Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Xmas Merry Readers!

We're signing off for the year and just wanted to wish you a very Merry Xmas and a safe and happy New Year! Talk to you again in 2013!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

An Elf~Fin Message from Jozef to our Readers

Plans and best intentions were that Elf-Fin was to be released by the end of 2012. Though all effort was directed towards this end, there needed to be a balance between the output of the painted Elf~Fin pages (with each page taking many days to complete… all without pay), and unrelated art output for paid jobs. So I'm sincerely sorry to those who had their hearts set on the 48 page first issue comic book to be released by this year's end. The production is still moving forward for a release in early 2013. I'm thankful for your support as we move towards the finish line for this issue.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mermaid Books 7 – The Mermaid and the Red Candle

I completely forgot about this children's picture book title in my mermaid book collection. Someone gave me a copy when I was about nine or ten. I don't know whether it was new or secondhand but it is still in pretty good condition now. The book in question is called The Mermaid and the Red Candle. The author is Jane Carruth. The artist is Konosuke Iwamoto. It was published in 1968 by Paul Hamlyn. It's a story about an elderly couple who find and adopt a mermaid baby. She brings blessings and riches to their candle making business. It's also a sad story of greed and exploitation. It is beautifully written and poignant, and the illustrations are lovely. It's out of print now but we found that Amazon has contacts to sellers who have used copies. We advise you to track them down quickly before they sell out.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

World Premiere of Australian Graphic Novels Documentary

The world premiere of feature documentary Graphic Novels! Melbourne! by filmmaker Daniel Hayward and comic book maker Bernard Caleo is happening in Melbourne later this month.

The film took a year to shoot and edit. It examines the amazing Melbourne comic book culture, and features Nicki Greenberg, Pat Grant and Mandy Ord. The film also features interviews with international comic book luminaries Scott McCloud, Paul Gravett, Dylan Horrocks and Shaun Tan. The soundtrack is by Martin Martini and the poster is by the incomparable Pat Grant. 

The film premieres on: 

Date: Thursday 22 November 2012
Time: 8.30pm for 8.45pm speeches and a 9pm film start
Place: Tyne Street laneway next to Readings bookshop 309 Lygon Street Carlton
(if it's a wet night, then the movie will move to Cinema Nova).
Price: FREE.
Bookings: Book through Readings on (03) 9347 6633 or

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mermaids in Comics 5 – Lucia and the Golden Mermaid

 "Lucia and the Golden Mermaid" was a comics serial that ran in the weekly Princess comic book published in the UK in March and April 1961. Our resident Princess comic book collector and expert – Terence – forwarded these to us. We're hooked. We've got to find out what happened in the story.

Mermaids in Comics 4 – More Milly the Merry Mermaid [UPDATED 08/1/12]

One of our blog followers – Terence – contacted us to let us know he had read a previous post on the "Milly the Merry Mermaid" comics that appeared in various UK girls' Annuals published during the 1960s and 70s. He kindly filled in some of the gaps in our knowledge and sent us several more pieces to share with you.

Apparently, "Milly the Merry Mermaid" ran in the weekly Princess Tina comic book. The first image is from 02/03/68. The sea horse image is from an issue dated 04/05/68. The third piece is from the very last issue released in 06/12/69. The strip reduced in size, and two weeks later Princess Tina absorbed the Penelope comic so Milly was phased out. She made a reappearance again in comic books in the 70s, as well as an in several Annuals and summer specials. Terence pretty much has the entire collection, and he mentions that the last one in his possession is 1980.

Thank you, Terence, we appreciate you opening the door to more Milly.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Elf~Fin Leaks and Peeks 31

What's caught the Waverin attention? Sorry... we can't tell you at this point of time until the story is officially released but we can tell you who's who. That's Fillayne, Lyban and Hyfus in the top pic, and Hyfus and Razbi in the bottom one. 

Just wanted to let you know that Jozef is on the home run in painting pages from Elf~Fin: Hyfus & Tilaweed #1, and these two panel art snapshots are amongst the last to be released here before we head to print. The remaining pages have too many plot spoilers so the pickings will be sparse and we'll be choosing very carefully from now on.  

Can't wait to bring you the work in totality!

Mermaid Treasures 24

I should have posted this a few days ago prior to Halloween come to think of it... This little Mer-Witch hanging ornament is an absolute delight. She has a sparkly black tail and an even more sparkly pumpkin handbag. This was a gift to me from one of our long-time readers – Jaysun – from Alaska. He sent a merman companion gift to Jozef as well, which we'll feature here soon. At the moment this ornament is hanging from the bookshelf in my office but once my mermaid room has had a makeover, I'll relocate her. Thanks, Jaysun, for your thoughtfulness. She's gorgeous.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Orphan Works Revisited

In 2008 we covered the proposed Orphan Works Bill in two blog posts: "Orphan Works Bill" which covered what it is and how it will affect writers and artists, and "Orphan Works Bill Update", which presents a speculative case study on how it could affect a visual artist. The Bill was temporarily abandoned by Congress in 2008 to the relief of many authors and artists but has just reared its ugly head again. The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) has also been on the case and has just reported a summary of its findings to Australian literary creators. Here's some of what the ASA has had to say:

  • Wednesday evening, US District Court Judge Harold Baer ruled that the mass book digitisation program conducted by five major US universities in conjunction with Google is a fair use under US copyright law. Under that program, Google has converted millions of copyright-protected library books into machine-readable files, duplicating and distributing the digitised books to university libraries. The universities pooled the digitised books into an online database organised by the University of Michigan known as HathiTrust.
  • We disagree with nearly every aspect of the court's ruling...

To read more about it – especially the section about books that were classified as "orphan works" when the author is still very much alive in Australia, check out The ASA Bulletin – October 2012. Seems like the entire idea is rather flawed and extremely suspect.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mermaids Trending

For those amongst you who inhabit the "mer" community or subculture, what we're about to say is not new. But for the landlubbers who haven't tweaked to the fact that mermaids are trending... please read on.

Mermaids started to come out of the water – so to speak – last year. Firstly, the Mer Network mades its appearance—this is a community that discusses issues such as tail-making, monofins, pods, mer fashion, tail swimming, mer gatherings, mer photography and videography, marine biology and oceanography, modeling and performing, and going professional. Then several Facebook groups and pages popped up such as "Mermaids of Facebook", Mermaids are the Best", and "Mermaid's Lair". There are also mermaids galore with their personality-based pages who operate under both their human name and their mermaid name. Indeed, one of the most famous mermaids in the world is Australian born and who now resides in the USA. She is little known in her homeland but is hugely popular in North and South America. Her name is Hannah Fraser AKA Hannah Mermaid

We also saw the beginnings of mermaid blogging: two favs are "I Am a Mermaid" and "Cynthia Mermaid's Blog". The first mermaid event – MerCon and the inaugural World Mermaid Awards – were held in Las Vegas in August 2011 and attracted participants from around the USA and even some Aussies. Weeki Wachee held a mermaid camp last year at its Florida base, and Mid Atlantic Mermaids are hosting a Retreat in Virginia in 2013. And we mustn't forget Mer-Palooza, (you can see pretty pics here) which was held in August 2013 in Orlando, Florida, and which attracted all manner of mermaids from around the world.

We've also seen the launch of the strikingly sumptuous Mermaids and Mythology Magazine from the UK, and Tail Flip from the USA, and we have seen the rise of the mermaid entrepreneur—check out Shimmerbaby Mermaids and Mermaids Dreaming in Australia, and the mermaid art gallery The Mermaid Studio in the USA. There is also a new network starting soon called Mermaid Wishes (the website will be up in 2013) that helps charitable foundations provide mermaid experiences to children who may not be in the best of health. I have it on good authority that Mermaid Wishes already has a database of 30+ mermaids from around the world who will help in any way they can.

Mermaids have also featured prominently in media recently, Firstly, the Huffington Post, which is famous for trend-spotting, recently published a series of mermaid-themed articles. Brenda Peterson reported on Mer Palooza in "How to Become a Real Mermaid", and very clearly spells it out for us: 

"Mermaids are an alluring mythic tradition that calls its siren song to many women then—and especially now. In the last few years, mermaids are surfacing as a hot, new trend, rivaling vampires."

Huffington Post also covered, "Real Life Mermaids in Florida Aquarium (VIDEO)", and is also boldly asking "Mermaid Body Suits The Hottest Trend of the Season?"  It also published "Real Mermaid Facts"and we vaguely remember somewhere some time, asked whether Ariel (as in The Little Mermaid Ariel) had ever received plastic surgery.

The rise in the interest in mermaids is also paralleled with a rise in mermaid hoaxes such as the badly photoshopped mermaid skeleton that was supposedly dug up in Bulgaria of all places. You can see all the photographic evidence on this Dateline News article But most famous of them all was an Animal Planet documentary / mockumentary depending on who you speak to... also, you guess it, covered by the Huffington Post ("'Mermaids: The Body Found' on Animal Planet Argues Mythical Sea Creatures are Aquatic Apes" and the denial "Mermaids Don't Exist: NOAA Confirms 'No Evidence of Aquatic Humanoids Has Ever Been Found'. NOAA stands for National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, in case you're wondering.  The jury is still out on that one... For many mers out there, it's fact not fiction. You can find more on the Animal Planet speculative television show here

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mermaids in Comics 3 – Sailor Twain, or, The Mermaid in the Hudson

We LOVE First Second books! First Second is a US publisher of graphic novels. Julie has a huge collection of American and translated European works from its catalogue. So we were delighted to discover that Sailor Twain Or The Mermaid in the Hudson has just been released and as the title tells you—it features a mermaid.

We haven't read it because it was released just last week, but it was reviewed on the ICv2 website. Here's part of the review:
In Sailor Twain, Siegel introduces readers to late-nineteenth century New York, specifically the culture and life of the Hudson River. Siegel deserves commendation as Sailor Twain is more than a modern and affectionate experiment in or homage to genre fiction--instead, Sailor Twain finds common ground in the serialized nature of nineteenth-century literature, the horror and atmosphere of Edgar Allan Poe combined with the intrigue of Arthur Conan Doyle, and the comedic sensibilities of travelling stage performances that later formed the basis for vaudeville as well as early silent cinema and newspaper comics. Told in retrospection through a conversation between Captain Twain and a mysterious, unknown woman named Miss Camomille, the story traverses the Gilded Age and Civil War eras aboard the Lorelei, along the shore, and below the Hudson River itself. With a cast resembling a ship of lost souls, Siegel has crafted an original and innovative supernatural and romantic tale involving the disappearance of passengers coinciding with the arrival of a wounded mermaid named South.
You can spot the mermaid in the video from the 0.39sec mark. Looks like this is one for our Christmas list... to give to each other, of course.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Elf~Fin Leaks and Peeks 30

A perturbed Hyfus... Anxious or not, we're loving the muscles, Jozef!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Movie Mermaids 5 – Hugo

Okay, we don't want to lead you down the garden path and tell you that this movie – set in Paris in 1931 – features definitive underwater mermaids. But we can tell you that there is a mermaid sighting in the silent movie sound stage scene where Neptune and his sea maid entourage appear. If you check out the trailer, you'll be able to see what we mean at the 1 min: 53 second mark. If you watch the movie, you'll be able to see the scene at around the three quarters mark. Mermaids or not, we highly recommend this magical Academy Award-winning film.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Photos 2 – OzCon 5 (BMP Classic and Mermaid)

We thought you might get a kick out of these nostalgic photos, which we just dug up —that's Julie with Bruce Love (our previous BMP Classic business partner and co-writer of WaveDancers and Dart), and Jozef with the long cascading hair. Jozef had just bought a fashion mannequin, which we dressed up as a mermaid. If we had had a big budget we would have made her a beautiful black sequinned costume but we really liked the colours of her tail and head-dress.  She was a HUGE hit and lots of people came and posed next to her and took lots of pretty pics, which proves the point that mermaids are universally loved, especially hot ones like this one. Her fin is quite spectacular!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

GRAPHIC 2012 Launch – Festival of Firsts

We're going on record to say that we're great fans of the annual GRAPHIC event—a weekend of graphic storytelling, animation and music that is held at the Sydney Opera House. We've attended multiple sessions over the last two years and had a fabulous time, so we were pretty pleased to receive an invitation to attend the launch last night where we got an insider's view of what's coming up in November.

GRAPHIC celebrates and often fuses the three different art forms. One example in this year's lineup is "Dr Seuss Meets Elefant Traks" (Sun 11 Nov)—a collective of 25 performers that will musically support the whimsical imagery from Dr Seuss's surreal universe. Another is "Radio with Pictures" (Sun 11 Nov) which is part radio, part comic strip and a whole lot of live performance. Oz illustrators Matt Taylor, Biddy Maroney, Matt Huynh, Leigh Rigozzi and more are featured in this session. Several of these artists appeared in last year's Oz comics panel and did sensational presentations so this is one session that's on our radar.

The major animation headliner is Pixar Animation Studios. which will feature in a "Behind the Screens" session (Sat 10 Nov) that will be held in the concert hall. Another favourite of ours and a must see on our schedule is "Animal Logic's History of Computer Animation" (Sun 11 Nov).

In the comics department, we've got "Peter Bagge's Hate! & Other Neat Stuff" (Sun 11 Nov). This year, GRAPHIC will give gaming its place in the sun.  This will come in the form of "The Good Game: Roffle Cup Live" (Sun 11 Nov), which is a quiz show similar to ABC's "Spicks and Specks" except that it focuses on computer games. In addition, the comics making workshop held during the previous two years will be replaced by a "Gaming Workshop: Gaming Level Design" (Sat 10 Nov).

We also have it on good authority that there will be some additional panel sessions, which have not been scheduled yet.

Once again, curators Jordan Verzar and Ben Marshall have done a great job planning this years lineup, which is not only original but bound to be inspirational.

CLICK HERE if you want to check out the program. Tickets go on sale on Monday 17 September 2012.  Make sure you get in early because they sell out fast.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Elf~Fin Leaks and Peeks 29

Maybe it should be called "Shark Riders" rather than "Elf~Fin" or maybe not... Jayshu is up to silly shenanigans at Spax's promptings. Oh, and in Elf~Threaal, they're called "sharps" not "sharks". From left to right, that's Jayshu, Razbi and Spax. More pretty pics coming soon. More importantly, Jozef is counting down the pages he has left to paint so  Issue #1 is getting close to being finished.

My Elf~Fin Birthday

Last month was my birthday and I received a delightful surprise from Perth in Western Australia in the form of a lovely hand-coloured birthday card from my friend Maddy who is all of five years old. I'm told that Dad pencilled the lines of the characters but Maddy did all the colouring in. What I clearly adored was Maddy's take on Razbi and Jayshu from the first issue of Elf~Fin. Jozef loves it as well. I am very touched that Maddy has been inspired by the original artwork, came up with the idea of putting it on a personal one-of-a-kind birthday card for me and I think the execution of her vision is truly amazing. I think she is an up-and-coming artist we need to keep an eye out, and who knows, maybe in a few years she'll be working in mermaid comics as well.

The Not So Secret Kinky Life of Wonder Woman Article [UPDATED 10/09/12]

Trouble Magazine recently asked me to write a short article about Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston who wrote comic books under the pen name of Charles Moulton until his death from cancer in 1947 at the age of 54. Turns out that the exceptionally gifted Moulton (he was a psychologist, lawyer and educational consultant amongst other occupations!) channeled some of his secret sexual predilections into his Wonder Woman stories—the main one being S&M and  B&D. For those of you who don't know what these acronyms stand for, read the upcoming quote from a letter to his publisher for a clue...
This, my dear friend, is the one truly great contribution of my Wonder Woman strip to moral education of the young. The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force to enjoy being bound… Only when the control of self by others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of self in human relationships can we hope for a stable, peaceful human society… Giving to others, being controlled by the submitting to other people cannot possibly be enjoyable without a strong erotic element.
... and then trot over to the online version of Trouble Magazine (September 2012 edition) and read the entire article for yourself.

UPDATE: Great news! This article has been covered on the US-based Comics Beat Blog, as well as on WebComicsGuide. Thank you kindly for the coverage.

[PLEASE NOTE that from October this link will change and you'll have to find it in the articles listing. We'll update the link on this blog post at that time.]

PHOTO CREDIT: Harry Rekas (creative director), Gerard O'Connor (photographer) and Mark Wasiak (stylist). See the Trouble Magazine article for more pics.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Books in Homes

I had the pleasure and the privilege of meeting and having lunch last week with Kim Kingston, Director of Books in Homes, and her warm, energetic and dedicated team—Laura, Julie and Hester.

To put you in the picture...

Books in Homes is an Australian charitable foundation that aims to "re-awaken a sense of wonder in children and excitement in parents, by creating an Australian where every child and family has access to books of choice at home."

The heart of the organisation lies in its mission:
Books-in-Homes provides books-of-choice to families and children living in remote and low socio-economic circumstances, ensuring crucial early literacy engagement and the development of reading skills needed for lifelong success. 25% of titles on offer are written by Indigenous Authors.
This Programme aims to break the education inequality found in remote and disadvantaged communities where resources are often scarce and generational poverty endemic.

I've just volunteered to be a Role Model and will be attending a book-giving assembly at a local public school at the end of the year to talk about why I LOVE books and why they were so important to me when I was growing up, as well as to hand out some books to the students.

I must add that Books in Homes also believe in graphic novels... and guess what? Mermaids as well!

So we encourage you to read all about the Books in Homes program here, or better still, make a donation or help in some other way to, as they say, "Empower Kids, Literally".

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Graphic Novel Session at Sydney Fringe Writers Festival [UPDATED: 12/0912]

UPDATE 12/09/12: The event organiser has just informed us that due to unforeseen circumstances this event has been cancelled, and she will look at running it again next year.

Black Mermaid Productions (BMP) Director Julie Ditrich will be presenting a session called "Comics and Graphic Novels for Beginners" at the Sydney Fringe Writers' Festival on 23 September 2012. Julie will be discussing the following at the session:
Australia is entering a new dawn of comics and graphic novel publishing. The quality of storytelling and production values of late has been superb. However, the “comics” medium is still misunderstood in the literary world where it is relegated to the fringes rather than the mainstream and recognised more as pop culture than high culture. This seminar will initiate you into the world of comics, and will examine definitions, formats, building blocks and conventions, as well as current Oz comics trends and opportunities. If you want to be part of the new wave of comics talent, then there is no better place to begin than here! 
Julie will also be announcing a new comics initiative aimed at emerging and developing Australian comics creators.

The incomparable Irina Dunn, champion of all things literary in Australia, is the organiser of the event. Irina was the foundation director of the NSW Writers' Centre, and now heads up Australian Writers' Network. The event line-up as a whole looks fabulous with talks topics such as traditional media vs print media, journalism in the modern age, novels vs scripts, and publishing and promoting your books. You can check out the Sydney Fringe Writers' Festival schedule here.

Date: Sunday 23 September 2012
Time: 9am to 5pm
Venue: Harold Park Hotel, cnr Wigram and Ross St, Glebe NSW 2037
Ticket Price: Adults – $125.50; Concessions $110.50

CLICK HERE to book.

Hope to see you there. Come up and say hello.

Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore Art Exhibition

What do Pliny the Elder, Bartholomaeus Anglicus, Christopher Columbus, the first three enslaved Africans brought to the South Carolina Low Country, Henry Hudson, explorer of the Hudson River, and the current Water Resources Minister Zimbabwe have in common? 

They have all seen mermaids!

A few months ago we posted a Call for Entries for the Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore Fibre Arts Exhibition. Well the exhibition is nigh upon us and we wanted to bring it to your attention again, simply because thematically it deals with mermaids – "black" mermaids to be specific – and culturally it is important to understand the importance of mermaids in stories and mythologies from around the world. This exhibition is also very moving—the stories of mermaids comforting African slaves kidnapped from their home and chained in the hulls of ships on route to a strange land where their lives are to be filled with horror, brings us to tears. 

This exhibition brings us those tales and more. Over 100 art quilts and art dolls will explore the visual representations of myths of Afro-centric mermaidswater spirits celebrated throughout Africa and the Afro-Atlantic world as deities.

A colour-drenched exhibition catalogue, Black Mermaids in Vision & Verse, invites you to celebrate the relationship between fine craft and soaring poetic verse that speaks of the black mermaid.  For the first time poets have been tasked with writing poems to accompany a fiber arts exhibit dealing with one specific subject.  Dive in to the rich juicy Mermaid poetry and the vivid, affecting powerful collection of artwork and you will be baptized into the undersea world of the Merpeople.

Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore promises to be a visual journey of color and inspiration, an inspiring feast of imagination and expression.  The art dolls and art quilts depicting mermaids and water spirits will delight and educate the public about this little known folklore.  The fine craftsmanship in Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore is griot in nature.  This exhibit brings together both critically acclaimed and emerging fiber artists.  Each piece is a storyteller, using color, texture, form and embellishment to express a narrative.
Curator, Torreah "Cookie" Washington says, 
Mermaid stories may have first come to the USA through the South Carolina Low Country with the first three black slaves that arrived in the year 1670 along with Colonial Barbadian immigrants.  African-based faiths honoring black mermaids have continued to flourish throughout much of the Americas.  Today, new communities of color have reestablished, revisualized, and revitalized African water spirits in their art. The quilting and doll-making traditions have also undergone a renaissance as utilitarianism has given way to fine crafts.  Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore is a journey of color and inspiration, a visual feast of imagination and expression.  The fine craftsmanship in Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore is griot in nature,” says Curator Cookie Washington.  She has brought together both critically acclaimed and emerging fiber artists.  “Each piece is a storyteller, using color, texture, form and embellishment to express a narrative.”
We would like to congratulate curator Torreah "Cookie" Washington looks to have done an extraordinary job in realising her vision. We wish we could be there, but alas, we live half way around the world.

But you can go and here is all the information you need:

Dates: 28 August to 28 October 2012
Venue: City Gallery at Waterfront Park, Historic Charleston, South Carolina USA

The opening reception will be held on 8 September from 5pm to 8pm.

For further enquiries, email Torreah "Cookie" Washington on or phone on +1 843 259 8108.

Art credits featured in exhibition: 

We Are Mermaids Too (Redux) by Kit Lang

Little Karoo at Night by Kit Lang

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mermaids in Comics 2 – The Little Sea Maid

 This was one of my favourite books when I was little. It came to me dog-eared and second-hand. There is an inscription on the inside page opposite the title page with the names of four sisters who used to be my baby-sitters so I am assuming it belonged to them and they gave it to me as a gift.

The book is called Children's Favourite Stories in Pictures. There are no authors' or illustrators' names attached to it. There is no year of publication. There is no copyright information. The publisher is Consolidated Press in Sydney. It looks like it was published in the 1950s. It has an orange cover with illustrations of daisy chain around the title but with berries instead of daisies. In the four corners are four spot illustrations including a horse and rider, as well as a dwarf plus two others that are difficult to see. The inside contains 28 stories, ranging from Greek mythology to Aesop's fables to tales from the Arabian Nights. Some are rendered in colour; others in black and white.

Why is this significant?

Most of the stories are told through sequential art. The panels are wordless, and the text is underneath but they fall under the definition of comics simply because of the sequential art. And most significantly, one of the stories is "The Little Mermaid", although it is called "The Little Sea-Maid".

This, of course, was my favourite story in this book of favourites. The images are gorgeous. They're inked.

Here's what I found online about this book:

1950? Children's Favourite Stories in Pictures. No author or illustrator acknowledged. Sydney: Consolidated Press Ltd. $2.70 somewhere in Colorado, March, '94.
This large-format book is unusual in a number of respects. First, it is one of the very few books I have from Australia. Second, it includes an unusually broad range of material, from Greek myths to Australian aboriginal folklore. Aesop is given two three-page sections: 23-25 and 87-89. Three fables are presented on each page with text and illustration equal in size and alternating columns with each other. On 89, the fables switch finally to color. The illustrations of the second set (87-89) seem to me superior in their artistry; they remind one of Boris Artzybasheff.

The National Library of Australia also has it catalogued.

I think mermaid collectors would be hard-pressed to find this book on the antiquarian book market but you can try.

I've scanned in three of the six pages in the story—the ones that feature the sea maid in mermaid form and where the tail is prominent. The pages are not in sequential order.

I'll lend the book to Jozef so he can scan the entire story for his mermaid art archive. I'm sure he'll be thrilled.

Elf~Fin Leaks and Peeks 28

That's Spax, Hyfus and Razbi in case  anyone wants to know. We wonder what they're looking at? You'll find out very soon with the imminent release of the first issue of Elf~Fin: Hyfus & Tilaweed.

Mermaids in Folklore and Australian Indigenous Culture – Guest Blog by Vanessa Witschi

Mermaids in Folklore
Mermaids are present in the folklore of many cultures around the world. They can be found in Native American culture, Ancient Greek and Roman cultures, as well as in Asia (particularly China, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines), Russia, Finland, France, Spain, the British Isles and India.

One of the most interesting, although perhaps not as obvious facts, is that mermaids appear in Indigenous Aboriginal culture. 

Separated by water for thousands of years, mermaids appear as an important factor in many of the language and cultural groups spread across Australia. Interestingly, for a country surrounded by oceans and seas, mermaids are largely portrayed as freshwater creatures living in rivers, lakes and billabongs.

How Mermaids are Portrayed in Different Cultures
Some cultures depict mermaids as meek benevolent beings, others as possessors of medical knowledge or as unlucky omens bringing disasters.

Both the Indian and Greek folklore see mermaids as Goddesses—some of whom were originally in a human form but were made half-fish as a punishment from the Gods, and some who always existed in mermaid form. 

Commonly, mermaids (in particular the sirens who were depicted in two forms – mermaid-like and also bird-like) are portrayed as malevolent creatures that sang or played music to lure sailors towards cliffs and death by drowning. These depictions often have their origin in early Greek, Roman or Spanish civilisations. 

In early Russian culture it was believed that women who had died violently or by their own hand lived at the bottom of rivers and mesmerised men to lure them into the river to drown them.

Even today, many cultures still believe in the existence of mermaids. In February 2012, it was reported in the UK Daily Mail, that the Water Minister for Zimbabwe announced that there were delays in building two reservoirs due to mermaids hounding the workers away. It was believed that performing rituals and sacrifices would encourage the mermaids to leave the workers alone. 

The Australian Aborigines of today also believe that mermaids still exist in their waters and rivers.  In some Northern Territory regions, mermaids were believed to instruct women in ceremonial procedures in early Dreamtime, particularly those procedures related to fertility. It was believed that they were still present in many areas and could be seen sitting on rocks but would quickly jump back into the water if they saw anyone coming.  

Another Aboriginal story tells of a man who set a trap to capture a mermaid who he then tied to a tree. He treated her very kindly and eventually she agreed to be his wife. They had children together but she one day disappeared into the river after being reminded of her mermaid form when she saw her reflection in the water.

There is also a belief in some Aboriginal language groups that albino children born to Aboriginal parents are the result of mermaid blood in their ancestry.

A Torres Strait Islander Dreamtime story tells of how fishermen caught a mermaid in their nets. The mermaid warned them not to over-fish the lake and to just to take what they needed for their family. The fishermen continued to over-fish the lake so the mermaid consequently drowned them.

Mermaids in Australian Aboriginal Art
There are a number of modern Aboriginal paintings depicting mermaids, which are held in national museums and art galleries around Australia. Perhaps the most famous are the Yawk Yawk (mermaid) sculptures held in The National Museum of Australia's collection from Western Arnhem Land. These modern woven pandanus sculptures depicting mermaid spirits are by artists Lulu Laradjbi and Marina Murdilnga.

Woven pandanus yawkyawk sculptures by Kunwinjku artists Marina Murdilnga, left, and Lulu Laradjbi. These mythical beings have the tails of fish and hair resembling algal blooms. Photos: Dragi Markovic.

One Aboriginal artist from the Central Arnhem Land (Darnkorlo clan, Yirridjda moiety, Ngarridj subsection, Kunwinjku language), Owen Yalandja creates sculptures and paintings almost exclusively based on the Yawk Yawk (mermaid) spirits near Barrihdjowkkeng. 

Here is one of the first carvings he ever did of a mermaid in 1993, which won the 10th National Aboriginal Art Award that year. The work is held in the Maningrida Arts and Culture Centre in the Northern Territory. 


There are also several modern Aboriginal artworks for sale that depict mermaids including this painting by artist Edie Blitner from the Kimberley area of Western Australia. 


And this by Northern Territory artist Chris Liddy / Moonggun who notes that when someone drowns it means their spirit was taken by mermaid Mimi spirits. The first one is called Mermaid Mimi Spirits and Crocodile.


The second one by Chris Liddy / Moonggun is called Mermaid and Mimi Spirits.

And you can also find some more Yawk Yawk spirit painting by West Arnhem Land Kunwinjku artist Lesley Nawirridj below. They are both called Mermaid (Yawk Yawk) in the Billabong.

You can buy some of these magnificent original paintings and printes at their respective galleries. Just follow the links attached to each piece to find out about the artist, the painting and the price!

Vanessa Witschi is a polymer clay artist who creates one-of-a-kind dreaming mermaid sculptures. These collectable mermaids are perfect for little girls, girls at heart and those who truly feel the magic of mermaids!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Elf~Fin Leaks and Peeks 27

A slightly different snapshot than you're used to... more to come in the upcoming weeks. But more importantly, the first issue of Hyfus & Tilaweed is coming soon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Photos 1 – The BMP (Classic) Team

We thought we might post a series of nostalgic Black Mermaid Productions (BMP) photos so you can check out what we've been up to through the years—this one is of the Classic team, which included co-writer Bruce Love. This photo was taken in Bruce and Jozef's Darlinghurst apartment in Sydney during the early 90s when we were working on ElfQuest: WaveDancers. Julie lived in Balmain and Birchgrove, which was about 15 minutes away. Most of our creative work was done from the couch with quick sojourns to Jozef's drawing desk where he sketched or painted away. It was a great creative partnership and we bounced ideas around with relish. It's fabulous when a team is on the same wavelength. 

Bruce left in 2003 and is doing wonderfully well in his chosen field. Jozef and Julie are focusing on Elf~Fin as you know. We were fresh-faced, young and naive when we started and now we're a little more seasoned. We also look a little different as one would expect—Jozef's hair is short and Julie has gone from dark blonde to red. 

This photo has been framed in Julie's office all these years, and today is the first time it's been scanned and released on our blog. We'll have more for you soon.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Elf~Fin Leaks and Peeks 26

This is Lyban and Fillayne. We wonder what got her attention... Find out in the first issue of Elf~Fin: Hyfus & Tilaweed to be released in a few months time.

New Book by ‘Hippo’ Author Helps You Become an "Authorpreneurs"

A new book by renowned children’s author Hazel Edwards (and supporter of all things comics on the Australian scene!), has just been published to help writers, illustrators and comics creators build sustainable careers in a rapidly changing industry. Best known for her book There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake, Edwards’ latest title Authorpreneurship: The business of creativity shows authors how they can invest in their creativity to increase their professional opportunities.
Today’s creator needs to be an ‘authorpreneur’—an originator and an entrepreneur. Apart from crafting words or images for specific audiences, this means learning the marketing, publicity, technological, legal and entrepreneurial skills to establish and maintain. Authors have become small businesses, so they need new tools to maximise their business opportunities. They also need support to adapt to a fast-changing, digital, global industry.  

This practical book offers strategies for beginner, mid-list and highly experienced creators to help sell work for longer, in varied new formats and to larger audiences by: 
  • Building an author brand
  • Networking in person and online
  • Becoming a strategic thinker
  • Writing effective proposals
  • Costing your time
  • Delegating or collaborating
  • Developing effective business systems.
It includes checklists, hints, case studies and hypothetical scenarios to help authors explore the situations they might encounter as an authorpreneur.

Published by Keesing Press, the print book is available for $24.95 through the Australian Society of Authors’ website.

The e-book will be available from Hazel Edwards' website in a month.