Thursday, November 26, 2015

Brisbane Supanova 27-29th November, and Some advice: Brisbane Times extra bits.

I think I'm resigning to the fact that my blogging will forever be haphazard at best, and they will have as much resonance and response as a note in a bottle thrown into the ocean from an island. But, it's meeting some sort of de-brief function in my head, so I'll share when I think of it. In lieu of forgetting to upload all the kids photos from last month's Halloween ComicFest in store scribbling session at Urban Fiction Comics in Nambour, here's a quick mention of this weekend's nonsense.

The Brisbane Times have been running small snippets of interviews with Supanova guests all month in the lead up to tomorrow's convention. Kudos to them who have to find an angle in a story to draw from, particularly when I was coming off a string of all-nighters marking honours papers for Uni. So I guess I went into exegesis-mode. and wrote way more than was necessary. Thank you to Sam for the opportunity, and apologies for the pages.

Here's a link to the article snippet:

And for context, the complete response to the questions provided. Maybe someone might get a tidbit of advice out of the last paragraph.


Supanova questions- Sam Flanagan.
Answers by Paul Mason.

* What's you favourite thing about Supanova? 

Meeting new readers and friends, catching up with old ones, chatting to like-minded folks and fellow creators. That’s more than one thing, but they were hard to separate!

* Were you into comic books as a kid / did you always want to create comics?

I was into comics, cartoons, and movies as a kid; it was really an amalgamation of the three mediums that pushed me towards wanting to create comics. When I think back, I wanted to do “Cartooning”, but I don’t think I knew what that was. So, I just kept drawing. Although I have worked freelance drawing cartoon strips, caricaturing, graphic design, and even some minor animation, I just somehow naturally kept gravitating back towards comics.
Since kindergarten, I loved to draw, and Batman reruns got me into superheroes. Asterix, Tintin and Phantom comics during primary school kept me entertained, while at the same time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then Batman, X-Men and Spider-man animated series of the 90s were my favourite shows to watch. Spider-man, Daredevil and The Punisher were the comic books I became obsessed with as I entered high school, but this was all still fueled by cartoons, and whatever action film I could get my hands on. While the other kids liked Ritchie Rich and Home Alone, I loved Terminator 2, Lethal Weapon and Enter the Dragon. I didn’t discriminate- classic Jack Kirby comic books from the 1960s, Hanna-Barbara action cartoons on Boomerang channel, 90s Nickelodeon cartoons, Jackie Chan Hong Kong classics, Clint Eastwood westerns- I was a sponge for this stuff. Though my tastes fluctuated over the years, and the focus from my studies at uni encompassed fine art, animation and a little live action filming, essentially, comic books became the medium I most enjoyed to work with, and postgrad studies allowed me the opportunity to finally cut loose and attempt to do them properly.

* What are your all time favourite comics?

It’s a tough question, I like too many! I more so follow the creators of titles, rather than have individual books that I like. Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Eisner, Steve Ditko, John Romita Jr, Klaus Janson; have their name on a cover, and I’ll pick it up for sure.  To try and narrow it down, I’d say Jack Kirby’s work on the 1960s Fantastic Four is still the gold standard in old fashioned adventuring, epic scope, drama and dynamic action on a page. But really, there isn’t much of his work that I don’t like; I love his work with Joe Simon in the 1950s (Boys Ranch, The Fighting American), his other work with Stan Lee (the 1960s Captain America run, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandoes, The Avengers, The Rawhide Kid), and his solo work for DC in the 1970s (such as O.M.A.C, and The Losers). Eric Powell’s The Goon is a recent favourite, and Garth Ennis/Gordon Parlov’s Fury Max is a book I keep picking up to look at. The most enjoyable comic books I’ve picked up in recent years are from Australian publisher, Gestalt Comics.

* What is the hardest thing about your job?

Fighting “Time”. Comics writing and illustrating, is rarely a “full time” job; there are only a handful of creators in this country that create comics solely for a living. The same can be said for many authors too. The irony is that writing and comic creating demands full-time hours to produce the work at a high standard, but if you were to break down the pay rates of most companies, or sales, verses an hourly rate, minimum wage employment looks pretty attractive…So to live, many creators have more than one job. I have been fortunate to have some income from comics, but also spin the comic creating and visual storytelling into an academic stream with a professional doctorate basis. I have a day job I’m very happy with (lecturing and tutoring at Griffith University QCA), plus other commitments that take up a lot of time. The challenge mentally is being able to “switch on” the brain to be ready to either write, layout, draw and/or ink my comic commitments in the small windows that I am able to get in any given week; at midnight, for instance- which is not always possible physically.
Comics are a solitary activity. Even when you are working on someone else’s script, and under editorial gaze, you’re doing all this remotely, made possible with the Internet. But, as it’s only part of what needs to be done in any given week, it’s a juggling act with my other job, which involves writing lectures, attending classes, marking assessments, answering after hour emails etc. Much of the day means you have to interact with other humans hahaha! Necessities of life which are important to function such as family time, loved ones and, you know, eating and sleeping, become part of that balancing act, which I confess I can struggle with at times, and comics can hog a lot of time in order to do them “right”.

* What is some advice you would give to young comic book creators? 

Get your idea down; too many people have an idea, but prefer to talk about it more than actually “do it”. Finishing a comic is more challenging than people realise; it’s easy to kill time by drawing sketch after sketch of your own character, but it’s a lot harder to force yourself to draw a comic panel featuring characters or backgrounds/settings that are important to the story but not as fun to draw. Like any work of art or creative endeavour, it takes a level of commitment and discipline to see it through.
Whether you’re a writer or artist, study your intended craft- draw from life, learn from stories, read books, watch films, listen to people talking, people watch in the city or when you’re out and about, seek feedback from professionals, attend panels, study, apply what you’ve learnt, repeat the process, aim to learn from those that you like and do well, and learn to understand the “how”; how things are made, how things were etc. which can be applied to stories and visuals.
Start small, such as a 2 or 4-page story, then maybe 8, and then 12. Complete those before attempting that 120 page graphic novel idea you may have; it shows you can see something through to the end, and gives you the satisfaction of completing something, without busting yourself from the get go because you gave yourself such a crippling task. You’ll find you’ll learn a lot more, and can experiment with each outing.
Find like-minded creators and friends to support you; part of how I got into comics, and how I continue, is from the support I have from fellow comic creators, indie publishers and printers.
Above all, you need to “do”. You can’t learn to swim by just waving your arms and legs around on dry land- get in the water! You learn through practice, and creating. I never had the answers when I started, and cringe at my old stuff. I’m still searching and learning, and probably won’t be satisfied, no matter who pays or publishes. Onward!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sydney OZ Comic-Con photo dump!

Had a fantastic 2 weekends at OZ Comic-Con in Brisbane and Sydney.  The best was meeting and catching up with you lot who picked up the new books- we indie comic makers live and die by your support, so I'm glad to still have loyal (and new) readers. Had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with 'the boss' on this current drawing gig, which I am very grateful for. Plus, spend some time with fellow guests and good mates both onstage and after the cons. The Gestalt crew, Jack Kirby and illustration stories with Jason Palmer, the gentleman Dean Rankine, talking Mad Max with Mark Sexton at dinner, who worked on both the comics and film, review with Scott Allie and the Boss, catching up with old mates Chris Sequeira, Chewie Chan, Jan Scherpenhuizen etc.…too many moments. I will get around to a few anecdotes, including losing my voice the night after a crazy karaoke session with the Anime voice actors. Anyways, to the crew of OCC, the organisers, the volunteers, and the patrons- THANK YOU!!! And a huge thank you to Baden Kirgan of Jeffries Printing Services in Sydney for a fantastic quality printing on the new books, and delivery to the hotel. I couldn't do all this without their support. More pics to come, but in the meantime, here's a few. Cheers!

Dean Rankine, Me, Doug Holgate, Queenie Chan & Kylie Chan.

Me, panel MC Amanda Bacchi, Tristan Jones, Mark Sexton & Scott Allie.

Christian Read, Wolfgang Byslma, Dean Rankine, Me & panel MC Amanda Bacchi.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Comic Book Workshop at Brisbane Square Library

FREE Event coming up just after Brisbane OZ Comic-Con, courtesy of Brisbane Square Library: 

"Local comic book icon Paul Mason, creator of The Soldier Legacy, shares his knowledge of comic book creation and storyboarding. He will assist participants in producing the framework for their very own comic. No previous knowledge required. Materials provided.
Ideal for people aged 15-25 years. Bookings required."
Details via the events page- search "Paul Mason"

Had the opportunity earlier in the year to host a couple of these at BSL, so should be a lot of fun.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Incoming! New edition of SOLDIER LEGACY Vol 1, and a brand New Vol 2

Thanks to the awesome and top quality outfit, Jeffries Printing Services in Sydney, I am pleased to announce that a new edition of the out-of-print volume 1 trade paperback of 'The Soldier Legacy' will be available at the upcoming Brisbane and Sydney OZ Comic-Con in September, where I have been invited as a guest to attend.

Further to this, A volume 2 will be available for the first time, which will collect #4, #5, the Strange Tales one-shot with good mate and top writer Christopher Sequeira (who just finished working with Mark Waid on Dynamite's 'Justice Inc. The Avenger'- congratulations again mate!), and a stack of extras, including pages from the wartime edition of issue 6 (which was released earlier this year in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne). A massive thanks to Nicola Scott, Andrew Constant, Christian Read, John Higgins, Christopher Sequeira, and John Retallick for their extremely kind words that appear on the covers, to Baden Kirgan of Jeffries Printing for helping to make this possible, and to my partner Amanda for her support in the project. A volume 3 will wrap up the storyline, is aiming for a 2016 release, which will at this point include a colour version of #6 (not previously released), and the over-sized final issue 7, plus extras of course.

Priority at this point is also still to forge ahead with the current work on the drawing table, but more news on that when I can. Again, I'm so stoked to be doing something for this publisher and with kick-ass scripts from a great writer. The hard part is doing the words justice.

Thanks again.

Oh and just briefly, an update on the absence: Again, held up by a few things since the last post. Lecturing at QCA a large chunk of the weeks, with a fantastic and talented group of 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students. Awarded the Doctorate (yeah, Dr. Paul Mason…insert your jokes here), and the Monthly Comic Book Meet ups that I host (along with instigator and fellow Geek, the lovely Amanda Bacchi) at Brisbane Square Library are still going strong, with our 1 year anniversary coming up. Obviously all hasn't been sunshine and rainbows, but we all have our own wars to fight; all we can do is march on, right? Always be thankful for loved ones and close friends to help you out.

Speaking (somewhat) of which, A small full colour 5 page Soldier Legacy related story has been completed for the ComicOz Book 'Australia!', raising money for Beyond Blue, the charity battling Depression and mental illness. More on that one soon, and it was a nice opportunity to add another piece to the Soldier mythos, featuring a "Soldier" of sorts in the cane fields of North Queensland in the 1930s, and a pet bird in honour of our lost little mate "Chuck", who died on the operating table a few months back.
 Anyways, apologies for bringing down the mood, hope you are all well, and speak soon.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Soldier Legacy. And now, the End is Near.

After having an extremely low number of Soldier Legacy issues sell at Melbourne OCC, and looking over the numbers of Soldier Legacy 6 from the conventions this year (Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne Oz Comic-Con), it has re-affirmed my current thoughts that this issue will be the penultimate chapter of this comic book, with the series ending with issue 7.

The last chapter will likely go straight to trade paperback. I felt as though I put way too much of my enthusiasm, time and sweat into this latest issue which I found has been akin to putting them into bottles and floating them out to sea, never to see or hear about them again. For my emotional wellbeing, it’s a drain. Sure, comics are not as hard as digging a ditch, but then again, you don’t pour your heart and soul for months into creating a hole. The writing, drawing and assembling of this issue solo was very anti-climatic. I’m still finding most are going for the first few issues in trade paperback form, meaning I need to re-evaluate the point of continuing. The trades have been the constant best seller, by and far over the single issues. I ran out of TPBs early this year and since the dissolving of Black House Comics late last year (publisher of the series), I have been reluctant to chase a further reprinting of this volume until the 2nd volume is complete. I wish to thank everyone who has purchases the single issues and the Volume 1 trade in the past.

I originally began this series as an aim to experiment with the comics form, illustrating and writing methodology, for the aim of achieving my doctorate. I was awarded my Doctorate in Visual Arts recently, and though I will continue to work in comics (such as lecturing/tutoring, my current projects for other Australian publishers, freelance work, and pitching), it seems that perhaps my attempts for an action- adventure hero in the same vein as The Spirit, Indiana Jones, Sg.t Fury or The Phantom, with an Australian sensibility, have been a poor one. Or perhaps, the Australian as a hero is not as relevant or inline with the current sensibilities of a comic reading audience as I had hoped. Perhaps the idea of an Australian comic character in a mask seems hokey to most. Perhaps the relevance of the Anzac spirit only holds for most on two dates a year in April and November. Perhaps the current wars in the Middle East hit too close to home, or that the idea of being a proud Australian is tainted because of the elected officials seemingly running our country. Perhaps you can’t fight cultural cringe after all. Perhaps simply, my drawing style doesn’t resonate. Either way, I can’t figure it out, and it’s time to move on.

My final paragraph of my doctoral thesis touched on my personal thoughts:
“…What the future holds for The Soldier Legacy after this current story arc is over is uncertain. Whether continued interest in this Australian action hero continues to grow or stagnates is unknown (much like the nature of the medium in general), or whether it was even a blip on the Australian comic scene mindset is unknown, as fickle and fractured as I discovered on my journey... It is not the work I wish to ultimately define me; I wish to grow beyond it, and will probably feel more proud and satisfied with it when I have finally reached the conclusion of the last issue.
However, I am thankful for the opportunities that have arisen from researching and creating comics, and that I have been able to achieve what I set out to do from the onset of this research…”

I am pleased with what I was able to do with the character and comic series in a short few years: meet creators here and overseas, gain meetings, feedback and contacts and friends with the biggest comic publishers in the US such as DC and IDW, work in a professional capacity in a field I always wanted to do since I was a kid, have the character and books feature on TV via Youi insurance, attend many conventions nationally as a guest, draw a crossover which featured in a Sherlock Holmes comic which sold throughout Australian newsagents, and feature in past (and some upcoming) publications for other publishers, and gain knowledge and ability which ultimately lead me to becoming a Doctor in Visual Arts.  This is thanks to not only the friends and fellow creators who actively supported or assisted in the issues, and the handful of comic stores that stock Australian independent books, but for the folks who own a copy of the book, or who showed their appreciation for the series or concept at the conventions around the country.

I still have a few boxes of back issues (#1 – 5, the recent #6 and the Strange Tales one-shot) which I will endeavour to have with me at the conventions I will attend, and volume 2 is still going ahead, self-published or otherwise, but for now, my lecturing commitments, and current graphic novel will take precedence over something that now just seems like an exercise in indulgence, rather than something that people actually care about.

Perhaps one day down the track, when I’m not so caught up with other projects, I will change my mind. With the right story and demand, you never know. But for now, the current title of the story “And now the end is near” is spot on.

Anyway, as I ended my thesis with this, I will also end this thought stream with this. The words of one of my inspirations: Jack Kirby:

“Comics are a universal product. They have no boundaries. You can use them in a very serious manner or just for laughs. Comics can be used to educate, to entertain or to provoke deep thought. A well-read person will one day produce a classic epic in comics, one that everybody will remember. I wanted to do that, but I think that's going to be somebody else's job. I'm happy that I got the chance to accomplish what I did.”

The last six months in a nutshell aka Slack Blogger


Long time no-see. I realised a while ago that I had neglected this blog; simply a lack of spare time killed my updates. Last night I wrote something that I want to post, but felt it necessary (or perhaps OCD) to update what's been doing since my last quick blog post back in October (just for continuity, I guess).

In December, Matt Emery of Pikitia Press conducted his yearly survey of Australian and New Zealand Cartoonists, writers and comic scribblers, and I used that as a recapped of sorts for the neglect I gave this blog. I'll dot point the rest, with photos being able to be tracked down at the Soldier legacy FB page here for anyone who actually cares:

So, below is the recap, many thanks to Matt for the yearly inclusion. The original post (and the rest) can be found by following the link here:

2014 in Review: Paul Mason

December 20, 2014
What have been your personal cartooning/comics highlights of 2014?
Had to take a different road this year due to some bigger commitments but 2014 turned into a year of setting up 2015, but also plenty of teaching opportunities, which I’m pleased with.
Recently began working on a graphic novel project I was ecstatic to score this year. I really can’t say much at all, as it’s not my place to do so. But I figure since it’s on my drawing board, it would be poor form not to at least thank them (they know who they are)- It’s for a publisher/editor with a writer who I both admire greatly; in talent and output. I’d always wanted to work on this genre too, and I love the characters. Something for 2015.
Recently I was asked to contribute a section of the latest work on The Soldier Legacy into an anthology for an early next year release- again, I don’t think I can mention too much until closer to the publication, but I am honoured to have been asked, I admire the publisher’s drive and Australian comic history, a gent to talk to, so looking forward to that as well. It at least ties in with the continuation of finishing the last volume of The Soldier Legacy, which went on the backburner due to time this year.
A couple of things spinning involving good mate and writer Chris Sequeira- some single illustrations (such as for Jason Nahrung's story in the Cthulhu: Deep Down Under crowd-funded book), some sequential work to develop, but will hopefully all wrap up and spill out in 2015.
Pleased again to have been a guest of Oz Comic-Con across 4 cities (Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane); a fantastic crew of people from organisers, handlers, security, volunteers and guests, and Supanova pop Culture expo at my base of operation in Brisbane; also operating with some top folks in the mix. Also, I was lucky enough to have been a guest of the inaugural Sugar City Con in beautiful Mackay, Queensland (I'd never been before this trip, and everybody from Grant the organiser, to Luke, Peter and Georgia our drivers/support crew were incredible); Sugar City Con is one of the first pop culture events of its kind in Australia, I was very please to be a part of it, and I hope it continues to go well for them. Also one of my favourite events of the year was the Zine and Indie Comic Symposium (or 'ZICS') at The Edge, in South Brisbane. The vibe, like Sugar City, was amazing, and the organising committee, the creators and crowd that attended were fantastic and warm. Again the opportunity to scribble during it, and all the other conventions was a lot of fun, and I am thankful for the commission requests and book sales (many thanks too to 'the Sunday Mail' newspaper and ‘U Magazine’ for shining a spotlight on the event, comics and The Soldier Legacy too.)
My Doctoral thesis on developing an Australian Comic has been submitted as the finishing component of my DVA at QCA, and is currently being marked. Probably too much to expect hearing back about it before xmas, but a least something positive (hopefully) to begin the new year. That ended up being a 50,000 word document that was submitted mid this year, along with the comic books produced during the duration.
Though Black House Comics officially shut its doors this month, I was pleased to see that about half a dozen copies of the Black House Comic-published Soldier Legacy volume 1 were picked up by the Brisbane City Council Library system. 
Hosting the Monthly Comic Book Meet-Up on behalf of the  Brisbane Square Library with a great and enthusiastic group of people coming along to talk pop culture and share their enjoyment and knowledge. 
Recently, I was invited to conduct a comic drawing/mepxy marker demo at the Art Shed Brisbane on behalf of Mepxy Markers/Canson Australia, which seems to have lead to other Art store appearances in the short term. Pleased at the enthusiasm of all involved.
Taught workshops for kids and young teens in Comic Book making at the State Library of Queensland at the beginning of the year, with seminars locked in for January 2015, including a one-day intensive course for older primary school kids, and a day workshop at the Brisbane Square Library.
What are some of the comics you've enjoyed in 2014?
With the commitments, it has been difficult to pick up things to read, but while in Italy recently I managed to pick up some of their local comic books in the newsagents, including Dylan Dog, and Tex. I was draw to the black and white illustration and storytelling- I speak virtually no Italian (just enough to get by politely), but dig these books nevertheless. Locally, I enjoyed Gestalt’s The Deep: The Vanishing Island By Tom Taylor and James Brouwer, and ComicOZ’s Oi Oi Oi! #1 edited by Nat Karmichael. Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland #1 (illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez) was probably one of the best-illustrated comics I've grabbed in a while. Devil Dinosaur hardcover by Jack Kirby. And, random Will Eisner splash pages from The Spirit chased up during lecture presentation research. I very much enjoyed the Will Eisner biography A Dreamer’s life in Comics, The American Comic book Chronicles: The 1980’s, and currently reading and enjoying the frank and brutal Mike Tyson autobiography The Undisputed Truth
What is something non-comics that you have enjoyed in 2014?
My non-comic stuff has been mixed bag of enjoyment and frustration, but that's life; Take the good with the bad.
I was the assistant coach for Sparring, and a competitor myself for Team Australia ITF Taekwon-do, to go to Tuscany, Italy for the Unified World Championships. The training sessions, the state and national tournaments and squad sessions were a lot of torturous fun (and enjoyed some of the fights I had, attempting to work on different things), despite the eventual disappointment at the level of competition at the Italian event for the Taekwon-do events. I've been told that the Gold Medal from the event should represent all the hard work and sacrifice it took to get there, rather than my disappointment with the lack of competition and ordinary fight at the event itself. I like to earn things, and this just didn’t feel like part of the plan. Mixed bag, but still enjoyed the challenges regardless. And the early morning runs through Autumn Marina De Pietrasanta, and the beach training sessions were pretty cool.
-This year the Queensland College of Art/Griffith Uni trialed their 'Sequential Art and Illustration' course for 2nd and 3rd year students, and I was able to take a month block while I was teaching the 1st year Animation and Games design students drawing for the semester. I had the opportunity to lecture on drawing and storytelling a lot more this year as part of the animation department at QCA, for which I and very thankful; virtually becoming my full time job with all the prep work. There are a great bunch of students that attend, and many are so full of talent and eagerness to learn. 
What are you looking forward to in 2015?
Finishing this current new book. New stuff being released with all the setup from this year. The end of 'The Soldier legacy' story arc that was initially planned for 2014, but the increased lecturing commitments, completing the DVA, the Australia team commitment and travel left no time to process much of it. More international or domestic competition; the problem always seems to stem from not enough people in my weight division, or real competition from the people in the weight division; my last hard fight and only loss in years was a close loss in 2013 in England. I'm hoping 2015 is more fighter-friendly, with less politics that seems to follow all this stuff around. The priority is wrapping up these projects- I hate having things unfinished or in limbo. More travel. Being content.

2015 in super brief (because who wants to read paragraphs of my BS):

> This week ended 5 years of slaving away on this:

...For this...

…For which I'm very pleased. The last couple of weeks that involved the extra research, editing and 10 pages on UK comics was interesting and stressful at the same time. Juggling the drawing and teaching commitments was more of the issue than anything else (the lack of sleep mainly), but got there in the end.

>We're nearly 10 months into hosting the Monthly Comic book Meetup group for the Brisbane Square Library. A great, laid back group of people who are great to have a laugh with every third Friday of the month.

> Was a guest of Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne OZ Comic-Con, visiting some lovely cities and meeting some fantastic local and international creators. Basically, the by-product of these trips is to catch up with good friends, talk a little shop, but mostly relax and have a working weekend away from work at home. I must say (with no bias) that Gestalt's releases this year have been stellar, and the folks working on the books are some of the nicest people I've met in this game. Looking forward to Brisbane and Sydney in September.

>Uni lecturing continues at The Queensland College of Art, and Comic Book Workshop teaching at The State Library of Queensland, Brisbane Square Library, Toowoomba City Library,  and The Grove Library in Perth. The future of comics in Australia lies in kids learning, drawing and being enthusiastic about comic books, and sticking with it.

>May 2nd: Free Comic Book day at Urban Fiction Comics in Nambour, Sunshine Coast QLD:

>Have scribbled some work for the following Publications so far:
ComicOZ's Oi Oi Oi #4
Ben Slabak's Trail #3
Project Orangutan's Charity Anthology book 'Tango with Orangos'- with a kickstarter here:

>Soldier Legacy #6- released April this year- still working towards the next TPB.

With other pitches, work and stuff in between, I'm hoping the year ends better than last year. So far, so good. Anyways, thanks for indulging while I try and remember all the little bits and pieces of the year so far. (Oh, not too many tournaments (2) so far- took time off for work, but maybe pick up the pieces of the fitness regime and hit it again for later in the year.)