Over two years in the making, Comic Book Heroes, a documentary about the rise of Australia’s premier publisher Gestalt Comics will air on ABC1 on Tuesday 13 and 20 August at 10pm AEST. (You can also catch up with it on ABC2 and iView, of course). Written and directed by Nicholas Dunlop, it shows how Wolfgang Bylsma and Skye Walker Odgen set up the company in Perth and set about trying to challenge the notion that comic books had to come from the US.
The documentary will feature appearances from Tom Taylor, Justin Randall and a seemingly obligatory cameo from Kevin Smith. It’s mandatory viewing for all Australian fans of comics, or anybody trying to break into the comics industry. Check out the trailer and official press below.
Best friends Wolfgang Bylsma and Skye Walker Ogden have a dream. For the last six years, these Perth men have devoted their time and talents to producing unique Australian comic books through their company Gestalt Publishing. Gestalt’s comics are winning awards and fans across the world. Top-tier writers and artists from Australia and the US want to work with them. With a growing, but limited, readership for graphic novels in Australia, they decided to broaden their horizons. Cracking the US market was their best chance of reaching a wide audience with their ground-breaking comics.
In late 2010, filmmaker Nicholas Dunlop saw an article in The West Australian about Gestalt Publishing. “It was pure luck that the company was based in Perth, where I live and work, and that one of the partners was based in Japan, a country where I lived for seven years and often return to,” says Nicholas.
“I’d been a comic collector and reader my whole life. I thought how remarkable and interesting it was that a Perth-based company was making a tilt at the American comic market. “Maybe there’s a documentary in it,” I thought.”
“I happened to be travelling to Japan that November, so I made contact with Co-publisher/Art Director Skye Ogden via Facebook. We met in Tokyo, got along well, and began filming the next day.”
The resulting film, Comic Book Heroes, tracks these passionate small-town mavericks over two years and three continents, as they, and their insanely talented team of artists and writers, set out to conquer the ruthless – and bizarre – world of the American comic book industry.