Thursday, May 28, 2009

Calling All Australian Comics Creators

27 May 2009


Dear Australian Comics Creator,

I am writing to you as a member of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA), representing the recently established ASA Comics/Graphic Novels Portfolio. I am currently undertaking research to create a Rates Card for you and other professional and emerging Australian comics creators for the purposes of commissioned works (otherwise known as work-for hire) agreements. By “comics” I mean anyone who is writing and illustrating comic books, graphic novels, comic/cartoon strips, digital (web) comics and zines (that contain comics/sequential art content). By “professional” I mean anybody who has been paid page rates by a publisher or other entity who has commissioned the work.

We are asking you to fill in a simple survey, which will only take you 10 minutes, and to provide information based upon your own professional experiences. This raw data will remain strictly confidential and will be used with the intention of formulating minimum page rates and to get an understanding of the makeup and profile of the working (and emerging) comics community in Australia. The specific minimum rates we want to develop for the Rates Card are for:

  • Concept art sketches (per sketch)
  • Comics page/panel/shot design (layout)
  • Thumbnails/Roughs
  • Pencilling
  • Inking
  • Colouring (computer or hand)
  • Cover Art
  • Lettering
  • Writing (story synopsis, page breakdown, script)
  • Editing (story or art)
  • Cartoon/comic strip (print)
  • Webcomic strip (digital)
  • Zines (with comics – sequential art – content)
  • Convention sketches (black and white only)
  • Commissioned artwork (one-character piece or landscape or object sourced from comics properties) in black and white
  • Commissioned artwork (one-character piece or landscape or object sourced from comics properties) in colour.

Please note that we will be cross-referencing the rates information with those issued by organisations such as the Society of Book Illustrators, Australian Cartoonists Association, and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance to ensure consistency.

The purpose of this exercise is to chart a course, lay out a roadmap for those of you who want to make comics your career. The hardest thing in this country is being able to set down a value for the different services that are required in the production of comics. By gathering raw data from as many sources as possible we’re hoping to change that so that in the event a publisher commissions you for a project, you will have access to minimum pay guidelines and negotiate a reasonable fee in keeping with your talents and the time, energy and commitment you put into creating scripts or artwork.

Given my background of having worked 20+ years in the Australian comics world and having been involved in every step of the storytelling process, I was asked to facilitate this project. I would like to think that through co-operation and consultation we might be better prepared for the future of storytelling in the Australian comics landscape.

You can help the ASA to help you by clicking onto the following link and completing the survey: 

The closing date is: Friday 31 July 2009.

Kind regards

Tad Pietrzykowski

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Comikaze 24-Hour Comic Challenge

The 2009 Comikaze 24-comics pages in 24-hours challenge is about to hit Australia again on the Queen's Birthday weekend on 6 to 8 June 2009. The challenge is to create a comic in the 24-hour time frame  in your medium of preference. This can be ink, paint, photo collage, crayons or computer. Go to the Comikaze24 website for information on the challenge, the rules, the prizes and registration.

Nature's Apocalypse

Scary! Our hearts stopped when we viewed this. Be sure to read as you watch and wait for the punch line at the end (and it's not a funny one either!).

Monday, May 25, 2009

Movie Mermaids 1 – Hook & Disney's Peter Pan

Found this footage from Hook the other day – the clip contains just the mermaid scene. We'd forgotten about it up to now possibly because the coquettish Peter Pan animated mermaids made the stronger impression on us, simply because we saw then first when we were kids. Anyway ... enjoy!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Self Help for Comics Creators Series – Overcoming Emotional Resistance

Unlike procrastination, which can be defined as “the act or habit of putting things off till later” and “repeated delay or postponement”, resistance is a slightly different phenomenon. I actually define it as a “feeling-based internal response that acts as a block to action or change, or opposes something”. Therefore, procrastination is the “act of not acting” whereas emotional resistance is more like an “internal force that prevents motion”.

For me, emotional resistance manifests as a heavy sludgy feeling around the chest area as if I am about to plough through thick mud. I usually experience emotional resistance as I am about to start a new project or am confronted with something that will take me out of my comfort zone. I've found that the best solution is to acknowledge resistance front on. I do not try and hide from it, I do not turn my back on it, I do not try to get around it and I do not fight it. I actually name it.

What does this mean? Well, there are differences in the feeling energy depending on where the emotional resistance originates from in the mind body spirit. I endow each variation of resistance with its rightful name. For example, it can be "laziness", "tiredness", “mind space switch" [from one project to another]; or the fear-based "self doubt". Once named, that variant of resistance loses much of its potency and that is when I take action and start working on the very thing I was resisting. What I discover then is that instead of struggling through it, the mud metaphorically drops from chest height to maybe knee height and I can wade through it until I eventually walk out free.

I also allow for it. Every time I start a new project I will invariably go through one to five working days of resistance (average three days) before I shed it and move fully into the action and find my momentum. Being aware of this idiosyncrasy about me, I factor in a three-day resistance time frame into my creative work schedule. It's not good or bad; it just is and I accept it now as part of my personality.

If you're experiencing similar dynamics of resistance and you're contemplating moving away from a challenge rather than into it, the question you need to ask yourself is: “Will I grow and improve as a person if I complete this task/perform this deed/take this action/break this pattern/confront this situation?

If the answer is “yes” then the keys in the right sequence are:

1. Close your eyes and experience that internal resistance inside you;

2. Give it a visual, audio or feeling value;

3. Name that resistance (sounds like a TV gameshow!), eg. “insecurity”;

4. Assign a time frame to it to move through it: and

5. Take action (small or larger steps it doesn’t matter).

There is another variation on resistance, and that is the intuition based response, which I call “intuitive resistance”. As already established, your true self as encompassed by mind body spirit, may communicate to you through a feeling of resistance to say that you are not on the right track or that there is an energy leak of some sort. Provided that there is no internal sabotage, it may be a feeling-based message to say you are straying off the inner pathway that reflects your true nature and calling.

For example, a few years ago after I made the decision to give up my hypnotherapy/PSH practice in the city to work full time as a comics writer and editor, but then I thought I could somehow juggle both careers at the same time because I loved them both. I began to set up a new home office in a new location that would be conducive to both writing and seeing clients. However, when it came time for me to do all the marketing and to write the promotional material for the therapy side of things, I encountered that heavy sludgy feeling in my chest. This time the internal resistance was so strong I ended up procrastinating for weeks. In the end I accepted what my intuition was attempting to communicate to me through this particular form of resistance – I was to say goodbye to therapy altogether and to concentrate wholly and solely on my writing. I needed full focus and commitment to do one or the other, and the timing was now right and my true self was now ready to take a huge leap of faith and embrace professional writing full time. As soon as I came to that realisation, the feeling of resistance evaporated inside of me to be replaced by a feeling of relief, excitement of new prospects and contentment of being on track.

As mentioned previously, it is those deep feelings that signal and provide us with direction in life.

An airplane can overcome the resistance of the air and go in the desired direction, but an ordinary balloon just drifts haphazardly. You need to decide whether you are the airplane or the balloon!

© Julie Ditrich, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mermaids by Flight of the Conchords

This is kinda cute and quite on mermaid topic. The Flight of the Conchords is a New Zealand comedy group. I occasionally catch them on one of the cable channels shown at the gym. Jozef the music lover, however, is the one who heard the song then tracked down the YouTube clip. Enjoy the mermaid tails!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

National Library of Australia Comics/Graphic Novels Initiative

Had a great chat with Debb Cox, a library technician at the National Library of Australia, who is currently working on a project to build up the Australian graphic novel, comic book, manga and zine collection. Deb is going to be emailing us some information soon and we'll be posting it on this blog, PulpFaction, FaceBook, and letting the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Comics/Graphic Novels Portfolio members know. In the meantime, if you want a head start check out Deb's Fringe Librarian blog or at Hayase! Australian Comics Wiki.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Online Poll Results Are In

We recently asked readers to vote for their Elf~Fin title preferences and we've got the results. In all, 58 pollsters registered their votes  – 45 (78%) of you voted for Story/plot-based titles and 13 (22%) of you voted for Character name-based titles. Jozef and I also took into account some of the commentary that came through on our blog, DeviantArt, FaceBook and by email and we have consequently made our decision. All titles, except for the first book which we are currently working on, will be story/plot-based so in all likelihood it looks like the second book in the series will be called The Wells of Shekimminon. Some of you didn't like The Shuddering as a title for the first book so we're sticking with Hyfus and Tilaweed which seems to resonate with most of you who are familiar with these characters. For those of you who will be meeting the characters for the first time, well we're sure you'll be fine with it as duo name titles are consistent with the conventions of love stories. Thanks for all your feedback – it has been extremely helpful from a creative and business perspective and it has been great fun for us as well to see where your opinions lie.

Copenhagen's Little Mermaid Out on Loan

Came across an online story the other day – Denmark's most iconic tourist attraction, the harbourside sculpture of The Little Mermaid sitting on a rock, will disappear for eight month on loan to Expo China in 2010. Sculpted by Edvard Eriksen and unveiled in 1913, it is said the model for the statue's face was prima ballerina Ellen Price and the model for the nude body was Eriksen's wife Eline. The sculpture has a tragic history of being beheaded, defaced, and mutilated by loonies on many occasions. Each time we've heard about another act of vandalism we've shuddered – she's not a political figure, she's a symbol of innocence and sacrifice from a beautiful Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. You can read all about her on Wikipedia, where we were happy to find out that the original has been kept out of circulation in some secret repository. Still ... we know the one in the harbour has been restored several times but it's quite sickening to know there are individuals and factions out there targeting her and undoubtedly planning their next attack.

Speaking of Hans Christian Andersen, we don't know whether you're aware of a movie about him starring the wonderful Danny Kaye, which I (Julie) used to watch as a kid and now own on DVD. It featured a wonderful ballet sequence at the end with ballerina Zizi Jeanmaire in The Little Mermaid role. I've tried to find an intact clip for you but was unsuccessful – the opening mermaid sequence has been cut. However, the dancing is still wonderful and I like the fact that the heroine in this case is a brunette while the interloper is a blonde. Here are a couple of other clips from the movie (non mermaid related) but which showcase Danny Kaye's warmth and talent. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Creative Commons Licences 2

Following on from our previous post on Creative Commons (CC) Licences, there are four types of permissions you need to know about:

(1) Attribution – Licensees can copy, distribute, display and perform the work in question, as well as alter or transform the original work into a derivative work, provided they acknowledge the work's original author/licensor and any credits or specific information that is stipulated in the agreement.
(2) Non-Commercial – Licensees can copy, distribute, display and perform the work, as well as make derivative works based on the source material, provided it is for non-commercial use only (they do not get paid).
(3) No Derivative Works – Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work and cannot manipulate any component of it.
(4) ShareAlike – Licensees may distribute derivative works provided that the licence replicates the conditions in the original licence that governs the source material.

There are sixteen possible combinations of licences but only six regularly used licences in Australia that have been mixed and matched. They are:  Attribution, Attribution-ShareAlike, Attribution-NonCommercial, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, Attribution-NoDerivativeWorks, and Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivativeWorks.

For more information, as well as licence templates go to Creative Commons,  Creative Commons International or Creative Commons Australia

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Unlocking and Accessing the Darkness Within Article

Colleen Doran asked me recently to be a guest writer on her blog. Here is the result: Unlocking and Accessing the Darkness Within: 7 Keys for Comics Creators. The article discusses practical ways in which you can channel your own dark side into your writing. Here's a taste:

The actual argument in favour of it [introducing darkness into storytelling] is threefold:

– Without going into abject darkness how can a character experience the light in forms such as love, joy and redemption, which invariably accompanies traditional happy-ending plots?
– Without understanding the evil lengths an antagonist and his/her allies will go to in order to fulfil their objectives, how can we create obstacles and conflict for the protagonist’s journey?
– And without these stark contrasts, how can we get readers/viewers to identify with the lead character/s and in the process give readers a visceral experience that evokes a large range of feelings and emotions (which is one of my success measurement tools about whether or not a work translates into a rich reading or filmic experience)?

Go check it out!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Elf~Fin Issue #1 Cover Revealed!

Been a long time between blog posts – hope it's worth the wait. Here's the first cover – the one you voted for – all bright and colourful and purty. It brought a tear to my eye when I saw it. Jozef is about to start a Tilaweed companion piece today but no pencilling reveals on that one – you'll have to wait for the surprise unveiling.