John Weeks' Information Injection
Posted: Tuesday, July 3, 2001
By: Darren Schroeder
After long absence have Weeksy's Travel Newsletter #3, crammed packed with things you need to know......
I'm living in Siem Reap, Cambodia - home of zillions of cool old monuments. Here I'm establishing the local chapter of "Experiential Dance for Global Peace" and enjoying the easy life. Highlights include eating beetles and locusts, swimming in ancient reservoirs, riding dirtbikes, and of course drawing comics. And you can catch my two seconds of fame in this summer's schlockbuster.
BARBARA KERR (http://come.to/Ms45 ) is one of the growing number of small press luminaries who has come over to explore the legendary nightlife.
Cheers to Melbourne comicists who gave her stuff to ferry over, including copies of An Other World (Kieran Mangan), Triple Zero (Tim Danko), There's a Dragon in the Ceiling (Stefan Neville), Pure Evil (Comics Journal reviewed, no less), and so much more. Thanks guys.
Naturally, wherever there's air to breathe, there's comics. Cambodian comics lean heavily towards romance, humor, and legends. Hoping to show and sell a few of these comics at San Diego Comic Con on July 19-22nd, 2001. (http://www.comic-con.org) Might even have a few of mine too. DEAD XEROX is collecting stuff, go bother them. (timdeadexSTOP-@-SPAMyahoo.com)
* * *
Been thinking a bit about small press development. In a lot of ways the alternative comics world is like an underdeveloped country. There's very little infrastructure, poor communications, and not a lot of citizen organization. And we're a community of iconoclasts, which is always difficult.
Here in Cambodia the fashionable term aid groups use is "capacity building". It's easy to set up a program or institution. But to keep it going, that's the real trick. Say you set up a literacy program with foreign money. Does it collapse when the funding disappears? If they're smart, the planners will work to make it self sufficient, so that program will continue. Then the program will, in turn, help to create more educated people who may in time create their own institutions and businesses.
I think that with the small press it's largely an issue of capacity building too. Setting up the Xeric Foundation grants is capacity building. Setting up a distro is capacity building. And reviewzines like Comics Quarterly and Milk Bar are also capacity building publications. They make communication, publication and innovation more convenient and simple.
The process all too often seems like one step forward and one step back. A new distro appears while another calls it a day. New publications (http://www.lowla.com) emerge while others (http://come.to/milkbar) push back their schedule to infinity. Sometimes it seems like no gains are being made.
But you don't choose art - it chooses you. Which means you'll be stuck with the comics community for a long time. All the more reason to develop it in your own way.
Then again, I'm not sure this "development' paradigm is a good one. Certainly there are lots of critiques of development policy. And while alt.comix could be equivalent to a country, "Alternative Nation' is already a trademark of MTV.
A Jakarta comicist told me, "I want to know about the American Underground Comics Movement". That took me by surprise. I've thought of it as a culture, maybe a community, as an environment --
...it might be fun to be part of a movement.
* * *
Meanwhile, what's going on back in the rest of the world? The great thing about not having done a newsletter in the last few months is that it looks like things are actually happening.
NEWS NEWS NEWS
First up, our POLYESTER pals ain't going to jail. Wahoo!
Dear LumpyGroovy subscribers and PolyEster Books supporters.
The big news is that PolyEster Books isn't in imminent jeopardy of being closed down after being raided for selling 'banned' literature in December 1999.
Those charges were dropped due to 'lack of resouces'. Instead the police charged me with copying and selling 'copyright' video such as Clockwork Orange and Blair witch project. These videos were unavailable for sale in Australia when I had them on the shelves so I didn't really feel I was doing anything wrong. Neverertheless my solicitor persuaded me to plead guilty on this charge when I fronted up to the magistrates court in febuary. For my heinous crime I was told to pay $300 into the poor box and give my solicitor $800 for his services.
I was sorry that I was unable to interest Hustler magazine supremo Larry Flynt in funding and help fight Australia's draconian and outdated censorship laws. As we speak the Free Speech Inc. legal fund is about $60 in the red, not much there in the way of resources to challenge our ruler's anti-democratic attitude to freedom of speech.
So any of my grandiose ideas of helping to turn Australia's laws concerning consensual crimes around to something resembling a similar blueprint to what they have in the land of Windmills and the Melkweg were certainly unrealised.
We all live to fight another day, some things take a little longer to right. Perhaps in our life time, as Australian adults one government will grant us permission to read what we want.
We live in eternal hope.
Gonzo http://www.polyester.com.au gonzoSTOP-@-SPAMpolyester.com.au
Of course, Australia has always had this nagging little problem with censorship, as Eddie Campbell can attest when they tried to clamp down on "from Hell".
From Hell http://www.tcj.com/3_online/n_fromhell.html
(Yrs truly was offered a job by Flynt Publications in 2000 - I turned it down. But that's another story.)
In other exciting news, PURE EVIL has gotten a review in the Comics Journal. Yawn. After "Thrown to the Wolves', we are pretty used to Comics Journal reviews by now. Perhaps we should aim a little higher.
What ever happened to the Comics Journal Melbourne scene writeup that was going to happen? Lord knows they review us enough, why not do the next step? Certainly helps that for reference, they've got some of these scene profiles
on the web now.
(from Comics Journal #188) http://www.tcj.com/2_archives/i_youngseattle.html
(from Comics Journal #197) http://www.tcj.com/2_archives/i_youngnyc.html
NOTABLES IN THE NEWS:
ATHONK has a new web page. Check out "Old Skull'.
Also new Indo Comix portal, KOMIKAZE.
Meanwhile in the land of the long white cloud BLACK RIVER DIGITAL has reached critical mass, with list traffic including reviews, awards, announcements and more. If you want the scoop on what's happening NOW in NZ comics, this is a place to start. Unfortunately, you need to sign up to read it, but it's a good read. Trust me. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/brd
ANT SANG's "The Dharma Punks" has premiered to rave reviews, and NZ's Parliament recessed for the occasion. http://www.antsang.co.nz
STEFAN NEVILLE has completed "There's a Dragon in the Ceiling' with Clayton Noone, which includes a gorgeous silkscreened cover.
Also new from STEFAN is "Pickpick" with sister INDIRA and a postal collab with JUSTIN NOMADNESS. Address at the moment is 21 beatty parade, waiheke island, nz.
DYLAN HORROCKS takes tea with Silver Bullet Comics, and whacks up his own site as well.
SBC News Article, http://www.hicksville.co.nz
He'll be in Oz for Sydney Comics Fest in September (the 8th & 9th).
Enough on the NZers - it'll make the Aussies feel bad.
"Tall with long blue-black locks, intense ice blue eyes and an eagerness that suggests he simply wants to get back to his work and be left alone, it's only when DILLON [NAYLOR] speaks that you can easily decipher his wonder and passion for the craft, and when you suddenly notice the difference between his temperament and the striking, fiercely unique presence of a partially reformed rock star."
Now this is what Comics Lifestyle is all about.
Pop Culture and Two Minute Noodles: $5.00 ($4.00 plus $1 postage) in the form of a cleverly concealed note sent to: DILLON NAYLOR, 52 Belmont Ave, Upwey, Vic, 3158 Australia
The POX GIRLS have just had PREGNANT HALLOWEEN BONDAGE translated and published in Italocomic KEROSENE. http://surf.to/kerosene
They've got a new preferred fan mail address: 22 Golf Links Road, Hepburn Vic 3461, Australia. (P.O. box is still checked), new email, PoxgirlsSTOP-@-SPAMalphalink.com.au
Plus there's three (count "em, three) new sites dedicated to the Hepburn homemakers.
You'll note the above links are from the LAMBIEK COMICLOPEDIA, which also took an interest in ATHONK. KEES KOUSEMAKER:
"We have a feeling Australian artists are a bit under-represented in our list...Thanks in advance!" Kees Kousemaker,
Galerie Lambiek, Kerkstraat 78, 1017 GN Amsterdam, The Netherlands
feel free to submit your stuff to them if you think you rate.
SAVAGE PENCILS exhibition wowed 'em in Sydney. When's the next one?
AMBER CARVAN has just finished an 8 page story for Dee Vee. And Big Smoke 8 is nearly out! Plus she is the secret force behind http://noise.net.au .
NICOLA HARDY is now a bonafide part of the establishment, receiving government funding.
MICHAEL PEE FIKARIS is preparing a new 80 page comic with KIERAN MANGAN.
frothindustriesSTOP-@-SPAMhotmail.com , silentarmySTOP-@-SPAMthe-pentagon.com
KIRRILY SCHELL is being an inconspicuous artyfarty in McScotland, eating lots of haggis. Rippa!
ANGELO MADRID will have his site up any day now.
ANNA BROWN, where are you?
Hmm...hey, can anyone find out what happened to the M/C REVIEWS comics issue?
BRIAN RALPH chills out with Megomatic Ms. Kelso.
MEGAN KELSO herself at
TATIANA GILL (of LIFE AFTER TINTIN fame) and JON POYSER (PRETTY SURE) get namechecked at http://www.tcj.com/3_online/w_minicomics2.html
CHE GILSON is still around. Preoccupied with her new celebrity status and her slowly-healing wrist.
RICK BRADFORD has gotten a haircut, and also has a new issue of POOPSHEET online. Keep Mr. Bradford appraised as to what you're doing - as he occasionally writes reviews for "mainstream" periodicals.
Small Press Comics - the best route into the mainstream. After all, it worked for Art Spiegelman, Dylan Horrocks, Bill Messner-Loebs, Glenn Dakin, and Evan Dorkin. (Failing that there's always theatre.)
And to get a little notoriety, you could try submitting for reviews -
Silver Bullet Submissions
- or writing reviews -
"Are you interested in writing reviews of comic books to be published here at OzComics.com? If so, OzComics.com is in need of your services. Contact us to show your interest. http://www.ozcomics.com "
- and just generally circulating things around.
Next up? Franchising.
If you have time to actually READ these, you have no life. But if you don't have a life, this might be time well spent, then.
Limited edition of 200
English Happenin' Distro
Ghost World Trailer
Look for Chris Ware interview
DATES TO REMEMBER:
Alternative Press Expo.
Small Press Expo.
National Young Writers Festival.
(You're a smart kid, do a web search.)
Um, hope you weren't waiting for me to remind you about the SPXPO book. In "99 Bruce Mutard and Stefan Neville got in, what's to stop you next time? Bet you never imagined you'd get reviewed in the Comics Journal (ghasp!) either. And to think some countries don't even have comics shops. Good god, the humanity!
Yrs truly: http://freespeech.org/qd/
Newsletter archived at:
If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me