New ‘Big library read’ eBook – ‘Shakespeare saved my life’

OverDrive’s latest ‘Big library read’ eBook and essential candidate for your next digital book club offering is ‘Shakespeare saved my life,’ by Laura Bates.

eBooks through our OverDrive website are normally one copy one user, but several times a year, OverDrive work with renowned authors and publishers to provide an eBook title all customers can use at once. ‘Shakespeare saved my life,’ will be available for simultaneous lending from March 18th to the 1st of April. Read a sample from Laura Bates eBook here:

If you’d like to join our OverDrive service for the first time follow this handy ‘Getting started’ tutorial from our OverDrive Help service. Enjoy!

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A short yet animated ComicFest gallery

Hey! ComicFest starts this Friday the 2nd of May at the Central library, and in preperation we’ve been promoting the fun to come at various parts of the Central library.

Below are some photos from our front window display put together by design-guru librarians Cathy and Helen, our Dr Grordbort display items provided by Weta Cave and Greg Broadmore and all the comics we have from our various panelists – enjoy! ComicFest 014 resizedComicFest 015 resizedComicfest book covers 001 resized 2ComicFest 008 resizedComicFest 013 resized

ComicFest profile: Grant Buist 101

Grant Buist resizedJitterati Cartoonist Grant Buist has written his own concise profile below, which we’re extremely thankful for and has also offered his time in preperation for ComicFest in a one-off exchange of comic ideas. Grant has been reviewing the graphic novels from our collection expertly for years on his ‘Grant Buist Cartoonist,’ blog.
As such, he has an extensive knowledge of genres, authors and subjects accumulated from hundreds of initimate graphic novel reads. Here’s where you and Grant can meet to discuss graphic novels in person:

Come to the Central library at 6pm this Friday, before the author panel with Ant Sang and Robyn Keneally at 7pm and Grant will help you explore Wellington City Libraries’ graphic novel collection!

Be prepared to discuss your reading preferences and personal tastes and Grant will suggest suitable graphic novels from the thousands of titles available.

Of course, Grant will be involved in the panel to follow at 7pm, and now, onto the profile!

“Grant Buist is a Wellington cautionary tale who has rusticated himself to Otaki Beach after a decade of drawing Brunswick for Salient and another decade drawing Jitterati for City Voice, Capital Times and now Fish Head.

He was inducted into the NZ Cartoon Archive in 2008 and his musical Fitz Bunny: Lust for Glory has been revived twice after premiering at BATS.

He has published 15 books and is currently working on a lengthy graphic novel without interruption from anyone except for Jehovah’s Witnesses and the occasional cow.”

ComicFest Essentials: Watchmen and Before Watchmen

index6QVUNI12If there’s one graphic novel that has been credited with changing the idea of what super hero comics, and comics as sophisticated works of fiction, could be it is Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Derived from old Charlton comic characters, Watchmen became one of the first self-contained series to re-imagine super hero myths and tropes, reflecting a modern and cynical distrust and suspicion of authority, that has continued through to the dark preoccupations of similar graphic novel authors to follow in Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis and more recently, Mark Millar. No super hero comic of modern times has been more influential.

Released last year, the new Before Watchmen series peer back into the murky pasts of eight seminal Watchmen related characters in Rorschach, Doctor Manhattan, Comedian, Nite Owl, Crimson Corsair, Silk Spectre, Ozymandias and the Minutemen.

Each examines their character minutely and deftly, and despite Alan Moore’s reluctance to endorse the project, the results are generally faithful and illustrated and written by current comic faves like Darwyn Cooke, Brian Azzarello and Swamp Thing creator Len Wein.

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Len Wein acted as original editor on the Watchmen and worked intimately with Alan Moore. He writes the pivotal Ozymandias story for Before Watchman and in the podcast below from the Nerdist.com website, he discusses his involvement, personal connection to the project and the influence Watchmen has had.

It’s a fascinating discussion with two other comic writers and well worth a listen – Link here!

Let’s not forget the frankly fantastic film of the same name from from 2009 – perfectly acted and gorgeously shot and few comic-film adaptions are so well made.

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Taken together, this multi-media snapshot of the Watchmen phenomenom should inspire some debate and mildly serious consideration hopefully but as the candid Dr Manhattan once said ,’All we ever see of stars are their old photographs.’

The same might be said of 27 year old comic books…

ComicFest interview with illustrator Gavin Mouldey

Gavin Mouldey portrait

Illustrator and graphic designer, Gavin Mouldey is the man responsible for the amazing ComicFest 2014 posters, fliers and webpage art being used to promote ComicFest and he’s also running a comics workshop on Saturday the 3rd of May as part of Comic Book Free Day at the Central library between 11 and 1.30.

He operates the Dittybox store situated in the heart of Island Bay. Gavin provided answers to our questions below and we’ve added a selection of his images for visual enhancement – enjoy!


Your Dittybox facebook page says that you’re a painter and graphic designer, but I know you’ve worked as an animation artist as well – is there one kind of art process that you enjoy the most?

What I enjoy the most in my process (whether digital or hands on), is the rush of motivation that comes after deciding how to tackle a brief. The first stage when a job comes in tends to be staring at a blank screen or page, completely befuddled. This is often followed by searching for inspiration, finding reference material, or outright procrastination (coffee, a pie, crossword, having a shower, watching a cartoon, etc).

Eventually I’ll start doodling, and something will click. Then a job which seemed like a chore suddenly becomes exciting, and I lose all sense of time. It’s like being hypnotised.

Sometimes my wife leaves the house in the morning and I think “I’ll do the dishes and hang the washing out and pick some flowers and make dinner before she gets home”, then she returns 8 hours later and my head hasn’t turned away from the page. I’ll be still in my boxer shorts, empty tummy, dry mouth… Like a nerd zombie.

You’ve spent some time employed as a production designer in Australia on the TV show ‘Dogstar’ – how did this rate as a professional experience?

My experience in animation has mostly involved creating backgrounds and character/prop designs. Pretty similar to my role as an illustrator. The only real difference is how I get paid, and in the case of Dogstar, the pace of turnaround. The job was great, and I met a lot of future collaborators, but I don’t think I was built for big cities. I like the pace of Wellington, or specifically Island Bay.

You’ve made the image for our very cool ComicFest posters which we’re very thankful for! What are some stand-out projects you have worked on as a freelance artist? Is this satisfying work?

Posters are always fun, as they offer a lot more creative freedom than other briefs. It just has to catch the viewer’s attention. Most of my past work has been for children’s books, educational resources, and magazine publications. I’m not often happy with a finished illustration by the time it comes out in print, as it’s too fresh in my mind.

Work I did for Tearaway magazine as a teenager, 20 years ago, is the most fun to look back on as it seems like someone else’s work. North & South magazine gave me a lot of freedom to create full page illustrations, much like posters, and some of those are still my favourites.

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Lately I’ve been painting murals for varied clients. They’re definitely the most rewarding to see finished, and have the most lasting exposure.

I love your Wellington apocalypse series. Where did the inspiration for these incredibly imagined pieces come from?

Initially I planned to have 12 of them for a 2012 “It’s My Apocalypse And I’ll Cry If I Want To” calendar. They were all ludicrous depictions of end-of-the-world scenarios in Wellington settings, making fun of the apocalyptic fever that films/television/Mayans were infecting everyone with at the time.

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In the end (not the end end), the project was downsized to a large wall-planner, and two limited edition prints. There’s still some left at my gallery if anyone has a soft spot for the apocalypse.

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Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve always wanted to draw for a living. The term artist gets over used. It’s becoming so vague, and pretentious.

I think of my job as a trade, like carpentry or gardening. Art is a whole set of industries, and basically anyone can call themselves an artist without any formal education or practice.

Considering that, it’s odd that creating “Art” is treated by some cliques as an intellectual and cultural virtue. Willie Saunders, one of my all-time favourite comic artists who seems to have disappeared, once used the term “cerebral vomit”. That’s probably out of context, but I think it represents a lot of what artists do (myself begrudgingly included). I’m more proud when my illustrations fulfill a set function, than when they just seem like my soul self-indulgently spilt on a canvas.

Gavin also provided a list of some of his favourite comics – many of them by New Zealanders – and you can reserve some of them right now!

Super F*ckers by James Kochalka

Scooters Of The Apocalypse by Alister Kitchen (Kiwi)

Ripple – a predilection for Tina by Dave Cooper

Prison Pit by Johnny Ryan

The Muppet Show Comic Book by Roger Langridge (Kiwi)

Ojingogo by Matthew Forsyth

Wonton Soup by James Stokoe

Lone Racer by Nicolas Mahler

Schlipp Comics by Willie Saunders (Kiwi)

Comicbook Factory Funnies by Karl Wills (Kiwi)

Victory by Greg Broadmore (Kiwi)

ComicFest Profile: Ant Sang 101

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Famed NZ cartoonist and bro’Town designer, Ant Sang is attending ComicFest all the way from Auckland with the wise and generous assistance of the NZ Book Council!

He’ll be running a workshop for aspiring cartoonists and comics creators on  Friday the 2nd of May between 4.30 and 6 o’clock at the Central library. That same night we’ll be having an authors panel discussion with Ant, and fellow cartoonists Robyn Kenealy and Grant Buist from 7 till 8 o’clock.

Ant Sang, who lives and works in Auckland, is an award-winning cartoonist.

Author and illustrator of the celebrated The Dharma Punks comic book series, he has a cult following among graphic novel fans and comic art aficionados.

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Shaolin Burning (HarperCollins 2011) is his latest graphic novel and spent ten weeks in the top ten of the NZ Booksellers Bookchart.

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He was one of the original creatives on the successful bro’Town animated TV series, and won two Film & Television awards for his design work on the show.

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This is an excellent chance to watch and work with one of New Zealand’s best cartoonists and a great opportunity to work on those latent comic abilities and fuel your appetite for comic related talk and impressive illustration!

It’s free and it’s at the Central library on Friday the 2nd of May – good on ya ComicFest!

A ComicFest playlist: Music in comics and comics in music

Comics and pop music have always had a close relationship.  In the late 60’s and early 70’s underground comics by authors like Robert Crumb directly referenced music of all sorts and comic artists have worked on albums by a number of  musicians from that period like Iggy Pop and The Grateful Dead. Sometimes, music is more directly referenced in comics and that’s where this ComicFest playlist  starts – from comics based on one song, to songs based on single comics, to comics recounting a whole period in music history, or even comics revisiting single songs one by one each by a separate creator. The permutations are limitless, and the titles below only a personal selection, but hope you enjoy them and the accompanying Spotify playlist.

Hip hopHip Hop family tree
Fully realised early history of Hip Hop in the U.S, complete as a deluxe out-size edition, with crisp thick paper and retro print 70’s colour finish – a thing of beauty and a genuinely studious slice of rappin’ DJ life from Wizzywig’s Ed Piskor. Grandmaster Flash and the furious five played their part and ‘The Message’ may be their best known song.

Put the bookPut the book back on the shelf: A Belle and Sebastian anthology
A tribute comic by multiple creators that takes as starting point and inspiration, Belle and Sebastian’s well-loved songs, but to be honest, the pieces are variable in quality. A thoughtful attempt with some outstanding successes. ‘Asleep on a sun beam,’ is a sweet girl/guy vocal Belle and Sebastian song that pulls you in without trying, is melodic and oh so sweet.

Ghost worldGhost World
Sometimes, comics influence musicians too, and maybe none more so than ‘Ghost World,’ by Aimee Mann, a direct tribute to Daniel Clowes ground-breaking graphic novel. Paul MacCartney, Pop will eat itself, the Ramones and XTC have all recorded songs about comics.

I see a darknessJohnny Cash: I see a darkness
I See a darkness is a very well imagined and illustrated graphic biography of some of Johnny Cash’s darkest years and the song version of the same name from his late career ‘American’ recordings, features songwriter Bonnie Prince Billy on tender backing vocals.

Punk rockPunk rock and Trailer parks
Punk rock and trailer parks features an absolute original in the optimistic, surprisingly verbose Punk rock fan Otto. Set in Ohio, the fictional Otto happens upon one influential punk band after another, and music lies at the heart of every gently humorous episode. A comic that gains momentum slowly as it progresses, eventually affecting real emotional heft and surprise. The Ramones blast ‘Teenage Labotamy’ on our playlist.

sweetersidercumb_1The sweeter side of Robert Crumb
The famous Robert Crumb has been a fan of classic Blues and early Jazz and an underground comic genius – of sorts – for years.  His extensive contribution to the cover and liner art of Blues and pop music reissues and original releases are often respectfully and sympathetically illustrated. Crumb illustrated the cover for Blind Boy Fuller’s album Truckin’ my blues away in the late 70’s.

GreendaleNeil Young’s Greendale
Neil Young’s live recording of Grandpa’s interview, from the Greendale album, is so strong in narrative and deft story-telling, that it wasn’t too much of a surprise when this reverent, capable comic version of Greendale was released in 2010.

soundtrkcvrSoundtrack: short stories
American cartoonist Jessica Abel’s early short work depicts indie music reverently and personally but also in a journalistic closeness. Is it surprising that counter culture comics authors identify and continue to value underground or indie music? In a very short story called Soundtrack she thanks The Beastie Boys, Pavement, Jesus Lizard and Arrested Development.

There’s a whole lot more adult graphic novels that reference or are influenced by indie rock especially in our collection by phenomenal comic geniuses like Brian Lee O’Malley, Peter Bagge, Jamie Hernandez and Terry Moore.  Comics and music, music and comics – it’s a deep and transcendent relationship.

ComicFest Profile: Greg Broadmore 101

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Greg Broadmore will take part in a panel talk with fellow Weta Workshop artist, Paul Tobin on Saturday the 2nd of May, between 12 and 1pm at the Central library. Images from their brilliant film and comic works as well as items from the Weta Cave will be on display. It’s going to be a lot of fun and before the afternoon in question, here’s a quick profile accompanied by pictures from this multi-talented artists imagined worlds.

Best known in comic circles for his work on the thoroughly imagined and awesomely funny, Dr Grordbort series, Greg Broadmore has also worked as a children’s illustrator, as designer of public art works such as the Tripod sculpture in Courtney Place, but also as concept designer and sculpture on films such as King Kong, The Adventures of Tintin and District 9.

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Concept painiting from District 9 of the Exo suit. Greg Broadmore 2008

His Dr Grordbort comic series is a wonderfully exaggerated comic parody of ancient and violent colonial attitudes personified in the faux-British form and murderous swagger of one Lord Cockswain.

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Page from ‘Triumph : unnecessarily violent tales of science adventure for the simple and unfortunate.’

The steam-punk  influenced Science Fiction comicsDoctor Grordbort’s contrapulatronic dingus directory,’ Victory: Scientific adventure violence for young men and literate women and Triumph: Unnecessarily violent tales of scientific adventure’ for the simple and unfortunate,’ form the backbone of the Doctor Grordbort comic legend and narrative but this has now extended into intricate ray-gun and weapon replicas, and subsequently into an international touring show that swung through blustery ole Wellington in early 2013!

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Doctor Grordbort’s exceptional exhibition

Whilst we wait for the further lusty adventures of Dr Grordbort, Greg continues to work for Weta Workshop on the Dr Grordbort universe in its many guises, along with occasional film work and inspired illustrations!

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Girl and tyrant lizard friend

For more ComicFest information and an events timetable go here to our events calender or Facebook page, and check out the display items from Weta Cave on Central’s 1st floor from the 17th of April.

As the fearless Lord Cockswain would say, and quite about another issue all together, probably alien related – but let’s be clear, ah – definitely comic inspired…  “Quit Lolly-Gagging, man, off you go!”

ComicFest 2014 this Friday & Saturday!

Comics are fantastic – they’re visual, they’re literary, they’re fun, they’re for all audiences and on the 2nd and  3rd of May, we’re celebrating comics in a big way with our first ever ComicFest at the Central library.

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Wellington City Libraries have joined forces with GRAPHIC comic store to provide hundreds of free comic books on Saturday the 3rd of May, for kids, teens and adults. Free Comic Book Day, is an international event, celebrated across the comic reading world on the first Saturday in May, with the aim of promoting comics as a dynamic, modern medium, but also has the main and important aim of giving away FREE comics!

That’s just the start.

We’ve arranged two drawing comics workshops with talented bro’Town designer and comic book creator Ant Sang and illustrator and Animation artist Gavin Mouldey.

We’ve got author talks, the first involving Auckland’s comic supremo Ant Sang again, but Wellington’s own Grant Buist, creator of Jitterati and Robyn Keneally, comic book artist and creator of fab web comic Steve Roger’s American Captain: A diary comic.

The second talk features Greg Broadmore, creator of the blackly funny ‘Dr Grordbort’ series and Paul Tobin, editor of the sci-fi, fantasy anthology ‘White Cloud Worlds.’ They’ll be discussing their comic-related work but also their projects for Weta Workshop. Check out the  Weta Cave display items and props on Central Library’s first floor from the 17th of April!

Don’t forget our comic book holiday activities, running through the holidays right up to International Comic Book Free Day on Saturday the 3rd of May.

We’ll also be running a costume competition that day  at the Central library and all are invited to attend, dressed as their favourite cartoony, comics-related character  – prizes for best dressed kid, teen and adult.  Get dressed up, get involved in our comics workshop, grab a free comic and (maybe) win prizes!

Our event calendar will soon show the complete programme – and expect more blog posts too at wcl.govt.nz/comicfest over the next few weeks, including author profiles, event info and articles, as we build up to the event…