Saturday, June 30, 2012

Paper Trail

Melbourne writer/artist Jason Franks reveals a preview of his second volume of  The Sixsmiths. Following his collaboration with artist J Marc Schmidt on the first volume for Top Shelf Comics, the sequel will features multiple artists including Dean Rankine.

Illustration and comics: Ralphi

Australian Cartoonists Association President Jason Chatfield goes to war for comics in newspapers with some radio idiots here. Chatfield speaks with Lindsay Foyle on newspaper strips here.

Guerilla Pussy are seeking queer themed comic submissions by 31st July.

Emmet O’Cuana at The Momus Report writes about several Australian comics purchased at the Sydney Supanova over here , here, here and here.

At the Melbourne Oz Comic Con this weekend Milk shadow Books release two new mini's, Cartoondelia by Rio de Janeiro cartoonist Johandson Rezende and Zoonmini #1 by Fil Barlow. Zoonmini #1 is a preview for Barlow's forthcoming Zooniverse collection collecting remastered material previously published by Eclipse Comics.

Australia's first open comics studio Squishface as featured on The Circle earlier this year.

FourPlay String  Quartet perform their soundtrack to Roger Langridge's silent comic Nowhere Special at TEDxSydney Saturday 26 May 2012.

The Australian Cartoon Museum have uploaded a series of video profiles and interviews produced by Rolf Heimann featuring some of Australia's finest cartoonists. View their youtube channel here.

This week Pikitia Press will feature an interview with Alex Hallatt one of the rare breed of cartoonists that has achieved syndication with Kings Feature Syndicates Inc. whilst working from New Zealand and Australia.

In the works at Pikitia Press: The second comic collecting Peter Foster and James H. Kemsley's Ballantyne strips from The Sydney Sun-Herald. Extensively reformatted by Foster to fit a 297 x 210 mm format, The Spirit of The Stone is forty full colour pages and will be available from the Pikitia Press store next week.

Today's post is brought to you by the following comics created by Noel Cook, a New Zealand born artist who worked extensively during the golden age of Australian comics.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bob McMahon

Kidzone #1

Bob McMahon worked in Otago from 1971 as a graphic artist for over twenty years. With a lifelong interest in comics and cartoons inspired by DC Thompson titles in his native Scotland, McMahon has kept his hand in cartooning alongside his professional work for Allied Press Newspapers. In 2007 McMahon published a collection of strips of his cadet reporter from a privileged background Claire Melody. Following the publication of Claire Melody's initial black and white adventures McMahon has produced two unpublished follow up books in full colour. I spoke with him about the various projects he has worked on and the influences upon his work.

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Glasgow in Scotland in 1935...So I'm a bit long in the tooth (laughs).

You grew up in Glasgow?

I did until my late teens and then I had to go and do my two year national service in Singapore. So that got me out of the place. On and off I've always been scratching away at doing cartoons and that but you know what it's like you just can't sell them there's too many on the market. When I came to New Zealand in '71 I worked for the local newspaper, The Otago Daily Times, as a graphic artist, did that for twenty-three years. At Allied Press I had a couple of strips going , but it's one of those sad sorry tales, one of the strips I was doing for The Evening Star and course when The Star closed that was it. The strip goes along with it. Put it this way I'd never be able to get rich with it.

(At this point I told Bob a bit about my cartooning background which led to him talking about his artistic background)

My career for all intents and purposes has been self taught. I did do a couple nights at Glasgow School of Art and when I moved out to England I did a few nights at the Polytech. I've never done a formal sort of thing.

 Panels from Sir Chancelot - Kidzone #1

What comics did you first read?

Mostly it was DC Thompson comics you know The Beano, The Dandy, The Beezer, The Topper,  and that sort of thing. My role model was always Dudley Watkins, he was a very prolific brilliant artist. He not only did pages for DC Thompson but he also illustrated classic books like Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Robinson Crusoe, King Solomon's Mines, the guy was a machine. He was only 62 when he died of a heart attack at his desk. He must have been absolutely burnt out. They're the people they were my role models. At the moment you've got the American dreadfuls, all these Marvel comics they churn them out like all these monsters and transformers and other rubbish, I wouldn't bother with that sort of thing.

Did you read comics as an adult?

Not really. I passed by all the strips in the newspaper right now, the syndicated stuff, more like a curiosity than anything else like you know. I did know for a fact that in the case of The Mail only the cream of the strips come out, three get out of maybe ten-thousand (laughs) that's an exaggeration. The thing to some degree it's amazing how those people when they look at a cartoon, a new strip, the first thing they ask is, "What's its commercial potential? Can you make it into the cover of kid's lunchboxes or tea cups?" That's what they look at. The likes of Garfield which I wouldn't call it very good draughtsmenship, but look at the stuff that does. It's just amazing.

Incidentally I don't know if you know, the syndicates they sell for peanuts, they sell a strip to a newspaper for about ten bucks and that's why they're in three hundred newspapers. Of course the artist gets a percentage of it. You know Charles Schulz that drew Peanuts? He was the first millionaire cartoonist. Of course he's been dead a long time but they still print his comics, still print his strips.

Code-0 from Kidzone #1

When did your cartoon Scat Cat run in The Evening Star?

That's right. That's the one that ran in the weekend. I did it in the paper cause I was already on salary at Allied Press and it ran for a few months. I've hit the cross bar a few times. I did send one of my strips over to The Canberra Press and they were very impressed with it and the asked me to send over three months supply. Which I did, sent over a few months drawings but I never heard from them again. Part of the reason it may have flopped...This was about the same time Garfield came out so they don't want another cat cartoon you know? Another one that almost scored the goal was a joker called Hall or Wall or something, he lived in Sydney, his idea was to do illustrated panels for Woman's Weekly, Australian Woman's Weekly, it was something along the lines of Ripley's Believe It Or Not? This guy he was sending over the copy, what it was supposed to be, and I would jack up the illustrations. Unfortunately the poor bugger got wiped out in a motorway crash. So that was it. (Laughs) It doesn't stop me drawing. I still keep on doing all that stuff.

Panel from Claire Melody

I understand you did some comics for Funtime Comics? (Long running New Zealand comics collective in Christchurch)

Ah, yeah again that's hit and miss you know, I think they only publish when they have enough loot, enough material, again it's just a labour of love.

How did you get in touch with Funtime?

Good question. I think it was done through the Internet. The Editor (Darren Schroeder) he's no longer there, I think he took over to England. I think he's now in London or some place.

Can you talk about the genesis behind producing KIDZONE?

All the artists that worked at The Times, that I knew they all contributed to it. It was quite a fun thing really. The reason that worked, believe it or not,  We got Gore Publishing to print it. It was just barely feeling it's way after about a couple of weeks, It was burning me out so I just flagged it, I realised that cause I was doing the whole thing. I was doing the colourations, chasing people up for their work, going down to Gore and literally printing it, printing it the way I wanted it. All this sort of thing and it was too much.

Sam's Son from Kidzone #1

You were working full time as well?

Yes, I was working fulltime as a graphic artist for The Times. There were a few times it was almost to the point of being sabotaged because The Times they had another thing called Jabberwocky (New Zealand children's magazine). That was being printed down in Gore as well and sometimes my work would get pushed aside and I'd have to go and chase it up (laughs). I thought nah I don't need this.

I thought Kidzone was impressive, it was like a New Zealand version of your typical DC Thompson comic. Right down to the paper and colours.

That's exactly what it was based on. The thing is, try and get sponsorship, it's like hitting your head against a brick wall. I approached Cadburys, the wee kids they're into this sort of thing, and he said to me, "We'll do that when you've been going for a year." That's the sort of rubbish you get you know.

Can you recall what the print run of Kidzone was?

Ah...I think it was just over a thousand, I'm not quite sure.

Panel from Mickey's Moa, Kidzone #1

Did the Kidzone distribution by Lyndsay Distributors cover the South and the North Island?

No. That was a mistake we made. It only went up as far as Christchurch. If we had have gotten sponsorship and backing I would have included Australia as well. As I was saying heartbreak all the way along the line.

Did you get any feedback from Kidzone? Did readers write to you?

Oh yeah, yes we did, a lot of letters from the kids. The kids loved it. I'm not sure, who knows, even just one big number to sponsor us, we would have pulled it off. As it was I was paying money out my own pocket for the printing the publication and the returns were just barely covering what I paid.

Did you start Claire Melody after you had retired?

Ah no, I think it was slowly I did in my spare time.

What inspired you to do an adventure strip which was perhaps more for adults than children?

I think it'd always been a thing of the fifties and sixties I was always very interested in...well I'll do my version of it. It was black and white. Most people don't like that they prefer colour. So I've got two lots done in colour to go to print if ever I win Lotto. After all is said and done I've enjoyed what I've been doing. I don't do as much now as I used to.

Panel from Claire Melody

Were any of the characters in Claire Melody based on colleagues?

Ah no. It's purely fictional. I'll tell you what if you want to see really good artwork that was done in the fifties and the sixties look up Garth that was done by Frank Bellamy.

I'm a big fan of Garth and Frank Bellamy in general. Another one that worked hard and passed away too early.

Another one that died fairly young was David Wright, he did the Carol Day strips in The Daily Mail. They're the sort of people as I say that were my role models. I'd never hope to get up to their standard but they were the sort of people I'd try to emulate.

Can you talk about your working process on Claire Melody?

I just do all the rudiments in pencil and ink it in later on. Originally it was designed to run as a daily strip in the newspaper but I couldn't get anybody interested so I just thought what the hang I'll put it altogether in a wee booklet. See what it looks like that way.

Panel from Claire Melody

Bob McMahon Interview 2nd June 2012 by Matt Emery. Images copyright 2012 Bob McMahon

Friday, June 22, 2012

Paper Trail

Campbell Whyte shares some sequential work in progress here.

Wellington cartoonist Draw's abstract ball point pen work is featured on Art Sponge.

Edward Grug III and Luke Milton launch the third volume of their webcomic Glorious Bounty at this weekend’s Supanova Convention in Perth. Find them at the Monster & Robot Industries table in artists alley.

Robot 6 preview Tim Gibson's work in progress Moth City.

Paul Caggegi at the Process Diary breaks down profit and expenditure for his attendence at artist alley Supanova Sydney 2012.

Here's an interview with Paul via Kapow Comic Book show. 

Via the Ginger Meggs tumblr feature on life of Meggs cartoonists James Kemsley Jr produced by Dina Mann and Rolf Heimann on his life.

  Paul Mason and The List writer Paul Bedford

The Soldier Legacy cartoonist Paul Mason recaps his weekend at Supanova Sydney 2012

Writer Tom Taylor offers writing advice during his month residency at Inside a Dog

Anthony Woodward writes about digital comics initiatives. Also if you hadn't already gp grab his Free Comic Book Day anthology.

Judge Dredd New Zealand Connections

I was in my pre-teens when my father gave me copies of 2000Ad Prog 4 and Prog 9 which along with Carl Barks ducks comics and Frank Hampson's Dan Dare got me hooked on comics for life. Thirty years later I'm eagerly awaiting Dredd's second incarnation on film and a vote of confidence from Dredd co-creator John Wagner gives me hope this will be a more accurate portrayal of a character that's grown as I've grown up with. ( Unlike his American counterparts Dredd has aged in real time in his comic book world)

Several months after the wrap of shooting in Cape Town, South Africa, the first glimpse of Judge Dredd in action arrives today with the release of the trailer for Dredd. It promises to be a more faithful adaption of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra's creation than the 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone and made on a fraction of that films budget. Wisely producers DNA Films and scriptwriter Alex Garland have opted for a more modest story than Stallone's convoluted epic. The new film depicts a night on the job for Dredd as he takes rookie Judge Anderson through her paces. Instead of the hyper futuristic cityscapes synonymous with Dredd's world we will see something a bit closer to our reality through budgetary concessions. Dredd's uniform has translated well to film looking similar to Dredd's appearances in early stories drawn by Mick McMahon and Ron Turner.

The obvious New Zealand connection with the new Dredd film is Dredd himself being portrayed by New Zealand actor Karl Urban. Urban's insistence at an audition that Dredd's face never be revealed in keeping with his appearance in comics was an early good omen for faithful fans.

The other slightly reaching New Zealand connection is Dredd scriptwriter Alex Garland's father is English cartoonist Nicholas Garland who emigrated with his family to New Zealand at age eleven in 1946. In 1954 Garland returned to London to study at the Slade School of Fine Art. In London Garland became enamored with the work of Wally Fawkes through his Flook strip in the Daily Mail. He was also a fan of the artists of early Mad magazine, Will Elder, Wally Wood and Jack Davis. Garland's initial professional work was for Queen Magazine and The Spectator and he has consequently worked well into his seventies including almost forty years at The Daily Telegraph, finishing up in March 2011.

In the mid sixties Garland collaborated with Australian Barry Humphries to produce their Barry Mckenzie strip for Private Eye. Barry Mckenzie detailed the exploits of a strong jawed Australian in London and was commonly used by Humphries to jeer at some element of English life that he found particularly repellent or fatuous. The Strip was very successful and even spawned two feature films. It was discontinued in 1974 after a disagreement with editor Richard Ingram.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Paper Trail

 Tom Taylor with a Colin Wilson 'warm up' sketch at Melbourne Armageddon 2011

Prolific Melbourne comics writer Tom Taylor has commenced a months residency at Insideadog focuses on young adult literature and is managed by the State Library of Victoria. Over the course of the month Taylor is answering questions concerning writing and his career as well as providing insight into his work processes. Read Tom Taylor's contributions here.

Copyright 2012 Peter Bromhead

Michelle Hewitson interviews septuagenarian cartoonist Peter Bromhead for The New Zealand Herald here. The New Zealand Listener has a brief piece from earlier this year on Bromhead here.

Copyright 2012 Dylan Horrocks

Dylan Horrocks is conducting a visual storytelling workshop at the Whitireira Library in Porirua, Wellington, from 25th -29th June. Writers, artists, curious beginners and experienced cartoonists are welcome. The workshop costs $150, email for bookings.

Zombie Cities illustration by Martin Szabo. Copyright 2012 Silver Fox Comics

Sydney Publisher Silver Fox Comics are releasing their first graphic novel, Zombie Cities, at this years Sydney Supanova on June 15th. Silver Fox Comics debuted in 2011 with a modernised take on Zorro. Zorro was distributed via Gordon and Gotch to Australian newsagents which is exceedingly rare for a locally produced comic in this day and age.

Zombie Cities is 104 colour pages and written by Silver Fox publisher Sorab Del Rio with illustrations handled by multiple artists from around the globe.

Film Maker Daniel Hayward and Cartoonist Bernard Caleo have been making a feature documentary Graphic Novels! Melbourne! that examines the extraordinary graphic novel culture of Melbourne. Focusing primarily on four cartoonists, Nicki Greenberg, Mandy Ord, Bruce Mutard and Pat Grant, the movie will also cast its eye over the comics-making culture of Melbourne. To aide production of their documentary Hayward and Caleo are hosting a fundraiser in conjunction with Readings cinema in Carlton. For more details they have a dedicated page here.

 Illustration by Glenn Smith 2001

Michael Hill writes about 2001 Savage pencils exhibition of contemporary comic art that featured work by Australian and New Zealand cartoonists here.

New Zealand comics blogger Adrian Kinnaird appears on this weeks episode of Media 7 discussing comics creator rights. View here.
Kidzone Copyright 1983 Bob McMahon
This week on Pikitia Press I'll have a feature interview with Dunedin cartoonist Bob McMahon.

 Ballantyne Copyright 2012 Peter Foster and James H. Kemsley

I'm still in the midst of setting up Pikitia Press as a publishing entity but the above image is a proof of the second volume of Ballantyne adventures by Peter Foster and James H. Kemsley scheduled for July 2012. Reformatted from their several year run at the Sydney Sun Herald, Foster has meticulously coloured his black and white Ballantyne daily strips to produce a dynamic full colour adventure comic. More details about publishing plans this week with several comics and books by some of Australia and New Zealand's finest cartoonists currently on the publishing slate.