Friday, May 30, 2014

Maurice Bramley Scientific Thriller Covers

I've been posting New Zealand/Australian cartoonist/illustrator Maurice Bramley's painted Scientific Thriller covers on Te Pikitia tumblr. Here's a selection for folk that may have missed them.

Maurice Bramley covers for Scientific Thriller novels circa 1948-1949. As with other illustration work , Bramley often used his own photos as well as photos of actors and celebrities as reference for characters in his illustrations.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ant Sang Interview


Ant Sang's Dharma Punks along with Adam Jamieson's Blink was one of the few New Zealand comics I was aware of in my teens that was available nationwide through bookshops and newsagents via Australasian distributors Gordon and Gotch. I had picked up the first issues of Ant's first series Filth on a rare trip to Auckland and finding Dharma Punks in a local book shop was impressive to see, for the progression in Ant's work and the fact it was now available in provincial New Zealand where access to comics and especially local ones was limited.

New publishing venture Earth's End have run a Dharma Punks kickstarter this month and successfully funded a collection of the eight part series within days. Three stretch goals have also been achieved with expanded back matter scheduled for inclusion upon reaching a $15,000 target.

Backers can expect an A5, 400 page collection with embossed cover, UV spot and french flaps with all eight full colour covers of the original series included in the book.

Please consider supporting the Collected Dharma Punks on Kickstarter.

The Dharma Punks synopsis:

"It's Auckland, New Zealand, 1994. A group of anarchist punks have hatched a plan to sabotage the opening of a multinational-fast food restaurant by blowing it sky-high on opening day.

Chopstick has been given the unenviable task of setting the bomb in the restaurant the night before the launch, but when he is separated from his accomplice, the night takes the first of many unexpected turns.
As the story unfolds, it becomes clear there is more at stake than was first realised, and the outcome of the night's events will change all of their lives in ways they could never have imagined."

The following interview with Ant Sang is excerpted from a longer piece covering Ant's career in The New Zealand and Australian Comics Interview Zine #2: Ant Sang available from the Pikitia Store in June.

What were the first comics you read?
I've been through heaps of phases of comic reading. The earliest comics I remember reading were cheap funnies. Richie Rich, Casper, Uncle Scrooge, that kind of stuff. When I was around six years old one of my favourites was Burne Hogarth's Tarzan of the Apes. I've still got it sitting on my bookshelf to this day.

What got you interested in making your own comics?
I tinkered with combining words and pictures when I was a kid, but I wasn't consciously trying to make comics at that time. It wasn't until my early twenties that I had the thought of actually making comics. I was studying graphic design, and going through a big existential crisis after a classmate died. A friend who was also into comics lent me a bunch of 'alternative comics' - Dan Clowes, Chester Brown, Julie Doucet - and it was a real revelation. For the first time I realised that comics could be raw, crude, angry and could talk frankly about a lot of issues which really connected with me. I was taken by the DIY ethic of a lot of the 'alternative comics' and figured that 'yeah, anyone can do comics', if they had something to say. It was soon afterwards that I started making my first mini-comic, Filth, to explore the thoughts going on in my head.

I remember a boom in self published comics in Auckland around the time Filth came out, I recall the work of Andy Conlan, Karl Wills, Adam Jamieson, and Willi Saunders amongst others, were you part of a comics community then?
Yeah the mid-nineties was a really exciting time in the Auckland comic scene. So many great comics were being made then, and there was a real camadarie amongst the Auckland cartoonists. We met for regular comic meetings and saw each other socially. Cornelius Stone used to have big parties at his flat in Mt Eden and he lived with Barry and Willi at various times. It was also a good time because it felt, not with just comics, but with music and film too, that there was some kind of cultural revolution in the air. 
Did you plan to have newsstand/bookshop distribution for Dharma Punks before starting the series? Did you approach any publishers with the work?
When I started working on The Dharma Punks, it was my first attempt at a long form story, and I didn't want it to be just a continuation of Filth. I felt it terms of story and production that I had to do something different. I had to up the ante I guess.

I had been to a heap of conventions by this time, hawking mini-comics at the NZ comics tables to a largely disinterested crowd. Over that time I had the chance to think about the mini-comic scene and came to a few conclusions. One was that a lot of potential readers didn't give mini-comics a chance because they just looked too weird. Too scratchy, too DIY, too lo-fi. I figured people were scared off them. And secondly, people are more likely to pick up comics which they recognise on some level. So my plan with The Dharma Punks was to try to package it differently and to promote the hell out of it, so that people would know about it. This wasn't the done thing at the time. I remember when I talked to another cartoonist mate about the idea he looked at me and said ' what are you going to do, walk around with a sandwich board?' So anyway, I found the cheapest printer I could find, and got the covers printed in colour, on a thicker stock. And I managed to get pretty good coverage on student radio and tv and magazine interviews. It seemed like a real media blitz, for a New Zealand comic anyway.

I can't remember when I thought newstand/bookshop distribution would be a good idea. It certainly wasn't the plan from the start. Probably not til quite close to the first issue being released. In the end most copies were still sold from comic shops, but having the comics on display at the newsstands/bookshops really helped with promotion and being visible.

I'm pretty sure I approached a couple of overseas publishers, probably some of the better known alternative publishers, but I don't think I heard back from them...

How long was the gestation process of Dharma Punks before the first issue came out? How far into the series were you when it launched?
The gestation period of Dharma Punks will have been about four years. When I finished Filth in 1997 I wanted to work on a longform story, but I had to brush up on my writing as I hadn't ever done a comic of substantial length. So for those four years I read heaps of screenwriting books, drew a number of aborted attempts of Dharma Punks, and tried to figure out what the storyline should be.

Did you receive much feedback from Dharma Punks original publication?
The immediate reaction to Dharma Punks was great. The comic shops here in New Zealand were super supportive, and there seemed to be quite a buzz about the comic. Even folk who don't normally read comics were apparently heading into the specialty comic shops and asking for Dharma Punks.

Did you anticipate the response to the Dharma Punks Kickstarter? What were your expectations?
Well, y'know we were hopeful of meeting our goal, but as the launch date approached we all got increasingly nervous about the response to our campaign. We'd been planning the campaign for close to a year, so a lot of planning and discussion had gone into it. We felt there were a lot of people who wanted this to happen, but you never know how it will go until you actually go ahead and do it for real. The first few days were crazy. I couldn't help constantly checking in to see the latest running total. Fortunately the Dharma Punks fans came through and we reached our initial goal within five days.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hamilton Zinefest 2014

Pikitia Press will be tabling at the Hamilton Zinefest this Saturday. I'll be giving a talk at 1:30pm on the History of New Zealand Comics and micro publishing with Pikitia Press. Ant Sang will be talking at 11:30 about his forthcoming collection from Earth's End of his series The Dharma Punks.

I havn't written about Ant's Kickstarter for Dharma Punks as I have been busy as all heck but it's running for the course of May and well worth supporting.

Dharma Punks on Kickstarter.

The day's line up of workshops and talks:
Workshops and Talks are going to happen during the day at zinefest… here’s the line up :

10:30am – Kylie Buck / Tessa Stubbing (NZ Zine Review)
Zine binding with Kylie & Tessa [Max: 10 participants]
From the simple staple, to hand-sewing and more - this is a hands on workshop that covers the basics, and introduces some alternative techniques to zine binding. Materials supplied.

11:30am – Ant Sang /
Talks about the revival of Dharma Punks
Ant Sang has been described as “part of a new generation of sequential artists who challenge the tired misconception that comics are juvenile or lacking in literary merit.” He produced the surprisingly popular Filth mincomix in the mid-90′s, and kicked off the new millenium with his most ambitious project yet – a 384 page, serialised comic called The Dharma Punks. Ant will talk about the journey his comic series The Dharma Punks has taken from comic book to publication as a graphic novel via Kickstarter.

12:30pm – Ash Spittal /
Personal narratives within a Queer context
Ash started making zines a year ago after drawing lots of pictures of transgender men and not knowing what to do with them. He compiled the images and distributed them to friends. The work ended up becoming a sort of study of the transmasculine community in Aotearoa. Ash will be talking about zines and comics that have inspired him to write about being a queer trans* person. He makes zines about being different and being ok with that. He also likes superhero comics a lot.

1:30pm – Matt Emery (Pikitia Press) / 
Talks about New Zealand comics and the development of Pikitia Press
Matt will be talking about the history of New Zealand comics over the last 100 years and the evolution of Pikitia Press as a publication company publishing the best in independent comics from NZ and Australia.

2:30pm – Lucy Meyle / 
Exploring new frontiers: experimental publications & zine-making [Max 10 participants]​

This talk will look at contemporary artists who disseminate their work by exploiting the social, flexible, and contingent nature of small publications. It will also discuss how we can think of zines/comics/books not as finished objects, but as testing grounds for provisional ideas, social experiments, or explorations of form. Using these concepts as starting points, the talk will then explore some practical possibilities for making experimental publications.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Jimmy Bancks (10 May 1889 – 1 July 1952)


James Charles "Jimmy" Bancks was born today in 1889. A prolific cartoonist in the early twentieth century is most well known for creating Australia's most long surviving newspaper cartoon Ginger Meggs.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Te Pikitia Tumblr

Painted Maurice Bramley cover from the Scientific Thriller series.

I haven't been too active on the blog of late, been busy with research/pre-press/cartooning/word crunching etc. I'm aiming to post a series of interviews on Te Pikitia Blog over the rest of May, maybe squeeze in some Paper Trails if I can find the time.

One thing I have made time for in recent weeks is Te Pikitia tumblr. I'm mainly using it to share art by New Zealand and Australian cartoonists. I'll keep lengthy word pieces for Te Pikitia blog.

Consider letting Pikitia clutter your electronic social life in other forms: