2010: Year in review
It has been a varied year comics wise with some highs and lows. I thought it might be good to look back and sum up what has been happening in awcomix land in 2010.
State library work
At the start of the year I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer to catalogue part of the State Library of Victoria's comic collection. I got to see a lot of gems both in zines and comics, including work from Mandy Ord, Tim Danko, Michael Fikaris, and Amber Carvan. It gave me a good sense of how things are not necesarily lost with time and printing your own publications has a strange pertinence and importance in both art and literary culture.
Comics camp (Codename Chugnut) 2010
What can I say good times, good people, good food, drawing and reading comics in the bush for two days. Lots of jokes to be had and new friendships were formed. I had real Masa corn tortillas for the first time (Thanks to Pat Grant), and ate the most fluffy and delicious pancakes in my life (Thanks to Andrew Fulton). A highlight was giggling like school kids one night in the cabin whilst Neale Blanden retold a story about an AC/DC concert where some young punks were throwing lit sparklers into the crowd.
I ran a fundraiser to help go towards a new computer after my old one decided it did not want to turn on anymore. I had an excellent time creating fundraising artwork and there were a few supporters for the campaign which at least helped me get a little over $100. I am almost certain the computer's cost is still sitting on my credit card.
Blood & Thunder anthology
I jumped at the chance to get a comic printed in colour when the call out arrived. I used this opportunity to write a comic on a topic that I am passionate about; the commercial uses of industrial Hemp. Originally I had planned to write a 20-30 page story on Hemp and spent a year researching the topic whilst I was in Canada; I almost even got to visit a Hemp farm in Manitoba right before the harvest in August 2008; sadly I had too much going on at the time and missed it by just two weeks.
Due to the difficulty of writing a non-fiction comic I scaled back the idea to fit on the large B&T page. The same comic at A5 would have covered 3-4 pages, the one page was dense with panels. I have not had much feedback on the comic itself other than the visuals. It would be interesting to know if it was too dry a topic for an interesting read.
Dylan Horrocks comics master class
A group of wonderful and friendly comickers spent five days in April hunkered around a large table at the Wheeler centre discussing aspects of comics drawing writing and creating and led by New Zealand comic artist Dyaln Horrocks. Dylan was a friendly guy with helpful advice for us all. It was great to see some of his original art and hear about his process with comics. At times it was surprisingly emotional as we all discussed our hopes, fears and thoughts on comics, or in other words we took a good hard look at ourselves and came out better on the other side. Like the camp, it was so cool to hang out with these comic people and I wished every day could be like it.
Comic artist rehab
I was invited to get involved with rehab by Amber Carvan at the launch of Blood & Thunder at Brunswick Bound. I wasn't sure how I was going to tackle the challenge but I felt I wanted to try something that would push the boundaries of what I was usually comfortable writing about. I ended up biting the bullet and doing a comic about a guy, Alec, who I briefly knew a few years ago and had passed away. I have always had the story in the back of my mind, but I always put it off thinking I could not do it justice. The format of rehab was excellent motivator to get me to formulate the story and keep it on track. I did feel a little burnt out after rehab so it almost has the opposite effect. Truthfully I had a lot of other commitments happening at the same time which caused the burnt out feeling. I am looking forward to adding some more pages to the story and I have some plans to print it out once I have finished the set of subscription comics. The story feels like the first real independent story I have done, ie, a story I am passionate about telling and not just one pagers or little snippets strung together.
With the birth of our daughter Zoey in July, regular life including drawing comics took a back seat. However in the crazyness of those first few months I somehow manged to draw a one page comic for the Melbourne exhibition Tiny Peaks. It was mostly wordless describing my long days balancing family and work. Fikaris said he liked it, which is good enough for me.
I set out to publish 4 comics containing my diary strips from early 2008 to early to mid 2009. In have officially published two and have been on the verge of the third for approximately 2-3 months (in other words it is slow going) The frustrating thing is that the material is all completed, it is just the post production stuff which is taking awhile to do.
I was invited to give a talk about my comics at a local university library. It was good to take a look back at my work over the past 10 years and try to explain it in some coherent fashion. The talk led to a few other interviews (including one in the Weekly Times) and a illustration gig which was nice.
To summarise the year I thought I had not achieved as much as I would have liked to, although now looking back I can see I did more than I realised. I struggled with the idea about where I wanted to take my comics, which was somewhere away from the autobio genre, or atleast different from what I have been doing. I was able to try out different approaches in my Tango anthology submission (Love&War, a non-auto bio piece), the Dylan Horrocks masterclass (talking about the reasons/issues around a change), my failed Going Down Swinging submission (another non-auto bio piece), Blood&Thunder (a non-auto bio piece on Hemp) and the Comic Artist Rehab comic (still autobio but not focused on me).
I am not sure what has got me wanting to head away from autobio, perhaps it is that social media now fulfills (to a certain extent) the role that autobio played, ie, peeks in to other peoples life's, or that I feel I have said enough about myself, or that now I am older and have younger kids I am less willing to talk about my private goings on, I am not sure completely. One of the many things that came out of the Horrock's master class was meeting Jen Breach and discussion the possibility of collaborating on a kids comic. At this stage perhaps something for the ages 8-14, which is a big range in a way but perhaps we will focus on a smaller segment.
Thanks for sticking around and taking an interest, I hope to updating the blog with new drawings and or writing in the coming months.