 17 in the February one, I hadn't noticed much of a comic scene before those times, but that may have been due to my age. I only remember there being one comic shop in the city though, Comics Compulsion. 

Post-earthquakes have led to a lot of new and innovative creative projects in Christchurch though, the gap filler project, where different things would be exhibited, or preformed on the gaps that were left after buildings were taken down. A lot of art from the people of this city, decorating the fences in the central city and putting flowers in road cones. I think that it's just going to get more exciting here art-wise, the art scene here might not be as strong as other cities, but the main players here work really hard and produce great works for the community as a whole to enjoy, and they've made living in a broken city a lot more pleasant, they've given a lot of hope for Christchurch's future. I hope the comic scene follows suit, but who knows.

How has your collaboration evolved over the last three years? How do you approach creating comics together now?
We've worked really well together, Alex can pretty much read my mind when it comes to what I want things to look or feel like. It helps that we've had many sessions of staying up far too late or going off to the corner at parties and just talking and talking about what we wanted to achieve story-wise. She's really forgiving with me, especially because for a long time we didn't know how it was going to end. For most of the time we worked on the comic, I was writing only a few scenes before Alex was drawing them, which didn't help with seeing how long or far this project would go, but last year, 2013, in about October or November, I finished the script and just left Alex to finish - because it was getting to a point where it was easier for her to sketch all the pages, then ink them all, then colour all in one go, and I was being a slack writer. It's amazing she managed to work with me, I'm not the easiest person to deal with on creative ventures! I think after this, we won't work together on a comic for a while, maybe again in a few years we'd do a short story or a picture book together. We will do exhibitions together though, we did one last year called 'Ghost Hotel', which was her prints and a sculpture I did, we can't wait to do another one this year, just working off each other's artistic vibe. Her works give me a lot of inspiration. 

Photos from Ghost Hotel Exhibition

Are either of you interested in pursuing comics as a career? Do you have other artistic aspirations?
Oh man, that would be amazing, but it's near impossible to achieve that. Making comics or doing illustrating or writing would be a dream job for either of us - but it's such a hard thing to break into. The art scene may be easier, if we can keep doing exhibitions and stuff through arts school, but I don't know about selling things and making a career out of it. Alex would totally be able to make money out of her prints, they are stunning and so very detailed. We're planning on selling some stuff at some markets this year to get some money, her selling her prints and me making wee ceramic creations to sell. It's good to have aspirations, but I think Alex and I are a bit too cynical and realistic, we have high hopes, but we don't really go into them - like we don't talk much about "oh, what about a Nothing Fits tv show or movie or video game?", just because we know that would never happen, and we prefer to have realistic goals, getting printed, getting the story out there, sharing our work - those are things within our abilities and can actually control. Also it's great to have something that is done that we can show to potential future publishers when we have other work we want printed, it's a good thing to have on our artistic resume really. 

Building on top of and doing better each time we do a new project, is the best way to have a good stable foundation for achieving great things. Rushing into things and making grand plans isn't helpful, it makes you not appreciate the work you are doing now as much, the work you are doing now becomes just a means to and end. You should always think of your work as the end, which means being as passionate and dedicated to it as any other work you do.

Images © 2014 Mary Tamblyn and Alex McCrone