Wednesday, July 16, 2014

EVENT: Auckland Zinefest 2014!

Auckland Zinefest is back, look for the NZCC and fifty other great local comics, zines and small press stalls & workshops this Saturday July 19th, at the Old Folks Association, 8 Gundry street, off of K road! It kicks off from 12pm - 5pm, so we'll see you there!

- AK! (run off his feet with lots of crazy publishing/comics things going on, so more updates soon!).

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Contains Graphic Content: Comics Related Films at the NZIFF!

Above: John Hurt, Chris Evans and Jamie Bell in the film adaptation of Snowpiercer.

The 2014 New Zealand International Film Festival is rapidly approaching, kicking off in Auckland from July 17th - 3rd August, before going on the road to twelve other venues around the country. For those viewers with a love of comics and animation, I'm going to highlight some of great comics/graphic novel related film in this year's Festival line-up.

Above: A page from the French graphic novel Snowpiercer, by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette.

One of the most talked about films of the year so far is Snowpierceradapted from the French graphic novel series by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette, and directed by Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho (The Host). Set in a dystopian near future, Snowpiercer is mankind's last refuge from a new ice age, a lone, massive train circling the globe in a non-stop journey of survival against a now uninhabitable environment. Inside the train is segregated, with the poor lower class workers in the back carriages, and the elite class living in luxury at the front. This imbalance is about to be challenged when one of the workers, Curtis (Chris Evans), leads a desperate rebellion to take control of the train - by fighting their way to the front.

Described as 'visually stunning' and 'groundbreaking' by critics, this film has proven to be an instant cult classic, and well worth catching on the biggest screen you can find! More details and show times can be found HERE.

Above: A still from We Are the Best!, directed by Lukas Moodysson.

Coming from Sweden, We Are the Best! follows two rebellious teenage girls, Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin), who cut school to form their own punk band. They don't let the fact they are 'musically challenged' get in the way, and recruit a third, more experience musician - Hedwig (Liv LeMoyne), to complete their trio. 

Above: A page from Never Goodnight by Coco Moodysson. Copyright Coco Moodysson 2014.

This punk 1980's era coming-of-age story is written and directed by Lukas Moodysson, adapted from his wife's graphic novel, Never Goodnight by Coco Moodysson. More details and show times can be found HERE.

Above: A still from REALITi, directed by Jonathan King.

Now for some local connections: a filmmaker and more recently a prolific cartoonist, Jonathan King (Black Sheep, Under the Mountain) returns to filmmaking with this low-fi science fiction thriller, REALITi. Written by his comics collaborator, novelist Chad Taylor, REALITi introduces us to Vic Long (Nathan Meister), a media executive with a young family and a bright future. But when a petty crime throws a strange light on the world he has made, he begins to question the very facts of his existence. 

In their approach to making this paranoid thriller, the filmmakers stated, "We wanted to depict the modern urban landscape of New Zealand: the cities and suburbs, the corporate interests, and the fears we import from overseas". Jonathan King will also be making a guest appearance at the Auckland and Wellington screenings. More details and show times can be found HERE.

Above: A still from Over the Moon, featuring Anna Jullienne as Connie Radar.

Featuring in the New Zealand's Best 2014 short film competition, Over the Moon is a impressive adaptation of Karl Wills' Connie Radar min-comic series from The Comicbook Factory. Directed by James Cunningham, the seven minute short features a witty adaptation by Wills and Timothy Kidd, brought to life with the aid of some amazing effects work by a team of students from the Media Design School

The short is in competition here for the Madman Entertainment Jury Prize, and has also been selected to screen at the Comic-Con International Film Festival in San Diego later this month. More details and show times can be found HERE.

Above: A still from The Tale of Princess Kaguya.

The latest film from Studio Ghibli, The Tale of Princess Kaguya takes its inspiration from the traditional Japanese folk-tale 'The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter'. Animated in the hand-drawn style of a storybook and set in an unspecified time, a bamboo cutter discovers a miniature princess, Kaguya, concealed in a bamboo shoot. He returns home with his curious discovery to show his wife, only to have it blossom before their eyes into a full gown baby. They adopt the child, who grows quickly for her age, earning her the nick-name 'bamboo' from the other village children. 

When he parents find gifts of gold and fine silk in the forest, they take it as a sign of Kaguya's royal lineage, and leave their pastoral lifestyle behind to raise her as a royal princess. From there the story develops in surprising and unexpected ways, taking a unique spin on the traditional princess fairy tale - from the battle of suitors to the revelation of her true heritage. More details and show times can be found HERE.

For more information on NZ International Film Festival sessions, screenings and events in your area, check out there website HERE.

- AK!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

REVIEW: Holocaust Rex Book 1: At the Cursed Gates of Koch by Karl Wills & Timothy Kidd

Above: The cover of Holocaust Rex Book 1: At the Cursed Gates of Koch by Karl Wills & Timothy Kidd. Copyright Karl Wills & Timothy Kidd 2014.

The latest tijuana bible to roll off the ComicBook Factory press is Holocaust Rexa medieval fantasy comic by Karl Wills and co-writer Timothy Kidd (Came the Dawn).

After exploring space and superhero misadventures in Connie Radar and Princess Seppuku, this is a genre gear shift for Wills, who is more than up for the challenge. His trademark clear line work and attention to detail here is a treat, creating an immersive world - from the prop details (swords, armor), to appropriate buildings and extras, it's all there along with authentic rotting corpses and flies!

Above: Unlettered preview page from Holocaust Rex Book 1: At the Cursed Gates of Koch by Karl Wills & Timothy Kidd. Copyright Karl Wills & Timothy Kidd 2014.

We enter with the story already in motion: Rex is in pursuit of an unknown quarry. His journey is increasingly paved with death, as he encounters a plague victim and then a graveyard, before reaching the quarantined Gates of Koch. Plot wise, we only get a few scenes to chew over, but as with every ComicBook Factory production it's the staging of these scenes that continue to entertain, with expertly drawn body language and actions selling the gallows humor - of which there's plenty to enjoy here.

Volume 2 is already in the works, so I'm looking forward to discovering more about the mysterious Rex (why is he seeking doctors from Nasso? Does it have something to do with his stitched up torso?) and the kingdom of Koch - there's a very handy map on the back of this issue to help you get the lay of the land.

Holocaust Rex Book 1: At the Cursed Gates of Koch by Karl Wills & Timothy Kidd is available to order from the ComicBook Factory HERE for $9.95NZ. Also remember to join the ComicBook Factory Facebook HERE for a sneak peek at Book 2!

- AK!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Faction #3 is unleashed!

Above: The cover for Faction #3, by Ben Stenbeck. Copyright Ben Stenbeck/Faction Comics 2014.

The latest issue of NZ's premier comics anthology Faction is out now!

Issue #3 features a line-up of all-star local comics talent, including: Tim Gibson (Moth City), Li Chen (Extra Ordinary Comics), Katie O' Neill, Mat Tait & Michael Brown, Jonathan King, Cory Mathis, Toby Morris (Don't Puke on Your Dad), and Mukpuddy, with a cover by Ben Stenbeck (Baltimore) and an introduction by yours truly!

Its 86 pages of full-colour comics for $24.95 (+postage), which you can order online HERE or look for it at selected comics and bookstore retailers.

- AK!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Vote Hicksville for the Whitcoulls Top 100 Books!

Above: The Whitcoulls Top 100 Books and Hicksville by Dylan Horrocks.

This week saw the launch of the latest Whitcoulls Top 100 Books voting campaign, asking local readers to vote for their favourite books. The Top 100 has been around for nearly 20 years, and in that time has been topped by perennial best sellers like Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and more recent literary sensations like A Game of Thrones and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

In the past it has featured such New Zealand classics as Keri Hulme's The Bone People...and I wanted to list more, but a quick glance at the current Top 100 List reveals there is not a single NZ title on there, which is totally shocking to me! (apparently their place has been usurped by populist drivel like Fifty Shades of Grey...). Now before you go casting your vote for Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries, I'd like you to consider the graphic novel Hicksville by Dylan Horrocks.

Above: Hicksville Author Dylan Horrocks. Photographed by Grant Maiden.

A bona fide New Zealand classic, Hicksville was first published in the US and Canada by Black Eye Press in 1998, and attracted international acclaim from comics and literary critics alike. The Comics Journal wrote, “New Zealand’s recent cultural revival, which has brought us Keri Hulme’s The Bone People in literature and Jane Campion’s The Piano in film, now has a new ambassador in comics: Dylan Horrocks.”

Since 1998 it has been translated into several languages, including French, Spanish, German and Italian. After much demand, it finally received a New Zealand edition from Victoria University Press in 2010. Over the years Horrocks has been selected from a very short list of celebrated local authors to represent our literature internationally at festivals and events in Germany, England, Italy and beyond, largely due to Hicksville's international reputation as a landmark graphic novel.

Given it's international and local standing, I think its well past time Hicksville made the Whitcoulls Top 100 Books!

To make this happen, it's very simple: you can vote at the Whitcoulls website HERE, or fill out an entry form in any Whitcoulls store. And for voting, you go in the draw to WIN 1 of 3 $1000 Whitcoulls Gift Cards! (see their website for full terms and conditions). 

You get to vote for your 3 favourite books and authors, so after voting for Hicksville and Dylan Horrocks, you might want to consider voting for some other very worthy NZ graphic novels currently in print: Shaolin Burning by Ant Sang, Don't Puke of Your Dad by Toby Morris, Incomplete Works by Dylan Horrocks, Kimble Bent: Malcontent by Chris Grosz, The Blastosaurus series by Richard Fairgray & Terry Jones, The Darwin Faeries by William Geradts and Richard Fairgray, Triumph by Greg Broadmore, Mr Unpronounceable Adventures by Tim Molloy, Nice Day For a War by Chris Slane & Matt Elliott, or ((shameless plug)) From Earth's End: The Best of New Zealand Comics by Adrian Kinnaird!

Voting ends Sunday 22nd of June, so lets get voting and make this happen! I'll also be tweeting about it, so join in at #VoteHicksville!

- AK!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

News From Earth's End: Late May Edition

Above: Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen by Dylan Horrocks. Copyright Dylan Horrocks 2014.

It's been a busy time here at Earth's End Central, so today I'm going to cover the recent developments in the NZ comics community over the last few weeks.

VUP has just released a preview of the cover from their forthcoming New Zealand edition of Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen by Dylan Horrocks due for release in November. This will collect the complete story that Horrocks started serialising in Atlas and then later on his website HERESam Zabel and the Magic Pen will also be simultaneously published in the US and Canada from Fantagraphics, and in Europe from Casterman.

Above: Tim Gibson artwork for Wellington brewery Garage Project's latest beers: Umami Monster & MECHA-HOP! Copyright Garage Project 2014.

Two items that seem to go naturally together (well, according to most of the cartoonists I know) are comics...and beer! Moth City creator Tim Gibson has produced the artwork for Garage Project's two latest beers: Umami Monster & MECHA-HOP! Created for competition in the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular 2014, they will certainly be eye-catching with Gibson's Godzilla inspired labels and advertising artwork! There may even be some mini-comics printed to support this release, so keep an eye out...

Above: Garage Project's award-winning beer, Cockswain’s Courage Double Barreled Porter.

Garage Project also recently won a Silver Medal at the World Beer Cup for Cockswain’s Courage Double Barreled Porter, inspired by Greg Broadmore's Lord Cockswain character ("tastes like war!"), so comics inspired labels may be their lucky charm!

Above: An rough for a advert for the PYE Isotronic Record Player, in comics form by Dick Frizzell. Copyright Dick Frizzell 2014.

Staying in advertising, readers of my book From Earth's End: The Best of New Zealand Comics will know about Dick Frizzell's love of comics and the inspiration he drew from them for his art and advertising work. In the 1970s and 80's, Frizzell produced a number of advertisements in comics form for such products as Everready batteries and Levi's Jeans. He recently uncovered this pencil rough created to advertise the PYE Isotronic FL 1000 Record Player, and generously allowed me to re-post it here. As Dick commented, "I turned my ad work into comics at every available opportunity".

Earlier this month, Wellington City Libraries and comic book store Graphic joined forces to celebrate Free Comic Book Day with the event, Comicfest 2014 - featuring a series of comics related workshops and events. 

Above: Cartoonists talking 'shop', from left: Grant Buist, Robyn E. Kenealy and Ant Sang.

This included two panel discussions at the Wellington City Library. One featuring Ant Sang (The Dharma Punks, Shaolin Burning), Robyn E. Kenealy (Roddy's Film Companion, American Captain) and Grant Buist (Jitterati, Brunswick), that you can listen to HERE.

Above from left: Paul Tobin and Greg Broadmore.

The second was a Q&A with Paul Tobin, editor of the NZ fantasy art book, White Cloud Worlds, and Greg Broadmore, creator of the Dr. Grordbort series, that you can listen to HERE.

Above: One of the Auckland Art Gallery's framed pieces by NZ comics pioneer, Noel Cook, on display for my talk at the Auckland Writers Festival on From Earth's End: The Best of New Zealand Comics.

In the lead up to my appearance at the Auckland Writers Festival to discuss my book and the history of New Zealand comics, I did two insightful interviews that might be of interest: one with Renee Liang from The Big Idea that you can read HERE, and one with Courtney Peters from Gather and Hunt, which you can read HERE. Leading book blogger Graham Beattie also reviewed my talk at the festival on National Radio HERE.

The Dharma Punks Kickstarter is still going strong, having reached it's minimum goal target, we are now pushing to make this collection as high quality and available as possible! We could still use your support, so click over and check out some of our exclusive Kickstarter rewards that will not be available anywhere else!

Now to ease you into the weekend, here's some support videos for The Dharma Punks to watch from fellow cartoonists, Dylan Horrocks and Sarah Laing!

- AK!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

WIN Tickets to From Earth's End at the Auckland Writers Festival 2014!

Next weekend I'll be participating in the Auckland Writers Festival 2014, giving a one hour talk on my recent book From Earth's End: The Best of New Zealand Comics, at the Auckland City Art Gallery, on Saturday 17th of May, from 1.15 - 2.15pm. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster HERE. Or visit the Auckland Writers Festival page HERE for more event details.

The talk will be a journey through the history on New Zealand comics, with plenty of rare, amazing visuals from some of our greatest forgotten comics and creators. As a special treat, there will also be original artwork from pioneering NZ cartoonist Noel Cook on display - not seen in public for over thirty years!

Now I have TWO DOUBLE PASSES to giveaway for this event! I'll be giving away one pass away here and one on the From Earth's End Facebook page HERE, so here's how it works: to go in the draw to win one of the passes I want you to leave a comment below (or on the Facebook page) telling me who your favourite NZ cartoonists is, and your favourite work by that creator (for example: Dylan Horrocks, Hicksville). Oh, and one entry per person!

Entries will close on Tuesday, 13th of May at 12 noon, and I'll be drawing the winners names that evening at 6pm and posting them here and on Facebook. You must be an Auckland, NZ resident to enter, as that's where the talk is taking place, and you'll need to pick up the tickets from the CBD prior to the event.

So get posting, and hope to see you there!

- AK!