Monday, March 1, 2021

Bristle Annual 2021 Launch!

Above: The cover for Bristle Annual 2021 by Sara Riordan.

UPDATE: The launch is cancelled due to uncertainty relating to the current COVID-19 Alert Levels, but keep an eye out for this new issue of Bristle at local zine and comics events.

There's a new Bristle Annual launching this Saturday in Wellington (as long as the COVID-19 Alert Levels are eased by then...). The new issue features stories by: Matt Kelly, Lorenzo, Gus Mitchell, James James, Sanjana Khusal, Indira Neville, Bryce Galloway, Aaron Christiansen, David Tulloch, and Brent C Willis.

- AK!

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Mail Drop Review: The Adventures of Maureen Cringe

Above: The Adventures of Maureen Cringe by Joe Wylie. Copyright Joe Wylie 2021.

I was recently lucky enough to receive a limited edition copy of The Adventures of Maureen Cringe by Joe Wylie, collecting the complete Maureen Cringe comics that appeared in the iconic NZ comics anthology series Strips, issues #2, 3 and 4/5 in the late 1970s. Maureen Cringe is a Penrose Shoe Factory worker who is on a flight to Kathmandu, when she is inexplicably transported to the 26th century. Rescued from Martians by the Ultratibetan musical warrior Omo K'Chang, she joins the crew of the spaceship Karma Dzong and becomes a celebrity musician in the distant future. 

Above: Artwork from The Adventures of Maureen Cringe by Joe Wylie. Copyright Joe Wylie 2021.  

Cartoonist Joe Wylie had visited Nepal, and the traditional Buddhist art techniques he studied there informed his artwork for the strip, which captures the psychedelic flavour of the sixties and seventies music scene, and even hints at the art direction associated with rave music 20 years later - which feels suitably appropriate for a time-travelling musician stranded in the distant future.

It's great to see these strips all compiled together in one place by designer/artist Matt Campbell Downes. The copy I have was from a limited print run of 100 copies, but I've heard there are rumblings of potentially making this available in a larger print run so that everyone can enjoy this lost kiwi comics classic. If and when this happens I'll be sure to update this post with a link for purchase.

- AK!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Summer Reads: Lockdown, This is Not a Pipe and The Side Eye 2020 Annual

There were some great local graphic novels released towards at the end of last year, so while the weather is still fine, here's three graphic novel titles by New Zealand authors to catch up on - preferably somewhere comfortable with a cold drink on hand!

Like scenes from a science fiction novel, COVID-19 spread like a dark storm across planet Earth. When the virus came to the faraway islands of Aotearoa New Zealand, the nation’s team of five million went into lockdown.

Nineteen of the best comic artists from around Aotearoa New Zealand have created stories to mark this time. Featuring: Alex Cara, Hana Chatani, Li Chen, Miriama Grace-Smith, Sloane Hong, Ruby Jones, Sarah Laing, Sarah Lund, Toby Morris, Sharon Murdoch, Ross Murray, Ant Sang, Coco Solid, Anthony Stocking (Deadface Comics), Mat Tait, Jessica Thompson Carr (Māori Mermaid), Zak Waipara, Tokerau Wilson and Jem Yoshioka!

Above: Artwork by Ross Murray from  Lockdown: Tales from Aotearoa.

ISBN: 978-1-877375-65-1  
108 pages
Hardback, 275 x 195mm
Published by Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū 
Available from all good bookstores and the Christchurch Art Gallery HERE

This Is Not A Pipe by Tara Black

I’ve decided to document my life in pictures. It’s hard to draw the pole, because of the pole. Beth has a pole through her arms. This is not a metaphor. A metaphor would be a lot less inconvenient. On the other side of the room, Kenneth is creating a new religion. He thinks narrative is the operating principle of the universe. He also thinks he’s the hero of Beth’s story. Beth is worried he’s going to leave her. The creatures living in the pole may have stolen her cat.

Tara Black’s comic is surreal, dark, sad, perversely joyful, and if you bet someone they couldn’t find another book remotely like it, you would win. It’s a little bit about being married to Kenneth. It’s a little bit about losing your cat. It’s definitely not about the pole.

I’ve been told I hold my pen wrong. But it’s the only way I can.

‘One of the most potent, unsettling texts I’ve encountered.’  —Tracey Slaughter

'Poetic, whimsical and painfully honest.' —Dylan Horrocks

Above: Artwork from This Is Not A Pipe by Tara Black. 

ISBN: 9781776563227  
160 pages  
Paperback, 165 x 210mm
Published by Victoria University Press
Available from all good bookstores and VUP HERE

The Spinoff is excited to release the first edition of The Side Eye Annual - a printed collection of Toby Morris' outstanding Side Eye comics published on The Spinoff throughout 2020.

From a dentist's office to a glow-worm cave to a recording studio with beloved band, 'The Beths', Toby Morris’s monthly comic, The Side Eye has been everywhere in 2020. Juggling a pandemic, an election and a few rare months in between, this year Toby’s blend of reporting, opinion and visual journalism has been more crucial than ever. This edition also features a special introduction from managing editor Duncan Greive.

Above: A montage of artwork from this year's 
The Side Eye comics by Toby Morris.

Published by the Spinoff and available to order from their website HERE, and if you're lucky Unity Books in Auckland and Wellington may also have some copies in store.

So do yourself a favour and pick up these books while there's still some free time to read before 2021 really gets going!

- AK!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

EVENT: The COVID-19 Diaries, New Comics by Sarah Laing

Sarah Laing, Wellington cartoonist and author of the graphic novels Mansfield & Me and Let Me Be Frank, is having an exhibition to showcase The COVID-19 Diaries, comics she created during and about the first COVID-19 Lockdown. The exhibition includes watercolours and some GIANT comics (we're talking A0 sized comics, people!).

The opening is this coming Monday, 7th of September between 4.30pm and 7pm at Bowen Galleries, 39 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington. If you can't make it to the opening, the exhibition will be on until the 27th of September. It sounds like there will also be printed comics for sale, so get along and view/buy some great local lockdown comics!

You can also read Sarah's COVID-19 Diary comics and other stories on her website HERE.

- AK!

Sunday, August 16, 2020

NZ Graphic novels winners at the NZ Book Awards for Children & Young Adults!

The winners of the NZ Book Awards for Children & Young Adults were announced this week, and two titles with graphic novel storytelling elements were honoured with wins in three different categories.

Mophead, written and illustrated by Selina Tusitala Marsh won both the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award and the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction. Mophead recounts Marsh’s journey from self-conscious child unsure of her place in the world to being New Zealand’s Poet Laureate rubbing shoulders with world leaders and literary luminaries, and delivers a powerful message that your difference is what makes a difference. Here's what the judges had to say:

This magic book reaches past our brains and squeezes life into our hearts and imaginations. Mophead places its writer at the centre of her own story, but also draws lines out to all the stories and histories that make up an individual: cultures, literature, family and education. With exquisite design and production, it is part picture book, part graphic novel, part memoir, part poem – its form is exactly what it wants and needs to be, which is the message of the book too. Mophead is clever and joyful and inspiring, with not a smidgen of pretension or condescension. It is – dare it be said – perfect.

The Adventures of Tupaia, written by Courtney Sina Meredith and illustrated by Mat Tait won the Russell Clark Award for Illustration. The Adventures of Tupaia tells the incredible story of Tupaia, Tahitian priest navigator, who sailed on board the Endeavour with Captain Cook on his first voyage to Aotearoa. Here are the judges feedback on the illustrations:

Mat Tait’s illustrations reach the reader on an intellectual, gut and aesthetic level. They teach us about our history in part by engaging our emotions, via dramatic perspectives and powerful colours. We witness a battle for power as we journey through the Pacific, and are struck by confusion and grief. A clever combination of modes is used: comic strips, vignettes, full spreads of starry skies, and symbols from throughout the Pacific. The pared back, simple lines and limited colours give us the sense that history isn’t merely something from the past – it’s still happening now. These illustrations are modern and cool – but with an urgent fire in their belly.  

Congratulations to Selina Tusitala Marsh and Mat Tait on their wins! Both Mophead and The Adventures of Tupaia are available from booksellers now. You can read about all the winners at the NZ Book Awards website HERE.

- AK!

NEW RELEASE: The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King

Above: The cover of The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King. Copyright Jonathan King 2020.

Out this month is The Inkberg Enigma a new mystery graphic novel from Wellington filmmaker/cartoonist Jonathan King. King's previous films include, Black Sheep and Under the Mountain, with his comics have appeared online and in the Faction anthology and my book, From Earth's End: The Best of New Zealand Comics.

The Inkberg Enigma is a graphic-novel mystery adventure for eight- to twelve-year-olds in which a girl and boy uncover the secret that has corrupted a town. Miro and Zia live in Aurora, a fishing town nestled in the shadow of a mysterious castle. Miro lives in the world of books; Zia is never without her camera. The day they meet, they stumble on a secret. With Zia determined to discover more, a reluctant Miro is pulled into a real-life adventure.

I've always enjoyed King's classic 'ligne claire' style of cartooning, which is sure to appeal to NZ readers young and old who have enjoyed Hergé's Tintin adventures - a firm favourite in local libraries for decades. It took 3 years to create and is sure to be a treat for that younger reader in your house who enjoys comics with a local flavour and a dash of suspenseful adventure! 

You can read an insightful Q&A interview with Jonathan on the creation of the book and his influences HERE.

And here's a preview of the book:

The Inkberg Enigma is available now from Gecko Press and all good bookstores for $29.99 NZ. 
Reader Age: 8-12 year
Book Size: 27 × 20.5 cm
ISBN: 9781776572663  

- AK!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Quarantoon Episode 2: Sarah Laing

Dylan Horrocks continues his interview series Quarantoon, in this new episode featuring cartoonist Sarah Laing (Mansfield & Me). They discuss the process behind her daily comics diary, The COVID-19 Diaries. There's also a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at her sketchbooks and writing process for Mansfield & Me, and a discussion about the future of graphic design in the current climate (the recent collapse of Bauer Media and the NZ magazine industry, and the rise of social media). It's a great conversation that you can check out above, or on Youtube HERE.

- AK!

Monday, April 13, 2020

NZ Cartoonists respond to COVID-19

Above: The 'Flatten the Curve' GIF by  Toby Morris and Dr Siouxsie Wiles.

New Zealand is just over halfway through it's Level 4 mandatory lock-down, a national effort to eradicate the COVID-19 virus from our shores. During this pandemic, cartoonist Toby Morris has collaborated with Dr Siouxsie Wiles (Associate Professor and head of the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at the University of Auckland) to produce illustrated (and animated) articles for The Spinoff to help educate the public on COVID-19: how the virus spreads, best practice to protect ourselves from infection, and generally boiling down complex ideas related to the virus into easy to understand articles.

Above: NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern holding up a printed copy of Toby Morris'  'Flatten the Curve' illustration at a press conference.

The most widely shared of this would be the 'Flatten the Curve' GIF, accompanying the article, 'The three phases of Covid-19 – and how we can make it manageable', published on the 9th of March. Within days of publication it was used as an example to follow by NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a press conference, and has since been used or adapted by foreign governments including Australia, Germany, Argentina and many more. You can read all of  Dr Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris' informative articles and updates on COVID-19 at The Spinoff HERE.

Dylan Horrocks has also started an interview series on youtube, Quarantoon, in which he interviews cartoonists about their work during the pandemic. His first episode is an in-depth chat with Toby Morris about his collaboration with  Dr Siouxsie Wiles for The Spinoff articles. It's honest and revealing, making it essential viewing if you want to hear more about what goes into the creation of these articles and the extraordinary response they have received from around the world. You can view the first episode HERE.

Above: Artwork by Sarah Laing from The COVID-19 Diaries.

Cartoonist Sarah Laing has responded to the pandemic with a more personal expression, a daily comic strip published on her website, The COVID-19 Diaries. A raw and honest account of daily life under Level 4 lock-down, Laing's comics are extremely relatable, illustrating the daily anxieties and humour arising from this unique situation. You can read  The COVID-19 Diaries daily on Sarah's website HERE. Sarah will also be appearing on Horrocks' Quarantoon series, so keep an eye out for that episode soon!

- AK