Wednesday, April 5, 2017

EVENT: Chromacon 2017

Chromacon, the indie arts festival returns this weekend! Taking place at the Aotea Centre in the heart of the Auckland CBD, Chromacon celebrates the coming together of creativity, artistic excellence and community. Freely open to the wider public, Chromacon connects all New Zealanders with the best homegrown illustrators, comic artists, designers, animators, game developers and more.

At Chromacon, you will find original artwork and creative projects from independent creators of different media, styles, and genres. You will also be able to purchase self-published work or even one-off originals directly from the creatives themselves. The intimate nature of the event offers you the chance to meet and connect with creatives you may already admire or others creating new and exciting work that you weren't aware of. Furthermore, the event will be hosting live events, drawing/painting demos, and artist talks/panels on a variety of subjects throughout the weekend.

Chroma Connect will be returning in the form of industry sessions running in parallel with the main festival - featuring top local and international speakers. International guests include: OJIRO FUMOTO aka 'MOPPIN' [JP]  - Creator of the award-winning indie hit game Downwell, JOHN MUELLER [US] - Art Director at Blizzard Entertainment, creator of OINK - Heaven's Butcher and founder of Skyshine Games, creators of BEDLAM, KEI ACEDERA [CA] - Award-winning artist specialising in concept art, visual development, and character design for film, Art Director at Imaginism Studios, BOBBY CHIU [CA] - Award-winning artist, Founder and Creative Director of Imaginism Studios, Schoolism and host of the CHIUSTREAM, and DAVID FOLLETT [AU] - Prolific character designer, comic creator and illustrator. Creator of Uncle Silas published by Dark Horse Comics. 

On the local front, cartoonist Toby Morris - best known for his regular non-fiction comic, The Pencilsword (serialised on ‘The Wireless NZ’) - will be discussing his creative journey from developing his craft to quitting the day job and pursuing an independent artistic career full-time. Toby will give his personal insights into his life as an father, illustrator, cartoonist, comic artist and using comics as a medium for accessible journalism, social advocacy and raising awareness of important social issues. His talk will be hosted by Hicksville author, Dylan Horrocks.

NZ animation studio Mukpuddy will also be giving an in-depth retrospective of their animated series, The Barefoot Bandits, from development process/pipeline and 'script to screen', to designing memorable characters and bringing this ambitious passion project to life.

For tickets and information on the Chroma Connect talks, visit the Chromacon website HERE.

Anyone with an interest in art, in particular storytelling in visual and interactive mediums, is invited to this weekend celebration of Kiwi creativity. Whether you’re a fledgling artist yourself, or simply curious about the amazing original work created by independent creators right here in New Zealand, this event is for you! There is over 100 local creatives attending - check out the full line up HERE, so make sure you clear your weekend schedule and bring some cash to pick up some one-of-a-kind artwork!

Chromacon is open April 8th - 9th at the Aotea Centre, from 10am - 5pm daily. For more information and updates, visit the Chromacon event page on Facebook HERE, and the official website HERE.

- AK!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Announcing Earth's End Publishing's New Title: Moa by James Davidson!

Above: The cover for Moa by James Davidson. Copyright James Davidson 2017.

Earth's End Publishing is proud to announce our latest release, a collection of James Davidson's acclaimed children's comic book series, Moa. Set in colonial New Zealand, Moa chronicles the wild adventures of the Moa Rangers, Kiwi Pukupuku and Possum Von Tempsky, defenders of our native forests. Moa combines the fun and humour of classic Disney comic books with New Zealand's historical past and Maori mythology to create a classic adventure series sure to delight and entertain readers of all ages. This deluxe treasury collection contains the complete Moa story in a hardback edition that is destined to become a family favourite.

Above: Artwork from Moa by James Davidson. Copyright James Davidson 2017.

James Davidson is an educator, serving as the Head of the Arts Faculty at Opunake High School. Moa has been a way for him to explore the layered history and mythology of New Zealand through the medium of comics, and to create stories that can entertain and educate kiwi kids about the land they live in.

"Moa is hands-down my favourite New Zealand comic book, and being able to bring James' wonderful stories and characters to a wider audience of kiwi kids is exactly why we formed this publishing house," says Earth's End Editorial Director, Adrian Kinnaird. "As an educator James knows his audience and how to appeal to their sense of fun. It's going to be a real treat to see young readers discover the adventures of Kiwi and Possum, a comic series that could take place in their own backyard."

Moa will be released in April 2017, and will be debuting with an exclusive author signing at thebChromacon Arts Festival, held April 8-9th at the Aotea Centre, Auckland.

Above: Artwork from Moa by James Davidson. Copyright James Davidson 2017.

When a sacred Maori treasure is stolen by the dastardly Otto, it's up to the Moa Rangers, Kiwi Pukupuku and Possum Von Tempsky, to return the taonga and save the day! Ride along with Kiwi and Possum on their side-splitting adventures battling mythical creatures and dangerous hunters in colonial New Zealand!

Ordering Information:

Copies of Moa are now available for order from Earths End Publishing. Email: Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries or require further information. You can also follow us on Twitter: @EarthsEndComics and Facebook: www.facebook/EarthsEndPublishing.

Publishing Details:

James Davidson
170mm x 235mm
Full Colour, 120 pages
RRP: $32.99
ISBN: 9780473386351
Ages: 5+
Release Date: April 1st, 2017

Praise for Moa:

"It's the type of book that ought to be in every single school library, every public library children's section and ideally in every bookshop in the country. I'm really excited by it, to me it's the first time we have had a good, all-ages, New Zealand comics series since the days of Terry and the Gunrunners in the 1980s."
- Dylan Horrocks, Radio NZ Nights

Above: Artwork from Moa by James Davidson. Copyright James Davidson 2017.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

EVENT: Sonic Comic Launch!

new and innovative comics anthology, Sonic Comic, will be launching at the Audio Foundation on Saturday 18th of March at 7pm, with a publication & compilation release, exhibition opening and live performances. 

Sonic Comic is a diverse and fascinating collection of single works that are both comics and sounds. It’s a publication, playlist and exhibition; a celebration of musicians who make comics and comic artists who make music. In Aotearoa/New Zealand there have always been artists who make both comics and music. While the work of a few individuals has been showcased there have been no opportunities to explore and celebrate the comics-music tradition as a whole; as an activity or community with its own interesting and rich works and approaches. Sonic Comic aims to do exactly this, inviting a number of diverse and established comics-and music-making individuals and groups to contribute works to the book, album and exhibition. 

Edited by Beth Dawson, Chris Cudby, and Indira Neville, Sonic Comic includes contributions from sound and visual artists: 7 Keys, Adrian Ganley, Bek Coogan, Benedict Quilter, Brendan Philip, Brent Willis, Caroline Anderson, Clayton Noone & Stefan Neville, Cookie Stains, Daniel Canada, Dean Ballinger, Demarnia Lloyd, Edward Gains, Glen Ross, G. Frenzy, Greg Page, Grits 'n Grams, Jade Farley, Liz Mathews, M.F Joyce, M. Emery, Matthew Davies, Mitch Marks, Octopus, Oliver Stewart, Omit, Robert Scott, The Futurians, The Rabbid & The Doll, Toby Morris, Tokerau Wilson, and Wendyhouse. 

The Sonic Comic launch features contributor performances by 7 Keys, Big Fat Raro, Strange Stains and Vampires and the opening of the accompanying exhibition in the Audio Foundation gallery. Copies of the Sonic Comic publication and music compilation will be available for the special launch price of $20 (they will be $25 plus postage afterwards – pre-orders available). 

Special thanks to Mark One Comics for sponsoring the launch of Sonic ComicSonic Comic launch and exhibition opening: Saturday 18 March, 7pm start, at the Audio Foundation, 4 Poynton Terrace, Auckland Central. You can RSVP on their Facebook event page HERE, and for more information on Sonic Comic, contact:

You can also listen some of the tracks from Sonic Comic right now at:

- AK!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

EVENT: Golden Summer: Ross Murray & Greg Straight

This Friday, come along to the opening night of Golden Summer, a joint exhibition featuring new artworks by Greg Straight & Ross Murray (Highwater, Rufus Marigold).

An ice-cream run to the corner dairy; that road trip up the coast; a cold one on a long, hot afternoon. Golden Summer celebrates all this and more on a nostalgic journey around New Zealand.

Greg Straight’s artwork embodies a longing for simple pleasures from days gone. And Ross Murray’s work explores the way contemporary ideas of nostalgia are linked to the things we consume. Both celebrate collective memories of the New Zealand summer.

The exhibition will be held at Endemic World (62 Ponsonby Road, Auckland), kicking off at 5pm and is sponsored by some iconic NZ brands: Tip Top, L&P, Eta and Garage Project. 

The opening is from 5pm-8pm, and the exhibition will run from March 3rd - 14th. So head along and bask in the presence of iconic images capturing the great Golden Summer

- AK!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Road to Armageddon 2017: Colin Wilson

Above: Captain Sunshine (1979) by Colin Wilson.

Recently announced as a Comics Guest for the upcoming Armageddon Expo shows in Christchurch and Dunedin in March, Colin Wilson is one of the country’s most successful cartoonists.

He started his career in 1977 editing and self-publishing Strips, the first locally produced comics anthology. In 1979 he also co-created New Zealand’s ecological superhero comic, Captain Sunshine – which featured in my book, From Earth’s End: The Best of New Zealand Comics. Wilson soon realised that to become a professional comic artist he would need to move overseas.

Above: Judge Dredd: The Colin Wilson Collection.

Arriving in London in 1980, Wilson began working for the UK weekly 2000AD, drawing Judge Dredd alongside artists like Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland. While his colleagues looked to the States, Wilson’s eye turned to Europe, as he began a 15-year career drawing his own series Dans l'Ombre du Soleil, and realizing a personal dream by drawing the western Blueberry alongside his artistic idol Jean Giraud aka Moebius.

Wilson returned to Australia in 1996, and while he continued to produce work for the European market (Tex, Du Plomb Dans La Tête), his art also appeared regularly via US comics publishers, on such titles as The Losers, Battler Britton, The Rocketeer Adventures and Bionic Commando

Above: The Example by Tom Taylor and Colin Wilson.

Forming a creative partnership with Australian writer Tom Taylor (who will also be appearing at Armageddon Expo), they have collaborated together on numerous projects. Including such titles as: Star Wars: Invasion, The Example, Jour J, and donated a short story to Funtime #26, Darkest Day: Comics For Christchurch – a comics anthology created to raise funds for the Red Cross in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake in 2010.

In 2013, his European comic series Du Plomb Dans La Tête (published in the US as Bullet To The Head) was made into a major motion picture, directed by Walter Hill, starring Sylvester Stallone, Christian Slater and Jason Momoa. Wilson is currently completing the art for Martha, a book in the very successful European series XIII Mystery, before starting work on a new, original series for Delcourt.

Above: The cover of The Adventures of Captain Sunshine (1979) by Colin Wilson.

This will be a great opportunity for local comics fans to meet and talk to one of our own who has made a career from comics, working at the top of the global comics industry. And maybe also get a rare copy of The Adventures of Captain Sunshine #1 signed! (I believe there are still copies surfacing on TradeMe from time to time…).

Armageddon Expo Christchurch takes place in March 11-12th at the Horncastle Arena, and Armageddon Expo Dunedin follows on March 18-19th at the More FM Arena. For tickets and information visit the Armageddon Expo website HERE.

 – AK! 

Review: Mansfield and Me by Sarah Laing

Above: The cover of Mansfield and Me by Sarah Laing.

One of the great delights of the NZ Summer Holidays is the opportunity to take the time to sit back in the sun and enjoy reading some of the great books released over the Christmas period. When it comes to new graphic novel releases, Sarah Laing’s Mansfield and Me was the ‘must read’ of the summer. Released in October, it spent over 10 weeks on the Booksellers Top Ten List, with strong sales ensuring the book made it into plenty of Christmas Stockings over the holidays.

A graphic memoir, Mansfield and Me traces Laing’s journey to becoming a writer alongside the life of Kathrine Mansfield, one of her literary idols. Memoirs have become a hugely popular sub-genre of graphic novels – drawing praise and recognition from the literary community, from titles as diverse as Allison Bechdel’s Fun Home to the likes of Freddie and Me by Mike Dawson. Laing has a similar starting point to Dawson, whose book discussed his adolescence and fan obsession with Freddie Murcury. Laing mentions her own teen idols - Morrissey, Madonna and Frida Kahlo, but it is Mansfield whose presence is most felt in the background of her everyday life, from community stories to sharing geographically linked childhood experiences.

While Dawson’s book was primarily about a fan experience, Laing’s memoir goes deeper: tracking the intersections between her own life and literary ambitions and Mansfield’s. There are passages in the book where she imagines interacting with Mansfield, almost haunted by her presence - at times Mansfield pops up to offer commentary and faint praise as Sarah’s writing career progresses. These interactions drive one of the most compelling themes of the book: how do we measure ourselves against our idols?

Laing does a great job of seamlessly weaving her life with Mansfield’s, finding places where they intersect (both professionally and personally): both Laing and Mansfield left New Zealand to pursue a career in writing – Mansfield to England, Laing to New York. There’s a passage where Laing writes about moving to the country to flat with her first boyfriend and a difficult flatmate, contrasted to Mansfield’s own country living experience with her second husband John Middleton Murry, and their neighbour novelist D.H. Lawrence, who also turned out to be difficult and demanding host (at one point challenging Murry to a naked wrestling match – as one does).

Above: A page from Mansfield and Me by Sarah Laing.

Laing shares from her own life and experiences very candidly – the eventful missteps in relationships and jobs, and the changing circumstances that ultimately brought her back to New Zealand and her dream of becoming a published writer. A goal she achieved in 2007 with her short story collection, Coming up Roses. She was 34, the same age Mansfield was when she died.

This is a very personal memoir, produced in vibrant watercolour artwork written in Laing’s own handwriting, which really gives you that tactile feel, like you’re reading from a private diary and sketchbook.

It’s a book about that compelling urge to be creative with the time you have – Mansfield achieved so much in a short time, but it was extremely difficult in her last years with tuberculosis. She never got to write that great novel, as she bitterly laments to Sarah after reading her short story collection: “you still have time…unlike me”. Laing has since written two novels and an ongoing blog with plenty of new comics to come.

It’s a remarkable ode to creativity and a personal journey to achieving one’s ambitions. If you love great memoirs and want to experience one that’s a bit unconventional but highly entertaining, this is the one for you.
You can visit Sarah Laing's blog, Let Me Be Frank HERE for more of her comics and out-takes/bonus material from Mansfield and Me. You can also listen to my review of Mansfield and Me featured on Radio NZ HERE.

Mansfield and Me Sarah Laing
336 Pages
Paperback, colour
ISBN: 9781776560691
Published by Victoria University Press
RRP: $34.99

- AK!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Earth's End Uncanny X-mas Gift Guide!

With the Christmas season upon us once again, today I'm going to highlight the latest NZ comics related gifts you can pick up for your friends, family or your own bookshelf!

Above: Capsicum, Capsi Go and The Day The Costume Stuck by Toby Morris

Toby Morris has two new children's books out just in time for Christmas!

In Capsicum, Capsi Go, follow Capsi's delightful and amusing travel adventures! And in The Day the Costumes Stuck, meet Iggy: he can't seem to take off his party costume but his parents don’t seem to notice that Iggy has turned into the boogie monster! But that's not the weirdest part... A funny, original and heart-warming story destined to become a new family favourite!

Both books retail for $20nz, but they are also currently on sale at the Beatnik website for $16nz!

Capsicum, Capsi Go
By Toby Morris
SOFTCOVER: 32 pages
SIZE: 220 x 220 x 3mm
PUBLISHER: Beatnik Publishing
ISBN: 9780994120557

The Day the Costumes Stuck 
By Toby Morris 
SOFTCOVER: 32 pages 
SIZE: 220 x 220 x 3mm 
PUBLISHER: Beatnik Publishing 
ISBN: 9780994138309

Above: Maui: Sun Catcher by Tim Tipene & Zak Waipara

Tim Tipene & Zak Waipara re-imagine this popular Maori myth in a contemporary setting.

This modern Maui is an intermediate-school boy who lives with his Mum and three older brothers in a city where the day is never long enough to get things done. Maui grasps the mantle: Mum, I'm gonna catch that Sun for you. That Sun who's always on the run. With their woven flax net, the brothers drive to the pit where the Sun lives, and make their play to slow the day. This bilingual book, in English and Maori, brings Maui into the 21st century in a fun and colourful retelling - the first in the international Indigenous Voices series.

Maui: The Sun Catcher retails for $24.99 in Hardback, and is in bookstores now!

Maui: The Sun Catcher
By Tim Tipene & Zak Waipara
Publisher : Oratia Books
Dimensions : 270mm X 210mm X 9mm
ISBN : 9780947506148

Above: Maui and Other Maori Legends by Peter Gossage.

While we're on the subject of Maui, if you want a full collection of his adventures, you can't pass up this new hardback collection from Penguin Books of the late, great, illustrator Peter Gossage. His memorable retellings of Maori oral myths have captivated the children of New Zealand for generations. Their dramatic and distinctive illustrations with minimal yet evocative language form a powerful combination, and each has earned its place among the beloved classics of our literature.

These are exciting, magical tales of adventure and intrigue. Several feature the remarkable culture hero Maui – the quick-witted and the trickster – whose exploits include slowing the sun in its course across the sky, fishing up the North Island/Te Ika a Maui, discovering the secret of fire and his attempt to trick the goddess of death and become immortal.

Maui and Other Legends contains eight essential legends. In this volume you will find timeless favourites such as How Maui Found his Mother, Battle of the Mountains, Pania of the Reef and many more.

This hardback collection retails for $40.00nz, and is in bookstores now!

Maui and Other Maori Legends 
By Peter Gossage
Publisher : Penguin Group (NZ)
Imprint : Puffin
Publication date : October 2016
Dimensions : 302mm X 217mm X 20mm
ISBN : 9780143309291

Above: Annual edited by Kate De Goldi & Susan Paris.

Gecko Press’s Annual is a game-changer, packing dynamic, irreverent, challenging, and timeless material into a beautiful package for 9- to 12-year-olds.

Annual features a dictionary of crazy words that come in handy on car trips, a sophisticated "spot the similarity", a found poem from school newsletters, a maths-nerd's memoir full of tricky logic puzzles, and comics/illustrations by Jonathan King, Sarah Laing, Dylan Horrocks, Sharon Murdoch, Giselle Clarkson, Sally Bollinger, Paul Beavis and Coco Solid.

This is a book for readers who are hungry for sophisticated, wide-ranging, and challenging content. It aims to revitalize the reading experience for this age group and create lifetime readers.

Annual is available in hardback in bookstores now, and retails for $39.99nz.

Edited by Kate De Goldi & Susan Paris
Publisher : Gecko Press
Dimensions : 260mm X 193mm
ISBN : 9781776570775

Above: Murdoch: The Political Cartoons of Sharon Murdoch by Sharon Murdoch with Melinda Johnston.

With John Key recently calling it quits, now is a great time to review some of the best political cartoons to feature Key and his Government, produced by 2016 Canon Cartoonist of the Year, Sharon Murdoch. As the regular cartoonist for the Sunday Star Times and the Christchurch Press, she provokes and delights readers with her witty and often hilarious observations, and her hard-hitting and insightful social and political analysis.

In Murdoch, Melinda Johnston’s commentary sets the cartoons within their historical context, while her introduction locates the work within New Zealand’s cartooning history. Featuring over 150 full-page cartoons, which highlight the breadth and depth of Sharon Murdoch’s work, this book will entertain and educate any reader with an interest in New Zealand’s contemporary social and political history.

This collection retails for $39.99nz and is in bookstores now!

Murdoch: The Political Cartoons of Sharon Murdoch
Sharon Murdoch with Melinda Johnston
Format: Paperback with gatefolds
Pages: 216
Size: 215 x 235 mm
ISBN: 9780947503239

Above: Mansfield & Me by Sarah Laing.

Katherine Mansfield is a literary giant in New Zealand—but she had to leave the country to become one. She wrote, ‘Oh to be a writer, a real writer.’ And a real writer she was, until she died at age 34 of tuberculosis. The only writer Virginia Woolf was jealous of, Mansfield hung out with the modernists, lost her brother in World War I, dabbled in Alistair Crowley’s druggy occult gatherings and spent her last days in a Fontainebleu commune with Olgivanna, Frank Lloyd Wright’s future wife. She was as famous for her letters and diaries as for her short stories. 

Sarah Laing wanted to be a real writer, too. A writer as famous as Katherine Mansfield, but not as tortured. Mansfield and Me charts her journey towards publication and parenthood against Mansfield’s dramatic story, set in London, Paris, New York and New Zealand. Part memoir, part biography, part fantasy, it examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes.

This is a perfect gift for fans of great New Zealand biographies looking for something a bit different. It's personal and insightful, a story intimately told through Sarah's distinctive comics voice. You can also hear me raving about it on Radio NZ nights HERE.

Mansfield and Me is in bookstores now, and retails for $34.99nz.

Mansfield and Me 
By Sarah Laing
336 Pages
Paperback, colour
ISBN: 9781776560691

Above: Terry Teo and the Gunrunners by Bob Kerr and Stephen Ballantyne.

With the new TV series currently screening on TV2, now is as good a time as any to catch-up on the original first adventure of the local skateboarding super-sleuth!

Terry Teo is not your average schoolboy - he's a skateboarding super-sleuth about to embark on his very first adventure!

When he stumbles headfirst into the criminal schemes of the villainous Ray Vegas, Terry finds himself embroiled in a dastardly gun smuggling operation. Along with his karate-chopping sister, Polly, and older brother Ted, Terry must use all his street smarts to avoid Vegas' henchmen, defeat the smugglers, and save the day!

Terry Teo and the Gunrunners is available in bookstores and online HERE. It retails for $24.99nz.

Terry Teo and the Gunrunners TV Tie-in edition
Bob Kerr & Stephen Ballantyne
Paperback, 56 pages, full-colour
ISBN: 9780473330675
Suitable for All Ages

So there's plenty of good gifts here for the cartoon connoisseur or picture book fanatic in your family, so get purchasing and support the local comics community!

- AK!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Week of Wus: Wussy Castle

Above: Wussy Castle. Copyright Oneedo Studio 2016.

Comic creator and animator Ned Wenlock (Hotpools, Highwater) has produced a quirky new animated series Wussy Castle, which debuted this week on Youtube. Drawing inspiration from the formats of English children's shows of the 70's like The Magic Roundabout and The WomblesWussy Castle follows two brothers, Sir Jeremy and Sir Mathew, who live at home in Wussy Castle with their mum and their manservant Bedsit. Everyday brings immense challenges to their privileged lives. 

Above: Wussy Castle episode #1: The Weight of Kindness. Copyright Oneedo Studio 2016.

"I thought it would be fun to cast what I see in the modern world through the lens of childhood, because the world is made up of children from about the 70s", explained Ned Wenlock. "The characters themselves are reflections of the modern world, pampered, self-obsessed, entitled and generally a bit thick."

This exquisitely designed satire will run for 5 episodes this week, from December 5th - 9th. The first episode, The Weight of Kindness can be viewed below and click through to the Wussy Castle youtube channel to view the series HERE. For more information on Ned's award-winning animated films, visit Oneedo Studio HERE.

- AK!