Archive for January, 2000

Army of Me

Wednesday, January 5th, 2000

…and if you complain once more, you’ll meet the Army of Me.

Like many artists, identity crisis isn’t just an occasional affliction, it’s a lifestyle. It doesn’t help that my artistic, academic, family and work worlds are completely separate either.

Once a month Melbourne comicians meet to share comics and grog – used to be at the Stork Hotel, now it’s the Melbourne Bar and Bistro. This strip was started on the train on the way there, then everyone had a go. Some of the comicians are Michael Fikaris, Q-Ray, Angelo Madrid, Greg Gates, Sal Lima, Neil Ryan, and Aaron O’Donnell. Oh yeah, and some guy visiting from the States who draws Vampirella. A brush with greatness, there.



Wednesday, January 5th, 2000

It’s a laff a minute when SlugDog’s around! “Thief Grief” finds our goofy gastropod encountering thuggish thievery and adapting to the situation in the slippery pooch’s own inimitable way. Fun for the whole family!

The Artist would have you know that every scene in the SlugDog milieux is carefully modeled for appropriate rendering.
Rumors of a SlugDog cartoon and musical are wholly unsubstantiated.


The Adventure of the Drippy Drain – Notes

Wednesday, January 5th, 2000

Forget ‘Extreme Sports’ bullshit — try going down a drain.

Saturday, October 11, 1997
I go out to Clifton Hill station…northeast of the city. I’m about fifteen-twenty minutes late when I get there.  Walking under the freeway bridge, I see a small group of young folks hanging out.  One of them asks me if I have any cigarettes.
“Cave Clan?” I ask.
We hang for a few minutes.  The leader of this “expo”, as they call it, is Ash.
They’re waiting for some people…”Big Ears” and Tim.  “Prowler can’t make it”, I’m told.  Doug, the leader, is running a “New Explorer Expo” somewhere else.  The old-timers think that he’s neglected to invite them ’cause they’ll rag on him now and then.
Big Ears arrives.  “Hey, he really does have Big Ears,” someone named Karla notices.
Big Ears is a stocky bloke with a friendly mien.  “I was just at the national gallery looking at Andres Serrano‘s exhibition” he tells us.  “The weirdest thing happened.”
“You realized you were gay,” Ash ripostes.
Big Ears proceeds to tell us about an attack on “Piss Christ”, Serrano’s famous work, favorite of Jesse Helms.
“I was looking at some of the art nearby when I hear this trememdous crash and there’s this middle aged guy, about fifty, and he’s attacking what looks like a photograph, and I realize it’s “Piss Christ!”  He hit some of the people who tried to restrain him, and then ran off.  I chased him, and he finally ended up in some sort of restaurant space, and he couldn’t get out.  I grabbed a security person and I was  like, “He’s the guy!”  And they got him.”
More waiting. Ash banters with Karla and Craig from the “Guinea Pigs”, a sort of sub-group of the larger Cave Clan: “Hey, I thought we had a truce”.  Karla: “Nup.”
After a while they decide to head down.  Ash whips out a mobile phone.  -bip- “Tim.  We’re goin’ in.”
We go down to the mouth of the tunnel.  Big Ears asks me if there are many draining groups in the States.  I tell him draining an urban area in the States you’d probably want to carry a gun.  “Right,” he says.
There’s about ten of us.  They set to work tagging and listing the names of the people on the Expo.  I learn the trick to walking in tunnels…straddle the little trail of drain in the center.  Or walk three steps on one side, three steps on the other.  I realize my dinky little flashlight is pretty lame.
We soon come to a ladder up to the next big section of pipe.  Water’s spilling over it, the top is kinda scary  – a nasty drop.
Soon after that we come to a bluestone section that’s rather slippery.  Not able to stay on the sides of the drain, I end up sloshing through it like most everybody else.  It ends after a little bit.
We take a short rest.  One dude’s got a cool old-style lantern that’s pretty handy. Big Ears tells me that on an earlier trip they’d lost their light somehow, and had to find their way back down in the dark.  The scariest part was the ladder, trying to guess where that big drop was.
There’s a poo smell.  I swallowed some of that water?! “Ick,” I think, “Hepatitis.” I’ve been told drains are completely safe, it’s sewers human waste goes through. Can’t but wonder, though.
We see little spots of sunlight coming through grilles.  Everybody takes turns crawling through a tiny opening in the concrete to get out.  They can’t really be going through that, can they?  Yes they can.  I scramble through a tiny rectangular space which becomes vertical in a sharp 90 degree turn.  Whew, that was a little claustrophobic.
I scramble out onto grass, soaked, stinky, muddy.  We’re on a traffic island across from the Royal Derby Hotel on Brunswick Street.  Curious people driving by are staring at us.
We hang and talk for a while.  Ash, Karla and Craig eventually decide to get a cappucino.  I decide to head out too.  I walk down Brunswick street feeling like a skunk.  Wouldn’t mind getting some food, but I’m not touchin’ anything until I’ve had a shower.
After fumigating Polyester, I wander out with Clint Q-Ray‘s latest issue of Wang. Cool. I bump into Ash and we chat about Clint’s work…he designed the logo for their newsletter, Il Draino.  And I bump into Karla and Craig on the tram, on my way back.
Home.  I take a shower.
Michael, Greg and I hit St. Kilda to see “Kiss or Kill”  ’cause I have a free ticket.

I’ve done an interview with Doug and Gilligan of aforementioned organization that I’m still trying to shop around to various zines, I’ll put it up on this site eventually. For now check out the refreshing


Or perhaps cruise Infiltration‘s webring thing.
Urban Exploration Ring


Head Sick – Note

Wednesday, January 5th, 2000

This story arose from experiences teaching English in Springvale, a Melbourne suburb. I can’t claim to be the greatest teacher but I stuck with it for over a year. We had some good laughs, and my drawing skills got a workout sketching many words and concepts.

I’d come from the States to study Southeast Asian culture at Monash University. Extracurricular antipodean anthropology also became a minor interest. And during this time Queensland politician Pauline Hanson was attracting great notoriety, her ethnocentric and xenophobic stances exploiting peoples’ anxieties about economic and social change.

Comics seem to attract controversy and censorship. When you’re a cartoonist, the first causes you tend to gravitate to are free speech issues. I appreciate the freedom of our relatively open Western media, but it also permits hate speech. And some recent statistics have shown that a rise in hate speech

leads to a corresponding rise in hate crimes. Should we limit certain types of expression if they are a clear incitement to violence?
Where do you draw the line? That’s a tough one to figure out.

Hanson is too easy a target. Less obvious but no less dangerous is the ‘structural violence’ of subtler, quieter policies already in place.
The gradual whittling away of immigrant aid and job training. The loan officer who denies a family a mortgage. The employers that use subtle racial profiling. The evacuation of businesses and services from minority communities. The predation of the gambling industry on lower-income areas.

And maybe my story takes an easy target too.  Like simplistic ‘message dramas’ on TV, it’s easy to condemn the demon without, rather than the devil inside. We need stories that encourage people to confront their own prejudices and move past them. Something for the future, I think.

Page one, panel six: Cheers for Melbourne’s excellent public transit. (Too bad it’s all being privatized. Once it’s gone you ain’t getting it back!)

Page two, panel one: I enjoyed Springvale – far from the “Heroin City” tag touted by one Melbourne tabloid, it’s really quite peaceful and quiet, with cool funky shops.

Page two, panel three: This restaurant had a fire a few days after the picture was taken.

Page two, panel four: This mutual assistance agency is located in a converted house, and has a nice homey feel. Most of the interiors were white or grey, so I took some liberty with room colors in order to provide contrast.

Page four, panel three: I wanted to visually indicate that certain characters were Westerners or Southeast Asian, but since I have a very simple style, I needed some visual clues. Unfortunately, the toning screens I used in the black and white version couldn’t easily be changed when I decided to color it. I just hope no one thinks the characters have the measles.
Below: a few of my bemused students.

Page five, panel three. The neighborhood.

Page five, panel four: I walked past this garish sign every day I tutored. A real pathos to it early in the morning…

Page five, panel five: I liked this iconic mural…there are comics everywhere if you’re looking for ‘em.

Page six, panel seven: Yay trains. These look a little dodgy ’cause I’d actually referenced two different models. Oh well. What, you think you could do better? Go ahead, draw your own comic. It’s easy.