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The Long Weekend – One year on

2 Aug

Tasmania, it’s apology time.

It’s been almost a year and a half since I launched the Long Weekend in Alice Springs into the world at the inaugural Tasmanian Writers Festival in Hobart in March 2013. It’s been quite a year for this little self-published wonder and I thought I’d do a little write-up of its successes and failures … though, thankfully, I don’t know of many failures … or how a book fails … but anyhow.

Photo - Joshua Santospirito

I’m writing this the day after I opened the second exhibition of original art from the graphic novel here in Wintery HOBART. I probably won’t pull out the original art again, my mind has moved on. But it seems appropriate that I reflect on it all. It occurred to me that whilst I was making this book I was living here in Hobart, but mentally and emotionally I was grappling with a project that forced me to not be present, to not be here in Tasmania. I was in Central Australia. Head still in the dust, barrelling down dirt highways in landcruisers.

I was quite distracted by this work of art.

Then, years later, once I finished the book I had to flog it like crazy; I’d put too much work in: it cannot go unnoticed NOW! And so the book had numerous launches in different spots in 2013, which has helped sales along – Hobart, Alice Springs, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. The Alice Springs launch was by far the biggest, and funnest, and it was accompanied by the first exhibition at the gallery in Alice Springs – Watch This Space – a well-loved institution. It was launched by lots of interesting, wonderful sods – Dr Anne Noonan (who I used to work with in Central Oz), Pat Grant (comic-maker extraordinaire), Bernard Caleo (Svengali of Melbourne comics and great enthusiast of this book), Penny McDonald (NT Film), Lindsay Arnold (Tassie comic-legend), Jennifer Mills (good mate and wonderful author). To share this book with these people made it extra special.

Because of these launches, and because of the promotion that was part of the successful crowd-funding campaign, the book pretty much sold out of its first print-run of 500 within about two and a half months … which took me completely by surprise, so I got it reprinted again in Hobart (again by Monotone Art printers, who are very nice to work with), this time printing 1000 copies just in time for the book to be reviewed by the Weekend Australian Newspaper in their Review magazine. This helped in getting the book into bookstores across Australia, which seemed to be a better place to sell this book than in comic-stores, though it landed in a few of them too. To date I have offloaded a total of about 1250 copies Australia-wide, which I’m chuffed and proud of … given I self-distributed and posted and emailed and whatnot. I had thought that initial 500 would last me a few years, and they would be sitting under my bed.

Whilst I can honestly say that I have no idea how anyone printing a book in Australia can make any money at all – I am very proud to have printed it locally and going to the effort of keeping everything as local as possible. It certainly isn’t a money-spinner, but that was never the point anyhow.

The most exciting aspect about sending a graphic novel into the world has been the responses to it. I had thought that the only people who’d read this would be comic-obssessed people … and I didn’t know if they would get into it, because of the content … nothing against comic-obssessed people at all, I’m certain they would be able to understand such a book, but the book is a little serious and full-on and I wasn’t certain of how it would fit into the genre-focused world of comics … I wasn’t quite sure who my audience was, because I made this book for me … and not really for anyone else. It turns out – there’s lots of MEs out there. Who knew?

What I found was, most people who read the book – WEREN’T comic-readers … most of the discussions about the book that I encountered were NOT even about the comic-form, they went immediately to the content. This surprised me most, because many readers didn’t even seem to really be aware of the medium at all when they read it. Some of my favourite responses have been from Central Australia, where the people who live this content daily can grasp it with their mind and hearts. As is probably true of any peripheral area, the political discussions on the Eastern seaboard about Central Australia have always lacked any real understanding of the problems faced by those who live there. For this reason, to be acknowledged in the Territory was the best: it meant a lot to both Craig and I when the book was awarded the Non Fiction Book Award at the NT Read awards in Darwin in May of 2014.

I am glad that I decided to put on this exhibition in Hobart though, though the content of the book has absolutely nothing to do with Tasmania – but the book was made, designed and printed in Tassie. I couldn’t have done the work in Central Australia. To live in the desert is to live by the seat of your pants, every day surreal things happen, you get swept along by an unusual force. I didn’t even notice until I left. I needed to move away, the distance to clear my mind and digest all the things I had to sift through to be able to work this comic into existence. So I came to Hobart. It was crucial. But the local Tassie community was also crucial with their support and feedback and enthusiasm. Now I have a month-long exhibition which I can show to the Hobartian mob. I can say to them “This is what I did before I truly lived here emotionally and mentally. Isn’t that nice. It’ll be up for a month,”

BUT this is a line in the sand – after this – you and me – we can start dating properly – we can live together in this creative community of Taswegia”

“Sorry I was so distracted before, I hope you understand”

“I’d like to be more present now”

“Hi Hobart”

Sleuth OMG

6 Jun

The next element of Sleuth comes together in Island Magazine #137 – out NOW.
Josh will PERFORM the comic (yes, he will perform it) at tonight’s Drink and Draw at the Arts Factory as part of Her Majesty’s Favourite Really Great Graphical Festival
OMG

soooo busy!!

3 Jun

Sooo many things happening recently it’s been insane!! But FUN!

Went to Darwin for Wordstorm, hung out with Nicki Greenberg, Bernard Caleo, Simon Hanselmann and Pat Grant – and many other writers and had a merry old time! And I received this prize!

Prize

Then I stopped in Melbourne to talk on a panel at the Emerging Writers Festival about publishing.
Now I’m back in Hobart about to organise Her Majesty’s Favourite Really Great Graphical Festival – which is totes rad! Starts Thursday!

ALSO – I have some pieces in Island Magazine #137 – which is out now. I’ll be performing one of these pieces on Friday at Her Maj’s festival.

Prejudicial Ink – review

21 May
A review by Joshua Santospirito of Fluid Prejudice

Various artists, edited by Sam Wallman
Published by Glass Flag 2014
Cover image Tom O’Hern featured in Island 135

I don’t know if anyone recalls an incredible serialised comics piece published in Meanjin in 2008-09 titled Their Hooks Hold Deep in Our Flesh: written by Kate Fielding and involving artists Clint Cure, Mandy Ord, Ben Fox and Elizabeth McDowell.

It arose out of the context of Rudd’s apology and it detailed a number of histories of the Portland area of the Great Ocean Road since colonisation. Fielding’s foreward stated ‘a generous, critical and impassioned engagement with our shared histories is both the joy and responsibility of all people’. Fielding and co. walked the talk; Hooks sang songs of history in multiple styles, formats and sources to create an unusual critical historical account woven from multiple voices.

Six years is a long time in the small but rapidly maturing world of Aussie comics. It’s 2014 and Melbourne’s Sam Wallman has willed a remarkable anthology of history-comics into existence entitledFluid Prejudice. ‘The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice,’ said Mark Twain. The focus of this anthology is under-represented and marginalised histories. Historical narrative shifts focus, not only because of the stories being told, but because of those who hold the pen. Perhaps the corrective biases of those whose ink flows in these pages will hold the mainstream narratives to account.

For the full article – please go to the ISLAND MAGAZINE WEBSITE (Subscribe while you’re at it). 

IMG_0023

Cover image – Tom O’Hern
Buy Fluid Prejudice at Glass Flag Press

Festival Program – #HerMAJhobart

16 May

Her Majesty’s Favourite Really Great Graphical Festival
The Southernmost Tasmanian graphic celebration in the NATION!
2014, June 5–8

Join us or die – on Farceybuuk & Twotter

Hobart is filled with artists – we know… we all read the census report. We went to the museum and it was very nice (it was very lovely thankyou Lord Berriedale). But frankly, I think we’d all like to bloody well see more cartoons. More kids books! MORE COMICS! Where have the illustrators all been hiding?

Her Majesty has decreed that it is high time that her favourite Australian state, Van Diemen’s Land, celebrated its own zines, illustrators and comic-makers. She has has graciously allowed these festivities to be the fanfare to her own birthday celebrations in the state capital of HobART.

The festival is filled with fun events that showcase some mighty Hobartian artists that don’t often get to see the light of day. Artist talks, performances that combine visual graphics and sound, comic-launches and events that let you all have a crack at drawing things yourself and making your own publications! Jump over the program page to have a look.

Her Majesty’s Artist in Residence for 2014 will be Sir Tony Thorne of Dynnyrne. In honour and recognition for his patriotic fighting in the trenches of artistic endeavour. He’ll be performing, talking and presenting at three of Her Favourite events and sharing his wise wisdom with all. “Hail, Sir Thorne”

FULL PROGRAM

Friday May the 23rd – pre-festival event
Arts Forum at UTAS College of the Arts – Josh Santospirito (festival creator/organiser) gives a talk on his award-winning graphic novel The Long Weekend in Alice Springs. He’ll talk about the adaption process and other elements to do with long-form comics. Dechaineux Lecture Theatre, Tas College of the Arts, 12:30-1:30pm. Free, open to the public.  FACEBOOK EVENT

Wednesday May the 28th – Pre-festival special event
Rachel Tribout launches her first picture book
CAPTAIN BLUEBERRY’S – MONSTERS OF TASMANIA
to be launched by Jon Kudelka

@ Fullers Bookshop, 5:30pm – free event. FACEBOOK EVENT
Basically, all you need to know is that this is a very special book. 

Thurs June 5
A Thousand Words- 6pm
Illustrators talk night – great projects and graphics, a great opportunity to have a look at the illustrating process with the artists themselves doing the show and tell. Short animated films will also knock ya socks off.
Featuring Sir Tony Thorne, Sam Lyne, Gay McKinnon, Christopher Downes, Hiiragi, Rex Smeal, Paul Peart-Smith, Tom O’Hern and Sarah Catherine Firth.
Constance ARI, 100 Goulburn Street, enter with a single gold coin donation.
Bar open on the night, proceeds to Constance gallery.

Friday June 6
Drink & Draw – 5:30pm
Graphics … Performances … drinking … drawing … !!
Performances from Tony Thorne & Joshua Santospirito.
Come down to TMAG for a drink and have a crack at some drawing with some of the artists. The TMAGgots will be manning the bar. A TMAGgots event at TMAG, Dunn Place, free entry

Saturday June 7
Blood and Bone by Tom O’Hern – 6pm
Tom O’Hern made a bloody comic. He did it as part of Sankessto Publication’s Down There series of Tasmanian Comics. There’ll be speechies from Tricky Walsh. There’ll be booze, there might be cheese, there’ll be all of youse, and there’ll be meeze. 
Hobart Bookshop, Salamanca Place, free
FACEBOOK EVENT

An Extraordinary Sequence of Events  – 8pm
In a paper theatre, pages come to LIFE. From the heartbreaking illustrations of Tasmania’s favourite masterpiece Last Days of the Mill, to the ecstatic whimsy of Captain Blueberry – you’ll love this night. It’ll be filled with extraordinary events! One might be particularly interested in the matching of fine, popular, fine artist Robert O’Connor with the chaos of Danielle Page’s Noise outfit – Kovacs. The night will be finished off with a macabre and heartwrenchingly bloody tale of murder on the banks of the River Derwent – Downes/Santospirito present a MONA FOMA favourite – The Shipwright & the Banshee!!
* The Shipwright and the Banshee by Christopher Downes & Joshua Santospirito (MONA FOMA 2013)
* The Last Days of The Mill by Tony Thorne & Pete Hay
* Captain Blueberry’s Monsters of Tasmania by Rachel Tribout
* Rob OConnor & Kovacs
at The Grand Poobah, 142 Liverpool St. Entry $8-
FACEBOOK EVENT

Sunday June 8
The Small Press Zine Fair
Bands, zines, comics, workshops, zines, creativity, zines
Imagine a world where everyone made their own publications … imagine it – right NOW! … crikey, I think we’ve DONE IT – All the zine-makers of the Southern Hemisphere are descending upon the Poobah for this afternoon of swap/buy/give/show-off all their zines and publications. They make awesome presents for yourself and for your Mum, and for you brother, and his girlfriends. 
A WALLOPPINGLY fun afternoon, 1-5pm, at The Grand Poobah, 142 Liverpool St. free entry. FACEBOOK EVENT

Information for Zine stall-holders: No registration required, BYO card-table, crate, table-cloths etc. Set up on the day, jump on a table with someone you’ve never clapped eyes on before – AUTOMATIC BFFs!

Media – Jan 2014

24 Jan

A few things lately
– David Nixon of ABC Open wrote a very affecting blog response to the graphic novel The Long Weekend in Alice Springs – I recommend you have a read, it’s good.

- Also The Long Weekend was included in Readings end of year list of 5 best GNs (in their opinion) which is exciting.

- Most exciting is that it also won an AWARD!

- On a different topic – I wrote this piece for the Meanjin website

2014 is looking busy … very busy – I’ll keep you all posted.

Captain Blueberry

21 Jan

This project is bloody great … bloody great – you must have a look at the Crowd-funding campaign TODAY!!
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