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.

Synopsis:
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 
RRP:$30.00 
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
Depression.org – Help New Zealanders recognise and understand depression or anxiety

- AK!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

NZ Graphic Novel Picks for Best International Comics of 2017!


Above: Dream's of Here: Far from Home by Alex Cara. Copyright Alex Cara 2018.

Every year I contribute some New Zealand graphic novel picks for Paul Gravett's 'Best Comics of 2017: An international Perspective', highlighting some of the standout graphic novel from around the world published in 2017. There's some great international reads on this list from such countries as: Argentina, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Serbia, Singapore, Switzerland and the Philippines. 

Presented below are my New Zealand picks, along with links to their authors and respective websites where you can purchase your own copy!  I'll also be looking to review some of these in more detail in future reviews.


Out of the Woods by Brent Williams and Korkut Öztekin. Copyright Brent Williams 2018.

Out of the Woods
Brent Williams with Korkut Öztekin

In 2009 Brent Williams was a successful lawyer in Wellington, New Zealand, when he became unwell. He didn't know why he could no longer bring himself to work, see friends, or connect with family members. It was like he had fallen into a deep pit, from which there was no return. That pit was depression and anxiety. Brent's father, well known property developer and philanthropist Sir Arthur Williams had been a ruthless, overbearing force in his life. Publicly, Sir Arthur was a respected leader of NZ society, but behind the doors of Williams' Karori home, domestic violence was a daily occurrence.

Fast forward 40 years, Brent's past has caught up with him and held him in a vice-like grip. Denial, shame and a misguided belief he had to fight these illnesses on his own made his situation worse. Not until he acknowledged that he was ill and accepted help could his recovery begin. Out of the Woods is Brent's story of realization and recovery, told entirely through the watercolour illustrations of Turkish artist Korkut Öztekin. A highly original graphic memoir, it aim is to help people understand and overcome depression and anxiety.


Above: Moa by James Davidson. Copyright James Davidson 2018.

Moa

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!

The latest release from Earth's End Publishing is 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.

Author James Davidson is also an educator, serving as the Head of the Arts Faculty at Opunake High School in New Zealand. 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.


Above: Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People: Diary Comics by Bryce Galloway. Copyright Bryce Galloway 2018.

Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People: Diary Comics

Bryce Galloway second zine-derived book, Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People: Diary Comics pulls together nine years of Galloway's diary comics, first published in his zine of the same name. Within these entries you'll witness Bryce's ongoing sprint to catch the morning bus, see his children grow, watch Bryce deal with back pain and diarrhoea, meet his 'DW' (de facto wife) who halfway through this book becomes his wife. Actually, if you read closely you'll find lots of personal growth taking place on the page, from getting a cellphone to a promotion to Senior Lecturer at Massey University.

Unlike James Kochalka or John Porcellino's more conventionally styled diary comics, Galloway does away with panel boarders and (most) speech balloons to capture the notable moments of each day in an organic free-flowing style. The line-work is confidant and loose, capturing the energy and feeling of his memory of events rather than a more detailed rendering. Although this comes with its own unintended side effects: at one point DW calls him out on his depictions of her (which at times looks like a maniacal zombie).

And that's one of many enjoyable layers of this book, watching Galloway share his utterly fearless depiction of his daily life through his diary comics, while also having to consider his family's involvement and participation. Should he focus more on the 'sweeter moments'? He could, but as any reader will tell you, suffering makes for far more interesting art. Warts and all, this is a hugely enjoyable read. You'll come away feeling like you know a great deal about Galloway's day-to-day life, and perhaps be inspired to create a diary of you're own...if only we could all be this brave.


Above: Dream's of Here: Far from Home by Alex Cara. Copyright Alex Cara 2018.
Dreams of Here, Far from Home

'O! Fortunate reader; you will find within these pages nine settler narratives, fun for 'New Chums' and 'Gone Natives' alike, and rendered in extravagant colour. Thrill to the fears and fancies of these exotic intruders, with their night-terrors and naiveties, and dreams of here, far from home.'

With Dreams of Here, Far from Home, cartoonist Alex Cara has created a collection of early New Zealand colonial cartoons - appearing here as Settler Comics - that perfectly homage the newspaper cartoons and illustration plates of that bygone time, while infusing it with her own distinctive style and sly sense of humour. 

For an artist still in her twenties this is a remarkable book; building on the confidence of her first published work on the graphic novel, Nothing Fits (with writer Nate Tamblyn) from 2014, this publication announces the arrival of a fully fledged cartoonist destined for great things. If you like the historical and stylistic remixing of Moore and O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you'll love  Dreams of Here, Far from Home. Right now it is only available directly from the author on her website, but this deserves a wider audience - so seek it out, you won't be disappointed.


Above: Crow of Whareatua: A New Zealand War Story by Sid Marsh. Copyright Sid Marsh 2018.

Crow of Whareatua: A New Zealand War Story
Sid Marsh
Lasavia Publishing

Set in 1869, Te Kooti Arikirangi te Turuki is the founder of the Ringatū religion and commander of the deadliest Māori guerrilla force of the nineteenth century. Te Urewera is the battleground: a wilderness of forest, bird, mountain and waterway. Crow of Whareatua brings to life a one-month period of a brutal war, one which was to shape New Zealand’s destiny.

Originally self-published in 1999, Marsh's comics adaptation of Te Kooti's clashes with colonial forces in the New Zealand Land Wars was something of an oddity. At the time graphic novels were still looked down on in literary circles, and comics were on a downward spiral following the collecting bust of the 90's. There was no audience looking for an historical NZ graphic novel, told in stark black and white artwork reminiscent in its layout of the British war comics like Commando. Which is why it's great to now see Marsh's overlooked graphic novel getting a second life from Lasavia Publishing.

Crow of Whareatua is well researched and unconventional - Marsh's artwork is raw, sparse and uncluttered, which might turn off some traditional comics readers, but it rewards a closer reading. Marsh's passion for his subject is undeniable, making this a welcome addition to any respectable NZ graphic novel bookshelf.


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

The Tea Dragon Society
Katie O'Neill
Oni Press

Christchurch based cartoonist Katie O'Neill has quickly become one of our most successful cartoonists on the world stage. Having gained fans and recognition for her award-winning graphic novel, Princess Princess: Ever After, and locally for her contributions to Faction and High Water comics anthologies. Having concluded her webcomic series, The Tea Dragon Society was published last October as a large format hardcover from US publisher Oni Press.

The Tea Dragon Society is a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons. After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives--and eventually her own.

You can check out the full list of international recommendations at Paul's excellent website and hub for all things comics HERE.

- AK!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Road to Armageddon Wellington 2018


Armageddon is back for 2018, starting the year in grand style with its biggest event yet - Wellygeddon, headlined by The Avengers superstar Jeremy Renner! Taking place at the Wespac Stadium this Easter Weekend, from March 30th - April 1st, you can expect to see the pop culture crowds descend in force to meet media guests from such popular movies and TV shows as: Harry Potter, What We Do In The Shadows, Constantine, Supernatural, iZombie, Altered Carbon, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, The 100 and more.

Above: Artwork by Ben Stenbeck. Copyright Ben Stenbeck and Dark Horse Comics 2018.

As always though, here at Earth's End we're more focused on the comics guests appearing at the show, and this year there's a great line-up of local comic creators who are already making a mark on the comics industry, both here and overseas. 

Headlining the comic guests this year is Ben Stenbeck, the Dunedin based artist who has firmly established himself in the comics industry as one of Hellboy creator Mike Mignola's closest artistic collaborators. Best known for his artwork on the Eisner nominated series Baltimore, Stenbeck's other works include: Frankenstein Underground, Witchfinder, Hellboy and the BPRD 1953 and Lobster Johnson. His current series is Koshchei the Deathless, written by Mignola and published by Dark Horse Comics.

Above: Artwork by Al Barrionuevo. Copyright  Al Barrionuevo and DC Comics 2018.

Originally hailing from La Plata, Argentina, international comics guest Al Barrionuevo has worked extensively in American comics for a variety of publishers. He got his start drawing Legion for DC Comics, before starting an extended run on Batman: Gotham Knights. Other DC titles he has worked on include: Martian Manhunter, Countdown to Final Crisis, Teen TitansThe War That Time Forgot and The Authority. He has also drawn Loki, X-Men, Avengers: Solo and Storm for Marvel Comics, and several books for Valiant, including Ninjak.

Above: Artwork from The Warden Vol.4, published by Beyond Reality Media. Copyright Beyond Reality Media 2018.

Beyond Reality Media will be in attendance, with a variety of their titles available at the show, including: The Warden Vol.1-3, NowPocalypse, Attica Vol.1-3, One Must Break, The Darwin Faeries, The Inspiration Duncans, The Time Travelling Tourist, Prepocalypse Vol.1-2 and many more! The NZCC will also be at the BRM booth, with all the best graphic novels from local creators, including the latest issues of the anthology Funtime, and copies of NZ favourite titles, The Dharma Punks, Moa, The Heading Dog Who Split in Half, The Crow of Whareatua, Faction Comics and more!

Above: The Adventures of Jack Scratch by Craig Phillips. Copyright Craig Phillips 2018.

Taupo based artist Craig Phillips will be there to launch his latest children's graphic novel, The Adventures of Jack Scratch! Phillips is also the author of last year's Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts: Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods. So make sure you check out his books and artwork available at the show.


Above: Artwork from WWE #13 by Michel Mulipola. Copyright WWE Entertainment 2018.

Comic artist and wrestler Michel Mulipola will also be attending. His comics credits include the Headlocked series and WWE for BOOM! Studios! He's always busy drawing amazing commissions, so make sure you check him out near the IPW Wrestling arena!


Above: Artwork by Xephia. Copyright Kirsti Hogan 2018.

Artist/Designer extraordinaire - and Armageddon regular, Xephia aka Kirsti Hogan will be attending, and will no doubt have a great deal of art and prints available for sale over the weekend.

Above: Gunface by Paul Jason Young and Tim Hunger. Copyright Sonny Studios 2018.

Auckland based artist Paul Jason Young, artist of the crime comic series Gunface will attending the show under his Sonny Studios banner. He'll be releasing Gunface #5 at Armageddon, so it will be a good opportunity to catch up on the earlier issues and get a signed copy while you're there.

Above: The White Cloud Worlds logo.

White Cloud Worlds has released three collections of fantasy art from some of New Zealand's most respected artists. This is a great opportunity to pick up these collections of eye-popping artwork if you haven't already, and meet some of the artists in person.

With all these great guests in attendance you'll be hard pressed to find a better entertainment option in Wellington this Easter weekend! Armageddon Expo is open Friday March 30th from noon - 5pm, Saturday March 31st from 9am - 6pm, and Sunday April 1st 9am - 5pm. For more information, visit the official Armageddon website HERE, and advance tickets can be purchased through Ticketek HERE.

- AK!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

REVIEW: Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People: Diary Comics

Above: Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People: Diary Comics, cover by Bryce Galloway.

Diary comics, by virtue of their form, offer a particularly intimate view into the ongoing life of their author. The daily struggles at their day-job, their relationship and family, the small but notable incidents of everyday life - no matter how absurd or trivial. If it was a memorable part of their day, it goes on the page.

The cover for Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People: Diary Comics by Bryce Galloway perfectly communicates its contents: his daily life and thoughts expressed on paper, as if you were leafing though his memory one page at a time. Galloway is one of New Zealand's leading Zine makers, with 63 issues (and counting) of Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People produced over the last 15 years, with selections from 9 years worth of diary comics appearing in this collection.

Within these entries you'll witness Bryce's ongoing sprint to catch the morning bus, see his children grow, watch Bryce deal with back pain and diarrhoea, meet his 'DW' (de facto wife) who halfway through this book becomes his wife. Actually, if you read closely you'll find lots of personal growth taking place on the page, from getting a cellphone to a promotion to Senior Lecturer at Massey University.

Above: artwork from Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People: Diary Comics, cover by Bryce Galloway.

Unlike James Kochalka (American Elf) or John Porcellino's (Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man) more conventionally styled diary comics, Galloway does away with panel boarders and (most) speech balloons to capture the notable moments of each day in an organic free-flowing style, in roughly six drawing a page (give or take). The line-work is confidant and loose, capturing the energy and feeling of his memory of events rather than a more detailed rendering. Although this comes with its own unintended side effects: hilariously, at one point DW calls him out on his depictions of her (which at times looks like a maniacal zombie), fair call - in the second half of the book more care is taken in her visual representation.

And that's one of many enjoyable layers of this book, watching Galloway share his utterly fearless depiction of his daily life through his diary comics, while also having to consider his family's involvement and participation. Should he focus more on the 'sweeter moments'? He could, but as any reader will tell you, suffering makes for far more interesting art. Warts and all, this is a hugely enjoyable read. You'll come away feeling like you know a great deal about Galloway's day-to-day life, and perhaps be inspired to create a diary of you're own...if only we could all be this brave.

Above: artwork from Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People: Diary Comics, cover by Bryce Galloway. 

Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People: Diary Comics by Bryce Galloway is published by Pikitia Press, and available now from selected booksellers. For more information, you can also visit Bryce Galloway's website HERE.

Product information:
Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People: Diary Comics
Bryce Galloway
RRP: $20.00
ISBN:978092594688

- AK!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

International Comic Creators attend New Zealand Festival: Writers and Readers Events!

Above: Cartoonist Sonny Liew. Photo copyright Tom White 2018.

The New Zealand Festival kicks off the literary calendar for 2018 with Writers & Readers events, running from March 8th - 11th. As per usual, they have assembled a great international and local line-up of writers, including a wealth of acclaimed cartoonists. Visiting cartoonists include: Singaporean Sonny LiewSarah Glidden and Mimi Pond from the US, who will be appearing alongside local cartoonists/writers: Sharon Murdoch, Toby Morris, Sarah Laing, Brent Williams, Jonathan King and Dylan Horrocks.

Here's a rundown of the cartoonist and comics related events:

Above: The cover of The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew. Copyright Sonny Liew 2018.


In 2015 Singaporean cartoonist Sonny Liew released The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, an ambitious graphic novel that charts the life and career of a fictional comic book artist, Charlie Chan Hock Chye. By weaving together fact, fiction, and different genres, it tells the story of the formative years of Singapore's modern history and also the multi-faceted history of the comics medium itself. It was the bestselling local fiction title of that year, and went on to win the Singapore Literature Prize, and Book of the Year at the Singapore Book Awards in 2016. The following year it was nominated for six US comics industry Eisner Awards, winning three -  Best Writer/Artist, Best US Edition of International Material - Asia, and Best Publication Design.

He talks to local comics creator Dylan Horrocks (Hicksville, Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen) about the challenges of speaking truth via art.

Above: Mimi Pond. Photo Copyright Wayne White 2018.


The illustrative works of Mimi Pond, described by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast as “hilarious, terrifying, moving and compulsively readable”, have been pouring from her pen since she started at the National Lampoon magazine in the late ’70s. Since then, she has contributed to many publications such as The Village VoiceThe New York Times,  The Los Angeles Times and many more. She also notably wrote the first broadcast episode of The Simpsons, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" in 1989, which was nominated for two Emmy awards.

In her two graphic semi-memoirs, Over Easy and The Customer Is Always Wrong, she looks back at her art student days working Oakland diners in the drugs ’n’ sex-fuelled ’70s – and talks hospitality, morality, mortality and more with broadcaster Eva Radich.

Above: An image from Out of the Woods, a graphic novel by Brent Williams, illustrated by  Korkut Öztekin. Copyright Korkut Öztekin 2018.

MIMI POND & BRENT WILLIAMS: SHADING LIGHT AND DARK: Fri 9th March

Mimi Pond will also be appearing in conversation with Wellington writer Brent Williams. Mimi Pond recalls heady ’70s days working at a California diner in her acclaimed semi-memoirs Over Easy and The Customer is Always Wrong. Brent Williams pursued social justice at Wellington community legal aid organisations in the ’80s, hit the wall with depression then addressed his troubled family past in the graphic novel Out of the Woods, illustrated by  Korkut Öztekin.

Above: The cover of  Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq by Sarah Glidden. Copyrght Sarah Glidden 2018.

SARAH GLIDDEN: COMICS CORRESPONDENT: Sat 10th March

Seattle-based writer and illustrator Sarah Glidden works primarily in reportage comics. Her first book, How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less (2010), detailed her encounters with Israel’s internal conflict, and has since been translated into five languages. She returned to the Middle East in Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq (2016) – described as “an ambitious, nuanced and sprawling work of graphic non-fiction” (Rolling Stone).

She talks with former war correspondent and RNZ Morning Report co-host Susie Ferguson.


Above: The cover of  The Customer Is Always Wrong by Mimi Pond. Copyright Mimi Pond 2018.

SARAH GLIDDEN & MIMI POND: GRAPHICALLY PERSONAL: Fri 9th March

These two gifted American comics artists mine personal stories in graphic form. Sarah Glidden and Mimi Pond join in conversation on this panel to display and discuss the personal and political nature of their work.


Above: The cover of Mansfield and Me by Sarah Laing. Copyright Sarah Laing 2018.


This year, Katherine Mansfield fans celebrate the 120th anniversary of the famous New Zealander’s birth. Historian Redmer Yska, comics creator and illustrator Sarah Laing, and poet, novelist and critic Vincent O’Sullivan have all published on Mansfield's life and work. They discuss all things KM - particularly her singular legacy and place in Wellington’s history - with poet Kate Camp, who was the most recent Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellow, in residency at the writer's former South of France home.



How do you tap into your visual imagination? What makes a great illustration? And what’s it like living with one of the most popular first names of the 1980s and ’90s? All those questions and more will be addressed by comics creator, illustrator and graphic designer Sarah Laing (Mansfield and Me); award-winning designer and hand-letterer Sarah Maxey; and award-winning illustrator Sarah Wilkins, whose work appears in the bestselling anthology Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.

Chaired by Sarah Lang.


Above: Gun Lore, a cartoon by Sharon Murdoch. Copyright  Sharon Murdoch 2018.

POLITICAL PRICKING: Fri 9th March

Caricaturing, satirising and making fun of the powerful has been a popular and dangerous position since the days of the hieroglyph.

Discussing the challenges of drawing the right lines around current events are three top political cartoonists: Eisner Award–winning comics artist Sonny Liew from Singapore, and locals Sharon Murdoch (twice cartoonist of the year at the Canon Media Awards) and Toby Morris (The Side Eye); with filmmaker/cartoonist Jonathan King (Black Sheep).


Above: An illustration of the iconic D&D monsters, The Gelatinous Cube (!) by Dylan Horrocks.

MY DWARVEN CLERIC SLAYS YOUR ELF: Sun 11th March

Would you rather face chaotic evil or lawful evil? How high is your charisma? And what’s with those weird-looking dice? If you have the answers, you’ve probably rolled up your own characters and stories in role-playing games.

Join games maker Morgan Davie and comics creator and Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast Dylan Horrocks as they discuss player-generated games and their potential for great storytelling with novelist Danyl Mclauchlan.


Above: Bad Ape, one of the digitally created characters from the film, War for the Planet of the Apes. Copyright Weta Digital.


While this isn't strictly comics related, I imagine this event will also be of interest to pop culture fans. In this behind-the-scenes session, Visual Effects Supervisor Dan Lemmon shows and tells how rapid advancements in visual effects by Weta Digital allowed the creation of a large cast of digital apes displaying unprecedented and convincingly dramatic emotion and intelligence.

Dan will return to Wellington from attending the Oscars in Los Angeles, where War for the Planet of the Apes is nominated for Visual Effects, to show and tell how Weta Digital's cutting-edge technology now gives filmmakers the ability to tell stories limited only by their imagination.


With all these events happening over three days it's going to be a very busy weekend for comics fans in Wellington! For more information and to secure your tickets, visit the New Zealand Festival: Writers & Readers website HERE.

- AK!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Kickstarter: The Adventures of Jack Scratch by Craig Phillips

Above: Artwork from The Adventures of Jack Scratch by Craig Phillips. Copyright 2018 Craig Phillips.

Last year I reviewed the folk-tale comics collection, Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts by Taupo based cartoonist, Craig Phillips. That book featured fun retellings of famous international folk tales and myths, all presented in Phillips' robust artwork, with plenty of style and humourous flourishes. Craig is back this year with the first in a new children's graphic novel series, The Adventures of Jack Scratch!

Above: Artwork from The Adventures of Jack Scratch by Craig Phillips. Copyright 2018 Craig Phillips.

Several years ago Craig’s daughter asked him to make a book just for her. When he asked her what she’d like it to be about she said “cats!”, then “pirates!” and then, “pirate-cats!” and so Jack Scratch was born. The Adventures of Jack Scratch was developed over many meal times, and deep discussions, about all the types of things pirate cats might get up to. The resulting book follows the adventures of Jack Scratch -  pint size hero, swashbuckler, adventurer and singer of pirate ditties! Together with Cap’n Catnip - the world’s greatest mariner - and his Uncle Silver, Jack is about to embark on a quest to find the fabled treasure of the HISS- PANIOLA! 


The book is set to be published in March by ME Publishing, but to make that happen they have launched a Kickstarter campaign so you can be one of the first to receive a copy! There's lots of great rewards and goodies available for pledges, including pre-ordering a copy for only $25! The Adventures of Jack Scratch: The Quest for the Hiss-paniola is 52 full-colour pages in A4 (210x297mm), bound in hardcover with a cloth covered spine.

Visit The Adventures of Jack Scratch Kickstarter page HERE for more details and to pre-order your copy, and the Facebook page HERE for further updates!

- AK!