Sunday, September 9, 2012

Paper Trail

Been a busy week relaxing in a little beach-side community. Amongst the bars, fish and chip shops, and cafes I found a little book exchange which yielded this beaten up gem below.

I have half a dozen Al Hartley drawn Spire Christian Comics. Fascinating in their optimistic biographical depictions of lives touched and turned around by faith and all illustrated with the supple flair Hartley used for Atlas and Archie comics. I love picking up comics like these from the seventies, cheap and disposable. Kids these days won't get to experience the joy of rifling through the corner store spinner rack with a handful of coins. Me, I'll keep digging up these treasures in the back corners of little shops in provincial towns around Australasia.

Here's some bit and pieces I've found in the ether of last week..

Veteran Melbourne cartoonist Bruce Mutard joined the internet not too long ago and has a site here with a portion of his work for various publishers. I gather this may still be a work in progress so check in for updates. I have a lengthy interview with Bruce gathering dust in the cupboard, I'll attempt to dust it off this week.

Fil Barlow writes about his recent animation shorts and comparing his original painted work with published pages from his 1980's Zooniverse mini series.

Elf-Fin writer Julie Ditrich writes about Wonder Woman and her creator William Moulton Marston for Trouble Magazine.

Wonder Woman photoshoot from Large magazine (2000).

The State Library of Victoria has a touring exhibition of Australian comics featuring at The Ballarat Library Monday, 17 September, 6:00 - 7:30. Bernard Caleo and State Library staff will offer presentations covering the past, present and future of the comics medium. A selection of modern comics for young and old, as well as rare items from the SLV collection, including original newspaper comic strips from the 1920s and classic Australian science fiction and superhero comics from the 1940s to the '60s, featuring art by John Dixon, Stanley Pitt and Keith Chatto.

 Adrian Kinnaird writes about New Zealand Comic Creators presence at the 2012 Treviso Comic Book Festival and Frankfurt Book fair.

Melbourne's open studio of comic creators, Squishface Studios, have an exhibition of art created on cardboard beer coasters in the upcoming Melbourne Fringe Festival. Details here.

Go follow the Squishface tumblr for coverage of Squishface events like their Ladies' Drawing Auxilary nights (own dedicated blog here), and their recent Exhibitchin' here and here, as well as other Australian comic happenings.
 A Man and a Comic

Michael Hawkins teases a page from his contribution to Pat Ausilio's forthcoming faux Marvel anthology Marvel Comics Presents 6 on his tumblr.

Alex Hallatt recently celebrated 5 years of her KIng Features syndicated strip, Arctic Circle. Alex recently returned to England after nine years living in Australia and New Zealand. An Arctic Circle e-book was recently made available here. I'm preparing an interview with Alex for the Pikitia Press Book, she commented the following regarding her transition from clinical research into cartooning:

"Yeah, I hated it. It was working in an office. It was working with science. It was working in the pharmaceutical industry which is everything you think it would be. Which is not good. So I had this dream, you know some people say, it's a lottery, but I just thought one of these days I'm going to get my cartoons syndicated and that was always my dream. I'd do that on the side and send that off and get rejected."

Killeroo creator Darren Close has solicited for submissions to the first annual Gangwars anthology featuring stories set in the world of Killeroo. More details here.

Killeroo by Wayne Nichols 

Emmet O' Cuana of the Momus Report and Ryan Huff of the Geek of Oz have teamed up to produce a podcast, Beardy and the Geek, with recent episodes featuring Paul Bedford and
Darren Close.

 Paul Bedford

The Pikitia Press tumblr is ticking along over here...

Noel Cook gag strip 1940

I posted the third part of the Skinny arse speeches in a previous post. here are the first two featuring Bernard Caleo (MC), J Marc Schmidt, Tohby Riddle, David Blumenstein, and Gregory Mackay courtesy of Dark Matter Fanzine.

David Holloway reviews Winter City and interviews creator Patrick Purcell here.

Not Australasian related other than a record of how I read a particular comics character during my youth in New Zealand:  Why I love Dan Dare (and you should too) at the Tearoom of Despair.

 Original board of Don Harley illustrating Dan Dare

Paul Mason writes a stream of conscious post on reading reviews, the realities of independently producing a comic in Australia, and some process notes behind his Soldier Legacy comic here.

Pikitia Press Headquarters have the next volume of Ballantyne from Peter Foster due on the publishing schedule. Below is a page from one of the first stories Peter did for DC Thomson in 1979, Detective Sargeant Crag, a hard nosed copper who featured in Crunch. Sadly these stories are unlikely to ever be reprinted, like a lot of material produced for DC Thomson and their rival IPC the realities of a modern audience for the work is so minor to make reprints not financially viable. Perhaps these comics will get a digital afterlife at some stage.

Crag illustrated by Peter Foster, Writer Unknown, Copyright 2012 DC Thomson

Friday, September 7, 2012

Virgil Reilly War Illustrations

Wartime illustrations by Virgil Reilly for the No Man's Land Column in the Australian Woman's Weekly late 1939 - early 1940.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Funtime Comics

Christchurch comics collective Funtime Comics have sent their latest anthology to the printers with contributors from across New Zealand and abroad. Issue #26 Zines, Zines, Music Hall Fruits sports a cover by Lee-Yan Marquez and comes almost two years after the previous issue. Artist's featured in this issue are: Ned Wenlock, Bob McMahon, Jason Franks Mike Athey, Daniel Brader, Ari Freeman, Debra Boyesk, Isaac Freeman, Marc Barnes, Tessa McLaughlin, Kurt Lewis, David Piper, Tim Danko and Steve Saville.

Check Funtime's Facebook for more details and information about regular drawing workshops in Christchurch hosted by Funtimes Editor Isaac Freeman.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Russell Clark

 Russell Clarke self portrait from the posthumously released The drawings of Russell Clark.
Last Year Wellington cartoonist Brent Willis discovered a comic featured in the Nov 12, 1954 edition of the N.Z. Listener, by New Zealand Illustrator Russell Clark in the archives of the Parliament Library (featured here). While I've found no evidence of other sequential work by Clark his prolific output featured in many New Zealand publications of the early to mid twentieth century with his illustrations adorning magazines, school journals, broadsheets and many books. The illustrations featured below are from an edition of Reed's Junior Library written by John L. Ewing and published in 1938 by A. H. & A. W. Reed.

Listen to a three minute clip from 1955 of Russell Clarke talking about his education and early inspiration in art here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wartime Advertising

Australasian magazines and papers were laden with advertising during wartime urging the populace to support the war effort through various means. The selection below are from World War Two are from the Australian Woman's Weekly. Though uncredited, it is possible regular weekly illustrators Virgil ReillyWep, Noel Cook, Amandus Julius Fischer, Arthur Sharland Boothroyd, and  Wynn W Davies contributed to these campaigns.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ian F. Grant Interview

Ian F. Grant has contributed immeasurably to the recording and preservation of New Zealand's cartooning history with the publication of his books The Unauthorized Version: A Cartoon History of New Zealand (1980, revised edition 1987) and Between The Lines: A Cartoon Century of New Zealand (2005) and foremostly the establishment of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive Trust initially run independently but now fully absorbed into the Alexander Turnbull Library . The collection includes the work of over 60 New Zealand and expatriate New Zealand cartoonists and over 25,000 cartoons. The New Zealand Cartoon Archive is comprised of publications, clippings, original artwork and material in digital form and has also published a series of books and monographs on New Zealand cartooning which are available here.

 Ian F. Grant, Chairman of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive Trust, Mr Peter Cartwright, H.E. The Hon. Dame Silvia Cartwright, Governor General of New Zealand, and Rachel Macfarlane, Cartoon Archive Trust Administrator, at the hand-over to the Alexander Turnbull Library at the National Library and the launch of Between the Lines on 27 October 2005.

Find more information on the New Zealand Cartoon Archive here.

Below is an excerpt of a longer interview with Grant currently in preparation for the 2012 PIkitia Press Book.

Did you have an interest in cartoons prior to being commissioned to write The Unauthorized Version: A Cartoon History of New Zealand ?

Yes, in a variety of ways. I had my first practical brush with cartoonists when I edited Victoria University of Wellington’s student newspaper, Salient, in 1960 and 1963 and the capping magazine, Cappicade in, I think 1961. I was one of the founding directors of National Business Review, with editorial and marketing roles over 13 or so years from late 1970. Prior to that I’d been a copywriter and creative director in Wellington advertising agencies in the mid-1960s, tutored part-time at the School of Design at Wellington Polytechnic and studied politics at Victoria University. So by the time NBR started I had a reasonable background in design and politics. I signed up Bob Brockie as NBR cartoonist in 1975 NBR’s market was senior management in the corporate sector and government and I was aware of the famous and relevant UK example of UK press baron Lord Beaverbrook who hired NZ cartoonist David Low, an avowed socialist, to infuriate the readers of the Evening Standard  – and sell more newspapers. Bob was a socialist, politicised by the Vietnam War, and his unflinching cartoons distressed our readers – and sold more newspapers! So, one way or another, by the time I was asked to write The Unauthorized Version I had a considerable, but very unspecialised, interest in political or editorial cartooning.

1961 Victoria University capping magazine Cappicade

What were the first cartoonists or cartoons that interested you in the medium and when was this?
I certainly wasn’t an early reader of comics; my parents did not approve of them. Instead I read magazines like Boy’s Own Paper and The Champion, which a bit of a hybrid,but mainly text. I was interested in history from a young age and I suppose the first cartoons I saw regularly were in the history texts we had at secondary school – in the, as they were then called, Form v, V1 and Upper Sixth. They were all English and often illustrated with the work of leading Punch cartoonists. This would have been in the mid-1950s. Being keen on sport, I used to enjoy the front page cartoons in Wellington’s Sports Post in the late 1940s and early 1950s, with Neville Colvin and then Nevile Lodge the cartoonists. I got to know them both decades later.

When you began initial research for The Unauthorized Version was there interest in the preservation of New Zealand cartoons by any professional institutions or private individuals?  

No, I don’t think it had occurred to anyone. I agreed to the project before finding out how many editorial cartoons were in the Alexander Turnbull Library and other research libraries in NZ – I did know the Mitchell in Sydney had a very good collection. It turned out there were no collections at all – just a few cartoons that had been deposited as parts of collections of papers, etc. Of course, there were runs of the magazines and newspapers that had carried cartoons but they were in bound volumes in various places. Once the Cartoon Archive was launched a few people emerged with clippings of the work of their favourite cartoonists. I remember once receiving at home, without even a covering letter, a large box of hundreds of Sid Scales’ cartoons carefully cut out of the Otago Daily Times.  New Zealanders were accustomed to seeing cartoons in magazines and newspapers but very little had been written about them. Pat Lawlor, a journalist who edited the NZ Artists’ Annual between 1926-32 and an NZ section in Aussie knew all the cartoonists and wrote a little about them, but not always very accurately. Even David Low, our most famous cartoonist, was little more than a name.

Prior to establishing the New Zealand Cartoon Archive I've read that your house was used to store many boxes of cartoons. How did you manage to source these? And when did you realise there was an importance to ensuring the preservation of this material?

There were two aspects to researching The Unauthorized Version. The most satisfying was the detective work, before aids like ‘Papers Past’ existed, digging out information about cartoonists who had had very little, if anything, written about them previously. Less pleasant was the grinding labour of going through many hundreds of bound volumes in the bowels of the Parliamentary Library and at the Turnbull Library then in the old Free Lance Building on the Terrace in Wellington. At the Parliamentary Library, once I had found the cartoons I wanted, I’d go up a spiral staircase to an area put aside for me where I held open the heavy bound volumes with one hand while operating the microfilm camera with the other. Not too much later most of these bound volumes were dismantled for page-by-page microfilming and then disposed of. The interest was primarily in keeping a record of the text on pages and it transpired that a number of the cartoons were not able to be reproduced satisfactorily.

I suppose, before I began working on the project, I realised that political cartoons had the ability to encapsulate and crystalise issues in a way that had a special clarity and insightfulness about it – and a close association with thousands of cartoons over several years simply reinforced this. Also, it soon became obvious that NZ had a long a particularly honourable cartooning tradition going back over a century and there were scores of unknown but very good cartoonists. And I also came to see that cartoonists had shown the depth of feeling about various issues – like the high levels of racial prejudice in the country – that had been glossed over, or missed entirely, in the general histories by people like Sinclair and Oliver. Cartoons were, and are, very good at showing prevailing gut feelings and reactions at any given time.

I came to see that it was important for the country to have a cartoon archive to honour all those cartoonists but also because of the importance of cartoons as historical sources that should take their place alongside the official records and documents that our historians have relied on for so long. Interestingly, this is a view that is increasingly accepted by historians in a number of countries.

Acknowledgement:Thanks to Chris Slane for putting me in touch with Ian F. Grant, Source:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Comics in Australian Advertising in the 1930's

Advertising featuring comic strips from 1930's Australian Woman's Weekly. Artist's are uncredited but possibly include Wep, Noel Cook, Amandus Julius Fischer, Arthur Sharland Boothroyd, and  Wynn W Davies who all contributed cartoons and illustrations to the magazine during this period.