Friday, January 16, 2015

Lost NZ Comics: Martin Emond's 657

Above: The cover of 657 by Martin Emond. Copyright the Martin Emond Estate 2015.

While researching my book From Earth's End in 2012, I interviewed several friends and colleagues of the late great Martin F Emond (1969-2004), to help build a picture of his life and work for a spotlight chapter in my book. Emond was one of the few local cartoonists to successfully find comics work internationally in the 90's, first in the UK at publications like 2000AD and Toxic, and later in the US - working for DC Comics and a variety of others. I've written about his life and career in a previous retrospective blog, that you can read HERE.

One of the people I interviewed was Paul Rogers, a cartoonist and artist who was studying graphic design at the Auckland Institute of Technology (now A.U.T.) at the same time as Emond. During his tenure at A.I.T. it was clear how talented Emond was, but his sole focus on producing comics art and paintings at the expense of other assignments did create friction with the institute. When he wasn't invited back to complete the final year of his diploma, Emond set his sights on breaking into the UK comics instead, and on advice from Rogers set about producing a sample comic he could send out to comics editors to get their attention. The result was 657, a comic about a group of misfit superheroes (Ash, Ignition and Carmine) on a road trip.

Above: A pin-up of 657 by Martin Emond. Copyright the Martin Emond Estate 2015.

As Rogers recalls, '657 was produced by Martin in the NZ summer of late 1989 - early 1990, as a portfolio piece which he sent to (UK comics writer/editor) Pat Mills c/o 2000AD to try and get work in the English comic market. These samples got Martin his first commissioned work (Accident Man for the UK publication Toxic), which then led to White Trash and other things'.

The comic included a ten-page story and a series of character pin-ups. The results are a bit rough, but you can clearly see Martin's knack for stylised anatomy and decorative design developing here, and his interest in outsider characters living on the fringes of society, forming their own dysfunctional family to survive - a theme he would return to and refine in his most personal strip, Switch Blade.

The following artwork scans for the entirety of 657 were provided by Paul Rogers, with special thanks to the Martin Emond Estate. Enjoy!

- AK!

Above: All 657 artwork and contents is copyright the Martin Emond Estate 2015.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

NZ Cartoonists and Community Respond to the Charlie Hebdo Attack

Above: UK/NZ cartoonist Rufus Dayglo photographed attending a silent vigil in Trafalgar Square, London.

On January 7th, twelve people were killed in an armed attack by two masked gunmen on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The victims of this horrific act of violence included five cartoonists: Stéphane Charbonnier, also known as 'Charb', the magazine's editor and chief cartoonist; Jean Cabut, aka 'Cabu'; Georges Wolinski, one of the founders of Charlie HebdoBernard Verlhac, aka 'Tignous', and Philippe Honoré, a staff cartoonist.

The attack was believed to be in response to the satirical magazine's use of Muhammad-related cartoons and material. Police officers were stationed at the offices of Charlie Hebdo after previous death threats and a fire-bombing incident in 2011, and sadly two officers were killed during the initial attack and the armed exchanges that followed.

Above: Photo from the Auckland vigil held at Aotea Square on Friday evening. Photo by Amy Baker.

Following the tragedy, there have been vigils held worldwide to morn and remember the victims of this attack, taking place in Paris, London, and many other cities around the world, including here in Wellington and Auckland. Signs bearing the phrase "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) were created and held aloft along with pens and pencils in a tribute of solidarity with the staff of Charlie Hebdo to champion their right (and others) to express themselves through art without having to live in fear of reprisal. Over 300 people filled Auckland's Aotea Square yesterday evening, leaving their signs and messages of support with candles that continued to burn long into the night.

Above: "Je suis Charlie" by Dylan Horrocks.

Dylan Horrocks, Rod Emmerson and others responded to the news of the attack in an interview with the NZ Herald that you can read HERE.

UPDATE: On the 13th of January, Horrocks was also interviewed on 95b-FM's The Wire, you can hear the full interview HERE.

Above: "Je suis Charlie" by Toby Morris.

Local political cartoonist Tom Scott, whose cartoons have previously been featured in French newspaper Le Monde, was interviewed by Radio NZ HERE.

Above: "Je suis Charlie" by Tim Molloy.

Saturday morning the news broke that the two wanted gunmen were located hiding in a printing plant north of Paris in Dammartin-en-Goele, and were later killed in a shoot out with police, bringing this tragic series of events to an unsettling end.

The surviving staff of Charlie Hebdo have moved to the offices of Liberation magazine, where they will continue to publish, with the print run for next week's issue expected to be one million copies.

- AK!

Above: Photos from the Auckland vigil held at Aotea Square on Friday evening. Photos by Amy Baker.