Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Paper Trail

Karl Wills's Princess Seppuku is now available in a Japanese edition from The Comic Book Factory. Wills reports number one has sold out of it's first print run and he is several pages into number two. First New Zealand comic produced entirely in Japanese? Possibly...

Princess Seppuku and the Hunt for Robot-X Japanese edition available here.

 Copyright 2012 Karl Wills

  Copyright 2012 Andy Conlan

Andy Conlan presents his children's book Mr Gloomingdale's Downpour in audio visual form.

Mike Alexander writes about artist and sometime cartoonist Elliot Francis Stewart for Stuff.co.nz

 Copyright 2012 Elliot Francis Stewart

To celebrate the creation of 600+ pages of comics over two years Sarah Laing is offering some hand compiled yearly volumes for some lucky readers. Read her latest post for details.

Copyright 2012 Sarah Laing

Smaller Comics are presenting a second year of MINICOMIC OF THE MONTH. 24 dollars for twelve mini comics from some of Australia's finest cartoonists. Sign up here.

Have a look at: Jackie Ryan's Burger Force

Copyright 2012 Jackie Ryan

Ryan featured on a panel covering writing for cross platforms from The 2012 Melbourne Emerging Writers Festival. View here.

Oslo Davis interviewed by Gather and Fold here.

Copyright 2012 Oslo Davis

Good Ok Bad reviews Pat Grant's Blue

Copyright 2012 Pat Grant

Paul Mason recaps his experiences at the Melbourne Oz Comic-con here.

Paul Mason and Doug Holgate

Dick Sargeson cartoonist Graeme Kirk is one of the contributing artists to Fracked a combined exhibition of Taranaki artists held at The Village Gallery in Eltham 30 September - 19 October.

Copyright 2012 Graeme Kirk

Australian Cartoonist Association President and Ginger Meggs cartoonist Jason Chatfield features on ABC's Insiders here. Chatfield discusses comics on Radio National here.

Today's Paper Trail is brought to you by two Maurice Bramley covers featuring his take on Marvel's Nick Fury character.

Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr Interview Part Two of Two

Read part one of James Andre's interview with Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr here.

Find Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr online here.
Find Milk Shadow Books here.

A lot of your horror work seems to either be set in the prehistoric times or in the future. Your visions of the future and past seem unlike those of the Flintstones or Jetsons. What interests you in these time periods?

  The very fact that these time periods are not in the here and now allows the imagination far greater freedom to explore the kind of concepts and images that we do. Stories set in the present, with a basis in firm reality, make this more difficult to achieve. The more unreal, surreal or bizarre the setting or scenario, the more creative your imagination becomes, resulting in uniqueness and originality. Also, issues such as social politics, et al, can then be addressed in a far more lateral way and remain in the subtext without crowding the story and action. When working within genres such as SF, horror and fantasy, as a general rule, the further from reality the story, the more diverse the interpretation of the readers. We feel that this is ultimately a positive thing. We have found that settings in other realities, in the far past or distant future, or on other worlds, work best for us when dealing with pure “fantasy”

You have released several works with titles such as Gorgasm etc, what do you think of the new trend in mainstream filmmaking, and possibly mass media in general of the pornography or torture porn style of entertainment? Recent works such as Hostel etc?

For a start, it’s not exactly a “new trend”. Do not forget the Video Nasties and the Pre-Code horror comics of the 1950s, or the “Penny Dreadfuls”, the pulps of the 1930s and just as infamous, the Grand Guignol, which featured staged rapes, torture and mutilations such as eye gouging – as do films like Hostel and Saw.

There is far less censorship now than there was in the hideously politically correct 1990s. Back then; it was just too fashionable to be offended by just about anything at all. There is more freedom now, and that can only be a good thing for artists who enjoy pushing the “boundaries”.

We feel that films such as Hostel 1 & 2, Dawn of the Dead remake, Devil’s Rejects, Hills have Eyes remake, and such, are bonafide modern horror films that do not pull their punches. There are many interesting themes and good performances in these films, along with genuinely threatening and confronting images of terrifying violence. These elements make these films much more powerful than your average lightweight thriller.

One thing these films are not, and that’s pornography. While the violence and elements of sadism may well be intense, they contain no porn. Nudity, naked breasts and simulated sex does not constitute pornography. Nor do bucket-loads of SFX blood and guts. Pornographic films have real people indulging in real sex for the camera. These “new trend” horror films are not real. They are created through the use of special effects. No one is ever “really” tortured, raped, mutilated or murdered.
On the other hand, there are women who are involved in the porn industry that clearly would rather be doing something else. In effect, they are trapped. That kind of scenario is pretty depressing. This is simply not the case with films like Hostel, no matter how “offensive” the themes and imagery.

Horror is visual and visceral as well as psychological. In a thriller or suspense story it is the notion of implication and an atmosphere of fear that drives the story and characters. It is not until “that which is truly unacceptable” actually transpires and is shown rather than implied that a story can really become a “horror story”. This is what puts horror apart from other forms, such as suspense and fantasy, etc.

All good stories, horror or otherwise, have a combination of elements– a good premise, strong concepts, suspense, drama, action, interesting characters, a cohesive plot, and in some cases, even moments of impactful violence. But if you intend to do horror, then it’s a good idea to make it horrific – conceptually and visually. Matters of “taste” or theories of what does or does not constitute “porn” and “torture porn” don’t enter into it.

Splash page from Phantastique #4

Can you talk about the relaunch of Phantastique?

Yes, Phantastique has re-emerged as Fantastique. The first two issues are in circulation throughout the underground and a third one is due to be released soon. It includes The Well of Souls - scripted and pencilled by us and inked by Glenn Smith, and Ocean Born, a script of ours that has been illustrated by Tanya Nicholls (of Storm Publishing).

Fantastique is more overtly oriented towards fantasy and science fantasy, but it also contains obvious elements of horror and gore. On the other hand, Charnel House is a hard-core horror comic that is extreme and very explicit.

Ever thought of doing something with some fluffy bears and a nice little romance?

Not likely. Not our thing.

So, what’s up next?
More art, stories, experimental music and comics.

Thank you both for your time.
Thanks very much for your interest in us, and our work.
All images copyright 2012 Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr. Interview copyright 2012 James Andre.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr Interview Part One of Two

Originally intended for publication in Milk Shadow Books anthology title YUCK, a couple years ago, the following interview ended up unused and was passed on to me by Milk Shadow Books Head Honcho James Andre. As S.C.A.R, Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr, have produced some of Australia's most provocative comics garnering fans all over the globe with their uncompromising visions of the distant past and the far flung future. I hope to do a follow up interview with them to touch on what they have been up to in recent times.

Find Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr online here.
Find Milk Shadow Books here.

Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr Interview by James Andre

When most people think Australian comics, they think of that rascal Ginger Meggs, or maybe the majestic gaze of The Phantom. They probably don’t think of vomitous mutilating mutants with the sex organs of humans. They should. But maybe they’ve never heard of SCAR.

Yuck Magazine recently grabbed Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr by the shoulders, and shook them for an explanation.
Panel from Charnel House #1

What sparked both your interests in art?

Art itself. We have both always had an inherent talent and interest in it. We’ve always been attracted to visual things. It was the surrealists, Bosch, Ernst, Bruegel, Magritte, Dali, etc, and early images of pulp SF and horror that inspired us, along with comic books from the 1960s, primarily Gold Key SF fantasy and early Marvel comic art, Kirby and Dikto, specifically.

Another inspiration was 1950s SF films and TV shows like The Outer Limits, etc. In fact, we are both more oriented towards SF and weird fantasy rather than horror, even though we often include gory content in our work. Well before the time either of us had actually seen an EC comic, we had been independently creating grotesque and surreal comic art and illustrations.

How was SCAR formed?

We met at a comic book artists and writers meeting in Sydney in 1991 and discovered that we had very common artistic tastes and interests. Turned out we were creatively compatible and made a pretty good team. Both of us have been able to do much more together than either of us ever could have achieved on an individual basis.

What equipment/materials did you start the company with?

We are not a company. We simply work together on many art, writing and musical projects. So far as art, comics and writing are concerned, in the beginning we used the basics – pencils, rubbers, pens, paper, inks and cheap printers or Photostat machines.

How has that changed now with the prevalence of computer graphics technology?

Some layouts, scripts and colouring are produced with the assistance of a computer these days. We also use the computer when it comes to our electronic music, mainly to manipulate and process rhythms and noise.

Was it hard to find printers willing to print your material?

In the early days of Phantastique magazine there were problems. Issue #2 was delayed by several weeks because a printer freaked out over the content. There is also the issue of cost. Printing is expense in Australia.

These days, we’ve had very few problems over the content, even our most graphic images, which are far more extreme than anything that was ever in Phantastique. In fact, our current printer likes us, along with most of our work.

Phantastique #4

Steve, you were part of Phantastique. Could you tell us about your involvement with the Phantastique controversy?

Phantastique magazine was financed by a small grant ($5,000) and a loan ($20,000) from the Office of Small Business. The $5,000 was for capital only and the $20,000 was paid out in increments as specific expenses arose, production, advertising, etc. These funds were also to be paid back in monthly instalments from incoming profits.

Issue #1 of Phantastique was released in 1985. The final issue (#4) appeared on the newsstands late in 1986. I was the creative director, as well as contributing art and stories. There was an instant controversy over the content - explicit depictions of gory violence. Consequently, issues #3 and #4 were banned in QLD, SA and WA.

The loudest critics did not come from the conservative Right, as one would assume, but from the authoritarian Leftists. Stories such as Jungle Ghoul Girls, which appeared in issue #4, were seen as being “highly offensive” and labelled as “ideologically unsound”. However, various conservatives and moral reformists also condemned the magazine, its creators and content. The controversy raged on talkback radio and on TV news and Current Affairs programmes for nearly a month.

 Sequence from The Fuglies

Have either of you ever had any interest in producing art or writing for mainstream comics for companies such as Dark Horse etc?

We certainly have. Our work has been published by Dark Horse and Eros/Fantagraphics, among others, as well as appearing in Australian national weekly magazines produced by ACP, Next Media, Gemkilt, etc. We are always interested in mainstream publishers and the possibility of a wider exposure, not to mention making a living off our art and writing.

Currently, much of our work is in very limited release and consists of small runs. Some of this material is very extreme and not particularly “mainstream friendly”. Despite this, it’s very much in demand throughout the counter-culture. Many of our readers also claim that they have difficulty obtaining our material. Support from mainstream publishers and a broader, more commercial release would go a long way in resolving this problem.

What’s the story with the banning of Spore Whores?

The Spore Whores trilogy, along with Femosaur World and Kill of the Spyderwoman were produced for Eros/Fantagraphics. The Office of Film and Literature Classification banned all three issues of Spore Whores in the early 1990s after a package containing our complimentary copies of Femosaur World and Spore Whores #1 was seized by Australian Customs and forwarded by them to the OFLC.

Due to its content of graphic and explicit depictions of gory sexual violence, Spore Whores #1 was immediately banned in Australia. Issues #2 and #3 soon suffered the same fate. However, Spore Whores remained on sale in various comic book specialty stores for some time afterwards; the banning was never widely publicised. Some stores were raided and their stock was confiscated or impounded.

 Page from Once Upon A Time In Australia

Besides influences such as Tales From The Crypt and horror comics, what are some of the influences behind your art, both visually and the writing style?

There are countless influences: Death Metal, Black Metal and prog rock art are a source of inspiration, not to mention the music. SF authors such as H. G. Wells, Harry Harrison, Eric Frank Russell, Robert Sheckley, John Sladek, Bruce Jones and Fredric Brown have had a lasting impact.

Influential horror authors include David Case, Alex White, Nancy A Collins, and Joe R Lansdale. Early fantasy writers like Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E Howard, Lovecraft and others were among our earliest influences, along with the Pan Books of Horror.

Visually and conceptually, our work would have evolved very differently had we not been exposed to concepts like dadaism and Cubism, etc, Ray Harryhausen films and their modern counterparts, as well as primitive and tribal art.

Of equal importance are negative influences, such as mediocre ideas and anti-progressive and prohibitive ideology. These things often motivate us to create something that we find inspiring, regardless of any “barriers” or “limitations” that are transgressed in the process.

There’s a strong portrayal of females in your work. The villains seem to almost all be female. Any reason for this?
We think female villains are way sexier than lame do-gooder heroines like Xena and Wonder Woman. And they are fun to draw. Besides, the traditional “male villain” archetypes have been fully explored in a myriad of ways. There’s a kind of freshness to the idea of using female villains that makes them more appealing to us than your average generic bad guy. However, that’s not to say that male villains are no longer relevant or that female villains are anything especially new.

When it comes to art, fiction and fantasy, we are both interested in and inspired by the concept and images of hyper-predatory females. Global legend and mythology is full of female monsters and demonic goddesses of destruction – Lilith, Hecate, Kali, Echidna, Tiamat, Medusa, harpies, banshees, lamiae, etc.

These powerful female archetypes have endured throughout history. They provide a diverse source of inspiration for storylines, concepts and characters. There is a plethora of subtext and themes – social, political and Freudian - just waiting to be explored through these archetypes.

Panel from The Fuglies

All images copyright 2012 Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr. Interview copyright 2012 James Andre.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Oz Comic-Con Melbourne 2012

The Inaugural Melbourne Oz Comic Con was plagued with issues, mainly stemming from the overselling of tickets, creating an overcrowded Exhibition Centre with many ticket holders locked out while entry was temporarily closed on both days to ease congestion.

The OZ Comic Con facebook page was rife with negative feedback over the weekend from many disappointed punters. Negative comments were going up faster than Oz Comic Con could delete them with threads reaching at some points 400-500 comments.

The news wasn't all bad though. Many punters enjoyed the show and appreciated the rare opportunity to meet pop culture icons and made their thoughts known online. Also every guest and creator in artist alley I've heard from have reported positively about their Oz Comic Con experience with the general impression being this convention attracted more comic readers in contrast to other pop culture events. Perth publisher Gestalt Comics sold out of three of their titles, with James Brouwer and Tom Taylor's The Deep: Here Be Dragons marking three weeks of sellouts after the Sydney and Perth Supanovas. There was also a substantial turn out of comic dealers and stores hosting booths with several out of state appearances and swarms of people actively digging through long-boxes.

Hopefully the negative publicity of this convention will not effect future Oz-cons. I'm certain the organisers have taken these teething problems on-board and will be better prepared in future. In the last few years the amount of good local comics being produced has vastly increased and conventions like this are the perfect place for them to find an audience.

David Holloway writes about the Oz-comic con here.
Bobby N has a round up and photos here.
ABC footage here.
YBNews blog post here.
Sky news video here.
Herald Sun story.