Paper Trail

Tomorrow: Zine and comic event Copier Jam. FB Event page.

Copier Jam is an exhibition showcasing current zine and independent comic creators, collectives and distributors from across Australia. Join us at Childers Arts Space (CHARTS) during the Childers Festival for the Copier Jam! opening event, "The Staples Sessions: Zine and Indie Comics" with curator Jeremy Staples

Georgia Kartas interviews Cazz, Naja and Soph, founders of the All Star Women's Comic Book Club.

Caravan of comics are giving you free comics weekly, just take them.

New Melbourne comics publisher Twelve Panels Press launch their first title at The Salty River by Jan Bauer at Readings in Carlton, Melbourne, 27th August. FB Event

Coming up this week if I can get my act together: A lengthy investigation into the career of one of New Zealand's unsung pioneering cartoonists Phyllis Fitzgerald by Darian Zam.

This column is sneakily bought to you by the Barry Linton Kickstarter. Finely crafted comics and prints by Barry delivered through the mail system into your sweet sweet hands.

Barry reviews a copy of 20th Century BC.

Paper Trail masthead courtesy of Toby Morris.

Faction Presents High Water: Damon Keen Interview

New Zealand publisher Faction Comics have a new themed anthology HIGH WATER launching tomorrow night in Auckland, 6:30pm at Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium. The launch will feature guest speaker Russel Norman and performances by Tourettes/The Climate Quartet. I asked HIGH WATER Editor Damon Keen a few questions about the background of producing a climate change themed anthology.

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Matthew Emery: When did you first become aware of climate change?

Damon Keen: The late 1980s if I remember correctly! I've always been fascinated by science, so I was interested in global warming from quite a young age. Also the Montreal Protocol had just come into effect, phasing out ozone-destroying CFCs, so I naively imagined a similar fix for greenhouse gases at the time.

But yeah... it's been over 25 years of watching our politicians do nothing. So while it's been great to see the green movement grow, between Abbott in Australia and Key in New Zealand, and a media owned heart-and-soul by the corporates, it's a bit disheartening at times.

Image from High Water by Ross Murray

Emery: I know you've campaigned to promote climate change awareness in avenues other than comics, have you personally experienced pushback from climate change deniers?

Keen: Absolutely; particularly online of course. Often it's people spewing out nearly incomprehensible gibberish, and crazy claims that have no basis in the modern understanding of climate change or even science. They're often just trolls, and not remotely interested in reasoned discussion, which I suppose makes them easier to ignore.

More disturbing is having encountered quite intelligent people who hold these beliefs. I talked to someone recently who had been soured by Auckland University Professor (and NZ Herald favourite), De Freitas, a man who insists on feeding his students denial information. Reasonably enough they think they're getting balanced information. They always parrot the old chestnut about "dissenters in science" having their place.

Yeah, De Freitas isn't Galileo.

Other deniers, who I would consider relatively scientifically literate (as much as I am, anyway), strike me as a real baffling curiosity. In the end I wonder if they cling to their beliefs out of a kind of incomprehension in the face of change. I think people really fear change - of any kind, and when things have been stable for a while they really struggle to imagine that things could be different. I think it just becomes easier for them to believe that things must stay the same - largely because they simply can not conceive of their lives changing that radically.

Image from Dear Hinewai by Dylan Horrocks.

Emery: Can you talk a bit about Creative NZ's involvement in the High Water anthology?

Keen: Creative NZ funded Faction to help pay for the printing costs of "Faction 3" and this special themed issue of Faction - "Faction Presents High Water". We hope to do more of these themed Faction hardbacks in future. They won't be included in the normal numbering of Faction issues (for those of us who are OCD inclined - like myself!).

Anyway, it was Faction's first support from CNZ, so wonderful to have! I think they're a lot more open to supporting the NZ comic community these days - and it's hugely appreciated. But actually High Water was also independently funded by a friend of mine, who thought it was a worthy cause and donated money to help make this happen. We're really indebted to her generosity.

Emery: Did you have editorial input into the comics in High Water?

Keen: Only to the extend that I outlined a few conditions to the artists about what we were envisaging from the beginning - and the kind of book it would be. Additionally I fed back a few ideas here and there as the comics came in, and asked for the occasional cosmetic change. However to be honest, these artists are all working to a very high standard, so my input just wasn't that necessary.

Come to think of it - my main job was chasing the ratbags down, to make sure they delivered!

Image from Below the Waves by Katie O'Neill.

2014 in Review: Damon Keen

What have been your personal cartooning/comics highlights of 2014?

Getting Ant Sang's The Dharma Punks in print again has to top my list.

It's one of my favourite comics anyway, so playing a role in getting it on the shelves was really exciting - even if the Kickstarter itself was a bit nerve-wracking!

Of course, as part of this process, Kelly, Adrian and I set up Earth's End (Ant was also really involved in this) which will be publishing a NZ graphic novel every year. It's a challenge - but a really interesting one.

What are some of the comics you've enjoyed in 2014?

Jeez, this has just been such a great year for comics! Internationally I LOVED Through the Woods by Emily Carroll and Beautiful Darkness by Vehlmann and Kerascoet. On a scifi note, Greg Rucka's Lazarus and Peeters' Aama seriously kicked ass.

Back home, Tim and Karl's Holocaust Rex was a highlight for me and I'm loving Sarah Laing's work at the moment. She just makes me cackle like an idiot!

Other peeps that fired my engines in 2014 include Tim Gibson, Mary Tambyn and Alex McCrone, Sam Orchid, Toby Morris and Ralphi. BAM! So much talent!

What is something non-comics that you have enjoyed in 2014? 

Landing a spaceship on a freaking comet blew my tiny mind.

And I helped set up a climate change comedy night - which in this current political climate perked me up no end.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

I've just put the finishing touches on a special hardcover edition of Faction, focusing on climate change. It's going to be a beautiful issue - the artists have really delivered. That should be out in early 2015, plus we'll start work on a new book out of Earth's End.

I've also just started drawing my longest comic yet (a humble 30 or so pages). Terrifying. But I can do this thing.

And finally, a new Chromacon!! Yay Allan!

So yeah, I think it's going to be a busy ol' year...

3 Bad Monkeys

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