While penning the first part of a look at the year ahead in Australian comics, it became immediately obvious that there were just too many things to fit into a single post. Even more impressive was the response we had to the piece, with the creators not only sharing the article, but bringing a stack of other Australian writers and artists to our inbox with projects they are working on releasing this year.
It’s a testament to the diversity and enthusiasm of the local comics scene that we have been inundated with requests to highlight forthcoming projects. We’ve covered as many as we can in these columns, but if we haven’t covered your in-development book, we’ll make sure we get to it closer to the release date throughout the year. We do a weekly podcast, after all.
We also need to give a massive shout-out to MelbourneComics.com, who announced a new MELBOURNE COMICS QUARTERLY not long after we posted the first part. Launching on the Australia Day (26 January for those of you not in the country) weekend, some of the first features will include From Above comic book (see below), SAUCE‘s Falling Star, That Bulletproof Kid, Killeroo, and POKI the Rabbit! It’s aiming to be Australia’s version of 2000AD or Dark Horse Presents, and we hope they succeed in that aim.
Ryan K. Lindsay (Deer Editor, Fatherhood) is no stranger to Behind The Panels, appearing on one of our live shows at Oz Comic-Con last year. His HEADSPACE series (through Monkeybrain/Comixology) takes place in Carpenter Cove, where it becomes apparent to sheriff Shane that everything in the town is actually a construct within the mind of a killer. HEADSPACE #6-8 will be up quick, with a trade collection of the first five issues on the way too. Ryan promises us it will be a big year of releases, with a few treats to announce later in the year. However, we can confirm Ryan will be back on our podcast at some stage this year. (More: RyanKLindsay.com)
If you aren’t following FROM ABOVE by Craig Bruyn yet, you should really jump on board. Now five issues into its run, the quarterly released book is set in a dystopian futuristic Melbourne (which we imagine is still cooler than our native Sydney). FROM ABOVE will have issues #6, #7, #8 and #9 out this year (indeed #6 is now available in print, with #4 on Comixology) as well as the first Trade Paperback (compiling issues #1-6). The trade will feature some remastering and the opportunity (in the words of Bruyn) “to go back and tweak a few of the pages”. It will also likely include an exclusive short story. (Details: See the From Above website)
Dean Rankine has made a name for himself in Simpsons Comics, Futurama and countless Simpsons/Futurama head sketches he has commissioned at conventions around the country. Yet it’s the ITTY BITTY BUNNIES series that has demonstrated the inner workings of his brain and sense of humour, in a series that is definitely not all-ages. The Itty Bitty Bunnies trade, ITTY BITTY BUNNIES: CAVALCADE OF CONTRABAND, will be out this year, plus three new “floppies” including ITTY BITTY BUNNIES TALES FROM CRIB #1.
Victor Hampstead at Hazardous Publications will be releasing BLUE INK, the story of a group of seemingly ordinary people shackled by the bounds of a society that has no place for them. “In a world where everyone is special there are those who will inevitably be Left Behind, after several failed attempts to be recognized as a part of society the group lash out at those who control the system and find themselves in a despite situation that is [spiralling] out of control.” It’s a 120 page graphic novel that Victor has been working on since April 2014. “With some hard work and luck our creative team should have the book available in 2015,” notes Victor. In addition to this, Under Belly Comics will be publishing Victor’s HAZARD COMIC SERIES COLLECTED EDITION.
PAST THE LAST MOUNTAIN, a geopolitical fantasy, written by Paul Allor with art by Louie Joyce and layouts by Gannon Beck, is coming in 2015 from Third World Studios. Writer/editor Allor is known for his work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW), Strange Nation (Monkeybrain) and is the editor of Sheltered (Image Comics). The Indiana based writer is pairing with Australian artist Louie Joyce (The Many Harold Holts of Space and Time, Imaginary Drugs) for this intriguing project, which has been given the tagline “The year of the Dragon. And the Troll. And the Faun” by the author. Also look out for Louie in early February appearing on an episode of Behind The Panels. (Details: Website)
DarkOz anthology DECAY reaches an impressive #19 in April, containing all-new stories of The Southern Squadron, The Dark Nebula, Da ‘n’ Dill and more by their original creators such as Dillon Naylor, Greg Gates, Tad Pietrzykowski and Colin Wells. Indeed, celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Southern Squadron, original creator Dave de Vries writes his first Southern Squadron story in almost 15 years with artist Dragan Vignjevic. They’ve also got RETRO SCI-FI TALES #2, which we know is set to feature a five-page story from Ken Best when it drops in April. Incidentally, Ken’s also got a piece in Darren Close’s KILLEROO GANGWARS ANTHOLOGY, which is still in the process of being finalised and promises to bring Australia’s own killer marsupial back in a big way in 2015. (Details: darkoz.com.au).
Nathanael Hopkins-Smith has released some art from a few of his projects he’s got coming up this year. In addition to his ongoing VAGABOND series, which will release a third issue this year, Nathanael has the rather intriguingly titled WRESTLERS IN SPACE. Sold.
Scarlette Baccini will have at least one new issue of ZOMBOLETTE out this year, a comics “about a gross zombie and her giant nuggety mutant guinea pig housemate”. She’s also working on another project that may find its way to our eyes as a graphic novel or the prose kind.
Alisha Jade tells us that if reality doesn’t turn out “a little differently”, she has scheduled two addition chapters to her Grimm based SEVEN books (#5 and #6), the story of a young woman named Katerin battling to rescue her seven brothers from a curse, while under a curse herself. She’s also working on at least two mini-comics (DOPPLERGANGER and IRREPLACEABLE). If that’s not enough, she’s teaming up with Space Pyrates co-creator Caitlin Major for two issues of a new project called SEEDS OF SVALBARD. “That’s the bare minimum I want to achieve this year,” adds Alisha. (Details: ohmycomics.com)
Bolt Comics has a full schedule for 2015. Andrew Tribe will be releasing issue 4 of THE ADVENTURERS, a series about three misfit friends: a robot, a dragon and a rocbadger. Daniel Tribe will be releasing A BRIGAND’S TALE #2, “an anthropomorphic swashbuckling fantasy adventure”. Andrew has also teased a third title for Bolt comics later in the year (Details: boltcomics.net)
Aurealis finalist Shane W. Smith (Peaceful Tomorrows) successfully crowd-funded the money for his 4-issue mini-series UNDAD, which he says is “about the challenges of being a husband/father while being (literally) dead inside.” Described as an “accidental autobiography” and a “treatise on depression”, it touches on issues that are incredibly important to discuss, and are rarely treated with any depth in comics. Smith will write all four issues, providing the art for issues 1 and 4, with Diego & Andrea López Mata on art duties for the middle issues. Smith expects all four issues to be published around May 2015. (More: Website)
Cameron R. D. Laird and artist Adam Rose are behind THE CRAYFISH comic, set in the 1950s on King Island, Australia. A hearing-impaired veteran of the Second World War, who lives with “his technologically and mechanically savvy younger brother”, will do anything to protect the island from those who are attempting to destroy its way of life. So is born The Crayfish. With two issues already under their belt, the results of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Adam tells us they are looking to get two more issues out this year. (Details: Website)
There’s also a chunk of stuff coming out from the world of web comics at MAN IN SUIT COMICS, and ARDENT COMICS have told us to keep an eye on their site this year as well. It also wouldn’t be the Internet if we didn’t mention cats, and Sydney based Stephen Kok has already successfully funded his Kickstarter project TABBY, which promises “action, romance and lots of cute cats (and kittens)”. Speaking of cats, the folks at White Cat Press do a weekly web comic called THE MISADVENTURES OF PETER PUMPKINHEAD, which has so far featured 45 artists, with the first volume now available in print.
The folks at Milk Shadow have had an amazing couple of years, increasing their distribution network via their partnership with Madman, and producing a steady run of new and archival collections. Last year, Jase Harper’s AWKWOOD and Tim Molly‘s MR. UNPRONOUNCEABLE AND THE SECT OF THE BLEEDING EYE were easily two of the standout Australian releases. (Indeed, AWKWOOD was nominated for a 2014 Panels Award).
2015 is still in the early planning stages, but writer/publisher James Andre tells us that there’s a few books that will be coming out in the next 12 months. IRON BARD BALLISTO from Ben Hutchings is planned for this year, and will be released as a newspaper format, similar to Ben’s acclaimed 16 page Walking to Japan release.
Some more of Molloy’s MR UNPRONOUNCEABLE is expected this year as well, returning us to The City Of The Ever Open Eye where the “seeker of secrets, homeless necromancer and madman” that is Mr. Unpronounceable lurches from one adventure to the next.
In a recent tweet by Milk Shadow Books, they also indicated that there might be some more output including “maybe, possibly some @James__Andre, and other locals…“. More details and the full range of Milk Shadow Books can be found on their website.
The Australian calendar is getting a little fuller every year, and this one might just take the proverbial bit of cake. Indeed, almost every state and territory has its very own con this year, ensuring geeks and those aspiring to geekology around the nation are well and truly catered too. Stuff that’s already got some movement behind it includes:
- OZ COMIC-CON (Various, April – September) – Behind The Panels are proud supporters of the fastest growing ‘con in Australia. From their first Melbourne show in 2012, they now span Perth (11-12 April), Adelaide (18-19 April), Melbourne (27-28 June), Brisbane (19-20 September) and Sydney (26-27 September). Announced guests this year already includes Amber Benson (Buffy actress and comic book writer), Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys), Michael Shanks and Ben Browder (Stargate: SG-1), Agam Darshi (Sanctuary), Ryan Robbins (Falling Skies), Dominic Keating (Star Trek: Enterprise), Nicola Scott and Andrew Constant. PLUS we’ll be doing BEHIND THE PANELS LIVE! in Melbourne, Sydney, and (probably) Brisbane. (Details: Website)
- SUPANOVA (Various, April – November) – The longest-running Australian con is back, kicking things off in Melbourne in April. They’ve managed to secure the likes of Robin Lord Taylor (Gotham), Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf) and James Marsters (Buffy, Angel, Torchwood). They’ve also got The Walking Dead and Fear Agent artist Tony Moore, whose recent work includes Deadpool. (Details: Website)
- FREE COMIC BOOK DAY (Everywhere, 2 May) – With 50 free comics being given away this year, and many of your local comic book stores giving away these free publisher titles, it’s another excuse to dress up, grab some bargains, and get into something new. Most stores will have an event or sale to coincide with the day, which is always the first Saturday in May. Find the nearest event to you!
- COMIC GONG (Wollongong, 17 May) – Back for another year, the ‘Gong’s own comics and pop culture festival is created by Wollongong City Libraries. It will feature of the artists and creators mentioned here, including Bolt Comics, Karen Beilharz, Louie Joyce, Ryan K Lindsay, Silver Fox Comics, Winter City,Paul Caggegi and Pat Grant. Plus there’s workshops, cosplay and other events happen. It’s all free too, so what other excuses have you got? (Details: Facebook)
- HER MAJESTY’S FAVOURITE REALLY GREAT GRAPHICAL FESTIVAL (Hobart, 3-6 June) – Not only the “southernmost graphical festival in the nation”, but also the one with the coolest name on the block. Their full program is available online, and contains things like an illustrators talk night, drink and draw and The Small Press Zine Fair. As a sidebar, Joshua Santospirito, the director of this unique festival, will have a “graphic novelette” out in August/September called SWALLOWS PART 1, while his Sankessto Publications will continue with the DOWN THERE Tasmanian comics series, including contributions from Tricky Walsh. (Details: Website)
- TROPICON (Cairns, 11 July) – TropiCon is the first and only pop culture convention to be held in Australia’s far north Queensland city of Cairns, although the Sugar City Con in Mackay takes the prize for being the first regional con in the state. Guests already include Dean Rankine (see above), Paul Abstruse (My Little Pony), Wayne Nichols (Spider-Man), Shaun Paulet (Xtreme Champion Tournament) and a stack of cosplay activity.
- AMC EXPO (Melbourne, 17-18 October) – Formerly Armageddon, the renamed Australian Movie & Comic Expo has seen some big hitters in the comics and entertainment world over the last few years. Last year saw Darick Robertson, Kevin Eastman, James Tynion IV, John Layman and Kyle Higgins on the list, so we have high hopes for this year. (Details: Website)
We really appreciate everyone who responded to our emails or sent us things to use in these columns. We are a bit floored by how much content is coming out this year.
Remember: If you’ve got a project you’d like us to give a shout-out throughout the year, let us know firstname.lastname@example.org. Images, release dates and any other details always help too.
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