I make no secret of the fact that I think Canty’s Bookshop is one of the best secondhand bookshops in the world. I’ve been a regular there for years and always find gold hidden amongst the shelves. On one of my first visits there I found 80% of the Preacher books. Thats ridiculous. It’s the type of shop that always seems to have what I’m looking for. CASE IN POINT: I went looking for some research books for 'The Devil is in the Details' (out very soon ) and found ‘The Necronomicon’. Luke was a little worried when I enthusiastically mentioned that it was the book I needed for ‘work’. Whenever I ask him where he gets his stock from he always gives a shrug. I love it. The place is magical.
So naturally I was very stoked to help them out with some promotional bookmarks. These took a little longer than they should have (sorry Luke) but I think they turned out pretty fantastic. Down below are closer looks at them as well as two other designs that I submitted for them.
So if you’re in Canberra, definitely give Canty’s a regular visit and pick up a couple of these bookmarks as well as a book you’ve been dying to read for ages. Just stay away from the Graphic Novel section. Thats my turf.
Like em on the ol Facebook too as they regularly have secret deals and sales that are only available.
Creation Myth Talk
Day two of the Graphic festivities started with the highlight of festival - The Creation Myth panel featuring Grant Morrison, Dave McKean and Len Wein hosted by Justin Hamilton. After last night’s lack of insight from Morrison I was hoping that he would get a chance to open up a little more an melt our minds a little bit. What followed was an enlightening, free flowing discussion from three outstanding creators that covered comics, storytelling and creativity itself. I’ve never seen or heard Dave McKean talk before and he spoke with such humble passion that was difficult to not be inspired by. He is a true artist that understands what creativity means to him and channels it constantly. Its seems that he is constantly working on some sort of creative endeavour at all times be it sculpture, painting, theatre of comics.
Seems sacrelidge to say it , but I had never heard of Len Wein before Graphic but I soon learned that he is a huge, huge person in the world of superheroes. He spoke with a relaxed ease that comes with worked in the industry for a long long time.
And Morrison was given ample time to talk about how he approaches creating and expand upon some of the higher ideas he has - like emotions and feelings being god-like things that can be summoned to help you. It was also fun to see him and Dave swap stories about the making of Arkham Asylum for what was, I gather, the first time.
The Q and A actually had some intelligent questions as well!
Major kudos to Justin Hamilton who seemed to effortlessly keep the conversation flowing and interesting at all times. No idea how he didn’t turn to jelly in the presence of three wonderful minds but he held his own.
SIDENOTE: I’m currently drawing the pictures for Justin’s comic story ‘The Devil is in the Details’ for the upcoming Ozploitation anthology 'HomeBrew Vampire Bullets' which will be out in November. Despite our collaboration I’ve never actually met Justin - and I still haven’t! He was surrounded by fans after the panel and just when there seemed like a break in the group I went up to say hi, looked away for the briefest moment and he was gone. Cest La Vie. No doubt we’ll share a brew or two at the launch.
There was a signing after the panel and the line looked manageable - unlike the previous night’s signing with Morrison and Way which was full of My Chemical Romance fans and didn’t end until around 2:30am from all accounts. So I grabbed a copy of ‘Arkham Asylum’ and quietly held my shit together while I waited to shale the hand of a writer who has changed my brain in so many ways. Kudos to me for not losing it as we got to have a brief chat with Morrison who is just such a cool, relaxed motherfucker. we let him know that we were happy to hear that ‘The Filth’ is the favourite of his works (It’s my #1 Morrison book) and he let us know that when Seaguy is finally finished it will rival The Filth - something to look forward to. He noticed the spelling of my name and asked if I was named after the island and I said yes and then he said he lived near there and then I said I’ve never been and he said never go there in winter because its very cold and they got snowed in and I said Hahahahawow!omg and then shook his hand and wished I had started a cooler conversation but who cares because I talked to and touched Grant Morrison. It was awesome. I’m very impressed that I didn’t do worse. I have before.
I then got a sig of Dave McKean who was such down to earth, passionate guy I wish I could kindnap him and have a long dinner party in his honour and something tells me he would probably be quite happy to go along with that as long as the food and wine was good.
I came away from the panel energised by the power of comics and story. Even Fliss, who has only read a few comics, came away with a new understanding and fascination towards the medium. She said she finally ‘gets’ comics now. That was music to my ears. Thanks Dave McKean. Maybe I’ll finally get her to read ‘Locke and Key’
Comic buddies catchup
After than I had a cheeky beer with the NonCanonical Guys -finally getting to meet Lucas and Billy, who I’ve been long twitter buddies with. It was way too brief though as I soon had to dart into…
The No Brow Publishing Panel
Nobrow are a publisher of books and comics that lean towards the ‘Art book’ side of things. They’re the folk responsible for publishing Luke Pearson’s stuff as well as Jon McNaught and , most recently, John Martz. Their books are gorgeous little objects that smell amazing. Nobrow co-founder Sam Arthur took us through the beginnings of Nobrow - from the early days of doing simple saddle stitched books to the larger scale hardcovers they do now. It was a good, thorough insight into the ups and downs of starting a publishing company, something which most people would think is a crazy thing to do these days. But Nobrow are a very good argument against the tired idea that print is dead. They make quality products and it came through in Sam’s talk that they are dedicated and passionate about spreading good, original content into the world. Everything about their books is well thought out from the colours to the paper to the binding. They’re working really hard to support original and innovative creators and bring the world books that deserve to be loved and read.
They’ve recently started a children’s book imprint called 'Flying Eye Books' that contains some really gorgeous stuff. Sam had an advance copy of 'Prof. Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space' Which is an educational book about space written by Astrophysicist Dr Dominic Walliman and illustrated by Ben Newman. Take a look at the cover….
What kid isn’t going to get excited about space after reading that!?! I know what books I’ll be buying my future neifling.
So if you’re looking for a nice book and want to support a very cool publisher check out Nobrow . This shipping is a -tad- expensive to Australia but its always good to get a friend and make a bulk order right? I’ve seen the books in a fair few bookshops around Australia too.
After the panel we pulled a couple of tables together and a bunch of us comics misfits sat around making goofs and drawing pictures. It made me miss Melbourne a lot actually- especially when this sort of thing was a regular occurrence. I’m pretty lucky to have made such good friends in that share a common interest. Everyone in Aussie comics is weird and wonderful. So glad to be a part of it.
The final session I went to had very little to do with comics. I think the only connection to graphic was the visuals on screen actually. The Cinematic Orchestra are a chilled our jazz band that play long, meditative pieces of musics that are captivating and complex The band were accompanied by the Sydney International Orchestra which added an extra layer of depth and scale to the performance. It was 2 hours of bliss - the songs carried us on journey that took their time to get where they needed to go, allowing for some solo sidetracks that never seemed indulgent. And the whole thing was accompanied by visuals that were elegant in their simplicity. Images such as light coming through leaves or the reflection of moonlight on dark water were given a beauty and depth when put to the music. It was a complete package.
There was so much more to Graphic though. When planning what to do I had to put on a budgetary restriction as there were so many other events that I would have loved to have seen - Dave McKean’s solo show, The Art Speigelman talk, Radio with Pictures - but in the end I was more than happy with what I saw. More than happy - overjoyed. We need festivals like Graphic that remind us of the awesome work that people are creating every day. That sharing stories is something that we humans have always and will always do and something that is available to all of us. I came away inspired more than ever to create and grateful that I live in a time in which we can celebrate such wonderful things.
This past long weekend saw me attend the Graphic conference for the very first time. For those not in the know, Graphic is an event held each year at the Opera House that celebrates the awesomeness of comics/graphic novels over 4 days. There are workshops, talks, concert events, signings and a whole swag of big names get invited every year.
I’d been curious about the festival since it started a few years ago but they never really had any guests excite me enough to get off my lazyarse and trek up to Sydney until this year. I just couldn’t resist the chance to see Luke Pearson and Grant Morrison - two creators I admire greatly - in the flesh. So on Friday night we packed up the car, grabbed Sarah Howell from her residency at Old Parliament house and headed up to Sydney ready to have our minds blown.
Luke is the writer and illustrator of ‘What we Miss’ and the children’s comic series Hildafolk who has a level of skill and maturity that is impressive for his age. He first gained a bit of attention a few years ago with his comic 'Some People'. I was floored when I found out he was only 23 when he wrote 'Everything We Miss' (one of my favourite books of recent years that is probably deserving of its own blogpost). When I found out he was running a Workshop for Graphic I was on the phone (two phones actually) at 9am sharp to make sure I got a ticket to the session on Saturday morning.
SIDENOTE: So desperate was I to get in that I staged a ‘hilarious’ and ‘clever’ prank to dissuade people from trying to get tickets. I honestly thought everyone would see straight through it and was surprised when a few folks were fooled until the prank was foiled by Luke himself . MORAL: Always click links. (and maybe don’t trust everything I say)
Judging by paper and pencils by the front door of the boardroom I think the organisers were expecting us to be drawing for two hours. Luke soon explained that he didn’t feel comfortable doing a drawing workshop as he didn’t know the skill level of the attendees and didn’t want to appear condescending doing a basic drawing session. So instead he took us on an in-depth walkthrough of his comics making process or , as Luke described it , it ‘a live FAQ’. Being a process junky I found it fascinating to see inside the processes that Luke goes through to get his work done. Like all amazing artists he was very humble and self depricating, repeatedly stating that he wasn’t sure if what he did was ‘the right way’ and that his sketchbook pages were embarrassing. We got to see the creation of two pages from 'Hilda and The Bird Parade' from roughrough thumbnails right up to the finished pages. His pencils and inks were absolutely gorgeous. So very, very clean. There were also a few pages from the next Hildafolk book so we even got a little bit of an exclusive.
He had some interesting points to make about ‘getting known’ though. Luke is very much from the new internet school of artists who have grown up in an age where it is easy to put things online. According to Luke he has been doing so for the past 10 years. His general advice to ‘make it’ was -
- Post things online
- Make your website look clean and professional
- Don’t be a dick
He didn’t seem to keen on the idea of people sending work out to publishers in order to get seen which was surprising. It is a very current way of thinking but I think there was truth in it. He pointed out that most art directors just scour Tumblr and Art blogs for talent anyway so you should just put all your stuff up for everyone to see.
He recently did a New Yorker cover and he is only 25. He must be doing something right.
We were hustled out of the boardroom quickly so I didn’t get a chance to have a good chat with him until Sunday afternoon where I got to gush and tell him how wonderful ‘Everything We Miss’ is. He was also nice enough to do a little Hilda sketch for me.
Grant Morrison and Gerard Way
The first of two Morrison events I was excited for, even if I was a little cautious about him sharing the stage with Gerard Way. While I love Way’s 'The Umbrella Academy' (and really wish he would write more) I was skeptical that he would be able to hold his own against Morrison who is a man of huge and interesting ideas that has been shown the 4th dimension by interdimensional grey metallic beings (seriously) . Way- aside from his comics - was responsible for shitty Emo music.BUT STILL - not one to let the nasty beast of expectation ruin the night I went in with an open mind.
We arrived a few minutes late to find a packed Concert Hall attentively listening to Grant enthusiastically reading a story that he had written specifically for the event that night. It didn’t take us long to catch up that the story was about ‘The Old Fox’ an Australian media magnate supervillian who had owned all the words in the English language and used his media empire to take down the super villians of the world (the tall poppies that he hated) through shame and guilt inducing headlines. As expected it was beautifully written and the fact that it was written just for us, being read once and once only by the man himself was a gift from heaven. Accompanying the story was a gent on a double bass (I think?!?) who had only met Grant a few days earlier and had improvised the whole thing. It was a pure moment.
The rest of the session didn’t quite live up to it however. Gerard Way came out and it was clear from the start that two of them had a great rapport (I think I heard Way describe Morrison as his mentor at one point). Sadly - for me anyway, and not the massive number of Way’s fans in the audience - the talk ended up being mostly about him and My Chemical Romance which just wasn’t that interesting. Most of what he said wasn’t that enlightening and there was a large chunk where he wanked on about having the ability to really, really empathise with other people which seemed a little wanky. (Actually, a big bit wanky) He briefly touched on The Umbrella Academy at one stage but it almost seemed like he was annoyed to talk about it. He did mentioned he’s going to get back to writing it though. Morrison did get a few good comments in here and there - In answer to someone asking how to deal with the fear of making art he said ‘Fuck the fear. Embrace it. Make it your best friend’
It wasn’t a complete disappointment - I just would have liked more Grant and less Gerard. It was totally worth it to get the Morrison’s story at the start.
OTHER THINGS NOT GRAPHIC RELATED:
Went and had our heads blown off and our heart rates accelerated by ‘Gravity’ in IMAX 3D. Its a very thrilling 90 minute ride. Cannot recommend enough seeing it on the biggest screen possible in 3D . The 3D works with this one.
Kinokunya! More Morrison with added McKean and Wein! Melbo Comic Buddies! LowBrow! Cinematic Orchestra!
Anonymous asked: How long does it take you to answer questions?
About half a day, on average