Thursday, 25 June 2015

Jamie Hewlett's new Gorillaz pics

Jamie Hewlett is busily drawing and releasing pictures of Gorillaz members on Instagram.
They're changed somewhat since  the bands last release six years ago.
Judging by their dress the members seem to be evolving and finding new styles as time passes. It's good to see Russell has be cured of his waterborne gigantism.
The drawing of Noodle is just exquisite.

Friday, 5 June 2015



 If you’re ever reading an article about comics that starts with: “If you thought comics were the domain of young children you may have a surprise coming”. Turn the page, the only surprise you’ll get is the author didn’t research his topic very well. Comics’ audience stopped being the sole property of children and teenagers decades ago; the popularity of comic books only has to be gauged by the amount of high grossing and very expensive movies that are based on comic characters. Three of them are in the Top Ten highest moneymakers in movie history. Comics are a serious business. They are a lynch pin in the multimillion dollar geek/popular culture scene that incorporates movies, television shows, cosplay (dressing up as your favourite character) model making, video and Role Playing games and collectables among many other activities and hobbies. Australia alone has nine conventions a year in most states to cater for the popular demand that followers of pop culture slavishly seek out. 

 It’s not to say that comics aren’t for children anymore, not by a long shot, It’s just that those kids in the 1970s 80s and 90s didn’t give up reading them and created a whole new audience. During the 1980s comics went through somewhat of a renaissance when many British writers moved to the United States and re-imagined old and tired characters. This British Invasion led to change in the industry that moved artists and writers working at page rates and actually owning characters they created. The whole comic industry is littered with tragic tales and some are only being reconciled some 50 years later – but that’s a whole different story. During this renaissance new terms entered the language. The graphic novel and sequential art to describe what was considered throw away cheap ephemeral comics. Many went on to become classics with Alan Moore’s Watchmen comic actually appearing in TIMES top 100 novels of the 20th Century. In 2001 a Californian Comic retailer Joe Field was writing columns for an industry magazine, and saw how successful feature films based on comic book franchises were providing the comic book industry with a positive cultural and financial turnaround. This idea was Free Comic Boy Day and was so effective that in its first six years; more than 2000 retailers in more than 30 countries gave away more than 12 million Free Comic Book Day special edition comic books. It is now an anticipated yearly event especially here in Australia.

 I myself have been an avid comic book reader since I was in Primary School and I have my father to thank for that who in his 40s still enjoyed Phantom and Batman comics. I was also lucky to live near Gordon and Gotch Magazine distributors in Burwood who would throw out any comics damaged or sent back from Newsagents. These free black and white reprints of US titles could be picked up in bulk from the on-site store. From there I never really stopped, I am still an avid collector today as well as a contributor to the local scene. Thanks to the Internet and computer based graphic programs there are now many Australian’s at the forefront of worldwide comic creating fame. Artists such as Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott who work on popular superhero titles for DC and Marvel comics and Tristian Jones who has worked on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ghost Busters have huge followings. These artists can often be seen at the larger city stores on Free Comic Book Day doing free sketches and signings for fans in the spirit of the day. 
Free Comic Book Day has three main purposes:
 1) To introduce everyone to the joys of reading comics. 
 2) To call back former comic book readers.
 3) To thank current comic book buyers for their continued support. 
Publishers produce special edition comics geared to attracting new non-comic readers. There is a wide diversity of comics available, from traditional comics fare like Archie and Disney, super-heroes from Marvel and DC (Referred to as the Big Two and responsible for the most famous of characters and the majority of Superheroes like Superman, Batman, Spiderman etc.) and Manga as well as work from independent publishers.
The unimposing Alternate Worlds entrance
The days haul of freebies
The crowd

 While the larger city stores have the big name artists in store to promote the day I like to pop into my local comic book store or LCB as they are known. Tucked away in the Industrial estate not far from Scorsby road in Bayswater is Alternate Worlds, though they don’t have a stable of local artists sitting around trestle tables and queues around the block that still embrace Free Comic Book Day with an enthusiasm that has the shop packed with people checking out what’s on offer. Peter Hughes the shops co-owner says he looks forward to and enjoys the day and judging by the crowds it is one of the major days on the calendar. Operating in one shape or another since 1977 and being based in its current location since 2011. Alternate Worlds releases and sells comic books the same day as those released in the United States, which is usually every 
Peter Hughes
Thursday so the amount of titles is constantly changing. One of things I like about Alternate Worlds is it position. The entrance is in the corner where two buildings meet. At first it seems it is a doorway to a passageway because the businesses either side seem to occupy all the other space. It’s only when you walk through the door that you realise it opens up – almost TARDIS like - to a larger space. An Aladdin’s cave of shelves filled full of books, toys and collectables. On the day it was crowded but I could still catch up with some likeminded people for a chat and to top it off I came out with a lot of free quality comics to read and put off doing the lawns for a few more hours. Free Comic Boy Day is a yearly event that falls on the first Saturday in May. 

You can find out more about Alternate Worlds on 

References: Wilkipedia, Bleeding Cool
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of the BBCN