Thursday, June 15, 2017

REVIEW: Echoes From The Drift by Craig Petersen


Above: Promotional artwork for Echoes From The Drift by Craig Petersen. Copyright Craig Petersen 2017.

In the mid-90s I discovered Southern Tribe, a sci-fi comic book series produced locally by writer/artist Craig Petersen. At the time, when I wasn't attending high school, I was hard at work practicing writing and drawing my own comic books. It was big inspirational boost to see that someone else was out there publishing comics in NZ, and essentially living the dream! Towards the end of that decade I moved to Auckland to attend university, and got to meet Craig in person at Armageddon Expo. Along with Zak Waipara, Craig was one of my first mentors, who helped welcome me into the DIY world of the NZ comics community.

Flash forward 20 years later: Craig now lives in Europe, and last year launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for his new sci-fi comic series, Echoes From the Drift. The series follows two young adventurers - Jenni and Zayf, as they explore parallel worlds. Thanks to this funding, issue #1 of the series is now available and can be ordered HERE.

Above: Character designs for Jenni and Zayf. Copyright Craig Petersen 2017.

The first issue opens in 1987, we meet Jenni, a punk styled twenty-something coming home after a long day working at a video store. Her flatmate, Rhonda, is on her way out the door for a hot date, leaving Jenni to indulge in an evening watching tapes of her favourite sitcom, One Knight Stand. Her viewing party is soon interrupted by the opening of an inter-dimensional rift, which drops an alien beast into her living room, followed by drift traveller, Zayf. Jenni and Zayf manage to force the beast back into the rift (and in the process destroy her apartment), at which point Zayf prepares to make a hasty exit...except Jenni - a huge sci-fi fan - wants to come with him. After a quick discussion, Zayf agrees to bring her along and they jump into the next dimensional rift. On the other side they find a dystopian wasteland, and seek refuge at an outpost known as 'Respite'. Inside Jenni notices some familiar faces: her friend Rhonda runs a robot repair shop, and isn't that her building's cleaning guy? Zayf warns her that they should move on, he wasn't expecting to see 'echoes' so soon...

Echoes From The Drift has a great sci-fi set-up, with plenty of opportunity for world building and fun character interplay. The dimension jumping sub-genre of sci-fi is fairly well traveled at this point (Fringe, Sliders, Quantum Leap etc), but Craig has remodelled it with a retro 80's skin that feels fresh and fun. The opening of the comic riffs on Cameron's original Terminator, with nods to anime cartoons, 80s sitcoms and Mad Max sprinkled throughout. Craig's artwork has improved greatly since the 90s, with confident storytelling and a rugged texture to the inking and colouring which suits both the 80s punk vibe of the first half of the story and the dystopian locations of the closing. If there's any draw back to the first issue, it's that it ends on a cliffhanger. But there's also an 8-page prologue story included, Ruins, which fills in the back story of the dimension they now find themselves in, so it's hard to complain.

I highly recommend checking out Echoes From The Drift #1. You can purchase it directly from Craig's website HERE. While you're there, you can also download a FREE PDF version of the prologue story Ruins to get a taste of what the series has to offer.

- AK!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sharon Murdoch Wins Cartoonist of the Year for 2017!

Above: Sharon Murdoch's Sunday Star Times cartoon from May 14th, featuring Paula Bennett and Maggie Barry. Copyright Sharon Murdoch 2017.

Sharon Murdoch was awarded 'Cartoonist of the Year' at last night's Canon Media Awards 2017. This was Murdoch's second consecutive win of the prestigious award for her cartoons that appear in The Sunday Star Times, The Dominion Post and The Christchurch Press


Above: The Getaway, a cartoon by Toby Morris, published on the RNZ website on May 12th. Copyright Radio New Zealand 2017.

Toby Morris was also awarded for his media cartoons, receiving 'Cartoonist of the Year (runner-up)' for his cartoons featured on the Radio NZ and The Wireless websites.

The NPA Outstanding Achievement Awards also recognised The NZ Cartoon Archive for its 25 years of archiving NZ cartoons.

If you would like to read more of Murdoch's outstanding work, a collection of Sharon Murdoch's cartoons, Murdoch: The Cartoons of Sharon Murdochwere published last year by Potton & Burton and is still available from all good booksellers and HERE.

- AK!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

EVENT: Cartoonists at Auckland Writers Festival 2017!


The Auckland Writers Festival is back for 2017, taking place this week at the Aotea Centre from May 16th - 21st. Alongside international and local authors, two of our most talented cartoonists will be taking part in the festival.


Sarah Laing, author of Mansfield and Me, will be featured in two events: 

EVENT 16: A Personal Tale: Dudding & Laing: Two recent New Zealand works entwine the personal with the literary: Sarah Laing’s 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards longlisted graphic memoir Mansfield and Me plots her literary journey alongside that of our starry export Katherine Mansfield; and the shortlisted Adam Dudding’s My Father’s Island circumnavigates his father, the late great literary editor Robin Dudding. Laing and Dudding speak with Geoff Walker about memoir writing, and inescapable literary forces.

A Personal Tale: Dudding & Laing, takes place Friday May 19th, from 10 - 11am at the Aotea Centre's Lower NZI Room. Tickets are on sale HERE.

EVENT 43: Walk On High: Walk on High is an intimate meandering journey, featuring a sampler of Festival talent on a word trail along High Street in the CBD. From 6.30pm to 8pm choose from four fifteen-minute events, repeated four times across the ninety minutes, individually crafted and each as delectable as the next. Formats take in games, Insta-essays, music, spoken word and theatre. Over 20 writers and performers take part, including: Jess Holly Bates, Anthony Byrt, Teju Cole, Glenn Colquhoun, Jonothan Cullinane, Mei-Lin Hansen, Ali Ikram, Simone Kaho, Sarah Laing, Last Tapes Theatre Company, Michelle Leggott, Lana Lopesi, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Doug Poole, Randa, Rosabel Tan, Apirana Taylor, Tourettes, Steven Toussaint, Ian Wedde, Rewa Worley and Sonja Yelich. 

Walk on High is a FREE event, taking place on Friday 19th at various venues on High Street, Auckland Central, from 6.30pm - 8.00pm. Check out the AWF website HERE for more information.


Toby Morris, author of The PencilswordThe Day The Costumes Stuck and Capsicum Capsi Go will be taking part in three events:

EVENT 36: Writing the Past: A Museum Collaboration: Five writers recently went exploring at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, each seeking inspiration for a piece of writing. Hera Lindsay Bird, Anne Kennedy, Kelly An a Morey, Toby Morris, and Ngahuia te Awekotuku present their resulting takes on our archival past.
Writing the Past: A Museum Collaboration: is a FREE event, taking place on Friday 19th at the Aotea Centre's Upper NZI Room from 4 - 5pm.

EVENT 118: The Day The Costumes Stuck (5+): Iggy can’t get his party costume off, his parents haven’t noticed and weird happenings lie ahead. Toby Morris unfolds a fun family story with illustrations. Taking place on Sunday 21st from 11 - 11.30am at the Aotea Centre Heartland Festival Room, this is a FREE event but sessions are ticketed, so book early.

EVENT 123: Capsicum Capsi Go: Capsicum goes on holiday! Come on an adventure with the coolest Capsi around led by Toby Morris and featuring a chance to draw your own Capsi. This event takes place on Sunday 21st in the Aotea Centre's Herald Theatre from 1 - 1.30pm. There is FREE entry, no ticket required. 

For more information on the Auckland Writer's Festival, you can visit the event website HERE.

- AK!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

EVENT: Hamilton Zinefest 2017


Hamilton Zinefest returns for its triumphant fourth year, with a huge range of zine makers exhibiting and selling their work. There will also be creative talks and an array of workshops for aspiring zine creators of all ages. Hamilton Zinefest 2017 will be held this Saturday at Creative Waikato,131 Alexandra Street, Hamilton Central from 10am - 3pm. For more information you can visit the Hamilton Zinefest website HERE and their Facebook event page HERE.

This is a great opportunity to meet some of Hamilton's thriving zine and comics community and pick up some one-of-a-kind handcraft reading material!

- AK!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

New Reads: The Giselle Clarkson Comic


Above: An image from The Giselle Clarkson Comic Number 2 at The Sapling.

The Sapling is a new website dedicated to Children's Books and literature, which you can check out HERE. In addition to their regular news and reviews, they have a monthly comic strip by the very talented Wellington cartoonist Giselle Clarkson. You might be familiar with her artwork from such publications as The School Journal and Gecko Press' Annual. Her comic for The Sapling, simply titled, The Giselle Clarkson Comicis a monthly feature which so far has been partly autobiographic, as well as including fun nods to children's books and literature. You can read the first three comics at The Sapling website HERE.


Above: An image from The Flood by Giselle Clarkson.

You can also check out more comics by Giselle at her website HERE, so be sure to Bookmark both these pages for some great new comics reading!

- AK!

Comics Compulsion Under New Management!


Above: Kirsty Everett, Logan Freear and their cat Shere Khan. Photo credit: CHCH Press.

Christchurch's iconic comic book store, Comics Compulsion is now under new management. In March, previous owner Tim Driver put the 23 year old business up for sale, and this week it was reported in The Chrischurch Press that the store is now in the hands of new owners, Logan Freear and Kirsty Everett. The couple took over the running of the store during Easter weekend, and recently celebrated their first Free Comic Book Day, welcoming in new customers with a BBQ and plenty of free comics. You can read the full CHCH Press story HERE.

- AK!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Pencilsword #36: What About the Renters?


Above: Image from The Pencilsword #36 by Toby Morris.

Home ownership in New Zealand has become a hot topic of late, with increasingly inflated property markets making home ownership unaffordable for the vast majority of first-time buyers. As a result, many New Zealanders are renters; and even that market is becoming more difficult for many of us to find quality accommodation to live in.

In the latest Pencilsword, Toby Morris asks the question, 'What About the Renters?'; and gets the perspective of renter Elliot Ferguson and Robert Whitaker from renters rights group, Renters United. You can read the full strip at The Wireless website HERE.

- AK!

Interview: Creating Cartoon Capers


Above: James Davidson. Photo credit: Grant Matthew/Fairfax NZ.

In this weekend's Sunday Star Times, James Davidson spoke with Arthur Whelan to discuss the origins and years of hard work that went into creating his comic book series Moa. You can read the full interview at the STUFF website HERE.

The complete Moa hardcover collection is available now from Earth's End Publishing HERE.

- AK!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

EVENT: Free Comic Book Day 2017!


It's that time of year again...Free Comic Book Day! This worldwide comics initiative takes place on the first Saturday of May each year; with the initial aim of promoting public awareness of comics, it is now more firmly focused on promoting reading and creating a fun event where both parents and children can share their mutual love of the comics medium.

Here's a list of the comic book stores in NZ taking part:

Heroes For Sale 
582 Karangahape Road
Auckland

Arkham City Comics
Royal Oak Mall (upstairs near McDonalds)
Shop 45a/691 Manukau Rd
Royal Oak, Auckland

MK1: Mark One Comics
551 Victoria Street
Hamilton

Graphic
106 Cuba Street
Wellington

Comics Compulsion
58 Main N Rd, Papanui
Christchurch

There's plenty of titles to choose from (for a full list, check our the FCBD website HERE - titles may vary in availability), and each store has it's own in-store specials and events taking place, so this weekend head over to your nearest comic book store to join in the fun!

- AK!

Comicfest 2017: 5 Minute Interviews


Above: A page from Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen by Dylan Horrocks.

In the lead-up to this Weekend's Comicfest 2017, the Comicfest blog over at the Wellington City Library website have posted a series of '5 Minute Interviews' with some of their upcoming comics guests and panelists featured in this weekend's events. They ask about their influences, art practice, and much more. Check out the interview links below:

- 5 Minutes with Dylan Horrocks HERE

- 5 Minutes with Jem Yoshioka HERE

- 5 Minutes with Sarah Laing HERE

- 5 Minutes with Ben Milsom HERE

- 5 Minutes with Hannah Benbow HERE

So there's plenty of information for you to pick up and become familiar with these cartoonists and their work before you see them at the event!

- AK!

EVENT: Comicfest 2017


Wellington City Libraries and GRAPHIC comic store are joining forces to celebrate International Free Comic Book Day with Comicfest 2017, held this coming Saturday, 6th of May! From workshops and panel discussions with leading local cartoonists, to costume and drawing competitions, exhibitions and free comic giveaways - there's something for comic lovers of all ages at this multi-event comics festival!

Here are a rundown of the Comicfest events:

9.30am onwards Free Comic Book Day:
Sponsored by GRAPHIC comics

Grab some free comics from us and chat comics with our librarians at the Central Library!
Comics from all different publishers and for all age ranges are included in the selections, so there will be something for everyone. Thanks to Graphic for providing us with all the awesome free comics!

Comic drawing competition:

On Free Comic Book Day, come to the library and draw a comic story using just 4 panels and you could win an armful of comics! Feel free to come to Sarah Laing's character creation workshop on Saturday morning for inspiration. Entry forms available from Central Library on the day. All ages and drawing levels welcome.

Comics go to school:
Sponsored by The Ministry of Education
Over the course of its hundred-year history, the School Journal has included work from New Zealand's greatest authors and illustrators. In recent times, this has included comics from the likes of Dylan Horrocks, Ant Sang, and Andrew Burdan. Visit the Central Library to view a few highlights, new and old, in the lead up to ComicFest.

10am–11.00 Workshop: Comics character development workshop with Sarah Laing
Mezzanine Meeting Room, Central Library
Sponsored by Wellington City Libraries
Who's going to star in your comic? A superhero, a cybernaut, a talking sausage or a kid like you? Come to this comics workshop and we'll work on your character, from its backstory to the way it's drawn. Bring your own pens and pencils, and we'll have mountains of paper. Work on different expressions and poses, experimenting with line weight and form. We'll put them in some tricky situations to see how their story plays out in panels. All drawing levels welcome! Event info HERE.

10.30am–11.30am National Library: From where we started: Reading New Zealand's Comic History:
Session held at the National Library (Douglas Lilburn room, Level 1) to enable access to heritage collections
Sponsored by Alexander Turnbull library

The Alexander Turnbull Library collects New Zealand's documentary heritage and is home to a comic treasure trove. From early newspaper strips and children's annuals, through to contemporary graphic novels and zines, the Library offers a window into this unique and fascinating part of our history. Join research librarian Hannah Benbow for a hands on look at almost a century of New Zealand comics. Event info HERE.

11am-12noon Thunderbirds Are Go: Re-imagining the much loved brand for a new audience:
Sponsored by Pukeko Pictures

Ben Milsom, Production Designer and Episodic Director for Thunderbirds Are Go takes you through the process of re-imagining the 1960's classic for a new generation. Ben will guide you through the unique production process of this multi-media (CGI animation with live action miniature sets) series paying tribute to the legacy of model locations from the classic series.

Ben will showcase the inspiration taken from the original series and discuss how Thunderbirds Are Go was brought to life in animation, toys and comics through slides and video and present an opportunity to have your questions answered with a Q&A section. All attendees of this presentation go in to a draw to win a family pass to the Miniatures Stage Tour: Thunderbirds Are Go from Weta Studio Tours. Event info HERE.

12noon–1pm Panel: Creating graphic novels with Sarah Laing and Dylan Horrocks
Sponsored by NZ Book Council

Both Dylan Horrocks and Sarah Laing have authored popularly received and well regarded long form graphic novels including recent publications, Mansfield and Me and Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen. This informal, personal conversation will highlight the creative process involved in making a graphic novel, but also examine publishing, the graphic novel format and comics in New Zealand. Event info HERE.

1pm–1.30 Cosplay competition
Sponsored by Unity books

Dress up as your favourite character for a shot at a comic prize! There are prizes for all categories, including children, teens and adults. Event info HERE.

1.30pm–2.30pm Panel: A Wellington view – Local Cartoonists

What's it like to be making comics in New Zealand? Join us for a discussion between local Wellington comic artists Jem Yoshioka, Giselle Clarkson and Sally Bollinger about their unique experiences making comics about life, nature, tradition, culture, and doing all this from Wellington. Moderated by Robyn Kenealy. Event info HERE.

2.30pm–3.30pm Workshop: Taking your comics to the next level, with Dylan Horrocks
Sponsored by NZ Book Council

Gather up your comics (or that graphic novel plan) and bring them along to the Central library for a sit-down chat with Dylan Horrocks. This is a chance to examine your ideas and process, to share ideas and techniques and to take things to the next level. Limited to 10 participants. Email at enquiries@wcl.govt.nz to book your place. Event info HERE.

3.30pm–4.30pm Panel: Should we all be writing political comics?
Sponsored by Alexander Turnbull library

In spite of their subject matter, artistic responses to Trump and the current political climate have been witty, elegant, colourful and empowering. Join a group of panellists including Sam Orchard, Grant Buist and Toby Morris to discuss how they have responded to recent events in their work, and the ongoing power of comics to satirise and protest. Panel discussion moderated by Hannah Benbow. Event info HERE.

All events are free and unless stated, and open to participants of all ages. So if you're in Wellington this weekend and love comics, this is going to be a great day to celebrate the local comics community and the comics medium itself! You can find out more about Comicfest 2017 HERE.

- AK!