Thursday, February 24, 2011

Coming Attractions

Above: The cover of Nice Day for a War: Adventures of a Kiwi Soldier in World War 1 by Chris Slane & Matt Elliott. Copyright Chris Slane & Matt Elliott 2011.

It's a great time to be a fan of New Zealand comics and graphic novels, with two more high profile projects in the pipeline! Hot on the heels of Ant Sang's
Shaolin Burning, HarperCollins has another local graphic novel set for release in April: Nice Day for a War: Adventures of a Kiwi Soldier in World War 1 by Chris Slane & Matt Elliott.

This story is part graphic novel mixed with historical resources recounting Corporal Cyril Elliott experiences in the trenches during WW1 as retold by his grandson Matt Elliott and cartoonist Chris Slane. Here's the official synopsis:

Cyril Elliott was a boy when he enlisted to fight in World War 1, lured by the idea of exciting travel and adventure. What he found was quite different. But misery and terror were made easier by Kiwi humour, mates, and writing a diary. Corporal Elliott’s grandson Matt teams with award-winning cartoonist Chris Slane to tell the story of Cyril and his mates. Nice Day for a War tells what it was like to be in the Flanders trenches of 1917.

You can expect to see it on bookshelves everywhere on April 1st (..and no, this is no joke!).
It's a paperback and retails for $29.99 NZ, ISBN13: 9781869509019

Above: Snarked! by Roger Langridge. Copyright Boom Studios 2011.

Now to turn your attention off-shore: highly acclaimed ex-pat cartoonist Roger Langridge has more new comics coming up than you can shake a stick at!

After a very successful run writing and illustrating The Muppet Show Comic-Book series for US publisher Boom Studios, Roger is teaming up with them again to produce another all-ages comic Snarked!, for Boom's new kids comics imprint, Kaboom! The above cover image is an early teaser, with a major announcement from the publisher to follow soon, so I'll keep you posted.

Above: The newly coloured chapter of Mugwhump the Great by Roger Langridge. Copyright Roger Langridge 2011.

But if you can't wait for that title, you'll be pleased to know that Roger has launched the final chapter of his ongoing webcomic Mugwhump the Great at ACT-I-VATE, now available in full colour! There are 13 previous chapters in this story of vaudevillian hilarity, so make sure you catch-up on this great strip from the beginning.

With all this new material on the way, you'd be forgiven for thinking we're entering the golden age of New Zealand comics...


Thursday, February 17, 2011

REVIEW TWO-IN-ONE: A Town Called Calamity/Fresh

Above: The cover of A Town Called Calamity by Steve Saville. Copyright Steve Saville 2011.

This double header review is courtesy of prolific Auckland cartoonist and all around nice guy, Steve Saville.
Steve has previously appeared in issues of DMC's New Ground anthology, and produced his own title Follow the Grief Lines.

First up, A Town Called Calamity, which is more of a illustrated prose story than a comic, with illustrations by Saville to compliment and interweave between the words. The story follows a young alienated child on an Alice in Wonderland like journey into the strange town of Calamity populated by mysterious characters, equally sinister and intriguing.
Above: A page from A Town Called Calamity by Steve Saville. Copyright Steve Saville 2011.

Written in the first person, Steve's writing captures the voice and worldview of a pre-teen comfortably, making the story an engaging read with a gentle wry humour that keeps events grounded while allowing for some necessary flights of fantasy. Much like Alice in Wonderland, the curious characters the child encounters in Calamity highlight unseen strengths in his own character, combating his fear of not belonging. While the theme of developing self-confidence and a sense of self is a well worn subject for teen fiction, Saville's story is nicely understated, delivering a fun read with something for younger readers to ponder long after their visit to Calamity. Well worth checking out.

Above: The cover of Fresh, by Rebecca Tan. Contents copyright DMC and the respective artists 2011.

Moving on to the second title, Fresh is an anthology of new comics edited by Saville and produced by the students of Alfriston Collage. The students produced the comics over a two year period as part of a comics creation module, and in their own free time. Teaming up with local comics publisher DMC, they have had the great opportunity to see their artwork in the professional context of print, as a finished product. As Saville points out in his introduction, it's a great way for these young people to express themselves and their views of the world through creative means.

Above: Art from Nostalgia, by Kimleng Cheav. Copyright Kimleng Cheav 2011.

The influence of manga on the next generation of cartoonists can't be overstated enough, and that's certainly evident in this collection. Almost all of the artwork in this collection uses the visual vocabulary of manga, and it's not hard to understand why. Unlike the comics of western societies, the language of manga comics allows for an emotional shorthand in it's visuals, which is ideal for younger artists grappling with ways to express complex emotions through their artwork in the simplest, most direct way possible.

Above: Dorothy by Ahmed Rajeh. Copyright Ahmed Rajeh 2011.

It's great to see some raw talent developing on these pages, but the next challenge will be combining their art talents with a narrative. There are some examples like Dorothy by Ahmed Rajeh that takes a health stab at a full narrative story, while others struggle to give their artwork more than a brief context. A variety of entries use song lyrics as a narrative for their stories, with some interesting results (possibly combining this art class assignment with an English assignment might be an idea?). Overall, it's a good start for some talented young students, and full credit once again goes to Steve Saville and DMC for helping foster these future talents!

Copies of A Town Called Calamity can be purchased from Steve Saville directly for $7 + $1.50 for postage.
Just write to: Steve Saville, 166 Sedden St, Pukekohe. Or email him at:

Fresh is available from Gotham Comics, 264 The Mall, Onehunga, Auckland. Ph/Fax: +64 9 6344399. Or visit:


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shaolin Burning Launch Party Photos!

Above: Ant Sang signing copies of Shaolin Burning.

Ant Sang's graphic novel Shaolin Burning was officially launched last Thursday night, neatly coinciding with the Chinese New Year.

There was a great turnout of friends and fans, with many of Auckland's finest cartoonist on hand to celebrate the occation, including: the Bro'Town crew, Dylan Horrocks, Timothy Kidd, Ben Stenbeck, Darren Sheehan, Richard Fairgray, Lee-Yan Marquez, Chris Slane and even an appearance by filmmaker Vincent Ward (hmm...someone keep an eye on those film rights!).

Below are the Limited Edition Art Prints:

'Merciless Attack of the One Hundred Spearmen'

'Audacious Attack of the Killer Tongs'

'Deadly Plum Blossom Amongst Cascading Petals'

Each of these prints are high quality pigment based digital prints on 170gsm Satin Paper. They are limited to a print run of 30 copies. Available in either A1 or A2 size, all prints will be signed and numbered by Ant. The A2 prints (420x594mm) are $100 each, and the A1 prints (594x841mm) are $160 each.

Plus all of the original pages from the graphic novel are for sale, only $350 a page (except for double page spreads, which are $550 each). These are a real bargain given there whopping A2 size; so seek out your favourite page and frame it up!

The exhibition is still on till the 18th of February, so get along to the Gifthorse Gallery on 24 Graham St, Auckland (PH: 09 3073222), to see some great artwork and get your copy of Shaolin Burning signed by the author!