Monday, September 24, 2018

EVENT: Wellington Zinefest 2018

Above:  Poster designed by AAPPA PAPPA.

Wellington Zinefest is back for 2018 and will be held on Saturday 17th November at the new creative campus, Te Auaha, at 65 Dixon street from 12pm – 4pm. 
It's where you can check out the latest small-press creations and spend a fun afternoon with the Wellington zine-making community!

Stallholder applications:
Stall holder applications will be open from the 1st of October and close on the 14th. A google form will be posted on the Wellington Zinefest Facebook page on October 1st. They have a first come first serve policy, so get in quick. In a slight change from previous years, they will only be offering one stall size (a large half table, $10 per stall) so as to accommodate more people.

Kids and newcomers tables:
We are introducing two new collective tables this year, a kids table and a newcomers table. These tables are for people who are interested in being a part of Zinefest but are not ready to have whole stall for themselves. You will be able to submit one zine to be part of a collective stall. The committee will facilitate the running of these stalls, and you are welcome to hang out and help sell your zines. Proceeds from these zines will be split equally among all the participants. The application to be a part of these stalls will also be posted here on October 1st, but will not have a cut off date.

The event will be all-ages-friendly, accessible for those with walking disabilities, and Zinefest committee members always will be on hand to help out. More specifics on accessibility will be provided closer to the time.

Wellington Zinefest is committed to being an inclusive, safe environment. They expect all participant and attendees to be mindful of their code of conduct, which you can read in full HERE.

 So register next Monday to take part in this great indie publishing festival! For more information, visit the Wellington Zinefest Facebook page HERE, and their blog HERE.

- AK!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Katie O'Neill wins 2 Eisner Awards!

Above: The Tea Dragon Society, by Katie O’Neill. Copyright Katie O'Neill 2018.

This year at the 30th annual Eisner Awards (the US comic-book Oscars for those not in the know), Christchurch based cartoonist Katie O'Neill took home 2 Eisner Awards! Best Publication for Kids (ages 9–12), and Best Webcomic, both for her webcomic (and subsequent print edition) of The Tea Dragon Society, published by Oni Press

At the ceremony her editor, Ari Yarwood of Oni Press accepted the awards on Katie's behalf. Congratulations to Katie for her amazing work! If you don't have a copy of The Tea Dragon Society, I suggest you rush out to your nearest comic retailer now!

Above: Aquicorn Cove by Katie O'Neill. Copyright Katie O'Neill 2018.

And if you want more Katie O'Neill comics, the good news is she has another book on the horizon, Aquicorn Cove. Here's the official synopsis and a preview:

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After and The Tea Dragon Society comes Aquicorn Cove, a heartfelt story about learning to be a guardian to yourself and those you love. 

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a big storm, Lana remembers how much she's missed the ocean-and the strong, reassuring presence of her aunt. As Lana explores the familiar beach, she discovers something incredible: a colony of Aquicorns, small magical seahorse-like creatures that live in the coral reef. 

Lana rescues an injured Aquicorn and cares for it with the help of her aunt, who may know more about these strange creatures than she's willing to admit. But when a second storm threatens to reach the town, choices made many years ago about how to coexist with the sea start to rise to the surface. Lana realizes she will need to find the strength to stand on her own, even when it means standing up to the people who she has always relied on to protect her. 

Available in Hardcover, Aquicorn Cove (ISBN:9781620105290) will be available October 17th 2018.

- AK!
Above: Pages from Aquicorn Cove by Katie O'Neill. Copyright Katie O'Neill 2018.  

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Tragicomic brings Shakespeare to Comics and Screens!

Above: From left:  Liv Scott as Isla Stevenson and Nova Moala-Knox as Hannah Moore. Photograph by Tabitha Arthur.

Tragicomic is a ground-breaking new digital media experience, debuting as both a webseries and a webcomic, inspired by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

The series is the latest project from The Candle Wasters, the SPADA New Filmmakers of the Year for 2017, a team of four young women (and a token dude) from Wellington. With help from New Zealand On Air, they make fierce, funny, feminist webseries that have so far amassed over 5 million views worldwide. 

The Candle Wasters are: Claris Jacobs, Elsie Bollinger, Minnie Grace, Robbie Nicol & Sally Bollinger. Their production name is derived from a Much Ado About Nothing quote which refers to people who stay up late at night wasting candles. Claris, Elsie, Minnie, and Sally met at Western Springs College in Auckland. They began making webseries when the youngest of the group was just 17. Robbie Nicol, of the popular political satire White Man Behind a Desk, joined the writing team in 2016.

Above: Nova Moala-Knox as Hannah Moore. Photograph by Tabitha Arthur.

Tragicomic follows Hannah Moore, a world weary 15yr old, she’s an aspiring cartoonist searching for the truth about her missing dad. Tragicomic invites you to revisit Hamlet and high school through the eyes of a teenage girl. Lovesick, isolated, and venting her feelings through her comics, Hannah is on a quest to discover what really happened to her absent father. All the while uncovering a secret from her family's past that will follow her for the rest of her life. Tragicomic is a ten part webseries and twenty part webcomic, created to be read and viewed together.

Tragicomic breaks new ground by inviting the audience to scroll through both film and cartoon components of the story. We see the protagonist, Hannah, upload her comics to the internet, and you can scroll down to see what she has created. The majority of comics are drawn by Sally Bollinger (who also co-directs the webseries).
Above: Tragicomic artwork from the comic version by Sally Bollinger.

Bollinger's comics have been published in The Millennial, and NZ woman's comics anthology Three Words, and the recent children’s Annual. In 2015 she received a mentorship from the Society of Authors to work on a graphic novel. Her mentor was cartoonist Dylan Horrocks, who also makes a Stan Lee-like cameo in Tragicomic, providing guidance and encouragement to Hannah as she develops her comics. Like one of Hamlet’s soliloquies, each comic gives the audience an insight into our hero’s mind. The webcomics grow increasingly dark as the fairytale characters grow to represent Hannah’s increasingly paranoid view of the people in her life.

You can watch part one of Tragicomic when it is released on YouTube and RNZ this Friday, 3rd of August. You can check out The Candle Wasters website HERE, and subscribe to their youtube channel HERE, so you don't miss any upcoming episodes!

- AK!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

INTERVIEW: Ant Sang on Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas!

Above:  Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang (left) and writer Michael Bennett (right).

In an exclusive interview for The Sapling (a great website dedicated to discussing children's literature), I talked to Ant Sang about his new graphic novel, Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas: working for writer Michael Bennett, his art process and rushing to meet those deadlines!

You can read the complete interview HERE.

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang & Michael Bennett is published by Penguin Random House NZ, and is available in bookstores now.
RRP:$30.00 ISBN: 9780143771241

- AK!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

EVENT: Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas Book Launch!

The new graphic novel Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas launches at Auckland comic-book store Heroes For Sale this Thursday night at 6.30pm!

Written by author/film maker Michael Bennett (In Dark Places) and illustrated by Ant Sang (Shaolin Burning),  Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas is a mind-bending sci-fi adventure.

An unsuspecting Helen is kidnapped by time-travelling ninjas and thrust into the year 2355 — a ruined future with roving gangs and ‘Peace Balls’, giant humming devices that enslave and control people’s minds. The Go-Go Ninjas have one goal: to destroy the Peace Balls. They believe that Helen knows how. Can Helen use her knowledge of the past to help them save the future?

Published by Penguin Random House NZ, it will be available at bookstores everywhere on July 2nd. But if you come to the event on Thursday 28th of June, you can get an advance copy signed by the author and artist! The event kicks off at 6.30pm at Heroes For Sale, 582 Karangahape Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland.

For more information on  Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas, you can visit the publisher's website HERE. And for more information on the event, visit the Heroes For Sale website HERE.

- AK!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

FIRST LOOK: Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang & Michael Bennett

Above:  The cover for Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang & Michael Bennett

Coming this July, Penguin Random House NZ presents a new graphic novel,  Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas from award-winning authors Ant Sang & Michael Bennett. And I've got an exclusive first look at some of the artwork!

In this exciting sci-fi adventure, Helen is kidnapped by time-travelling ninjas and thrust into the year 2355 — a ruined future with roving gangs and ‘Peace Balls’, giant humming devices that enslave and control people’s minds. The Go-Go Ninjas have one goal: to destroy the Peace Balls. They believe that Helen knows how. Can Helen use her knowledge of the past to help them save the future?

Above: Preview pages from Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang & Michael Bennett. Copyright  Ant Sang & Michael Bennett 2018. 

Ant Sang is one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed cartoonists and graphic novelists. His books have been published in New Zealand, North America, the United Kingdom, France and Taiwan. His bestselling graphic novel Shaolin Burning won an Honour Award at the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, and was in the Top Ten of the Nielsen BookScan charts for ten weeks. His cult comic series The Dharma Punks was released in 2014 as a graphic novel after a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, hitting its target goal after five days. Ant has also been a featured speaker at Taipei International Book Exhibition, and his work has featured in exhibitions. One of the original key creatives of the acclaimed television series Bro'Town, Ant won Achievement in Production Design awards for his work on the show.

Above: Preview pages from Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang & Michael Bennett. Copyright  Ant Sang & Michael Bennett 2018. 

Michael Bennett (Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Whakaue) is an award-winning New Zealand screenwriter and author whose films have been selected for numerous festivals including Cannes, Berlin, Toronto and New York. In 2008 Michael was the inaugural recipient of the Writers Award from the New Zealand Film Commission, and in 2005 he was awarded the British Council/New Zealand Writers Foundation Award. In 2011 Michael’s feature film Matariki won Best Feature Film Screenplay at the New Zealand Screenwriting Awards, and in 2013 he was awarded Best Documentary Screenplay for his documentary on the Teina Pora case, The Confessions of Prisoner T. He went on to publish In Dark Places in 2016, which won Best Non-Fiction Book at the Ngaio Marsh Awards and Best Biography/History at the Nga Kupu Ora Awards 2017.

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas will be released in bookstores everywhere on July 2nd, he's the product information:

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas 
Ant Sang & Michael Bennett 
ISBN: 9780143771241

- AK!

Above: Preview pages from Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang & Michael Bennett. Copyright  Ant Sang & Michael Bennett 2018.

Road to Armageddon: Tauranga and Christchurch 2018

The Armageddon Expo machine rolls on, with pop-culture events coming to Tauranga this weekend and Christchurch over Queens Birthday Weekend! 

The events will feature a star-studded line-up of TV and film guests, including: a dynasty of Luthors: John Shea (Lex Luthor from Lois & Clark) and Katie McGarth (Lena Luthor from Supergirl); as well a healthy guest list from the Arrowverse of DC Comics shows: Katrina Law, Paul Blackthorne, Echo Kellum, David Nykl (Arrow), Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash) and Mehcad Brooks (Supergirl). Other TV guests include: Garrett Wang (Star Trek: Voyager), Lauren German and Lesley-Ann Brandt (Lucifer), Daniel Portman (Game of Thrones), animation guests Christy Carlson Romano (Kim Possible), Brad Swaile (Death Note), WWE wrestler "Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, and international Cosplayer Ashlynne Dae.

Above: Comics guest Sloane Leong.

On the comics side of things, the international comics guest is Sloane Leong. Sloane is a self-taught cartoonist, artist and writer of Hawaiian, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Choctaw, Welsh and German ancestries. She explores themes of survival, displacement, relationships, spirituality, identity and mental illness through literary vehicles like science fiction, horror, adventure and slice-of-life genres.

Her work focuses on exploring silenced narratives from marginalized communities and people of color, to connect personally with individuals through storytelling, with an aim to cultivate a kinder, more understanding future. She has been self-publishing her own comics since she was 16 and has done various work for companies like Image Comics, Top Cow, Cartoon Network, DC, Dark Horse, Boom! and many more. Her current projects include: A Map to the Sun, to be published by First Second in 2019, and Prism Stalker from Image Comics.

The NZCC (New Zealand Comic Creators) will have a presence at both conventions, featuring a great selection of locally published comics titles from NZ cartoonists. I'll be attending the Tauranga convention with cartoonist/artist Ross Murray (Rufus Marigold), and the Funtime Comics team will be on hand for the Christchurch event. Local comics publisher Beyond Reality Media will also have a booth with their latest graphic novel releases!

Armageddon Tauranga will be held on May 26-27th, at the ASB Baypark Arena (81 Truman Lane, Mount Maunganui) from 10am to 5pm both days (Early Access from 9am available Sat 26th only). Tickets are available now through iTicket HERE, and at the gate on the day.

Christchurch Armageddon will be held on June 2-4th 2018, at the Horncastle Arena, Queen's Birthday Weekend. Open from 9am to 5pm all three days. Tickets are available now through Ticketek HERE, and at the gate on the day.

For more information on these events, visit the Armageddon Expo website HERE.

- AK!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

REVIEW: Out of the Woods by Brent Williams

Above: The cover of Out of the Woods by Brent Williams, illustrated by Korkut Öztekin.

In 2009 Brent Williams was a successful lawyer based in Wellington. He had build a career working in community law, creating services and resources to help vulnerable people - particularly children, and victims of domestic violence. After completing two major projects - the implementation of the Care of Children Act and the Parenting Through Separation Programme for the Family Court, he became unwell and was unable to continue working as a lawyer.

The graphic novel opens with a atmospheric scene of Brent returning home on a stormy night, the darkness of his kitchen enveloping him, growing into a claustrophobic forest of unease. He forces himself to 'snap out of it', he'll find his own solution to this situation - take a test, find the cure to this unseen force robbing him of his life and career. After exploring a variety of medical options, it's suggested that his symptoms point to the cause of his illness as depression. His first response is denial - "you can't be right, I'm a strong person!". He continues to try to work though it on his own, alienating himself form friends and family in the process. But after an anxiety attack, Brent finally acknowledges his illness and seeks help through counseling, to begins the journey of recovery - finding a path through the dark woods of depression back to the light.

Above: A page from Out of the Woods by Brent Williams, illustrated by Korkut Öztekin.

Williams' story is well told, and uses the visual medium of comics to its full potential, communicating a difficult subject in a clear fashion that is both relatable and dynamic. He does a great job of relating the world through his perspective during his illness - the colour is literally drained out of him and his surroundings, the artwork become blurry or jagged as anxiety and hallucinations set in. We also get to witness the quiet serenity of his good days, when the joy of simply living and enjoying music or a bike ride keeps depression at bay.

He's found a great collaborator in this project with Turkish illustrator, Korkut Öztekin. Previously known for his work on horror comics like Clive Barker's Hellraiser,  Öztekin is a master of atmosphere; communicating the inner turmoil and dread of depression, while still keeping the story grounded in reality. There's some great visual metaphors weaved into the storytelling, the hanging branches of a tree as a stand-in for the lungs is a nice example of using the visuals to reinforce the text. The spectre of death haunts several scenes at the story's darkest moments without feeling melodramatic; making plain just how high the stakes can be in the depths of depression.

Above: A page from Out of the Woods by Brent Williams, illustrated by Korkut Öztekin.

During his counselling, Williams revisits some of his childhood memories, particularly the overbearing presence of his father, well known property developer and philanthropist Sir Arthur Williams. Publicly, Sir Arthur was a respected leader of NZ society, but behind the doors of Williams' Karori home, domestic violence was a daily occurrence. Williams is bravely candid in sharing these revelations which help unlock his depression and sets him on the path to recovery, and will no doubt help inspire others to overcome their own feelings of self-doubt and anxiety about seeking help for depression.

Above: A page from Out of the Woods by Brent Williams, illustrated by Korkut Öztekin.

Out of the Woods has already found international acclaim, recently winning a silver medal at the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Awards. As graphic novels continue to branch out into previously unexplored areas of storytelling, Out of the Woods is a fine example of a graphic novel that uses the medium to tackle a difficult subject, and make a real difference.

Out of the Woods:  A Journey Through Depression and Anxiety
Brent Williams with Korkut Öztekin
ISBN: 9780473390068
$39.99 NZ

Brent Williams will be appearing this weekend at the Auckland Writers Festival, for a free event, Speaker's Corner: Into the Woods. For more information, you can visit the Auckland Writers Festival website HERE.

For more information on Out of the Woods, you can visit the book's website HERE.

If you suffer from depression or feel you are in crisis and need to talk to someone, please consider calling one of the following help lines:
Lifeline New Zealand: 0800 543 354 (Help anyone - 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (Help anyone - 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633 (Help young people & their families - 24/7)
Find a list of specialist NZ helplines here 
The Lowdown – Help young New Zealanders recognise and understand depression or anxiety – Help New Zealanders recognise and understand depression or anxiety

- AK!