Thursday, January 29, 2009

ASA's Comics Biz Launched Today

Comics Biz: The Australian Society of Authors Comics/ Graphic Novels Portfolio Ezine was launched today. Available exclusively to members of the portfolio, the ezine (edited by yours truly – the Black Mermaid Productions™ team of Jozef and Julie who are also the portfolio holders for this special interest group), will be released on the last Thursday of each month. 

We were running out of space in the ASA Newsletter to provide members with the material they were requesting so we thought this might be a good way to go. Last year we talked to comics creators around Australia and asked them what their over-riding business concern was – the universal answer was marketing. We've, therefore, given the ezine a marketing slant. Each issue will feature a lead article, a mini profile on a comics creator, marketing FAQ, legal FAQ, recommended marketing resources, and must read online articles. Additional bulletins containing time sensitive information will be emailed out to portfolio members in between the regular editions of the ezine.

Click here if you want to read more about the ASA Comics/Graphic Novels Portfolio and its activities and services. Click here if you want to become an ASA member. 

MUST READ ARTICLES: More on Superhero Movies Based on Comics

Lynden Barber, the freelance journalist who published the article "Triumph of the Fan Boys", in the Weekend Australian, which we referenced in a previous blog post, has expanded on the subject matter by publishing an edited interview on his blog with US academic Dr Peter Coogan, director of the Institute for Comic Studies. 

Coogan cites several reasons for the rising popularity of the superhero genre in film – one is the development of CGI technology and the second is that film producers love pre-developed brands with a built in audience. The third and most insightful observation for us for the intensification of film productions and the strong audience response is the following:
... the primary difference is respect – respect for the material. The main difference between Batman and Robin and Batman Begins is that Joel Schumacher doesn't respect Batman, but Christopper Nolan and David Goyer do. Superman 1 and most of Superman II were good because of the accident of Richard Donner being a fan – the Salkinds didn't know he was a fan, they hired him because of the success of The Omen.

But look at the scenes he filmed for Superman II and compare them to Richard Lester's – the difference is respect. Hollywood has somehow learned to give superhero movies to directors who respect the material and most oftens are fans themselves – one can say that the inmates have taken over the asylum, but it turns out they're crazy about running the place, not just crazy.
Go read Part I and Part 2 and "Mythic Archetypes and all that Superhero Jazz" NOW! Then let us know what you think.

Knee Deep in Kitty Cats

This has nothing to do with comics or mermaids I know but I have to tell you I am catching feral kittens again. I have caught three out of four and the last one is eluding me. I feel like Sylvester and Wile E Coyote all rolled up in one – hatching plans that inevitably backfire – although I am stalking kittens not canaries or road runners. I must add that I also have no intention of eating the kittens or possess any instincts like Clem from the Buffy TV series. 

For those of you are unfamiliar with my exploits, I live on a farm and I look after 10 domestic cats and about ten plus feral cats. I am attempting to get the ferals desexed (or spayed as it is known in the States) but they are exceedingly street smart and refuse point blank to step into the cat cages. I have written about my adventures on my Tame Feral Cats blog. Of the kittens born to the two fertile feral females (all my domestic cats have been neutered – both male and female), I have rehomed some and kept some. We just can't afford to let the population get out of control. This is very stressful as I cannot afford to fall in love with them all as I invariably do, so unless I am going to keep them I do not name them. 

The kittens you see in the pic are the now grown up ex-feral Squeaker Sisters – Sihri and Sasha – covered in earlier blog posts. They were handed to me in a box by a neighbour who had had them dumped on her two days before she was flying off to Alaska for six months. The other two are part of a litter of five – Samson and Savannah – born wild but now loving and cuddly and actively seeking contact with their human companions. Their siblings found wonderful homes.

The three I am socialising now (please come forth oh fourth one!) lived in a drain on our property. Progress is painstakingly slow but I had a breakthrough this morning when I stroked one while she was eating and she didn't hiss at me or run away. Check out the "Chronicles of the Xmas Kitty" journal entries if you want to read more.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Only 3 Days Left to Vote on Favourite Elf~Fin Cover!

We've had a whole bunch of people voting already but if you want to have a say, then don't waste the opportunity. If you don't know what we're talking about or need reminding, just check out our previous post then cast your vote. At this point of time, the vote is definitely lopsided towards one design. We're going to be looking into getting a webcam and pointing it onto Jozef's work desk for the duration of his painting it. If all goes according to plan, then this should happen in early February and you'll be able to see your favourite cover come to life in full colour.

Graphic Novel Survey

If you are a graphic novel retailer, librarian, or educator, then ICv2, the pop culture insiders; BookExpo America and the New York ComicCon are asking you to participate in a survey. Your responses will help publishers and others in the business of graphic novels, support your needs in better ways. Log onto: http://www.reedsurveys.com/nyccgn09

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Animation to Graphic Novels

We didn't think graphic novels would get a mention on the fabulous Alternet site – which publishes articles on "alternate" viewpoints on the subjects of media, immigration, human rights, Iraq, environment, water, health, drugs, sex and relationships, corporations & work, democracy and books – but yes they did. Check out Waltz with Bashir: Popular Animated Film Released as a Graphic Novel, which is about a "... 19-year-old Israeli soldier, Ari Folman [who] took part in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and was on duty in Beirut during the notorious massacre in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila". Quite topical in view of recent Israeli activities.
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Tattoo Turf

It's time to talk of many things ... including the appropriation of artwork for tattoos. This is a topic that has touched us at Black Mermaid Productions™, and is a topic we will be revisiting from time to time in this blog. We have been approached over the years by many people seeking permission to use Jozef's artwork, as well as the Black Mermaid™ logo and website hostess as tattoos. We have declined all requests in regard to the corporate logo but have said that people could use some of Jozef's artwork for tattoos, provided they asked for permission. We even have a section on the FAQ page of our website, which says:
Is the Black Mermaid logo available for license or for any other use?
No. The Black Mermaid logo is copyright and trademark to BMP. She has become a strong identifiable part of our business brand for the last 15 years and has been affectionately embraced by our readers. In many publishing circles and networking groups we are in fact known as the "black mermaids" or the "black mermaid people". In accordance with this brand recognition we have never licensed or given permission to any individual or organisation to reproduce the logo as she appears in our corporate stationery and also in all her website incarnations for commercial or non-commercial use, including tattoos.

Do you design mermaid tattoos for people?
Time constraints do not allow Joef to design any specific tattoos for interested people. Tattoo design is also not part of our core business. However, we do get occasional requests from readers, seeking permission to use some of the published BMP characters as tattoos. In principle, we do give permission in those circumstances, provided that the person contacts us by email. If you have such a request, you can email us on: permissions@blackmermaid.com.
As of today, we have added a codicil to that statement. The FAQ now also reads:
However, the tattooist must give original art and copyright credit to the artist – Jozef Szekeres and/or Black Mermaid Productions – on any digital (online/electronic) or print promotional publication where a photo of the finished tattoo appears.
The reason we are becoming more protective about the use of tattoos involves a case that has been working itself out over the last twelve months, as well as the looming Orphan Works Bill (see previous blog post 1 and 2) that, despite being temporarily shelved, still has artists running scared. Jozef runs a Deviant Art (DA) page, which is very popular with his fans and displays many of his pieces on there including his mermaid art. In November 2007 one of his DA friends alerted him about the use of his "mermaid with doll" artwork on another artist's DA page, except that it was being exhibited in the form of a tattoo. There was no corresponding attribution to the original source material or artist; in fact, the tattooist's website address was emblazoned over the bottom of the image.

Jozef didn't quite know what the protocols were about tattooists using other people's artwork but he wrote to the man in question and identified himself as the original artist. The artist wrote back and said that:
.. in no way form or fashion I would take a fellow artist illustration and pose it as my own, a tattoo is a replica of an original, in the tattoo industry its [sic] rare when a artist states where the original artwork came from. Its [sic] not our responsibility to tell our clients not to take artwork that's "not" there's [sic] ...A  lot of tattoos that are done are done with artwork supplied by the customer ... They do the research, they fall in love with a particular design and they bring in the artwork... I feel that once your work is out in the web its [sic] pretty much @ the public's disposal ... whether we like it or not as the original creators.
He then concluded by saying that his work has been taken and used elsewhere and he knows the feeling and that it is a Catch 22 situation where "we are damned if we don't showcase our work and are damned if we do".

Jozef didn't know how to respond and let it sit for about six months. He then emailed the tattooist and provided his point of view on the arguments presented and then said that after considered thought he requested the artist to either remove the tattoo artwork from the DA website or to post the source artist against it and to link the artwork back to Jozef's DA page. He also added that he would then be happy to endorse the artwork and say that it was used with Jozef's permission.

The artist complied and placed the appropriate credit onto the DA page where the tattoo appeared. However, the relevant modification and Jozef's art credit have not been added to the image displayed on the tattoo artist's corporate website.

Which brings us to the question of whether or not the general public or a tattooist at large has the right to reproduce artwork on somebody's body without permission, an appropriate credit, or  any form of licensing fee? Furthermore, can the tattooist display the work as part of his/her repertoire and in the process implicitly mislead the viewer into thinking the he/she created the original artwork?

We discussed this scenario with Australian author Neal Drinnan the other day at a nice dinner. Neal came up with the recommendation that if an artist had a collection of images popular with tattoo artists then perhaps the bundle could be licensed out to them through the appropriate tattooist's association or guild or through some sort of collection agency. This, in fact, could be a topic for VizCopy , the Visual Arts Copyright Collection Agency, to investigate at least from the Australian end – we don't know how things would fare in the USA or other countries. This kind of thing would be difficult to patrol unless the tattoo artist worked to a covenant not to reproduce any artwork unless their customer brings them verification that the piece they want is in public domain or they have permission from the original artist.

In December 2008 we featured artist Judith Howell's mermaid artwork in our Mermaid Treasures 11 post. Judith makes a very strong statement on her website in regard to Tattoos and Copyright. She says:
Tattoo artists make several hundreds of dollars in the application of a design, while the artists receive only $2 or $3 for the sale of the greeting card [from which the art was sourced by the tattooist and the customer] after costs. So I, and other artists feel this is a bit unfair for the use of heartfelt imagery that will be enjoyed for the rest of your life. Especially as the tattoo artist has made some $200+ and then "resells" an image (which isn't his), therefore earning him more money. 
She has a point.

We don't have the answer, but we are asking the questions. This topic is one that needs exploring and we will be interested in your commentary and discussion. It certainly created emotional discomfort amongst the artists we've talked to. We may also pose it to the VizCopy people, as well as the legal officer at the Australian Society of Authors (which incorporates the Society of Book Illustrators).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

IMPORTANT NEWS – Diamond Distributor Raises Minimum Threshold for Comics Publishers [UPDATED 22 & 27/1/09]

Diamond Distributors, which describes itself as 'the world's largest distributor of English-language comic books, graphic novels and related pop-culture merchandise" has just raised its minimum order threshold for comics publishers from $1,500 per month to $2,500 per month, which is predicted to have a devastating impact on small press.

Comic Book Resources tells us that:
The increase of the purchase-order threshold means each book needs to generate at least $2,500 of revenue to be listed in Previews [the order catalogue sent to retailers, which lists upcoming comic books and graphic novels]. 
... SLG Publishing's Dan Vado points out that figure means "a litle over $6,000 in sales at retail based on the discount we give to Diamond."
That means the average $3 comic would have to sell more than 2,100 copies – a rare feat for many small publishers. (The number of copies varies depending on the discount offered to Diamond.) 
CBR follows up with another article on iVerse and its Total Digital Distribution package, which offers hope to publishers and creators to get their product out electronically into the market place and to get paid in the process. William Schanes, Vice President of Purchasing at Diamond, speaks out on the policy change in this interview.

In the meantime, Dwight L MacPherson (creator of Edgar Allan Poo) seems to have his finger on the pulse in regard to alternative avenues of comics digital and print distribution. Check out his blog to read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 in a series which analyses the advantages and disadvantages of putting your product onto WOWIO or print on demand publishing through IndyPlanet.

Black Mermaid Productions™ FaceBook Trilogy Now Complete

We've just set up our third and final FaceBook group – Elf~Fin™ – which will feature focused news stories and art posts from the upcoming Elf~Fin series for friends, fans and supporters. Hope you'll join us for that one, as well as the Black Mermaid and Black Mermaid Productions groups, which were created about a fortnight ago. Membership in the former has now topped 100, and invitations to join the latter will be sent to our friends list next week (although there is nothing stopping you from joining up now if you wish!) 

Weekend Australian Graphic Novel News Coverage

Got to hand it to the Weekend Australian – comics, graphic novels and their creators have received lots of coverage lately in the arts "Review" section of the paper. In the 10-11 January 2009 alone, the paper published two articles. The first one is a reprint from The Independent – "Cartoon Carla – Fiction or Fact?", which focuses on a new French comic book about French President Nicholas Sarkozy and his controversial, fashionista wife and ex-model Carla Bruni, who is portrayed as a "strange blend of Cruella de Vil and Snow White". 
Carlo and Carlito is the rollicking narrative of how a right-wing, authoritarian, lonely president came to meet an marry a left-wing, beautiful, man-eating pop singer, human rights activist and former top model... The facts are mingled with unashamed fantasy and told through inspired imagery, such as a sequence of Disney-like frames, showing Bruni hypnotising the President with cat-like eyes, and a front-cover image showing a tall confident Carla carrying a tiny President in a baby sling.
The second article "Channeling a Master" focuses on Frank Miller's directorial debut on Will Eisner's The Spirit and the disgruntled fan murmurings and lack of confidence in the trailer, which is said to be more akin to Miller's Sin City than a faithful adaptation of the original source material. (There are pretty picture in the print version that have not been uploaded onto the website.) Good to know our comics business is getting exposure through mainstream outlets.

In the meantime, if you want to judge The Spirit trailer for yourself, there are no fewer than four variations on YouTube (several of them have the embedding disabled so you will need to check them out directly on the site. You can start with this one and then this one.)

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Monday, January 19, 2009

VOTE NOW for your Favourite Elf~Fin Cover!


Jozef just designed three covers for the first issue of Elf~Fin: Hyfus & Tilaweed. Following on from that, we then got together and discussed the various merits of all of them and ended up knocking one out of the running. We are undecided about the final two, so we're asking for your help.

Which ONE is your personal favourite?

The first marks a story point that has Hyfus swimming with dolphins and sharks.
The second also marks a story point but shows Hyfus in an action shot, thrusting his spear into something.

It will be interesting to see where popular opinion lies. You can vote on the online poll, which appears underneath the Black Mermaid Productions™ corporate logo on the right hand margin of this blog.

PLEASE NOTE that the title fonts are NOT definitive and are there for placement only. The other design elements such as the publisher's logo, the price and release date are there for positioning as well, and will not reflect the final look of the print version.

The closing date and time for the poll is Saturday 31 January 2009 at 12:00pm.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Book Trailers as Promo Tools

There has been an increase in comics, graphic novels and mainstream book trailers on YouTube and other video sites. The Prince of Persia by Jordan Mechner, A B Sina and LeUyen Pham (published by First Second) and James A Owen's Indigo King (published by Simon & Schuster) being two of many. How successful are these clips as marketing tools? Well, Publisher's Weekly asked several industry experts and then gave us a run down of their answers in the "Ask a Publicist: What Do You Think of Book Trailers?" article. The publicists who think trailers are a load of nonsense are missing the point – posting trailers on blogs and video sites is actually a Search Optimization Tactic that will create more links to and from your website and thus elevate it in the page rankings of Search Engines such as Google, which in turn will attract more traffic to your site. However, we do agree with the notion that nothing will brand you an amateur as quickly as an ill-conceived and badly made and edited video clip. So if you are going to do it then for goodness sake do it well. It can be simple but it needs to be professional.

 

Friday, January 16, 2009

Be Our FaceBook Friends

Jozef and I recently created two FaceBook groups – Black Mermaid Productions™ and Black Mermaid™. The first is for friends, fans and supporters of Jozef and myself (the creative team) and our upcoming comics projects, and the second is dedicated to lovers of our Black Mermaid corporate logo in all her visual incarnations. We'd LOVE to have you on board, so be amongst the first to join one or both groups if you wish.  Let's go have us some fun!

Asterix Conquered!

Don't know what's going in the Uderzo family, but many people view the change in ownership of the Asterix Intellectual Property (IP) as an unfortunate circumstance that apparently strikes at the very heart and the very spirit of the eponymous hero of this French graphic novel series, which was first published in the late 1950s. 

A new business arrangement may mark the demise of the Asterix sensibility of freedom, independence and opposition of the oppressors, but may also open up other subsidiary rights opportunities and give more exposure to this brilliant work. I suppose it depends on what end of the royalty cheque one is on and how large or small your voting rights are.

  The UK Guardian reports that:
The Romans may not have defeated Asterix, but his creator, Albert Uderzo, stands accused of surrendering to the indomitable Gaul's worst enemies: businessmen and financiers...

Uderzo, who created Asterix with the late Rene Goscinny in 1959, sold his stake in the company which publishes Asterix to Hachette last December, giving them a controlling stake of 60% in the company. The remaining 40% is owned by Sylvie [Uderzo's daughter].
I LOVE Asterix and Obelix and Dogmatix and the whole gang. I have the entire set of graphic novels in a small A5 format in my professional library. I really need to replace the lot with the larger standard size. I came across them in my high school library when I was 13 and I read the lot in about two weeks. They were the only graphic novels at school, along with Tintin. Comics were not given their rightful place in the school system. Things are changing now, but I digress ...

I always loved the way the Gauls could out-think the Romans and also outfight them after a slug of Getafix the Druid's magic potion. Obelix, of course, didn't need to do that – he had fallen into a magic cauldron of the stuff when he was a baby. I loved the running gags throughout the entire series – the encounter with the pirate rabble and the inevitable sinking of their ship, and the last page banquet scene with Caconofix all tied up to prevent him from playing the lute and caterwauling. Absolute utter hysterical delight! From memory Asterix and Cleopatra was my favourite – she was a slinky sexy seductive Egyptian vixen.

It's hard to think of the franchise being spoiled by family feuds. The creators have every right to dispose of their IP as they see fit, but I hope it's not to the detriment of the work. Don't know anything about the family dynamics but it would be a shame if Goscinny and Uderzo's legacy was marred by conflict.

Check out the official Asterix site here.


Mermaid Treasures 12


This pewter (at least I think she's pewter because she's quite heavy and never tarnishes!) mermaid is one of my favourites. She is currently located by my bedside in my mermaid room, which is attached to my work studio. She also often has pride of place as a centrepiece near the flower arrangement on the dinner table while I am entertaining. Guest love her too.

About Face on H2O

A few months ago, Jozef wrote a blog post on his general dissatisfaction with the teenage mermaid television series H2O, which is filmed on the Queensland coast. At that time he had seen one episode out of order and didn't particularly like what it had to offer. However, to be fair, he purchased the entire first season, watched it in its entirety in one sitting, and then promptly rang me to say he had changed his mind and, that after seeing the episodes in context, he thought the series was pretty good all round for young girls and mermaid lovers like himself. Then he lent me the DVDs, which have since been sitting on my bookshelf gathering dust for around three months because I have been so busy. He has hassled me about watching them and I finally got to the initial four episodes the other evening.

My first impression on checking out the cast of girls was that there was one brunette, book-ended by two blondes. I would have preferred to see a red head or a black haired girl in the mix, but obviously had to accept the producer's decision and go with the flow. The chemistry between the three actresses was excellent, so I am presuming that that was one of the major criteria in casting.

The girls turned out to be quite engaging and exceptionally photogenic, albeit terrible actresses in the first instance. I'm sure they will improve the further into the series they and I get. My second impression was that the brunette character Cleo (played by Phoene Tonkin) looked like a slightly younger version of the exotic and gorgeous-looking Shanina, the first runner up in the Australian version of Make Me a Supermodel

In terms of story, the plotting was kept quite simple compared to evening television, but of course this is a half hour show shown in an afternoon time slot and aimed at young girls – I am not the target audience. However, the episodes dealt with "refusal of the call" issues, the discovery of water-directed superpowers, and relationships with bullies and allies. I was most intrigued by the mysterious woman who spoke to the Cleo character in the Sea World sequences, so that whetted my appetite for more. 

I thought the locations were terrific and I loved the look of the golden scaled mermaid tails with matching bras. I found this on the Wikipedia site, but caution to anyone who goes there as it contains many spoilers.
The mermaid costumes took six months to build, with the tails made from body casts and comprising individually hand-crafted scales. the finished products weighs between 12 and 15 kilograms (26 and 33 lbs). Once in costume, the girls have to be lifted into the water... 

There are three different types of tails: the tails the girls swim in, the "floppy tail" used for bath and shower shots and the "hard tails" for stunts.
Four episodes in, 48 to go to get the real story arc. At this point of time, I am looking forward to more underwater and mystery island sequences. The tails are what have really won me over!





Back to Blogging

Apologies for the lack of blog posting during the last week – my MacBook has been in the shop for the last few days because there was something wrong with the Ethernet connection. I couldn't get onto the Internet, let alone send or receive any emails – very frustrating. I just got it back yesterday afternoon, only to find out it would have cost me a pretty penny ($1295 to be exact!) to replace the mother board had I not been covered under the extended AppleCare Protection Plan. It was worth every penny of the funds I outlaid when I initially bought the computer. Anyway, Jozef and I are getting back to the regular business of blogging as of now and we'll be writing multiple posts to make up for lost time. Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

MEDIA RELEASE: Black Mermaid Productions™ Launches Black Mermaid Boutique


















MEDIA RELEASE
8 January 2009

Black Mermaid Productions™ (BMP) is proud and exceptionally happy to announce the launch of its online CafePress Black Mermaid Shop, featuring several lines of Black Mermaid™ brand gifts and collectibles. The Black Mermaid™ range of images is based on the BMP corporate logo – a reclining mermaid silhouette – which has become an identifiable part of the BMP business brand for over 15 years. BMP is, in fact, an Australian creative team made up of Jozef Szekeres (artist) and Julie Ditrich (writer) that specialises in fantasy and mermaid-related comics and graphic novels.

"Our logo has been extraordinarily popular since her first global public appearance on our website in 1998 where she featured in many design variations in her role as hostess," says BMP Director, Julie Ditrich. "We regularly have to turn down requests from people all over the world who want to use the Black Mermaid™ artwork on anything from fishing adverts and menus to burlesque costumes and wedding invitations. We even had a copyright breach nearly three years ago when somebody used one of our images without permission on a T-shirt range which was sold through some Sydney markets. This matter was pursued legally and settled to our satisfaction."

Designed by BMP artist, Jozef Szekeres, the BMP logo has been described by many as "sexy", "fun" and "absolutely lovely" and will now feature in many different design ranges on the CafePress Black Mermaid Shop over the upcoming years. The first range on offer is traditional in its association and feel as it features the Black Mermaid™ in her underwater environment interacting with various ocean creatures. BMP has, therefore, named this range the "Undersea Black Mermaid™".

There are 15 products in the basic range and an additional 12 in the special lines. These include clothing, homewares and papergoods. BMP will also be releasing various limited edition ranges, as well as those limited by time such as the Celebration Black Mermaid™ range which will be tied to holidays and festive occasions such as Christmas and Halloween. The first image launched in 2008 in the Celebration Black Mermaid™ range is the Valentine's Day "Heart of Hearts" design, which will only be on sale until 14 February 2009 (11.59 US Pacific Time).

"We predict that the Black Mermaid™ products will bring much enjoyment to those who buy them. We have it on good authority that people love – and feel good – just looking at her," says BMP Director Jozef Szekeres. "We are about to purchase a shipment for ourselves to do further quality control tests, but we already have a HUGE line of friends, family and professional colleagues who have given us extensive shopping lists or who are grabbing specific pieces for themselves from the online shop. It will be interesting to see which designs are the most popular and we will soon poll our subcribers and readers to see which are their favourites."

You can visit the CafePress Black Mermaid Shop at: http://www.cafepress.com/black_mermaid.

For further information contact Julie Ditrich or Jozef Szekeres on:
Phone: (61 2) 9606 4728
Email: blackmermaid@blackmermaid.com
Website: www.blackmermaid.com

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mermaids & Dugongs at Sydney Aquarium

I spotted this gorgeous pic in an advert in the Sunday papers and was completely in raptures. It's the promo image for the new Mermaid Lagoon exhibit at Sydney Aquarium. The tropical water oceanarium habitat features two dugongs (Pig, a 10-year old male and Wuru, a four-year old female). Only five are on exhibition around the world and Sydney is the only place in Australia where you can get close up and personal with them. The tank also features turtles, schooling fish and rays.

According to the media release:
[Dugong] numbers are declining in the wild due to a number of human threats including degradation of habitat, boating injuries, and drowning in nets. 
These two were raised at Sea World after being rescued as orphan calves before being brought to the Sydney Aquarium.

In the past, superstitious sailors and pirates often mistook dugongs for mermaids, thereby creating the mythology. I believe they both exist, but who am I am to say – I'm just a writer! Check out full exhibition details on the Sydney Aquarium website. Jozef and I are dusting off our walking shoes and heading down to Darling Harbour once the holiday crowds thin out. Thanks to Loren Pawlik, Sydney Aquarium Media Communications Executive for allowing us to use the video.


video

The Countdown Continues!

Two days to go! Stayed posted. We're lovin' the teeth!

Heavy Metal Magazine Discovers Jozef Szekeres

Last year, out of the blue, I was asked by Heavy Metal to supply artwork for a gallery feature on my work. I've been a fan of Heavy Metal since I was a child, and consider it the preeminent arts/comics magazine. So to be featured like this is certainly a wish fulfillment. Please do pick up the March 2009 copy and check it out.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Stranger Than Superhero Fiction

Apparently the US is alive with the sound of superheroes. More than 200 citizens have donned masks and costumes and are fighting crime in their home towns and surrounds. The Newsarama blog tells us that:
According to the World Superhero Registry, only non-lethal means of subduing criminals are condoned, and small-timers like prostitutes and drug users are "of limited value to society." ... this new trend has been attributed to causes ranging from 9/11 to the boom of superhero films.
Anyone choosing to abide by the terms and conditions/minimum criteria within the World Superhero Registry must comply with rules regarding costumes, heroic deeds and personal motivation. Registered superheroes include FoxFire, Black Arrow, Ghost and Green Scorpion amongst many others. The only category missing on their mini-bios is what superpower they possess. We wonder why!

The Countdown Starts!

What is this? Wait and see. Three days to the big announcement!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Orphan Works Bill Art Registry Solution

Kudos to ConceptArt.org founders for creating a solution to keeping the profiteers at bay if the Orphan Works Bill is introduced in the USA. (For more info about the OWB check out our previous post 1 & 2).

Although Congress is supposedly dumping the Intellectual Property (IP) Subcommittee on Judiciary Panel responsible for pushing for the Bill, artists are not out of danger yet. In an email sent to members on 2 January 2009, Jason Handley, ConceptArt.org Founding Director, said:
Artists having to be in searchable registries is potential problem number one. I believe this will be left to the private companies based on my research into who is supporting this horrible bill and what businesses are opening preparing for it. I went and checked the domain registry to search to see if people were buying domains (registermyart.com, artregistry.com etc...etc...) and everyone I serched for was gone. This was the red flag that began the real push to solve this assault on artist rights. The corporate sharks are already preparing to feed it seems.

... My guess is the art registries will launch as soon as the law passes or shortly thereafter.

... ConceptArt.Org has created a search system for locating art and artists, essentially cutting off the paid registry industry before they can even get off the ground. Click the images and find the original thread. Click the artist name and contact them directly. This also keeps these readying companies from acting as middlemen, between the searcher and the artist who they wish to hire. There is no room for that in our business.
The service is free so it might be a good idea to add your images to this database and/or other online galleries such as DeviantArt.com where BMP Director and artist Jozef digitally displays the majority of his artwork. Don't forget to watermark your pieces and put your signature and year of rendering onto them.

Thanks to artist Matt Elder for providing info on this initiative.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Elf~Fin Leaks & Peeks 4

Exciting things in the pipeline for 2009. Here's the first – a double page spread of the Waverin community in a pivotal scene. Enjoy.