Monday, October 7, 2013

Fran├žoise et Art in Brunswick!

On the weekend just gone, Art Spiegelman presented a new work of images, text and music, WORDLESS, at the GRAPHIC Festival at the Sydney Opera House.

Today, Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly visited Squishface Studio in Brunswick, and a group of local comic book people were there to welcome them to Melbourne.

Nicki Greenberg and Mandy Ord speak with Francoise.

Outside Squishface - Matt Emery, Ben Hutchings, Nicki Greenberg with Coco in arms and Poppy standing, Mandy Ord, Mirranda Burton, Art Spiegelman, Francoise Mouly and Gregory Mackay.

Oh, there's Shaun Tan too!

Art Spiegelman chatting with Shaun Tan.

We went across the road to Ray and drank coffees and ate cake and talked some more. Francoise Mouly, Penny Hueston, me and Mirranda Burton (photo by Matt Emery)

Art and Ben Hutchings talk pens.

It was remarkable to meet these two legends of comics, and to discuss with them Art's most recent book CO-MIX and Francoise's children's comics imprint TOON BOOKS.

Many thanks to Text Publishing's Penny Hueston who lined up today's meeting.

Art speaks at the Melbourne Town Hall on Tuesday 8 October.  Francoise speaks at the Wheeler Centre on Wednesday 9 October. Both of them are brilliant.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bernard Caleo's Paper Theatre

Last week it was my birthday and I turned 45.  Last night I was at the parental home, where my family gathers every Monday night for a meal. Parents, brothers, sister, spouses, children, cousins gathered as usual. And then, unexpectedly, my friends began to arrive. And arrive. And arrive. WHAT was going on?

 Candles were lit, the song was sung, cakes were cut.

I was delighted.

And then Part Two began.

The wonderful Fleur and her bloke Marcus got up (other suggestions: 'Male and Female', 'Marxist and Free Market', 'Mongrel and Flaneur') and Fleur explained that maybe just maybe it stood for 'Fantasist (or Fabulist) and Maker' and suggested that those two titles could be applied to me and that if they could, both roles could probably do with

a kamishibai box of their very own.

I was something flabbergasted, alright. Oh boy. I have been borrowing fellow kamishibaya Jackie Kerin's beautiful kamishibox, or K-box, designed and built by Ted Smith, for the last couple of years. This beautiful new one looked very like, very like.

And not without reason - Fleur had got onto Jackie and placed Ted's plans in the hands of Marcus, who as it turns out is a master wood artist. The timbers in this case are meranti and red gum, making it a darker, redder K-box than the one that Ted made for Jackie.

Fleur then performed a lovely kamishibai tale about the genesis of her idea to make this box for me - a plan hatched two years ago - and a vision of its use

Well, as you can well imagine.  I was staggered and astonished and absolutely delighted. The box was placed on Leopold, my bike, wheeled in for the occasion, and I managed to blather a few words about sophrosyne and poiesis and the Ancient Greeks before just saying, thanks.

And again, thanks. To my family, to my friends, to Jackie Kerin, for smuggling the plans across the border, and for the photos in this post, to my wife Susan for her part in all this wonderful skulduggery, and to Fleur and to Marcus, builders of dreams.


It's time to get writing and drawing and performing.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

'Graphic Novels! Melbourne!' in Paris!

Back in January 2013, Daniel Hayward and I climbed aboard a big big aeroplane to begin a three-week European tour presenting our documentary feature film, Graphic Novels! Melbourne! in France, Germany and England. International man of mystery Bruce Woolley accompanied us as far as Dubai, where we bid him a fond farewell, but only for a week (more of him anon). Dan and I flew on to Paris.

So, it's been 20 years since I've been in Paris, and Dan had never been before, and it was magnifique. Our lovely friend Dominique lent us an empty apartment in the Rue de Reuilly, near the Gare de Lyon, to stay in for the few nights we were there.

That's me spending some quality time with my good mate Corto Maltese, created by the great Italian cartoonist Hugo Pratt (RIP).

On our first night we rendezvoused at Notre Dame cathedral with our Sydney friends, academics Adam and Alphia and their son Addison (that's Addison looking around Alphia's hair) and talked and ate and walked and talked.

The following morning, early (the streets dark and wet, the smell of the morning baguettes wafting deliciously out of the boulangeries) we rendezvoused at Charonne Metro with Melbourne artist friend Lily and her friend writer Maude and went and had coffee and croissants for our petit dejeuner.

Then returned to our digs, toasted our good luck and went back to bed.

After a snooze (ah, jet lag, you old fiend!), we visited Lily's exhibition in Belleville, and around the corner dropped into a bookshop and marvelled at the selection of comics, or rather BD (bande dessinees) on display. Like true colonials, however, we were most delighted to find Pat Grant's 'BLUE' in its French edition (published by Ankama) and 

some Mandy Ord in an edition of the anthology 'Turkey Comics' (published by The Hoochie Coochie - the French publisher of Gregory Mackay's 'Francis Bear' books too).

We spent a great evening with Gilbert Shelton, who took us to a brilliant tea shop/comic shop 'The-Troc', in the rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, run by his friend Ferid, who took this picture, and by that time, as you can see, things were getting beery...

NEXT: Angouleme

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Mongrel Lives!

At the beginning of last year, 2012, I began a 'monthly comics pamphlet' called MONGREL. I asked people to subscribe to it, and undertook to send them 12 issues in 12 months.

MONGREL is a comic book which when complete will answer the question which keeps me awake at night: 'Is Australia real?'  It stars 'The Uncanny Expats', 'The Creatives', and 'Salvation Jane'.

And during 2012, copies of the issues went to some interesting places: here's MONGREL 5 on Park Street Boston, with the Massachusetts State House in the background, in which, my friend Narayan Khandekar assures me, the sacred cod is kept.

Here's issue 5 again, this time in Braidwood New South Wales, at an exhibition called 'Taking The Piss' curated by Julian Davies at The Left Hand Gallery in September 2012. There's some original artwork displayed next to some working drawings, some writing notes, and an envelope containing all the pencil rubbings that I erased off every page of the 8-page issue in getting it ready for printing.

And yes, to the left there is a selection of work by the wonderful Michael Fikaris, a great Melbourne cartoonist.

I was interviewed by MILK magazine about making comics, and the article featured some artwork from MONGREL 6, showing the stages of a page in progress. The article also featured, as the lead image, a remarkable portrait of me painted by Gina Kalabishis, titled 'Comic Man'

I was the September blogger in residence at Inside a Dog , the Young Adult literature website, in which I wrote and posted pictures about the process of writing MONGREL 7. Now when I say that I am only now getting around to actually drawing that issue, four months later now in January 2013, you will see the slight discrepancy between that pace and publishing a monthly comic.

I blame it all on becoming a filmmaker. In 2012, with Daniel Hayward, I made the film 'Graphic Novels! Melbourne!', which examines comic book culture in Melbourne and which you can find out a lot more about here. We premiered it in November 2012 and next week we are taking the film to the great comic festival in Angouleme, in France. And then on to Berlin, Hamburg and London.

Exciting, yes, but it plays havoc with the MONGREL production schedule!

But never fear - I knew you weren't about to - MONGREL will continue to be made throughout 2013, and by the end of the year, the full 12 issue series will be complete.  And so, particularly if you're a MONGREL subscriber, don't you worry about a thing.  MONGREL issues 7 - 12 are coming.

Unless I start work on another film...