CATS IN COMICS: Busch

I have finally gotten round to adding to my series of mini-profiles of cat characters in comics! And this time I focus on another feline character of my own creation, Busch, from the comic Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics.  Busch is a cat of German origin who loves to eat, especially seafood, and to occasionly read comics and even to draw, with a pencil or crayon on whatever paper is to hand, even if it already has an image on it such as a newspaper or magazine page or shopping receipt. He will generally expect that drawing results in the awarding of a fish snack.

The first appearance of Busch, and in fact of Cohl, too, from the first issue of Blotting Paper-© 2011 Michael Hill.

The debut appearance of Busch and Cohl from the first issue of Blotting Paper-© 2011 Michael Hill.

Busch can eat and Busch can dance and sometimes he goes hungry, gets seasick, goes shopping, dresses up and has tantrums.

Eating noodles in a container-pen and ink drawing and collage-© 2016 Michael Hill

Eating noodles in a container-pen and ink drawing and collage-© 2016 Michael Hill

Drinking milk by the fridge-pen and ink drawing-© 2012 Michael Hill

Drinking milk by the fridge-pen and ink drawing and photography-© 2012 Michael Hill

Dancing in a Hamburg disco-pen and ink drawing-© 2015 Michael Hill

Dancing in a Hamburg disco-pen and ink drawing and collage-© 2015 Michael Hill

Doing tantrum graffiti on the bedroom wall-pen and ink drawing-© 2012 Michael Hill

Doing tantrum graffiti on the bedroom wall-pen and ink drawing-© 2012 Michael Hill

A seasick cat at sea, pen and ink drawing-© 2015 Michael Hill

A seasick cat at sea, pen and ink drawing-© 2015 Michael Hill

Emoting the fear of hunger-pen and ink drawing-© 2011 Michael Hill

Emoting the fear of hunger-pen and ink drawing-© 2011 Michael Hill

Starving at the fish market in Tokyo-pen and ink drawing and woodblock print-© 2016 Michael Hill

Starving at the fish market in Tokyo-pen and ink drawing and woodblock print-© 2016 Michael Hill

Dressing up as his master-pen and ink drawing, collage and photography-© 2012 Michael Hill

Dressing up as his master-pen and ink drawing, collage and photography-© 2012 Michael Hill

Shopping with a canine friend in Germany-pen and ink drawing-© 2015 Michael Hill

Shopping with a canine friend in Germany-pen and ink and colour pencil drawing with photography and collage-© 2015 Michael Hill

Read all the CATS IN COMICS posts:   Busch   Cohl    Doraemon    Krazy Kat    The Rabbi’s Cat  plus Busch’s adventures in the Blotting Paper Production Reports:  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   Issue #2: No.14   No.15   No.16   No.17   No.18   No.19   No.20   No.21   No.22   No.23   No.24   No.25   No.26   No.27   No.28   No.29   Issue #3: No.30   No.31   No.32   No.33   No.34   No.35   No.36   Issue #4: No.37   No.38   No.39   No.40   No.41   No.42   No.43   No.44   Issue #5: No.45   No.46   No.47   No.48

BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.38

This is the second in a series of regular reports documenting the production of the fourth issue and chapter of my artist book/comic Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics. These reports are updated approximately on a monthly basis. The new chapter Beer, Chocolate and Comics deals with the cats recovering from the demise of their patron and their travels in Germany and the world of European comics.

Double page handprinted spread from Chapter 3–© 2014 Michael Hill.

Double page handprinted spread from Chapter 3–© 2014 Michael Hill.

Continuing the turnaround of events and forward momentum that the above image from Chapter 3 illustrates the cats begin to get on top of things, take control of their situation and consequently develop and express their characters on their travels abroad.

Beer label collage character from Blotting Paper comic-© 2014 Michael Hill

Beer label collage character from Blotting Paper comic-© 2014 Michael Hill

I have been playing around with a beer label collaging idea, mostly from Belgian and German bottles, and have come up with this character so far but I expect there will be others. With the European theme and setting I am also considering including some bilingual content, preferably English and German and possibly even doing a combined issue #4-5.

Fish woodcut from way back-© 2002 Michael Hill

Fish woodcut from way back-© 1998 Michael Hill

Fish woodcut with pyschedelic sauce from way back-© 2003 Michael Hill

Fish woodcut with pyschedelic sauce from way back-© 2000 Michael Hill

The subject of fish and the technique of woodcut printmaking also return. And there is cooking too, of both fish and comics!

The Busch approach to managing a comics collection-now available as a postcard-© 2014 Michael Hill

The Busch approach to managing a comics collection-now available as a postcard-© 2014 Michael Hill

More visual developments and an update on progress will be posted on this blog around the end of the year. For a visual diary record and time-line overview of this project that covers all four issues you can read the BLOTTING PAPER production reports on the following posts:

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   Issue #2:  No.14   No.15   No.16   No.17   No.18   No.19   No.20   No.21   No.22   No.23   No.24   No.25   No.26   No.27   No.28   No.29   Issue #3:  No.30   No.31   No.32   No.33   No.34   No.35   No.36   Issue #4:  No.37   No.38   No.39   No.40   No.41   No.42   No.43   No.44

BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.32

STARTING TO GET A MOVE ON! In this third report documenting the production process and progress of the new issue of my artist book/comic Blotting Paper: The Recollected Graphical Impressions Of Doctor Comics, Chapter 3, The Chthonian Turn: The Cats’ Revenge I can say that things are starting to move on the design front and scheduling of the creation of the planned pages is beginning to fall into place.

The production schedule is up!

The production schedule for Issue #3 is up on the wall!

The intended dates for completion of the five 8-page signatures have been approximated and with a good run could be ready for binding as early as June.

The art table has been established.

The art table has been established…

Ink more so than paint appears to be the dominant graphic ingredient in the production with dip pens, drawing pens and brush calligraphy involved although some of the inking will be made onto painted paper.

...and particular tools selected.

…and particular tools selected.

There are some pencils in there too, as well as the pens, with drawing and handwriting components plus my regular use of printmaking.

Ink tests are underway...

Ink tests are underway…

The mess of ink tests and mark making has begun.

...and drying on display.

…and on display whilst drying.

Further developments and an update on progress will be posted on this blog next month. For a visual diary record and time-line overview of this project, see all of the BLOTTING PAPER production reports. 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   Issue #2:  No.14   No.15   No.16   No.17   No.18   No.19   No.20   No.21   No.22   No.23   No.24   No.25   No.26   No.27   No.28   No.29   Issue #3:  No.30   No.31   No.32   No.33   No.34   No.35   No.36

Archive of Australian Alternative Comics: DOWN UNDER GROUND

Underground comics are the subject of this post, Australian underground or alternative comics as they are better known. Firstly, an exhibition that Glenn Smith curated called The Ink Runs Deep Down, Down Underground at the Orange Regional Gallery in New South Wales in 2005, and then a conference organised by Donald Ault called Underground(s) at the University of Florida in 2003. I was involved with both, writing an essay “Art From The Inkubator”, for the exhibition catalogue in Orange and opening the exhibition, and presenting a paper “Down Under Ground: Emotional and Oppositional Outpourings from Sydney’s Subculture in the Comics of Glenn Smith” at the Florida conference.

The Ink Runs Deep...exhibition catalogue. (Design by Glenn Smith)

The Ink Runs Deep...exhibition catalogue. (Design by Glenn Smith)

The successive waves of Australian alternative comics produced since the 1980s feature a raw and spontaneous graphic style, an irreverent attitude and D.I.Y. Punk influenced approach to production, different from mainstream approaches to comics production in that they could be pluralistic, wide-ranging, antagonistic and mocking, containing taboo themes. The exhibition in Orange celebrated the creative expression behind these comics, that much maligned art form usually consigned to the pop culture trash bin, but there elevated to the gallery wall.

Back cover of the exhibition catalogue. (Design by Glenn Smith)

Back cover of the exhibition catalogue. (Design by Glenn Smith)

Creators featured in the exhibition are listed on the back cover of the exhibition catalogue, above. They exhibited applications of comic art in animation, painting, posters, book covers, and skate boards and a range of mediums from pen and ink to digital imaging. The day after the opening I went to the Orange farmers’ market and had the sweetest apples and tastiest bacon and egg-roll ever!

Display of Anton Emdin comics in the exhibition.

Display of Cruel World minicomics by Anton Emdin.

Display of Black Light Angels minicomics by Louise Graber in the exhibition.

Display of Black Light Angels minicomics by Louise Graber.

Commenting on the emergence of the underground comix in Australia in his book Panel By Panel, John Ryan pointed to the social context of the 1970’s as a period in which a sense of national pride developed and led to a consequent interest in locally made comics. That first wave of Australian alternative comics was seemingly motivated by the North American Underground Comix movement. Like the Abstract Expressionist art movement of the 1950s, which Australia seemed to have mysteriously imported, rather than organically grown, these comics initially appeared derivative but later developed an Australian style.

Louise Graber with a painting of a panel from her comic Black Light Angels in the exhibition.

Louise Graber with a painting of a panel from her comic Black Light Angels in the exhibition.

These comics can be seen as an echo of the Underground comix of the late 1960s that began in San Francisco, different in style and content to the mainstream North American super-hero themed comics, they opened up the way for autobiographical and artform genres. At the Florida conference it was exciting to hear from some of the creative figures from the original Underground as well as to describe Glenno’s work, and argue that it had some resonance with what they had done.

Front cover of Underground(s) conference program. (Design by William S. Kartalopoulos)

Front cover of Underground(s) conference program. (Design by William S. Kartalopoulos)

Back cover of Underground(s) conference program. (Design by William S. Kartalopoulos)

Back cover of Underground(s) conference program. (Design by William S. Kartalopoulos)

Underground(s) poster (detail).

Underground(s) poster (detail).

This is the twelth 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: 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

BLOTTING PAPER The Comic: Production Report No.7

Whilst steady progress is being made it looks now as if I shall not be getting the first issue published before the end of the year. On the optimistic side, however, the comic is getting closer to completion so I am certain that I shall have something to show in early 2012, apart from this ongoing series of blogged progress reports (that incidentally have now been linked and may be viewed in sequence-see bottom of post). The nature of the comic and its format continues to digress in an e-hon-ish or artist book direction whilst still retaining some semblances of an alternative comic and an Australian one at that despite the Japanese influences. All good. In this report there are some more drawings and a photograph. The drawings are basic, raw and overlaid to look more interesting online. They may not appear like this in the finished work being subject to further development such as reworking and re-composing for the print publication. The figure in the drawings is the elderly Doctor Comics character doing some printmaking at home in the Japanese sosaku hanga method.

The comics scholar turns his hand to making comics. (Felt-tipped pen drawing-© 2011 Michael Hill)

Photography is also being employed in the comic. Below is a shot on the waterfront area of Sydney with a row of shipping containers. The photograph has been worked over graphically, both the figure and the background. It shows a younger Doctor Comics returning from a shopping expedition carrying a bag of books…comics and graphic novels of course.

Doctor Comics has been shopping. (Photo by Louise Graber, graphic treatment-© 2011 Michael Hill)

Hand coloured version. (Photo by Louise Graber, graphic treatment-© 2011 Michael 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: SICK PUPPY COMIX

Neale Blanden T-shirt design.

This blog was triggered by a T-shirt I happened to be wearing when I bumped into Stuart Stratu, the creator of Sick Puppy Comix, at the MCA Zine Fair. It’s about fifteen years old and still wearable and I love Neale Blanden’s design. Sick Puppy Comix was an anthology of short pieces by Australian and overseas creators that was edited and self-published by Stratu who was motivated to commence small press publishing after visiting a comics convention. Stuart Stratu: It was going to OZCON, one of the comics conventions and seeing the small press booth- that’s when I got the idea to make my own mini-comics. I had never done any comics or cartoons myself, just little drawings and things. So what I did was ran ad for contributors in the personals column of Drum Media. So all the people in the first issue, none of them had published their own comics at all. So that was basically how Sick Puppy No.1 came to be. That was April 96. Number two came out four months later. It was very primitive. A total of 13 issues have been published in a plurality of graphic styles from a range of alternative comics contributors whose content is both provocative and oppositional.

One common feature of the alternative comics scene was the practice of creators contributing to each other’s publications. Sick Puppy Comix utilised this practice which gave the comic a variety of graphic styles. By contrast there was a commonality of content with much of the material dealing with aspects of sex and/or violence, the X in the title denoting adult oriented and explicit content including scatalogical material. Whilst emphasising humour, it adopted an avant-garde attitude and encouraged its contributors to test both their own and their readers’ personal boundaries of taste and creativity. The print and presentation quality of the publication improved with each issue and this seemed to inspire creators to produce quality work e.g. Gerard Ashworth, Neale Blanden, Tim Danko, Anton Emdin, Michael Fikaris, Louise Graber, Maccad, Kieran Mangan, Chris Mikul, Mandy Ord, Pox Girls(Susan Butcher and Carol Wood), David Puckeridge, Q-Ray, SCAR(Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr), Glenn Smith, Ross Tesoriero and Ryan Vella as well as Stratu himself.

This post is from the series Archives of Australian Comics History research for my PhD at Macquarie University, Division of Society, Culture, Media and Philosophy, by virtue of the thesis A Study Of Contemporary Australian Alternative Comics 1992-2000 With Particular Reference To The Work Of Naylor, Smith, Danko And Ord, 2003. On completion I donated the comics collection to the National Library of Australia: Michael Hill Collection of Australian Comics. Posts in this series:  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