Friday, February 03, 2006

Comic Relief

Finally, finally, FINALLY...

Things start working out right. Deadlines have been met. Appreciation has been expressed. Ex Boss at art school now formally handed over to New Boss, who has promised me everything I have asked for. Next week I start printing like crazy to get one last lingering artist's project finished and then I start a new, interesting, not-much-quieter-but-more-spiritually-fulfilling work regime. With my own office! Hooray! And hopefully I will get to blog interesting things about letterpress and book arts (the way I planned to when I started this blog) because I will be doing them on a regular basis. Double hooray!

Poo bum to the fact that my camera doesn't work. I'll have to start photoshopping some drawings to make some visuals until I can resolve the camera problem by either [1] waking up one morning to find it working or [2] saving some newly-earned money and buying a new one. Being a realist, I am about to start looking at Choice reviews of digicams and dusting off the piggybank.

Have I ever mentioned that when I was young and lithe I collected comics? Not the kind that are chockablock with muscles and magical powers, but the type that had names like Dirty Plotte (Julie Doucet), Naughty Bits (Roberta Gregory -- loved her 'Bitchy Bitch' and 'Butchy Butch' characters), Slutburger (Mary Fleener) and Self-loathing Comics (Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Robert Crumb's partner). Most of these and others I found were published by the excellent Fantagraphics Books. I also collected local output, like Fruity Murmurs (collated by Mandy Ord and Kirrily Schell), Bump and Snore (Bruce Taylor, Mandy Ord & others), Wilnot (Mandy Ord) and Ink (Matt Taylor and friends). I didn't collect consistently, only when I had a bit of expendable cash and when there was time to browse the local comic shops and markets. I'm dating myself, I suspect, by the comics I'm naming.

Needless to say, I haven't had a lot of comic action in the last ten years, apart for finding a graphic novel here & there or falling upon little treasures at market stalls occasionally. But Bumblebee is now the right age to appreciate comics, and there's no better way to get a boy actively reading... so I have an excuse to go back to haunting the local comic shop Impact Comics.

I got him hooked last year by buying some old Superman and Casper comics at some secondhand bookshop. Once he got the idea of how comics work, I took him up the exotically shabby steps to Impact and let him snuffle around. He quite quickly discovered Star Wars comics, and I can now let him read happily in a corner while I do some of my own snuffling. Not as much expendable income these days, but enough to buy local comics and see who is on the scene.

Ben Hutchings is still around, which is great to see. I highly recommend checking out his entry in the 2005 24-Hour Comic Challenge. Today I bought #2 of his joint comic (with Glenn Smith) Glenjamin. I would have bought the more recent #3, but the shop was all out. I also bought David Blumenstein's Herman the Legal Labrador (with some artwork also by Glenn Smith). I haven't read it yet, but it looks fun, with a by-line that reads ' Cute Doggie. Faithful Pet. World-class defence Lawyer.'

I also found a ripper of a little anthology called Pirates, which is Australian, multi-talented and ... about Pirates! The dudes who sold it to me paused and checked that I wasn't buying it for Bumblebee. I assured them that the white texta'd sticker they'd put on the front saying 'probably not for little kids' had been effective and yes, I was only buying it for myself. Not that we mind, they said, just don't bring it back complaining about the content. I won't! The content is great, in parts. But that's the way of comic anthologies. Some strong bits, some weak, but all worth supporting. Older names keep reappearing -- last year I found a recent comic by Mandy Ord called Dirty Little Creep. I love her stuff. I think she's in Melbourne now. I have one of her original drawings in a frame somewhere in the house. Browsing just then, I found a website, but I don't think it's recent. What is there is really good, but!

I treated myself to an archive box and some dividers today to make my small but loved collection look special. It's going to take me a day or so to sort them out and add the new ones whilst re-reading the old (they've been in a cardboard box under a tall pile of cardboard boxes), but I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate a change of [s]pace...

And Bumblebee? His horizons have broadened immeasurably in the past two weeks. He wakes up in the morning and reaches for his pile of comics. We've been mainly buying old back issues of things, but this morning we discovered a new Star Wars comic series called Knights of the Old Republic, hot off the press. It's based nearly 4,000 years before the birth of Luke Skywalker, and we bought the first issue. He's now got a standing order for it, and I'm looking forward to him eagerly awaiting his copy every month.

The grand lads at Impact also let him hold (and swing about) the nearest thing to a real lightsabre he's ever seen -- $230 worth of simulated lightsabre which, when switched on, glows eerily and hums like the real thing, varying the hum realistically when you swing it, using motion sensors. It blew his mind. I think that's all he's going to talk about when he gets back to school, despite everything else he's done these holidays (including an hilarious conversation with Harry et al from For Battle! about sword-fighting that kept him starry-eyed for days)! And why not? You're only a Star-Wars-obsessed boy once.

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