And what a night! Well, what a weekend, really...
The ACA run a conference the whole weekend with guest speakers and events and I was lucky enough to be invited to chat on a talking panel with Tim McEwen and Jozef Szekeres about Australian comics and graphic novels and the industry. Tim gave a great introduction showcasing Australian creators and artists that gave those uninitiated some idea of the talent out there, Jozef talked about his fantastic work and what a labour of love it is, and I babbled about my own gear for newspapers and my graphic novel.
This was followed up by questions from MC Jules and the audience and we gave our thoughts and impressions on the amazing talent pool in Oz and how damn hard it is to keep up with the volume of work being produced. The issue of being able to hunt them all down considering the disparity of the DIY minicomic movement and the lack of an Australian based distributor of comics was touched on, as was the accessibility of so many comics and graphic novels thanks to the internet.
Australian publishers such as Black House Comics, Gestalt and Allen & Unwin were discussed as were their agendas. I recommended to the ACA that they get these people in next year to have their own panel forum discussion- that would be terrific to listen to.
Ron Cobb was the headlining guest speaker over the 2 days and he gave wonderful anecdotes on his experiences both in cartooning for newspapers as well as his production design work for movies such as Conan, Back to the Future, Star Wars, Alien and more.
Nat Karmichael gave a very unique talk on Jon Dixon's incredibly popular newspaper strip Airhawk; Reg Mombassa was another guest speaker and Jordan Verzar gave an illuminating talk on his work with GRAPHIC, the comic book festival/event held every year at the Sydney Opera House. Jordan told of the whole Robert Crumb vs Jesse Phillips case and the incredibly devious libelous lengths the News Ltd hack went to for the sake of selling some newspapers that led to Crumb cancelling his trip to Australia to be interviewed by Gary Groth on stage. Not helped by news people repeatedly harassing Crumb and his family over the phone for the sake of comment. No surprises he didn't come to Australia. There were plenty of other guest speakers and talks but I wasn't able to make them all unfortunately (sorry Anton and Eric!)
The Awards dinner was a fun affair and it was great catching up with buddies. Good mate Anton Emdin won 2 stanleys on the night, not surprisingly one of them was the gold Stanley for Cartoonist of the Year. He'd also picked up a Reuben Award in America earlier in the year (the first Australian to do so) and it was a safe bet he'd get some Stanley lovin' back home.
The Comic Book Art category is in its second year in the ACA and being able to submit Uncle Silas into it was a treat. Australia's got some killer talent in the comic creating field and I feel pretty lucky to get a gong this year. Once the rest of Australia's comics crowd catches up with this particular Stanley award the competition is just going to keep getting tougher and tougher, so I feel pretty bloody fortunate to get this one while I could!
A huge thank you to all the ACA peoples who made the weekend happen. Next years Stanley Awards promises to have Gerald Scarfe as a headlining guest speaker, so that should be worth going to.
Unless Jesse Phillips gets wind of it and manages to get him to cancel as well...