Friday, June 19, 2009

Superheroes and Satirists

Well it's a pretty fine time to be a gallery-going Melbourne comics flaneur right at the moment - not since the heady days of Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy and many others) down at the National Gallery of Victoria, and Heroes & Villains (Australian comics) up at the State Library of Victoria, just 6 city blocks apart in late 2006-early 2007, has so much comic booky exhibited goodness been on offer.  Mercy me!

(Quick note: the current show at the NGV, 'The Satirical Eye', is only on until this Sunday 26 July - I talk about it briefly at the bottom of this post - you should really GO TO IT NOW!)

Bernard with art by Jack Kirby: photo by Jess Rynderman

At the Jewish Museum of Australia you can see Superheroes and Schlemiels ('schlemiel' is Yiddish for 'bumbling fool').  This is an exhibition that tracks the the contribution by Jewish creators to the comics canon.  For me, I had known that the Jewish presence in the creation and development of the comic book tradition has been significant (Michael Chabon's novel 'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay' and Dave Sim's comic 'Judenhaas' being reference points), but I left this exhibition gaping.  Siegel and Shuster of course created Superman. Simon and Kirby created just about every other superhero.  Then you've got Will Eisner (The Spirit, A Contract with God.  Then there's Harvey Kurtzman (MAD).  Then how's about Art Spiegelman (MAUS).  More?  You'd like more?  Try Joe Kubert, Jules Feiffer, Hugo Pratt for heck's sake. Hugo Pratt!  It's pretty staggering.  And doesn't stop there...

This exhibition originates from Jewish museums in Paris and Amsterdam.  Those museums were loathe to send original art all the way down to the antipodes, and the JMA has had a very talented designer (Michael Battista from Paper Stone Scissors) use the digital image files to create the look of this exhibition, and has been really lucky that local collectors (notably Lazarus Dobelsky) have loaned them original comic art and books from their personal collections.

The JMA must also be congratulated on including a section on Australian Jewish comic book makers: friends David Blumenstein, Nicki Greenberg,  and Andrew Weldon are amongst those represented.

Superheroes and Schlemiels is on until 30 August 2009, and opening times are: 
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10am - 4pm, Sunday 10am - 5pm 
Admission is $10 adult, $5 concession, $20 family.
The Jewish Museum of Australia is at 26 Alma Road St Kilda,
a 2 minute walk from tram stop 32 on St Kilda Road.

The Satirical Eye

The other exhibition that you need to see, but hurry because you've only got until this Sunday 26 July, is The Satirical Eye, a free exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria on St Kilda Road.  This exhibition is curated by Petra Kayser and features stunning work on paper from the Gallery's own collection.

It really surveys an incredibly important time in the development of what I would call 'the language of comics'.  The show features prints, engraving and etchings by great British artists like Hogarth, Rowlandson, Gillray, and Cruikshank which satirise the behaviour of both 'ordinary folk' as well as royalty and politicians.  Then there's a goodly selection of Goya's 'Las Caprichios' and finally quite a lot of work by the very funny Daumier.

So, quickly!  Get to this show and be transported to a time when people used to hire out, not a DVD to watch, but a set of prints to hang in their living room to view for a day.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tango9: Love and War

Cardigan Comics is open for submissions of comics work to Tango9: Love and War, the next issue of Tango, the giant Australian romance comics anthology.  The above image is of course reverently swiped from the great Harvey Kurtzman's cover to 'Frontline Combat' (1952), published by Entertaining Comics.

Tango9: Love and War will be released in December 2009, as will be The Tango Collection, a compendium of stories selected from the first 8 issues of Tango.  Allen & Unwin, the Australian book publisher, will publish The Tango Collection. Cardigan Comics will publish Tango9: Love and War.

There will be more information in due course, but here are some tin tacks:

*please be someone from Australia or New Zealand in order to submit (we are also susceptible to tenuous connections to these countries, so always give it a shot)

 *the page size of the book will be 175mm wide x 240mm long (the book size will be 180mm x 240mm - 5mm is added at the centre by the creation of the spine)

*the 'art area' on each page will be 155mm wide x 215mm (this gives a good border between your work and the edge of the page, space at the bottom of the page for author name and page number)

*of course ignore the above 'art area' idea if you want to, and particularly if you want to bleed your work, that is, take the art all the way to the edge of the page.  If you do this please provide registration marks with your art files that show where the art sits on the 175mm x 240mm page.  And please 'bleed' your work 5mm past the page edge, to guarantee that your art will go all the way to the edge.

 *stories can be 1-8 pages in length.  Any longer than this, and you'll need to discuss it with me

 *black and white artwork 

 *digital format submission options and file naming protocols are as follows:

  • pure black and white artwork (ie no tones, no washes) - scan as a 'bitmap' at 600dpi and save as a .tiff
  • if there is tone or wash in the artwork - scan as 'greyscale' at 300 dpi and save as a .tiff
  • filenaming - all lower case, no spaces, like so: (surname)(story name)(page number).tiff  (Thus the files for my three page strip 'Battlegrounds' would be called caleobattlep1.tiff, caleobattlep2.tiff, and caleobattlep.3.tiff)

 *if you intend to contribute, please let me know

 *deadline for submissions: Monday 31 August 2009

*you won't get any money for being in Tango, but you will get an author's copy of the book and for a week or so thereafter (this effect may last longer), you will glow.  Glow.

So get thinking, get drawing, get reading, get writing.  Love and War.   It's a very rich theme for telling stories in comic book form.  Enlist.  Conscientiously object. Go to town.  Enter the trenches. Go behind enemy lines. Fly the planes. Cry, kiss, roar, hug, laugh, stab, fight, run, surrender, defy, embrace.

And don't forget that Tango is a romance comics anthology. Our formula for 'romance' over here at Cardigan Comics is this: love + adventure.  Got it?  

Love + adventure = romance.

Tango9: Love and War