Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lost NZ Comics: Martin Emond's 657

Above: The cover of 657 by Martin Emond. Copyright the Martin Emond Estate 2015.

While researching my book From Earth's End in 2012, I interviewed several friends and colleagues of the late great Martin F Emond (1969-2004), to help build a picture of his life and work for a spotlight chapter in my book. Emond was one of the few local cartoonists to successfully find comics work internationally in the 90's, first in the UK at publications like 2000AD and Toxic, and later in the US - working for DC Comics and a variety of others. I've written about his life and career in a previous retrospective blog, that you can read HERE.

One of the people I interviewed was Paul Rogers, a cartoonist and artist who was studying graphic design at the Auckland Institute of Technology (now A.U.T.) at the same time as Emond. During his tenure at A.I.T. it was clear how talented Emond was, but his sole focus on producing comics art and paintings at the expense of other assignments did create friction with the institute. When he wasn't invited back to complete the final year of his diploma, Emond set his sights on breaking into the UK comics instead, and on advice from Rogers set about producing a sample comic he could send out to comics editors to get their attention. The result was 657, a comic about a group of misfit superheroes (Ash, Ignition and Carmine) on a road trip.

Above: A pin-up of 657 by Martin Emond. Copyright the Martin Emond Estate 2015.

As Rogers recalls, '657 was produced by Martin in the NZ summer of late 1989 - early 1990, as a portfolio piece which he sent to (UK comics writer/editor) Pat Mills c/o 2000AD to try and get work in the English comic market. These samples got Martin his first commissioned work (Accident Man for the UK publication Toxic), which then led to White Trash and other things'.

The comic included a ten-page story and a series of character pin-ups. The results are a bit rough, but you can clearly see Martin's knack for stylised anatomy and decorative design developing here, and his interest in outsider characters living on the fringes of society, forming their own dysfunctional family to survive - a theme he would return to and refine in his most personal strip, Switch Blade.

The following artwork scans for the entirety of 657 were provided by Paul Rogers, with special thanks to the Martin Emond Estate. Enjoy!

- AK!

Above: All 657 artwork and contents is copyright the Martin Emond Estate 2015.

Friday, January 9, 2015

NZ Cartoonists and Community Respond to the Charlie Hebdo Attack

Above: UK/NZ cartoonist Rufus Dayglo photographed attending a silent vigil in Trafalgar Square, London.

On January 7th, twelve people were killed in an armed attack by two masked gunmen on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The victims of this horrific act of violence included five cartoonists: Stéphane Charbonnier, also known as 'Charb', the magazine's editor and chief cartoonist; Jean Cabut, aka 'Cabu'; Georges Wolinski, one of the founders of Charlie HebdoBernard Verlhac, aka 'Tignous', and Philippe Honoré, a staff cartoonist.

The attack was believed to be in response to the satirical magazine's use of Muhammad-related cartoons and material. Police officers were stationed at the offices of Charlie Hebdo after previous death threats and a fire-bombing incident in 2011, and sadly two officers were killed during the initial attack and the armed exchanges that followed.

Above: Photo from the Auckland vigil held at Aotea Square on Friday evening. Photo by Amy Baker.

Following the tragedy, there have been vigils held worldwide to morn and remember the victims of this attack, taking place in Paris, London, and many other cities around the world, including here in Wellington and Auckland. Signs bearing the phrase "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) were created and held aloft along with pens and pencils in a tribute of solidarity with the staff of Charlie Hebdo to champion their right (and others) to express themselves through art without having to live in fear of reprisal. Over 300 people filled Auckland's Aotea Square yesterday evening, leaving their signs and messages of support with candles that continued to burn long into the night.

Above: "Je suis Charlie" by Dylan Horrocks.

Dylan Horrocks, Rod Emmerson and others responded to the news of the attack in an interview with the NZ Herald that you can read HERE.

UPDATE: On the 13th of January, Horrocks was also interviewed on 95b-FM's The Wire, you can hear the full interview HERE.

Above: "Je suis Charlie" by Toby Morris.

Local political cartoonist Tom Scott, whose cartoons have previously been featured in French newspaper Le Monde, was interviewed by Radio NZ HERE.

Above: "Je suis Charlie" by Tim Molloy.

Saturday morning the news broke that the two wanted gunmen were located hiding in a printing plant north of Paris in Dammartin-en-Goele, and were later killed in a shoot out with police, bringing this tragic series of events to an unsettling end.

The surviving staff of Charlie Hebdo have moved to the offices of Liberation magazine, where they will continue to publish, with the print run for next week's issue expected to be one million copies.

- AK!

Above: Photos from the Auckland vigil held at Aotea Square on Friday evening. Photos by Amy Baker.

Wednesday, November 19, 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!

Monday, November 10, 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!

Friday, October 31, 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!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Last Stop: Auckland Armageddon Expo 2014!

Above: Ant Sang and his new graphic novel collection of The Dharma Punks.

This is a late breaking announcement due to all the work surrounding the launch of Earth's End Publishing, but if you follow this blog and live in Auckland, chances are you already have your tickets for this long weekend's Auckland Armageddon Expo! It all kicks off with a preview night on Friday 24th (tomorrow) - from 6pm-9pm, and then three full-on days of pop culture madness, from Saturday 25th - Monday 27th of October!

This will be one of the most well attended conventions by local creators in several years, so I wanted to take this opportunity to spotlight the many great local comics releases you can get your hands on this weekend!

As seen above, Ant Sang will be attending Armageddon to sign advance copies of The Dharma Punks collected edition, the first graphic novel offering from Earth's End Publishing! (booth 95).

I'll also be there with copies of From Earth's End: The Best of New Zealand Comics, along with Damon Keen from the Faction Comics Anthology (3 issues available), and the Sheehan Brothers - creators of The Inhabitants, who also happen to have a new mini-comic debuting at the Expo.

Above: The latest Morgan children's book, Morgan Goes To Sleep, by Richard Fairgray, Tara Black and Terry Jones.

Square Planet will once again be attending with a variety of new comics and creators, which you can discover at Mega-booth 100! Richard Fairgray - best known for Blastosaurus, Ghost Ghost, Anoraks & Acolytes and now the Morgan series of children's books, will have new entries available for all of his titles, as well as some more surprises.

Above: Ralphi by Richard Fairgray.

Above: Robyn Kenealy by Richard Fairgray.

Above: Tara Black by Richard Fairgray.

Square Planet will also be launching exclusive cartoonist sketchbooks this year, featuring artwork from some of their upcoming collaborators, including Ralphi - creator of Ricky & Lyle, Robyn Kenealy - creator of American Captain, Tara Black - creator of I Fight Crime.

Above: Nothing Fits by Mary Tamblyn & Alex McCrone.

New this year at the NZCC booth 169, we will have the graphic novel Nothing Fits from Christchurch creators Mary Tamblyn & Alex McCrone, as well as the latest edition of NZ's longest running comics anthology Funtime, edited by Jason Lennie. We'll also have the latest Bristle Annual #2, edited by Brent Willis.

Above: THRUST JUSTICE! by Brent Willis.

Speaking of Brent Willis, he has a new comic launching at Armageddon courtesy of Pikitia Press booth 153, the irreverent THRUST JUSTICE! Get a copy before it gets you!

Above: Moonbeard by Squires.

 Pikitia Press will also be selling Moonbeard by Squires - a 132 page comics collection, as well as titles from Sarah Laing, Barry Linton, James Davidson and more!

Above: The Time Traveling Tourist from Beyond Reality Media.

BRM will have a host of graphic novels and comics available from the Mega-Booth 100, including: Prepocalypse Vol.1, Warden Vol.2, The Time Traveling Tourist, and many more! Artist Alan Robinson will also be in attendance.

Above: Copies of the graphic novel Headlocked: The Last Territory by Michael Kingston & Michel Mulipola.

One of our friends Michel Mulipola has a new graphic novel out, Headlocked: The Last Territory - set in the world of professional wrestling. You can pick up a signed copy from him at the Arkham City Comics booth 95. Darick Robertson - artist of Transmetropolitian, The Boys and many of US titles will also be signing at the Arkham City Comics booth throughout the weekend.

Above: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as illustrated by co-creator Kevin Eastman.

Other international comics guests appearing at the Expo include the legendary co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Kevin Eastman (Sunday only); the writer of Chew - John Layman, and James Tynion IV & Kyle Higgins, co-writers with Layman of the weekly series, Batman Eternal.

So if you love comics, this weekend make sure you get along to Auckland Armageddon Expo, held at the ASB Showgrounds Greenlane, from October 24th - 27th. For more information visit the Armageddon Expo website HERE.

- AK!

EVENT: The Dharma Punks Graphic Novel Launch!

Above: The cover of The Dharma Punks graphic novel by Ant Sang. Copyright Ant Sang 2014.

Its been crazy busy here at Earth's End Central, with the launch of Earth's End Publishing's first graphic novel, the long awaited collected edition of The Dharma Punks by Ant Sang!

It will launch tonight (October 23rd) at a special signing event at Heroes For Sale, 582 Karangahape Road, Auckland, from 6.30pm. Ant Sang will be on hand to sign copies, there will be refreshments, and even a music set from the PCP Eagles!

If you pledged on Kickstarter, you will be able to collect your special editions with exclusive extras from this event, and also from the Earth's End booth 95, this weekend at the Auckland Armageddon Expo 24th-27th October. We will also have copies on sale at Armageddon Expo all long weekend, with Ant Sang signing, along with myself with copies of From Earth's End: The Best of New Zealand Comics, Damon Keen from Faction, and the Sheehan Brothers of The Inhabitants fame!

If you don't live in the Auckland area you will still be able to pick up a copy of The Dharma Punks from your local retailer when it is released next Friday, 31st of October. You can pre-order it now at your retailer - as word of mouth will help get this book out there - and if they need directions on where to find us, you can send 'em to:!

So hope to see you tonight or over the long weekend, as The Dharma Punks makes its long awaited return to a bookshelf near you!

- AK!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

EVENT: The Paper Cinema's Odyssey

Now for something completely different: the UK based performance company, The Paper Cinema, will be bringing their unique interpretation of Homer's The Odyssey to our shores this month for a limited season!

Founded in 2004 by Nicholas Rawling, with Imogen Charleston and Christopher Reed, The Paper Cinema uses a combination of animation, music, film and theatre to lead the viewer through a variety of stories. Intricate pen and ink illustrations are manipulated in real-time in front of a live video camera and projected onto the big screen alongside the performed music, to deliver a truly unique storytelling experience.

Above: A multi-layered frame from The Paper Cinema's The Odyssey.

Their staging of The Odyssey has already drawn rave reviews internationally from The Guardian and Timeout - 'An epic, imaginative voyage'; here is the official synopsis:

Raging storms and supernatural forces prevail over one man’s almighty quest to get home. Immerse yourself in a journey through the high seas, soak up the adventure and encounter danger and exhilaration.

Homer’s cornerstone of literature is vividly told with beautiful illustration and masterful puppetry. Cinematic projection and cunning tricks transform a suitcase full of cut-out paper puppets into an array of living characters and striking landscapes. A silent film is created before your eyes, set to a captivating live score from exceptional musicians.

The Paper Cinema’s Odyssey will be taking place live at the Lower NZI, Aotea Centre in Auckland, from October 29th - November 1st at 7pm. Tickets range from $25 - $48 (service fees apply). For more information and to book tickets visit the Auckland Live website HERE.

There will also a free post-show talk Paper Cinema Revealed, after the Thursday performance. So if you're keen to see cartooning, music and film combined in new, ingenious ways - this show is definitely for you!

- AK!