Thursday, October 27, 2011

Aussie Comikers Become Judges on Beauty and the Geek

Black House Comics publisher, Baden Kirgan, Aussie comics artist extraordinaire Nicola Scott and Kings Comics stalwart Jim Papagrigoriou switch hats from comikers to television judges on Beauty and the Geek (Australia), which screens tonight on Channel 7. Apparently they were asked to judge a challenge where the Beauties take on a superhero persona with prerequisite superpower while the Geeks make them a costume to suit. It all ends in a spectacular catwalk parade. Wonder who wins. Well, we'll find out soon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

MEDIA RELEASE: Internationally Renowned Comics Artist and Graphic Novelist to Launch Jozef Szekeres Sydney Art Exhibition

Celebrated US comics creator and graphic novelist Colleen Doran will launch “The Art of Jozef Szekeres: Career and New Works” exhibition at the Tap Gallery in Sydney in November. 

Doran, who will be in town to present the inaugural weekend Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Comics Masterclass, has illustrated the likes of Spider-Man, Wonder WomanStar Wars, Lord of the Rings, Sandman, and who has worked for DC, Marvel, Disney, Lucas Films and many other major studios, is best known for her graphic novels series A Distant Soil which is on the “101 Best Graphic Novels of All Time” list. Doran was delighted to be asked to launch Szekeres’ first solo art exhibition, “Jozef Szekeres is an artist of exceptional ability, able to dance the boundaries of comics, fine art, illustration and animation. Pop, and charming, welcoming and sexy, dazzling colors and enticing, glamorous figure work. Exceptional attention to detail, inviting and lively. I love Jozef Szekeres, and the only thing wrong with him is that more people don't know who he is. Yet.”

Szekeres, who grew up on the Central Coast of New South Wales and now lives in the city, is a Director of Black Mermaid Productions (BMP), a comics team recently turned comics publisher, working in the niche market of mermaid comics. His comic book works have accumulated sales of over 270,000 that have sold all over the world. Szekeres is renowned for his mermaid artwork, which has permeated not only his comics works but also his commercial illustration. Szekeres originally worked as a Walt Disney senior animator but developed into an all round Renaissance man when he turned to painting, sculpting and doll-making. 

Indeed, he launched a series of 16” fashion dolls in the Elizabet Bizelle line, while also working as a gaming artist, mascot design consultant for the Sydney 2000 Olympics and conceptual artist on films such as Dark City and Cut. He now works as both a digital and a traditional artist, and his illustrative work has appeared in Blue magazine, the Bruno Gmunder’s Stripped Uncensored anthology, as well as event posters for the Sydney Mardi Gras. He currently teaches animation and graphic novels at the JMC Academy in Sydney and is working on a new comic book series Elf~Fin which will be released in 2012.

The exhibition, which is curated by Charles Heyen, will showcase his original comics and illustrative artworks that have seen print but have never before been exhibited in public or indeed been released for sale. “So many people in Australia and abroad have asked me to sell my artwork in the past, but like my father – ever the collector – I held onto my original art,” says Szekeres, “Now, after 20 years of art creation and my father’s passing earlier this year, I feel it’s time to release my art. I’ve enjoyed these pieces in my private collection for long enough. I’d like them to be shared and enjoyed by others. I see this as the beginning my career as an exhibiting artist.

The exhibition will run for one week only from Monday 21 to Sunday 27 November 2011 from 12 to 6pm at the Tap Gallery, 278 Palmer St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010. The opening night and artist reception with special guest Colleen Doran is on Monday 21 November 2011 from 6 to 9pm.

For more information on Jozef Szekeres’s artwork go to:

For information about the Tap Gallery go to:

For further information email Jozef Szekeres on:

Call for Papers: Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics - Boys' Love Manga

This just came across our desks and the deadline for papers has expired by a few days, but don't let that stop you if you want to submit an academic paper to the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics – a peer reviewed journal covering all aspects of the graphic novel, comic strip and comic book, with the emphasis on comics in their cultural, institutional and creative contexts. Its scope is international, covering not only English language comics but also worldwide comic culture. The journal reflects interdisciplinary research in comics and aims to establish a dialogue between academics, historians, theoreticians and practitioners of comics.  It therefore examines the production and consumption of comics within the contexts of culture: art, cinema, television and new media technologies. 

The journal includes all forms of 'sequential imagery' including precursors of the comic but the main emphasis is on twentieth and twenty-first century examples, reflecting the increasing interest in the modern forms of the comic, its production and cultural consumption.

The journal is now looking for essays of between 5000 and 7000 words for the special issue: Boys' Love Manga. Abstracts of 250 to 300 words are now being sought. Deadline: 14 October 2011.

CLICK HERE for submission guidelines.

CLICK HERE to learn about the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics and to order previous issues.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mermaids & Mythology Elf~Fin Interview

We were thrilled that the UK-based Mermaids & Mythology magazine chose to feature Elf~Fin in a double page spread. It included several panels of Jozef's comic book artwork, a big Black Mermaid Productions logo which we're so proud of, and an interview about the comic book project. 

Here's a little taste-test of the interview:

Do you intend to tackle environmental issues in the story-lines? Or is it all very light hearted?

Our world of Elf~Threaal is a fantasy world and so it is different to the earth world we all live on. However, we explore human dilemma through mermaid stories. In the past we've examined identity theft, domestic violence and kidnapping of children. In Elf~Fin: Hyfus & Tilaweed we explore soul mate love, affairs, corruption of children, and aging. These themes emerge organically .... the characters expose them to us.  In all likelihood, we will deal with environmental themes in the future. However, we prefer to show our characters living in harmony with the environment and having respect for elemental forces because our experience has been that young readers can model and be inspired by fiction to live authentic lives where they honour rather than destroy. Sometimes the simplest panels of artwork can have a powerful effect on the human psyche and we have letters from some of our readers who have said their lives have been touched and changed by seeing some of our comics story panel art.

The magazine is chock full of specialness (we sound like Buffy here!) with a profile on Hannah Mermaid and the famous Mertailor tail-maker Eric Durame, a story on Carolyn Turgeon's novel Mermaid, sumptuous artwork by David Delamare, and much much more. To order your subscription, just log onto the Mermaid Magazine website.

Plagiarism Too Close to Home

Came across an interesting story in The Sun Herald today – "Artist accused of stealing beauty" – which also appeared in The Canberra Times. It talks about a Melbourne pop artist Dennis Ropar who has "... been criticised for overstepping the line with one image from his Mexico series of portraits."

Apparently, "Ropar's Mexico #9 bears a remarkable resemble to Spring Muertos, a photograph of a make-up artist, Lisa Naeyaert, taken by the American photographer Gayla Partridge in November 2008."

A switched on friend of Ms Partridge alerted her after spotting the work online in what we believe is a blatant breach of copyright. We don't think people would be too hardpressed to see the similarities. The image is essentially the same except that the derivative work has a new background, and the placement of the model is different – she's not positioned from the waist up but rather from the chest up. There also appears to be some diffusion of the colour but these adjustments don't take away from the fact that the image is recognisable from the source material. It looks as if it has just been copied and pasted into the new artwork.

Which brings us to the issue of derivative works. The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Comics Biz ezine (Volume 1, #5 May 2009) examined this subject in their Legal FAQ column. Here is the piece in question:

What are Derivative Works?
Creators understand the term “derivative work” to include a literary, musical or artistic work such as a translation, dramatisation, adaptation, film version, art reproduction, abridgement, condensation or any other work that is based on one or more pre-existing works but has been modified or transformed.
Two issues arise for creators of derivative works. First, you need to get permission from the owner of copyright in the original work before making a derivative version, if the original work is still in copyright. That is because the derivative is likely to be an adaptation or reproduction of the original work and therefore an infringement of copyright if permission is not obtained. Secondly, there is the question of whether the derivative work is itself protected by copyright.
To attract copyright protection, the derivative work must contain a sufficient degree of originality to constitute it as a new work of authorship in its own right. The central “idea” in the derivative work may be based on other source material, but the “expression” and execution of that idea must be markedly different through the mechanisms of characterisation, text, symbols, illustrations and sometimes even the medium. For example, West Side Story the stage and screen musical is a derivative work from William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. The film Clueless is a derivative work of Jane Austen’s novel Emma. Andy Warhol’s pop art piece Campbell’s Soup Cans is a two-dimensional derivative work (comprising 32 canvases) based on the three dimensional branded grocery item – the Campbell’s soup can.
There is little case law on derivative works. However, Creative Commons (CC) Licences ... which are used predominantly in the online community, include a permission known as “NoDerivs”. These licences do not include permission to make derivative works, and doing so might be an infringement of copyright.
In our opinion, this puts this case into perspective.
BTW, despite arguing for the case of plagiarism, we completely disagree with the Associate Professor from the Sydney College of the Arts who has decreed that "the original is so cheesey I'm astounded anyone would want to plagiarise it...". We LOVE LOVE LOVE the original photo!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Magabala Books Releases First Indigenous Graphic Novel

Australian independent Indigenous publishing house Magabala Books recently released its first Indigenous graphic novel – The Legend of the Phoenix Dragon – the first book in the "Ubby's Underdogs" trilogy. The story is a product of artist / writer Brenton E McKenna's imagination, who lives in Broome in the far north of Western Australia. The story was greatly influenced by Brenton’s childhood in Broome and his Aboriginal and Malay heritage.

The story is about Ubby, a young ruffian who lives in a dusty pearling town in Western Australia who leads a rag-tag gang known as the Underdogs. When Ubby meets Sai Fong, a Chinese girl just off the boat from Shanghai, she is thrown into a mysterious world of ancient legends and never before exposed secrets. The main character, Ubby, was inspired by his grandmother, a strong Aboriginal woman who knew how to look after herself.

Brenton graphic novel was recently nominated for the 2011 Deadly Awards Outstanding Achievement in Literature.
For more information check out the Ubby's Underdogs website.

To order just go to the Magabala Books catalogue and key "Ubby's Underdogs" into the Search button.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mermaid Treasures 18

This cute little mermaid bookmark was a gift from a distant Austrian relative. She is, of course, safely ensconced in my mermaid room which is attached to my office.

"I Heart Tintin" Comics Art Exhibition

This year's Melbourne Fringe Festival comics art exhibition (curated by Jo Waite) and produced by Bernard Caleo) features works by Ive Sorocuk, Mandy Ord, Sarah Howell, Kirrily Schell, Anthony Woodward, Andrew Fulton, Bernard Caleo and Jo Waite.
Dates: Tuesday 4 to Friday 28 October 2011
Location: 'The Castle Window on the Sydney Road-facing outer wall of The Edinburgh Castle Pub, 681 Sydney Road (cnr. Sydney Road and Albion Street). Brunswick Vic 3056
Fringe Festival website here.

Artwork by Jo Waite.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Belief in Other Worlds

This little exchange from PhotoBucket is cute and funny. It brings a moment of "is it possible?" before you comprehend that to try this spell would mean a certain death sentence. It can look silly, but some people would take this response seriously, and... even try it. Why would they? Because they BELIEVE.

Belief in the imagined better life is something that we as a human race have entertained since we could think for ourselves... and within a community. The Egyptian life-after-death preparations seemed to be a life-long pursuit, no matter your social station. Our Modern world is full of religious afterlife options, a time that is presented as better then the now of living.

Are the imagined "other worlds" in literature, movies, comics, myth and legend much different than those presented in any religion?

The lyrics by Jay Brannan from his song "Goddamned" presents the mythology of religion quite beautifully.
Zeus was afraid of his girlfriend
So he swallowed her in bed
Then he bore forth Athena
When they cracked open his head
Her brother tried to rape her
Athena got away
And when his seed hit the ground
The grass gave birth that day
Now we all freely admit
This story’s clearly bullshit
No one would lay down their life
Or start a war for it
So throw your stones and pray
You’ll be rewarded someday
I hope it all goes your way
But something tells me
No one’s coming to save you
Save yourselves
From turning earth into hell.

Cause virgins don’t have babies
And water isn’t wine
And there’s a holy spirit maybe
But she would never rent a room with walls built by mankind
Mary and Mohammed
Are screaming through the clouds
For you to lay your goddamned arms down
Rip your bigot roots up from the earth and salt the goddamned ground.
In Elf~Fin, Julie and I are exploring a new world, another reality. In the creation of it, it does sometimes seem to take control and write itself, but that is an illusion. These moments are just those times that we are so in tune with our work and each other, that the obvious, and sometimes not so obvious possibilities, present themselves easily for development. Our world is not real, but we want it to feel real for you in the experiencing of it.

We want to take you away from reality, so you can swim with our characters and experience our Elf~Fin world. However, there is nothing more real than the ground beneath your feet.