Saturday, 4 May 2019

Free Comic Book Day 2019. Alternate Worlds


Free Comic Book Day 2019. Alternate Worlds

Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) had a double impact this year falling on Star Wars Day –May the Fourth (be with you). The worldwide day of celebrating the local home of all things comics and pop culture has now been going strong for 17 years and usually coincides with the release of a comic based blockbuster movie. This year of course is the massively popular Avengers Endgame, which at the time of writing is headed to being one of the biggest grossing pictures of all time.




It would be nice to say these blockbuster movies worked their release days around Free Comic Book Day but in fact, FCBD was actually started around the release of the first Spider-Man movie back in 2002. Despite this FCBD is still a popular date on the calendar and has turned out to be a great family-friendly event.






Some comic stores in the city centre have lines reaching over two hundred metres long before opening but out here in the outer suburbs, it’s a bit more laid back. My local comic book store Alternate Worlds in Malvern Street Bayswater. The day tends to be far busier than normal but without the crazy crowds that seem to descend on their big city counterparts.
Peter Hughes reaction to the big crowd
However, this year was a little different. Alternate Worlds were a lot more inclusive this year, with special prizes for kids under 12, in the way of costumes and trivia contests but for us more mature fans, owner Peter Hughes and Joe Italiano displayed some of their more collectable comics in a million dollar plus exhibit of rare and historical comic books, many from Joe’s private collection.
Joe Italiano and the Million Dollar Wall
It was wonderful to see parents strolling around on a Saturday morning with children as young as three and four dressed as Iron Man, Thor, Spiderman among others flipping through comics seeing which one they want to take home. The Dad’s as excited a the kids in some cases.
Every year the many comic book publishers issue special comics as samplers, stand-alone issues for those new to comics featuring old and new characters. Surprisingly not the more popular movie based characters, which I like, as it feels less exploitive.


The Million Dollar Wall
But this year I was excited to catch a glimpse of these rare comics on display. I have a love of comic book history predominantly Australian but it’s always nice to see something so rare that they have the same price as a small house. Because believe it or not, old and rare comics are commodities much like wines, coins and books these days and can command huge prices at some of the most prestigious auction houses. As an example, the original comic in which Superman first appeared – Action Comics No.1 was last sold in 2014  at over 3 million US dollars.
Whilst that particular comic wasn’t on the board, there was in no particular order. Amazing Fantasy No.15 1963 (the first appearance of Spider-Man) Action Comic No. 252  1959 (the first appearance of Supergirl)  Tales of Suspense 1963 (The first appearance of Iron Man) Superman No.8 1941 and Batman No.9 1942 (Both 1940s editions of the world-famous heroes when they were first starting out) and Captain America No.15 1942 (with the slightly racist war-time  title Nazi’s & Nips) A quick search on Google in the price guide sites and you soon realise why they called it the Million Dollar Wall.
Though a more subdued celebration of Free Comic Book day, Alternate Worlds still made an occasion of it but I have no doubt local comic book shops the world over had a big boost in sales this weekend.

Monday, 1 April 2019

OZ Magazine Sydney edition.

OZ Magazine Sydney edition.

Most people who have an interest in Australian cultural history are well aware of Richard Neville, Richard Walsh and Martin Sharpes OZ that caused all kinds of upset in 60s London. The University of Wollongong have -for the sake of research and cultural significance-  uploaded all copies to their website to be accessed for FREE.
But the added bonus is that they have also got permission to display the original OZ magazine from the early 1960s printed in Sydney before the lads took the idea overseas.
Here it is in all its glory , just click on the link.

 OZ Magazine Sydney

The do-it-yourself style of the early OZ is a beautiful hodge-podge of cut and paste craziness that still inspires designers today.
If you click around a bit further on the site you'll even find the whole collection of OZ Magazine London.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Len Lawson The Real Life Comic Book Bad Guy Part One

Len Lawson The Real Life Comic Book Bad Guy Part One


This article is a compilation of several articles previously written on Leonard Lawson all focusing on different aspects of his life, whether it be his time as a popular comic book artist, the censorship in the comic book industry of the era  or the resulting criminal cases arising from Lawson terrible deeds. I have arranged and edited them to give a more encompassing story of the man who could’ve been Australia’s greatest comic artist to a man who died in prison of old age.
The articles are listed here for reference.




Len Lawson
In  both M. Night Shyamalan movies Unbreakable (2000) and Glass (2019) Samuel L Jackson plays Elijah Price or Mr. Glass , a superhumanly intelligent mass murderer and comic book theorist with a degenerative disease that makes his bones brittle and makes normal mobility and interaction in society almost impossible. Glass is a supervillain who uses comic book stories to construct intricate scenarios that he plans to the nth degree in complexity. Where this could technically call him a comic book villain Australia lays claim to a real-life comic book killer, once an extremely popular artist and writer Len Lawson.
Leonard Keith Lawson went from highly paid successful comic creator and supposedly happily married family man to national disgrace in one crazy act of madness that landed him the death penalty and then released after seven years to commit more acts of an appalling nature that his convictions went on to make him the longest serving inmate in Australian history and eventually dying whilst incarcerated.

EARLY CHILDHOOD
Leonard Keith Lawson was born in 1927 in Wagga Wagga. His parents, Keith and Eileen, were both just 18 when they married and had him. Keith was a local celebrity because he was a talented boxer known as the Wagga Walloper.
Young Leonard — known to all as Len — was a gifted student, topping his classes. But his real talent was art. Len was a natural artist combined with a passion for drawing that his precocious talent showed very early.
In the early 1940s, the Lawson family moved to Manly. There, at age 15, Len scored his first commercial success as a comic book artist when he won a national competition run by artist and publisher Syd Miller, himself famous for co-creating the iconic Chesty Bonds character.
Len’s comic told a war story set in the Pacific and was included in an anthology published by Miller. On the back of that success, Len started studying art in Sydney.
By February 1945, he had published a full-length adventure comic called Peter Jury, which was included in Syd Miller’s Monster Comic publication, whose subtitle was “For Australian Boys”.
“Len is only 17 years of age and has promise of becoming one of Australia’s leading comic artists,” reported Wagga Wagga’s Daily Advertiser.
Len was precocious personally as well as professionally. Just like his own parents, Len was 18 when he married Betty Jamieson, also 18, in September 1946.
The following month, Len got his biggest career break when he wrote and illustrated all the stories in the very first issue of Action Comics, published by H.J. Edwards Pty. Ltd.
Readers were thrilled by the science fiction tale of Spencer Steele, who was exploring the universe in the far-off future of 1956. Then there were the thrills of speed racer Johnnie Star and the adventures of detective Michael Justus.
As a bit of background, the Australian comic market consisted of mostly American imports prior to the 1940s. After the start of World War II, the Australian government banned the import of American comics and Australia was able to develop its own local comic industry. At the conclusion of the war, Australia found itself with a large national debt and a determination to support local businesses. As a result, the Australian government kept the import restrictions in place. This gave Australian comic publishers no competition and a captive audience of comic book readers.
With popular characters like Flash Gordon, the Lone Ranger and Tarzan and their respective comics unavailable there were huge opportunities to be taken of in the local market.

Action Comics where the Lone Avenger was top billing.

















So, by the second issue of Action Comics, a character debuted who’d become Len’s most famous. The Lone Avenger told the story of a masked cowboy named Paul Nicholls, who dressed in a white hat, red mask, green shirt, leather gauntlets, belt, and boots. The Lone Avenger fought crime: first on the range as a wandering hero
 and then in the town of Redrock, where he eventually would settle down and become Marshal of Redrock. Bull Malone, his sidekick, would become his deputy. An obvious rip-off of Fran Striker’s Lone Ranger
Action Comics had been an anthology but The Lone Avenger soon took over the entire book and would continue his crime-fighting run for 13 years. Kids all over Australia, New Zealand and Fiji joined the fan club and bought Lone Avenger toys and outfits.
Len produced other popular characters for Action Comics, including another cowboy dude, this one called The Hooded Rider, and a wild jungle babe in Diana: Queen of the Apes. But The Lone Avenger had the biggest following, selling 70,000 copies per issue.


LEN THE VILLAIN
By the early 1950s, Len was doing brilliantly. He had a successful career, a happy marriage that had produced three children and he was earning £70 a week, which is the equivalent of $2400 a week now. He seemed to have it all. Except something dark and twisted lurked inside Leonard Lawson.

On May 7, 1954, Lawson hired five Sydney models. Two were aged 15, the others were 18, 21 and 23. Lawson wanted them, he said, for a calendar, he proposed to publish. He picked them up from the studio at 9:30am and they stopped in St Leonards to buy some sandwiches, for the day’s supposed picnic ambiance.
Lawson drove them to Terrey Hills and they walked from the car through thick bush. “Of all the beautiful places in Sydney, I don’t know why you had to pick this place to take photographs,” one girl said.
“I am paying for this day’s work,” Lawson responded, “and you will do what you are told.”
This sunny day soon took a dark turn. “When this calendar comes out, I won’t be here,” Lawson told his young friends gravely. “I have cancer.”
The models were horrified and saddened. Lawson told them he was planning to commit suicide rather than endure an agonising death. “I am thinking about putting a bullet in my brain,” he said.
He took a sawn-off rifle from his backpack (in actual fact a pea-rifle, nothing more than a single shot “slug gun”), loaded it and declared he was going to kill himself there and then. Scared and crying, the girls pleaded with him not to. Lawson abruptly turned the rifle on them, telling them to all lay on their stomachs. He was going to tie them up, he said so they couldn’t stop him from shooting himself. He tied their hands and wrists and used sticking plaster to cover their mouths.
Then his true purpose became clear.
Lawson began removing or cutting off their clothes. Telling them they’d each get a bullet through the head if they resisted, he raped two girls, tried to rape a third and indecently assaulted and intimidated the other two.
“I don’t know why I picked on you decent girls instead of street women,” he said remorsefully when he was done.
Lawson untied his victims, paid them each their £6 fee and drove them to Gordon because one girl wanted to go to a chemist.
It was as if he thought what had happened was no big deal. Once inside the pharmacy, the girl called her parents and the police, who descended and arrested Lawson while he was still sitting in his car outside.
The craziness of Lawson’s actions here is the fact that if any of the women had been more astute, they could have noticed the gun for what it was and could have called Lawson’s bluff and walked away or held him to task for his proposed actions. This is not to suggest the girls were responsible for what happened to them, but their submissive behaviour gave Lawson the confidence to escalate his actions. The regret of his actions so soon after the deeds may indicate that he never intended to go the extremes he did. It however still revealed his hidden psychological problems.

COURTROOM DRAMA
In the days to come, Lawson gave seven confessions. But when the case against him on rape charges was heard from 24th May, he pleaded not guilty.
The girls testified against him at length, providing chilling detail of how he’d manipulated them before unleashing his full savagery.
Not true, Lawson’s lawyer said. The girls had all been willing participants in a “burlesque on the theme of rape”. Testifying, Lawson said he’d had sex with some of his accusers but it had been consensual. He did feel guilty — but only because he’d betrayed his wedding vows.
The jury didn’t need to deliberate for long. The Sun’s front page headline simply screamed “Guilty!” over a portrait of Lawson.
Found guilty on two charges or rape and on a further charge of sexual assault, Justice Clancy passed the death sentence, adding he saw no reason why it should not be carried out, although Lawson would be the first man executed for rape in NSW for 57 years.
Only 17 men had hanged for rape, described as a criminal assault, since 1788. The last man executed for the offence was Charles Hines, on May 21, 1898. Lawson was spared, sentenced instead to 14 years jail when NSW Labor premier Joe Cahill abolished the death penalty in October 1954.

Len Lawson The Real Life Comic Book Bad Guy Part Two

Len Lawson The Real Life Comic Book Bad Guy Part Two


This article is a compilation of several articles previously written on Leonard Lawson all focusing on different aspects of his life, whether it be his time as a popular comic book artist, the censorship in the comic book industry of the era  or the resulting criminal cases arising from Lawson terrible deeds. I have arranged and edited them to give a more encompassing story of the man who could’ve been Australia’s greatest comic artist to a man who died in prison of old age.
The articles are listed here for reference.






Papers like the Truth revelled in this type of true life sex crime drama as it was the outrageous  and explicit stories their readership craved. Whereas the popular press where more censored and less descriptive in the details, the Truth could reveal all the sordid details.
CRAZY OR CRIMINAL?
Lawson’s wife Betty divorced him and moved to Queensland for a fresh start and Lawson rarely saw his young family ever again, the youngest, only a baby at the time, never having anything to do with their father ever again.
Lawson cut a quiet and lonely figure at Long Bay Jail as he awaited Cabinet’s decision on whether to commute his death sentence. It was very doubtful that Lawson would receive the death sentence as a groundswell of social activist was lobbying the Governments of the time as the punishment’s relevance in these more modern times. Regardless, one question had to be answered: 
Was he sane? A government-appointed psychiatrist found that he was but even so Lawson’s death sentence was commuted to not life but 14 years’ imprisonment.
Leonard Lawson was a model prisoner at Goulburn Jail. He found religion, painted religious images, taught a younger prisoner to read, write and draw. His exemplary conduct led to him being released on parole after serving just half his sentence. It would take only six months for Lawson to do unspeakable act and end up in jail again, this time it would a life sentence for certain.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? -A sidebar. Lawson and Censorship in comics in the 1950s

At trial, the fact that Lawson made comic books were highlighted and one newspaper even described Lawson as “the artist of violent comics, which frequently depicted bosomy heroines.” On June 25, 1954, Lawson received the death penalty. The court also denied Lawson’s request to be allowed to continue to draw The Lone Avenger while in prison to support his family.
As a result of the trial, the media’s attention, and claims that Lawson’s comics contained graphic violence, there was a severe backlash against comic books and their creators in Australia. Lawmakers began to publicly scrutinize the Australian comic industry in a way that paralleled the public backlash against horror comics in the United States that was taking place around the same time. Comic publishers were denounced as pornographers and peddlers of escapist, dehumanizing mass culture that promoted sadism, violence, or militarism.
SMH 27-08-1955

In response and as a further parallel to what was going on in the United States during the same period, the Australian industry attempted to self censor. Several publishers set up internal censorship committees to alleviate the public’s concern. Others adopted modified versions of the American Comics Code Authority. Still, others reacted by establishing a Committee of Parents to sign off on each book. In addition, Gordon & Gotch (the largest distributors in Australia) created its own censorship panel to further review what had gotten passed the publishers’ censors.
Like the Comics Code Authority, some of the rules passed by these companies bordered on the absurd. For example, the Code of Ethics of Horowitz, Inc., provided that a character’s speech must be “free from slang, ungrammatical idiom and dialect.” The Code of Ethics also provided that “Even husband and wife should not normally be shown together in the bedroom. Plots involving divorce should be avoided, as they point towards a lack of family stability and are complicated and unsettling to the teenage mind.”
Despite these protective measures, the Australian States went ahead with their censorship legislation. The most aggressive of the new laws were in Queensland, where the government passed the Objectionable Literature Act. The Act established a Board of six to examine books (especially comic books) to determine whether they should be banned. The Board did not follow any uniform procedures and described that their decisions were made based on intuition. In the first nine months alone, the Queensland Literature Board of Review managed to ban 45 books, a third of which were comics).
Not surprisingly, The Lone Avenger was one of the first of these banned books and was officially listed on August 27, 1954. In an attempt to appease the other Australian States and continue the book, which had been taken over by Len Such after Lawson went to prison, publisher Edwards, along with it distributor, Gordon & Gotch, self-sanitized The Lone Avenger. Despite these efforts, The Lone Avenger soon rode off into the sunset, a victim of his creator’s crime. Indeed, the comic backlash was so bad that it would take thirty years for Australia to develop another local comic book industry. (It didn’t help that the embargo against the importing of American comics was lifted and the local comic creators again faced competition from America.)
Justice eventually found the Queensland Literature Board of Review in the form of a decision from Australia’s High Court. In December, 1954, the Literature Board of Review banned a set of teenage romance comics, including some that had passed the strict (if not ridiculous) Horwitz Code of Ethics. In response, three publishers sued the Board in Australia’s High Court, which found the actions of the Literature Board of Review laughable. In ruling for the comics industry, the court found that comics “may be an affront to readers’ intelligence or even eyesight, but certainly not a threat to their morals.” The Court also pointed to the fact that the Board did not outline what was excusable to standards and what wasn’t and was so arbitrary that it suppressed giveaway (free speech)



Len Lawson The Real Life Comic Book Bad Guy Part Three

Len Lawson The Real Life Comic Book Bad Guy Part Three

This article is a compilation of several articles previously written on Leonard Lawson all focusing on different aspects of his life, whether it be his time as a popular comic book artist, the censorship in the comic book industry of the era  or the resulting criminal cases arising from Lawson terrible deeds. I have arranged and edited them to give a more encompassing story of the man who could’ve been Australia’s greatest comic artist to a man who died in prison of old age.
The articles are listed here for reference.





WHAT HAPPENED NEXT ? Part 2
Lawson’s tale does not end  well
On 24th of May 1961 Lawson was again a free man. He rented an apartment in Collaroy on the northern beaches and bought a car with money his mother gave him. Lawson had numerous sexual liaisons with women he met casually and prostitutes he picked up on the street. But they couldn’t satisfy his dark appetites, with the violent fantasies that had secretly sustained him in prison now increasingly occupying his mind.
Lawson had become a master manipulator, and as proved later, his mind had finally cracked.
Lawson roamed south, to Moss Vale, where on 20th June he went to the Church of England Grammar school and introduced himself to the headmistress, Miss Jean Turnbull. He was, he said, an author writing a St. Trinian’s-style novel and would love the opportunity to observe the girls. She invited him to lunch in the dining room and gave him a tour of the school. Lawson visited the school again once or twice, attending chapel and again lunching with the students.

JANE BOWER
Jane Bower
Back in Manly, in late September 1961 Lawson met and befriended a 16-year-old girl named Jane Bower. He charmed the teenager and her family, telling them he wanted to paint Jane’s portrait. She posed for him several times.
At 5pm of Monday November 6, Lawson picked her up at the city art shop where she worked. They then collected her mother and Lawson drove them all back to the Bower house in Manly, where they shared an early dinner.
Trusted by the family, Lawson was allowed to take Jane to his apartment so he could again sketch her. There he made advances on her: but she rebuffed him.
But Lawson was prepared. Before bringing Jane back to his apartment he’d filled a sock with sand and readied pre-cut lengths of rope.
With Jane sitting on the lounge, Lawson went to the bedroom, got the sock and swung it hard into her head, knocking her out.
Lawson tied her wrists, took off her clothes and raped her. Seeing Jane was coming around, Lawson started to strangle her. When she struggled, he grabbed a hunting knife and plunged it into her chest. Using an eyebrow pencil, he wrote on her torso: “God forgive me, Len.”
TheAge 8-11-1961
Jane’s parents were anxious when she didn’t return home. They enlisted her cousin to help in the search and visited Lawson’s flat but no-one answered. After a night of searching, they came back about 7:50am the following morning. There, Jane’s cousin broke in and found her body.
About 9am at Sydney police headquarters, plans were being drawn up for a statewide search. But that wouldn’t be necessary. Within minutes, the fugitive’s whereabouts were known.
The previous night, Lawson had fled the Collaroy flat murder scene in his car. He’d driven south to Moss Vale, arriving around 2:30am, and parked on the side of the road and sat. He wrote a letter to his parents.
“Dear Mum and Dad,” it read. “I have done a shocking and dreadful thing. Whatever this monster that moves into my body is, it did it with a vengeance this time.”
He said he was sorry and that he was going to kill himself. But that wasn’t what he was going to do.


SCHOOL SHOOTING
The Age 8-11-1961
At 8:30am, he drove to the Church of England Grammar School that he’d scoped out months earlier. He had a .22 Remington rifle, 167 rounds of ammunition, the knife he’d used to kill Jane and pre-cut lengths of rope.
Just after 9am, 150 students, were in the school chapel, under the supervision of headmistress Jean Turnbull. Through the windows, some of the girls saw a man approaching across the lawn. Suddenly Leonard Lawson — the author they’d met months earlier — was in the doorway of the chapel brandishing a gun.
He told everyone to be quiet and to not move. “If anyone tries anything silly, one of the girls will be shot,” he said.
“What do you want?” asked Miss Turnbull.
“I’m going to hold the girls as hostages here until 12’o clock,” he said. “I have killed someone already and I want to speak to three people.”
Lawson allowed Miss Turnbull to return to the front of the chapel
SydnyMorningHerald
5 April 1961
and continue the service. To distract themselves from their terror, the girls sang hymns loudly.
Meanwhile, Lawson gave a piece of paper to another staff member, Miss Brooks, who left the chapel with it.
“To whom it may concern,” it said. “Read this carefully before any attempt is made to contact the police — lives depend on it. By now the police will be hunting me for murder so I am going to hold the girls as hostages for a few hours.”
He told police to obey his instructions and that if anyone came within 100 feet of the chapel, he’d shoot a girl.
“I am not bluffing — I have killed once, so now I have everything to gain and nothing to lose by killing more — it’s the same penalty I must face.”
Bizarrely, the three people he wanted to speak to were a nun who’d visited him in prison, reigning Miss Australia Tania Verstak, and Olympic athlete Marlene Mathews.

Meanwhile, Miss Turnbull surreptitiously wrote her own note and threw it out the window. “A man is holding us up in here with a shotgun,” she wrote. “Get lots of police — he is threatening to shoot the girls.”
Lawson was edgy, with the teachers and girls sure he was about to start shooting.
“If you are going to shoot, why not shoot me or one of the staff?” the headmistress asked. She was backed up by the old French teacher, Madame Sherman. “We have lived most of our lives,” she said. “They have most of their lives still to live.”
Police arrived and approached the chapel. Lawson saw them through the window.
“Here come the police,” he said, near the door. “Now I am going to shoot.”
Miss Turnbull jumped into action, grabbing the gun, trying to keep it aimed away from the students, some of who also rushed Lawson.
Lawson started firing.
Five shots rang out.
Miss Turnbull and Lawson fought for control of the rifle, while students grabbed at him. Seeing this through the chapel door’s glass panel, a police detective and constable tried to get inside. But Lawson had secured the door with a cord.
The police constable smashed the glass panel and Miss Turnbull managed to thrust the rifle barrel through the frame. The constable grabbed it and pulled the gun free. Now he and a detective burst in and subdued the still struggling Lawson.
Miss Turnbull had painful powder burns on both hands and a hole in her dress where a bullet had passed through the fabric. Fifteen-year-old Wendy Luscombe — a popular red-headed student — lay on the floor, hit in the chest by a bullet. She died in the arms of a friend, the bullet having passed through her heart.

BACK BEHIND BARS
Lawson on the way to Court 1962
Lawson was taken to the Moss Vale police station. Interrogated by police, he said he’d never meant to harm anyone — despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary — and claimed to have been overtaken by temporary insanity.
When Leonard Lawson faced court in December 1961, charged with the murder of Jane Bower, he pleaded not guilty. Should the case against him fail, he’d then be tried for the death of Wendy Luscombe.
There was a delay while he was psychiatrically assessed. When the case resumed at Sydney’s Central Criminal Court in late February 1962, the only defence witness was a psychiatrist — and he testified that Lawson was sane when he killed the girl.
Lawson spoke to the court: “I can’t explain what made me do this terrible thing, because I don’t know.” He professed he was sorry.
SydneyMorningHerald 5-April 1962
On April 4, 1962, it took the jury 17 minutes to find him guilty of Jane Bower’s murder. With a life sentence a certainty, Leonard Lawson wasn’t tried for the death of Wendy Luscombe.
In 1962 Miss Turnbull awarded an MBE for her bravery. The police who’d wrestled him also received commendations.
Back behind bars, Leonard Lawson again became a model prisoner.

But he had one more outrage to perpetrate, one more life to destroy.



Len Lawson The Real Life Comic Book Bad Guy Part Four

Len Lawson The Real Life Comic Book Bad Guy Part Four

This article is a compilation of several articles previously written on Leonard Lawson all focusing on different aspects of his life, whether it be his time as a popular comic book artist, the censorship in the comic book industry of the era  or the resulting criminal cases arising from Lawson terrible deeds. I have arranged and edited them to give a more encompassing story of the man who could’ve been Australia’s greatest comic artist to a man who died in prison of old age.
The articles are listed here for reference.





HIS FINAL VICTIM
Lenard Lawson 1973
Lawson, seemed to pace himself with his deception and actions always making things worse for himself out of hopeless and pointless situations.
On Sunday June 18th 1972 a concert was held in the chapel at Parramatta Gaol to entertain the prisoners. Afterward, the entertainers, including three dancers, were invited to have some light refreshments, put on by the arts and crafts committee, of which Lawson was secretary.
Prisoners and performers mingled in a rec room under the gaze of Lawson’s undeniably accomplished portrait paintings. Sharon Hamilton, a 23-year-old dancer, was admiring his portrait of President John F. Kennedy when Lawson tapped her on the shoulder and asked her to sign the visitors' book.
She did and complimented him on his art, saying it was beautiful.
Soon after it was announced the visit was over. Standing beside Sharon Hamilton, Lawson was called on to give a speech of thanks. In an instant, he grabbed her and put a knife to her throat and another to her back.
“Everybody leave the room but her,” he said. “Don’t anyone move or I’ll let her have it,” he said.
But this time Lawson wasn’t dealing with frightened schoolgirls or models he’d lured into the bush. He was in a room with criminals, none of whom wanted to see a young woman hurt.
Two prisoners lunged at Lawson. One punched him in the face. Lawson staggered back. A prison guard stepped in to grapple with him while the other prisoner pulled Sharon Hamilton free.
Lawson dropped one knife and another was ripped from him by a second guard who helped to contain him.
The Age 19 June 1972
Sharon Hamilton was left bleeding. She had small cuts on her neck, hand and on her back. But her main wounds would be emotional and psychological.
Lawson faced court in August 1972 and was sentenced to another five years.
Sharon Hamilton served a sentence in her own psychological prison. She found it hard to work, to go out, to socialise: everywhere she looked she saw Lawson.
What she appeared to be suffering from was post-traumatic stress disorder, which was still a few years from being defined and recognised. From 1974 to 1976 Sharon was treated for her psychological problems in a private hospital. Unfortunately, that hospital was Chelmsford, where destructive deep-sleep and electroshock therapy was practised, leading to the deaths of 43 patients and an eventual Royal Commission.
In 1976, Sharon won a payout from the state government of nearly $100,000, admitting their negligence had led to Lawson’s attack on her. But life didn’t get any easier for Sharon. She had a tumultuous relationship with a doctor and suffered from depression. In 1978 she took her own life.
A Link to a channel 7 report of the incident













AUSTRALIA’S LONGEST-SERVING PRISONER
Behind bars, Leonard Lawson continued to paint, donating his art works to charities and raising tens of thousands of dollars. In 1994 the possibility of parole was raised for Lawson. But Wendy Luscombe’s brother — along with several of the women who’d survived the school siege — protested loudly. The government listened, sanity prevailed and Lawson remained in Grafton jail.
In 1999, Lawson, now Australia’s longest-serving prisoner, was interviewed for 60 Minutes. He presented as a kindly old codger who just wanted the chance to feel the grass under his feet one more again before he died.
No-one was prepared to be fooled again.

He died on November 29, 2003, aged 76, and was missed by no-one.



The 1999 60 minutes edition with an interview with Len Lawson .



ADDITIONAL BITS
Lawson’s crimes are revisited in Portrait Of The Artist As A Murderer, a new play by Robert Armstrong for the true crime production, Deadhouse: Tales Of Sydney Morgue, played at The Rocks Discovery Museum  April /May 2018 Lawson later also appeared before the Coroners Court, charged with two murders in late 1961. Producer and historian Stephen Carnell used cases associated with the old Sydney Morgue and Coroners Court, housed at George St in The Rocks from 1854 until 1971 in the Deadhouse series.

Free Comic Book Day 2019. Alternate Worlds

Free Comic Book Day 2019. Alternate Worlds Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) had a double impact this year falling on Star Wars Day –May th...