Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Not Australasian Comics: Isometrics - Romero

Isometrics the newspaper strip was based on a book about isometric exercise called How to Exercise Without Moving A Muscle by gridiron football player, coach, and executive Vic Obeck. Obeck features throughout the strip describing and occasionally demonstrating his exercise techniques. The scripting is by Ridwan Aitken with artwork by Enrique Badia Romero. Romero is more well known to English audiences for his collaboration with Donne Avenell on Axa which featured in The New Zealand Truth throughout the eighties. Romero also illustrated Modesty Blaise prior to New Zealand artist Neville Colvin and succeeded him when Colvin retired from the strip.

Isometrics featured in The New Zealand Herald during the seventies and a collection was printed and published by Wilson and Horton in 1975.

A S Paterson Cartoons from The Dominion

Daily cartoons by Alan Stuart Paterson from his time as the first staff cartoonist at The Dominion from 1925 to 1950.

Monday, May 28, 2012

John Joseph McNamara

John McNamara self portrait showing travel between Woking (England) and Wellington (New Zealand) 1969

John McNamara was born 18th April 1918 and began his illustration career in his teens drawing caricatures of film, sporting and local personalities for numerous magazines including Paramount Theatre of Stars (1935), Standard (1936), Radio Record, New Zealand Sporting Life and Referee, Junior for NZ, Boys and Girls (1937-38), Clarion (1938), Cappicade (1937-39) and Katipo (1940). McNamara was a member of the New Zealand Cartoonist's Association which appears to have only existed for several years prior to World War Two.

 Life among the Japanese at Featherston. The New Zealand Listener, 11 January 1944.

After the War McNamara was Prinicipal cartoonist for Wellington morning daily The Southern Cross (1956 - 1951). McNamara's cheeky little Maori character was a recurring feature of the paper.

McNamara moved to England in 1950 and found work in British newspapers. The full extent of McNamara's work in England is unknown. McNamara worked for Amalgamated Press drawing issues of Thriller Comics, ranging from adaptations of Westward Ho!, The Red Badge of Courage and Hopalong Cassidy to the adventures of Dick Turpin and Robin Hood.  Two other early strips possibly published in the Daily Mail featured "Bats" Belfry, which had a horse racing background and involved bet setting and detective work, and an adaption of C. S. Forester's character Horatio Hornblower.

From the mid fifties to the early seventies Mcnamara illustrated the newspaper strip Paul Temple based on the popular BBC radio serial. McNamara died in Surrey in February 2001, aged 82.

 Original art featured in Southern Cross newspaper (1946-1951)

Caricature of radio broadcaster Colin Scrimgeour 1937

One of the most popular crime series of the 1950s and 1960s was Francis Durbridge's Paul Temple. Featured in the London Evening News since 1951, originally drawn by Alfred Sindall and subsequently by Bill Bailey with McNamara assuming illustration duties from 1954 until 1971. In the final years of the strip McNamara adjusted the look of his lead character to resemble Francis Matthews, who portrayed Temple in the Paul Temple BBC TV series (1969-71).

Steve Holland has serialised two Paul Temple adventures by John McNamara and Francis Durbridge on his Bear Alley Blog.

McNamara's work on Paul Temple is not generally available in print although many of his stories can be purchased from the All Devon Comic Collectors Club. A Society dedicated to preserving the sadly neglected English newspaper strips, The ADCCC are authorised to sell booklet reprints of Paul Temple and other strips exclusively to their membership. Details are available from The Newspaper Comic Strip Library website.

The following original art boards are for sale from the comicartfans page of Peter Hartung. Click to embiggen to see the exquisite detail McNamara put into his work.

Sources: , , Peter Hartung , Bear Alley Blog. The Unauthorised Version A Cartoon History of New Zealand 1840 - 1987 2nd edition - Ian F. Grant.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jubilee Publications Romance Comics

Honeymoon Library covers from

I've found very little information about Jayar Studios who are credited in the indicia of these romance comics with, "Drawn and printed in Australia by Jayar Studios and Sungravure Limited for the publishers, Jubilee Publications Pty, Ltd., 81-83 Walker St., North Sydney."

Kevin Patrick of comicsdownunder suggested,  "Jayar may have been in an in-house editorial/paste-up service which produced a staggering array of comics back in the 1950s and 1950s, which may have been affiliated with - or in some way connected to - Consolidated Press (once proud jewel of the Frank/Kerry Packer media empire). Or, it might have had links with Truth & Sportsman/Invincible Press back in the early 1950s."

Kevin also commented on the difficulties in researching this material, "There are probably many short-lived Aussie romance comics imprints I haven't seen, despite being interested in them for a decade or so, now. Simply because I suspect that publishers frequently changed their series titles (and numbering sequence) in mid-run (for various reasons), which causes considerable confusion for we researchers & collectors, decades down the track."

Kevin suggested the actual original 'drawn' component of these comics likely being the painted covers and the interior stories consisting of American reprints, perhaps material from St John Publications romance line. have significant background information and cover scans of Australian published reprints of foreign material.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Paper Trail

Fred the Clown Copyright 2012 Roger Langridge

Fourplay String Quartet's score for Roger Langridge's Fred the Clown comic Nowhere Special that was performed at the Graphic Conference in 2011 is receiving an encore performance today at 12:30pm (Sydney, Australia time) as part of the TedxSydney Conference.

You can catch a live stream of it here.

Langridge has calculated streaming times for other locales:

2am-3:30am Saturday morning,  British Summer time
9pm-11:30pm Friday in New York
6pm-7:30pm Friday in Los Angeles
1pm-2:30pm Saturday in New Zealand

Nice Day For A War Copyright 2012 Chris Slane and Matt Elliot

Chris Slane and Matt Elliot's Nice Day For A War was a recent winner of Children's Book of the Year and Children's Non-Fiction Award at the 2012 NZ Post Book Awards. Slane has also announced their book has gone into a second printing.

More info on Nice Day For a War here.

Interview with Sydney cartoonist Queenie Chan from 2012 Adelaide Oz Comic-Con.

Professor Jane Chapman speaking at Macquarie University last year with her 'Uncurated' lecture 'Comics and the representation of female war-time bravery in Wanda the War Girl (Australia) and Paroles d'Etoiles (France)'. As well as Wanda creator Kathleen O'Brien Chapman also speaks briefly about Sydney cartoonist Moira Bertram.

From the MacQuarie University description of her lecture,

Professor Jane Chapman from the University of Lincolnshire will present Comics and the representation of female war-time bravery in Wanda the War Girl and Paroles d’Etoiles. During the Second World War, an Aussie comic strip character called Wanda the War Girl was more popular than Superman: servicemen even painted her picture on their planes and tanks. What is the appeal of representation of women in 1940s comics as a subject? Why does historical nostalgia attract so many exhibition visitors? 

Wanda The War Girl from Perth Sunday Times 1943

Yoinked from Jason's Yfrog, here's Ginger Meggs cartoonist Jason Chatfield and Garfield creator Jim Davis at the Ruebens in Las Vegas.

New Zealand produced Online Magazine Werewolf is worth checking in on monthly with sporadic cartooning updates. Writer Mike Brown and Illustrator Mat Tait are producing some especially beautiful comics here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Darren Schroeder Interview

Darren Schroeder served fourteen years as the editor of Christchurch comic collective Funtime Comics, New Zealand's longest running comic collective. As well as creating his own series of mini comics, Mopy, Schroeder edited the small press section of Comics Bulletin for 7 years (2000-07) and contributed the occasional interview and review of mainstream comics. Schroeder has also written articles on New Zealand comics for Comic Edge, Comic Quarterly, Stripschrift, Comic Australia and various other magazines and web sites. Since the late twentieth century Schroeder has also maintained fan sites for the comic characters Man-Thing, Jonah Hex, and comic creator Keith Giffen.

Find Darren Schroeder online here.

 Darren Schroeder

The following interview was conducted via email May 2012

What were the first comics you took an interest in?

From a young age I had a box of comics by my bed which I used to read over and over and over. They were mostly Disney including Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge and even a Super Goof. There was also some other random issues of other comics: a few Australian/NZ DC reprints, Jonah Hex, Fear # 16, Unknown Soldier etc.

When did you start drawing comics and what were your initial influences?

I started working on drawing my own in the late 90s. I'd been a fan of local comics for many years but hadn't really though about drawing my own until I read a comic by John Weeks which ended with the words "You could have made this comic", and it just made me suddenly think "Okay, I'll give it a try!". Content wise the autobiographical work of folks like Ariel Shcrag, Harvey Pekar, and Amber Carvan appealed to me so I tried that approach, and the humour of Brad Yung's "Stay As You Are" had a strong impact.

Who was involved with the creation of Funtime Comics?

Funtime Comics grew out of Comic Soc, a club at the University of Canterbury established by Jason Brice. The club's aim was to promote the comics form by providing a meeting place for folk of like minds, and publishing a comic/zine was part of Jason's initial plan. He got a lot of folks involved, editing the first issue of Funtime Comics with university friends Bean McGregor and Nigel Campbell, with the name Funtime coming from a competition for the title and cover banner which was won by Debra Boyask.

Have there been any other South island collectives or groups of cartoonist's?

Dunedin had a few well before Funtime - I get the impression Razor, Jesus on a Stick, Treacle, and Umph all came out of a collective approach. In Christchurch there was also the NZ Cartoonist Collective with their own anthology.

What lead you to taking the role of editor for Funtime Comics Presents?

It became available after issue 4 had a troubled production. I'd done some editing of a small zine for another club so said I'd give the job a go.

What sustained you serving fourteen years as Funtimes Comics Presents editor?

The look on the faces of the contributors when they saw the comics arrive fresh from the printers.

Were any comics rejected for publication during your time as Funtimes editor?

No and yes: Everyone who submitted work had something published, but if someone sent us lots of pages I'd select from it what I thought best represented their style, and keep the other material for possible future use. When I stopped being editor there was a large file of stuff for the next editor (Isaac Freeman) to work with.

What did your role as Funtimes editor entail?

I'd collate the contributions for each issue from the work that had been submitted, produce any text pages, commission cover artwork, decide on a subtitle for each issue, deal with the printers, and distribute the finished product to contributors, subscribers and comic shops. As the only "official" of the group I also took on a range of administrative tasks like treasurer and buyer of animal biscuits for the monthly comic workshops.

Dylan Horrocks stocks up on animal biscuits

Who are some of your personal favourite New Zealand Cartoonists?

Tim Cornelius's "Colonel Void & Bisbay the Axolotl" in The New Zealand Comic Gazette is a kiwi classic.

G.C.R. - I loved Grace's autobiographical Bip Bip.

Brent Willis - lots of folk think they're funny, Brent's stuff is always hilarious, and he is so prolific.

Indira Neville - Her comics were great fun

What is the appeal for you of Jonah Hex?

Michael Fleisher wrote great little morality tales, and managed to Jonah a rather tragic figure: alone, despised by most people, unable to escape violence, and even coming face to face with his own stuffed corpse. The future Hex stuff was an odd idea but it worked, and Giffen's artwork is some of my favourite comic artwork - such an extreme, almost expressionistic way of telling a story that used intense closeups on details instead of showing the action.

While you were in Christchurch where were the best places to get comics?

Comics Compulsion did well for mainstream material and were always supportive of local comics. The second hand shops were surprisingly useful for older US stuff back in the 90s as well.

What prompted your move to England?

The woman I love got a job here so I came along with her.

Are you currently doing anything in comics creatively or reading?

I haven't drawn any comics for about 5 years, but recently I've been asked to guest edit a new local comic/zine anthology Quixotic Press.

I'm also looking into running comic creating workshops for schools.

Reading wise I get Jonah Hex, anything that Keith Giffen draws, and the occasional random small press comic.

All images copyright 2012 Darren Schroeder, Funtime Comics