Monday, 1 June 2020

The Basin, another part of history.

I live at the edge of the metro area in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne, at the foothills of the Dandenongs. A small mountain range in our very flat state. It's a lovely green area, protected by the government as proclaimed State forests. Up the road from my house, literally across the street is the suburb named The Basin. On the extreme edge of the municipal council of Knox, it prides itself on being quiet and having a village-like appeal. It is the gateway to the Dandenongs on the western side and has fought successfully to stifle large scale development and is popular amongst day-trippers and cyclists, who flood the cafes and parks on the weekends. The Basin is also one of the earliest settled areas in Melbourne, the hills being a popular place for people to escape the heat and smalls of the ever-growing Melbourne due to the gold rush of the middle 1800s.
When it's smaller neighbour Boronia received a train station in the 1920s development in the Basin halted as proximity to the new station and easy access to the city meant a boom in residential and industry in Boronia which also was a flatter and easier terrain to build.
Once a place of grand mansions and sawmills, the Basin these days is a quiet hamlet that likes everyone to think nothing happens there. Its local historian Rick Coxhill has written and documented a wonderful book that is available online that explores the rise and decline of the suburb over the course of 150 years. There is however some glossing over of certain places and people in Mister Coxhill's book that never seem to be talked about. That's where I come in.
I have contributed a few articles that go against the grain of the "keep everything happy" policy of the local community paper. It also seems the "past is the past" but only if it's not pleasant.
So here are some links to stories that weren't considered "happy" enough for the publication and some other stuff I discovered researching.
First up:
The Bayswater Boys Home   The best thing that happened- in terms of the Basin- is that this horrible institution that has been situated a short walk from the village centre was named after Bayswater the closest railway station at the time. That way the town could just pretend (even though it has existed for over a century) never existed in the Basin. Run by the Salvation Army it has been the subject of both State and Federal Commissions into child abuse.

That time a Basin firefighter was the one lighting the fires  When I submitted this, it was the middle of the fire season and it was considered ill-timed. I agreed but when the editor said that there was a conflicting opinion on the result of the case towards the charged, even though it was proved forensically that he caused the blaze AND he confessed to his crime.

Wicks Reserve. The quiet reserve between both the town centre and the old boys home site is a popular cruising site (casual anonymous sex) for Melbourne's gay community.

Friday, 1 May 2020


This just in, I wrote a story for UK Anthology FutureQuake which you can buy online here or in physical form at Dee's in Canberra.  Since the chances of anyone actually seeing a copy are slim, I've uploaded my contribution here. (even more so since this pandemic)

From FutureQuake Press  (FQP)
Art: Patrick Walsh

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Newton Comics -the Amazing Rise and Spectacular Fall -Review

Newton Comics -the Amazing Rise and Spectacular Fall  by Daniel Best.

Way, way back in 1975 when I was thirteen I found a new comic in the Milk bar, it was The Planet of the Apes a spin-off of the popular movies and TV series.
I was so excited about this comic that I didn’t even care that the story continued onto the next issue, so I kept an eye out for other titles by this new publisher Newton Comics. Well, you could imagine my disappointment when hot on the heels of Planet of the Apes came countless Marvel titles. I quickly became aware that Newton was doing the same as GK Murray (whose self-contained black and white DC stories I’d grown to love) and were releasing reprints, but in my opinion not as good. Soon these comics were everywhere and my passion for the Planet of the Apes series waned as this was also the time that I discovered American underground comics. Newton eventually disappeared off the newsstands and seriously I could have cared less. It seemed like mass produced rubbish. I did however, many years later as my interest in local comics grew, wondered what happened to them.
Well I don’t have to wonder anymore, thanks to Adelaide author Daniel Best’s Newton Comics -the Amazing Rise and Spectacular Fall. A book entertaining on so many levels and a captivating reference of a short but tumultuous time in the history of Australian comics, and one that up until now was largely ignored. Besides being a comprehensive listing of all the Newton Comics catalogue with cover images of all available issues, it also tells the amazing story of how, in a short span of three years Newton Comics deserved the title chosen for the book.
Maxwell Newton
Best does a great job filling in a gap about Maxwell Newton and his comic publishing history, that seems to get passed over in his own biography and by many Australian comic book historians.
Newton was a child prodigy who grew up in Western Australia and counted among his school alumni John Stone (the man whose signature was on our bank notes for a long time) and ex PM Bob Hawke. He was talented journalist and economists who wrote for major National papers including the Australian and the Financial Review. He was accused of spying by the Gordon Liberal government and started the Sunday Observer in Melbourne where the idea for Newton Comics was formed and how Maxwell Newton went on to screw Marvel comics out of a small fortune on his way to a self-destructive lifestyle.
The author goes into what transpired over that period in some detail, including original documents and interviews with people who were in the thick of it, he also continues as Newton’s publishing career and life collapse due to his many excess’ which include alcoholism, suicide attempts and a stint as a pimp, only to clean up his act sustainably.  Eventually leading him to abandon Australia (with the help of Rupert Murdoch) building for himself a respectable career never to return and dying at the age of 61 in 1990.
Best also gives us insight to the collectability of the product as well as comprehensive list of available comics and ephemera, even supply a script of a possible Australian story that may have been published had things turned out differently.
Why we have TV mini movies on media personalities like Dulcie Boling, Ita Buttrose and Kerry Packer when we had a Larry Flint/Ian Fleming hybrid running amuck upsetting politicians and the establishment in equal measure. A man with amazing resilience and ability to bounce back from whatever crisis he found himself in (usually self-infected) This man is a major motion picture waiting to be made.
Newton Comics -the Amazing Rise and Spectacular Fall  was made possible by a 2013 Pozible crowd funding campaign and a lot of people had faith in him to make it a reality, and I’m glad, it’s  a fantastic read and an important research document for the series Australian comic collector. Daniel Best has written a well researched and entraining book that sheds light on a period many tend to skip as blip on the radar in Australian comic history.
Newton Comics -the Amazing Rise and Spectacular Fall   is available as an Ebook via Blaq Books

Monday, 3 February 2020

Improving the classics

I have a friend on Facebook who often posts art that inspires her.
Beautiful classic landscapes from prominent artists with the occasional beautiful photo.
I have taken it upon myself to just tweak these artworks to make them a bit more palatable to my tastes.
This is what I've been doing.

Photo Hydrangeas in the Azores

Henri Jules Geoffroy Nursury School 1853

Email Claus Summer Morning 1896

Henri Biva From Waters Edge 1905

F. Pons Arnau" Eating Fruit" Circa 1920

Rene Milot "Anguished"

Photo Minot in His Garden

Ivan Shishkin "Forest" 1897

Thursday, 2 January 2020


In 2015, DC released an incarnation of the Black Canary, written and drawn by Brenden Fletcher and Annie Wu. Recasting Dinah Lance (Black Canary) as the lead singer of an electropunk band, imaginatively named Black Canary.
The pop culture website Humanstein refers to it as: “(the comic) is 50% rock and roll, 50% super-heroics and 100% fun. The comic is an action packed blend of ninjas, spies, and punk rock, the story moves pretty quick and features gorgeous artwork and a frantic energy that perfectly conveys the feel of the band. Dinah (Black Canary) leads the group with two other over-the-top characters Lord Byron, Paloma, and Ditto.
DC also made the interesting choice of setting up a Bandcamp for the band where you can check out producer Joseph Donovan and singer Michelle Bensimon (of Caveboy) putting out very real music as the fictional Black Canary band. Even selling the downloadable only EP at the same price as the comic book.

Dinah Lance hits the road! After years as a soldier and vigilante, the LAST place Dinah saw herself is on stage...but she's quickly learning she'd die to protect the gang of misfits she's fallen into. And she just might have to - for some reason, the newly rechristened band Black Canary seems to be a magnet for trouble...and Dinah's not gonna believe it when she finds out the reason why! Martial arts, super-spies, and rock 'n' roll combine, from Brenden Fletcher (BATGIRL) and Annie Wu (Hawkeye)!  COMICCASTLE blurb for Black Canary Volume 4

Tuesday, 17 December 2019


This is 5-page story written by me and drawn, coloured and lettered by the amazing Argentian artist Carlos Angeli. It was originally published in the now-defunct decay Anthology.
Click on each image for a larger view.

The Basin, another part of history.

I live at the edge of the metro area in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne, at the foothills of the Dandenongs. A small mountain range i...