Friday, January 22, 2016

Weekend Reading: The Doctor Foxglove Show and The Pencilsword #20

Above: Artwork from The Doctor Foxglove Show by Rachel Smythe.

Rachel Smythe, the creator of The Maidan, which placed 3rd in last year's Chromacon Chroma Art Awards, has a new webcomic available for you to read, The Doctor Foxglove ShowDescribed as, 'surreal thriller that follows a young woman and her struggles adjusting to her place in between life and death'. The artwork has deliciously gothic texture to it, establishing a great sense of atmosphere in it's opening chapter. You can read the intro and first chapter HERE.

Above: Artwork from The Pencilsword #20: Holes by Toby Morris.

In this month's Pencilsword, Toby Morris considers the unseen: the gaps in our perception of the world, the uncomfortable truths that we'd rather not notice or pay attention to in our daily lives or society at large. Perhaps it's time we were more honest with ourselves, and took a closer look at the 'holes'. You can read the full animated strip HERE.

- AK!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Weekend Reading: My Father's Face and The Pencilsword

Above: My Father's Face by Jem Yoshioka.

If you happen to be kicking back and relaxing this weekend with a good book or tablet device, he's some new home-grown comics to enjoy! 

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of hosting a NZ comics panel at Chromacon in Auckland and got to interview the very talented Wellington cartoonist Jem Yoshioka. Her latest auto-biographic comic, My Father's Face, was inspired by her recent visit to Japan for the first time, as she continues to explore her Japanese heritage and themes relating to identity. Following on from her previous comic Folding Kimono, this is a thought provoking read and certainly has the potential to grow into a larger graphic novel project (which Jem has hinted at in her blog), so watch this space!

You can read the full comic of My Father's Face HERE and Jem's other comics at her website HERE.

Above: Panel from The Pencilsword #19: Twelve Days by Toby Morris.

Toby Morris wraps up another year of The Pencilsword with a sweet ode to the kiwi batch summer Christmas! You can read the full strip HERE.

- AK!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Classic Reissue: The Adventures of Hutu & Kawa

Above: The Adventures of Hutu & Kawa by Avis Acres.

Just in time for Christmas, Penguin Books NZ have reissued The Adventures of Hutu & Kawa, a classic picture book by one of our pioneering female cartoonists Avis Acres. Originally published by A.H. & A.W. Reed in 1955, this was the first in a series of picture books featuring the characters that had appeared in her 1950s comic strip, The Tale of Hutu & Kawa, published weekly in the New Zealand Herald. This was followed by two sequels, Hutu and Kawa meet Tuatara (1956) and Hutu and Kawa find an Island (1957).

In this adventure, Hutu and Kawa - also known as The Pohutukawa Babies - with some help from Grandpa Kiwi, build a canoe and set off up the river to explore the forest. On their way they make many new friends – and encounter the fearsome Bush Hawk.

This 60th-anniversary hardback edition captures all the charm of the original tale and brings these delightful characters to a new generation of children. Available now, this classic kiwiana read will make a great gift for the young or nostalgic at heart.

The Adventures of Hutu & Kawa by Avis Acres
RRP: $25.00NZ
ISBN: 9780143507055

- AK!

Friday, December 4, 2015

REVIEW: The Heading Dog Who Split in Half by Michael Brown & Mat Tait

Above: The cover for The Heading Dog Who Split in Half by Mat Tait.

It has been around 5 years in the making, having appeared in installments online and in various anthologies, but finally writer Michael Brown and artist Mat Tait's The Heading Dog Who Split in Half: Legends and Tall Tales from New Zealand is here!

As the title suggests, this is a collection of local folklore legends: accounts of extraordinary events that are believed to have happened, and tall tales: far-fetched and exaggerated yarns that are so well told and memorable that they have taken hold in the community imagination and been passed on in story or song.

Authors Mat Tait and Michael Brown first met at the Ilam School of Fine Arts at Christchurch University in the late 1980s. They stayed in touch, and after several years of researching and writing about New Zealand folklore, Brown approached Tait with the idea of adapting these tales into graphic form. Over the years Tait had quietly carved out a career as one of our most gifted comics illustrators. His artwork is an immaculate mix of razor-sharp line work and fluid inking. There’s an attention to detail that gives his work a haunting realism, combined with a cartoonist’s eye for composition and humour, that is perfect suited for this subject matter.

When it comes to tall tales you want to be drawn in and convinced that there’s a germ of truth in the telling, and that’s exactly what Brown and Tait have achieved here: these stories will entertain you, unnerve you, and haunt you – in the best possible way.

Above: A page from The Heading Dog Who Split in Half, artwork by Mat Tait.

There’s the title yarn, The Heading Dog Who Split in Half, a legend from the MacKenzie high country of Canterbury, about a heading dog that was so fast at mustering that one day it hit a half buried fencing standard at such speed that it was split in two. It’s owner puts the two halves back together and it speeds off and completes the job. Only once it returns does the owner see that it is grotesquely joined with one half the wrong way up! Captured in freakish detail by Tait's artwork, on paper it's a tale so vivid it leads you to wonder - what grain of truth could have given rise to this outlandish fantasy? 

And that's where the Additional Notes section at the back of the book comes in, providing the sources for the stories and comparisons to other well known legends from around the world. In this case, the Heading Dog comes from a rich vein of mythological carved dogs, that have appeared in Native American tales and similar animals like the reversible hare that appears in The Adventures of Baron Munchhassen. This added context greatly enhances the reading experience, inviting you to go deeper into each story if you wish to learn more about the origins if these fascinating yarns.

Above: A page from The Phantom Canoe, artwork by Mat Tait.

A book on local legends wouldn't be complete without a great ghost story, and this one contains a doozy in the form of The Phantom Canoe. It was sighted on Lake Tarawera in 1886, just a few weeks prior to the eruption of Mt Tarawera. A boat of tourists and local maori led by Te Paea Hinerangi (a well known local guide) who described the war canoe as been manned by warriors with the heads of dogs, and the illustration of them here is just chilling – a close encounter with spirits on the eve of apocalyptic destruction.

This story is significant as it is an example of a shared supernatural occurance witnessed by both Maori and Pakeha, suggesting that the spirit world of myth was not as far removed from their reality as the calonial settlers may have believed, and both cultures may still have something to fear from the mysterious and strange land of New Zealand.

Above: A page from A Tale of Old Waihiartwork by Mat Tait.

Other yarns are more humourous, like A Tale of Old Waihi, a bragging story told to out-of-towners featuring their gargantuan Crayfish – and its many uses. For example, you can use it’s eyes for bowling balls, claws for pick axes, add wheels to it’s tale for a baby pram and the shell can be used for an outside dunny(!). There's also an illustrated sea shanty in the form of Ranzo, Boys, Ranzo!, and the darkly gothic tragedy of Dunedin's Legend of Tunnel Beach.

Published by Potton & Burton in an oversized format on thick unprocessed paper, it's a real treat to turn the page an enjoy the large lavish artwork in inky black & white as always intended. Combining their considerable storytelling skills, Brown and Tait have produced a truly essential New Zealand graphic novel - that deserves a spot on every local bookshelf, where it will haunt and entertain readers of all ages for years to come.

You can also listen to my audio review of The Heading Dog Who Split in Half on Radio NZ Nights HERE. For more information you can also visit their website, Old Weird New Zealand HERE.

The Heading Dog Who Split in Half: Legends and Tall Tales from New Zealand
Michael Brown & Mat Tait
ISBN: 9781927213575
$39.99 NZ

- AK!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Upcoming Release: Three Words: An Anthology of Aotearoa/NZ Women's Comics

Above: The cover of Three Words: An anthology of Aotearoa/New Zealand Woman's comics.

Three Words: An anthology of Aotearoa/New Zealand Woman's comics, edited by Sarah Laing, Indira Neville & Rae Joyce, will be published by the good folks at Beatnik Publishing this coming March. But right now you can pre-order it through their website for the special price of $45nz!

Here's the press release details:

Women in Aoteroa New Zealand make comics. They make slick professional comics and homemade crafty ones. some are conventionally attractive and some are beautifully ugly. Some have logical linear narratives and some are cerebral visual leaping swirls. There are big proud comics and small humble ones, widely distributed comics and one-offs, comics that are deep and meaningful and some that are light and silly. There are physical, emotional and intellectual comics, intentional and accidental comics, happy, sad, funny, angry, scary, confusing and wondrous comics.

For some it may be a surprise to find so many comics by women, since conventional wisdom would have us believe that the comics scene is a boys’ club. But it’s not a surprise to us. Although women’s comics haven’t been represented much in New Zealand history books, they have been found in zines and magazines, tumbles, twitter feeds, shoe boxes, art galleries, painted on old tea trays and brochures, magneted to fridges, tattooed on forearms. And now they’re also here. In this book. A whole bunch of them, up front, visible, available and making history.

With comics by: Adele Jackson, Alex McCrone, Alex Wild, Alice Tumblescribbleson, Alie Mcpherson, Anna Critchton, Andra Jenkin, Bek Coogan, Beth Duckingmonster, Beth Sometimes, Caroline Anderson, Celia Allison, Claire Harris, Dawn Tuffery, Demarnia Lloyd, Diane Rimmer, Elsie Jolliffe, Emma Blackett, Erin Fae, Debra Boyask, Giselle Clarkson, Indira Neville, The Rabbid, Jem Yoshioka, Jessica Dew, Jessica Hansell, Joanna Anderson, Judy Darragh, Kayla Oliver, Kerry Ann Lee, Margaret Silverwood, Olga Krause, Linda Lew, Lisa Noble, Liz Mathews, Loux McLellen, Lucy Meyle, Maiangi Waitai, Marina Williams, Mary Tamblyn, Mengzhu Fu, Mirranda Burton, Miriam Harris, Pritika Lal, Rachel Benefield, Rachel Shearer, Rae Joyce, Raewyn Alexander, Ralphi, Rebecca Hawkes, Renee Jones, Rosemary McLeod, Warsaw, Sally Bollinger, Sarah Laing, Sarah Lund, Sharon Murdoch, Sophie McMillan, Sophie Oiseau, Stella Corkery, Susan Rugg, Susan Te Kahurangi King, Suzanne Claessen and Zoe Colling.

Also featuring essays by: Robyn Kenealy, Rae Joyce, Ruth Boyask, Jem Yoshioka and Miriam Sapphira.

TITLE:  Three Words: An Anthology of Aotearoa / NZ Women's Comics
EDITED BY: Rae Joyce, Sarah Laing, Indira Neville
SOFTCOVER: 264 pages
SIZE: 160mm x 210mm
PUBLISHER: Beatnik Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9941205-0-2

So pre-order a copy today, from the Beatnik website HERE.

- AK!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Earth's End and Terry Teo at Auckland Armageddon 2015!

Above: The Earth's End Publishing team and cartoonist Mat Tait: (from left) Adrian Kinnaird, Damon Keen, Mat Tait and Kelly Sheehan. Photo by Ant Sang.

Things have been pretty hectic here at Earth's End Central in the last few weeks: we've moved premises, published our second book, Terry Teo and the Gunrunners (in bookstores now!), and launched it at Auckland Armageddon Expo over Labour Weekend. So hopefully I can now return this blog to its regularly scheduled programming!

Above: Terry Teo and the Gunrunners by Stephen Ballantyne & Bob Kerr.

So first up, Terry Teo and the Gunrunners: this new special edition of the kiwi kids classic by Stephen Ballantyne & Bob Kerr has been completely remastered from the original artwork, to present the story in vibrant watercolour for a whole new generation of reader to enjoy! It also includes a bonus essay written by me covering the history of this iconic character: featuring interviews with the creators of the graphic novel series, the makers of the 1986 TV adaptation, and a look behind the scenes of the new Terry Teo reboot to screen on TVNZ this summer - along with rare artwork and photographs. It's available at bookstores now for $24.99nz, for more information and updates you can visit our website HERE.

Above: The Earth's End Publishing booth at Auckland Armageddon Expo, just prior to opening.

We launched Terry Teo at the Auckland Armageddon Expo over Labour Weekend to a great public response. In addition to the book, we also screened the first trailer of the new Terry Teo TV series, written and directed by Gerard Johnstone (Housebound), from the footage it looks to capture the humour and adventure of the original, while giving the material a contemporary update.

Above: Myself, with Kelly Sheehan and Terry Teo co-creator Stephen Ballantyne.

Above: Mat Tait (The Heading Dog Who Split in Half) and Ant Sang (The Dharma Punks).

We had our authors Stephen Ballantyne and Ant Sang signing during the weekend, as well as our good friend Mat Tait - whose new graphic novel The Heading Dog Who Split in Half, written by Michael Brown, is in bookstores now.

Above: Mat Tait signing & sketching copies of The Heading Dog Who Split in Half for punters. Photo by Ant Sang.

Above: Terry Teo co-creator Stephen Ballantyne.

It was a great weekend, and really pleasing to hear from so many readers that Terry Teo was 'a part of their childhood' - one they can now revisit, and share with their own children. You can check out this recent review of the book at the Booksellers NZ blog HERE.

- AK!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Red Peak VS The Key by Jonathan King

Above: Red Peak as superhero - confronted by the cowardly villain, The Key! by Jonathan King.

As the debate over the NZ Flag Referendum continues, cartoonist/filmmaker Jonathan King took to Twitter with these cartoons illustrating Prime Minister John Key's dismissive attitude towards the increasingly popular 'Red Peak' flag design by Aaron Dustin - interpreted as a pitch perfect parody of a 1950s DC comics cover.

After 10,000 alternative NZ flag designs were submitted earlier this year, the Flag Consideration Panel narrowed down the list to a final four, which were revealed at the start of this month. Since the reveal there has been much debate over the final four designs and the lack of originality and diversity in the choices, with Aaron Dustin's 'Red Peak' design becoming a popular alternative, with growing public support on social media to add the flag as a fifth option to next month's referendum. With the deadline looming, its unclear if there is still time for new legislation to have the Red Peak flag added to the ballot as a fifth option, and defy the 'Key Master'...only time will tell. But I would definitely buy this comic!

You can follow Jonathan King on Twitter: @MrJonathanKing, and support the 'Red Peak' flag on Facebook HERE.

Above: You don't tug on Red Peak's cape (or ponytail!).