Oz Comic-Con comes to Adelaide

There’s an alternate universe of cool in the Adelaide Showgrounds during a highly anticipated weekend in April, where appreciating comic books, zombies and superheroes gives you the golden geek ticket. Storm Warman talks to a panel of comic creatives whose fan base of con-verts just keeps growing.

Comic-Con is like a convention of happiness where it’s ok to be weird. In fact, weird is the norm. Amongst a sea of giddy devotees to popular culture who probably believe ‘The Big Bang Theory’ is a reality show, it’s a very happy place indeed.

Australia’s Comic-Con is based on the format originally developed in San Diego in 1970, where the convention not only showcased comic books and science fiction/ fantasy related film and television, but also held important debates about the bathroom habits of Superman, how do Daleks go down stairs, and who would be the hardest ass-kicker in a DC Vs Marvel cage fight. Well, perhaps I’ve included my own musings here.

Good or bad, Comic-Con has been embraced by the masses and this annual show attracts more and more con-verts every year. The event features a prolific amount of multi-genre content across pop culture and entertainment. There are gaming demonstrations, cosplay (costume play) competitions, previews of upcoming feature films, t-shirts, toys and collectibles.

The event that sees the most smiles and hears the most squeals is undoubtedly the panel appearances of cult film and television stars. Here fans are provided with the ultimate nerd bait – an exclusive opportunity to interact with the actors during photo and autograph sessions.

For those who are interested with breaking into the industry, there are exclusive panels, seminars, workshops, and portfolio review sessions with top media companies of comic and video game industries. Artist’s alley is where you might discover a new favourite artist, or just watch talent at work.

After a morning of kicking aside a knee hacking, midget sized John Snow with a very hard plastic sword, I attended a panel discussion by a successful group of comic creators.

Bobby Curnow is an American comic creator and editor of IDW’s “My Little Pony”, “Jurassic Park”, and a mini-series called “Killing the Cobra”.

Tristan Jones is an Australian writer and illustrator who has worked for Vertigo and IDW, with the critically acclaimed “Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “Ghostbusters”, “Infestation: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” series, and is currently working on “Mad Max”.

Nicola Scott is an Australian comic book artist working in the American industry with Dark Horse, Image and IDW. Nicola also works exclusively for DC Entertainment on “Birds Of Prey”, “Secret Six”, “Wonder Woman”, “Teen Titans”, “Superman” and, most recently, “Earth 2”. Nicola is the first female creator to design a Batman B&W collectable and has had numerous official action figures based on her work.

Tom Taylor is an award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling comic book author, playwright and screenwriter. He is well known for his work on the DC Comics series “Injustice: Gods Among Us” and his many “Star Wars” works. Tom is the co-creator and head writer of the upcoming CG animated series “The Deep” based on his graphic novel series of the same name, which won the Aurealis Award for Best illustrated book/ graphic novel.

What is one of the biggest challenges you face with developing creative work?

TJ: When faced with a deadline you can’t have everything you want. It needs to work for everyone else and you have to tune the page and not be too finicky about getting it how you want it.

NS: You’ve got to be able to maintain a constant pace, to maintain a constant energy to get it all out. The deadline is the biggest challenge.

BC: You have to be on the ball all of the time. You’ve got to prioritise and compromise, and have discipline.

TJ: I was working on “Mad Max” until 4am this morning and at my table today.

Do a lot of young illustrators burn out when they
start out?

NS: You’ve got to be able to find the balance of having your own life. This is a dream job but you have to
make choices.

Do you have to travel to the United States to make it, or can you stay here in Australia?

TJ: Being in the States does help you in a networking sense. I was in New York last year, and going to shows where most of the industry is. It gave me so much exposure and professional push.

BC: I’m the dissenting voice. You don’t have to go to the States to make it.

TT: Hanging out with people who do what you do is really important.

What is the best bit of advice you’ve been given for
your career?

NS: Editors are looking for three things – quality, deadlines, and someone who is nice to work with. Be at least two of those things.

BC: Don’t be afraid of failure, just put it out there.

When starting out, is it more important to specialise or be a generalist to approach publishers?

TJ: Having your own style is more important. You have to be happy doing what you’re doing. Decide what it is you really want to do. It’s a big bloody world and there will be someone looking for what you do.

NS: Start with zero and do as much work as you can and what YOU do – not what anyone else does. Otherwise it will be a grind.

BC: Set yourself apart, there are enough sub-par generalists out there in the comic world. If you don’t have passion for what you do, it will show in your work. Go to where you can feel inspired. Art school and Uni are important but won’t be the whole package for you.

Words by Storm Warman

You can find the panel members here:

Bobby Curnow @thedisastrix

Tristan Jones @TRexJones

Nicola Scott @nicolascottart

Tom Taylor @TomTaylorMade


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