Wednesday, March 13, 2013

PHOTO-RAMA: Nga Pakiwaituhi: New Zealand Comics and Graphic Novels

The Nga Pakiwaituhi: New Zealand Comics and Graphic Novels exhibition opening took place at the start of this month at the St Paul St Gallery in Auckland. 

The first major New Zealand Comics exhibition in over a decade, it features artwork from 30 local cartoonists, including: Akira Atsushi, Tim Bollinger, Greg Broadmore, Andrew Burdan, Tim Danko, Rufus Dayglo, Draw, Richard Fairgray, Chris Grosz, Dylan Horrocks, Mat Hunkin, Robyn E. Kenealy, Timothy Kidd, Adrian Kinnaird, Sarah Laing, Jared Lane, Roger Langridge, Barry Linton, Tim Molloy, Toby Morris, Stefan Neville & Clayton Noone, Sam Orchard, Ant Sang, Darren & Kelly Sheehan, Chris Slane, Ben Stenbeck, Mat Tait, Karl Wills and Colin Wilson.

It's on till the 12th of ApriI, so I urge you to go check it out while you can!

For those out-of-towners keen for a look, here's some photos from the opening:

Above: Dylan Horrocks with his artwork.

Above: Dylan Horrocks signs his work (as not all the artists were their to sign the walls, there was some signature forgeries involved...see if you can spot the difference!).

Above: Chris Slane.

Above: Ant Sang.

Above: A special appearance by Roger Langridge, who just happened to be in the country!

Above: Toby Morris.

Above: Artwork by Barry Linton.

Above: Artwork by Jared Lane.

Above: Artwork by Draw.

Above: Artwork by Robyn E. Kenealy.

Artwork by Karl Wills.

Artwork by Colin Wilson.

Artwork by Greg Broadmore.

Above: Artwork by Mat Tait.

Above: Some of my artwork.

Above: Artwork by Tim Bollinger.

Above: Artwork by Richard Fairgray.

Above: Artwork by Ben Stenbeck.

Above: Artwork by the Sheehan Bros.

Above: Artwork by Tim Kidd.

Above: Artwork by Sarah Laing.

Above: Artwork by Chris Grosz.

Above: Artwork by Stefan Neville & Clayton Noone.

Above: Artwork by Tim Molloy.

Above: Artwork/Instillation by Tim Danko.

Above: Artwork by Rufus Dayglo.

To highlight the exhibition as a part of the Auckland Arts Festival 2013, former comics writer turned journalist Stephen Jewell (Shards, The Olympians) interviewed Rufus Dayglo for the New Zealand Herald HERE. He discusses his early work featured in Wellington anthology Pistake with Simon Morse and David Tulloch.

Above: Roger Langridge, Cornelius Stone and Knuckles, reunited again!

For more on Roger Langridge's recent New Zealand visit, check out his posts over on his website starting HERE.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Remembering Martin Emond 1969-2004

Above: Martin Emond photographed by Bevin Rijaart, copyright 2013.

Today marks the ninth anniversary of the death of New Zealand comic artist and pop culture icon, Martin Emond. 

In 2004 at the height of his career, in tragically took his own life. The following is a brief overview of his life and career. His artwork was one of a kind, and he's greatly missed.

This also serves as a reminder of how important it is to seek help if you suffer from depression. Please take the time to check out:

Above: Switchblade, Martin's most personal creation. Copyright Martin Emond Estate 2013.

At the dawn of the new millennium, Martin Emond was poised to become one of the most important new voices in popular culture on the planet. He was based in Los Angeles, where his artwork was in high demand for posters, clothing, movies and television. Disney and MTV were lining up to turn his creations into household names. In 2004 he signed a deal to turn his favourite comic strip Switchblade into an animated series, and his other series Rolling Red Knuckles was in production. On the outside he appeared to have it all, but inside he was suffering. A week later, he was dead.

Martin F. Emond was born in Scotland, and migrated to New Zealand at an early age, to be raised in South Auckland. Softly spoken and unassuming by nature, it was his artwork that made ‘Marty’ the center of attention in any room he picked up a pencil. At age ten, his Manurewa classroom proudly displayed his renderings of the rock band KISS on their walls. By sixteen he had moved on to British comic serial 2000AD, and discovered his true calling.

After finishing school at 16, he attended ATI (now Auckland University of Technology), studying towards a Graphic Design Diploma. He completed two of course’s three years, before dropping out – his refusal to focus on any assignments other than drawing and painting lead to him not being ‘invited’ back to complete his final year. It was probably for the best, as Emond had other plans.

He moved to Kawarau and spent a summer working at an abattoir, saving up for a trip to the UK where he planned to meet his idol, artist Simon Bisley. In 1991 he made the trip and ended up staying at Bisley house, learning the tools of the trade and quickly found work on the short-lived anthology Toxic!

He spent 18 months in the UK before returning to New Zealand with a contact to produce what would become one of his seminal works, the mini-series White Trash, with writer Gordon Rennie. The comic teams up ‘The King’ (an Elvis analogue) with Dean - a teen slacker with more than a passing resemblance to the lead-singer of Emond’s favourite band Guns ‘N Roses - on a hellish road-trip across Southwest America. Emond’s artwork perfectly captured the mayhem and energy of a rock & roll performance, elevating the comic and his career to the next level. In quick succession he produced artwork for 2000AD, Epic and Heavy Metal magazine.

In 1992 Emond met US Heavy Metal musician Glen Danzig backstage at one of his concerts in Auckland. Danzig was starting up his own line of comics called Verotik, and would commission Emond to produce the covers. This lead to work for Marvel and DC Comics, including a two year run on Lobo, DC’s popular and irreverent intergalactic bounty hunter.

By the late nineties Emond had tired of drawing Danzig’s explicit comics, and moved on to produce artwork for Japanese publisher DDD. He was given an open brief, and developed his first solo creation, Rolling Red Knuckles - a gang of touch-as-nails street girls, which gained a cult following.

Locally, he enjoyed producing gig posters and album covers for rock bands like Shihad and Head Like A Hole. Through his studio mate Simon Morse, he became involved as a designer for Steve Hodge’s Auckland-based street wear label Illicit. Emond’s gift for creating designs with a rock & roll sensibility and healthy dose of ironic humour, were an instant hit. Hoodies and t-shirts were branded with Rolling Red Knuckles, and a new character he had created, a cute street-wise orphan called Switchblade.

In 2000, Switchblade’s origin was revealed in a series of one page comic strips printed in local music magazine Selector. The cute and instantly iconic characters caught the attention of music labels and Hollywood producers, who were soon courting Emond for the rights to turn his ideas into animated TV shows and live-action movies.

In 2002 he moved to Los Angeles, where producers from MTV and Disney were eager to work with him. After many unsuccessful offers, he eventually signed a contract with Interscope Records to turn Switchblade into an animated TV series, but by now his usual enthusiasm and energy was gone. Privately he had confided in friends that throughout his life he wrestled with depression, and the constant meetings and broken Hollywood promises were taking their toll.

On March 5, 2004, a week after signing the contract for Switchblade, he took his own life at his L.A. studio. He was 34 years old.

Survived by his fiancee Liesje, a memorial was held for him at Alleluya Café in St Kevins Arcade, on Karangahape Rd, Auckland, on March 28. The service was attended by his family, friends, and hundreds of devoted fans.