Thursday, November 20, 2014

EVENT: Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen Release Party!

Next week sees the release of Dylan Horrocks' long awaited second graphic novel, Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen, with a launch party happening at Heroes For Sale, 582 Karangahape Rd, Auckland, on Thursday 27th of November at 6.30pm.

Following 16 years after the release of his ground-breaking debut Hicksville (1998), The Magic Pen introduces us to Sam Zabel - a burnt out cartoonist who having lost his faith in the comics medium, begins a journey of rediscovery that takes him inside and beyond the boundaries of comic books and their established storytelling conventions. Accompanied by web-cartoonist Alice Brown, and the mysterious rocket-booted, manga-styled schoolgirl Miki, Sam's quest for the elusive Magic Pen takes them inside a series of comic books where they meet a tribe of sex-obsessed aliens, pirates, medieval monks, dragons, a room of tentacles, and of coarse, cartoonists.

Above: Sam and his friends encounter the She-Pirates of The Bloody Rose!

Thoughtful, erotic and surprising, The Magic Pen explores both the pleasures and consequences of creating fantasy stories - and asks the difficult questions. For example, should authors be held morally accountable for the fantasies they create? There are many troubling areas in the history of comic books relating to the depiction of gender roles, sexuality and violence among many others issues, which Horrocks boldly wrestles with in this book - challenging himself and his own expectations of comics in a way few of his international peers have.

This is Horrocks' first full-colour graphic novel, and the artwork is beautifully refined in its style and colour palette, making even the most raunchy sequence seem surprisingly tasteful! On that note, it will be interesting to see how the book is received by some critics, particularly those unfamiliar with comics who might assume Dylan's clear-line art style must be inherently child-friendly...big mistake! There are also stylistic tips of the hat to Tintin's Herge, Carl Barks, and even our own late pioneering cartoonist, Eric Resetar.

Above: Sam struggles with the responsibility of storytelling and fantasy.

If Hicksville represented the hopes and fears of a young cartoonist and his relationship to comics, The Magic Pen is its spiritual sequel - the work of a seasoned veteran at the height of his creative power exploring the language of comic books from the inside out, and reporting back to us what he has learnt about himself and the medium after almost two decades in the creative trenches.

Above: Sam and Miki blast off on their adventure!

There will be live entertainment on the night, with snacks and refreshments, and of coarse Dylan will be on hand to sign and sketch in your own personal copy! If you are on Facebook you can RSVP HERE.

And if you are in Wellington, don't despair - Dylan will be signing at Unity Books, 57 Willis St, on December 12th, from 12.00 - 12.45pm! And you can RSVP for that event HERE.

It is sure to be one of the most talked about books of the year, so come along and celebrate this landmark release!

- AK!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembering Adam Tan 1991-2014

Above: Adam Tan at Zinefest 2014.

On Friday it was confirmed that a body found in a stream in Henderson, West Auckland, was that of missing illustrator Adam Tan.

Above: Artwork by Adam Tan. Copyright the Estate of Adam Tan 2014.

Adam Tan was a gifted and well known illustrator in the Auckland arts community. He was of Malaysian-Chinese descent, born and raised in New Zealand. A recent graduate of AUT, he had exhibited and sold prints of his artwork at such events as Zinefest and Chromacon.

He had been missing since the 27th of October after running away from Waitakere Hospital, where his family had taken him after he became distressed, and voluntarily admitted himself to the mental health ward on arrival. During an escorted transfer to the ward he unexpectedly broke away from a security officer and nurse, scaled a metal fence and ran through a car park before disappearing. His family and friends mounted a search for him, coordinating their efforts via a page on Facebook, while the police continued their search.

On Monday 3rd of November a body was discovered in a stream behind the Trusts Stadium on Central Park Drive in Henderson, which was later identified as Adam Tan.

Above: Artwork by Adam Tan. Copyright the Estate of Adam Tan 2014.

His sudden, tragic passing, leaves behind a portfolio of amazing artwork - some of which you can still view HERE at his website, and what would have no doubt have been a very successful career as an illustrator. Dylan Horrocks was one of his tutors at AUT and posted this tribute on Facebook page: "I was in awe of Adam's ability and vision, and always enjoyed chatting with him. My thoughts and love go out to his family and friends, his former teachers and especially to his fellow students in the class we shared. You're all amazing, and I wish you all plenty of love and strength".

Above: Artwork by Adam Tan. Copyright the Estate of Adam Tan 2014.

I had the pleasure of meeting Adam a few years ago during a visit to a Queen St studio space he shared in Auckland with his some of his fellow AUT design students. He was softly spoken as he showed me some of the remarkable artwork he was working on, it was energising to be in the presence of such creativity. He will be greatly missed, and my thoughts and deepest condolences go out to his family and friends. His life and artwork will continue to inspire us all.

If you suffer from depression or feel you are in crisis and need to talk to someone, please consider calling one of the following help lines:

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865
Or visit: – includes The Journal online help service. –  online e-therapy tool provided by the University of Auckland that helps young people learn skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed.

- AK!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Dharma Punks is available from booksellers NOW!

Above: Ant Sang at the Earth's End booth at Auckland Armageddon Expo 2014. Photo by Damon Keen.

After a successful launch last week at Heroes For Sale and Auckland Armageddon ExpoThe Dharma Punks graphic novel from Earth's End Publishing is now available nationwide at selected bookshops! Retailing for $39.99 NZ, you can find it at the following booksellers:

Heroes For Sale, 582 Karangahape Road, Auckland.
Arkham City Comics, Royal Oak Mall - Shop 45a/691 Manukau Rd, Royal Oak, Auckland.
Unity Books, 19 High Street, Auckland.
Whitcoulls Corner, 210 Queen St, Auckland Central.
Timeout Bookstore, 432 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden Village, Auckland. 
University Bookshop Auckland, 2 Alfred St, Auckland.
The Woman's Bookshop, 105 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland.
Paper Plus Glenfield, Cnr Glenfield Rd & Downing St, Glenfield, Auckland.
The Booklover, Shop 2, 1 Milford Road, Milford, Auckland.
Real Groovy, 438 Queen Street, Auckland Central.
Retrospace, 22 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna, Auckland.

Mark One Comics & Games, 551 Victoria Street, Hamilton Central.

Books A Plenty, 28 Grey Street, Tauranga.

Atlantis Books, 1206 Eeuera Street, Rotorua.

Unity Books, 57 Willis Street, Wellington.
Graphic, 106 Cuba Mall, Te Aro, Wellington.
Whitcoulls Lampton Quay, 226 Lambton Quay, Wellington Central.
The Children's Bookshop Wellington, Shop 26 Kilbirnie Plaza, Kilbirnie, Wellington.    

Lower Hutt:
Paper Plus Lower Hutt, 228 High St, Lower Hutt.

Page & Blackmore Booksellers, 254 Trafalgar Street, Nelson.

Comics Compulsion, 58 Main North Road, Papanui, Christchurch.
Scorpio Books, 113 Riccarton Rd, Riccarton, Christchurch.

So head down to your local bookseller and pick up a copy today!

And to all our patient Kickstarter pledges: Ant is currently hard at work signing around the clock to get your copies and rewards finished, and they will be on there way to you as soon as they are done - this wouldn't have been possible without your support, so thank you again!

- AK!