Saturday, November 29, 2008

Secret Society Scam

Seems like the scammers have come up with their version of a secret society that could inhabit Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. Just so you know what I'm talking about, a relative of mine just received a personalised letter from a PO Box in Las Vegas, Nevada with the following introduction:
Ms [NAME], please forgive us, but we have just taken a closer look at your profile. It turns out you're more special than any of us imagined! Ms [NAME], did you know that you possess some very rare, hidden traits? In fact, there is a famous person (someone you would instantly recognize, he's on TV every night) who possesses these same special, incredibly rare traits... It turns out that people who posses [sic] these same rare and often hidden traits that you do are some of the most famous and successful people on this planet! [NAME], you are indeed blessed! I know those around you don't know this yet,  but they will! Down deep, you sense it, too. Right? I'm so excited for you!"
The letter then goes on to tell its recipient that it is not a solicitation for money and that she must keep everything confidential. Furthermore:
There has existed for many years an exclusive association, a secret society, of the world's most famous and powerful people. These include renowned actors and musicians, leading scientists and intellectuals, self-made entrepreneurs and artists, even some of the rare genuine astrologers and psychics ...
Apparently, this association has uncovered some shockingly powerful secrets and not only have they taken the time to analyse my relative's profile from amongst billions of people in the world to offer her entry into this "exclusive" group, but they are also offering her a Free Report that will "share secrets that lead to prosperity, love happiness, total piece [sic] of mind". The writer – Tiffany – swears on the Bible that all she is saying is true.

I'm not an expert at scams but this one appears to have all the trademarks of a beauty. Firstly, I have no idea how these people obtain their mailing list but I have no doubt it would be a bulk mailout. Secondly, the language is that of cajoling and flattery that appeals to our ego – are we indeed special? we ask ourselves (and unfortunately for many of us logic will go out of the window at this point of time because we want to be a chosen one). Thirdly, there is a promise of exclusivity for us to gain entry into this special club. Fourthly, the stories Tiffany tells us appeals to the child in us that is fascinated with knights and journeys to capture the secret sword to awaken the sleeping parts of ourselves. Fifthly, it appeals to our greed with all the riches on offer. Sixthly, there is also a cut off date which fuels a sense of urgency and our fear that we will miss out – a powerful marketing tool that forces people to make a decision to accept the invitation. My relative must respond by this Friday but there is no actual date on the letter. Call me sceptical but I'm pretty sure if my relative responded they wouldn't care if it were Friday of this week or next month or a Friday next year. And lastly, we ask ourselves – a Free Report – what harm can that do? The problem is that if you respond then your private information will be captured forever rather like the secret soul names of Gods in ancient mythology. These unscrupulous scammers are not the kind to have opt-out and unsubscribe options for people on their mailing list or database. They will either hit you for the definitive book on their secrets or lifetime membership for a couple of hundred bucks, or they will keep hounding you with increasingly higher offers – you may be asked to pay $20 for the first one then $100 for the second, $250 for the third and so on. I mean, how can you resist the promise of the material when they even bring God into the equation – and that's just in the invitation letter! 

And finally, If my relative doesn't answer the invitation she will never hear from these people again!  Well er ... good! 

And by the way, with all the spelling mistakes in the letter I wonder why no intellectual from this secret society has been asked to proof it!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Orphan Works Bill Update

We've been keeping tabs on the whole issue of the US Orphan Works Bill through the comics creator who has her finger permanently of the pulse – Ms Colleen Doran

Colleen reports in her Distant Soil blog that there is good news on the horizon – Congress is about to abolish the Intellectual Property (IP) Subcommittee on Judiciary Panel – but not to get too excited about it, as the Orphan Works Bill could become the scylla and charybdis of American politics. 
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Conyers will abolish the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property in the new Congress and instead keep intellectual property issues at the full committee level ... Hot topics like overhauling the U.S. patent system; ending a long-standing music royalty exemption for AM and FM radio and changing a portion of copyright law that deals with musical tracks, writings, images, videos or other content whose owners cannot be easily identified drew ample attention from the high-tech and entertainment industries.
The reason we've taken an interest in this is because of the potential spill-over to Australian artists if this Bill is passed. Here is a typical case study of the implications, affecting no other than Black Mermaid Productions™ artist himself, Jozef Szekeres.

A few months ago Jozef was commissioned to provide some artwork for Sleazeball 2008. The organisers wanted to release a 16-piece limited edition trading card set under the 'Villain's Lair" theme, which focused on the iconic artwork of Glen Hanson. Mr Hansen, who was the advertised and promoted celebrity artist for the event, was to provide five characters for the cards. Jozef was asked to provide 11 further characters and to render them according to Glen Hanson's distinct style. Jozef made it clear from the first meeting that the card set would need to be credited properly with the appropriate signatures and copyright information, so as not to cause confusion in the marketplace about who had painted what character. This was duly reflected in the contract.

After the card set was released, Jozef noticed that the identifying information was not on it for either artist. When he queried the organisers they claimed that the artwork had not been checked internally and the artists' credits had been forgotten. However, all the appropriate attributions had been made on the rogue's gallery poster of the entire cast of characters which had been released at the same time and therefore, at least from their point of view, it was not a problem. Jozef was given two tickets to an event as compensation. 

These trading cards are now in general circulation and Jozef's fears have become real. Firstly, when he has talked to people who had a card set and identified himself as the artist for his specific pieces, most of them asked him if he was Glenn Hanson. Secondly (and here we must project into the future a bit), long after the Sleaze Ball 2008 information is taken off the Mardi Gras website and long after the organisers have moved on, in all likelihood people will assume that Jozef's art is in fact Glenn Hanson's and will either attribute it incorrectly or will have nowhere to start tracking the identity of the real artist for those specific eleven character pieces. If these cards were to surface in the US some time down the track and somebody wanted to use the artwork under the Orphan Work Bill, then they could do some preliminary searches and then if unsuccessful in the first instance, use the artwork without permission. Furthermore, if it is published in any form where it is presumed to be Glenn Hanson's work (and Glen Hanson is not there to tell them otherwise) then the artwork could be credited to the wrong artist for years and years to come.

This is all speculative we know, but these are also very plausible scenarios. The cards are in print forever (or at least until the last set remains on earth) but the artist and the people or archives who/which would tell us otherwise, could be long gone. We don't think it is unreasonable for an artist – any artist (and we use this term to include musicians, writers, sculptors and so on) – to protect their artistic legacy.

It is our understanding that under the Orphan Work Bills if someone searches for the copyright holder (usually the artist) and cannot find them and they can prove that they actually did a basic search, then the artwork is up for grabs for them to use as they like when they like. In the case of these trading cards, because the art does not carry any identifying marks or signatures to point people in the direction of the artist (Jozef), this is quite a likely outcome.

So if you are an artist then use those signatures, watermarks, copyright and trademark information liberally so there are electronic and print published pointers and pathways to you now and in the future. And furthermore ... you may also want to embed a clause in any upcoming contracts that basically gets the commissioner to have an added interest in being responsible about complying about attribution so there are no accidental slip ups – if the artwork is released without proper credit then the commissioner will need to compensate you financially for their lack of attention to detail.

And if you are a commissioner and not an artist then try to look at it from an artists' point of view – they have a moral entitlement to be credited and paid for their art. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Resale Royalties for Visual Artists

We just asked Jeremy Fisher, Executive Director of the Australian Society of Authors, whether this applies to comic book artists and he replied, "Not yet.  But if the original artwork was sold separately, as book illustrators do through galleries, yes it would". We'll keep you posted on this but in the meantime we recommend you support this initiative by signing the petition, or writing to the relevant ministers and government departments.

Superhero Colour Matching

Yes, we agree with J K Parkin from the Newsarama blog who spotted this piece and who in turn gives credit to Rob at the Aquaman Shrine  – THIS IS WAY COOL! I personally love looking at style guides, model sheets and all the components that go into branding bibles. We thought you'd get a kick out of this bit of DC Comics history too. It's a bit like choosing the colours to paint your walls at home.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mermaid Treasures 10

My lovely friend Kathy from Wisconsin sent me this charming piece several years ago for Christmas. It's a "Laini's Ladies" mermaid hanging adornment created by Portland, Oregon artist Laini Taylor. There's a real contemporary look to her – she reminds of a flapper mermaid (although I am still trying to figure our how peacock feather wings are practical for a mermaid in water but that's just the writer in me). For those of you who are interested in obtaining her, check out the Mermaid Perch online store. Her catalogue number is #60106. If you are interested in seeing more of the Liani's Ladies range go to Bottman Design – there are lots of bohemian ladies, fairies, muses and goddesses to choose from including the Diet Goddess and the Muse of Chocolate.   

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Reality Show Delusions

Just read an interesting article in my latest Fortean Times magazine, which describes a newly identified mental illness called the Truman Show Delusion. 

Now, The Truman Show happens to be one of my favourite films of all time and I think Jim Carrey is sensational in it. I had been ambivalent about him previously but he completely won me over in the role of Truman Burbank. For me, The Truman Show is a prison break movie, but obviously now in the world of modern psychiatry and the world of psychoses,  it has evolved into something else entirely. 

Apparently, two psychiatrist brothers from Montreal, Canada, Joel and Ian Gold, have noticed an increase in the frequency of patients (usually educated white men aged 24 to 34) who believe they are the subjects of their own reality television shows. Joe Gold, 39, who has worked at New York's Bellevue Hospital for eight years says:
"The delusions we typically treat are narrow: there is the Capgras delusion, where someone will think his family has been replaced by doubles. Or the Fregoli delusion, where someone believes that one person is persecuting him: a doctor, mailman, butcher. The Truman Show delusion, though, involve the entire world..."

"Typically, the Truman Show delusion is a combination of paranoia, grandiosity and ideas of reference, which means that patients believe they are receiving signals specifically meant for them from a newscast or something like, that," said Dr Gold.
Apparently, there are at least 40 reported cases in the world thus far. Makes you wonder whether delusions evolve in line with the prevailing cultural landscape. What, for example, would have been the equivalent of this delusion in Victorian times or the Renaissance period in Europe?

In the meantime, you can learn more at the International Herald Tribune. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Killer Robots Coming Soon!

It's curious that just hours before I watch the 2004 movie I Robot for the first time, which is screening on Channel 7 in Sydney tonight, that I should receive an AlterNet article by Scott Thill called Are Pentagon Nerds Developing Packs of Man-Hunting Killer Robots? in my email in-box. Go figure! The article explains that:
... the "Multi-Robot Pursuit System" would need "a software and sensor package to enable a team of robots to search for and detect human presence in an indoor environment." The robots would be led by a human commander using "semiautonomous map-based control." For good measure, the offer added that there "has also been significant research in the game-theory community involving pursuit/evasion scenarios." According to the offer, the robots should weight a little over 200 pounds apiece, and there should be three to five of them assigned to their human overlord.

The superficial logic at work in this curious merge of machine and flesh dictates that this speculative pack of robots would greatly reduce the human danger inherent in hunting down armed or violent persons hiding indoors. After all, robots are used today to detect and detonate incendiary devices; in fact, those very robots were evolved, armed and deployed to Bagdad, where they are currently awaiting orders to fire. The Pentagon's future robot pack is just the next inevitable step in that human evolution ... If a robot is smart enough to detect bombs, it's smart enough to hunt down enemies. Give it a gun and count the saved lives on reality TV.
I don't know whether to be scared or grateful...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Art of Comic Book Lettering Part 1

It's very easy to dismiss comic book lettering as a mere post-art production task, but I believe it is an art in its own right and I personally have great admiration for good letterers. I must confess that in the past my relationship to the words on a comic book page was quite different to what it is now and I didn't have the understanding or indeed value the power that lettering has in influencing the reader/viewer's conscious and subconscious processes. Neither did I actively stop to examine and break down the technique of lettering; I just accepted it as an ever present and non-intrusive and partly subliminal part of the comics medium that I skimmed over to get into the story. 

Once I started writing comics, however, and began to read my own work in printed comic book form, my perception began to change. Furthermore, we began to take an active role in the production process once the lettering function in the comics industry began to fall on the artist's (in our case Jozef's) shoulders. Indeed, it must be said you will find that many current comics contracts (both digital and print) no longer identify lettering as a separate task that is organised and paid for by the publisher. In fact, now there is an expectation that the "finished" art includes lettering, and that the artist is responsible for that job. He/she can either do it themselves, or subcontract the job out to an independent letterer, and we must add, pay for it out of their own pocket.

A few months ago Jozef and I began to look at the submission guidelines for several comics publishers – they pretty much universally wanted five pages of "finished" art which was defined as including lettering. Jozef was under heavy deadlines at the time so I volunteered to do the research to find the tools necessary for him to complete the job. 

The first thing I did to actually change my focus when it came to reading/viewing comics and graphic novels was to identify books with excellent lettering. The DC/Vertigo Sandman series by Neil Gaiman and various artists was a good example.  We had been used to seeing one typeface and one style of word or thought balloon throughout a series no matter who was talking through the panels. Sandman opened our eyes as to the scope of lettering. The shape, line, colour and the typeface of the various speech bubbles changes according to which character was talking on the page. For example, Sandman himself has a black, curvy, ink blot style word balloon with a white line around its edge and white upper and lower case, slightly fancy lettering. This contrasts to the ordinary mortals who have round white word balloons with a traditional comic book type face set in upper case. Words to be emphasised are set in bold. Villains – especially if they were completely psychotic – got their own style of word balloon and font too, usually jagged ones that symbollically represent their fractured state of mind, or, big lumpy cloddish styles if they lack intellect and are lumbering oversized oafs. In the Sandman books I have on hand at this moment, Todd Klein was the letterer.

On the local front I thought that WitchKing by Christian Read and Paul Abstruse (published by Phosphorescent Comics) with lettering design by Jason Kovacs was excellently conceived and executed, and all components blended in seamlessly.

In the next few parts of this lettering series we will explore objectives and criteria for lettering including genre and we will post a list of resources including websites where you can obtain comic book fonts.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Uncanny Lookalikes

Yeah, I know this is frivolous and a time waster but this TotallyLooksLike website and its contributors are on to something... I have been totally cracking up and totally fascinated that I am onto page 15 already of the website and still counting. I SO totally blame my sister for this one!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jozef Szekeres Interview on YouTube

Finally broadcast and now open to share with you online is my first TV interview about my artwork.

The interviewer/host is Yianni Zinonos of "Yianni's City Life". The program was aired on the community TV station CTV1 in early 2008. The interview covered my commercial artwork and paintings, my comics with co-creator and business partner Julie Ditrich, and the dolls I have created. Interspersed is animated footage of the commercials that I've animated and/or directed.

Only in hindsight did I realise that I should have kept my red t-shirt untucked... but it was my first interview and I'll know better for the next one.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Report on the ASA Picture Book Creators' Retreat

I was a guest speaker at the Australian Society of Authors Picture Book Creators’ Retreat held from the 7th til the 10th of November 2008 in Adelaide.

I gave a talk and workshop on the definition of comics and graphic novels which included a powerpoint presentation created by Julie and myself. The presentation introduced the medium and its expression through many forms, styles and genres. I also spent some time discussing the accompanying jargon to help solidify participants' understanding of the origins of comics.

What emerged from the discussion was that many mainstream children's publishers are seeing the buzz associated with the graphic novel and the accompanying financial success from overseas publishers so they've decided to jump in with their own graphic novels. Unfortunately, these publishers are seeing comic sequential language and the graphic novel format and presentation as just another extension of their children's book line. The same checks and balances and gatekeepers are involved.

What the presentation did was illuminate the differences between the comics medium and traditional picture books, showing the former as a vessel in its own right that can be filled with any genre, style, topic, or targeted audience. The presentation covered the various genres including horror and superhero; various styles including black/white and color; and how graphic novels can be targeted to different markets such as women, teenage, and the like. I also explained how the comics community embraced new original work that is self published outside of the editor gatekeepers usually associated with any book publishing because ultimately it is the readers who decide the success of a new work.

All this information was excitedly received by the audience. Afterwards they exclaimed that they could now write and illustrate beyond their previously preconceived children's book boundaries for the very first time, exploring ideas they could not easily fit within the traditional mainstream children's book market. Furthermore, they were excited about the idea of self publishing without the stigma of vanity press.

After the presentation and workshop many delegates thanked me personally for the presentation and the information that opened their creative minds.

Waterhouse: Circe

On my very first and recent visit to Adelaide I had dinner with a new friend I had made on the trip. Prior to the dinner I was at a children's book illustrators and writers retreat for four days and three nights. My friend and I spent hours after the final night dinner viewing his collection of art books collected by himself and his mother. We were in complete sync in regard to our artistic interests. We discussed my love of Sir Edward Poynter's work, specifically "The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon" which hangs in the Art Gallery of NSW (and which was my greatest inspiration for my own "Queen of Sheba" artwork), and my friend said there was another Poynter in the Art Gallery of SA that I must see on my last remaining day. He in turn discussed his love of John William Waterhouse, which is one that I shared. He also urged me to to see the Waterhouse painting of "Circe", which was housed at the same gallery.

I had seen "Circe" once before when she toured Sydney in the "Love and Death: Art in the Age of Victoria" exhibition (I believe it was in year 2000). I was astonished at that time to see that the figure in the painting was life size. Sure there were notes to the dimensions in the art books where I had seen this artwork printed before, but those were summarily ignored to focus on the tight gorgeousness of the printed artwork. Never before had I seen the artwork larger then the height of an art book. So knowing that "Circe' was there in the SA gallery I had to make a visit to view her and renew my acquaintance.

So, the organizer of the retreat and I ventured forth to view the gallery with my specific interest in seeing "Circe". On arriving at the gallery and enquiring as to her whereabouts we were told that "Circe" was in preparation for packaging as she was about to embark on a whirlwind international tour that would only end when she returned home in March 2010. Crestfallen to have missed out on seeing her, we viewed the other beautiful paintings then went to the gallery café for lunch.

Half way through a lovely meal, my companion said to me, " Look over there, they're moving a huge painting". I glanced over my shoulder to see to my unbelieving eyes Circe en route from the art lab (where she had been prepared for her journey) to the packaging room downstairs. We rushed out and were able to see her up close as she was being carried away. I had come to see her, and she acknowledged me by making an appearance. Timing IS everything.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Graphic Novel Literary Agents [UPDATED 29/1/09]

The incomparable Colleen Doran has been a busy comics blogger. She has just researched and posted a list of US literary agents who take on graphic novelists. The list includes contact information, biographical details, preferred genres and submission criteria. Check out the list on Colleen's A Distant Soil blog

We also noticed that the Writer's Digest 2009 Guide to Literary Agents included a list of Comic Book/Cartoon agents. Those of you readers who are also comics creators may want to add this resource to your professional home library. 

History of Erotic Comics Banned in Australia

I thought Australia was a forward thinking country. I know we've had our share of censorship and banned books during the 50s, 60s and 70s (Portnoy's Complaint comes to mind, as well as The Little Red School Book which I confess I got hold of when I was 11 and which I read cover to cover with wide eyes and a permanent O shape to my mouth). It now it seems that Australian Customs whom I have the highest respect for (Border Security rules!) is keeping Erotic Comics: A Graphic History from Tijuana Bibles to Underground Comix on ice. 

According to our sources, the book is being held back from being distributed to booksellers on instruction by the Australian Government and is to be branded on the cover with the scarlet letter 'M' for 'Mature Audiences' in the form of a sticker. Now I sort of get that for the simple reason that mainstream bookstores such as Borders shelve all the graphic novels across all genres and markets in a specific graphic novel section, hence the need for some sort of classification system that lets both youngsters and adults know that some of the material is unsuitable for children. But outside of that I really don't know what all the fuss is about.

The irony is that many of the contributors in the aforementioned volume and in Volume 2 (which is being released in March 2009) are sold quite openly in Australia. Alan Moore has apparently written a fabulous Foreword in Volume 2, yet I have seen his erotic Lost Girls book (which from memory was packaged in a slip case and sold for around $70+) unabashedly displayed in the graphic novels section of the Borders Sydney-city store about two years ago. I also have several gay friends who have for the last couple of decades collected all of Tom of Finland's books from Australian book retailers. Even Jozef has lent me his copy of Junko Mizuno's Princess Mermaid, which he bought in a local comic book shop and which hey as the title tells us ... just so happens to be a manga mermaid story, albeit an erotic one.

The reality is that most of this material has been sold in this country in one form or another and has never been disguised or misrepresented as anything but erotic comics storytelling. I would have thought a high quality niche publication such as this would be a valuable contribution to our understanding of erotic comics in our publishing history. 

Turkey Sues Batman

Okay, is it just us or is this too ridiculous for words? The mayor of "Batman", a city in southeast Turkey, is suing Warner Brothers and Christopher Nolan, director of The Dark Knight over the misappropriation of the city's name. Never mind that Batman, the comic book series created by Bob Kane (artist) and Bill Finger (writer), has been in print since 1939 and that the intellectual property has had lives in other media including radio plays, television series, animation series, and of course, the Tim Burton directed movie from 1989 and its sequels. 

The story according to an MSNBC article goes:
In his lawsuit, Hueyin Kalkan, the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party mayor of Batman, is accusing Nolan and the studio of using the city's name without permission ...
Among the charges are a claim that the use of the Batman name is to blame for several unsolved murders and a high female suicide rate, based on the psychological impact that the film's success has had on the city inhabitants ...
Oh, and in case you were wondering, titles do not fall under copyright protection! We don't think town names do either.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Barack Comic Book Wins

I love it! We love it. According to an ICv2 article the recently released Barack Obama bio comic book has outsold the John McCain comic book by a margin of 59% to 41% according to publisher IDW Publishing. I wonder if these books were distributed as a serious part of the campaign strategy? And I also wonder if the pollsters took the sales figures seriously enough as to be indicators of the end game?

eBookpro Updates

We've just asked some more questions of Chris Reynolds, the Business Development Manager behind the eBookPro software product we promoted recently on our blog. I have subsequently added additional FAQ to the post: Protecting Your Digital Comic or eBook. I am also going to ask some questions about watermarking and about using the software in relationship with a comics press blog or website that is not administered by  individual creator. More to come so keep watching that particular post for further updates.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Black Mermaid™ Marketing Tips 1 – How to Package Yourself

A few weeks ago Jozef and I attended a speaking conference, where we picked up a lot of useful advice and information about marketing products/services or yourself. One of the speakers, Joel Bauer, talked about the five most powerful clothes colour combinations you can wear to make a statement. We don't wish to make light of the historic US political events unfolding around us, but it was interesting when I went back with new eyes and new knowledge to some campaign footage from August 2008 to watch Barack Obama's Democratic party acceptance speech (see first YouTube clip below). I thought he looked absolutely incredible – fresh, energetic, polished and professional. In fact, his entire family looked radiant in their red, pink and black colour-coordinated outfits. Now this is interesting and certainly no accident ... why? Well, Barack Obama wore two of the key colours in his tie that Joel Bauer had talked about – red (the colour of passion and emotion) and pink (the colour of trust), which was set against a crisp white shirt which acts as a canvas under the black frame of his suit. Bauer said that marketing is basically "guessing and testing" and that hundreds of thousands (if not millions of dollars) had been spent determining the five most potent colours in marketing and sales. The intention therefore is to subconsciously influence our perception by packaging the person in a wardrobe that reflects our innate assumptions, so we in turn become more receptive to buying the product (in this case Obama) and the message being sold. Great stuff! It's very obvious now to us that Obama and his team were in fact benefiting from this market research. I do not think of it as manipulation but of great strategy to enhance his already well-established credibility and possibly to stamp and seal the deal. I wish I had known all this while the candidates had been on the campaign trail – it would have made of an interesting analysis of tactics. Oh, and what is noteworthy about this is that Obama is wearing the same suit and colours in his victory speech (see second YouTube clip below).

So if you want to learn more about the five most powerful colour combos, then here they are from the least to the most effective:

5. Blue on the inset of black (best used to indicate reliability and credibility especially in media interviews)
4. Red on the inset of black (best used to indicate emotion and passion)
3. Orange on the inset of black (best used to indicate vibrancy and excitement) 
2. Yellow on the inset of black (best used to indicate warmth)
1. Pink on the insert of black (best used to indicate trust and security).

Use this knowledge wisely in the comics world, oh great blog readers!

It's Started!

Don't you love the brilliance of political cartoonists!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Weekly Status Report

We apologise profusely for not blogging for an entire week but we have been extraordinarily busy focusing on activities that took longer to complete than we had anticipated. Here is a quick rundown:

●   Jozef has taken a slice of our workshop/seminar Powerpoint Presentation and has added new visuals and examples to it. He is presenting two one hour workshops this coming weekend at the Australian Society of Authors Picture Book Creators' Retreat and another which is being held at the South Australian Writers' Centre. He has done a stellar job of the new content.
●   I have been doing lots of legal research pertaining to an initiative we will be implementing in the next couple of months (we think you'll like it!).
●   I have also just set up a new blog (which will soon have an accompanying information website) in the next couple of weeks, which has to do with my personal commitment to animal welfare – in this case to the rehabilitation of feral cats. If you are interested, you can check it out at
●   On top of that, I have been buying up a whole bunch of domain names on behalf of Black Mermaid™, as well as Jozef and myself which pertain to future publications and activities.
●  Jozef has also been madly working on a double page spread of Elf~Fin.
● I have also managed to get a night of R & R after a long dry social period due to constant work commitments. I went to see a Popcorn Taxi sponsored 35mm screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark (my favourite film of all time) which also featured an audience with the incomparable Karen Allen who looks great and amused everyone with anecdotes about filming in Tunisia in 120 degree heat where everyone bar Stephen Spielberg (who had tins of food shipped in to the set) got food poisoning or "Montezuma's Revenge" as she put it. She also said the monkey in the film was exceedingly bad tempered but that was because he was working in the heat when all he wanted to do was curl up in the cool and sleep. She talked about the famous scimitar scene, the snakes, as well as the audition and casting process. 

I am very tired. Will sleep now. And will get on normal blogging track tomorrow.

Congratulations USA

Our first post for November after a dead blogging week but we can't ignore the obvious even though it is completely off blog topic...

Congratulations to Barack Obama, the Democratic Party and the American people. You/we have exciting times up ahead!

A new day has dawned.