Sunday, August 25, 2013

EVENTS: Once Launch & Girl Comics Exhibition

It's another big week for NZ comics, with two separate events this week. The first is the NZ release party for Tim Danko's latest graphic novel Once. Originally created and published for a French publisher, Danko utilized Australian crowd sourcing website Pozible to fund the printing of an English language version. Drawn over a four year period while living on Great Barrier Island, Once is a 56-page tour de force of Danko's mastery of the comics form - exploring the line between comics and visual arts, a direction few cartoonists have travelled as confidently and imaginatively as Danko.

Above: A page from Once by Tim Danko. Copyright Tim Danko 2013.

The New Zealand launch for Once takes place this Tuesday night at The Wine Cellar (St Kevin's Arcade, 183 Karangahape Road, Auckland) from 6-8pm. Also copies of Danko's Dead Xerox Press comic series Sup – Ho will be available, as well as many other rare items and hand-printed bookmarks for sale. For more information, visit the Once Facebook page HERE, or if you can't make the event, you can order it online through the Dead Xerox Press website HERE.

Then on Thursday night, rising comics star Ralphi has an exhibition opening at the Saatchi & Saatchi Gallery called Girl Comics. Probably best known in the local comics scene for her standout contribution to last year's Faction #1 anthology (Ricky & Lyle), Ralphi is quickly becoming a talent to watch, with her sharp design sense and dab hand at creating engaging and memorable characters.

From the exhibition description: 'Ralphi's work uncovers a strong sense of narrative, drawn from events and observations in both her own life and the lives of her numerous, unwitting muses. Referenced in both appearance and antics, their vices are glorified, limbs lengthened, and additional bad language inserted. Themes of friendship, substance abuse, cosmic voyages, and everyday human and animal truths are perceptively captured, impatiently inked and laced with a dark wit.

The ever growing cast of characters are part of a disjointed, motley family. All connected somehow, however tenuous the threads, in the mess that is Ralphi's curly head.'

Above: Ricky & Lyle by Ralphi, from Faction #1. Copyright Ralphi 2013.

The exhibition opening takes place at the Saatchi & Saatchi Gallery (123-125 The Strand, Parnell, Auckland), from 6-8pm. If you can't make the opening, the exhibition will run from the 29th of August to the 10th of October. For more information visit the Facebook page HERE.

It's shaping up to be a landmark year for New Zealand comics, so make sure you get along to these exciting events and support your local cartoonists!


Friday, August 23, 2013

From Earth's End Spotlight: The Adventures Of Captain Sunshine

Above: The Adventures of Captain Sunshine #1 (1979) by Colin Wilson. Copyright Sunshine Watches Limited 2013.

Before New Zealand became a nuclear-free zone in the eighties, or promoted itself to the world as ‘100% Pure’, there was Captain Sunshine.

In the late seventies, Reuben Sandler and Roy Middleton were two young, environmentally aware entrepreneurs, looking to develop a project that would promote their ecological interests – solar power, saving the whales - and become a financially successful business. Together with their friend Peter Farrell, they brainstormed ideas. Middleton pitched the idea of a superhero mascot character 'Captain Sunshine', which Farrell immediately recognized as having potential as a marketing tool. “We were hoping to create a world-wide hero who was involved in fighting pollution and working for environmental goodness in general”, Reuben recalled. “Isn’t it nice to be young? We were also hoping to support ourselves financially from the project”.

Above: an advert for the Sundial Wristwatch(!), 1979. Copyright Sunshine Watches Limited 2013.

Farrell came up with the idea for a Sundial wristwatch to promote solar energy awareness, and the two concepts were combined. They formed the company ‘Sunshine Watches Limited’ and made plans to manufacture the Sundial wristwatches, which would be promoted in dairies and bookstores by a 32 page full-colour comic book, The Adventures of Captain Sunshine.

Above: Captain Sunshine in action! From The Adventures of Captain Sunshine #1 (1979), artwork by Colin Wilson. Copyright Sunshine Watches Limited 2013.

To create the comic book they needed an artistic collaborator, and approached artist Colin Wilson. Wilson had gained a reputation for his comics work as the editor and major contributor of Strips, New Zealand's first comics anthology since the early 1960s. He was interested, but daunted by the task that lay ahead, “back in those days I was up for just about anything. Of course I said yes to the work offer, but realistically there was no way that I was capable of turning out a 32 page full-colour comic by myself in the time we had available”.

Above: A painted sequence by French artist Jean-Luc Bozzoli, from The Adventures of Captain Sunshine #1 (1979). Copyright Sunshine Watches Limited 2013.

To meet the deadline, Wilson assembled a team of his best Strips collaborators to help him complete the task. Laurence Clark (credited as Helen Cross) came on board to handle the lettering. Joe Wylie pitched in on the colouring, and a visiting French artist Jean-Luc Bozzoli, produced paintings for the story’s underwater diving sequence, in which Captain Sunshine communicates with whales – it’s not a coincidence that the inside back-cover features an advertisement for the whale protection group, ‘Project Jonah’.

Above: The Splash page for The Adventures of Captain Sunshine #1, which was also used as a promotional poster, artwork by Colin Wilson. Copyright Sunshine Watches Limited 2013.

In addition to producing the comic’s interior artwork, Wilson also have to come up with in-store promotional items: a full-colour poster, and stand up display figures of Captain Sunshine and his vehicle, the Sunchariot spacecraft. With the deadline looming, the splash-page of the comic book was selected for the 2 X 3ft poster – with additional time lavished on the artwork; and the cover image of Captain Sunshine was blown up to created the standees.

The sundial wristwatch and comic book went on sale in November, 1979. The comic was well received, selling a staggering 100,000 copies, along with 20,000 watches. Considered a success, a second issue was quickly put into production, with an aim to be out by late February of 1980.

Completing the artwork for the second issue, Wilson departed for England to seek full-time work in the British comics industry. Shortly after his arrival, news reached him that the project was cancelled. “the first issue worked really well, and it was my understanding that it was the lack of success for the solar watch that finally torpedoed the whole operation", recalls Wilson. "No watch, no comic required”.

The artwork for the unpublished second issue has been lost over time. According to legend, there may still be a warehouse somewhere in Auckland filled with boxes of Captain Sunshine memorabilia: sundial wrist watches, comics, and standees destined for Australia, currently gathering dust. Wilson never wore a watch, so failed to keep any from the promotion, “which is a pity, as I’m sure that, like the comic, any surviving examples are real collector’s items now”.

Both Reuben Sandler and Roy Middleton went on to be involved in many entrepreneurial business ventures, some failures and significant successes. Looking back on Captain Sunshine, Sandler reflects, “we didn’t know any better. All great entrepreneurial projects work on misguided optimism. Many work out, more fail”.

Above: A double page spread of a gathering of intergalactic Sunshine protectors, heavily influenced by the art of Jean Giraud. From The Adventures of Captain Sunshine #1 (1979), artwork by Colin Wilson. Copyright Sunshine Watches Limited 2013.

Colin Wilson went on to become an internationally acclaimed comic artist. Starting in the UK, he draw Judge Dredd for the popular British weekly 2000AD, before moving to Europe to work alongside Jean Giraud aka Moebius, one of the artists who directly inspired Wilson’s artwork in Captain Sunshine.

Above: Caption Sunshine ponders his future on the last page of The Adventures of Captain Sunshine #1 (1979), artwork by Colin Wilson. Copyright Sunshine Watches Limited 2013.

"The whole project was a blur of excitement" recalls Wilson. "Looking at that first issue now, all I see now are the glaringly obvious shortcomings of a immature comic artist, but we produced New Zealand's first ecological superhero comic, and I'm sure proud of that. And 35 years later, people still remember Captain Sunshine, so perhaps, maybe, we actually got a few things right."

From Earth's End will be the first occasion an extended excerpt from The Adventures of Captain Sunshine #1 has been reprinted since it's original publication in 1979. Perhaps it's time this long forgotten kiwi comics icon had his rightful time in the sun...

- AK!

Monday, August 19, 2013

EVENT: Don't Puke On Your Dad Book Launch!

Above: Don't Puke On Your Dad by Toby Morris. Copyright Toby Morris 2013.

Toby Morris was one of the defining voices of New Zealand comics in the early 2000s, with his ambitious and highly stylish comics Dreamboat Dreamboat and Pirate Technics. After several years in advertising, Morris returned to self-publishing with Alledaags, a collection of diary comics chronicling his time spent living in Amsterdam.

Above: Toby assisting his son Max on a walk. Copyright Toby Morris 2013.

Since returning to New Zealand in 2012, Morris has been working on a second collection of diary comics, this time focusing on his first year of fatherhood, raising his son, Max. Don't Puke On Your Dad is a wonderful collection of daily comics with commentary sharing the highs and lows of parenting. Follow Morris' adventures as he masters manly baby talk; becomes that guy who talks about his kid at parties (to anyone who will listen) and discovers that “lying on the couch making fart noises” to entertain the baby “is a legitimate weekend activity.”

Don't Puke On Your Dad is the perfect gift for new or expecting parents - and just in time for Father's Day! It's published by Beatnik Publishing and is available to order through their website HERE for $30.00 NZ.

Or if you happen to live in Auckland, there will be a Launch Party this Thursday evening at Beatnik Publishing, 11 New North Rd, Auckland from 5pm! Morris will be on hand to sign copies, as well as live music - so drop in and celebrate this great new NZ comics offering!

Check out Toby Morris in action, creation of the Launch Party poster below (with a cameo from Max):


Saturday, August 17, 2013

From Earth's End Spotlight: The Tee Wee Adventures by D. Price

Above: The Tee Wee Adventures by D. Price from The Auckland Star newspaper, May 2nd, 1931. Copyright the D. Price Estate 2013.

This is the first in a new segment of New Zealand history spotlights, where I'll be highlighting cartoonists and events of historical significance from my upcoming book, From Earth's End: The Best of New Zealand Comics. Today I'll be focusing on one of New Zealand's earliest comic strips, The Tee Wee Adventures by D. Price.

Above: The Kowhai Fairies by D. Price, from The Auckland Star Newspaper, July 10th, 1926. Copyright the D. Price Estate 2013.

In the early twentieth century, New Zealand newspapers like The Star were carrying popular American comic strips like Bringing Up Father and Felix the Cat, along with one of the first locally created strips, The Tee Wee Adventures by D. Price.

Above: The Tee Wee Tribe #1, from The Auckland Star newspaper, September 21th, 1929. Copyright the D. Price Estate 2013.

Debuting in July,1926 as part of The Young Folk's Budget, it featured the adventures of native themed fairy folk, like the Kowhai Fairies and Pohutu Pixies. This was probably an editorial directive, as the children's page was inspired by J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan (who along with 'Wendy' contributed the letter columns). Over the next few years the strip would develop its own voice, and a rich cast of characters including the young warrior Tai Ho and the Tee Wee Tribe.

Above: An example of the Star Twinkles children's supplement, from The Auckland Star newspaper, May 2nd, 1931. Featuring a colour version of The Tee Wee Adventures by D. Price. Copyright the D. Price Estate 2013.

The following year, The Star introduced its own children's supplement, Star Twinkles, which ran in the Auckland and Christchurch Sunday editions. It featured full-colour versions of popular Australian strips Us Fellers and Fashion Plate Fanny, along with the continuing Tee Wee Adventures. In 1931 the strip was upgraded to a colour feature for six months, giving D. Price's intricately detailed artwork room to breath on a larger canvas.

Above: The Tee Wee Adventures, from The Auckland Star newspaper, June 27th, 1931. Copyright the D. Price Estate 2013.

Very little information is known about the life of D. Price, but hopefully more of his or her (many of the other early newspaper strip cartoonists at The Star were woman) story will come to light in the wake of my upcoming book.

- AK!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Announcement: From Earth's End: The Best of New Zealand Comics

Hi everyone, I can finally reveal why my blogging over the past year has been relatively patchy: I've been writing a book!

The inception of this project goes back to the very beginning of this blog, with my main objective being to introduce the New Zealand public to its award-winning community of cartoonists - to rightfully establish comics as one of the important cornerstones of New Zealand arts and culture. I'm excited to share the details with you, so without further ado, here's the official press release:

Random House NZ presents the first major book dedicated to New Zealand cartoonists, From Earth’s End: The Best of New Zealand Comics by Adrian Kinnaird, to be released Friday, 1st of November, 2013, through Godwit/Random House NZ.

New Zealand has a rich history of comics and has produced award-winning, internationally recognised creators such as Dylan Horrocks, Roger Langridge and Colin Wilson. An active community of respected writers, artists and designers is becoming more prominent and gaining mainstream recognition: Ant Sang’s bestselling Shaolin Burning and Chris Grosz’s NZ Post Book Awards finalist Kimble Bent being recent examples.

 From Earth’s End reveals for the first time the history of one of the country’s most enduring and subversive art forms. Discover the origins of New Zealand comics, from the pioneering cartoonists of the early twentieth century, to the rebirth of local comics in the 1970s, through to the bestselling graphic novels of today.

The collection showcases work from 30 of New Zealand’s best cartoonists, ranging from internationally acclaimed creators to emerging new talents, including: Tim Bollinger, Laurence Clark, James Davidson, Draw, Martin Emond, Tim Gibson, Trace Hodgson, Dylan Horrocks, Mat Hunkin, Adam Jamieson, Robyn E. Kenealy, Timothy Kidd, Jonathan King, Sarah Laing, Jared Lane, Roger Langridge, Barry Linton, Lee-Yan Marquez, Tim Molloy, Toby Morris, Simon Morse, Ralphi, Ant Sang, the Sheehan Bros, Chris Slane, Cornelius Stone, Mat Tait, Ned Wenlock, Karl Wills and Colin Wilson.

There is also a section revealing the wide influence of comics on New Zealand popular culture, featuring exclusive interviews and appreciations from some of the nation’s leading creative minds, including: Emily Perkins, Dick Frizzell and Vincent Ward.

From Earth’s End is written by Adrian Kinnaird, an Auckland based cartoonist and writer of the award-winning blog of the same name, the first dedicated to New Zealand comics and culture.

“The exceptional talent of our cartoonists is well known around the world, and to me this was a prime opportunity to not only bring that awareness home, but to celebrate an art form that New Zealanders have made their own”, said Adrian Kinnaird. “This book features rare material that has never been seen in print before, like the late Martin Emond’s Switch Blade, or underground legend Barry Linton’s epic Aki series. This book is going to surprise a lot of readers and change their perception of what comics are and can be. It’s going to be really exciting to see.”

“At long last, a book that brings together every aspect of New Zealand comics: the people, the art, the stories”, comments Dylan Horrocks, author of the internationally acclaimed graphic novel Hicksville. “Whether you want to delve into the fascinating history, enjoy some breathtaking art, or just curl up with a stack of great Kiwi comics, From Earth's End delivers all that and more. This is a landmark book not only for New Zealand comics, but for New Zealand culture full stop.”

Publication Details:

 From Earth’s End: The Best of New Zealand Comics

 - Publication date: Friday 1st of November, 2013

 - Written with an illustrated introduction by Adrian Kinnaird.

 - Designed by the award-winning Alan Deare.

 - Afterword by Roger Langridge (Snarked!, Thor: The Mighty Avenger).

 - Format: 448 pages, Paperback, 210mm x 250mm, heavily illustrated with colour and black and white illustrations throughout.

 Retail: $59.99 NZ

For media information contact:

Yvonne Thynne
Publicity Manager Random House New Zealand Ltd



If you like this blog, you are going to LOVE this book! If it is a success, it will open the day for a whole industry of New Zealand comics are graphic novels in the future, so please don't be shy about showing your support!

I'll be sharing exclusive details and previews every week here, but you can also join the official Facebook page HERE. And you can also follow me on Twitter: @adriankinnaird (and hashtag #fromearthsend).

I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks, so here's to starting a publishing revolution!