Monday, June 22, 2015

Comic Creators Representing at the PANZ Book Design Awards 2015!

This year's PANZ Book Design Awards have recognised the work of several comic creators and comics related publications in it's recently announced shortlist of finalists, with the winners to be revealed at a ceremony held in Auckland on July 16th. So without further ado, the highly commended finalist include:

Finalist for the Penguin Random House New Zealand Award for Best Illustrated Book: 

Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen by Dylan Horrocks. Designed by Dylan Horrocks, published by Victoria University Press.

Finalists for the Scholastic New Zealand Award for Best Children's Book:

The Curioseum: Collected Stories of the Odd and Marvellous
, edited by Adrienne Jansen, illustrated by Sarah Laing. Designed by Sarah Laing, published by Te Papa Press.

I Am Doodle Cat by Kat Patrick and Lauren Marriott. Designed by Lauren Marriott, published by Beatnik Publishing.

Monkey Boy by Donovan Bixley. Designed by Donovan Bixley for Magma Design, published by Scholastic NZ.

Finalists for the Edify Award for Best Educational Book:

Meariki: The Quest for Truth by Helen Pearse-Otene, illustrated by Andrew Burdan. Designed by Shannon Jahnel Lanktree, published by Ministry of Education/Huia Publishers.

School Journal Story Library, Level 3: In the End by Mal Peet, illustrated by Andrew Burdan. Designed by Jodi Wicksteed for Bolster Design, published by Ministry of Education/Lift Education.

Finalist for HarperCollins Publishers Award for Best Cover:

The Curioseum: Collected Stories of the Odd and Marvellous, edited by Adrienne Jansen, illustrated by Sarah Laing. Designed by Sarah Laing, published by Te Papa Press.

Congratulations to those nominees, and if you haven't checked out these fantastic books yet - head to your local bookstore today! Fingers crossed they'll take away some of these prizes, and I'll report back with the announced winners next month. You can find out more about the PANZ Book Design Awards HERE.

- AK!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Recommended Reading: Chroma Art Awards 2015 - Comic Art Winners

Above: Artwork by Jem Yoshioka, from Folding Kimono. cc-by-sa Jem Yoshioka Creative Commons NZ 3.0 license, 2015.

The recent Chromacon Arts Festival celebrates excellence in local illustration and comics each festival with the Chroma Art Awards. This year's top prize went to Jem Yoshioka for her comic Folding Kimono, an autobiographical comic about being a Japanese-New Zealander, and discussing the barriers to engaging with heritage actoss distance and generations through the gift and care of a traditional kimono. You can read the full comic HERE. This was Yoshioka's second consecutive win at Chromacon, previously taking the 1st place at the 2013 Comic Art Awards with her comic Sunshine, which you can also read HERE.

Above: a page from Ricky & Lyle by Ralphi. Copyright Lauren Marriott 2015.

Ralphi aka Lauren Marriott took second place with a tale from the hilarious take-no-s#!t duo, Ricky & Lyle, which you can read HERE. Rachel Royale aka Rachel Smythe placed third with her evocative fairy tale The Maiden, which you can read HERE.

Above: a page from The Maiden by Rachel Royale. Copyright Rachel Smythe 2015.

The runner-up finalists included: Kayla Oliver with The Cat and The Fox, which you can read HERE; Cory Mathis with My Wife the Mastodon, which you can read HERE;  and The Blue Masque by Theo Macdonald which you can read HERE.

So while you're wrapped up inside this weekend as the winter weather rolls in, take some time out to read some of these fantastic local comics. Congratulations to the winners and all the cartoonists mentioned here for producing some really great stories, and enjoy the weekend reading!

For more information on Chromacon Arts Festival, you can visit the website HERE.

- AK!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

EVENT: White Trash HC Release Party

Above: White Trash by Gordon Rennie & Martin Emond. Copyright Gordon Rennie & Martin Emond 2015.

In the early 90's, local cartoonist Martin Emond made a splash in the international world of comics with his first major project, a fully painted graphic novel, White Trash. Written by Gordon Rennie, the story follows two hard-traveling heroes:  ‘The King’ (an Elvis analogue) and Dean - a teen slacker with more than a passing resemblance to the lead-singer of Emond’s favourite band Guns ‘N Roses - on a hellish road-trip across Southwest America. In a life and career that was far too brief, White Trash has stood the test of time as one of Emond's best and most influential works; so it's great to finally see this revered work get the re-mastered, hardcover treatment it deserves from UK publisher Titan Books!

Above: The limited edition print created exclusively for the Arkham City Comics Release Party by Rufus Dayglo & Simon Morse.

To celebrate its release, Arkham City Comics is holding a White Trash release party in-store this Thursday 21st of May from 5.30 - 8pm. As a special bonus, an exclusive White Trash print has been created for the event by two of Martin's closest friends and collaborators, Rufus Dayglo and Simon Morse.

An A5 bookplate edition of the print will be available with the first 20 copies of the White Trash HC purchased for $39 each. You can also get a limited edition A3 size White Trash print for $20 each with 100% of the proceeds going to Youthline.

There will also be some artists drawing White Trash inspired artwork LIVE at the event from around 6.30pm, with the finished pieces to be auctioned off for charity.

If you're not based in Auckland, or can't make the event this Thursday and are interested in a copy of the book or an A3 print, hit up Jeremy either through the Arkham City Comics FB page HERE or via e-mail at: & For more details, visit the Arkham City Comics website HERE.

This is a great opportunity to own a definitive edition of a local legend's work, and also support a very worthy cause. I'm sure Marty would have been stoked with this event, and if you're there on Thursday night, I bet you will be too!

- AK!

Above: Artwork from White Trash by Martin Emond. Copyright Gordon Rennie & Martin Emond 2015.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Auckland Writers Festival Workshop: Comics 101 with Ant Sang

The Auckland Writers Festival is fast approaching, with a great line-up of local and international writers in attendance to discuss their work. There is also an opportunity for budding writers to take part in exclusive writing workshops and receive guidance and advice from some of the most experienced authors around.

The Comics 101 Workshop is taking place on Friday 15th of May, and will be lead by acclaimed cartoonist Ant Sang - author of the graphic novels The Dharma Punks, Shaolin Burning and designer of the hit TV series Bro' Town.

Above: Ant Sang's graphic novels, Shaolin Burning (2011), and The Dharma Punks (2014). Copyright Ant Sang.

Ant Sang is one of New Zealand's leading comics voices, and has a wealth of experience to share regarding the creation of a graphic novel - from outlining the story to designing the characters, sequential storytelling and working with major publishers - this is your opportunity to learn from one of the best. There will be discussion and drawing, so make sure you bring your sketchbook and art tools of choice!

The workshop is an hour and a half, taking place Friday May 15th at the Goodman Fielder Room, Level 4, Aotea Centre, Auckland, from 9am-10.30am and costs $45. Attendance is strictly limited to 40 participants, so make sure you get in quick - for more information and to buy tickets, visit the Auckland Writers Festival website HERE.

- AK!

Friday, May 1, 2015

WEEKEND VIEWING: Dylan Horrocks: Break the Silence

Above: Dylan Horrocks. Photo copyright Grant Maiden 2015.

Recently cartoonist Dylan Horrocks (Hicksville, Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen) took part in Creative Mornings - a bi-monthly series of breakfast lectures for creatives (find out more about Creative Mornings HERE).

In this lecture that took place in Auckland, Horrocks discusses the terror of the blank page, and how we all fear being criticised and silenced by others.

- AK!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Coming of Chromacon 2015!

After a year on hiatus, Chromacon is back for 2015! Held this weekend at the Auckland Aotea Centre, Chromacon is an indie arts festival that celebrates the coming together of local creativity, innovation, artistic excellence and community.

This FREE event connects New Zealanders with the best homegrown illustrators, comic artists, designers, animators, videogame developers and more. At Chromacon, you will find original artwork and creative projects from a range of media, styles, and genres.

You will also be able to purchase self-published work such as prints, art books, comics or even original artwork directly from the creatives themselves.This event was conceived by Auckland artist/illustrator Allan Xia, who felt there was a lack of accessible local events for artists/illustrators to showcase and sell their work at outside of exclusive design/advertising events like Semi-Permanent, which aren't always affordable for emerging new artists or the general public. 

The first event in 2013 was a great success, and Xia has taken the extra development time to really fine-tune and expand the event, starting with this Friday's Chroma Connect –  a creative summit focused on professional development, and the sharing of ideas to promote networking amongst local creatives.

Attendees will have the opportunity to attend master-classes, panel discussions, case studies and networking opportunities. Key areas to be examined include: established and emerging traditional/digital creative practices, transmedia strategies and business models. Chroma Connect enables participants to explore past insights, analyse present challenges, and identify future opportunities.

Chroma Connect will feature four internationally renowned creatives, exclusively attending this week's events:

J.A.W. Cooper (USA): Illustrator

J.A.W. Cooper was born in England and grew up in Africa, Sweden, Ireland and various other locations throughout Europe and California. J.A.W. Cooper currently lives and works as a freelance illustrator, gallery and sketch artist in Los Angeles, California.

Jacky Ke Jiang (USA): Animator

An experienced animator who has worked for Disney Studios and the Cartoon Network on award-winning movies and cartoons like Frozen, Wreck it Ralph, Paperman, and Adventure Time.

Benjamin (China): Illustrator and cartoonist

Benjamin is a prolific Chinese Manhua (Chinese Comics) Artist and illustrator whose work has been published in many different countries and languages.

Wenna (China): Illustrator

Wenna specializes in large-scale mural arts, illustration, ceramics and sculpture. Her diverse living mural projects can be found across major cities of China (Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Nanchang, Jingdezhen, Leshan etc.) as well as Taiwan, Europe and many other nations and cultures.

All four guests will be giving talks during the event, as well as talks from local art and animation guests: including Mukpuddy animation, and Weta concept artist Paul Tobin. There will also be panel discussions on New Zealand Indie Games and of coarse, New Zealand Comics.

The New Zealand Comics Panel will be an informal discussion with four great local cartoonists including: Jonathan King, Li Chen, Gregor Czaykowski (aka Loading Artist) and Jem Yoshioka. 
Above: An illustration by Jem Yoshioka. cc-by-sa Jem Yoshioka Creative Commons NZ 3.0 license, 2015.

Jem Yoshioka is an illustrator and cartoonist from Wellington. Her work is influenced by the city and her Japanese heritage, and she uses visual narrative to explore themes of human nature and culture. She works both digitally and traditionally. And at the last Chromacon's in 2013 she won the Comic Award for her story Sunshine. Other comics include Concrete.

Above: An illustration from Loading Artist by Gregor Czaykowski. Copyright Gregor Czaykowski 2015.

Gregor Czaykowski is the cartoonist behind the very successful webcomic Loading Artist, which thanks to his Patron supporters he is now able to work on it full-time.

Above: An illustration from Extra Ordinary by Li Chen. Copyright Li Chen 2015.

Li Chen is of the cartoonist behind the webcomic, Extra Ordinary, which has had a series of highly successful Kickstarter campaigns which have allowed her to publish 3 collected editions and work on the webcomic full-time.
Above: An illustration from Threat Level by Jonathan King. Copyright Jonathan King 2015.

Jonathan King has contributed to Faction Comics, including the upcoming Climate Change special High Water, and is also the film director of the films Black Sheep, Under The Mountain and Realiti.

They'll be talking about their work, art process and upcoming projects.

There will be over 40 local comic creators exhibiting at this weekend's main event, including: Ant Sang, Aimee Cairns, Amy Her-Lee, Anthony Pini, Ben Stenbeck, Benjamin Gary Richards, Braden Gordon, Brendan Boughen, Chris Slane, Cory Mathis, David Ogilvie, Dylan Horrocks, Li Chen, James Davidson, Jason Upchurch, Jem Yoshioka, Jeremy Hanna, Jonathan King, Joshua Drummond, Kayla Oliver, Kirsti Hogan, Ralphi, Linhan Ye, Loading Artist, Marc Streeter, Michel Mulipola, Nick Fedaeff, Orion Mabelle, Pablo Espinosa, Rachel Smythe, Sam Orchard, Simon Fletcher, Sloane Kim, Stacey Robson, Stuart Hallam, Stuart Thomas, Tim Gibson,Toby Morris, Zak Waipara, as well as small press publishers and collectives: Earth’s End Publishing, Pikitia Press, Funtime Comics, and Square Planet.

And that doesn't even include  the animators, illustrators, sculpture and craft creators, concept artists, videogame creators and so many more attending the event. So if you're looking for a short of creativity this weekend, or to stock up on some great local comics before winter sets in, Chromacon is the place to be this weekend - and it is FREE to attend!

I also had Allan Xia join me on the National Radio Nights show to talk about the upcoming event. If you missed it last week you can listen to the full interview HERE.

For more information, on Chromacon and Chroma Connect, visit the event website HERE.

- AK!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Ngā Atua Māori: Illustrating Māori mythology with Munro Te Whata

Above: Munro Te Whata drawing live at the KIWA Ngā Atua Māori Graphic Novella Launch. Copyright Kiwa Digital 2015.

Earlier this week I reported on the launch and creation of KIWA's Ngā Atua Māori Graphic Novella e-books, today I'm talking to Munro Te Whata, the artist behind these ground-breaking adaptations.

Munro Te Whata was born and raised in Auckland, his iwi are Nga Puhi, Ngati Porou, and also has Niuean heritage. He has a background in animation and a Bachelor of Creative Arts majoring in Creative Writing, and was one of the animators who brought the animated series Bro' Town to our screens during its successful five season run. Long time readers of this blog may also recall some of Te Whata's early comics work, when he collaborated with Czepta Gold on a kids manga/hip hop infused comic, Wulfpak back in 2009.

With KIWA's four graphic novellas competed and more comics work on the way, I caught up with Munro to find out more about the creative process of collaborating on these e-books and some of his artistic influences.

Above: Illustration by Munro Te Whata. Copyright Kiwa Digital/Munro Te Whata 2015.

AK: We've seen different takes on illustrating Māori mythology over the years - from Peter Gossage's children's books to Chris Slane's edger take on Maui; what was your particular approach to the material in terms of style and storytelling?

Munro Te Whata: I was actually the second illustrator to come on board - I was hired because the first illustrator was pumping out some really awesome artwork, but she was way too slow. So there was a style already developed before I even came on. It was meant to look like something an international audience would like, basically something Marvel or DC [comics] readers would buy. Because the stories I was working on were different to the ones the first illustrator worked on, I was able to put my own spin on the artwork, however I was given a lot less time to do it. So my approach was to do everything digital because it was a lot faster. I never really looked at other illustrators of the Māori myths for inspiration, although I do love their work. I looked more at animated TV shows like Avatar and Dragon Ball Z or video games like Street Fighter and Marvel vs Capcom. These were all really influential to me growing up and are therefore part of my style as an artist.

Above: Storyboards be Munro Te Whata. Copyright Munro Te Whata 2015.

AK: How closely do you work with the writers to insure that the stories are entertaining but still retain all the key information and cultural significance of the original myths? I was talking to someone at the launch party and it sounded like there were a few 'false starts' before the series found the right balance between retelling the original stories and adapting them as comics for a contemporary audience?

MTW: During the storyboard stage I would meet up with the writer and try to match how he saw the story in his head, to how I drew it. Each page had it's own text so for example: 'Page 1: this happens.. Page 2: that happens..', so I just had to choose what part of the text would be best to show to make the whole story flow and sometimes when there was more than one bit of action on the page I'd split the page into two or more pictures/panels.

It wasn't actually a false start. We had done four different Myths each around 40 pages which were fully completed. The first illustrator worked on two books and when she couldn't finish all four, I was brought on to do the other two. The big problem with these books was that they were written in English first and then translated to Māori. First and foremost the books are a language and cultural resource for anyone wanting to learn Māori. But by telling the story in English first the translation to Māori wasn't very good. The second problem was that the story was retold in a way that a lot of Māori didn't like. Basically defeating the purpose of why the stories were created in the first place.

Above: Illustration by Munro Te Whata. Copyright Kiwa Digital/Munro Te Whata 2015.

AK: Did you have any personal favourites from the stories/sequences you enjoyed illustrating for the series?

MTW: I think the third book, during the first half I felt like I was getting in a groove but due to having to pump them out quite fast - like 3 pages a day - I have to say that took a bit of the fun out of it! (laughs).

Above: Character designs by Munro Te Whata. Copyright Kiwa Digital/Munro Te Whata 2015.

AK: What's your drawing process from script to finished artwork? And what are your preferred art tools of choice?

MTW: I usually start by doing a whole lot of scribbling on paper. Just concepts of characters and then when I have the script I start going through the whole story and doing thumbnails of different ideas for the layouts of the page. Working in thumbnails helps the overall flow of the story, so I try to get it to a point where someone can read the thumbnails without the script and still get the story.

My experience is in traditional animation and I've never really learnt how to paint, so when I started getting work as an illustrator I bought a wacom tablet and now everything I do that needs colour is done digitally. For me nothing beats drawing with just a pencil, pen and permanent marker.

Above: Illustration by Munro Te Whata. Copyright Kiwa Digital/Munro Te Whata 2015.

AK: And what are some of your art influences?

MTW: I find inspiration from everywhere. I love old spaghetti westerns, old samurai and martial arts movies. Comics like Saga, 100 bullets and Lone Wolf and Cub are real inspiring to me and great reads. I follow quite a lot of TV shows. I tend to gravitate toward stories of wandering types maybe because I moved around a lot as a kid. I also like video games and usually the long free roaming types. I tend to listen to a lot of music while I work as well which can be anything depending on my mood. I also find a lot of inspiration reading about world mythologies/religions, New Zealand history and I'm constantly looking for imagery from old cultures. Some favourite artists would be Bengus, Le Sean Thomas, Banksy, Mike Mignola, Tarantino, Fiona Apple, Goseki Kojima, Miyazaki, Joe Madureira, Moebius and so much more I can't think of right now.

Above: Rough art layout by Munro Te Whata. Copyright Kiwa Digital/Munro Te Whata 2015.

AK: At the launch we talked a bit about some of your future projects in the pipeline, and it sounds like you might have a potential long-form comics project in the works?

MTW: With the Ngā Atua Māori comics Kiwa will be pushing to get more of those done in the future. I also have an ongoing comic series which I'm working on with a friend. It's just a passion project at the moment and we both have kids and full-time jobs so not too much time to work on it but we are hoping to eventually submit to Image Comics. Basically it's an historical fiction comic set in and around New Zealand leading up to the Treaty of Waitangi. There's not much else to say about it other than it's going to show a lot of crazy shit that went down in that time. So it probably won't be for kids...

Above: Illustration by Munro Te Whata. Copyright Kiwa Digital/Munro Te Whata 2015.

You can view more of Munro's artwork over at his art blog HERE, and for more information on KIWA and their Ngā Atua Māori graphic novellas you can visit their website HERE.

- AK!

Above: Munro Te Whata drawing live at the KIWA Ngā Atua Māori Graphic Novella Launch.