Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Graphic Voices at Auckland Writers Festival 2015

Above: The four cartoonists taking part in A Graphics Affair; from top left: Rachel Fenton, Damon Keen, below left: Sam Orchard and Ant Sang.

The Auckland Writers Festival returns for 2015, and continues its love affair with graphic literature - boasting events featuring several well known local cartoonists.

A Graphic Affair, taking place on Sunday May 17th, from 4.30pm - 5.20pm, is a FREE event featuring four NZ cartoonists taking to the Aotea Centre Limelight Stage to present stories from one of their works. 

The line-up features: Rachel Fenton, a former winner of AUT's Graphic Fiction Prize and recent participant in the NZ Book Council's Graphic Novelist Exchange Residency in Taiwan; Damon Keen, editor of the NZ comics anthology Faction, and the upcoming High Water collection; Sam Orchard, author of the autobio webcomic Rooster Tails, and the comic series Family Portraits; and Ant Sang, author of Shaolin Burning, The Dharma Punks, and designer of the TV series Bro' Town.

For more information, visit the Auckland Writers Festival event page HERE.

Above: Ant Sang.

Ant Sang will also be leading a special workshop entitled, Comics 101.

Limited to 40 participants, join Ant to discuss, draw, and explore the creative process behind creating a graphic novel. Tickets are $45, with the workshop taking place on Friday May 15th, from 9am - 10.30am, at the Goodman Fielder Room, level 4, Aotea Centre. For more information, visit the Auckland Writers Festival event page HERE.

Above: Zak Waipara.

As a part of the Family Day Events on Sunday May 18th, Zak Waipara will be sharing Maori Myths - Maori mythology and legends with a modern twist. An animator and cartoonist, readers may remember Waipara's work from the late 90s comic Children of a Dying Nation, he has also worked as a designer on Maori Television's children's show Miharo, and a wide variety of children's books.

This event will be taking place at the Herald Theatre from 1.15pm - 1.45pm, and is suitable for ages 5-10. This is a free event, but tickets are required for booking. For more information, visit the Auckland Writers Festival event page HERE.

The Auckland Writers Festival will be held at the Aotea Centre from the 13th - 17th of May. Tickets are on sale now, so get in quick for the best seats in the house, and visit their website for a full list of events HERE.

- AK!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

UPCOMING EVENTS: Family Portraits Book Launch & Everything and Everyone Market!

After a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign and tour of the USA, Sam Orchard is officially launching his comic series, Family Portraits this coming Wednesday, February 18th at The Woman's Bookstop at 105 Ponsonby Road, from 6pm.

Family Portraits tells the stories of a group of unique individuals, and explores the awesomeness of their sexual orientations and/or gender identities. These stories celebrate the differences and diversity in our communities. They look at how our ages, histories, genders, beliefs and ethnicities shape our experiences of ourselves, and how we live in the world.

Sam Orchard has created these stories based on real New Zealanders, exploring a range of topics including; what it was like to be in a gay relationship before Homosexual law reform in New Zealand, and what it’s like to be a first-generation queer from a migrant background. The comics can be used as a way to educate, breakdown barriers, and help people to understand more about our communities.

Above: The cover of Family Portraits #1 by Sam Orchard. Copyright Sam Orchard 2015.

The event kicks off at The Woman's Bookshop at 6pm, with entry via gold coin donation. You can also RSVP for the event on Facebook HERE. So if you are in Auckland next week, come out and support the launch of this important landmark comic series! 

For more information on Sam you can check out his website HERE, along with his regular webcomic Rooster Tails - an autobiographical series about his life and relationship as a queer transgender guy.

It's actually a very busy week for Sam, as well as launching Family Portraits, he's also the organiser of the Everything and Everyone Market, taking place on Saturday 21st of February, from 12 - 3pm at Alleluya Cafe in St Kevin's Arcade, 183 Karangahape Rd.

Now in its second year, Everything and Everyone celebrates diversity in our community during the Auckland Pride Festival with an art and craft market that has a particularly queer flavour - featuring: DIY arts, crafts, comics and self-publishing. This is an event for people wanting to buy or sell goods exploring queerness, transness, sexuality, gender, poly, kink, leather, feminism, geekery, and everything in between. In short, it is an art and craft market for Everything and Everyone!

Stallholders exhibiting and selling goods at the event include: Rooster Tails, Fight X Back, Zigtoons, Tricia, Square Planet, Jack Remiel Cottrell, Table of Temptation: Book Crossing, Rainbow T-Towel Love, with more to be announced.

For more information and updates on this great upcoming event, you can visit the Everything and Everyone website HERE.

- AK!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

First Look: Faction Presents: High Water

Above: The cover for Faction Presents: High Water by Tim Gibson. Artwork copyright Tim Gibson 2015.

Since launching Faction in 2012, editors Damon Keen & Amie Maxwell have been raising the bar for local comics anthologies, attracting top talent creators and presenting beautiful collections with high quality production values. After three successful collections, Keen is spearheading Faction's first spin-off special edition, High Water.

Above: A final printed copy of Faction Presents: High Water. Copyright Faction Comics 2015.

Keen has been teasing photos of the recently arrived advance copies at the Faction Comics Facebook page, so I checked in with him to find out what the scoop is on the soon to be released High Water and what surprises we can expect from this collection!

Above: Artwork by Chris Slane. Copyright Chris Slane 2015.

AK: So what is High Water, and can you explain the overall theme of the collection?

Damon Keen: High Water is a Faction Special - so not part of our usual run on Faction - kind of like a Marvel Annual I guess! I hope to do one of these every couple of years, depending on our budget. Faction Specials are going to be themed issues, so a little different than the normal Faction free-for-all, and with higher production values to make them really stand out.

High Water is themed around climate change - largely because it's an issue that I think is in urgent need of discussion - but also because I noticed that no one else had done anything like this before. Cli-fi is starting to 'heat up' (yuk yuk yuk) as a genre in novels recently, so I thought now was the perfect time to put something like this together. I also got a lot of enthusiasm from the artists for this issue, including some creators that I'd wanted to get in Faction for a while - like Sarah, Dylan and Chris - so in a lot of ways, the comic came together quite organically.

Above: Artwork by Sarah Laing. Copyright Sarah Laing 2015.

AK: And tell us a bit about your design/production specs that you went overboard on to make this collection awesome?

DK: Because I wanted this to be a really stand-out comic - with an issue dear to my heart - I wanted it to leap off the shelves; so I went a little nuts on the production values! This comic is a hardback, with cloth binding AND built in bookmark - because why not?

Also the creators produced some wonderful artwork and I really wanted to try to do their vision justice. I went with a heavy matt stock for the pages - quite a different look from the glossy sheets of Faction. On top of the creators, Tim Gibson did us a knockout cover - and Ant Sang supplied us with some beautiful artwork for the interior pages, so frankly, as a graphic designer, working with this material is just a joy.

I can't wait to get this out there!

Above: Artwork by Cory Mathis. Copyright Cory Mathis 2015.

Faction Presents: High Water is a full colour hardcover, weighing in at 96 pages.

The contributor's include: Chris Slane, Christian Pearce, Cory Mathis, Damon Keen, Dylan Horrocks, Jonathan King, Katie O’Neill, Ned Wenlock, Ross Murray, Sarah Laing and Toby Morris. With additional artwork by Lei Wen, Ant Sang, and a cover by Tim Gibson. All this and an introduction by Lucy Lawless.
Look for the High Water collection launch announcement soon!

- AK!

Above: Back cover of High Water. Copyright Faction Comics 2015.

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!