Monday, November 16, 2009

An Evening with Pran: UPDATED

Above: A vintage 'Chacha Chaudhary' comic-strip by Pran. Copyright Pran Kumar Sharma 2009.

Pran Kumar Sharma is considered 'the father of Indian comics', the first to create an indigenous comic-strip, 'Daabu' debuted in 1960, featuring indian characters and local themes. In 1969 he created 'Chacha Chaudhary', which quickly became one of the most popular comic-strips in India, even spawning it's own television serial (which has aired over 600 shows). Pran has published over 500 titles appearing in 45 newspapers in India and surrounding countries, with a readership of over two million. Some of his other famous comic-strips characters including: Sabu, Shrimatiji, Pinki, Billoo, Raman and Channie Chachi.

Pran will be in Auckland this week and is very interested to meet some of New Zealand's local comics community. To this end, Dylan Horrocks has arranged a public talk by Pran to be held this Friday the 20th of November at the Central City Library, on Level 2 in the Whare Wananga from 6.00pm.

This is a free event, if you would like to RSVP you can contact the Library: PH (09) 377 0209

This is a rare opportunity to meet an international cartoonist and really see how the universal language of comics translates in a different culture and environment to our own. Hope to see you there!

For more information on Pran Kumar Sharma, you can read his bio and some of his comics at his website.


PS: The previously mentioned Mezze Bar gathering may still happen afterwards (as cartoonists tend to go on once you get us together...), so feel free to hang around afterwards for some extra-overtime comics chatter!

Above: A more recent 'Chacha Chaudhary' comic-strip by Pran. Copyright Pran Kumar Sharma 2009.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Dream King comes to New Zealand

Above: Neil Gaiman hanging out in a graveyard ( you do).

I heard rumblings about this a week before Armageddon, and last week it was officially announced: Neil Gaiman will be coming to New Zealand next March as part of the New Zealand International Arts Festival to attend the New Zealand Post Writers & Readers Week (March 9-14th).

I'm sure Neil Gaiman's writing needs no introduction, he's a prolific writer of prose, comics, films, poetry, journalism, lyrics...and I imagine just about anything else concerning the creative arrangement of words.

He is of coarse responsible for the award-winning comic series 'The Sandman', the cornerstone and inspiration for DC's mature readers imprint, Vertigo. His widely acclaimed novels include: 'Coraline', 'American Gods', 'Anansi Boys', 'Stardust' and his most recent novel, 'The Graveyard Book', for which he won his third Hugo Award and the Newbery Medal.

It's my understanding that he's been on the Writers and Readers author wish-list for some time, but his travel expenses from the US don't come cheap, which has prevented his invitation in the past. But as luck would have it, Neil's girlfriend Amanda Palmer's band the 'The Dresden Dolls' are rumoured to be touring Australia and New Zealand in March, providing the perfect opportunity for Neil to accompany her on tour Down Under. And since he's in town...why not give a talk at the Wellington Town Hall?

His talk will be for one hour and takes place on the 13th of March at 5.30pm.
General admission is $25, with children 15 and under for $15. Tickets go on sale through Ticketek on Thursday 19th of November at 9am. So be sure to get in quick before some kids beat you to it!

There's no word yet on any book signings or other appearances, but I'll be keeping my ear to the ground and let you know if hear any further developments.

Above: Neil Gaiman on the set of 'Hellboy 2: The Golden Army'.

Since he's in town, there's probably a very good chance he'll visit his friend and current Welly resident, 'Hobbit' director Guillermo Del Toro. Neil met Guillermo some years ago in the process of developing the film adaptation of 'Death: The High Cost of Living'. He also spend some time on the set of 'Hellboy 2: The Golden Army' with his daughter Maddy, watching the director at work. Any chance these fantasy masters could cook up a new film collaboration over dinner in Jackson's 'Wellywood'? The mind truly boggles...

In any event, be sure to book a front seat for an audience with the Dream King in March. For more information on this event, visit the New Zealand International Arts Festival.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Events this Week: Monsters & Tattoos

Above: Director Guillermo Del Toro has a close encounter of the devic kind in 'Pan's Labyrinth'.

Two events that might be of interest to comics aficionados this week: the first is 'An Evening with Guillermo Del Toro', to be held this Wednesday the 11th of November at the Paramount Theatre in Wellington.

Guillermo Del Toro has generously donated his time for this Q&A evening as a fundraiser for Wellington producer Bonnie Slater and director Sam Kelly’s first feature film, 'One for the Road'. Described as New Zealand’s first musical drama, it follows the fortunes of a struggling, small town band.

"We're thrilled to have Guillermo's support," Slater says. "He has not done any event of this kind in New Zealand and it’s a coup to have attracted him to headline our fundraiser and help promote our cause. "I would have asked Guillermo to help make the film, but I know he's overworked with projects abroad and, of course, that little low-budget film he's shooting here soon called The Hobbit!"

"I've been pretty busy with various projects," Del Toro acknowledges, "but talent lies in your choices. And I believe in Bonnie so I’m happy to help her where I can."

Born and raised in Mexico, Guillermo Del Toro is one of film's most active imaginations, best known for creating some of the most visually arresting fantasy films of the decade. He adapted Mike Mignola's 'Hellboy' comic series for the screen and was nominated for an Academy Award for 'Pan's Labyrinth'. And unlike most Hollywood flights of fancy, Del Toro's dark fantasy worlds are usually grounded by the realities and horrors of the human condition.

It's no coincidence his films are populated by some of the most unique creatures to grace the screen, as monsters have always been something of an obsession of his. "(I'm) in love with monsters. My fascination with them is almost anthropological... I study them, I dissect them in many of my movies: I want to know how they work, what the inside of them looks like, (and) what their sociology is."

Monsters are just one of his many obsessions, along with insects, clockwork, archeology, pulp magazines and of coarse...comics! And he's no tourist; based in Los Angeles, he owns two homes: one for his family, and one to house his various sprawling collections, including his comic-books. You can even hear him give a stirring Jack Kirby appreciation on the director's commentary for 'Hellboy'.

So if you're in Wellington this Wednesday with a spare $45 for a ticket, this is bound to be an interesting and engaging evening! The event will be hosted by director Jonathan King ('Under the Mountain', 'Black Sheep'), with special guests Richard Taylor (of Weta Workshop) and Robert Sarkies ('Scarfies', 'Out of the Blue'). For tickets you can contact the Paramount PH: 04 3844080. For more information check out the Wellington Events page here.

The second event of interest takes place later this week in Auckland, The Tattooed Heart presents: 'Love Hurts!', an exhibition in tribute of tattoo art.

It features artwork by: Adam Craft, Liesje, Tom McMillan, Hamish McLougham, Misery, Deus, Kelly Thompson, Sarah Larnach, Ben Stenbeck, Karl Wills, Chris Sheehan, Steph Lusted, Seth Wood and Sarah Florence.

And as regular readers of this blog know: any opportunity to see artwork by cartoonists Ben Stenbeck ('Hellboy' and 'Witchfinder') and Karl Wills ('Jessica of the Schoolyard') is a treat. The exhibition runs from the 12-26th of November at the Tattooed Heart, 202 K' Road.

Oh, and to round out the week, the monthly Auckland Comic Book Club is meeting this Friday from 6pm in the Whare Wananga, 2nd Floor of the Central Library. This month will be an informal chat about comics, Armageddon and any other sequential story telling concerns.

-AK! (still busy working on that Dylan Horrocks article!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Golden Opportunity

Above: Tigerbuttah enjoys Halloween (dressed as a narwhal!) by Frank & Becky. Copyright Frank Gibson & Becky Dreistadt 2009.

Frank Gibson and Becky Dreistadt, the creators of the beautifully retro styled web-comic 'Tiny Kitten Teeth', have made no secret of their love of classic Golden Books and it's influence on their comics. Especially their single panel feature 'Tigerbuttah', which is published every Friday.

Now they are taking the opportunity to bring that creative influence full circle, by publishing their very own Golden Book! But they need YOUR help to make it happen!

They have setup a Kickstarter page to fund the $5000 needed to print the book. Kickstarter is a US based funding donation site, set-up to help creators raise money for creative projects (books, films, music etc) through 'pledges': donated credit in exchange for updates and special rewards offered by the creators. The pledged donations are processed by and only collected if the projected funding goal is reached within a set deadline. For Frank & Becky's project to come to fruition, they must collect $5000 in pledges by Jan 16, 2010.

In exchange for your valued pledges, they are offering a variety of unique and collectible rewards! From mini-comics to signed copies of the book, right up to unique Gouache paintings by Becky! (the more you pledge the greater the rewards...obviously). But they are really outdoing themselves by offering a signed copy of the book with a special hand-drawing inside the cover, for as little as $20! (this could mean a loooooot of drawing on the other side of this!).

If successfully funded, the 'Tigerbuttah' Golden Book will support a travelling gallery show they will be having here in New Zealand next year, exhibiting 24 pieces of artwork which form the story presented in the Golden Book.

It's been less than 24 hours and already they are one third of the way there, which speaks to the tremendous support they have online for their fantastic work. But there's a ways to go yet to reach the target goal, so if you're able, show some support by pledging to this fantastic project. They are making it well worth your money!

You can find out more about Frank & Becky's comics at their website, and be sure to visit their Kickstarter page!

I guess it's probably time I gave in and finally got myself a credit card...