Saturday, January 29, 2005


The first part of this was meant to be in yesterday's post, but the computer froze and wouldn't let me edit it, so here it is a day later.

On Thursday, well-known local comics writer/editor/publisher, David Bird (of The Fox and Paper Tableaux) gave me a copy of his script for a story in The Ink #3. It's just perfect - clever, witty, poignant - a slice-of-life piece that is full of the "emotional resonance" I'm always bemoaning is missing from so much other comics work these days. Actually, it's just a plain wonderful piece of writing and would be happily at home in a good literary magazine, without the need for being a comic. Still, I look forward to seeing it adapted and am very pleased we'll be in the same anthology issue.

At work, I'm trying to encourage a colleague to write. He has often expressed a desire to do so, so last Friday I told him to write something over the weekend and show it to me this week, even just a snippet. He did, and it was interesting stuff - not at all in the style I would have anticipated, but two literary fragments with great potential. His choice of phrasing had a unique, immediate rhythm at points, with longer musing elsewhere. I think he has a good narrative voice and will be encouraging him to keep at it!

Someone once said that all writing falls into the pattern of either The Iliad or The Odyssey. I'm not sure that is absolutely true, but it's a good guiding principle. Most books are trying to balance character and plot, and tend to lean one way or another (maybe the same writer said that - I can't remember).

Now, back to today... It was an enjoyable day - I hung out with R. and we picked up H. from her coffee shop job later. I was sorry that J. and L. couldn't be along, but have to go with what's possible - no easy thing - and it was nice to spend some time alone with R. Both H. and R. are nearly grown up now, which is nothing short of amazing! I'm not that old, though some days I feel it :).

Friday, January 28, 2005

Zymurgy and ZombieToast 

For a few weeks now I've been listening to a CD called Zymurgy by an old friend, and former ex-Riff Griffin, Ross W. McKay. It's fascinating hearing these songs, which are obviously deeply felt and give insight into circumstances I'm often only too aware of! Mostly, it clearly reminded me why I'd felt it so necessary to have him in a band - with his brilliant songwriting, distinctive vocal style and general charisma - and how sad I felt when he left, though we certainly had our musical differences :).

Anyway, the production on this CD is immaculate and I think it's a concept album of sorts, at least in the sense that something like Linda and Richard Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights is. In the past, Ross has had a predominantly bluesy sound, but people have rightly commented that he has a distinctly country feel these days, which led him to go to Tamworth last week. I hope to catch up with him soon.

On the Moth & Tanuki front, I am tremendously flattered that an Oztaku/Deviantart artist, known as ZombieToast, has done a sketch of my two characters, and is planning to work it up as a possible colour cover. That said, his style is very different to mine, as is his reading of the characters. I'm interested in people's thoughts, so please feed back to me. The picture is viewable at:
ZombieToast's Moth & Tanuki sketch

I'm meeting R. for her birthday tomorrow and have bought her some painting things (which she asked for) - sssh!

Tonight, I've been writing up some further research for a potential children's comic serial that I've been working on for some time. As it's historical in nature, there are so many ways it could go wrong! I discovered another one tonight, but managed to write my way around it :). So far I haven't started seriously drawing up the characters for this, apart from the main protagonist, and I'm not quite sure what the style will be - whether cartoony or serious, or somewhere in between. I'm learning heaps just in the research though.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Moth & Tanuki in colour! 

Here's a coloured version of the first page of Moth & Tanuki, Part 3, which I'm submitting to Operation Funnybone, a proposed cartoonists/comics artists charity compilation for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Moth & Tanuki appear to be my most popular current characters. They're a lot of fun, so it's not hard to see why, I suppose. What's funny is that I had the script for the first episode for a while and wasn't going to pursue it, but Jill really pushed me to (that first episode appeared in Oztaku #2). The characters have been with me in one form for a very long time, but it was when I decided that it should be manga that it all came alive. Moth got big-eyed and Tanuki was transformed (his predecessor some twenty years ago was an armadillo).

Monday, January 24, 2005

Swans instead of rabbits 

Finally, I decided to abandon the Rabbit story that I had in mind for Tango. I was halfway there anyway, but when Jill and the children came got back from Bundalong, she told me about the behaviour of black swans they'd been watching.

What I ended up with is a one pager drawn in a very naturalistic style, but then I think I've always been more of an illustrator than an artist (my ambitions towards entering the Archibald Prize notwithstanding :)). There's not really even any anthropomorphism - with the possible exception of one sideways glance by the male swan - just observed behaviour. What's disturbing is that the behaviour described (and even on video) runs contrary to the accepted wisdom about swans, but then that's the twist!

Maybe I'll put it up here at some stage. I'm not even sure it will get into Tango as I hadn't really warned them that I was serious about doing anything. If not, maybe I could submit it to the Birds Australia magazine, Wingspan, or even literary magazine, Meanjin. I do think comics need to get out a bit more!

My working method was different this time. I wrote the script directly onto a piece of B4 paper, then pencilled, inked and lettered it to completion, which is quite a change from my usual scripting, enlarging, tracing, etc.

I think I can do fairly rough work in a realistic style very easily, so maybe I should think about doing more work this way, both comics and otherwise. My piece for Tonia's Pirate anthology will be similarly "rough," with strong blacks and whites, though it has a fairly romanticised look to it. Again, the ending of the story somehow came from nowhere and has a bit of a twist to it. Sometimes things in both nature and narrative just don't go the way you'd expect.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Still life with rabbit 

This week Jill and the children are away at Bundalong (up on the Murray), at her Mum's place. I've had to stay home to look after the rabbit and guineapig. As ridiculous as it sounds the rabbit is a touchy beast, and has a real need for some attention and company. They're delicate animals and can become ill really easily and without warning, as they do everything so silently!

Anyway, it's given me a chance to work on some things in the evening, though I do miss Jill, J. and L. terribly.

At the moment, I'm completing my script for Tonia Walden's Pirate anthology, which is coming at the end of March, and I finally think I've got something workable and entertaining. It's fairly realistic in style and naturally I'm getting bogged down in details!

I'm also doing a little work on a two pager that I had in mind for Bernard Caleo's Tango #6, which is about Love & Sex. That's a tough theme, but my story is - oddly enough - about rabbits :).

I had to give up on my ten page manga piece for Generation 2005, but maybe next year...

I'm still pretty sick - recovering from whooping cough. This is one reason I chose to re-edit and submit a selection from Riffin' to Oblivion, and possibly a Moth & Tanuki colour page, to the upcoming charity anthology, Operation Funnybone. This is looking like an excellent project!

Thanks to people who nominated me for Best Writer for the Ledger Awards. I do think Riffin' -Part 2 in particular - is about the best thing I've ever written. This is another reason I've submitted a short piece from it to OF. Maybe I have a "cellar palate" though, and don't really know my own best work :).

I'm still enjoying Anthony Woodward's excellent minicomic/sketchbook, Scrambled. Contact me if you're interested in locating a copy, or check out his Blogspot at: http://awcomix.blogspot.com . In addition to the content, I really like the inventive way he has overlaid colour, complete with screentone effects, to get an ideal underground/alternative comic look and also one that is traditional for comics.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Blackout and a Moth & Tanuki pencilled page 

While we were having tea on Wednesday night, there was a small explosive sound and the power went out. We wandered up and down the street, but it looked like we were nearly the only house effected (us and our neighbour on one side), so we tried walking up the other direction.

There were a lot of cockatoos hanging around screeching and, sure enough, judging by the streetlights, the power was out (or dimmed at least) in this direction. Around the corner we found a dead cockatoo underneath the powerbox. He was black down one side, burnt through on one leg and had lost the other one, evidently electrocuting himself and cutting the power in the process.

It was a bit like when the rabbit decided to bite the video cord, except he got off with a burn! This time we found the DVD player stopped working due to the power surge, and unfortunately it had a rental disk paused in it! I had to take it apart and saw the drawer open to remove the DVD for return. Those players really hang onto the disk!

On another note, I'm enjoying Anthony Woodward's tiny comic, Scrambled, which is essentially just his sketchbooks and musings put out as a regular comic. Somehow, these small ziney biographical things - such as the work of Mandy Ord and Leigh Rigozzi - tell you more about humanity and art than most of what the much "better" writers and artists produce, and with loads more heart!

Here's a pencilled page of Moth & Tanuki 3, for Oztaku #4. I've actually already inked it, but had to photocopy it for a few alterations before I could do that.


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