Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Xmas to You All!

A very merry Xmas to our readers, friends and colleagues – sometimes you are all three of those things rolled up in one!

We appreciate your faith and support and look forward to doing even more  fabulous things next year.

Please celebrate 2013 and the New Year just like our Black Mermaid – with joy and heart, mind and arms wide open.

See you in 2014!

Body of Work Casino Collection Launch

A few weeks ago we were honoured and privileged to have been invited to attend a special event in Sydney – the launch of the 2014 Body of Work Casino Collection, which was held in the Trivett Bespoke showroom in Alexandria. Our connection to the event was the incomparable Hannah Fraser (AKA Hannah Mermaid) who served as a model for some of the exquisite photographic pieces on display. Hannah also has the reputation as being the world's foremost professional mermaid, marine eco-warrior, performer and model. She is truly a pioneer in all things mermaid. But that night, it was all about the photographer Bob Armstrong and his art.

To give you some background…

Body of Work (BOW) is a series of photographic books that retail between $250 and $500 each. They are coveted collectors' pieces and are distinguished by the brilliant photography and production standards. Each photo is tactile. For example, a shell and pearl girdle on one of the models feels like crunchy shells on a beach. You can also feel smooth cool lustre of the pearls.

BOW is an Australian brand but best known overseas because in the seven years of its existence it has accumulated 117 international awards for design, photography and incomparable print reproduction. In the last two years BOW has won all the top prizes known as Bennys (14 in all!) in the art print section of the American Premier Print Awards, which are to print what the Oscars are to films.

On the night in question we walked like James Bond amongst the Aston Martins, Rolls Royces, Bentleys and McLarens,  nibbling on delicious truffle infused canapés and suppressing our desire to caress the body work on the cars, which would have resulted in trails of finger- and perhaps even fin-prints (depending on who was doing the touching) over the paint job. 

Displayed in between the prestige vehicles were the new photographic pieces in the Casino Collection. These portraits and full length poses were nearly life size (1500 x 1000mm) and are amongst the world's most exclusive collections of photographic artwork masterpieces. For the first time they were available for sale or rental. The starting price is $25,000.

Amongst the beautiful people and the beautiful things on display was the largest book in the world, which opens to an impressive 1.5 metres x 3 metres. You can imagine how delicately and tenderly we handled it – this is certainly not a book for children to turn the pages. Ultimately, BOW is known for its creative flair and refuse to compromise in the pursuit of excellence. 

In 2014, similar events are scheduled for Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Chicago. We were luck to have been invited to the inaugural one!

Photographic credits: Bob Armstrong and Trivett Bespoke except where otherwise stated
(1) Bob Armstrong introducing BOW 2014 Casino Collection in the Trivett Bespoke McLaren Showroom
(2) Hannah Mermaid (photo credit: Jozef Szekeres)
(3) Image from the BOW photo shoot in December 2013 for the 2015 Casino Collection
(4) One of the luxury cars that Jozef got to sit in.
(5) Bob Armstrong with models Hannah Fraser (sans mermaid tail) and Anna Bliss who flew in from LA for the launch.
(6) Another image from the BOW photo shoot in December 2013 for the 2015 Casino Collection

For further information and high resolution photographs please contact Fiona Barraclough on +61 467 801 367.

And here are our special personal shots:

(1) Jozef and Hannah in the chassis of one of the cars during an audience participation sectionof the evening (smoke machine and special effects and all)
(2) Jozef and Julie with Hannah


The Ledger Awards Announced for 2014

The Ledger Awards, established to acknowledge and promote excellence in comic arts and publishing in Australia, are being re-launched in Melbourne in April 2014. Inaugurated in 2005, they return after a five-year hiatus with a new structure and a new major sponsor: Supanova Pop Culture Expo Fully independent and run as a not-for-profit annual event, they are named after the pioneering Australian cartoonist Peter Ledger (1945 – 1994).
Gold, Silver and Bronze Ledgers will be presented for outstanding comics work published in the calendar year 1 January to 31 December 2013. Two Platinum Ledgers will also be awarded to acknowledge individuals whose contributions to comic art, publishing and community in Australia have helped shape the art form in a meaningful way.
For more information visit:
The call for entries information is here: 

Inkers and Thinkers Symposium

The University of Adelaide will be holding the Inkers and Thinkers – The Evolution of Comics Symposium on Friday 14 April 2014. It is being organised by the Discipline of Media with the assistance of the J M Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice. 

This is an inter-disciplinary symposium, so researchers from all disciplines, artists and writers will be presenting 20 minute talks about some aspect of the comics medium they feel needs to be discussed as we push on well into the 21st century. Comics as become well entrenched in the Australian cultural landscape in the past decade and it’s here to stay and only get better. Comics veteran (and Comics Masterclass team member and coach!) is giving the keynote speech, where he will talk about the state of comics publishing in Australia and where he think it needs to go 

For more information go to:


Remember, it is on the Friday before Ozcomicon Adelaide next year, so you may want to go attend that as well.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Elf~Fin Leaks and Peeks 33

Just wanted to give you a little bit of a hint about future characters in the second and subsequent issue of Elf~Fin: Hyfus & Tilaweed. We're not ready to release panel art just yet but we will show you a couple of our new supporting characters: Grall and Innahri who are both "Quoths" (rhymes with "goths") within a new pod.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Two Trickster Christmas Treat

Jozef was lucky to attend a book launch a few days ago for Sophie Masson's new title Two Trickster Tales from Russia, which was launched by fantasy author Kate Forsyth in Sydney.

The book features two retold Russian folktales – "Masha and the Bear" and "The Rooster with the Golden Crest". It was illustrated in a classic style by David Allan, and designed by Fiona McDonald who happens to be a mermaid aficionado.

Sophie also has a connection to mermaids – or to be more precise – selkies. We covered her children's book Thomas Trew and the Selkie's Curse last year in a blog post.

Sophie is one of Australia's prolific children's fantasy authors. She is also the Chair of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) and an advocate for children's writers and illustrators.

Two Trickster Tales from Russia is the launch title for a new Australian publisher called Christmas Press. You can find the names of stockists on the Buying Our Books page or order it direct. The RRP is AUD$22.95 plus postage & handling.

We've each got signed copies and we're delighted to add them to our respective libraries.

Congratulations, Sophie, David and the editorial and production team, for a major coup!

Halloween Black Mermaid® “Mer Mummy” Design Released

Black Mermaid Productions™ (BMP) has just released its annual Halloween design in the Black Mermaid® range of artwork. This year’s image consists of a mer mummy and fits comfortably in the horror oriented collection, which also features a mer zombie, mer ghost, mer witch and mer vampire.
Designed by Jozef Szekeres, this piece is also a departure from the more animated stylisation of previous designs.
The BMP Black Mermaid® silhouetted logo, which is beloved by many fans and who indeed has a Facebook page of her own, is the star of this design and the rest.
The design features on a range of t-shirts, greeting cards, framed prints, homeware and other collectibles that can be found at the BMP online shop—Black Mermaid® Boutique.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Support Mary Doe Trailer Kickstarter Campaign

I also lend my voice to endorsing and celebrating in the film you are shortly to make. The script, planning and design you have already done is far superior than a lot of projects that we read and I have no doubt that you are on the road to making a truly wonderful piece of cinema.
Richard Taylor, Creative Director WETA Workshop
5 time Academy Award Winner 
The HobbitThe Lord Of The Rings TrilogyKing Kong

You can't get a better endorsement than that, and that's why we're asking our readers and fans to transition from mermaids to zombies for just a few moments in time and to check out a new Kickstarter campaign that was just launched by our great friends and supporters of 20 years – Nick and Paul from Makeup Effects Group
Nick and Paul are serious dudes with some serious screen credits. They've done Hugh Jackman's makeup in Wolverine, Aaron Eckhart's makeup in I Frankenstein, and even Marlon Brando's makeup in The Island of Dr Moreau. They've worked on The Matrix; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Babe and many more movies (check out their show reel at the bottom of this post). 
They are also kind-hearted and generous to a fault with a razor sharp focus on quality makeup effects and production values in everything they do. They are now transitioning from SFX to directing and producing. The first project they want to work on is a horror / zombie thrilled called Mary Doe. They've got all the infrastructure in place but need to raise $75,000 to film the trailer, which is the starting point for financing the film that has been building for the past five years. 

We LOVE these guys and have spent many hours talking comics, hanging out at their studio and going to movies together so please support the project if you can. We've included the campaign video so you can check it out here in the first instance. That's Nick in the second video.

Here's the link to the actual Kickstarter Mary Doe Promo Trailer campaign. If you've got some time, also just check out the Updates page, which has some other groovy material.

Most importantly, please dig deep to get them over the $75,000 funding line.

Halloween and Comics at Liverpool City Library

Black Mermaid Productions (BMP) will be exhibiting at Liverpool City Library at "Comics in the Space" on Halloween, along with several other top homegrown comics talent including Marcelo Baez (ManBat), Naomi Hatchman (Zeera the Space Pirate) and Sorab Del Rio (Zombie Cities).

Jozef will be doing live sketching at the event, which also includes cosplay, storytelling, prizes and signings. Retailer, Kings Comics, will also be showcasing and selling a range of great comic books and graphic novels.

Julie grew up in the Liverpool / Macarthur area and went to Casula High School where she also happened to be the school captain in her final year, so she is particularly looking forward to talking to library visitors and comics readers from her local area. 

Here's the info for your diaries:

Date: Thursday 31 October 2013
Time: 4pm to 8pm
Venue: The Space, Liverpool City Library, 170 George St, Liverpool NSW 2170 Australia
Contact: Pat Nguyen, Youth Services Officer on (02) 9821 9461

See you there!

Mermaid Books 10 – The Marked Ones

Australian author, S K Munt, has recently published Book 1 of a paranormal romance trilogy about mermaids called The Marked Ones. It's an epic mermaid tale set in modern day Australian but filled with characters from all over the world. It focuses on mermaid bloodlines and their need to protect the environment in which they live and there's a love triangle to add a bit of steam.

The story has a  great set up in that mermaids have three purposes in life: to protect their environment from humans, to cultivate their bloodlines, and to keep the knowledge of their species a secret at any cost. For a 1000 years they have depended on the Court family to keep their species thriving, and the Ivyanne character is the next in line for the throne. Ivyanne is the embodiment of the mermaid fantasy  beautiful, kind and chaste.  But she has a secret, and when she returns to the mainland to live and work as a human, she finds herself facing him again – the only man she has ever loved – a forbidden human. Ivyanne has been running from the siren within for decades, ignoring all of her urges that might jeopardise her arranged marriage to an eligible son of The Marked Ones – urges that other mers within her kingdom embrace. It was easy to acknowledge them in the sea under her parent's watchful gaze but more difficult to suppress them on land where temptation vies for her heart.

The Marked Ones is aimed for big girls who have always dreamed of being mermaids, and big boys who always dreamed of being with one. Set against the beautiful Great Barrier Reef, this modern fairytale is packed with drama and action and hums with sexual tension.

The book is available in Kindle format from Amazon.

National Young Writers' Festival 2013

The National Young Writers' Festival (NYWF) is celebrating its sweet 16th birthday in Newcastle this weekend. It features 100 artists and 75 free events.

The NYWF is the country’s largest gathering of young and innovative writers working in both new and traditional forms including zines, comics, blogging, screenwriting, poetry, spoken word, hip hop music, journalism, autobiography, comedy, songwriting and prose. The festival presents ‘writing’ in its broadest sense through panels, discussions, workshops, launches, performances, readings, installations, and more. The event gives young writers a place to present their work and share ideas, to learn about the industry in which they write and to meet with like-minded people in a friendly festival atmosphere. 
Because the NYWF is officially coming-of-age, it has themed a few things to suit. The annual Saturday night party is the Paranormal Formal – a débutante combining dry ice and ectoplasm. The comedy showcase First Time for Everything will no doubt share a few awkward first kisses, and it’s followed by a for-real Sleepover – pack your adult onesie! The event has swapped the regular Spelling Bee for the infinitely more extreme Stop! Grammar Time!, and put together a panel entirely comprised of underage overachievers. Each of the Late Night Readings is themed around a key part of the adolescent canon, soaps, with Closer Each Day, Home & AwayHi, Heartbreak; and Everybody Needs Good Neighbours.

There’s plenty of serious stuff too with a series themed around the powers of memory; an existential trilogy questioning why we writego to festivals, or seek awards; a debate squaring off journalistic facts and personal opinions; an evening of readings on illness; a presentation of quality journal design; and a suite of workshops helping you write, pitch, create and feel better.
What will be of particular interest to comikers is the annual NYWF / TiNA (ie. This is Not Art) Zine Fair which has a new home in the NYWF HQ – the Blue Writer Disco at the Kensington. Come along for specialty coffee, cracking tunes played on vinyl, and zines, zines and more zines. The Zine Fair will be held Sunday 6 October from 11am to 3.30pm.

Here is the info you need for the entire event:

Dates: Friday 3 to Sunday 6 October 2013
Times: Various – check the event schedule
Venue: Various locations around Newcastle
Cost: Free

CLICK HERE to download the program.

CLICK HERE to check out the website for more information.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mermaid Books 9 – Girl in the Mermaid Tail

Our friend Kathleen Parry who writes under the name of K L Parry and who we met at MerCon in 2011, has just released a Kindle edition of a new mermaid story "Girl in the Mermaid Tail", which comes from the Tales of the Emerald Pools series.

Here's a synopsis of the story:
Jade Lang’s troubles didn’t begin with her mother’s death, but her guilt for having caused it consumes her. She lives a half-life with no hope for her future – her existence consisting of only the most mundane obligations set down for her. But, all that she knows and believes to be true is about to change starting with the discovery of a stranger in her backyard pool. Will his revelations bring her salvation or be her destruction. 
“Girl in the Mermaid Tail” is a suspenseful and darkly emotional journey into the mind of a teenage girl whose world has been irrevocably altered.
You can read a two page sample if you click on the image above.  We haven't got a Kindle so we haven't read it yet but the early Amazon customer eviews pronounce it as an excellent read with a 4.7 / 5 star average. We may need to get a Kindle real soon just to buy it.

You can order it right here from Amazon. A mighty big mermaid congratulations to you, Kathleen!

Sydney Powerhouse Museum Collects Esther Williams Cozzie

The Sydney Powerhouse Museum has acquired an Esther Williams swimming costume for its collection.

For those who don't know who she is, Esther Williams was an MGM movie star in the 1940s and 50s, and the closest thing to an onscreen and real life mermaid you could get. In fact, Clark Gable was the first film actor to famously call her a mermaid.

Esther Williams was a champion swimmer who qualified for the summer Olympics, which unfortunately were cancelled because of the outbreak of World War II. She went on to feature in countless magical Hollywood musicals and romantic comedies. She was most famous for her underwater ballets in a movie genre that was developed just for her – "swimming movies". These included Bathing Beauty, Neptune's Daughter, Dangerous When Wet (which featured her swimming with Tom and Jerry, Jupiter's Darling and many more.

The swimming costume in question was:
A one piece woman's swimsuit designed by Helen Rose and made of coral satin finish (silk). The bodice has a princess line neck with Zigzag pattern extending over the bust. The suit is panelled to be tight fitting and has a short skirt made of diamond shaped panels. A sewn-in fabric label has the handwritten words '1567 EDITH MOTRIDGE'. The number refers to Million Dollar Mermaid being MGM's production number 1567. Edith Motridge worked for MGM as Williams' swimming double. She was a member of the US swimming team at the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games. It is likely that Williams would have worn an identical costume rather than this one.
Million Dollar Mermaid was a biopic about Australia's turn of the 19th century vaudeville swim star and actor – Annette Kellerman – who is thought to have revolutionised the sport and art of synchronised swimming. She also scandalised the establishment and was arrested in the USA for daring to wear a one piece swimming costume to the beach. 

Kellerman lived a fantastic life. Here is an excerpt from her Wikipedia page:
In 1916, Kellerman became the first major actress to do a nude scene when she appeared fully nude in A Daughter of the Gods. Made by Fox Film CorporationDaughter of the Gods was the first million-dollar film production. Like many of Kellerman's other films, this is now considered a lost film as no copies are known to exist.The majority of Kellerman's films had themes of aquatic adventure. She performed her own stunts including diving from ninety-two feet into the sea and sixty feet into a pool of crocodiles. Many times she would play mermaids named Annette or variations of her own name. Her "fairy tale films", as she called them, started with The Mermaid (1911), in which she was the first actress to wear a swimmable mermaid costume on film, paving the way for future screen sirens such as Glynis Johns (Miranda), Esther Williams and Daryl Hannah (Splash). She designed her own mermaid swimming costumes and sometimes made them herself. Similar designs are still used by The Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaids, including her aquatic fairy costume first introduced in Queen of the Sea (1918).
You can read more about the swimming costume on the Sydney Powerhouse Museum website.

Here is montage of Esther Williams' movies from That's Entertainment. See if you can spot the swimming costume in question in one of the later sequences.

Sadly, Esther Williams died earlier this year. If you want to read more about her, go to her Esther Williams website or to Wikipedia.

Manly Zine Fair

We'll be on the Northern Beaches this weekend – we've got a table at the Manly Zine Fair to be specific, which is part of the Manly Arts Festival. We'll have some of our last copies from the first print run of Elf~Fin: Hyfus & Tilaweed on sale if you can make it and want to pick one up for yourself. There'll also be local and international zinesters, comikers and artists exhibiting there plus a Zine and Mini Book Binding Workshop. Here are the details:

Date: Saturday 21 September 2013
Time: 11am to 3pm
Venue: Manly Library Forecourt, Market Place, Manly NSW 2095
For more information phone (02) 9976 1720 or email: or visit the website.

Great poster, BTW!

Comics Masterclass Commercial

If you haven't caught it yet on our YouTube channel, then check our the Comics Masterclass Script Assessment Service commercial. Thanks to Paul Caggegi for his great fast-paced and funny production.

Monday, September 9, 2013

MEDIA RELEASE: Black Mermaid Productions™ Launches Comics Masterclass™

8 September 2013
Australian comics team and publisher Black Mermaid Productions™ has just launched its new professional development arm—Comics Masterclass™. Originally conceived in 2011 as a one-off weekend event that was run in conjunction with the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) and which attracted participants from around the country, Comics Masterclass™ has now evolved into a brand in its own right and a niche service that offers creative, business and self mastery opportunities to Australian (and overseas!) comics creators.
Comics Masterclass™ has three big picture goals:
  1. To help emerging and developing comics practitioners realise their creative potential
  2. To contribute towards creating an Australian comics economy where comics creators’ published works, expertise and experience are valued both critically and commercially, and
  3. To facilitate the shift from an Australian comics community to a thriving internationally recognised and commercially viable industry.
The first offering is the Comics Masterclass™ script assessment service for emerging and developing comikers who are working on comic books, graphic novels, webcomics and comic / cartoon strips. This is the first dedicated comics script assessment service in Australia.
Says co-Black Mermaid Productions™ Director Julie Ditrich, “We have been talking to Australian comics creators about their professional needs for many years now. We become increasingly aware that there was a demand for critical feedback on comics projects in development but that no professional services were available to take on that task, which is why we came up with the idea of a comic script assessment service that critiques both writing and sequential art. It took us over a year to organise and assemble a high calibre team of qualified comics professionals with vast publishing credits, as well as editing and teaching experience, who would work as assessors and provide value and direction in this creative medium.”
Comics Masterclass™ is also pioneering in the Australian comics landscape by providing a variety of other services including creativity coaching, premium coaching, professional consultations, proofreading, editing and a counseling referral service. Furthermore, from 2014 it will also offer short courses and weekend intensives.
We predict that Australia is about five years away from exploding onto the international stage and producing world class comics talent and publications in a big way,” says Black Mermaid Productions™ co-Director Jozef Szekeres, “We believe that Comics Masterclass will be at the forefront of facilitating this growth in the Australian cultural landscape.”
Ultimately, Comics Masterclass™ is about encouraging and nurturing new comics talent, and offering a safe place for creators to develop their creative and entrepreneurial skills.
For further information contact Julie Ditrich or Jozef Szekeres on
Phone: +61 2 9606 4728

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Jozef Szekeres ELF~FIN Art in Comics Galore! Exhibition

Jozef Szekeres will be amongst 60 cartoonists and comic book artists who will have their work on display at the Cartoons Galore! Exhibition in Sydney, Australia.
The exhibition covers gag-cartoons, comic-strips, book illustrations, graphic-novel pages, comic book pages, editorial/political cartoons, and magazine illustrations. Jozef will exhibit his art pages from the first issue of Elf~Fin™: Hyfus & Tilaweed comic book series, which was released in May 2013 and has since sold to readers over the world including the USA, Norway, the Netherlands, France and Germany.
The Cartoons Galore! Exhibition is part of Ryde City Council’s Hungry for Art Festival and is sponsored by Top Ryde City
The official opening is on Saturday 24 August from 12 to 2pm. Members of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association will be present to draw live, talk to the public about cartooning and drawing, offer free caricatures and more.
Dates: Saturday 24 August to Saturday 7 September 2013
Venue: Ground Floor of Top Ryde City Shopping Centre (just outside of Myers). Corner Devlin St and Blaxland Rd, Ryde NSW 2112. CLICK HERE to access information on transportation and how to get there.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mermaid Treasures 26

In my last "Mermaid Treasures" posting I mentioned that my parents have just returned from a USA holiday bearing mermaid gifts. This one was amongst them. It's a delightful mermaid ornament who has the air of a Renaissance Madonna painting about her, except that she is astride a sea horse rather than a donkey. I love her muted pink tail and her seaweed saddle. No idea where you can buy her... sorry! She's now hanging from my bookshelf.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mermaid Treasures 25

My parents recently travelled to the USA and brought me back these two elegant mermaid statuettes from a shop somewhere in California. They statues are made of resin but have bronze highlights through them. There is a sticker on the bottom of each that says they came from Milk and Honey – a gift supplier from New Mexico.  I found mermaids on their online catalogue and indeed these two beauties are amongst them. The only catch is that they are available just to retailers at a wholesale price. If you like them, we suggest getting on to your local gift store and put in a request to have them ordered in. Here's the website catalogue page.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mermaid Books 8 – Little Obelia

I picked this up for $3 from one of those pop-up bookshops in my local mall yesterday. You know the ones I mean... three display stands stacked high with nothing over $5.  

Little Obelia is an adaptation from the classic Australian illustrated book for children by May Gibbs – Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. The imprint page credits the  "coloured reproductions and adaptations of original illustrations by May Gibbs" but that the words are by N Georgeson. The publisher is Murray David Publishing. There are seven separate copyrights on the imprint page. 

The story and rhyme is a little bit all over the place but the images are quite charming for an underwaterphile. There are leafy sea dragon drawn shell carriages, Ragged Blossom slumbering on a shell bed, and Little Obelia, the Princess of the Sea, standing amongst her pearls like a baby Botticelli Venus.

The book is currently out of stock at Amazon and at the publisher but we've included the links just in case the situation changes. It's not strictly a mermaid story because we don't see any tailed humans or gumnut characters, but it will find a loving place in my mermaid / fairy book collection probably near Peg's Fairy Book.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

MerPalooza 2013


MerPalooza the International Mermaid Convention, Party and Trade Show, is less than a week away.  It is being held in Tampa, Florida, and is a rallying point (er pool) for US and international mermaids.

This year MerPalooza is offering exclusive excursions to many of the local Tampa Bay area marine research facilities and the world famous Weeki Wachee Springs State Park featuring the mermaid Underwater Theater which has featured in numerous movies and television shows. Just read here if you want to know "What happens at a mermaid convention?" 

We wish we were going but alas it's not to be this year. Have fun, mers! We're going to be thinking about you next weekend.

Dates: Friday 9 to Sunday 11 August 2013
Venue: Bay Harbor Hotel and Hogan's Beach, 7700 W Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa. Florida 33607 USA
Tickets: $30 for three days including the Saturday night "Mermaid and Pirate Party"!
$10 for trade show only. You will need to prebuy your tickets as none will be sold at the door.