Wednesday, September 2, 2020

EVENT: The COVID-19 Diaries, New Comics by Sarah Laing

Sarah Laing, Wellington cartoonist and author of the graphic novels Mansfield & Me and Let Me Be Frank, is having an exhibition to showcase The COVID-19 Diaries, comics she created during and about the first COVID-19 Lockdown. The exhibition includes watercolours and some GIANT comics (we're talking A0 sized comics, people!).

The opening is this coming Monday, 7th of September between 4.30pm and 7pm at Bowen Galleries, 39 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington. If you can't make it to the opening, the exhibition will be on until the 27th of September. It sounds like there will also be printed comics for sale, so get along and view/buy some great local lockdown comics!

You can also read Sarah's COVID-19 Diary comics and other stories on her website HERE.

- AK!

Sunday, August 16, 2020

NZ Graphic novels winners at the NZ Book Awards for Children & Young Adults!

The winners of the NZ Book Awards for Children & Young Adults were announced this week, and two titles with graphic novel storytelling elements were honoured with wins in three different categories.

Mophead, written and illustrated by Selina Tusitala Marsh won both the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award and the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction. Mophead recounts Marsh’s journey from self-conscious child unsure of her place in the world to being New Zealand’s Poet Laureate rubbing shoulders with world leaders and literary luminaries, and delivers a powerful message that your difference is what makes a difference. Here's what the judges had to say:

This magic book reaches past our brains and squeezes life into our hearts and imaginations. Mophead places its writer at the centre of her own story, but also draws lines out to all the stories and histories that make up an individual: cultures, literature, family and education. With exquisite design and production, it is part picture book, part graphic novel, part memoir, part poem – its form is exactly what it wants and needs to be, which is the message of the book too. Mophead is clever and joyful and inspiring, with not a smidgen of pretension or condescension. It is – dare it be said – perfect.

The Adventures of Tupaia, written by Courtney Sina Meredith and illustrated by Mat Tait won the Russell Clark Award for Illustration. The Adventures of Tupaia tells the incredible story of Tupaia, Tahitian priest navigator, who sailed on board the Endeavour with Captain Cook on his first voyage to Aotearoa. Here are the judges feedback on the illustrations:

Mat Tait’s illustrations reach the reader on an intellectual, gut and aesthetic level. They teach us about our history in part by engaging our emotions, via dramatic perspectives and powerful colours. We witness a battle for power as we journey through the Pacific, and are struck by confusion and grief. A clever combination of modes is used: comic strips, vignettes, full spreads of starry skies, and symbols from throughout the Pacific. The pared back, simple lines and limited colours give us the sense that history isn’t merely something from the past – it’s still happening now. These illustrations are modern and cool – but with an urgent fire in their belly.  

Congratulations to Selina Tusitala Marsh and Mat Tait on their wins! Both Mophead and The Adventures of Tupaia are available from booksellers now. You can read about all the winners at the NZ Book Awards website HERE.

- AK!

NEW RELEASE: The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King

Above: The cover of The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King. Copyright Jonathan King 2020.

Out this month is The Inkberg Enigma a new mystery graphic novel from Wellington filmmaker/cartoonist Jonathan King. King's previous films include, Black Sheep and Under the Mountain, with his comics have appeared online and in the Faction anthology and my book, From Earth's End: The Best of New Zealand Comics.

The Inkberg Enigma is a graphic-novel mystery adventure for eight- to twelve-year-olds in which a girl and boy uncover the secret that has corrupted a town. Miro and Zia live in Aurora, a fishing town nestled in the shadow of a mysterious castle. Miro lives in the world of books; Zia is never without her camera. The day they meet, they stumble on a secret. With Zia determined to discover more, a reluctant Miro is pulled into a real-life adventure.

I've always enjoyed King's classic 'ligne claire' style of cartooning, which is sure to appeal to NZ readers young and old who have enjoyed Hergé's Tintin adventures - a firm favourite in local libraries for decades. It took 3 years to create and is sure to be a treat for that younger reader in your house who enjoys comics with a local flavour and a dash of suspenseful adventure! 

You can read an insightful Q&A interview with Jonathan on the creation of the book and his influences HERE.

And here's a preview of the book:

The Inkberg Enigma is available now from Gecko Press and all good bookstores for $29.99 NZ. 
Reader Age: 8-12 year
Book Size: 27 × 20.5 cm
ISBN: 9781776572663  

- AK!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Quarantoon Episode 2: Sarah Laing

Dylan Horrocks continues his interview series Quarantoon, in this new episode featuring cartoonist Sarah Laing (Mansfield & Me). They discuss the process behind her daily comics diary, The COVID-19 Diaries. There's also a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at her sketchbooks and writing process for Mansfield & Me, and a discussion about the future of graphic design in the current climate (the recent collapse of Bauer Media and the NZ magazine industry, and the rise of social media). It's a great conversation that you can check out above, or on Youtube HERE.

- AK!

Monday, April 13, 2020

NZ Cartoonists respond to COVID-19

Above: The 'Flatten the Curve' GIF by  Toby Morris and Dr Siouxsie Wiles.

New Zealand is just over halfway through it's Level 4 mandatory lock-down, a national effort to eradicate the COVID-19 virus from our shores. During this pandemic, cartoonist Toby Morris has collaborated with Dr Siouxsie Wiles (Associate Professor and head of the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at the University of Auckland) to produce illustrated (and animated) articles for The Spinoff to help educate the public on COVID-19: how the virus spreads, best practice to protect ourselves from infection, and generally boiling down complex ideas related to the virus into easy to understand articles.

Above: NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern holding up a printed copy of Toby Morris'  'Flatten the Curve' illustration at a press conference.

The most widely shared of this would be the 'Flatten the Curve' GIF, accompanying the article, 'The three phases of Covid-19 – and how we can make it manageable', published on the 9th of March. Within days of publication it was used as an example to follow by NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a press conference, and has since been used or adapted by foreign governments including Australia, Germany, Argentina and many more. You can read all of  Dr Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris' informative articles and updates on COVID-19 at The Spinoff HERE.

Dylan Horrocks has also started an interview series on youtube, Quarantoon, in which he interviews cartoonists about their work during the pandemic. His first episode is an in-depth chat with Toby Morris about his collaboration with  Dr Siouxsie Wiles for The Spinoff articles. It's honest and revealing, making it essential viewing if you want to hear more about what goes into the creation of these articles and the extraordinary response they have received from around the world. You can view the first episode HERE.

Above: Artwork by Sarah Laing from The COVID-19 Diaries.

Cartoonist Sarah Laing has responded to the pandemic with a more personal expression, a daily comic strip published on her website, The COVID-19 Diaries. A raw and honest account of daily life under Level 4 lock-down, Laing's comics are extremely relatable, illustrating the daily anxieties and humour arising from this unique situation. You can read  The COVID-19 Diaries daily on Sarah's website HERE. Sarah will also be appearing on Horrocks' Quarantoon series, so keep an eye out for that episode soon!

- AK


Monday, March 9, 2020

NZ Graphic Novel Picks for Best International Comics of 2019!

Above: The Adventures of Tupaia by Courtney Sina Meredith and Mat Tait. Copyright  Courtney Sina Meredith and Mat Tait 2020.

Every year I contribute some New Zealand graphic novel picks for Paul Gravett's 'Best Comics of the Year: An international Perspective', highlighting some of the standout graphic novel from around the world. There's some great international reads on this list from such countries as: Argentina, Poland, Finland, South Korea, Serbia, Sweden, Singapore, Switzerland, Portugal, Denmark and Brazil.

The New Zealand titles I included this year were: The Adventures of Tupaia by Courtney Sina Meredith & Mat Tait, published by Allen & Unwin NZ; Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi by Toby Morris with Ross Calman, Mark Derby & Piripi Walker, published by Lift Education; Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh, published by Aotearoa Books, The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill, published by Oni Press, Palimpsest: Documents From a Korean Adoption by Lisa Wool-rim Sjöblom, published by Drawn & Quarterly; Let Me Be Frank by Sarah Laing, published by Victoria University Press; and Rufus Marigold by Ross Murray, published by Earth’s End Publishing.

You can read Best Comics of 2019: An International Perspective Part 1 HERE, and Part 2 HERE.

- AK!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

EVENT: Chip Zdarsky at Graphic Comics!

Above: Comics writer/artist Chip Zdarsky.

The NZ 2020 comics event calendar kicks off this month, with a surprise visit from US comics writer/artist Chip Zdarsky!

Zdarsky is an Eisner, Harvey and Shuster Award winning cartoonist, and co-creator (with Matt Fraction) of Sex Criminals from Image Comics. He is the current writer on Daredevil and the upcoming X-Men/Fantastic Four mini-series for Marvel Comics, and has also written acclaimed runs on: Spider-Man: Life Story, Howard the Duck, Invaders, Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Two-In-One and Jughead for Archie Comics.

He will be making an appearance at Graphic Comics in Wellington, on Thursday 30th January from 4.30-5.30pm to chat and sign comics. It sounds like this will be his only NZ appearance, so if you're in the Welly area, stop by and get some comics signed! You can visit the Graphic Facebook event HERE for more information, and visit Chip's amusing website HERE.

- AK!