Monday, March 9, 2020

NZ Graphic Novel Picks for Best International Comics of 2019!

Above: The Adventures of Tupaia by Courtney Sina Meredith and Mat Tait. Copyright  Courtney Sina Meredith and Mat Tait 2020.

Every year I contribute some New Zealand graphic novel picks for Paul Gravett's 'Best Comics of the Year: An international Perspective', highlighting some of the standout graphic novel from around the world. There's some great international reads on this list from such countries as: Argentina, Poland, Finland, South Korea, Serbia, Sweden, Singapore, Switzerland, Portugal, Denmark and Brazil.

The New Zealand titles I included this year were: The Adventures of Tupaia by Courtney Sina Meredith & Mat Tait, published by Allen & Unwin NZ; Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi by Toby Morris with Ross Calman, Mark Derby & Piripi Walker, published by Lift Education; Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh, published by Aotearoa Books, The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill, published by Oni Press, Palimpsest: Documents From a Korean Adoption by Lisa Wool-rim Sjöblom, published by Drawn & Quarterly; Let Me Be Frank by Sarah Laing, published by Victoria University Press; and Rufus Marigold by Ross Murray, published by Earth’s End Publishing.

You can read Best Comics of 2019: An International Perspective Part 1 HERE, and Part 2 HERE.

- AK!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

EVENT: Chip Zdarsky at Graphic Comics!

Above: Comics writer/artist Chip Zdarsky.

The NZ 2020 comics event calendar kicks off this month, with a surprise visit from US comics writer/artist Chip Zdarsky!

Zdarsky is an Eisner, Harvey and Shuster Award winning cartoonist, and co-creator (with Matt Fraction) of Sex Criminals from Image Comics. He is the current writer on Daredevil and the upcoming X-Men/Fantastic Four mini-series for Marvel Comics, and has also written acclaimed runs on: Spider-Man: Life Story, Howard the Duck, Invaders, Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Two-In-One and Jughead for Archie Comics.

He will be making an appearance at Graphic Comics in Wellington, on Thursday 30th January from 4.30-5.30pm to chat and sign comics. It sounds like this will be his only NZ appearance, so if you're in the Welly area, stop by and get some comics signed! You can visit the Graphic Facebook event HERE for more information, and visit Chip's amusing website HERE.

- AK!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

NEW RELEASE: Let Me Be Frank by Sarah Laing

Above: The cover of Let Me Be Frank by Sarah Laing. Copyright Sarah Laing 2019.

Hi folks, sorry I've been snowed under with day-job work, so it's time to catch-up on the recent comics related new releases, starting with Let Me Be Frank by Sarah Laing!
This is a full-colour collection of almost ten years of her blog comics, from 2010 to today, published by Victoria University Press. Here's the press release:

Let Me Be Frank brings Sarah Laing’s popular autobiographical comic series together for the first time. Sarah Laing began blogging her comics in 2009 as a way to shed light on her fiction writing and to record life before it evaporated. The comics soon had a large audience, eager for the next installment about Sarah’s parenting fails and successes, writing, her obsession with Katherine Mansfield, her family’s history, pet mice, sex, clothes and more. Let Me Be Frank is a witty, whip-smart comic collection that is ever disarmingly frank.

I'll look to have a review for it up soon, in the meantime, here's some press Sarah has done to promote the book:

Over at The Sapling she did an illustrated interview with cartoonist Giselle Clarkson, which you can read HERE
She featured on RNZ's Standing Room Only interview show, which you can listen to HERE
She has also written an essay featured on The Spinoff about her 'secret origin' as a cartoonist and creativity, which you can read HERE

Let Me Be FrankSarah Laing
352 pages, full colour
ISBN: 9781776562909
Available now

- AK!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Chromacon indie arts festival 2019!

The biennial Chromacon indie arts festival returns to Auckland in 2019, offering the public 2 FREE days of arty market goodness, with some of NZ's finest art creators selling and showcasing: Illustration, Comics, Concept Design, Animation, Board Games, Sculpture, Designer Toys, Mural & Street Art, Video Games and more!

Taking place at the Aotea Centre from June 1st - 2nd (Queen's Birthday Weekend),this year the event boasts 188 exhibitors, including special guests: Concept Art/Designer Andrew Domachowski [Canada]; illustrator/animation guests Cloud Yang 人狼 and Clover Xie 无言  [Wolf Smoke Studio | China]; Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Katie O'Neill [New Zealand]; and Illustration/Mural/Street Artist Nate Frizzell [US]. You can find a full line-up of exhibitors HERE.

Hosted alongside Chromacon, the Chroma Art Awards recognises creative excellence from Aotearoa’s leading and emerging independent creators.This year they will celebrate the best independent work across 5 disciplines, with Open and Student categories for each award: Illustration, Concept Design, Comic Art, Animation, & Video Games. Winners will be announced at the Chroma Art Awards Evening, 1st June 2019. The Awards are open to all New Zealanders of all ages (no, you don't have to be a Chromacon exhibitor). Entries close this Friday, 24th May (11:59PM NZST), so get submitting now as there are some great prizes up for grabs! Check out the full details HERE.

It's going to be a great weekend of creativity, so save the date on your calendar and visit the Chromacon website for more details HERE.

- AK!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

LISTEN UP: Ross Murray discusses Rufus Marigold on Nine to Noon

Above: Rufus is the life of the party... from Rufus Marigold by Ross Murray. Copyright Ross Murray 2019.

Mount Maunganui based illustrator Ross Murray has produced a graphic novel broaching the subject of social anxiety, a story he tells from his own tough experience. Rufus Marigold is Ross' first book, featuring a self-loathing nervous wreck of a man-monkey chimpanzee, who works in an office brimming with apparently socially competent people.  In comic form we see the eponymous hero of the book, Rufus Marigold continuously facing awkward social situations, enduring sleepless nights, battling with his negative interior voice and struggling with small talk.

As Ross tells Kathryn Ryan, Rufus Marigold is both funny and dark. You can listen to the Nine to Noon show HERE.

Rufus Marigold by Ross Murray is published by Earth's End Publishing and available now for $34.99 from all good bookstores and can be purchased online HERE.

- AK!

Monday, April 29, 2019

NZ Cartoonists Katie O'Neill and Rachel Smythe nominated for Eisner Awards!

The nominations for the 2019 Eisner Awards (the US Oscars of comic books) have been announced, and this year there are two NZ cartoonists who have scored nominations for their work!

Katie O'Neill, who readers might remember took home 2 Eisner Awards last year for 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. This year she is nominated once again in Best Publication for Kids (ages 9–12) for her latest book, Aquicorn Cove from Oni Press.

Joining her this year with a nomination for Best Webcomic is Rachel Smythe, the writer/artist of the webcomic, Lore Olympus. An exquisitely illustrated romance, here's the synopsis: Witness what the gods do…after dark. The friendships and the lies, the gossip and the wild parties, and of course, forbidden love. Because it turns out, the gods aren’t so different from us after all, especially when it comes to their problems. Stylish and immersive, this is one of mythology’s greatest stories - The Taking of Persephone - as it’s never been told before. 

You can read Lore Olympus weekly HERE.

Above: Aquicorn Cove by Katie O'Neill. Copyright Katie O'Neill 2019.

Here's the Press Release, and the nominated categories:

Comic-Con International is proud to announce the nominations for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards 2019. The nominees are for works published between January 1 and December 31, 2018 and were chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges. Once again, this year’s nominees in 31 categories reflect the wide range of material being published in the U.S. today in comics and graphic novel form, representing over 170 print and online titles from more than 50 publishers and produced by creators from all over the world.

Named for acclaimed comics creator Will Eisner, the awards are celebrating their 31st year of bringing attention to and highlighting the best publications and creators in comics and graphic novels. The 2019 Eisner Awards judging panel consists of comics journalist Chris Arrant (Newsarama), academic/author Jared Gardner (Ohio State University), librarian Traci Glass (Multnomah County Library system in Portland, Oregon), retailer Jenn Haines (The Dragon, Guelph and Milton, Ontario, Canada), reviewer Steven Howearth (Pop Culture Maven), and comics creator Jimmie Robinson (CyberZone, Amanda & Gunn, Bomb Girl).

The results of the voting will be announced in a gala awards ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 19 at a gala awards ceremony at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. Jackie Estrada is the Eisner Awards Administrator. The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are presented by the San Diego Comic Convention (Comic-Con International), a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation organized for charitable purposes and dedicated to creating the general public’s awareness of and appreciation for comics and related popular artforms, including participation in and support of public presentations, conventions, exhibits, museums, and other public outreach activities which celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture.

Best Publication for Kids (ages 9–12)
Aquicorn Cove, by Katie O'Neill (Oni)
Be Prepared, by Vera Brosgol (First Second)
The Cardboard Kingdom, by Chad Sell (Knopf/Random House Children’s Books)
Crush, by Svetlana Chmakova (JY/Yen Press)
The Divided Earth, by Faith Erin Hicks (First Second)  

Best Webcomic
The Contradictions, by Sophie Yanow,
Lavender Jack, by Dan Schkade (WEBTOON),
Let's Play, by Mongie (WEBTOON),
Lore Olympus, by Rachel Smythe, (WEBTOON),
Tiger, Tiger, by Petra Erika Nordlund, (Hiveworks)  

Congratulations to Katie O'Neill and Rachel Smythe and we wish them the best of luck!

- AK!

ComicFest 2019 is almost here!

The annual ComicFest event held in Wellington each year is back for 2019 and has taken a huge step forward! 

It will be taking place this week from May 2nd – 4th, at the National Library, 70 Molesworth Street. With the recent closure of the Central library, the National Library have come to the rescue with a generous, well-timed offer to co-sponsor and house ComicFest in the Te Ahumairangi Foyer, Taiwhanga Kauhau Auditorium, and programme rooms on the corner of Molesworth and Aitken Streets. 

Once again, ComicFest will be giving away 1,000’s of free comics on Free Comic Book Day, with the brilliant support of Graphic comic store, who will be providing local sales of cartoonists on the day for the first time. ComicFest is sponsored by the National Library, Graphic comics, Creative New Zealand, the New Zealand Book Council, the New Zealand Cartoon Archive, Weta Workshop, CoNZealand, Penguin Books, Unity Books and Wellington Zinefest.

This year the show has a stellar range of events and special guests, including NZ's own Eisner Award winning cartoonists: Katie O'Neill, Roger Langridge (direct from the UK) and Dylan Horrocks! Other guests include: Ant Sang, Sarah Laing, Jesse Barrett, Giselle Clarkson, Michel Mulipola, Jem Yoshioka, Paul Diamond, Alex Cara, Ross Murray, and Sharon Murdoch.

There are so many great events, from panel discussions and talks, master classes, cosplay, Free Comicbook Day and more!

Here's the full list of events:

Thursday 2 May:

6:00pm – 8:00pm | Mystery ComicFest Film

Can you guess this classic Science Fiction film? Help us celebrate the start of ComicFest with one of the most beloved science fiction films of the 1980’s, based on a pulp classic novel and comic strip, and boasting a killer soundtrack! Please fill in the form at the Wellington Libraries website to book a seat at this limited entry, free event. (Programme rooms)

Friday 3 May:

5:30pm – 6:30pm | ComicFest Star Wars Quiz Night

Is the force with you? Are you are Star Wars mega brain, or are you a Padawan rather than a Jedi Master? Put your knowledge of the Star Wars universe to the test, in our very special Star War’s quiz. Join in groups of up to 5, and fill in the form at the Wellington Libraries website to reserve a place at this limited entry, free event. Fabulous prizes provided by CoNZealand! (Tiakiwai Seminar Rooms)

Sponsored by CoNZealand, 78th World Science Fiction Convention.

6:45pm – 8:45pm | Roger Langridge – A Career in Comics (Presentation and Workshop)

Eisner winning, London-based cartoonist, Roger Langridge has worked for major and independent comics publishers across the world and is visiting Wellington as part of ComicFest 2019! Roger will provide a presentation on his career in cartooning, with examples of his highly regarded comics. Join in later, as Roger provides the chance for all to create a unique and creative comic strip of their own, based on formal constraints provided at random!

Please fill in the form at the Wellington Libraries website to reserve a place for the Presentation for this limited entry, free event.

If you would like to go to the Workshop, fill in the form at the Wellington Libraries website to reserve a place at this limited entry, free event.

(Auditorium / Tiakiwai Seminar Rooms)

Sponsored by Creative New Zealand

Saturday 4 May:

All Day | Free Comic Book Day | CoNZealand Area | Drawing competition|

(Te Ahumairangi Foyer)

9:00am onwards | Free Comic Book Day

Grab some free comics from us and chat comics with our librarians at the National Library! Comics from all different publishers and for all age ranges are included in the selections, so there will be something for everyone. Thanks to Graphic for providing free comics, and book sales of local cartoonists on the day!

Sponsored by Graphic comics

CoNZealand, 78th World Science Fiction Convention Area

Come and talk to the crew of CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, and find out how you can join in the fun between 29 July and 2 August 2020, when SF and Fantasy authors from all over the world, including Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon and George R.R. Martin, will land right here in Wellington.

Drawing Competition: Can You Comicify That?

Come to the library and draw a ‘comicified’ version of your favourite character from a book, movie or TV show! Submit it to our drawing competition and be in to win a bunch of awesome prizes, or bring it to the Zine Crafting Table and learn how to turn it into your very own homemade comic! Entry forms available from the National Library during ComicFest. All ages and drawing levels welcome.

9:00am – 10:00am | Tea Dragon Workshop with Katie O’Neill (Workshop)

Kids (and big kids!) are welcome to join author of The Tea Dragon series Katie O’Neill in creating some new species of Tea Dragons based on suggestions from the audience. Feathers or scales? Wings or horns? And most importantly, what type of tea will they be? There will also be a demonstration by Katie of how she creates the colourful pages of her graphic novels. Please fill in the form at the Wellington Libraries website to reserve a place at this limited entry, free event. (Programme Rooms)

Sponsored by The New Zealand Book Council

10:00am – 10:30am | Kids Cosplay!

It’s May the fourth, so here’s your chance to dress up as your favourite Jedi, Robot or Sith Lord! Or come along as your favourite comic’s character to get lots of spot prizes, free comics from Unity books or a Weta Cave Workshop tour pass! Limited to children up to the age of 12, free entry. No weapons, or military cosplay please. (Te Ahumairangi Foyer)

Sponsored by Unity Books

10:30am – 11:30am | Comics Masterclass with Ant Sang (Workshop)

Join cartoonist creator, Ant Sang, of award-winning comic Shaolin Burning, and recently released graphic novel Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas, for a workshop covering some of the fundamentals of comic storytelling. Should I use a close-up or wide shot? Big or small panel? How do I make a story that readers can’t put down?! All these questions will be answered, and more… Please fill in the form at the Wellington Libraries website to reserve a place at this limited entry, free event. (Programme Rooms)

Sponsored by Penguin Books

11:30am -12:30pm | The Future of Storytelling : A Look Inside the Art of Dr Grordbort’s Invaders (Presentation)

Did you know that Weta Workshop develops mixed reality games? Using the comic books of Dr. Grordbort’s, their gaming studio released Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders, available exclusively on Magic Leap. Weta Workshop’s Senior Artist, Jesse Barrett, delves into the challenges of expressing the world of Dr. Grordbort’s in a whole new medium and the solutions they uncovered while working within mixed reality. Learn which key elements Weta Workshop’s artists look for when translating from one medium to another and how to retain the vibe of an original source material. Attend this presentation and be in with a chance of winning a Weta Cave Workshop Tour pass. Please fill in the form at the Wellington Libraries website to reserve a place at this limited entry, free event. (Taiwhanga Kauhau Auditorium)

Sponsored by Weta Workshop

12:40pm -1:40pm | The Ascent of Children’s Comics (Panel Discussion)

There are more amazing comics made for children’s and young adult audiences than ever, aimed at diverse audiences across every age group. Join Eisner award winning cartoonists, Roger Langridge and Katie O’Neill, New Zealand Post Book Award Winning author, Ant Sang, Giselle Clarkson from, ‘The Sapling,’ and cartoonist-chair Sarah Laing, as they discuss the growing phenomena of children’s and young adult comics internationally, and in New Zealand. Please fill in the form at the Wellington Libraries website to reserve a place at this limited entry, free event. (Taiwhanga Kauhau Auditorium)

12:40pm -1:40pm| Comic Zine Crafting Table (Workshop)

Want to learn how to make and publish your own homemade comics? Check out some of the comic zines from the Wellington City Library zine collection made by local comic artists, and learn how to make your own with the volunteers of Wellington Zinefest at our crafting table. All ages welcome. Please fill in the form at the Wellington Libraries website to reserve a place at this limited entry, free event.

1:50pm – 2:35pm | Digital Comics Demo with Michel Mulipola (Presentation)

Join comic book artist and illustrator Michel Mulipola, as he demonstrates digital tools whilst drawing live (and live streaming) on the big screen! Bring pen and paper, and join in with Michel as he provides story-telling tips, panel composition ideas and illustration guidance. All welcome! Please fill in the form at the Wellington Libraries website to reserve a place at this limited entry, free event.  (Taiwhanga Kauhau Auditorium)

Sponsored by Wellington City Libraries

2:45PM – 3:45PM | Stories from Aotearoa / New Zealand (Panel Discussion)

What is a New Zealand comic (and who’s reading them)? How do we foster and celebrate diversity in comics? What stories aren’t being told? And what can we learn from New Zealand’s cartooning history? Join Jem Yoshioka, Paul Diamond, Alex Cara and Ross Murray to hear their perspectives on New Zealand cartooning in 2019. Discussion chaired by Hannah Benbow, cartoon and comics librarian at the National Library, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa. Please fill in the form at the Wellington Libraries website to reserve a place at this limited entry, free event. (Taiwhanga Kauhau Auditorium)

Sponsored by the New Zealand Cartoon Archive

3:55pm -4:55pm | Perspectives on the Cartooning Life (Panel Discussion)

The physical and digital world of comics creation and publishing has changed massively in recent years. What are the ways a cartoonist can succeed, and sustain a modern career in comics and cartoons? Join award-winning cartoonists, Sharon Murdoch, Michel Mulipola, Roger Langridge, and chair Dylan Horrocks as they discuss their brilliant careers, comics today and their views on the future of cartooning. Please fill in the form at the Wellington Libraries website to reserve a place at this limited entry, free event. (Taiwhanga Kauhau Auditorium)

Sponsored by Creative New Zealand

For more information on ComicFest, and to RSVP for the special events, visit the event page HERE.

- AK!

WATCH: Two Sketches with Toby Morris featuring Michel Mulipola!

Cartoonist Toby Morris has started a new drawing/interview series for The Spinoff website, Two Sketches. The ingenious concept for the show is quite simple: each episode he sits down with an NZ artist and they each produce an artwork while discussing whatever comes to mind.

As Morris described the idea for the show to The Spinoff, "Drawing is a meditative and reflective activity – for me I usually need to be quite relaxed, and my mind wanders while I do it. When I shared a studio with other illustrators I found the conversations we had while we drew were often quite weird but honest and insightful. I think it’s like talking in front of a bonfire, or a killer view – with a big chunk of your mind fixed somewhere else I think you can often be less guarded.”

In this first episode, Morris sits down to sketch with Michel Mulipola, a WWE comics artist, wrestler and gamer - a pop culture triple threat!

Watch the first episode below, and subscribe HERE for more! You can also listen to Toby Morris discuss the new show in a RadioNZ interview HERE.

- AK!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

EXHIBITION: Anti-Heroes: The Art of Conscious Cartoonists and Comic Book Creators

Above: An image from the animated movie, My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea by Dash Shaw. Copyright Dash Shaw 2019.

Tauranga Art Gallery is bringing comics and pop culture back to the art gallery in 2019, with Mega World - an international exhibition exploring the expansive universe of illustration. The show transports you to an unknown landscape populated by strange creatures and unlikely heroes. Shown across all five exhibition spaces, the Gallery’s signature show gives life to contemporary illustration in its many forms. From comics and graphic novels to underground illustration, animation and contemporary art.

The first exhibition in the Mega World series is, Anti-Heroes: The Art of Conscious Cartoonists and Comic Book Creators. Curated by Craig McClure, this exhibition celebrates comic books and cartooning, and the powerfully empathetic way cartoonists have of representing the world. This exhibition is the first installment of Mega World, the Tauranga Art Gallery's 2019 signature show, and features work by Ryan Heshka (CA), Dash Shaw (USA), Ron Regé Jr (USA), Tommi Parrish (AU), Tom Scott (NZ), Mardo El-Noor (NZ) and Dylan Horrocks (NZ). 
Anti-Heroes is on now and runs to the 9th of June. Here's the exhibition statement: 
'Comic books are famously known for their Amazonian warriors, supermen from Krypton and cave dwelling billionaire playboys; Superheroes who violently defend the world from mastermind criminals and world domination.The artists in Anti-heroes resist this archetypical genre of comic books and use the medium to tell real human stories. Their characters are inspired by real people, human relationships and are often autobiographical. The comic book has been dominated by the superhero but as an art form it is a unique way of telling stories with both words and pictures simultaneously. Anti-heroes is a survey of works chosen by the curator that gives insight into the creators process, including original comic book pages, concept drawings, digital paintings and animation. Elements not usually seen by the audience are exposed and the craft of comic-book story-telling is revealed'.

Above: The poster for My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea by Dash Shaw. Copyright Dash Shaw 2019.

The exhibition will also include the Australasian premiere of the instant cult classic animated film My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea, by Dash Shaw. The animation comes hot from the Toronto Film Festival and includes voice-overs with; Jason Schwartzman, Lena Dunham and Susan Sarandon.  

There are also several special upcoming events associated with the exhibition:

Curator Talk: Craig McClure with Keeli McCarthy

When: Saturday 30 March, 10.30am
Where: Tauranga Art Gallery

Join Craig McClure, curator of Anti-heroes, as he discusses the world of comic books with US-based designer and editor Keeli McCarthy. McCarthy’s portfolio includes work for Fantagraphics and Walt Disney.

Entry to this events is free, but please register HERE to help the Gallery manage numbers.

Artist Talk: Dash Shaw

When: Saturday 18 May, 10.30am
Where: Tauranga Art Gallery

Dash Shaw is a US comic book writer/artist and animator, whose most recent film animation, My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea, is showing as part of the Mega World exhibition, Anti-heroes. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from an international artist at the fore of comics and animation.

Entry to this events is free, but please register HERE to help the Gallery manage numbers.

For more information and updates, visit the Tauranga Art Gallery website HERE.

- AK!