Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Inherent Vice

 The NGV Studio

From July 16th - Aug 14th, Eight Melbourne Cartoonists have recreated their studios in the NGV Studio for five weeks of intensive cartooning. Mandy Ord, Ben Hutchings, Sarah Howell, Michael Hawkins, Simon Hanselman, Michael P. Fikaris, Pat Grant and Rebecca Clements have all inhabited the NGV's Atrium for the last few weeks with an open studio space allowing visitors to come see them work and chat about their projects. Amongst the drawing tables and art supplies the artist's have personal libraries of inspiration, Individual displays of work in progress, and the large far wall is a collage of pages of comics, paraphernalia, gig and exhibition posters and work from other Melbourne cartoonists.

 Simon Hanselman

 Simon Hanselman's Megg Mogg & Owl

 Simon Hanselman's Casper
The NGV gallery space was created to engage with artists that would not normally have involvement with a large metropolitan gallery. Curated by Beckett Rozentals, Inherent Vice is the second residency since the creation of the studio.
 Pillar behind Ben Hutching's drawing table
Pat Grant

  Original pages of Pat Grant's Blue

Aug 4th saw a well attended 24 - hour comic marathon with a colour copying machine primed and ready at the far end of the studio. Rebecca Clements took it one step further producing a 36 - hour comic.

Come Inside My Body by Rebecca Clement - Click on pic for more info and to get your own copy

 Ben Hutching's Handball Heaven reaches to the Heavens


Ord's Space

Michael Hawkins

Ben Hutchings

Comics Wall

Peter Foster

I'm preparing a longer piece on Australian cartoonist Peter Foster but I thought it'd be interesting to contrast two bio's I have for him. The first is from Challenge No. 4, an educational journal from 1978 featuring stories, articles, cartoons and games. The second is from almost twenty years later is from Ballantyne No.1, self-published in 1996. This volume collected strips from his Sydney Sunday Sun Herald collaboration with James H. Kemsley. In between these two publications Foster worked in England for DC Thomson and IPC as well as illustrating a graphic novel version of the Australian classic For The Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke published in 1986.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

David C. Barker

Over the course of his life David C Barker was a wartime cartoonist, illustrator, painter, animator and etcher. He served during World War One with the Australian Imperial Force Light Horsemen.

Born in Ballarat, Victoria in 1888, David displayed an artistic talent from an early age winning first prize in an art competition at Nnill Art School with a bust of Moses. Soon after this his family moved to Sydney where he was enrolled at Fort Street School. No fan of schooling, David preferred to spend his time fishing, or sketching down by the harbour. Once out of school he worked twelve hour days in a soft drink factory whilst attending art school at night. Within months he secured work with publishers, William Brooks and Co and subsequently an apprenticeship with a firm of engravers.
 R.M.S Makura

Upon completion of his apprenticeship David made his way to America via Vancouver, BC, Canada, earning his passage by polishing Brass on the R.M.S Makura. After six months as a waiter in Seattle, David found employment in Philadelphia with The Curtis Publishing Company, publishers of The Ladies' Home Journal, The Saturday Evening Post, and The American Home amongst others. After a spell in New York he was off again, landing in Paris with only smile.

After the outbreak of World War One, David found himself back in Australia and enlisted in April,1915. Serving with the Anzac's as a stretcher bearer on the Gallipoli Peninsula, David was soon putting his art skills to use as Art editor of The Anzac Book. After having suffered losses and wounded in the thousands soldiers under constant fire, scribbled down writings, illustrations, cartoons and poems to create one hundred and fifty submissions. Adorned with a painting by David, The Anzac Book was a best seller upon its release in 1916.

There is not a lot of information available about the following year of David's life other than being assigned to the British Army in Mesopotamia to work as a Cartographer under the orders of Col. T.E. Lawrence commonly known now as Lawrence of Arabia. They were the same age, perhaps Lawrence and David were friends? Lawrence was a prolific writer, a detailed examination of his work might turn up a trace of David Barker.

David Barker covers for The Kia Ora Coo-ee

In 1918 David served as the Art Editor for The Kia Ora Coo-ee, a service magazine for Anzac troops during World War One, making a significant contribution to the ten issues that were produced over the year until the wars end. Written and edited by Australian and New Zealand troops serving in Egypt, Palestine, Salonica and Mesopotamia, The Kia Ora Coo-ee was printed through a commercial printing establishment in Cairo which allowed for the production of a professional service magazine with the longest and most regular record of publication during the War.

Cartoons by David Barker for The Kia Ora Coo-ee

After the war David was the art editor for Australia in Palestine (Angus & Robertson 1919) and  a founding member of the council of the Sydney Painter-Etchers Society, who he exhibited with, as well as showing etchings and watercolours with NSW Society of Artists in the 1920s. David Barker Passed away in Granville, Sydney, in 1946.

Click on image above to view David Barker animation short Snippy is an Artful Dodger produced c. 1925

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Griffin's Promotional Comic

This promotional comic was produced for Griffin's & Sons Ltd in the late 1950's. The back cover features an advertisement with Sir Edmund Hillary making note of him including energy-giving biscuits amongst his supplies on his Antarctic expedition during the International Geophysical Year Programme. Mentioned in past tense, the Programme was conducted over 1957 and 1958, so very likely this was produced 1958-1959.

Brightly coloured with primary colours and featuring simple line work, the comic tells the tale of two children showing an alien race around the Griffin's biscuit making operation. At their height of production the Griffin's factory churned out 750,000 biscuits a day. Sadly the Lower Hutt factory depicted on page seven was closed after seventy years of operation in 2008 with Griffin's consolidating operations in Auckland. Unfortunately no artist or production credits or even copyright information are included in the comic.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Jason Paulos Interview

Blackhouse Comic's one man horror anthology EEEK! is masterminded by Jason Paulos (Mad Magazine, Hairbutt the Hippo, Green Lantern). For the princely sum of $3.00 an issue, EEEK! pays homage to the classic horror comics of the 50's, 60s and 70's in a classic retro style and price.

's EEEK! work has previously been published in the United States by Asylum Press whilst Blackhouse Comics are currently publishing new EEEK! material bi-monthly, which will eventually be collected in a trade. When I asked if EEEK! was ongoing Jason stated, "Yes ... Satan is a demanding son of a @#$% ... he's got me chained to a stone tablet and I'm being flogged day and night by naked hermaphrodites while I etch out new EEEK! tales with a mallet and a chisel. Pretty much par for the course when you work in the bizarre alternate universe that is Australian comics!"

I asked
Jason a few questions via modern technology to find out about the finer points of his craft.
What were the comics/artists that drew you into comics?

The first story I remember reading was a Golden Age Toth superhero story featuring the Justice League. I was probably 8 years old when I first saw it and it made a big impression on me. I found some scans recently online and was amazed at how good this story looked even after all these years.

Who are among your artistic influences?

How much space have we got? It would quicker to list who I'm NOT influenced by. I'm proud to say I'm NOT influenced by Alex Ross, Jim Lee, Rob Liefield, Eric Larsen or Marc Silvestri. I love all the EC artists and the Golden and Silver Age artists. Toth is a god, as is Meskin, Kirby, Bill Everett. Also the Pinoy (Phillipine artists of the 50's like Redondo, Alcala, De Zuniga etc.I also like Impressionist painting, Art Nouveau, Picasso, Giacometti. I read a short biography on Thomas Gainsborough recently which inspired me. The list is endless and I enjoy adding to it!

Bruce Mutard and Jason Paulos at Armageddon Sydney 2011

Who are among your writing influences?

I try and avoid writing under the influence but I would have to say that none of todays 'hot' writers do it for me ... I'm a big fan of the old school guys like Nicola Cuti (Charlton, Warren comics), Pat Boyette (Charlton, Warren comics), Joe Gill (Charlton, Warren comics) ... you can see a pattern forming here right? Anybody working for Joe Orlando on the DC 70's horror stuff. Also right back to Al Feldstein of EC Fame. Most of my fave creators can write and draw. Wally Wood. I was a big fan of 2000AD as a kid ... Pat Mills, Alan Grant and Alan Moore were my gods. I like writers that use lots of words, I can't stand the 'less is more' trend in writing today where there's a detailed full page splash of an army coming over a hill and there's one tiny narration box with one single word in it. Like we're supposed to be in awe of the restraint of the writer or something. 'Oooh, he's chosen not write! Wow, how Zen!' Give me screeds of florid text, the more over the top the better. Preferably in a reverse 'Bill DuBay' (RIP) back narration box.

Have you ever had any unpleasant experiences collaborating with writers?

Writers are desperate creatures that eke (no pun intended) out a meager existence on the fringe's of what's real and what is fantasy. To survive frequent journeys to and fro between these two worlds requires a certain type of intellect ... one that doesn't always lend itself to constructive social interaction. A successful meeting of creative minds in the realm of comic books requires a certain amount of serendipity ... cosmic forces must align whilst the gods of art must smile upon you and bathe you in their favour. It's natural that egos clash and it's happened before and will happen again. Such are the struggles we face to make good comics!

  Eeek! Copyright J. Paulos

How much revision/editing do you do in your work?

Very little. If you over-analyse a comic in progress you'll lose two all important ingredients essential to all good art ... spontaneity and naivety. Having said that though I could use a good proofreader.
Do you make comics for a living?

No thank god, I'd be dead of a thousand shoulder cramps. My neck would turn into an enormous mound of suffocating gristle that would slowly crush my wind pipe. I'm in the lucrative world of ad storyboards and I'm grateful for it. I get paid well to draw and people respect my abilities, unlike the comic book industry where you're treated like a human photocopy machine and thrown on to the scrapheap when you're no good to them anymore. Sorry to be so cynical, I've read a few too many Wally Wood interviews! The two are related in that storytelling principles (should) remain the same. Of course my creative outlet will always be comics.

Are you connected to a community of artists?

Yes, it's vital. I'm trying to remain in touch with as many people as I can in the form of regular meetings. It's an important social outlet for me as art can be a lonely business!

Do you pursue any other forms of art?

Yes. If I had another lifetime. I'll probably retire one day to paint landscapes, who knows. Landscapes with tiny little hippo detectives hidden away in the detail.

What recent comics/books have you enjoyed?

I avoid graphic novels like the plague. Recent purchases have been pre code horror compilations or comic art monographs (The Horror The Horror. Four Colour Fear. The Art of Steve Ditko. The Weird World Of Eerie publications. Books on Golden age greats Jerry Robinson, Bill Everett, Mort Meskin.) I love the DC Showcase reprints and the Essential Marvel 70's horror stuff. The new Zombie Terrors by Asylum Press is great.

 Jason's workspace

Interview conducted via email March 2011.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Australasian Comics and Cartoonists

Welcome to Lines on Paper a blog about New Zealand and Australian Comics and Cartoonists. With this blog and the Lines on Paper Quarterly I hope to spotlight the work of contemporary Australasian cartoonist's as well as covering the rich history of cartooning that Australia and New Zealand share.