Tuesday, March 30, 2010

EVENT: New Zealand Comics Weekend

This Easter will see the return of the New Zealand Comics Weekend, to be held from the 2nd-4th of April, at The Basement Gallery, 39 Dixon Street, Wellington. A wide range of independent New Zealand comics and zines will be on sale, with the following events and activities scheduled during the weekend:

Friday 2nd of April:
The festivities kick off with an opening night celebration from 5.30pm, featuring two exhibitions: 'NZ Comix in the 70's' and 'The Work of H.W. Bennett', curated by NZ comics historian Tim Bollinger, which will run for the entire weekend from 10am daily.

Saturday 3rd of April:
5.30pm: The Wellington Launch of the Victoria University Press edition of 'Hicksville' by Dylan Horrocks.

'Hicksville' is arguably New Zealand’s best know graphic novel, and the VUP edition is the first edition of the novel to be published in New Zealand. It has been translated into several languages, and its author, Dylan Horrocks, has been a guest of several comics and literary events, including the Les Belles Etrangères festival in Paris.

7:30pm: The Black River Digital New Zealand Comics Awards

A celebration of excellence in New Zealand’s independent publishing community, hosted by Fringe Festival comedian Nic Sando, featuring an interview with
Burton Silver of '
Bogor' fame.

The following is a list of nominees for the 2010 Black River Digital New Zealand Comics Awards, also known as 'The Erics'. The Erics (named after early NZ comics pioneer Eric Resetar) recognise excellence in the New Zealand comics community.

The Inhabitants by The Sheehan Bros
The Tangled Garden by Draw
Love Stories by Mat Tait
Hotpools by Ned Wenlock
Book by Hayden Currie, James Rowsell and Matt Henley

Western Park by Tim Kidd.
Thumbscrew Theatre by Brent Willis, Salient 2007.
Tim Bollinger's recurring series in White Fungus magazine.
Jitterati by Grant Buist.
Desert Funnies by Grant Buist.

Bristle (ed. Brent Willis)
Radio as Paper (ed. Jerome Bihan)
Pictozine II (ed. Dave Bradbury)
Book (eds. Hayden Currie, James Rowsell, Matt Henley)

I Fight Crime, by Tara Black and Richard Fairgray.
Tiny Kitten Teeth, by Frank and Becky.
Drawing Silence, by Draw.
Guzumzo Comics, by M. Emery.
How to Understand Everything and not hate yourself

The Inhabitants, art by Darren Sheenan
Hotpools by Ned Wenlock
Chicks with Knives by Claire Harris
Utopia Now Vol.1 by Margaret Silverwood
Love Stories by Mat Tait

Passion of the Gimps by Clive Townsend & Brent Willis
The Inhabitants writing by Kelly Sheenan
Omnisexual by Robbie Neilson
The Garden by Draw
Book by Hayden Currie, James Rowsell and Matt Henley
Hotpools by Ned Wenlock
G33K by Renee Lyons
Skate Rat by Theo MacDonald
Girls can Really Fuck You in the Head by Elliot Stewart

Under the Bed by Tim Molloy (Single issue)
The Adventures of Happy Satan by Ari Freeman (Bristle #2)
Super Camel by Claire Harris (Bristle #1)
Commuters by Brent Willis (Bristle #1)

The categories BEST COMICS RELATED WEBSITE and BEST DISTRIBUTION will be decided based on popular vote.

This year the judging responsibilities will be shared between Roberta Gregory (American author of ‘Bitchy Bitch’), Andrei Molotiu ( editor and publisher at Fantagraphic Comics), New Zealand Writer Elizabeth Knox, Ant Sang (of ‘Dharma Punks’ and ‘Bro’ Town’), Cornelius Stone (probably best known for ‘Knuckles the Malevolent Nun’), Claire Brunette (one of the co-ordinators of the Wellington City Library Small Press collection), Australian cartoonist and organiser David Blumenstein, and New Zealand’s pre-eminent comics historian, Tim Bollinger.
Other events confirmed but yet to be scheduled include: bande-dessinee with Travis Lealand-Mapelsden, Abstract comics with Dick Whyte, and engaging kids comics activities with G.C.R.

The NZCC (New Zealand Comics Creators) will be hosting sales all weekend at both NZ Comics Weekend and Wellington Armageddon. They will a full range of NZ comics on offer at both venues, including the new edition of Dylan Horrocks' 'Hicksville', 'The Imposter' by Lee-Yan Marquez and a new issue of 'Chicks With Knives' by Claire Harris.

For more information on NZ Comics Weekend or The Black River Digital New Zealand Comics Awards, you can visit the NZ Comics Weekend blog or email: nzcomicsweekend@gmail.com.


Monday, March 29, 2010

PHOTORAMA: The Hicksville New Zealand Edition Launch Party

Here's some photos from the Auckland launch party at The High Seas for the New Zealand edition of 'Hicksville' fromVictoria University Press (available in all good bookstores now!).

If you didn't make the Auckland release party don't despair, Dylan is taking the Hicksville show on the road this Easter, with a release party at The Basement Gallery, 39 Dixon St in Wellington this Saturday from 5.30pm as part of the NZ Comics Weekend! More details to come..


Friday, March 26, 2010

LAUNCH: Radio As Paper #4

Above: The cover of 'Radio As Paper #4, by Chris Fitz.

Tonight will see the launch of Radio as Paper #4, the latest issue in the comics anthology edited by Jerome Bihan.
The Auckland launch will take place from 6pm at the Dry Dairy, 43c Dryden street, Grey lynn. There will be musical entertainment and drinks, with the new issue and other zines for sale.

This issue will showcase comics by: Draw, Ned Wenlock, Chris Cudby, Vincent Shields, Sophie Oiseau, Stefan Neville, Clayton Noone, Matt Scheurich, Jerome Bihan, Terreur Graphique and Sam Thomas. Articles by Robyn E Kenealy, Matt Emery, Susan Strongman and Joseph Jowitt. With a cover by Chris Fitz and layout and design by Rachael Clark.

If you're not in the Auckland area don't fear, there will be copies for sale in Wellington at the NZ Comics Weekend this Easter, and in Christchurch on the 9th and 10th of April from Franz Tormers.

Unfortunately this will be the last print issue of 'Radio As Paper' for the time being, as it's publisher Fleet FM is shutting down due to financial problems. However, 'Radio As Paper' will live on in digital format. As it's latest issue is released under a Creative Commons License, once it's initial launch run is over it will be made available for free as a digital download from it's blog and the Fleet FM website.

So pick up this last issue while it's still in print, and keep an eye on the Radio As Paper blog for an future digital developments!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

EVENT: 'Hickville': The New Zealand Edition Release Party!

To celebrate the release of the first New Zealand edition of 'Hicksville' by Dylan Horrocks from VUP, there's going to be a exhibition/launch party at The High Seas in Auckland this Friday from 6pm!

Come meet the author and get a signed copy, see original artwork from the book, and most importantly, enjoy FREE cake! (it's the new wine on the gallery scene, but there'll probably be some of that there too;).

If you can't make it to the event, you can always order a copy from your nearest bookstore. The VUP edition's RRP is $38.00 and here's it's ISBN:9780864736246.

The exhibition is only on till closing on Saturday the 20th, so don't miss this rare chance to see the original artwork up close!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

NZ actors go intergalactic in Green Lantern Movie

Above: Temuera Morrison and Taika Waititi with the respective characters they will play in the 'Green Lantern' movie: Abin Sur and Thomas Kalmaku.

The story broke yesterday on Heat Vision, that local actors Temuera Morrison and Taika Waititi have joined the cast of the Warner Bros film 'Green Lantern', set to start filming in New Orleans under the direction of expat Martin Campbell.
Above: Green Lantern/Ryan Reynolds.

'Green Lantern' is of coarse based on the DC Comics character. Ryan Reynolds will play Hal Jordan, a test pilot who is entrusted with an alien energy power-ring. Drawing on his will power, the ring can produce any construct he can imagine, making it one of the most powerful weapons in the universe. By excepting the responsibility to wield the ring, he becomes the superhero 'Green Lantern', and is inducted into the interplanetary police force known as the Green Lantern Corps.

Temuera Morrison will play the pivotal role of Abin Sur, a dying member of the Green Lantern Corps who crashes to earth and entrusts Hal Jordan with a power ring.

Taika Waititi will play Hal Jordan's best friend Thomas Kalmaku, an Inuit engineer he works with at Ferris Aircraft. In the 60's comic he was often referred to by his nick-name: 'Pieface' (but this distasteful alias seems unlikely to appear in the film). Waititi was specifically tapped for the role after Martin Campbell saw his performance in the upcoming film 'Boy' at the Sundance Film Festival.

These are only the most recent NZ crew additions to the movie, with 'Lord of the Rings' Oscar winning production designer Grant Major (formally a cartoonist for NZ comics anthology 'Strips') already on board as art director, along with 'Rings' costume designer Nglia Dickson. In the wake of Avatar's success, 'Green Lantern' is one of many upcoming films to be released in 3D. 'Green Lantern' is set for a June 17, 2011 release.


Monday, March 15, 2010

In the studio with Toby Morris

Above: A portrait of musician Kirsty Stegwazi by Toby Morris, from his series '200 People I Used To Know'. Copyright Toby Morris 2010.

This week we take a look inside the studio of cartoonist/designer Toby Morris.
Formerly of Wellington, Toby was one of the most prolific local comics creators of the new century. His distinctive clear-line art style combined with a strong sense of graphic design, made his books instantly recognisable. During this period he produced many comics including: 'Can't Find Jacob', 'Chicken is Champ', 'Dreamboat Dreamboat' and the lego/pirates mash-up 'Pirate Technics'. He was also the editor of the well-received early 2000's NZ comics anthology 'Officer Pup', which featured comics and reviews from a line-up of New Zealand's finest comics talent. As a designer, he's also produced some striking gig posters that you can check out HERE.

Above: An October entry from Toby Morris' 2009 Comics Diary. Copyright Toby Morris 2010.

Currently based in Amsterdam, Toby is keeping an active online profile, with his comics blog XTOTL. In 2009 he started an (almost) daily cartoon blog, focusing on his daily life and experiences, producing an impressive 331 pages! Covering everything from the smallest daily observation to encounters with crazy europeans, it's all there captured in ink. The combined year is an impressive body of work, and well worth a read.
Toby's new project for this year is equally ambitious: '200 People I Used To Know', I'll leave the details of this one to Toby to explain, as we take a trip inside his studio...

Q1: What are you currently working on?

My main personal project at the moment is called '200 People I Used To Know'. It's not really strictly comics - each one is a portrait of someone I remember and a little story underneath. I want to get better at portraiture, using colour, and also writing which has inspired the form the project has taken. It's a training exercise in some ways, but I hope people are cool with following it as it evolves and as I learn.

Q2: What are your drawing tools of preference?

I'm still using the same pens I've used for the last 10 years or so - staedtler pigment liners. I love those pens, they're perfect. I've swapped weights a few times - I used to use the 0.3, then last year I switched down to the 0.1 and then this year I jumped back up to the 0.5 because I want to force myself to become clearer and more economical with my lines - 'less lines, communicating more' is the goal at the moment. So my standard set-up these days is a 2B pencil and an 0.5 Staedtler pigment liner. I was sponsored by Staedtler for a while, it was cool, I felt like a pro skater or something.

The other big change recently is I'm also trying to crack the best way of using colour for me. For years I've felt like its a big weak point for me and I've sort of been avoiding it but now I'm facing it head on and trying things out. I've been painting one of the portraits each week with basic acrylics which has been tough but already I can feel myself getting better and coming to a way of working that fits with my line style/feel.

At work I have a sweet set-up - nice grunty machine with two screens and a nice big wacom tablet and a good lightbox so I'm kind of spoiled there, I love the tablet. When I do computer colouring (which I'm still doing on other projects) the tablet makes things a lot easier.

Q3: Can you describe your average working routine?

My '200 People' project has to fit around my work life. I'm an early riser so I usually draw at home for an hour or so before work most days. I draw or paint with a coffee and toast, it's a good productive, positive way to start each day. When I get to work I'll scan and touch up my pic and post it on my blog. Then I start thinking about the next person to draw/write about. If I'm not too busy I draw in the evenings too.

Q4: What is your working process?

With this project, and my last one, it's for my blog so it's pretty important to keep it regular. I can't spend too much time redrawing things over and over or over-thinking things - it's teaching me to work fast and clear and to the point. I'll usually have a fairly clear idea of what I want the drawing to contain/convey and I'll draw a couple of really rough scribbles to get the composition right. Then I'll do pencils on an A5 page. If it's a black and white page I'll ink straight onto that page with pen and erase the pencils. For the colour ones I'll put the pencils on the lightbox and paint over the top onto a new sheet using the pencils as a guide and then do the linework over the paint.

Q5: Do you listen to anything while you work?

When I'm working in the mornings I like to have the telly on in the background - usually the BBC breakfast show or the news on the sports channel. If I really need to concentrate I'll put metal on my headphones - High on Fire, The Sword, Mastodon. Metal helps me focus. Other times I put on movies in the background - don't watch them, barely even listen. I just like the background noise I guess.

Q6: Can you name some of your influences?

Herge. Miyazaki. Mobieus. Dylan Horrocks. Tove Jansson. Jaime Hernandez. Kochalka. Lego. Computer games. Charles Burns. Bruce Springsteen. I've been in Norway a bit recently and I've been really inspired by the sculptor Vigeland. There is a big park full of his work in Oslo, it's pretty mind-blowing.

Q7: What is your most prized comics related item?

Hmmm... I'm not really much of a collector. Back in NZ I have an original page from Hicksville that Dylan gave me for my birthday one year that he stayed at my house during a convention. That thing is beautiful, it's from the sequence where Grace is returning to her old garden which I think is one of my favourite scenes in any comic. That's a treasure.

Above: A portrait of infamous NZ cartoonist James James by Toby Morris, from his series '200 People I Used To Know'. Copyright Toby Morris 2010.

Q8: What was your best and worst comics convention experience?

Ha! I think my favourite memory I wrote about recently on my blog. Those days in general were awesome, there was a good crew around then, lots of good friends all on a similar page. I've been away from NZ for a while now so I haven't been to a convention forever.

Worst memories... hmm... just that general feeling of dejection you get when you're hungover and tired and idiot brat kids pick up your book, flick through it for a few seconds, scoff or roll their eyes or make some dismissive comment and wander off. Pretty demoralising.

Q9: Do you have a favorite comics adaptation?

Maybe Persepolis? Most adaptions I try to treat like a whole separate thing from the original, otherwise I get mad. But with Persepolis I loved it how faithful they stayed to the original look and feel and pacing of the book, it really worked. For a long time I always dreamed about someone making the Locas stories from Love and Rockets into a film, but now I hope they don't, they'll butcher it.

Oh! I also love the 90's Adventures of Batman animated show - the art deco, 30s noir/minimal style one, that thing was incredible, I like that better than any Batman comic or movie.

Q10: If I could have dinner with five other people from history they would be..?

Rasputin, Grace Kelly, Herge, Hunter S Thompson and Muhammad Ali in his prime. Assuming Rasputin and Herge can magically speak english. (Could Herge speak english?).

Q11: If I could make one edit/change to the history of comics it would be...?

OK, that's a fun question. Maybe I'd make Herge get some balls, say screw you to the Nazis and refuse to work with them. Instead he flees to the hills, joins the resistance, creates an incredibly inspiring and subversive comic that skewers the german moral and inspires the resistance and the allies to end the war early.

Thanks to Toby Morris for the look inside his working space, and be sure to check out his website for more on his projects and updates!