2014 in Review: Paul Mason

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.

The Soldier Legacy

Paul Mason Blog.