Monday, December 28, 2015

A reflective 2015 Recap Rambling

Well, another year is drawing to a close. Not sure why exactly I felt the necessity to write down what what I managed to knock over this year; perhaps it's a positive exercise to stop and reflect before pressing through to the new year, pat myself on the back, rather than simply continue to mentally beat myself up while I draw another page (the usual process). Actually, I caught myself laughing in amazement this year at John Romita and John Buscema on an old Jack Kirby tribute panel from many years back (via the magic of youtube) who stated how hard they found drawing, and the agony of getting out what they envision on the page, which is exactly the sort of torture that passes through my head while trying to figure out the image, panel to panel (a far cry from Kirby and Barry Windsor-Smith for instance, who state they are simply tracing the idea they already 'see" on the page). Anyway, perhaps it's just me forgetting that a blog can sometimes just be a somewhat self-indulgent, self congratulatory BS exercise for prosperity; if I don't stop to acknowledge a win, why bother be in the game in the first place.

Anyways, before I get into a long-winded time waste of an exercise, I just want to touch on (for my own sanity) what I knocked over, and the people I wish to thank, anything I dug about 2015 before plugging on. In no particular order, just whatever pops into my head:

  • OCC: The Full OZ Comic-Con tour (Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney) as a comic book guest of the show, travelling with my lovely and supportive partner Amanda (who is the Stage 3 host and manager for OCC- very proud of her- her panels were always entertaining and I was thankful to share the stage with talented writers and illustrators)- I want to thank Carissa and Rand for their invitation, support and thoughtfulness, and the crew that looked after us; too many to name, but everyone from front of house, to drivers, guest co-ordinators, Cordie and Kate, the security boys, the volunteers, everyone! Thank you. Humbling to be treated the way we are as guests for the days before and during the show. Being able to speak in conversation with comic book, TV and Film people is a surreal and rewarding experience. Catching up with good friends Christian, Andrew, Nicola, Wolf, Skye, Justin, Jon, Doug, Tristan, Tom, Gary, Dean, Chris, Emily, Katie, Stewart, Wendy, Jason, Darren, Ryan and more that I've surely, and apologetically slipped my mind as I type this late at night, making new ones like Hai, Sasha, Mark S, Mark N, Freddie, Kiki and many more. And, I am thankful for the friendships and current and future collaborations that have come from hanging out with some of the best Australia has to offer in the creative fields.
  • Dr. Paul: Completed my 55,000 word DVA thesis on Australian comics, writer and artist methodologies and comparisons between the US, UK and Australian comic scenes, and documenting the process of development for The Soldier Legacy comic book series. This blog in fact, documents the very beginning of that process, starting from my honours in 2009, and arriving at this point where on the back of this comic book work, I graduated mid-way through 2015 as a Doctor of Visual Arts. (Eternal thanks to Andi, my mentor, supervisor and rock throughout the entire process, along with primary supervisor Paul, and the others thanked in the main document that supported me throughout the duration of the work (such as Evie the QCA editor, colleagues Peter, Kay, Louise, Darren F, Darren P, Marianna, Briony, John etc.). On the grand scheme of things, it most likely means nothing to nobody; it is the Australian-way after all. But, at the very least, it allows me the opportunity to continue pursuing my academic goals of being able to teach while continue as a practicing illustrator, and discuss and analyse methods for an medium virtually invisible in this country, and try to prove its merits, one kid/teen/adult at a time. The document I finished sweating on this year for this has probably only been read by a handful of people. Hoping to rectify this in 2016 by way of academic journal, or perhaps if I can beat it into a book topic…? Find the right publisher??? As for the Soldier Legacy, the final chapter of the saga will be completed next year. This is one of the other goals. As an aside, I am very appreciative of the acknowledgement of this by Oz Comic-Con, with panel cards and media throughout the show stating the title in Brisbane and Sydney shows. I was very touched for the acknowledgement!
  • Comic Book wise: Soldier Legacy issue 6 was completed and released in April this year. I tried a sepia tone to make it feel like part of the era, which I'm still not 100% happy about. But, the full colour version has started, and will be released as part of the volume 3 trade paperback. the Original volume 1s sold out, and I originally planned on calling it a day with those. But I have found that newcomers are still coming across the book for the first time, be it via conventions, word of mouth, etc.etc. Either way, a new cover was completed, some updated interiors, and a re-release occurred for this book. Also at the last minute, the 1st edition of Volume 2 trade paperback was packaged together, and released, with quotes on the cover from good friend and fantastic illustrator Nicola Scott (currently producing 'Black Magick' with acclaimed writer Greg Rucka for Image Comics), good mate John Higgins (currently illustrating 'Jacked' for DC Vertigo) and great writers Christian Read and Andrew Constant of Gestalt Publishing. I could not have achieved any of these books this year without the support, assistance and high quality print work of Baden Kirgan of Jeffries Printing services. I always highly recommend his company's print work (even Gestalt produce their work through Jeffries), and can't say enough how thankful I am for his assistance and generosity. I have to thank Amanda again for the suggestion for a Volume 3- I was stressing how to fit all the work I needed to achieve to wrap up the storyline convincingly, and it seems the answer was right in front of me. 2016, I hope I can do the ending justice. pages have slowly begun.

    • As well as the two trades and the single issue, other Comic stuff for the year:
      • ComicOZ's 'Oi Oi Oi #4' featured a 10 page black & white preview for Soldier Legacy #6 (Cheers Nat!)
      • A 5 page colour contribution I, along with a group of other Australian cartoonists, was invited to contribute to- ComicOZ's 'AUSTRALIA'  raising money for Beyond Blue. This was admittedly hard to do- with close ties to depression, and the recent lost of a beloved family pet (and drawing companion), I wrote and drew this quick little Soldier tie-in as a tribute. Difficult process to say the least, but despite the flaws I always hate in my own work, I was happy with the result given the short deadline I had to deal with, due to the other work tying me down. That will be available as a hardcover book very soon.

      • Cloud9 Comix 'Trail' #3 double page spread- pencils and ink (Cheers Ben!)

      • The prose anthology 'Cthulhu: Deep Down Under' - 1 page illustration for Jason Nahrung's short story.
      • I'm hoping by the end of this week to have finished about half of the pencils and inks for a graphic novel collaboration with writer Christian Read on a book for Gestalt Publishing. I have had a great deal of respect and admiration for Wolfgang, and Skye and the other creators onboard with the Australian-based publisher, and the drive and attitude behind the work they produce. To be part of the fold is an honour, just like the height of Black House Comics work with Baden, Chris, Jan, Jason, Chewie etc. Gary Edward's wise words, and pleasant encouragement, along with Christian's enthusiasm and faith in the project and what I'm putting on the page (it's a struggle! but I hope the end result makes him happy) along with Nicola and Andrew's support, and Wolf's meticulous and valuable feedback on the pages, has helped immensely. It's more pages than I've been able to achieve in recent years- maybe because I'm not colouring them, or working on the thesis, or perhaps no world championship in the mid year? Who knows. It wasn't smooth sailings by any stretch of the imagination- family sicknesses, death of pets, and a full teaching load writing classes and marking has taken many days, and hours away from sleep. But again, though progress on this has been slower than anticipated, I'm hoping something sees the light of day in the new year, if not the completion of chapter 3 and 4 for wrap things up.
      • A few other bits and pieces which might have legs in 2016. Pitches and decision-making doesn't happen instantly in the creative work it seems. Even Disney projects were shelved for years before being dusted off and re-worked. Positive waves always.
  • The university commitment this year were very rewarding, and things seem to still be looking up for next year, with meetings next week to help assist in new course profiles based on the few years of teaching visual story, drawing etc. Having a hand at teaching 1st, 2nd and 3rd years, and seeing 3rd year projects come to fruiting, was very rewarding. I was extremely touched to received appreciation for advice and feedback from these talented and awesome individuals, and I wish them the very best. It's a satisfying job, and so much fun to discuss storytelling with the students. Those that see the value of hard work, constant learning, obtaining feedback and working with it to achieve great, creative work, will really go places. Thank you to Peter, Andi, Louise, Darren F, Darren P, Marianna, Leila, Briony, the tech guys James and Adam, Herman, Kirilee and the rest of the Film school.
  • There was a bit of workshop seminar teaching this year- mostly at the front of the year, but still lots of fun. The beginning of the year was a number of comic book workshops for the state library of Queensland for their Story Lab program, including a full day event (Thanks Danny!). The feedback was great, although after 3-4 consecutive years of running comic book-themed workshops, they aren't running any for 2016. Hope that's not a small omen of the perspective of comic books in this country. Workshops ran in Brisbane Square Library (Thanks Emma!), Toowoomba regional Library (at 'The Grid'- Thanks Angela), and also while in Perth at The Grove Library (Thanks Debra!). Toowoomba has already pencilled in a few seminars for next year, including one for adults, so I'm thankful for that opportunity once again. Great kids and parents at all the events in 2015, so looking forward to what 2016 will bring.
  • For the last 15 months, I have been hosting a monthly Comic Book Meetup group, along with my partner Amanda Bacchi (the brain child of the project) on behalf of Brisbane Square Library. We began with 6 people, and it has been consistently in the 30s for over a year, with regulars becoming good friends, and semi-regulars visiting when they can, on the 3rd Friday of every month. It's been a great deal of fun and a rewarding experience for Amanda and I, and after the success of the last meet up before Xmas (Secret Santa was awesome!), I am hoping the Library continue to see the value in this free event for Brisbane pop culture fans that do come along, and we get to celebrate 2 years later in 2016. Our 1 year anniversary in September coincided with Oz Comic -Con in the city, and good buddy Dean Rankine came along to discuss his Simpsons, Futurama and Itty Bitty Bunnies work. Nat Karmichael of ComicOZ is another local who has attended a number of meetings to discuss his work, as well as some other local creators (Kara Jay, Darren Koziol etc.)- but mostly, it's about having a laugh, watching big screen trailers, quizzes, games and comic book prizes. A fun gig and nice way to end the working week.

  • Free Comic book day sketching (and Halloween Comic fest) at Urban Fiction Comics in Nambour- thank you to the kind folks that came out, and for Drew and Alye  for being kind hosts, and working hard for your local customers.Cheers!
  • Supanova Brisbane, as always, cheers to Daniel for having me be a part of the show, Tim, Royd for being a good mate and taking care of the comic guests, the volunteers, Quinny, Bruce and the crew, the opportunity to hang with good friends (Dean Rankine is a gentleman; both Amanda and I are thankful for being able to catch up whenever you're in town), Tom, Mark, James and meeting new mate Greg, catching up with the lovely Fil and Helen, Martin and Jamie, Chatting briefly to neighbours Bob Layton, and Dave Gibbons was very rewarding too. Despite some hiccups, a great weekend.
  • Umm, drawing some blanks now. A couple of Golds in some national tournaments throughout the year, and a bronze for a tournament I had 4 months of comic drawing as preparation, so I was surprised to have survived; not many tournaments entered, and not sure what the future will bring Taekwon-do wise. I did enjoy the Grand Master Park seminar, despite the difficult personal period that it fell in. Will I travel again for fighting? Overseas? Is it worth it? Is there the opportunity? Dunno. I'm suppose to possible grade to 4th degree early next year, but again have heard nothing (the perils of being out of the loop). So I'll just keep training for nothing in particular, other than my own sanity :P Hopefully 2016 will be kinder in this department. A new gym during the latter part of the year has helped a little, but still not getting the time I want to be able to enjoy being there. And an injury sustained in August isn't going away quick enough, while older injuries remind me they're still around. I think I just need a goal. The KO and movement potential was still there, but I don't feel like anyone really cares one way or another. So why should I? A little like comics in this country, but there are still those here and abroad that do matter, and do pay for my scribble, so it's more than enough to keep firing on with it all.

    • Anyways:
  • 'Mad Max: Fury Road' and 'Creed'. Two great film releases this year that were thoroughly enjoyed- simple, classic stories told well. Best TV show; 'Daredevil'. Finally, they got the tone of my favourite incarnations of the character and his world right. The action sequences and shot choices; fantastic. The guy gets tired in combat. Excellent. Frank Castle in 2016? My inner nerd finally gets its childhood wish. I predict I'll be as excited as I was when I was sitting there during 'Creed'. A renewed love and respect for 'Lawrence of Arabia'.
  • Caesar Campbell's Autobiographies were enjoyable, if not crazy for the "true to life" brutality. I read both cover to cover in about a week when I got to the mid-semester break. Currently devouring Jack Kinney's anecdotes about Walt Disney and life working for the animation juggernaut; from the early 30s to the late 50s/60s. Ennis and Parlov's hardcover 'Fury Max' series was my pick for series this year. Very much enjoyed Millar and Murphy's 4 issue 'Chrononauts' miniseries, the always entertaining Eric Powell's 'Goon', and Gestalt's releases 'Unmasked', 'Caddy full of Blood', 'Fly', 'Broken Line', 'Changing Ways' (you're a champion, Justin), 'MIDAS' etc. No missteps (and no bias). And again, lovely Amanda's xmas presents of Miller and Janson's complete 'Daredevil' run is just great.  
  • Enjoyed the audio books for Mike McColl-Jones, a longtime writer for Australian live TV Comedy. I wrote a post on some of the words that he said that resonated with me, and the state of Australian audiences and their sentiments towards Australian talent, but I think it was more therapeutic for me to write it, rather than release it. Though listening to an Andrew Denton interview with George Miller today, there's a few more words I could add to strengthen it. I'll leave it in draft for now.
  • Trawling youtube for every Muhammad Ali interview and fight I've missed over the years, to watch while I work. Plus, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jack Johnson, and other Boxing greats. 
  • We lost Chuckie, but gained 'Cheese'; adopted from the Bird Vet. She is a lovely little puff- brings out my soft side, it seems. Her friend Cookie wasn't with us for too long either, but she isn't forgotten. A helpful edition to the lonely drawing board.

Ok, I think that's the main things. As always, I want to thank Amanda and my Family (both mine and hers) for the love and support through the tough year. It hasn't been smooth for any of us, especially in the health of those closest to me. But, we're all alive, have food in the kitchen and a roof over our heads- better off than most, and that's something to be thankful for. Looking forward to seeing my family healthy by this time next year, happy as can be, and further runs on the board for 2016; keep chasing that light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Brisbane Supanova 27-29th November, and Some advice: Brisbane Times extra bits.

I think I'm resigning to the fact that my blogging will forever be haphazard at best, and they will have as much resonance and response as a note in a bottle thrown into the ocean from an island. But, it's meeting some sort of de-brief function in my head, so I'll share when I think of it. In lieu of forgetting to upload all the kids photos from last month's Halloween ComicFest in store scribbling session at Urban Fiction Comics in Nambour, here's a quick mention of this weekend's nonsense.

The Brisbane Times have been running small snippets of interviews with Supanova guests all month in the lead up to tomorrow's convention. Kudos to them who have to find an angle in a story to draw from, particularly when I was coming off a string of all-nighters marking honours papers for Uni. So I guess I went into exegesis-mode. and wrote way more than was necessary. Thank you to Sam for the opportunity, and apologies for the pages.

Here's a link to the article snippet:

And for context, the complete response to the questions provided. Maybe someone might get a tidbit of advice out of the last paragraph.


Supanova questions- Sam Flanagan.
Answers by Paul Mason.

* What's you favourite thing about Supanova? 

Meeting new readers and friends, catching up with old ones, chatting to like-minded folks and fellow creators. That’s more than one thing, but they were hard to separate!

* Were you into comic books as a kid / did you always want to create comics?

I was into comics, cartoons, and movies as a kid; it was really an amalgamation of the three mediums that pushed me towards wanting to create comics. When I think back, I wanted to do “Cartooning”, but I don’t think I knew what that was. So, I just kept drawing. Although I have worked freelance drawing cartoon strips, caricaturing, graphic design, and even some minor animation, I just somehow naturally kept gravitating back towards comics.
Since kindergarten, I loved to draw, and Batman reruns got me into superheroes. Asterix, Tintin and Phantom comics during primary school kept me entertained, while at the same time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then Batman, X-Men and Spider-man animated series of the 90s were my favourite shows to watch. Spider-man, Daredevil and The Punisher were the comic books I became obsessed with as I entered high school, but this was all still fueled by cartoons, and whatever action film I could get my hands on. While the other kids liked Ritchie Rich and Home Alone, I loved Terminator 2, Lethal Weapon and Enter the Dragon. I didn’t discriminate- classic Jack Kirby comic books from the 1960s, Hanna-Barbara action cartoons on Boomerang channel, 90s Nickelodeon cartoons, Jackie Chan Hong Kong classics, Clint Eastwood westerns- I was a sponge for this stuff. Though my tastes fluctuated over the years, and the focus from my studies at uni encompassed fine art, animation and a little live action filming, essentially, comic books became the medium I most enjoyed to work with, and postgrad studies allowed me the opportunity to finally cut loose and attempt to do them properly.

* What are your all time favourite comics?

It’s a tough question, I like too many! I more so follow the creators of titles, rather than have individual books that I like. Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Eisner, Steve Ditko, John Romita Jr, Klaus Janson; have their name on a cover, and I’ll pick it up for sure.  To try and narrow it down, I’d say Jack Kirby’s work on the 1960s Fantastic Four is still the gold standard in old fashioned adventuring, epic scope, drama and dynamic action on a page. But really, there isn’t much of his work that I don’t like; I love his work with Joe Simon in the 1950s (Boys Ranch, The Fighting American), his other work with Stan Lee (the 1960s Captain America run, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandoes, The Avengers, The Rawhide Kid), and his solo work for DC in the 1970s (such as O.M.A.C, and The Losers). Eric Powell’s The Goon is a recent favourite, and Garth Ennis/Gordon Parlov’s Fury Max is a book I keep picking up to look at. The most enjoyable comic books I’ve picked up in recent years are from Australian publisher, Gestalt Comics.

* What is the hardest thing about your job?

Fighting “Time”. Comics writing and illustrating, is rarely a “full time” job; there are only a handful of creators in this country that create comics solely for a living. The same can be said for many authors too. The irony is that writing and comic creating demands full-time hours to produce the work at a high standard, but if you were to break down the pay rates of most companies, or sales, verses an hourly rate, minimum wage employment looks pretty attractive…So to live, many creators have more than one job. I have been fortunate to have some income from comics, but also spin the comic creating and visual storytelling into an academic stream with a professional doctorate basis. I have a day job I’m very happy with (lecturing and tutoring at Griffith University QCA), plus other commitments that take up a lot of time. The challenge mentally is being able to “switch on” the brain to be ready to either write, layout, draw and/or ink my comic commitments in the small windows that I am able to get in any given week; at midnight, for instance- which is not always possible physically.
Comics are a solitary activity. Even when you are working on someone else’s script, and under editorial gaze, you’re doing all this remotely, made possible with the Internet. But, as it’s only part of what needs to be done in any given week, it’s a juggling act with my other job, which involves writing lectures, attending classes, marking assessments, answering after hour emails etc. Much of the day means you have to interact with other humans hahaha! Necessities of life which are important to function such as family time, loved ones and, you know, eating and sleeping, become part of that balancing act, which I confess I can struggle with at times, and comics can hog a lot of time in order to do them “right”.

* What is some advice you would give to young comic book creators? 

Get your idea down; too many people have an idea, but prefer to talk about it more than actually “do it”. Finishing a comic is more challenging than people realise; it’s easy to kill time by drawing sketch after sketch of your own character, but it’s a lot harder to force yourself to draw a comic panel featuring characters or backgrounds/settings that are important to the story but not as fun to draw. Like any work of art or creative endeavour, it takes a level of commitment and discipline to see it through.
Whether you’re a writer or artist, study your intended craft- draw from life, learn from stories, read books, watch films, listen to people talking, people watch in the city or when you’re out and about, seek feedback from professionals, attend panels, study, apply what you’ve learnt, repeat the process, aim to learn from those that you like and do well, and learn to understand the “how”; how things are made, how things were etc. which can be applied to stories and visuals.
Start small, such as a 2 or 4-page story, then maybe 8, and then 12. Complete those before attempting that 120 page graphic novel idea you may have; it shows you can see something through to the end, and gives you the satisfaction of completing something, without busting yourself from the get go because you gave yourself such a crippling task. You’ll find you’ll learn a lot more, and can experiment with each outing.
Find like-minded creators and friends to support you; part of how I got into comics, and how I continue, is from the support I have from fellow comic creators, indie publishers and printers.
Above all, you need to “do”. You can’t learn to swim by just waving your arms and legs around on dry land- get in the water! You learn through practice, and creating. I never had the answers when I started, and cringe at my old stuff. I’m still searching and learning, and probably won’t be satisfied, no matter who pays or publishes. Onward!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sydney OZ Comic-Con photo dump!

Had a fantastic 2 weekends at OZ Comic-Con in Brisbane and Sydney.  The best was meeting and catching up with you lot who picked up the new books- we indie comic makers live and die by your support, so I'm glad to still have loyal (and new) readers. Had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with 'the boss' on this current drawing gig, which I am very grateful for. Plus, spend some time with fellow guests and good mates both onstage and after the cons. The Gestalt crew, Jack Kirby and illustration stories with Jason Palmer, the gentleman Dean Rankine, talking Mad Max with Mark Sexton at dinner, who worked on both the comics and film, review with Scott Allie and the Boss, catching up with old mates Chris Sequeira, Chewie Chan, Jan Scherpenhuizen etc.…too many moments. I will get around to a few anecdotes, including losing my voice the night after a crazy karaoke session with the Anime voice actors. Anyways, to the crew of OCC, the organisers, the volunteers, and the patrons- THANK YOU!!! And a huge thank you to Baden Kirgan of Jeffries Printing Services in Sydney for a fantastic quality printing on the new books, and delivery to the hotel. I couldn't do all this without their support. More pics to come, but in the meantime, here's a few. Cheers!

Dean Rankine, Me, Doug Holgate, Queenie Chan & Kylie Chan.

Me, panel MC Amanda Bacchi, Tristan Jones, Mark Sexton & Scott Allie.

Christian Read, Wolfgang Byslma, Dean Rankine, Me & panel MC Amanda Bacchi.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Comic Book Workshop at Brisbane Square Library

FREE Event coming up just after Brisbane OZ Comic-Con, courtesy of Brisbane Square Library: 

"Local comic book icon Paul Mason, creator of The Soldier Legacy, shares his knowledge of comic book creation and storyboarding. He will assist participants in producing the framework for their very own comic. No previous knowledge required. Materials provided.
Ideal for people aged 15-25 years. Bookings required."
Details via the events page- search "Paul Mason"

Had the opportunity earlier in the year to host a couple of these at BSL, so should be a lot of fun.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Incoming! New edition of SOLDIER LEGACY Vol 1, and a brand New Vol 2

Thanks to the awesome and top quality outfit, Jeffries Printing Services in Sydney, I am pleased to announce that a new edition of the out-of-print volume 1 trade paperback of 'The Soldier Legacy' will be available at the upcoming Brisbane and Sydney OZ Comic-Con in September, where I have been invited as a guest to attend.

Further to this, A volume 2 will be available for the first time, which will collect #4, #5, the Strange Tales one-shot with good mate and top writer Christopher Sequeira (who just finished working with Mark Waid on Dynamite's 'Justice Inc. The Avenger'- congratulations again mate!), and a stack of extras, including pages from the wartime edition of issue 6 (which was released earlier this year in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne). A massive thanks to Nicola Scott, Andrew Constant, Christian Read, John Higgins, Christopher Sequeira, and John Retallick for their extremely kind words that appear on the covers, to Baden Kirgan of Jeffries Printing for helping to make this possible, and to my partner Amanda for her support in the project. A volume 3 will wrap up the storyline, is aiming for a 2016 release, which will at this point include a colour version of #6 (not previously released), and the over-sized final issue 7, plus extras of course.

Priority at this point is also still to forge ahead with the current work on the drawing table, but more news on that when I can. Again, I'm so stoked to be doing something for this publisher and with kick-ass scripts from a great writer. The hard part is doing the words justice.

Thanks again.

Oh and just briefly, an update on the absence: Again, held up by a few things since the last post. Lecturing at QCA a large chunk of the weeks, with a fantastic and talented group of 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students. Awarded the Doctorate (yeah, Dr. Paul Mason…insert your jokes here), and the Monthly Comic Book Meet ups that I host (along with instigator and fellow Geek, the lovely Amanda Bacchi) at Brisbane Square Library are still going strong, with our 1 year anniversary coming up. Obviously all hasn't been sunshine and rainbows, but we all have our own wars to fight; all we can do is march on, right? Always be thankful for loved ones and close friends to help you out.

Speaking (somewhat) of which, A small full colour 5 page Soldier Legacy related story has been completed for the ComicOz Book 'Australia!', raising money for Beyond Blue, the charity battling Depression and mental illness. More on that one soon, and it was a nice opportunity to add another piece to the Soldier mythos, featuring a "Soldier" of sorts in the cane fields of North Queensland in the 1930s, and a pet bird in honour of our lost little mate "Chuck", who died on the operating table a few months back.
 Anyways, apologies for bringing down the mood, hope you are all well, and speak soon.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Soldier Legacy. And now, the End is Near.

After having an extremely low number of Soldier Legacy issues sell at Melbourne OCC, and looking over the numbers of Soldier Legacy 6 from the conventions this year (Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne Oz Comic-Con), it has re-affirmed my current thoughts that this issue will be the penultimate chapter of this comic book, with the series ending with issue 7.

The last chapter will likely go straight to trade paperback. I felt as though I put way too much of my enthusiasm, time and sweat into this latest issue which I found has been akin to putting them into bottles and floating them out to sea, never to see or hear about them again. For my emotional wellbeing, it’s a drain. Sure, comics are not as hard as digging a ditch, but then again, you don’t pour your heart and soul for months into creating a hole. The writing, drawing and assembling of this issue solo was very anti-climatic. I’m still finding most are going for the first few issues in trade paperback form, meaning I need to re-evaluate the point of continuing. The trades have been the constant best seller, by and far over the single issues. I ran out of TPBs early this year and since the dissolving of Black House Comics late last year (publisher of the series), I have been reluctant to chase a further reprinting of this volume until the 2nd volume is complete. I wish to thank everyone who has purchases the single issues and the Volume 1 trade in the past.

I originally began this series as an aim to experiment with the comics form, illustrating and writing methodology, for the aim of achieving my doctorate. I was awarded my Doctorate in Visual Arts recently, and though I will continue to work in comics (such as lecturing/tutoring, my current projects for other Australian publishers, freelance work, and pitching), it seems that perhaps my attempts for an action- adventure hero in the same vein as The Spirit, Indiana Jones, Sg.t Fury or The Phantom, with an Australian sensibility, have been a poor one. Or perhaps, the Australian as a hero is not as relevant or inline with the current sensibilities of a comic reading audience as I had hoped. Perhaps the idea of an Australian comic character in a mask seems hokey to most. Perhaps the relevance of the Anzac spirit only holds for most on two dates a year in April and November. Perhaps the current wars in the Middle East hit too close to home, or that the idea of being a proud Australian is tainted because of the elected officials seemingly running our country. Perhaps you can’t fight cultural cringe after all. Perhaps simply, my drawing style doesn’t resonate. Either way, I can’t figure it out, and it’s time to move on.

My final paragraph of my doctoral thesis touched on my personal thoughts:
“…What the future holds for The Soldier Legacy after this current story arc is over is uncertain. Whether continued interest in this Australian action hero continues to grow or stagnates is unknown (much like the nature of the medium in general), or whether it was even a blip on the Australian comic scene mindset is unknown, as fickle and fractured as I discovered on my journey... It is not the work I wish to ultimately define me; I wish to grow beyond it, and will probably feel more proud and satisfied with it when I have finally reached the conclusion of the last issue.
However, I am thankful for the opportunities that have arisen from researching and creating comics, and that I have been able to achieve what I set out to do from the onset of this research…”

I am pleased with what I was able to do with the character and comic series in a short few years: meet creators here and overseas, gain meetings, feedback and contacts and friends with the biggest comic publishers in the US such as DC and IDW, work in a professional capacity in a field I always wanted to do since I was a kid, have the character and books feature on TV via Youi insurance, attend many conventions nationally as a guest, draw a crossover which featured in a Sherlock Holmes comic which sold throughout Australian newsagents, and feature in past (and some upcoming) publications for other publishers, and gain knowledge and ability which ultimately lead me to becoming a Doctor in Visual Arts.  This is thanks to not only the friends and fellow creators who actively supported or assisted in the issues, and the handful of comic stores that stock Australian independent books, but for the folks who own a copy of the book, or who showed their appreciation for the series or concept at the conventions around the country.

I still have a few boxes of back issues (#1 – 5, the recent #6 and the Strange Tales one-shot) which I will endeavour to have with me at the conventions I will attend, and volume 2 is still going ahead, self-published or otherwise, but for now, my lecturing commitments, and current graphic novel will take precedence over something that now just seems like an exercise in indulgence, rather than something that people actually care about.

Perhaps one day down the track, when I’m not so caught up with other projects, I will change my mind. With the right story and demand, you never know. But for now, the current title of the story “And now the end is near” is spot on.

Anyway, as I ended my thesis with this, I will also end this thought stream with this. The words of one of my inspirations: Jack Kirby:

“Comics are a universal product. They have no boundaries. You can use them in a very serious manner or just for laughs. Comics can be used to educate, to entertain or to provoke deep thought. A well-read person will one day produce a classic epic in comics, one that everybody will remember. I wanted to do that, but I think that's going to be somebody else's job. I'm happy that I got the chance to accomplish what I did.”

The last six months in a nutshell aka Slack Blogger


Long time no-see. I realised a while ago that I had neglected this blog; simply a lack of spare time killed my updates. Last night I wrote something that I want to post, but felt it necessary (or perhaps OCD) to update what's been doing since my last quick blog post back in October (just for continuity, I guess).

In December, Matt Emery of Pikitia Press conducted his yearly survey of Australian and New Zealand Cartoonists, writers and comic scribblers, and I used that as a recapped of sorts for the neglect I gave this blog. I'll dot point the rest, with photos being able to be tracked down at the Soldier legacy FB page here for anyone who actually cares:

So, below is the recap, many thanks to Matt for the yearly inclusion. The original post (and the rest) can be found by following the link here:

2014 in Review: Paul Mason

December 20, 2014
What have been your personal cartooning/comics highlights of 2014?
Had to take a different road this year due to some bigger commitments but 2014 turned into a year of setting up 2015, but also plenty of teaching opportunities, which I’m pleased with.
Recently began working on a graphic novel project I was ecstatic to score this year. I really can’t say much at all, as it’s not my place to do so. But I figure since it’s on my drawing board, it would be poor form not to at least thank them (they know who they are)- It’s for a publisher/editor with a writer who I both admire greatly; in talent and output. I’d always wanted to work on this genre too, and I love the characters. Something for 2015.
Recently I was asked to contribute a section of the latest work on The Soldier Legacy into an anthology for an early next year release- again, I don’t think I can mention too much until closer to the publication, but I am honoured to have been asked, I admire the publisher’s drive and Australian comic history, a gent to talk to, so looking forward to that as well. It at least ties in with the continuation of finishing the last volume of The Soldier Legacy, which went on the backburner due to time this year.
A couple of things spinning involving good mate and writer Chris Sequeira- some single illustrations (such as for Jason Nahrung's story in the Cthulhu: Deep Down Under crowd-funded book), some sequential work to develop, but will hopefully all wrap up and spill out in 2015.
Pleased again to have been a guest of Oz Comic-Con across 4 cities (Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane); a fantastic crew of people from organisers, handlers, security, volunteers and guests, and Supanova pop Culture expo at my base of operation in Brisbane; also operating with some top folks in the mix. Also, I was lucky enough to have been a guest of the inaugural Sugar City Con in beautiful Mackay, Queensland (I'd never been before this trip, and everybody from Grant the organiser, to Luke, Peter and Georgia our drivers/support crew were incredible); Sugar City Con is one of the first pop culture events of its kind in Australia, I was very please to be a part of it, and I hope it continues to go well for them. Also one of my favourite events of the year was the Zine and Indie Comic Symposium (or 'ZICS') at The Edge, in South Brisbane. The vibe, like Sugar City, was amazing, and the organising committee, the creators and crowd that attended were fantastic and warm. Again the opportunity to scribble during it, and all the other conventions was a lot of fun, and I am thankful for the commission requests and book sales (many thanks too to 'the Sunday Mail' newspaper and ‘U Magazine’ for shining a spotlight on the event, comics and The Soldier Legacy too.)
My Doctoral thesis on developing an Australian Comic has been submitted as the finishing component of my DVA at QCA, and is currently being marked. Probably too much to expect hearing back about it before xmas, but a least something positive (hopefully) to begin the new year. That ended up being a 50,000 word document that was submitted mid this year, along with the comic books produced during the duration.
Though Black House Comics officially shut its doors this month, I was pleased to see that about half a dozen copies of the Black House Comic-published Soldier Legacy volume 1 were picked up by the Brisbane City Council Library system. 
Hosting the Monthly Comic Book Meet-Up on behalf of the  Brisbane Square Library with a great and enthusiastic group of people coming along to talk pop culture and share their enjoyment and knowledge. 
Recently, I was invited to conduct a comic drawing/mepxy marker demo at the Art Shed Brisbane on behalf of Mepxy Markers/Canson Australia, which seems to have lead to other Art store appearances in the short term. Pleased at the enthusiasm of all involved.
Taught workshops for kids and young teens in Comic Book making at the State Library of Queensland at the beginning of the year, with seminars locked in for January 2015, including a one-day intensive course for older primary school kids, and a day workshop at the Brisbane Square Library.
What are some of the comics you've enjoyed in 2014?
With the commitments, it has been difficult to pick up things to read, but while in Italy recently I managed to pick up some of their local comic books in the newsagents, including Dylan Dog, and Tex. I was draw to the black and white illustration and storytelling- I speak virtually no Italian (just enough to get by politely), but dig these books nevertheless. Locally, I enjoyed Gestalt’s The Deep: The Vanishing Island By Tom Taylor and James Brouwer, and ComicOZ’s Oi Oi Oi! #1 edited by Nat Karmichael. Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland #1 (illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez) was probably one of the best-illustrated comics I've grabbed in a while. Devil Dinosaur hardcover by Jack Kirby. And, random Will Eisner splash pages from The Spirit chased up during lecture presentation research. I very much enjoyed the Will Eisner biography A Dreamer’s life in Comics, The American Comic book Chronicles: The 1980’s, and currently reading and enjoying the frank and brutal Mike Tyson autobiography The Undisputed Truth
What is something non-comics that you have enjoyed in 2014?
My non-comic stuff has been mixed bag of enjoyment and frustration, but that's life; Take the good with the bad.
I was the assistant coach for Sparring, and a competitor myself for Team Australia ITF Taekwon-do, to go to Tuscany, Italy for the Unified World Championships. The training sessions, the state and national tournaments and squad sessions were a lot of torturous fun (and enjoyed some of the fights I had, attempting to work on different things), despite the eventual disappointment at the level of competition at the Italian event for the Taekwon-do events. I've been told that the Gold Medal from the event should represent all the hard work and sacrifice it took to get there, rather than my disappointment with the lack of competition and ordinary fight at the event itself. I like to earn things, and this just didn’t feel like part of the plan. Mixed bag, but still enjoyed the challenges regardless. And the early morning runs through Autumn Marina De Pietrasanta, and the beach training sessions were pretty cool.
-This year the Queensland College of Art/Griffith Uni trialed their 'Sequential Art and Illustration' course for 2nd and 3rd year students, and I was able to take a month block while I was teaching the 1st year Animation and Games design students drawing for the semester. I had the opportunity to lecture on drawing and storytelling a lot more this year as part of the animation department at QCA, for which I and very thankful; virtually becoming my full time job with all the prep work. There are a great bunch of students that attend, and many are so full of talent and eagerness to learn. 
What are you looking forward to in 2015?
Finishing this current new book. New stuff being released with all the setup from this year. The end of 'The Soldier legacy' story arc that was initially planned for 2014, but the increased lecturing commitments, completing the DVA, the Australia team commitment and travel left no time to process much of it. More international or domestic competition; the problem always seems to stem from not enough people in my weight division, or real competition from the people in the weight division; my last hard fight and only loss in years was a close loss in 2013 in England. I'm hoping 2015 is more fighter-friendly, with less politics that seems to follow all this stuff around. The priority is wrapping up these projects- I hate having things unfinished or in limbo. More travel. Being content.

2015 in super brief (because who wants to read paragraphs of my BS):

> This week ended 5 years of slaving away on this:

...For this...

…For which I'm very pleased. The last couple of weeks that involved the extra research, editing and 10 pages on UK comics was interesting and stressful at the same time. Juggling the drawing and teaching commitments was more of the issue than anything else (the lack of sleep mainly), but got there in the end.

>We're nearly 10 months into hosting the Monthly Comic book Meetup group for the Brisbane Square Library. A great, laid back group of people who are great to have a laugh with every third Friday of the month.

> Was a guest of Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne OZ Comic-Con, visiting some lovely cities and meeting some fantastic local and international creators. Basically, the by-product of these trips is to catch up with good friends, talk a little shop, but mostly relax and have a working weekend away from work at home. I must say (with no bias) that Gestalt's releases this year have been stellar, and the folks working on the books are some of the nicest people I've met in this game. Looking forward to Brisbane and Sydney in September.

>Uni lecturing continues at The Queensland College of Art, and Comic Book Workshop teaching at The State Library of Queensland, Brisbane Square Library, Toowoomba City Library,  and The Grove Library in Perth. The future of comics in Australia lies in kids learning, drawing and being enthusiastic about comic books, and sticking with it.

>May 2nd: Free Comic Book day at Urban Fiction Comics in Nambour, Sunshine Coast QLD:

>Have scribbled some work for the following Publications so far:
ComicOZ's Oi Oi Oi #4
Ben Slabak's Trail #3
Project Orangutan's Charity Anthology book 'Tango with Orangos'- with a kickstarter here:

>Soldier Legacy #6- released April this year- still working towards the next TPB.

With other pitches, work and stuff in between, I'm hoping the year ends better than last year. So far, so good. Anyways, thanks for indulging while I try and remember all the little bits and pieces of the year so far. (Oh, not too many tournaments (2) so far- took time off for work, but maybe pick up the pieces of the fitness regime and hit it again for later in the year.)