Archive of Australian Alternative Comics: COMICS IN RECORD SHOPS

In the 1990s it was not unusual to find alternative comics in record shops in Sydney such as Phantom Records, Red Eye Records and Waterfront Records. You could find an assortment of locally made comics in a corner on the floor or on a shelf or display rack (some of the odd sizes of the comics produced did not fit standard racks and perhaps that is why they found their way onto the floor), along with the standard stock of vinyl and cassettes, CDs, music books, VHS tapes and DVDs. A similar situation could be found in Brisbane at Rocking Horse Records, in Canberra at Impact Records and in Adelaide at Big Star Records and Dominator Records. It was in these record shops that I first found some of the Australian alternative comics that became the subject of my research into comics. There were also specialist bookshops that stocked these comics as well as fantasy and sci-fi and movie material. In Sydney such shops were Land Beyond Beyond, Comic Kingdom, Kings Comics and in my suburb of Glebe, Half A Cow, a really wonderful shop to browse in with its carefully selected subcultural stock. It also had that strange logo of a cow cut in half, across not along like the Damien Hirst version and in cartoon form not realistic style. There were also mail order distros such as Chewing Gravel that sold Australian comics.

The shop in Glebe. (Photo by Louise Graber)

Half A Cow business card with it’s eye catching sliced cow illustration.

That independent record shops were selling alternative comics was perhaps due to the perceived affinity of both medium’s independent approach to production and distribution. This positioning of the small press in the independent landscape created parallels with the independent music industry that had flowed on from the Punk Rock movement. The term ‘Xerox music’ referred to the independent production of Punk records where the distribution system also employed a D.I.Y. approach with product being delivered to interested shops by hand. Alternatively it could be distributed by mail order. There were similarities in the way alternative comics were produced and distributed. These comics of the 1980s and 1990s, because of their small print runs (usually less than 500), were commonly printed on photocopy machines by their creators rather than by the more costly offset process or digital printing used by professional print technicians for commercial clients. After printing their comics the creators, like their musical colleagues, would normally distribute their work themselves, to comics, books and record shops, doing the rounds on foot, bus, train or bicycle and carrying small amounts of stock in their bags, then returning a week or do later to check on sales. Eventually most of the more mainstream comics shops carried some alternative comics. There were even some musicians who also made comics. Ray Ahn, Ryan Vella and Glenn Smith are examples. Half A Cow’s affinities with independent music ended up changing them from a bookshop into an independent record label.

Louise Graber's Black Light Angels comic-first sold at Half A Cow in Glebe.

Louise Graber’s Black Light Angels comic-first sold at Half A Cow in Glebe.

This is the ninth 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

Archive of Australian Alternative Comics: SAVAGE PENCILS

Savage Pencils was an exhibition of contemporary Australian comics cover art that I curated at Silicon Pulp Animation Gallery, Sydney in 2001. It featured original art by Paul Abstruse, Ray Ahn, Gerard Ashworth, Anita Bacic, Xander Black, Neale Blanden, Anna Brown, Bronson Boyd, Susan Butcher, Bernard Caleo, Dakanavar, Tim Danko, Anton Emdin, Michael Fikaris, Edo Fuijkschot, Louise Graber, Ben Hutchings, Scott Johnson, Gregory Mackay, Alex Major, Kieran Mangan, Daniel McKeown, Chris Mikul, Alice Mrongovius, John Murphy, Dillon Naylor, Linzee R. Nold, Mandy Ord, Jason Paulos, Q-Ray, Kirrily Schell, Jan Scherpenhuizen, Shags, Bernie Slater, Glenn Smith, Cipta Tanamas, Dean Tarjavaara, Matt Taylor, Ross Tesoriero, Tolley, Ryan Vella, Kevin Whitfield, Colin Wilson and  Carol Wood.

The invitation by Glenn Smith.

The exhibition catalogue contained the essays: “The Broken Pencils of Southeast Asia” by International Journal of Comic Art editor John A. Lent, “Why the Australian Small Press Make Eskimo Comics” by Tim Danko, and my “Sick Puppies With Pencils”.

Neale Blanden illo-also used as the exhibition catalogue cover.

As a fun idea for the catalogue I asked the artists to draw a ‘savage pencil’. Here is a selection. All art is the copyright of the respective creators.

Colin Wilson

Colin Wilson

Butcher and Wood aka the Pox Girls.

Louise Graber

Louise Graber

Ross Tesoriero

Alice Mrongovius

Linzee R. Nold

Shags

Chris Mikul

Chris Mikul

Matt Taylor

Ben Hutchings

Tolley

Bernard Caleo

Bernard Caleo

Ryan Vella

Kirrily Schell

The notion of collecting comic art was fairly new in Australia at the time. This exhibition offered 50 works ranging from the mainstream to the the avant-garde, from 44 artists representing every State of Australia except the Northern Territory. Some of the cover art was displayed on the gallery’s website.

Exhibition installation view. (Photo by Louise Graber)

The exhibition catalogue with cut-up Neale Blanden illo on the cover.

The exhibition catalogue with cut-up Neale Blanden illo on the cover.

The title for the exhibition was taken from the alias of Edwin Pouncey, an English comics creator of the early 1980s whose ‘punk’ style of graphics proved inspirational to alternative cartoonists. This show celebrated drawing, a precious commodity in an age of appropriation and scanning, and the creative expression that drawing is given in comics. Here the drawing was both art and pop culture trash and very affordible.

This is the eighth 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

Archive of Australian Alternative Comics: 2002 SEQUENTIAL ART STUDIES CONFERENCE

Conference poster designed by BOWB.

Ten years ago almost to the day this event, the first Sequential Art Studies Conference took place on April 19 2002 in Sydney at the University of Technology. The conference was named after the descriptive term for comics, sequential art, introduced by Will Eisner in 1985. Thank you Will! Convened by Jeremy Allen and myself, with panels chaired by Jeremy, Spiros Tsaousis and I the conference was held in association with Supanova Pop Culture Expo with support from Daniel Zachariou. This was, to my knowledge, the first scholarly conference on comics studies to be held in Australia, more than 3 years before “Men In Tights” at Melbourne University in 2005. The conference poster was designed by BOWB.

CALL FOR PAPERS

SEQUENTIAL ART STUDIES CONFERENCE, Sydney, Australia, April 19 2002 SUPANOVA POP CULTURE EXPO Sydney Showground, April 20-21 2002 This inaugural scholarly conference on comics will take place on the day preceding Australia’s largest comics convention and will be associated with that event. Scholars are invited to submit 250 word proposals which address alternative approaches to comics, whether local or global, recent or historical, online or offline, artistic or commercial. The conference will adopt a multidisciplinary approach and welcomes papers from a broad range of disciplines. Send enquiries and proposals, by email only, to either of the conference coordinators: Jeremy Allen: Jeremy.S.Allen@uts.edu.au  or  Michael Hill: Michael.Hill@uts.edu.au Interdisciplinary Studies, Faculty of Design, University of Technology, Sydney. DEADLINE: Friday December 21 2001

PROGRAM

Michael Hill-Bite of the Mongrel Breed: A Study of Satire in Contemporary Australian Alternative Comics 

Abstract: This paper involves an examination of the contemporary Australian alternative comics scene as a lively form of lampooning and derision in the late 20th Century. In contrast to the mainstream print media, many of the artists, creators and cartoonists involved antagonise, irritate and ridicule with their graphic humour and horror, provoking irreverent laughter as well as an element of fear and amazement within their limited audience. In so doing, they take advantage of what is a relatively unregulated outlet of creativity and visual communication. As a wide-ranging group of artists, their repertoire houses a mix of graphic styles and comic art genres and their attitude has strains of ‘larrikin’ and ‘ratbag’ humour.

Bio: Michael Hill is Senior Lecturer in Visual Communication and Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Unit at UTS and partner in Graber Hill, publisher of the independent comic B.L.A.CK.

Craig Norris-Manga in Australia: erasing and re-animating Japan   

Abstract: The export of manga (Japanese comics) from Japan to Australia is a journey from erasing race and culture to redrawing ideal bodies and communities. Using my two years of field research in Tokyo I argue that the export agenda of Japanese animation distributors is based on the erasure of Japanese racial characteristics and life-style to allow for easier localisation of animation and comics such as Astro Boy, Poke-Mon and Dragonball Z (Iwabuchi, 1998). I compare these producer-dominated ‘erased’ manga with the ‘redrawn’ manga of fan artists throughout Australia. I focus on the work of a number of manga fan-artists based in Sydney whose work appears in fan-zines, online, and on more unusual surfaces such as car-body art work.

Bio: Craig Norris is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Sydney. His research interests include cultural globalisation, audience-studies, and Asian/Australian popular culture flows.

Jeremy Allen-OZ.COM: Australian Comic Creators and the Web  

Abstract: Over the last seven years the web has emerged as a focal point for comicsculture. It is a place for fans to connect, for the purchase of latest titles and back issues, for comic news to be broadcast, for upcoming comics to be ‘spoiled’, and for established comic companies to advertise. Significantly, it has also given a mass media voice to aspiring comiccreators. In this respect, the web has become a gallery of online comics to be appreciated by potentially millions of people across the world. It is through this new method of distribution and new form of comics that the Internet has perhaps had its most revolutionary impact on comics, by producing a true alternative to the ‘offline’ comics industry.  

Bio: Jeremy Allen is currently researching his Ph.D. on Online Comics on an Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology, Sydney.  

Zeldz Magnoonis-The sequential art of the skateboard sequence   

Abstract: Skateboarding is an activity full of dynamic action and motion.  Inevitably, attempts to capture this phenomenon require communication of this movement.  Representing movement in print has obvious limitations and the most obvious solution is that of the photographic sequence.  In this paper, it will be argued that these sequences can be read much like a comic strip.  It will be demonstrated that they not only share characteristics of comic strips, but have developed alternative processes that could be of use to the comic creator.

Bio: After falling into the cauldron of magic comics as a baby, monsieur Magnoonis has been addicted to the medium ever since, currently studying visual communication and creating the mini comic Pepe’s Quest.

Kurt Brereton-From Paper to Pixels: Animating Drawings and Paintings   

Abstract: Many artists and new animators work with desktop Mac and PCs at home or in schools and colleges. Great ideas can be well expressed using alternative approaches without resorting to high tech wiz bang special effects. New media and interactive multimedia technical restrictions have forced alternative animators to think big and work small.  This talk will focus on practical and conceptual issues at play in working in multimedia.

Bio: Kurt Brereton is Adjunct Professor in Computer Based Art & Design at the University of the Sunshine Coast and the University of Technology, Sydney, Managing Director of Spark Interactive and an internationally represented visual artist, photographer and film maker.

Spiros Tsaousis- The Spatial Logic of Krazy Kat   

Abstract: Modernist spatiality evidenced two strains – one orderly, mechanistic, logical and gridbased; the other fluid, dynamic, a transvaluation. However the rational and orderly exhibits the symptoms of anxiety, containing within its formulation the seeds of its unconscious propensity toward disorder and fluidity. Broadly tracing the spatial development of the comic strip from, say, Hogan’s Alley to Little Nemo to Krazy Kat evidences the movement of the medium between the two poles. In this paper I assert that the ‘logic’ of Krazy Kat is made coherent, legible and thematically consistent with appeal to its representation of space and place; and that its spatial presentation – its design and rearrangement of the comics page – is a significant departure from the relatively uniform and stable arrangements of comic strips such as Hogan’s Alley and Little Nemo.

Bio: Spiros Tsaousis has recently completed his thesis, “Disturbance of Distance: Postmodern Spatiality and the Comic Strip, Comic Book and Graphic Novel”. He has presented and published a number of papers on comics.

Adam Possamai-The Social Construction of Comic Books as a (Non) Recognised Form of Art in Australia 

Abstract: Even if since the 1990s there is an emergent community of comic book artists, Comic Books in Australia appear to be negatively stigmatised as immature literature in everyday life and in academic spheres. Even if comics started in newspapers as a way to attract working class adults to buy newspapers, and later became a literature form aimed at young readers, this medium has reached its Lettres de Noblesses and has been recognised as an art form since the 1970s in Europe, Japan, and the USA, but NOT – as it appears – in Australia. The aim of this paper is to describe the social construction of comic books as an immature literature in Australia since WW II.

Bio: Adam Possamai lectures in sociology at the University of Western Sydney. His doctoral thesis won the Jean Martin Award for the best PhD in Sociology submitted in Australia during 1998-9.

Note: Jeremy Allen is now known as Jeremy Kerr and Spiros Tsaousis is now Spiros Xenos.

This is the seventh 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

BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.11

My artist book/comic Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics was launched at Hondarake Full of Books in Sydney on a wet Summer afternoon in February along with an exhibition of postcard prints and a display of printmaking tools used in the production.

My fish prints hanging overhead. (Photo by Sal Jones)

Zeera the Space Pirate creator Naomi Hatchman. (Photo by Louise Graber)

Australian comics legends Glenn Smith and Gerard Ashworth. (Photo by Louise Graber)

JMC Director of Animation Sean Callinan and Peregrine Besset creator Lewis P. Morley. (Photo by Louise Graber)

It Lives! CEO’s Nick and Liz. (Photo by Louise Graber)

Store owners Hisae and Tomoko. (Photo by Louise Graber)

Gene Kannenberg, Jr. (onscreen) entertained with his witty matching of comics and beverages. (Photo by Andrew Hawkins)

The book was launched by Gene Kannenberg, Jr. via Skype from the U.S.A. Noted comics historian, Kannenberg is director of ComicsResearch.org. former Chair of the International Comic Arts Festival and the Comic Art & Comics Area of the Popular Culture Association, and author of 500 Essential Graphic Novels. He made a humorous speech and participated in a game of pairing comics with beer including the work of creators Will Eisner, Lynda Barry, Hergé, Jack Kirby and Joost Swarte. Gene  got a big response when he suggested black coffee with Steve Ditko and Duff beer with Matt Groening, and then an even bigger response when he brought his cat, Mr. Pickles, onscreen.

The pop-up exhibition of postcards. (Photo by Harrison Hill)

Hair and prints in abundance. (Photo by Harrison Hill)

For a visual diary record and time-line overview of this project, see all of the BLOTTING PAPER production reports relating to Issue #1:  No.1   No.2   No.3   No.4   No.5   No.6   No.7   No.8   No.9   No.10   No.11   No.12   No.13

Archive of Australian Alternative Comics: INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION OF DRAWINGS-COMICS

Thirteen years ago to the day the 14th International Exhibition of Drawings opened at the Museum of Modern Art in Rijeka, Croatia, 17th December 1998-20th March 1999, and was devoted to comics. Invited to contribute to the selection of the show based on the research I was doing at the time following a referral from Professor Joan Kerr(ANU), I selected and sent 13 works by 14 creators and wrote an essay The Australian Underground that was published in the exhibition catalogue in Croatian and English: In its own small way the underground comics community not only contributes to the visual cultural life of Australia but also to an understanding of it. It adds to the ongoing critique of Australian culture and provides a healthy and relatively unregulated creative outlet. From its position on the margins its critical viewpoint is expressed with great humour. ‘Taking the piss out of things’ would seem an appropriate and very Australian way of describing it. (extract)

Cover of the exhibition catalogue. (Design by Mirko Ilić, drawing by Davor Vrankić)

The Comic Messiah by Q-Ray (Clint Cure), 1998, ink on paper.

Other artists in this exhibition included Max Andersson, Enki Bilal, Guido Crepax, Will Eisner, Jason(John Arne Sæterøy), Henry “Hank” Ketcham, Brant Parker, Hugo Pratt, Quino, Bryan Talbot, Mort Walker and Song Qing Zhu (Gao Diao). It was wonderful that the work of emerging Australian creators was displayed alongside these established international creators.

Black Light Angels by Louise Graber, 1998, ink on paper.

Blackie’s last day by Tony Single, 1994, pencil, felt pen, ink on paper.

Upward + Onward by Damien Woods, technical pen and felt pen on photocopy paper.

Lightning Strike by Mandy Ord, 1998, ink on paper.

Radiation Sickness by Ross Tesoriero, 1997, ink on paper.

Ah-choo by Neale Blanden, 1997, combined technique on paper.

Jean and Rolly by Timothy John Danko, 1995, collage on paper.

Kurt Hurt’s Reasons to Draw Comix by Stuart Stratu, 1997, ink and whiteout on paper.

Francis Bear by Gregory Mackay, 1998, ink on paper.

Stranger Danger by Ryan Vella, 1997, ink on paper.

Bernard Caleo and Tolley-The False Impressionists, 1997-combined technique on paper.

The False Impressionists by Bernard Caleo and Tolley, 1997, combined technique on paper.

The Killer Foetus by Ben Hutchings, 1997, combined technique on paper.

The Killer Foetus by Ben Hutchings, 1997, combined technique on paper.

This is the fifth 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

Archive of Australian Alternative Comics: MIND ROT

Trawling through material from my back pages for content that will form part of my semi-autobiographical comic (Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics) I came across this poster for an event that I conceived and organised at the University of Technology, Sydney back in 1998. I was a lecturer in Visual Communication in the Design Faculty at the time and endeavouring to incorporate comics based projects into the curriculum. Comics is a perfect medium in which to practice techniques of visual communication reliant as it is on the combination of words and images. First year undergraduate students undertaking Word and Image projects were generally enthusiatic about comics based applications. To increase the students’ understanding of the professional practice of making comics I decided to involve some practitioners.

Poster for the event designed by Neil Heymann.

With additional funding from the student group Stop Motion Sickness I invited Mandy Ord up from Canberra, Dillon Naylor from Melbourne and Glenn Smith from Sydney to show their work to visual communication design students and discuss how they went about making it. Mindful of the possibility of regional differences from the research I was doing into the Australian small press scene at the time it seemed interesting to have a speaker from three different cities. Each comics creator made a 45-60 minute presentation of their work followed by a Q&A session. Naylor profiled his comic about share-household shenanigans Pop Culture & 2 Minute Noodles, Ord her intensely inky, autobiographical tales of life in Canberra, Wilnot, and Smith his painstakingly linear drawn, slice-of-life The Sydney Morning Hell. Each guest also led a practical, sequential graphic workshop with a small group of students. Gerard Ashworth, also from Sydney, who attended the seminar helped out. The event was a small but significant moment in Australian comics history, especially in terms of the study of the medium within the ‘academy’.

The title? Attempted irony, perhaps? I think I was put in a defensive position by some of my colleagues about claiming comics as a valid medium of visual communication back in those days, thirteen years ago. Photography was the then popular medium followed by graphic design and illustration whilst comics, animation and video were off to one side. The poster was a good piece of visual communication by the then student Neil Heymann, now a New York based advertising designer. Teaching comics as practice was the hurdle then. A steeper jump followed with the notion of comics being considered as a medium of scholarly study and research.

This is the fourth 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

Archive of Australian Alternative Comics: OZCON

In terms of the larger comics conventions in Australia prior to current events Supanova,  Animania,  SMASH!,  Armageddon and the earlier Comic-Fest there was OZCON and even before that there was one event called ComicCon back in 1979. OZCON was the big annual comics convention at the time I began researching Australian alternative comics in the late 1990s. The promotion of and garnering of publicity for the more mainstream(read imported) comics seemed to be the raison d’être for the event although there was some presence by independent creators and their publications despite the cost of their participation. There was also some discussion of comics apart from the sales. I recall one entertaining discussion between Eddie Campbell and Dave Sim about the distribution of independent comics. It also provided a sense of community for local creators to meet each other, discuss their self-published comics and to compare their work to the imported product.

Spidey swinging from the Sydney Harbour Bridge. (Poster design by Ant Larcombe)

The poster shows that OZCON and Australian comics creators and fans at the time (1995) had the spectre of the US super-hero genre hanging over them. In any case it was a wonderful poster designed by local comics creator Ant Larcombe. Furthermore the cover had an inset of the avatar and character Flash Domingo by another Australian creator, Gary Chaloner.

Ticket to an earlier staging of the OZcon event.

Ticket to an earlier staging of the OZcon event.

Comic Con T-shirt design. (artist unknown)

Reflecting on OZCON made me think of those big US comics conventions. Here is a scan of the T-shirt I bought at the largest convention in the USA San Diego Comic Con. It was from an earlier staging of that event, had been discounted as a remainder and caught my eye. The in-your-face aggression, confidence, swagger and speech balloon seemed to say what that convention was about. The blue paint stains are a subsequent addition from my wearing it whilst printmaking. I think there were fewer than 50,000 attendees back in 2000 but over the past decade this convention has grown to around three times that number but remains considerably less than the 500,000 that go to Comiket in Tokyo, twice a year-that’s a million of them! Anyway I had a great time there. In addition to presenting a paper on “Australian Gothic comics” at the conference (shout out to my colleagues Randy Duncan and Peter Coogan) I got to meet Will Eisner, Scott McCloud, Gahan Wilson, James Kochalka, Roman Dirge, Jhonen Vasquez, Los Bros Hernandez, Rumiko Takahashi and Jim Woodring.

This is the sixth 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.

The ComicCon pass with dinosaurs designed by Gahan Wilson

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