Nga Tupuna / Ancestors

Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2001
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Nga Tupuna / Ancestors Writer(s): Tony Scanlan and Zak Waipara (co Editors)
Artist(s): Various
Publishers: New Zealand Cartoon Collective
From: New Zealand
Price: $5:00 (NZ)

The millennium saw a lot of lame ideas as everyone ran about trying to find something important to do in honour of the dates on the calender changing, such as the cool looking but shunned Millennium dome in London and a washed out and grey sunrise down here in my home town, but it also saw a few good things eventuate that make the whole Y2Kare worth while. In the New Zealand Comics scene, small as it is, Nga Tupuna / Ancestors is a landmark publication. A jam comic, this tells two stories, following a Maori and European family from 1000AD to the year 2000AD.

The European story is based on the history of the Tony's wife's family with a few fictional liberties taken, while the Maori Whakapapa (family) is Zak's own. The storylines follow key events in the migration of both families to the shores of New Zealand with 39 pages allocated to each. The two stories are interwoven so on one page the Maori story is on the left while on the opposite page you have the European narrative. With the huge scope of the events portrayed things jump between pages, only hinting at the true scale of events encompassed. As such this is more something to be dipped into than read in one sitting, but there is a huge diversity of artwork on display, with a fair amount of color work on display which is something not often seen in local comics.

Taken as a whole this is an important document, a credit to all those involved and something Tony and Zak should be especially proud of. I suspect it won't become a school text book, but as an introduction to the history of New Zealand it's an interesting read and it functions as an important record of the state of comic, cartoon, and graphic art in New Zealand in the year 2000, with some truly impressive samples of work on display.

In a Word: Felicitous.

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