Speechifying by Bernard Caleo
Comic book launch on a wet Saturday afternoon at Sentido Funf in Fitzroy, Melbourne on 3 March 2012
A full list and description of books follows the Big Arse Book Launch speech (reproduced with permission) as well as photos from the day. Photo gallery follows text – comment, DM or email to tag or request removal of photos.
Good afternoon mein fine friends and big-arsed attenders of this launch. And as you will see in a minute, I’m not singling anyone out for this rear-end honour. I refer to you all, to all your ends, your ways and your means. Welcome to this, Big Arse Two, which is actually, technically, and in every other way the largest-arsed comic book launch ever held. Ever. Anywhere. And if that does not merit wild hooting, what does? Hoot, my friends, hoot! Wildly!
My name’s Bernard Caleo, I am the Svengali of Melbourne comics, leastways that’s what Jason Franks called me last year, which I got a big kick out of, all last year, but I got an email from him yesterday that explained that further. He called me Sven. Just Sven. As in, Mister Galli. Don’t know if you know your Italian, but galli means rooster. So, instead of being this master behind-the scenes master manipulator, hypnotist and Machiavelli, I find that I am actually… Sven the Rooster. I’m thinking of starting a comics company, Nordic Chicken comics, and see where that gets me.
Okay, so last year’s Big Arse was pretty big, pretty big. 9 books. And pretty pretty. Lovely words, curly pictures. Some that caught in your throat. Some that irritated your glottis. And last year we said, wa-hey, 9 books, it’s not like comics are sneaking around the alleyways and backblocks and whistling to you from across the street. We imagined a giant, two-cheeked blimp or zeppelin, cruising the skies over Melbourne, then parting its cheeks and a great steady stream of comics being released, from that big arse, floating down over this town, and our heads, like the gentlest of rain. Like propaganda from a better world.
But that image is just not gunna cut it. Not no more. Not with the numbers we got here today. And not with their precision attacks that the comic book makers launch on genre, on subject matter. And on us.
First up, I think we can all be thankful that J. Marc Schmidt’s hilarious ‘All you Bastards Can go Jump off a Bridge’ from Milk Shadow books, has been postponed. He’s given us some breathing space and it means that SOMETHING is going to happen in the rest of this year – in May, James?
There’s horror (Scarlett Baccini’c Zombolette, bits of the Jason-Franks-edited Terra Magazine), there’s humour (Trev Woods and Jen Breach’s The Time Being, Ben Hutchings’ You Stink and I Don’t, Matt Emery’s Pay Through the Soul), there’s humour horror (Frank Candiloro’s Blood Across Broadway) there’s adventure courtesy an elder statesman of Australian comics Peter Foster (Night Eagle and Ballantyne), there’s savage social comment (Bobby N’s Digested), kinetic madmaxian Australian gang terrortension blood violence (Ben Michael Byrne’s Kranburn and Darren Close teaming with Paul Abstruse on Killeroo), surrealism dream logic (Tim Molloy’s It Shines and Shakes and Laughs), crime both gritty and silly (the Jason Franks-edited Criminal Element) and even, proving that we’re growing up, collections of juvenilia or ‘early works’ (Bobby N’s No Map But Not Lost, Bruce Mutard’s Stripshow).
Clearly, with that kind of coverage, that kind of targeted precision, the dropping-from a blimp metaphor no longer works. Clearly, things are getting more personal. More close to home. This stuff is impossible to avoid, or cold-shoulder. Not a horror person? The the laffs will get you. After a sense of dread? Well, we’ve got several flavours. Want another world? Don’t we all, don’t we all.
These comics aren’t coming from above, or from a distance. They’re right up close. Real close. Like as if you’re walking down a laneway late at night, and it’s behind you. Whirl! No. Twirl! No. Oh my, it’s on me, it’s on me, get if offa me. Butcha can’t. You can’t.
Because it’s not just behind you, or even on you. It is you. You read this stuff, it lodges in your system. The images stick. The words adhere. And where? Yeah, there. You’ve been wondering why you’ve been getting bigger, weighing more – these comics are your arse. And you find that they are vital. You get words from ‘em, images that you then use in your life, your imagination, your way of understanding. You sit on ‘em, they connect your legs to your body. They keep you going.
Comics, my friends, are bodily. Are physical. You don’t so much read ‘em as you eat ‘em, ingest ‘em. They go in, but unlike other foodstuffs, they never quite come out. They lodge in you, become part of you, add to you. And now we all know where.
And so I exhort you to choose wisely amongst these wonderful books. Find the ones written and drawn for you, the ones that you need, the ones you want, and lay down your hard-earned and get the writer and the artist to draw something a little extra in them for you.
And then, my friends, I charge you with this: put pen to paper. Fingertip to keyboard. Write and tell that person or persons what their work has done to you. How it has changed you. How you have changed it. Let me tell you something. Whatever you write to them, and it MUST be written, not spoken, will dwarf any financial worth that your purchase has to them. And it does have worth, your money, but that response… will be priceless. If there’s a new mission to be had in the glorious world of Australian comics, then it is the development of comics criticism and comment. That, I say, is our greatest need.
Because obviously – 15 books! – the work is getting done, is being written and drawn and published – a huzzah for our 7 publishers, Pikitia Press, Milk Shadow Books, Black House Books, Ozone Studios, FEC Comics, Gestalt, FrankenComics. And the work is being done by the writers and artists, many of whom here tonight, stunned and blinking, “where’s my quiet room, my propped-up bit of wood, my ink? Look at all these people – and look at their arses! They’re made of MY Comics!” Let’s give three mighty huzzahs for the makers of all this work. We thank them, we adore them!
And if you are scared and excited by what we will all find at next year’s Big Arse, then so am I my friends, so am I. See you there. Thank you.
All You Bastards Can Go Jump Off A Bridge
From the creator of Egg Story and Eating Steve, and the co-creator of The Sixsmiths, J Marc Schmidt furiously rains down comic stories covering art, romance, religion, anger, pop culture parodies, sex and death. This book that explores human behaviour and why it can sometimes be so hard to just get along with each other. Features a foreword by Tango’s Bernard Caleo.
Ballantyne Where Hidden Rivers Flow
Ballantyne Where Hidden Rivers Flow reprints Peter Foster’s collaboration with writer James H. Kemsley, which was featured in the Sydney Sunday Sun-Herald for several years in the 1990s. Based on Kemsley’s vivid memories of working as a patrol officer in post World War Two New Guinea, Ballantyne is a classic adventure strip in the fine tradition of The Phantom, X-9 Secret Agent, and others of the genre. This first volume of Ballantyne is 64 pages of lavish colour.
Blood Across Broadway
Blood Across Broadway is a 70 page comic homage to Nosferatu, The Jazz Singer, and the most prominent Broadway musicals. Set in the Golden Age of Hollywood and Theatre, the story features an old, crippled vampire known as Morlook, who fosters a tremendous love of jazz, theatre and dancing, much to the disapproval of his overbearing son Cartorius. But with the help of a certain legendary dancer, Morlook learns the art of dancing and showmanship, all the while dreaming of being among the bright lights of Broadway, an unlikely setting for an undead creature of the night.
Launched at the MASSIVE Big Arse 2 comic launch with 14 other great books on Saturday the 3rd of March 2012,
Blood Across Broadway is a 70 page, black and white, A5 comic.
Black House Comics
Criminal Element is a cross-genre anthology of stories about criminals and the crimes they commit. The future. The Vietnam war. Gangsters, supervillains, hitmen, demons and dogs–there’s a breadth of crime stories here that you won’t see anywhere else. Stories by Russell Lissau, mpMann, Dino Caruso, Vic Malhotra, Jae Korim, Jason Copland, Brendan Halyday, Jan Scherpenhuizen, Leigh Kuilboer, Jason Paulos, Bruce Mutard, Dave Gutierrez and Jason Franks.
The fifth issue of Bobby.N’s series reaches a turning point in the ongoing story OXYGEN, where nothing will ever be the same again for the main character. And for dessert, there’s also a short personal story at the end of this issue.
It Shines And Shakes And Laughs
Milk Shadow Books
If you have never set off on a voyage with cult artist Tim Molloy then get ready to leave this universe… forever. It Shines and Shakes and Laughs is packed to the gills with four years worth of silent and surreal comics. Contains the Impy strips, complete reprints of the long ago disappeared books, Under the Bed and Saturn Returns, and lots more. Features a foreword by Hicksville’s Dylan Horrocks.
Killeroo returns in an all-action story from the past, when he was the leader of a motorcycle gang in the early 80′s. This story shows a more savage side to the character than we’ve seen in the past, in a no-holds-barred, good old-fashioned slugfest. Written and inked by Darren Close and pencilled by the amazingly talented Paul Abstruse (Witch King).
Second issue of the brutal Australian post-apocalyptic series by Ben Michael Byrne. Now that you have met our lead character, Brand, it is time to see how much further these urban tribe wars have spread. And what will lead Brand into even more dangerous situations with the ‘Nongs’.
No Map, But Not Lost
Milk Shadow Books
A thick book that collects all of Bobby.N’s previous self-published work and short stories, from the early days where he is finding his voice, up until today. From amateur scribbling to a more refined line. A chronological record of one ordinary guy getting better on paper, by following his heart. Features a foreword by Larry Boxshall from the NonCanonical comics podcast.
Pay Through The Soul #2
Black House Comics
Pay Through The Soul follows on from Blackhouse Comics 2011 collection of Matt Emery’s The Guzumo Show. Published in an ongoing single issue format that was popular with Indy comics of the ‘90’s, Pay Through The Soul is a finely crafted one-man humour anthology for adult readers. Utilising gag strips and lengthier stories Matt Emery’s comics touch on themes of sexism, racism, homophobia, politics, sex, and religion all served with a dose of the absurd.
The Return Of The Night Eagle
Now retired, Peter Foster had a distinguished career illustrating thousands of pages of comics for DC Thomson in England as well numerous comics and newspaper strips in Australia. In the 1980s it was not uncommon to find a DC Thomson comic with two if not three of Foster’s stories in it. The Return of the Night Eagle is Foster’s re-invention of Carl Lyon’s Australian superhero of the ‘40s, The Eagle, as a legacy hero. Night Eagle includes a back up feature of Orion the Hunter and is packed full of adventure and intrigue with 40 pages of vibrant colour.
Sawbones: The Time Being
The Time Being sees the thrilling conclusion to the globe and time spanning epic as the gang rush to stop the Time Being from tearing the universe apart. Bones, Sawyer, Daisy, Emelia and Martin face off against vikings, ninjas, Nazis, centurions, cavemen and Ghengis Kahn in a fight to the finish. But who’s Finish? Adventure Zomedy at its best. Written by Jen Breach. Illustrated by Trev Wood.
Milk Shadow Books
Forget the sweeping saga of The Sacrifice, or arty The Silence.: Aussie comic master Bruce Mutard began his comic life in the slime, evolving slowly through the lizard and ape phases to become the ‘artiste’ he is today. Stripshow showcases these early phases where no holes– sorry, holds– were barred, and humour was the order of the day. This collection of short strips, gags, illustrations and ads are either unpublished, or long, long, out of print in their original publications. Comes with a mea culpa from the author. For pubescents over 18.
Terra Magazine #1
Black House Comics
This is the first issue of a new triannual Australian magazine of serial graphic fiction. Science fiction, crime, fantasy, horror. Cyborgs and samurai; magicians and mummies; spaceships and yakuza and telepathic elephants. Stories by Christopher Sequeira, Jan Scherpenhuizen, Jason Fischer, Jason Franks, Yuriko Sekine, Nicholas Hunter, Ben Michael Byrne and Tom Bonin. Debuting in newsagents throughout the country in April.
You Stink And I Don’t #10
Milk Shadow Books
The tenth issue of Ben Hutchings’ cult comic, You Stink and I Don’t is now officially ready to hit the streets! Following up from the critical success of his cult newspaper comic Walking to Japan, Ben has created lots of comics about funny cats, silly sports, superheros in people’s bottoms and more.
Milk Shadow Books
A beautifully decaying, giant-sized collection of Scarlette Baccini’s strips and stories featuring a girl zombie and her best friend/roommate/hamster, Cameron. So is the book cute? Maybe. Or filled with gutz and gore? Sort of. Will you get lolz? Yes… yes you will. Meet Zombolette (and Cameron too!).
The Time Being
A zomedy adventure webcomic by Jen Breach and Trev Wood, The Time Being sees the thrilling conclusion to the globe and time spanning epic as the gang rush to stop the Time Being from tearing the universe apart. Bones, Sawyer, Daisy, Emelia and Martin face off against vikings, ninjas, nazis, centurians, cavemen and Gengis Kahn in a fight to the finish. But who’s finish? Adventure Zomedy at it’s best. 36 pgs. colour. Website and purchases.