The cream of the Melbourne comics crop is on display in a new anthology launching just in time for Australia Day.
The Melbourne comics scene is soaring at the moment, so much so that it was the subject of last year’s fine documentary Graphic Novels! Melbourne from filmmakers Daniel Hayward and Bernard Caleo. As the first anniversary of the creator collective Melbourne Comics approaches on Australia Day, some of those like-minded individuals have banded together for a new project aimed at getting the word out about the stories and artwork coming out of the capital of the great state of Victoria.
MELBOURNE COMICS QUARTERLY aims at being Australia’s answer to Dark Horse Presents or 2000AD, following last year’s Home Brew Vampire Bullets in offering a sampling of the city’s finest and acting “as a springboard to jump to the creator owned books and series.” Some of the content of the first issue will already be familiar to regular punters at the local con scene or ‘zine fairs, and it is strung together with Steve Boyd’s delightfully batty Poki the Rabbit interstitials. Craig Bruyn’s From Above leads the 32 page outing, a sci-fi story appropriately set in a dystopian futuristic Melbourne, where corporations rule their own sectors like mafia following the collapse of the government. So not really sci-fi at all. Bruyn’s distinctive art and cinematic storytelling are the perfect choice to lead this premiere edition, his comic and style a terrific example of the new Melbourne voice.
Similarly, Matt Kyme’s That Bulletproof Kid (IF? Commix) is a sampling of the ongoing series that has already been gaining a slew of international attention from the major comics sites. Inspired by the Silver Age of comics, the story follows the familiar narrative of a school-age teenager trying to fit in with his classmates while dealing with a secret identity and saving the world. It’s the kind of classic superhero story that is sure to appeal to a wider audience.
Falling Star 3 (SAUCE), from Christian Roux, is launching in conjunction with MELBOURNE COMICS QUARTERLY, and readers will get another glimpse at the near future, this time one that lives in the wake of an unnatural storm. Leaving behind vastly changed people, or “alterhumans”, these people with new abilities must learn where they came from. Roux’s black and white art is striking, using the monotone shading to full effect in this chaotic storm-strewn landscape. Filled with an intriguing backstory, this is precisely the sort of thing that will entice reader to look further afield.
Yet as far as local legends go, few cast a bigger shadow than Killeroo. Darren Close’s creation is one of the strongest creator-owned properties, and the character of Rufus draws from Mad Max in its apocalyptic outlaw leanings. The List author Paul Bedford crawls inside the head of the anthropomorphic marsupial, utilsing his mastery of the inner monologue and internal anguish to examine the mental war between the man and the animal sides of the hero’s nature. Sid Lien’s art begins with a minimal image of the titular character sitting on a chair, surrounded by blank space and Bedford’s words. As the animal nature emerges, the visceral nature of the art intensifies, building to pure animalistic chaos as the “man” disappears. Matty Taylor’s earthy colours don’t just mirror this turmoil, but the reds and browns of the Australian landscape the character inhabits. It’s a wonderful teaser for more Killeroo to come in the next issue, along with the Gangwar anthologies due out later this year.
For the rest of Australia, the bar has been set. (If history is a guide, our native Sydney always gets something cool six months after Melbourne.) Yet if it results in imitation tomes in every major city around the country, then we are in for a new era of world-class Australian comics.
MELBOURNE COMICS QUARTERLY #1 launches on the Australia Day weekend at Gasolina on 25 January 2015. If you can’t make it or are interstate, we’re told copies should be winging their way to your local comic book stores around Australia, along with some digital content online.
For more information on Melbourne Comics, check out:
- Melbourne Comics
- From Above Comic
- Falling Star/Christian Roux
- Poki the Rabbit
- Paul Bedford
- IF? Commix
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