PAVEMENT magazine

COMICS COLUMN

October / November 1999

 

SOME RECENT NEW ZEALAND COMICS

 

Loose #1
Comics Editor: Chris Knox
($8.95 from magazine shops or PO Box 78332, Auckland, New Zealand)

Loose is a new quarterly magazine dedicated to art, politics and cartoons and the first issue includes comics by an impressive range of contributors - including Adam Jamieson, Karl Wills, Chris Slane, myself, Indira and Stefan Neville, Clayton Noone and Loose’s own comix editor Chris Knox. Some of the strips and cartoons will be familiar to followers of the NZ minicomics scene (Lars Cawley’s powerful ‘Dirty War’ is reprinted in a revised format, for example) but some are brand new (including new strips from Lorenzo van der Lingen, Chris Stapp, Tony Scanlan and Ant Sang). With Loose, Rogue and the forthcoming Linoleum (among others), 1999 has been a vintage year for new comics. Now if we can just get the masses to start buying the damn things...

Identity Cleared of Beard-Ripping
Stefan Neville & Clayton Noone
($3 from Oats, PO Box 1320, Dunedin, New Zealand. Website: www.fink.net.nz)

The latest offering from Oats is a new collection of Stefan and Clayton’s ‘City of Tales’ strips, as seen in Loose, Dunedin’s gig-guide F*ink and various Oats publications. Each short strip records a surreal, funny or unsettling moment witnessed by the cartoonists or one or their friends: farting in supermarkets, near-death experiences at the beach, crazy old streetpeople and more - all rendered in their trademark scrawl and wrapped up in a beautiful two-colour linocut cover. Along with fellow Oats guy Glen Stewart, Clayton and Stefan are NZ’s leading proponents of what the Japanese call ‘Good-Bad Art’ and once you get used to their particular bent they’re fucking hilarious. The first ‘City of Tales’ collection (What the Fuck is a Free Radical) is also still available.

Monument: a Tale of Scientific Romance
The Ray Gun Girl
Anthony Ellison
($3.00 for both from PO Box 66-114, Beachhaven, Auckland, New Zealand)

Anthony Ellison is better known as the Sunday Star Times’ political cartoonist and the real pen behind the Listener’s ‘Mean Times’ strips. But he also has a secret life drawing minicomics, from Popeye has a Fuck (1977) to last year’s scatological masterpiece Tard. His latest would be more accurately called microcomics - at eight 8 X 6 cm pages each I just about overlooked them in the envelope. But small is indeed beautiful: both comics are full-colour laser prints and a bargain at the price. An unsettling mixture of Japanese school-girl eroticism, fifties ray-guns and haunting landscapes, these are wordless poems drawn in a hyperrealist style. Along with Chris Slane and Trace Hodgson, Ellison seems set to prove that great editorial cartoonists can also do great comic books. Note: these books are R18.

FIVE IMPORTS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Good-bye, Chunky Rice
Craig Thompson
(Top Shelf, ISBN 1-891830-09-0)

A heartbreakingly moving and deeply humane debut graphic novel which is already getting rave reviews from people like Alan Moore, Jeff Smith and Eddie Campbell. A hot contender for the best graphic novel of 1999.

Sock Monkey
Tony Millionaire
(Dark Horse)

The strange adventures of a group of toys; bats get stuck in doll’s houses, shrunken heads begin talking and sock puppets recite poetry in this absolute gem of a comic. Even my four year old loves it, although I worry it’ll give him nightmares...

Promethea
Tom Strong
Top Ten
All written by Alan Moore (art by various)
(America’s Best Comics)

Yes it’s 1987 all over again. Frank Miller and Lyn Varley wow the crowds with 300 and Alan Moore saves the American comics industry with a new spin on superheroes. The difference is that where 1987’s Dark Knight Returns and The Watchmen were earnest as all goddamn, this year the two giants of the mainstream are all having fun fun fun! As one reader proclaims in Tom Strong’s letters page: “It’s why comics were invented!”

Comics supplied by Gotham Comics, 131 The Mall, Onehunga, Auckland. Ph/fax: (09) 634-4399, email: gotham@comics.co.nz, website: www.comics.co.nz. Mail orders welcome.

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