Before his best-selling graphic novel Shaolin Burning, cartoonist Ant Sang was known for his highly ambitious comic series The Dharma Punks. A graphic novel published in eight chapters from 2001 - 2003, the story follows Chopstick, a punk from Auckland who becomes embroiled in an anarchist plot to blow up Bobo's, a multinational fast food restaurant. Unable to move on from the recent death of his friend, and struggling to reconcile his spiritual path with his political actions, Chopstick's journey is a meditation on life, love, friendship, and blowing things up!
At almost 400 pages, it was an epic undertaking that struck a chord with local comics readers, becoming one of the highest selling local comic books of all time; it was available from most retailers, and in some comics stores it even out sold such chart topping comics as Uncanny X-Men and Amazing Spider-Man. The comic series helped launch Ant's career as a go-to creative, leading to his award-winning design work on the animated TV series Bro' Town.
At a special event held at the Auckland Central Library, 44-46 Lorne St, Auckland Central, on Thursday May 1st, I'll be hosting a conversation with Ant Sang, looking back at this landmark comic series: discussing its origins, Ant's creative process: from scripting to final art work, marketing, distributing the series and more! If you are an aspiring comic artist or designer, this will be a great chance to go behind the scenes into the mechanics of creating a graphic novel.
The talk is a FREE event held at Auckland Central Library, Level 3, from 6pm - 8pm on Thursday, May 1st. There will be refreshments available from 5.30pm before the talk starts. You can find more details at the Auckland Libraries events page HERE.
And there will also be an exciting NZ comics publishing announcement on the night - trust me, you won't want to miss this!
I'll be discussing the history of New Zealand comics and their creators; covering our early comics pioneers like Noel Cook and Eric Resetar, examining the forgotten rise and fall of the local comics industry in the 1950s, through to the contemporary cartoonists of today. And as an added bonus, I've arranged for three pieces of artist Noel Cook's original artwork to be displayed at the talk. Part of the Auckland Art Gallery collection, these pieces have not been viewed in public since 1979 - so this is a great opportunity to see rare examples of one of our greatest cartoonists artwork up close!
Above Left: an early Noel Cook sci-fi comic Adrift in Space (1940/50s). Right: Cook outside the Auckland Art Gallery, 1979. Copyright the Noel Cook Estate 2014.
For more information on Noel Cook's career and the turbulent history of comics in New Zealand, you can find From Earth's End: The Best of New Zealand Comics in stores now! (or purchase online HERE). Here's a brief sample of some of the great press its picked up since its release in November:
'From Earth's End: The Best of New Zealand Comics is Kinnaird's lavish survey of local comics past and present, bringing back the lost world and showcasing the one that grew, and is still growing...' - NZ Listener
'...an achievement of great beauty – a satisfyingly weighty paperback filled with colour and a breadth of imagery and concept that is truly breathtaking. This book belongs on a coffee table where it can be stumbled across and dipped into, with new discoveries waiting to be made on every page.' - Metro Magazine
'...the history of comics, and New Zealand comics in particular, remain a mystery to most, and From Earth's End goes some way towards rectifying that, while still remaining incredibly entertaining. It's essential for anybody who has had a passing interest in local comics, and a beautiful book in its own right.' - The New Zealand Herald
'This is a fantastic book, and I use that word in its comic book ‘sense’ and in my own. The level of research, the full prints of stories or sequences, and the respect Kinnaird clearly has for his topic and the artists who work in the genre is very clear. He knows his stuff and it shows.' - Booksellers NZ
'The purpose of this book is to help New Zealanders rediscover their comics legacy, to join Kinnaird "at Earth's end and celebrate one of our nation's best kept secrets". The secret is out now and is one every New Zealander should let themselves in on.' - New Zealand Books Quarterly Review
Tickets: Earlybird $20 (before Weds 14th May), standard $25, Patron $15, student $12.50. You can purchase tickets online HERE, or in person at the Aotea Centre Box Office or any Ticketmaster outlet, or phone (09) 970 9700 or 0800 111 999 (note that service fees may apply).
Above: The Etherington Brothers. Artwork copyright the Etherington Brothers 2014.
If you're interested in comics, cartoons and illustration, here are some other Writers Festival sessions that might appeal:
UK cartooning brothers Robin (the writer) & Lorenzo Etherington (the artist) produce all-ages comics, including the graphic novels Monkey Nuts and Baggage, as well as a host of licensed comics including: Transformers, Star Wars, The Terminator, Kung Fu Panda and many more. They will be sharing their adventures in words and pictures in front of a live audience, great for ages 5-10, so bring the kids along for some infectious cartooning fun!
There will be a morning and afternoon session, on Sunday May 18th, 10 - 10.30pm & 1 - 1.30pm. These are FREE family events, but tickets will need to be collected for space allocation, order them HERE.
Above: A cartoon by Michael Leunig. Copyright Michael Leunig 2014.
Tickets: Earlybird $20 (before Weds 14th May), standard $25, Patron $15, student $12.50. available HERE.
In 1999, Michael Leunig was declared an Australian Living Treasure. A cartoonist, poet and cultural commentator, his drawings and philosophies have delighted and inspired generations – and been stuck on countless fridges. In conversation with writer Kate De Goldi, he talks about his work, his life and his latest titlesHoly FoolandThe Essential Leunig: Cartoons From A Winding Path. This session will also feature live on-stage drawing!
So book now for some great comics related events! For more information on the Auckland Writers Festival, May 14-18th 2014, check out the official website HERE.