Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sketch-o-Rama with Shaun Tan and Chewie Chan

Aussie Comics artists/illustrators extraordinaire Shaun Tan and W Chew Chan are having a 'sketch-off' this weekend. Join them in an afternoon of fun drawing games as they celebrate the release of Shaun's new book The Bird King and Other Sketches. The event is free. Here are the details:

Date: Saturday 25 September 2010
Time: 2.00 to 4.00pm
Venue: Books Kinokuniya, Level 2, The Galleries, 500 George St, Sydney NSW Australia
Cost: Free

For more info and to register your attendance, pop onto the event FaceBook page.

And for those of you who can't make it cause you live overseas, then pick up our personal favourites.

Women Read Comics Too!

Love this cute website we recently discovered called Women Read Comics in Public. It delivers exactly what it promises – a collection of pics from around the world of women of all cultures and ages reading comic books or graphic novels in coffee shops, park benches, gardens and libraries and the like. We need some Aussies on there too! How about it ...

Aussie Comics Articles

Australian academics are writing more and more about Australian comics history and trends and we're discovering more and more portals of great information and some serious discourse about the subject, which in our view is a good thing. Nay, a GREAT thing!

Check out the online article "The Invisible Medium: Comics Studies in Australia" by Kevin Patrick, in Refractory: Journal of Entertainment Media. which is published by the Cinema Studies Program, School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. This is interesting in itself because we've been fielding lots of calls from screenwriters and directors who are applying for film grants that cross media platforms and who are wanting to create content for cinema, digital comics and graphic novels. It appears as though the Australian film industry is switching onto the versatility and storytelling potential of the comics medium. But hey, that's another story ....

In his article, Kevin Patrick tells us that:

The near simultaneous appearance of [recently released] works, all of which received positive reviews, suggested that Australia’s mainstream book publishers were ‘catching up’ with international trends.

Such concentrated media coverage created the false impression that the Australian graphic novel was an entirely new phenomenon, thereby ignoring earlier Australian examples of the graphic novel and bypassing any mention of Australia’s post-war comic book industry, the scale and diversity of which easily eclipsed the modest output of present-day graphic novel publishing activity.

Yet just as Australian publishers, readers and journalists have lagged behind their overseas counterparts in their critical reappraisal of comics and graphic novels, it would appear that Australian academe has been equally tardy in giving this medium serious consideration... Comics, it seems, remain an invisible medium.

But no longer. I was recently invited to attend a private function at the Pop Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand(POPCAANZ), which had added comics to a heavily laden seminar program. The academics in the room were warm, enthusiastic and completely open to the idea of comics in a way we've never experienced before. You rock, John Cockley!

We must also make special mention of Clare Snowball who has spent years researching her PhD on comics for teenagers. You can check out her website here.

The only point of contention in the Patrick article for us is about who actually popularised the term "graphic novel". Patrick credits Titan Books (UK) publicist Igor Goldkind, as the key person in 1985 but we've heard, read and seen documentary evidence that suggests that Will Eisner began using the term prodigiously during the 1970s. Indeed Wikipedia tells us:

In 1976, the term "graphic novel" appeared in print to describe three separate works. Bloodstar by Richard Corben (adapted from a story by Robert E. Howard) used the term to define itself on its dust jacket and introduction. George Metzger's Beyond Time and Again, serialized in underground comics from 1967–72, was subtitled "A Graphic Novel" on the inside title page when collected as a 48-page, black-and-white, hardcover book published by Kyle & Wheary.

The term "graphic novel" began to grow in popularity months after it appeared on the cover of the trade paperback edition (though not the hardcover edition) of Will Eisner's A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories (October 1978). This collection of short stories was a mature, complex work focusing on the lives of ordinary people in the real world, and the term "graphic novel" was intended to distinguish it from traditional comic books, with which it shared a storytelling medium.
Anyway, it's a small point (although it could be controversial between US and English shores).

In the meantime, we applaud the scholarly examination of comics in Australia and are learning a lot about our art form in the process. Goodonya!

Ghostly Black Mermaid™ Out Now!

Yes, that's right – our Black Mermaid™ turns white mermaid, albeit temporarily in our new 2010 Halloween "Starlight Ghost" design. BMP Director and internationally known artist Jozef Szekeres is the designer. She's available on t-shirts, water bottles, mugs, cards and the like at the Black Mermaid Boutique. Check out the throw pillows, which are our personal favourites. Wethinks she's a star in her own right!