Friday, September 23, 2011

COMIC STRIP: A Life With Comics #2: Into The Woods

Above: A Life With Comics #2: Into The Woods (CLICK ON THE ART TO ENLARGE).
Copyright Adrian Kinnaird 2011.

Welcome back for the latest chapter of my new comic strip, exploring my earliest experiences with comics!

This one is really my 'first contact' with the medium of comics and it's unique reading experience. It's interesting to note the similarities to Dylan Horrock's first comics experience as depicted in the introduction to the new edition of Hicksville

It was a very personal experience for me, so it's nice to know I'm not the only one who had that kind of reaction. Scottish comics writer Grant Morrison has often talked at length (most recently in his excellent superhero exploration/memoir Supergods) about his relationship with comics been likened to visiting another dimension or plane of existence, and while that might sound a little far fetched, I think there's some truth to that.

There really is something very hypnotic (and almost seductive) about the juxtaposition of panels in comics, that's far more immersing than other forms of entertainment. Perhaps it's that feeling that you're engaging in an exchange with the media: it provides the information through words and images, but it's up to you as the reader to add the extra dimension of time and space, bringing the reading experience to life.

But this was just my first taste, a gentle primer in the language of comics. My next comic-book would grab me by the collar and throw me head-first into a world of imagination beyond the laws of physics and science. Anything would be possible...and it was all taking place on the other side of those four-colour windows.


Monday, September 5, 2011

NEW NZ Graphic Novel: Kimble Bent: Malcontent

Above: The cover of Kimble Bent: Malcontent by Chris Grosz. Copyright Chris Grosz/Random House 2011.

This week sees the release of the third locally published graphic novel this year, Kimble Bent: Malcontent by Chris Grosz.

An acclaimed editorial cartoonist and artist, Chris Grosz has created a striking 72 page graphic novel retelling of James Cohan's original 1911 biography The Adventures Of Kimble Bent. Following the life of Bent, an american who through a series of miss-adventures washes up on New Zealand shores in the 1860s as part of the British Army, before defecting to live among the Maori. 

As one of the few Pakeha to be accepted into Maori tribal society during this period, he joined the Hauhau tribe and took part in key battles during the infamous Taranaki Land Wars. Bent's story of adapting to tribal life is equally fascinating and hair-raising, as he walks a thin line between acceptance and mistrust, with the threat of a scalping and cannibalism ever present. His reputation as the 'Pakeha Maori' and outlaw grew over time, with a price placed on his head by rival tribes and the Crown itself.

Above: A page from Kimble Bent: Malcontent by Chris Grosz. Copyright Chris Grosz/Random House 2011.

Remarkably, the entire book is illustrated using scraperboard, a technique involving removing a top layer of black ink to reveal white china clay underneath, giving the illustrations a stark rugged contrast, perfectly capturing the feel of colonial New Zealand and highlighting the tensions of the story.

It's available now from all major booksellers now for RRP $24.99, published by Random House (ISBN: 9781869795160).

Look for my review later in the week, in the meantime you can watch this Monty Python-like trailer for the book: