Archive of Australian Alternative Comics: GETTING SMASH(ed)!

Archive of Australian Alternative Comics, Art, Comics, Film, Japanning July 18, 2011

Saturday July 16 2011 was a day of anime amusement at SMASH! (the Sydney Manga and Anime Show). Over the past few years the local interest in manga and anime has grown and grown. Initially ignored by existing comics conventions fans created their own event. Some even began learning to read Japanese so that they could translate the manga. The conventions provided opportunities for fans to meet and enjoy these two media. Some local female creators began making their own versions of shōjo manga as a form of alternative comics and with local content. Interest continued to grow, as did the events. In Sydney there was Animania, in Melbourne, Manifest. And then there was SMASH!

The SMASH! 2011 program.

Located for the first time in its short 5 year history at the Sydney Convention Centre because it outgrew its previous venues from the Rounhouse at the University of New South Wales to the Sydney Town Hall…

The view from inside the Convention Centre. (Photo by Michael Hill)

Welcome from Box Man. (Photo by Louise Graber)

An occasion to dress up, there were costumes that required weeks of sewing, beading, feathering and functioning, paraded throughout the venue and on the cosplay stage…

A tutu moment… (Photo by Michael Hill)

One happy fan. (Photo by Louise Graber)

Many children there in addition to university, high school and primary school students, some with parents…

Three young cosplay fans. (Photo by Michael Hill)

There were Hobby Rooms for the construction and display of dolls and robots…

Some Dolfie dolls. (Photo by Michael Hill)

and tired doll collectors patiently waiting for a seat in the Maid Cafe.

Lolitas with Dolfie. (Photo by Michael Hill)

There were Art and Doodle Rooms for art and doodling… …and an epic two hours plus Cosplay Competition…

A really big and really, really long Cosplay Competition. (Photo by Michael Hill)

…not to mention a Gundam workshop, Karaoke, videogames, a screening of the excellent anime Summer Wars, sewing, pattern and armour making workshops, and a huge trading floor full of vendors, artists and clubs. And it all glowed in the presence of the patronage of the Japan Foundation. Japanese popular culture  thrived on a wonderful day! My report on last year’s event can be found on Forbidden Planet International. This is the third in a series of posts called Archives of Australian Comics History that document moments in the recent history of Australian comics, particularly alternative comics and the Australian Small Press. I started researching this subject in the late 1990s and it eventually led to my PhD thesis: Ph.D. Macquarie University, Division of Society, Culture, Media and Philosophy,  A Study Of Contemporary Australian Alternative Comics 1992-2000 With Particular Reference To The Work Of Naylor, Smith, Danko And Ord, 2003. On completion of the research I donated the materials and comics I had collected to the National Library of Australia: Michael Hill Collection of Australian Comics. Posts in Archives of Australian Comics History:   Comic-Fest   Comics  in Record Shops   Comics Workshops   Down Under Ground   Getting SMASH(ed)!   Imaginary Worlds Symposium    International Exhibition of Drawings   OZCON   Mind Rot   Savage Pencils   Sick Puppy Comix   TiNA Arena   MCA Zine Fair   2002 Sequential Art Studies Conference   2nd Sequential Art Studies Conference

FOOTNOTE: I SAW A BIG SAW AT BIG SIGHT!  As an addendum to this convention report I must mention another I visited in Tokyo. I travelled by monorail to Odaiba Island, an artificial island built in Tokyo Bay to attend the Tokyo Anime Fair at a venue called Tokyo Big Sight (pronounced Biggu Saito in Japanese). Big Sight? I thought that must be a misspelling along Japlish lines for the name of a large exhibition space. Shouldn’t it be called Big Site? However, as it turned out, there were definitely some big sights to behold. No sign of Godzilla but I thought of Thor as the monorail travelled over the Rainbow Bridge past some rather high tech looking buildings such as this one in the photo below of Fuji TV headquarters.

The headquarters of Fuji TV(building designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange) and the Joyopolis Arcade. (Photo by Michael Hill)

The headquarters of Fuji TV(building designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange) and the Joyopolis Arcade. (Photo by Michael Hill)

The headquarters of Fuji TV-detail. (Photo by Michael Hill)

The headquarters of Fuji TV-detail. (Photo by Michael Hill)

Then on arrival at the Big Sight location things started to look a bit unusual. There was an open space beneath a series of inverted pyramids sitting on glass covered, cantilevered legs. This giant entrance had the effect of reducing the scale of the people passing beneath it and thus enhancing the ‘big’ aspect implied in the name of the site.

Tokyo Big Sight-entrance. (Photo by Michael Hill)

Tokyo Big Sight-entrance. (Photo by Michael Hill)

The walk from the monorail station to the entrance of the Big Sight exhibition centre has something of an epic feel to it. It’s there but it’s a long way over there and as one  approaches, and that takes some time, the pyramids appear to grow in size and tower above one, providing something of a shrinking feeling as one nears. It was during this long walk that I happened to look over a railing, because I had drifted to one side of the open walkway, that I caught a glimpse of another large object embedded in the grass on the level below. A sculpture…an art installation…a large saw…unmistakably something by the Pop artist Claes Oldenburg. It was a big sight to see at this big site.

Saw, Sawing by Claes Oldenburg. (Photo by Michael Hill)

Saw, Sawing by Claes Oldenburg. (Photo by Michael Hill)

This BIG SIGHT post was first published on the Doctor Comictopus blog that has now been merged with this Doctor Comics blog.

Doctor Comictopus alias for Michael Hill Ph.D (a.k.a. Doctor Comics) designed by Michelle Park.

Doctor Comictopus alias for Michael Hill Ph.D. (a.k.a. Doctor Comics) designed by Michelle Park.


Creator and former Director of the Master of Animation course at the University of Technology, Sydney, Dr. Michael Hill has a Master's degree in animation and a PhD in comics studies, prompting his introduction on ABC Radio as “Doctor Comics”. A member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Comic Art, and former member of the Comics Grid Journal of Comics Scholarship and the Advisory Committee of the Q-Collection Comic Book Preservation Project, he has delivered public lectures on Comics, Anime and Manga and held academic directorships in Interdisciplinary Studies, Animation, Design and Visual Communication. Having donated his collection of research materials on Australian alternative comics to the National Library of Australia he is now active in the artistic domain, drawing and printmaking, and creating his graphic novel Blotting Paper.

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