Thursday, 1 November 2018

From little things big things grow- The Chandler Tree.

From little things big things grow- The Chandler Tree.

The Chandler Oak Winter 2013
Tucked away in the far corners of Knox council, lies the Basin, one of the first areas settled in the area and still the most rural and unaffected by mass progress. It was here that some great names of Australia and local history settled. James Griffith of Griffith Brothers Tea, JJ Miller creator of Millers Guide the horse racing and sporting bible and notably the Chandler family; who for generations were instrumental in building up the district with their business, community service and patronage.
Over the years the Chandler family’s achievements were many. In 1873 William Chandler, his wife Katie and their three children moved to the area. Leaving William’s Fathers successful nursery in Malvern to clear 40 acres to establish his own farm. Legend has it that he and his wife planted an acorn that grew into the heritage listed English Oak that stands outside the boundary fence of the family property “Como” on Sheffield road. As the oak grew and spread upward so did the Chandler family.
William and Katie had 11 children all up, 8 boys and 3 girls. With the expanding family came growing success. William would buy more land in the area and become a foundation councilor of the Ferntree Gully shire. Totaling three inherited traits that would follow on through the generations. Horticulture, civic duty and land speculation. William made his children work hard with the expectation that they would acquire property and economic support when they left home. The Parents certainly instilled a fine work ethic in their children. Most successful was Alfred who established his own nursery Everson, which stills continues in name today. He grew daffodils and boronia, abandoning the boronia after it was susceptible to disease. He also became a councilor and eventually was given the honour of naming his own suburb: Boronia after the flower he tried to unsuccessfully grow. He was offered to name the suburb after himself but declined.
Alfred took his political aspirations one step further and joined the Legislative Council and became a Minister in the State Government. He had the Chandler highway named after him which also involves him in a World Record as it is the shortest Highway in the world and has remained so for decades.
William and Katie Chandler dynasty builders

Alfred was a committed community man. He donated land for the Boronia Progress Hall and the Methodist Church. He was a justice of the peace and a member of the Bayswater Brass Band. His nursery was opened to the public to raise funds for local charities which he and his wife sponsored. Alfred’s son Gilbert went onto be the most celebrated member of the family going onto be district cricketer, VFL footballer for Hawthorn, serving as a councillor on the Ferntree Gully Shire before going onto a career in State politics. Which resulted in a notable stint as Minister of agriculture, Under his leadership the Department achieved a high level of development which contributed to the advancement of Victorian primary industry, especially in the areas of animal husbandry, research into animal and plant diseases, and the economic management of farms. The Gilbert Chandler Institute of Dairy Technology at Werribee was named in his honour.
A man of great ability he was on the 1956 Olympic committee. Churchill National Park's committee of management and a committee-member of the Fern Tree Gully National Park, He chaired the government's bush fires relief committee and served as president of the Boronia Basin division of the St John Ambulance Brigade. All these achievements culminated in the rewarding of a Knighthood in 1972. Gilbert’s brother Alan another notable member of the family who also served as a councillor on the Shire was instrumental in helping the establishment of the Boronia Bowls club. Of course, all this just brushes over the surface of the families accomplishments there was involvement in the establishment of hospitals, postal service, schools, halls and involvement in the fire services and I have only concentrated on the male members.
A notable female member is Fergus (Alfred’s nephew) Chandler’s wife Edna. Her most distinguished award being an MBE in 1978 for services to the community and to The Basin Theatre. In 1948, the above mentioned Fergus’ Father Bert after setting up his two older sons, helped his youngest son John to obtain part of the original Como property. They formed a partnership as Bert Chandler and Son. The business continued successfully for 40 more years. In 1988 the Como property was sold and after 117 years was no longer in Chandler Family hands.
Meanwhile, the oak back at Sheffield road kept growing. These days it has become a historical site with a stone maker and plaque. The plaque gives a brief history and ends with the words “One of the finest specimens of this tree in Australia please help to protect it.” Now 138 years old it has become an icon and been classified by the National Trust because of its size, form and historical significance. The tree has been pruned a number of times over the years and in 1982, to support the weight of its massive limbs steel cables were attached from the main trunk. Over enthusiastic pruning by Knox Council (who are responsible for its well being) has on occasions led to the intervention of local residents.
Recently work has begun on a water garden metres from its trunk to help with drainage. There are, however, those who are concerned for the future of the oak. Local Parks Victoria Rangers hold fears that the tree has Cinnamon Fungus a disease that attacks the roots from the ground water and kills the tree from the top down. A glance upward towards the oaks majestic canopy can see proof of this damage, bare dead branches protrude from the foliage.
Some believe that Melbourne Water should take some action with Dobson’s creek encroaching upon the trees wide based trunk a product of erosion. The consensus being that with age the mighty landmark needs a lot more attention not from anyone authority but from all in a concerted effort to protect and maintain a valuable piece of local history.

Most of the information for this article was taken from articles and books found in two of the most important buildings in Knox. The Boronia Library and the Ambleside, home of the Knox Historical Society.
Originally published in the BBCN Issue 214   August 2013

Sunday, 2 September 2018


This is why I don't draw comics. One of my stories from the 1984 WOMBAT COMICZ.
No apologies.

Thursday, 23 August 2018


Hans Rudolf "Ruedi" (H R)  Giger was a visionary artist and creator. If he only did the design for Alien , it would have been enough for any one lifetime. This is a collection of videos showcasing the great man's mueum and other people collections. I found them interesting boardering on fascinating. ENJOY!

A collection by someone who calls himself Louis Nostromo.

 A fans shakey walk around of the HR Giger Bar and Museum.

 A collection of artworks spanning his career.

An article from WIRED Magazine about the ALIEN design

A great video to play in the background at your next Halloween party.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Whatever did happen to the Yellow Submarine?

Whatever did happen to the Yellow Submarine?
I reported earlier on the Robert Zemeckis movie remake that was cancelled by Disney. Here and HERE  for a page of concept art and a bit of back story.

It's been over 50 years since the Beatles released the album / movie Yellow Submarine.
Which begs the question: Whatever happened to it?

A quick sprint around the interweb found a couple of possible endings.

Gorllaz revealed this in their biography The RISE OF THE OGRE.

Up until 2014 it could be found at the Hard Rock Cafe in Acapulco.

Alan Moore from the League of Extraordinary Tempest comic suggests this.

Back in 2010 Rolling Stone Mag used it in an add for Water conservation.

Here it was considered for a Yellow Submarine themed 
carousal in a HARD ROCK Cafe theme park.

And here it was turned into a shitty bathroom caddy.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018


A day at the museum

One of the things that I have meant to do on my countless travels to Phillip Island but always neglected for one reason or another is to visit the National Vietnam Veterans Museum (NVVM). For many years the museum was in what I assumed was a small hall on the outskirts of the San Remo shopping district until 2007 when it was moved into the larger and more imposing site on the Island proper at Newhaven next to the airport.
This January I had only a couple of nights one weekend to join the rest of the family on a summer break, so I made it a priority to visit the museum at the first opportunity.
Saturday afternoon I travelled across from Cowes and pulled into the museum - which from the outside is reminiscent of a basketball stadium-and, its almost empty car park, I wasn’t sure if this was a good sign.
The entry foyer is deceiving with the small Nui Dat Café to one side and the usual merchandising section with the counter for admissions on the other side. It was all rather small and compact. It is a wonderful deception and doesn’t prepare you when you pull open the small shop front doors to be greeted by the vast open area filled with history and exhibits. It is only when you remember the aircraft hanger size of the building that you should not have expected less. I believe it is actually much larger than it appears from the outside.
The museum is so comprehensive on the subject it houses that there is nothing you shouldn’t have answered within its walls.
The building houses no less than three complete helicopters including a Cobra Attack Helicopter., a Centurion tank, a Howitzer artillery gun (compete with parachute suspended from the ceiling), transport vehicles as well as many smaller models and dioramas. These items alone will fascinate the kids.
I, however, was fascinated by the detailed listings of those who served and died as well as the large ephemeral collection, including newspapers, log books, beer cans, script currency and the many photos of diggers doing their daily deeds at rest as well as in the field.
One of the most stunning exhibits is the Sound and Light Show This world-class program is a short history of the Vietnam War using multimedia and holographic technology, an informative show lasting eighteen minutes that leaves you much wiser and probably more than a little amazed at the brilliance of the presentation.
Moving between exhibits and pieces you will find complete uniforms from different services as well as support staff, with a collection of arms and munitions. The Museum also doesn’t shy away from the negative aspects of the times with many articles and videos of the protests and anti-war movements that were active during the wars latter years.
It also has a set of the infamous marbles used for the ballot to conscript young men into the services.
Though the Vietnam War was smaller in commitment and territory than World War One and Two, Australia’s involvement actually lasted longer than the latter two combined. And when this is taken into account it highlights how much the Vietnam War had an effect on a country finding its own identity leading up to the 21st Century.
Though I have mentioned the size of the Museum’s area of the exhibition, it is not to you move towards the rear that you get another glimpse of the potential of this museums growth. At the back half of the building is the aircraft restoration area where two massive Wessex helicopters (one partial, one close to completion) are housed and an even larger Canberra bomber with its wings standing beside it, by far the largest piece of the collection and dwarfing all other pieces. This place is so big and full of interesting things that you don’t see it until you’re on top of it.
I grew up watching the Vietnam war on TV every night and it seemed to desensitize me to what was really going on and I don’t remember talking about it with my family or friends, not even at school. It just seemed to be in the background through my pre-teen years. When I did start to pay attention (though not too intensely)  in my latter teens it was the different way the Vietnam war was portrayed compared to other current wars.
The First World War was about farmers (like granddad) rushing off to the other side of the world and then coming back to farm again, on the way giving us a day off from school. The Second World War was all about the Americans and the thousand and one movies I watched showing us how they won the war for everyone. Whilst the older kids I knew whose dads went to war all seemed like normal dads and not a bit like the Americans. The Korean War was M.A.S.H as far as I was concerned, but the Vietnam vets were portrayed as unloved, unwanted fighting a war no one wanted. In most movies, they were cast as crazy loners who didn’t fit in and didn’t want to talk about it.

Eventually, as I grew older I realized all that most of all the above was pure toss and things weren’t as simple as I first thought. The National Vietnam Veterans Museum gives a comprehensive view of the history of the war, the times it was set and the effect it had on Australia and the rest of the world. The whole presentation is done in a way that makes it stimulating and entertaining as well as thought-provoking whilst all the time being very informative. In closing, the museum is excellent value for money and worth a repeat visit.

Originally published in Issue 111 BBCN April 2013

Sunday, 1 July 2018


Way back in the early 1980s my brother Joe and I wrote, drew and published our very own comic. It was a bucket list event before bucket list events were popular.
We both grew up on KG Murray reprints of DC characters and MAD magazine but were truly inspired and hugely influenced by the American and European underground comics like ZAP, Dopin’ Dan, the Fury Freak Brothers and Slow Death. Artists like Robert Crumb, Robert Williams, Gilbert Shelton, Paul Mavrides, Ted Richards and Rand Holmes were drawing stuff that blew our collective minds and we wanted to do what they did.
I don’t know if many of you remember the 1980s, but I don’t have great memories of it. The fashion was terrible back then, I winced at the New Romantic fluffy shirts, big coats and stretch jeans, shoulder pads on T-shirts and the ridiculous all black and stud wearing Goth’s back when it was in vogue, now I just cringe. Mainstream music was horrendous and would only get worse until the decade was over. All the hopes we had of growing old enough and getting some of that hippy free love and sex was crushed by the AIDS spectre. The best thing about the 80s was the underground culture bubbling underneath the surface offering alternatives to the commercial onslaught in the press, TV and radio.
Phantom parody
As kids, both Joe and I loved to draw, whether it be copying pictures of Superman or drawing big fantasy football games on butcher’s paper. I do remember Joe’s style growing out of his love of drawing Fred Flintstone and then watching that character evolve into a cigarette smoking, beer chugging ocker. I had a hard time keeping a character constant and my ability to draw hands was non-existent whereas Joe seemed to have no trouble at all, all up his skill set at drawing was far superior to mine, I accepted it and encouraged it.
Living in a house with three teenage brothers, Joe was youngest, then me and our two older brothers, there was always fighting and arguing as the pecking order was kept in check. With this was also a lot of ribald humour, practical jokes and immature shenanigans. You must remember this is a time when baby jokes were the height of popularity, a new joke was like a new meme these days, everyone wanted to know a new one and be first to tell it. For example, when the first Space Shuttle exploded in 1986, there were jokes going around before the rocket had hit the earth.
This kind of humour influenced many of the stories that we worked on, which I’ll get to later.
As we left school and got jobs, we found we had quite a bit of disposable income, whilst I spent mine on music, books and guitars, Joe spent his on writing pads and pencils and ink. As I tried to master the guitar, Joe concentrated on his art and storytelling. Every now and again he’d show me a thing he was working on and I’d be impressed but rather than say how good it was I’d say “That’s not funny, that’s sick” which seemed to impress him more. It got to the point where I decided that if he could do this I could too, and I started doing my own stories, occasionally swapping ideas.
We would often pick up our growing collection of underground comics and use them for reference for layout and ideas and marvel at the simplicity of it all, we started to research the artists themselves, finding a book about the U.S underground scene in the local library or a magazine article.  There always seemed to be a constant theme, if you wanted to do something badly enough and no one would do it for you. Do it yourself. As we were building up this collection of comics Joe and I decided we should give it a crack and do our own.
We had no idea what we were doing, how to present the artwork, how to format, who would print it and how much.
For some unknown reason, Joe was obsessed with copyright and wanted to know what it was and how it affected his artwork. He thought it was some legal requirement akin to setting up a mortgage. That it needed to be registered with some legal firm or faceless Government department. I simply went to the library (I keep mentioning this “library” place kiddies. It was a really useful resource before they put Google in your phones) I read a few chapters and was satisfied I had a grasp on it. Joe, however, wasn’t, even though I showed him all my findings, he wanted to ask anybody and everybody who ever worked in a bookshop, a newsagent or street vendor who sold comics, because they were “professionals”. Most who looked at him as if he was “special”.
With the whole copyright mystery solved and behind us, we next needed to know who would print our comic. Places like Kwik Kopy were popping up in suburbs around Melbourne and were offering quick and simply printing services, though at the time limited. They liked our idea but suggested a more traditional printer for our job. We had a mate who worked for one of the larger printers. Packer’s I think it was and he suggested a smaller local guy in nearby Oakleigh.
By this stage, we were getting all our facts and figures in place, but we still didn’t have enough pages of content to actually print. The guy who owned the printers was understanding kind of chap, he had to be with two complete amateurs asking all the wrong questions. Straight away he saw a problem with the samples we had brought along with us. I liked to draw on A4 paper, but Joe liked to do everything on A3. The printer said if we wanted a standard comic, he would do it in A4. Joe would have to redraw everything. Well, that was never going to happen, and the project nearly died right there and then, when the printer seeing our devasted faces and sensing a lost job said that he could shrink the originals, but we may lose detail. We were hacks, we didn’t give a shit and we were happy again. The printer asked when we wanted to start, and we said when we get enough pages to fill the book. When we left, I turned and saw the guy shaking his head in disbelief.
It would take us nearly a year before we finally finished. I know it was a passion but we were both in our early twenties and life had to be lived. No sitting alone in a garret, anguishing over work for us two.
The main story.
Legends of the Dreamtime.
We had managed to cobble together 52 pages with a cover that we wanted to be in colour. It consisted of a six-page story on angry pens and pencils by me, a whole heap of one and two-page jokes influenced by MAD magazine by Joe and myself and the bulk taken up by a seventeen-page epic called Legends of the Dreamtime by Joe. A story that told the adventures of two drunken marsupial’s, a koala and a kangaroo that incorporated many a 1980s news story including Aboriginal rights, the Lindy Chamberlain debacle and that time a semi-trailer drove through a pub in Alice Springs, a reluctant superhero and a regurgitating giant frog. All through the comic in either one-page gags or running underneath the main LotD story as three-panel gags (similar to Gilbert Shelton’s Fat Freddy’s Cat.) were one of Joe’s favourite characters, the Rats. These little Rat’s Tales (as they were titled) were usually bad jokes we all told each other when we were drunk and were never in good taste. To look back at the comic as a whole these days, it would never pass the vetting stage of the printer if they had a modicum of self-respect.
The Nolan's Research Time. Joe on RHS

Just prior to taking the finished product to the printers I transferred to Queensland with my job and the bulk of the final stages of the comic were left to Joe to manage.
There were some minor problems. It was cheaper to just leave the inside cover and back page blank as a cost-saving measure. Then the printer had a problem with the cover as it was a parody of the popular Life Be In It Ad campaign. The printer said he could get a grant because of the nature of the publication but if it had advertising anywhere in the comic it would be void. This grant, unbeknownst to us up till this point was factored into our price. Eventually, it was agreed that the cover was of satirical intent so passed the litmus test for the grant. The printer wanted 50% up front for artwork and preparation and the other 50% on completion collection six weeks later in March 1984. As luck would have it I came home for a holiday the day after Joe collected the comic from the printer. In the shed was 10 boxes each containing 100 copies of Wombat Comiz- the Z on the end to appease our punk aesthetic. I liked what I saw and promptly pointed out the obvious. Joe, who was obsessed with copyright failed to put one single copyright symbol or notice anywhere on the comic. The printer who was so concerned about the advertising implied on the cover put his own little printing blurb on the otherwise blank back cover. Aside from that, I was impressed. Dad. Who read it said, “I don’t see the humour in it” Mum who didn’t read it said “It’s lovely dear”
While I was home we barnstormed some ideas on how to get rid of the rest of the comics after we had sold or given away copies to all our friends and family. We devised a strategy to try and push it through the local Milk Bar, newsagents and even the pub, possibly going into town to see if someone would take a few copies. We thought of making a whole heap of stickers and sticking them everywhere. Places like urinals, bank and post office windows and Stop signs. I went back to Queensland and after six months I came back and found nothing had been done, Joe was going to go to the Small Café at Monash Uni. But the week before the Federal Police went through it and he decided not to do it. So we still had nine boxes of comics and no real desire to get rid of them. The whole process seemed to take the steam out of it for Joe and me coming back, I felt like all the momentum had run out. At the same time our Dad got seriously ill, so we just moved on to other things.

About fifteen years ago, the family home was sold and Mum was moving to smaller premises, we had to clean out the place. Part of the many things that were thrown in the large skip bin was one and a half cartons of Wombat Comicz. Some water damaged the rest in fairly good condition. Joe and I looked at them for a minute or so, discussed if we should keep the good box and decided to ditch the lot, remarking that in the fifteen plus years earlier how the hell we managed to unload so many? I quick look in the bin later the next day (it was out in the street) and I noticed both boxes had been taken, everything else remained. Joe continued to draw and even took some classes but when his new job took him all over Australia, he just didn’t have time anymore, I got married and started a family and we never got round to issue two.
It’s crazy these days looking back when this all happened. Faxes were new technology and used that horrible thermal paper, photocopies were a great tool if you could get hold of one but they were still limited in what they could do and the kind of quality they offered.  Only the other day I scanned, printed and bound an original copy of Wombat Comicz in a few minutes from my office.
You’ll never find Wombat Comicz in any Australian comic or small press, even ‘zine histories because of its provincial distribution. But after all these years I’m still proud of it, and I can say I published a comic once.  

Also published in BBCN Issue 270 August 2018

From little things big things grow- The Chandler Tree.

From little things big things grow- The Chandler Tree. The Chandler Oak Winter 2013 Tucked away in the far corners of Knox council, li...