It seems that comics in Australia are undergoing some sort of Renaissance. By way of proof, check out the comic extravaganza that’s about to be unleashed at the Big Arse Comic Book Launch in Fitzroy come March.
Here’s what the press release says:
Following the success of 2011’s Big Arse Comic Book Launch the Melbourne comics community in hosting a second, even bigger event to launch of fifteen (15) new works created by authors from the fast-growing local scene.
These books are published by a diverse array of publishers, from the small press to national publishers, with reach into the newsstands and the global comics market.
Presented by the inimitable, indomitable, inglorious and invincible Bernard Caleo. Big Arse 2 is proudly sponsored by All Star Comics.
And what’s an “underground” comic launch without an advertising poster featuring a gross image of a fat arse, especially if it’s Wonder Woman with loads of cellulite?
Here’s a run down of some of the comics about to be launched at the mega-event, a veritable compendium of local talent.
ALL YOU BASTARDS CAN GO JUMP OFF A BRIDGE (Milk Shadow Books)
From the creator of Egg Story and Eating Steve, and the co-creator of The Sixsmiths, J Marc Schmidt furiously rains down comic stories covering art, romance, religion, anger, pop culture parodies, sex and death. This book that explores human behaviour and why it can sometimes be so hard to just get along with each other. Features a foreword by Tango’s Bernard Caleo.
BALLANTYNE: WHERE HIDDEN RIVERS FLOW (Pikitia Press)
Ballantyne: Where Hidden Rivers Flow reprints Peter Foster’s collaboration with writer James H. Kemsley, which was featured in the Sydney Sunday Sun-Herald for several years in the 1990s. Based on Kemsley’s vivid memories of working as a patrol officer in post World War Two New Guinea, Ballantyne is a classic adventure strip in the fine tradition of The Phantom, X-9 Secret Agent, and others of the genre. This first volume of Ballantyne is 64 pages of lavish colour.
BLOOD ACROSS BROADWAY (FrankenComics)
Blood Across Broadway is a 70-page comic homage to Nosferatu, The Jazz Singer, and the most prominent Broadway musicals. Set in the Golden Age of Hollywood and Theatre, the story features an old, crippled vampire known as Morlook, who fosters a tremendous love of jazz, theatre and dancing, much to the disapproval of his overbearing son Cartorius. But with the help of a certain legendary dancer, Morlook learns the art of dancing and showmanship, all the while dreaming of being among the bright lights of Broadway, an unlikely setting for an undead creature of the night. Written and illustrated by Frank Candiloro.
CRIMINAL ELEMENT (Black House Comics)
Ten stories about crimes and the criminals who commit them. Gangsters, demons, burglars, nurses, hitmen, saboteurs, slavers, bounty hunters, and furniture salesmen. The mean streets, a post-apocalyptic plague world, a tram depot and war torn Vietnam. The past, the present, and the future. Edited by Jason Franks.
DIGESTED #5 (Gestalt Comics)
The fifth issue of Bobby.N’s series reaches a turning point in the ongoing story Oxygen, where nothing will ever be the same again for the main character. And for dessert, there’s also a short personal story at the end of this issue.
IT SHINES AND SHAKES AND LAUGHS (Milk Shadow Books)
If you have never set off on a voyage with cult artist Tim Molloy, then get ready to leave this universe… forever. It Shines and Shakes and Laughs is packed to the gills with four year’s worth of silent and surreal comics. Contains the Impy strips, complete reprints of the long-ago-disappeared books, Under the Bed and Saturn Returns, and lots more. Features a foreword by Hicksville’s Dylan Horrocks.
KILLEROO: GANGWAR (Ozone Studios)
Killeroo returns in an all-action story from the past, when he was the leader of a motorcycle gang in the early 80s. This story shows a more savage side to the character than we’ve seen in the past, in a no-holds-barred, good old-fashioned slugfest. Written and inked by Darren Close and pencilled by the amazingly talented Paul Abstruse (Witch King).
KRANBURN #2 (FEC Comics)
Second issue of the brutal Australian post-apocalyptic series by Ben Michael Byrne. Now that you have met our lead character, Brand, it is time to see how much further these urban tribe wars have spread. And what will lead Brand into even more dangerous situations with the ‘Nongs’.
NO MAP, BUT NOT LOST (Milk Shadow Books)
A thick book that collects all of Bobby.N’s previous self-published work and short stories, from the early days where he is finding his voice, up until today. From amateur scribbling to a more refined line. A chronological record of one ordinary guy getting better on paper, by following his heart. Features a foreword by Larry Boxshall from the NonCanonical comics podcast.
PAY THROUGH THE SOUL #2 (Black House Comics)
Pay Through The Soul follows on from Black House Comics 2011 collection of Matt Emery’s The Guzumo Show. Published in an ongoing single issue format that was popular with Indy comics of the ’90’s, Pay Through The Soul is a finely crafted one-man humour anthology for adult readers. Utilising gag strips and lengthier stories, Matt Emery’s comics touch on themes of sexism, racism, homophobia, politics, sex, and religion all served with a dose of the absurd.
THE RETURN OF THE NIGHT EAGLE (Pikitia Press)
Now retired, Peter Foster had a distinguished career illustrating thousands of pages of comics for DC Thomson in England as well numerous comics and newspaper strips in Australia. In the 1980s it was not uncommon to find a DC Thomson comic with two if not three of Foster’s stories in it. The Return of the Night Eagle is Foster’s re-invention of Carl Lyon’s Australian superhero of the ’40s, The Eagle, as a legacy hero. Night Eagle includes a back-up feature of Orion the Hunter and is packed full of adventure and intrigue with 40 pages of vibrant colour.
SAWBONES: THE TIME BEING
The Time Being sees the thrilling conclusion to the globe- and time-spanning epic as the gang rush to stop the Time Being from tearing the universe apart. Bones, Sawyer, Daisy, Emelia and Martin face off against vikings, ninjas, Nazis, centurions, cavemen and Genghis Khan in a fight to the finish. But who’s Finish? Adventure Zomedy at its best. Written by Jen Breach. Illustrated by Trev Wood.
STRIPSHOW (Milk Shadow Books)
Forget the sweeping saga of The Sacrifice, or arty The Silence: Aussie comic master Bruce Mutard began his comic life in the slime, evolving slowly through the lizard and ape phases to become the ‘artiste’ he is today. Stripshow showcases these early phases where no holes — sorry, holds — were barred, and humour was the order of the day. This collection of short strips, gags, illustrations and ads are either unpublished, or long, long, out of print in their original publications. Comes with a mea culpa from the author. For pubescents over 18.
TERRA MAGAZINE #1 (Black House Comics)
Debut of the much-anticipated tri-annual genre fiction comics magazine. Terra Magazine brings together a diverse range of continuing science fiction, fantasy, horror and crime stories by some of Australia’s best talents. Samurai and spaceships; elephants and yakuza; mummies and magicians; cops and cyborgs: if there isn’t something you like in here, you’re on the wrong planet. Edited by Jason Franks.
YOU STINK AND I DON’T #10 (Milk Shadow Books)
The tenth issue of Ben Hutchings’ cult comic, You Stink and I Don’t is now officially ready to hit the streets! Following up from the critical success of his cult newspaper comic Walking to Japan, Ben has created lots of comics about funny cats, silly sports, superheros in people’s bottoms and more.
ZOMBOLETTE (Milk Shadow Books)
A beautifully decaying, giant-sized collection of Scarlette Baccini’s strips and stories featuring a girl zombie and her best friend/roommate/hamster, Cameron. So is the book cute? Maybe. Or filled with gutz and gore? Sort of. Will you get lolz? Yes… yes you will. Meet Zombolette (and Cameron too!).
The details of the event are:
Saturday, March 3rd from 2:00pm
243-245 Gertrude Street
It’s a “Renaissance” if artists – pencillers and inkers – are getting paid a page rate once the work is accepted for printing. And comics being designed and created BEFORE a trend in hollywood occurs (like Sherlock Holms and the many Frankenstein films being made) versus after, which is just half-assed, badly drawn plagiarism.
Otherwise it’s the same as comics have been in Australia since Phantastique: a con job, a rort, or at the best, self-publishing with no hope of making profit. Which is *anything but* a Renaissance.