Today is the Australia Day public holiday, which has been perfectly timed this year to be a Monday – yesterday was the actual date for Australia Day, but we Aussies love days off work more than just about anything else, so we are taking the day off today so we don’t miss out on that quintessential Aussie experience ! And since I am having the day off work, watching the cricket and having a beer, I thought the blog for today should be appropriately Aussie too. As such, today’s blog will focus on Australia’s best comics publisher, Perth’s own Gestalt Comics.
Gestalt Comics has an ethos which is very much reflected in the graphic novels and comics they publish: Story First. Gestalt has released horror comics, anthologies, all-ages graphic novels and genre-mashing Western horror/magic tales in a number of formats, from the traditional comic book and graphic novel as well as the digital new frontier. They have published works by Australia’s best artists and writers, including Nicola Scott, Tom Taylor, Christian Read and one of my all-time favourite Aussie artists, the inestimable Gary Chaloner ! You can buy all of their awesome stuff on their website (which this month has a sale !!), at the Oz Comic-con and Supanova conventions or, best of all, at their great launch parties !
My first exposure to Gestalt was at the launch party for Volume One of Perth artist Justin Randall’s magnum opus Changing Ways.
I was new to the whole Perth comic scene at the time, and didn’t know anyone at the party as I walked in. Within minutes though I was given a beer, watched a incredible trailer of the book and had a chat about comics new and old with the publisher himself, Wolfgang. Never had I been made to feel so welcome in a room full of strangers, and by the end of the night I had made a couple of connections with people as passionate about comics as I was – even more so, really, as they were creating and publishing comics !! Justin Randall is not only an immensely talented artist, with a style reminiscent of Perth artist alums Ashley Wood and Ben Templesmith (whom Justin had taught Graphic Design in his “real job” as a lecturer at Curtin University), he is also an easygoing, humble, hilarious and generally great bloke to chat to who was genuinely excited to be talking to one of his readers. I had such a great time merely buying the book that reading it and discovering a clever, creepy and beautifully produced horror story was the icing on the cake ! Needless to say I bought the second volume from the launch party too, and I will be the first in line at the launch of Volume Three !
Thus started my relationship with Gestalt Comics, publisher Wolfgang and their array of great creators. The experience I had with Changing Ways has been replicated a number of times now, and I have had the pleasure to talk to Tom Taylor when buying his brilliant all-ages book The Deep, discuss with Nicola Scott her evolving art style since she worked with Andrew Constant on werewolf tale Torn, and be spoilt by Wolfgang with previews of everything from new issues of Unmasked to the trailer for The Deep animated series !
So, perhaps I am biased when it comes to Gestalt due to the amazing experiences I have had the personnel behind the company. Maybe these have coloured my reading of Eldritch Kid: Whiskey and Hate, a great mash-up of the hard-bitten shaman/cowboy with Doctor Strange and Unmasked (in which loser super villains try to make it as “regular” criminals), making only so-so stories seem like masterpieces. It’s possible. However, I reckon the works speak for themselves, and once you have ventured into the Deep with the Nekton family or marvelled at Gary Chaloner’s line work in Unmasked #3 you too will be singing the praises of the publisher which loves great stories so much it is their ethos !
My son Jamie asked that I put a picture here of the Nekton family from his favourite series The Deep. Jamie says about the first book:
“The boy is the best because he teaches the fish to fetch a stick like he is a dog. That’s silly and funny’