Here's some photos I took at the zine fair yesterday. Some of them are kinda blurry, which really sucks because at the time I could have sworn they looked fine on the phone screen. I need a proper digital camera.
David Puckeridge and Julie Doye.
Chris Mikul and Dann Lennard (sitting); Cath, Gerard Ashworth and Komala Singh (standing).
Ben Hutchings and Ross Radiation
Antoinette Rydyr and Steve Carter
Outside the zine hall
I got the train up to Newcastle at 1:20 on Saturday afternoon. It's a long trip, three hours, and halfway there I realised I had a missed call from Gerard Ashworth, with a voice mail message from him saying he was in the "big city." I thought, what? Sydney? What's he doing still back there? But when I was two stations away from Newcastle (or Civic, the station you get off at, which is the one before Newcastle) my fone rang again and it was Gerard. He was in Newcastle after all! I got off the train and Mr Ashworth was there on the platform. I checked into my hotel and then we walked over to the Festival Club where the writer Frank Moorhouse was talking. Since the Bill Henson thing has blown up again because David Marr has just published a book about him, covering last May's big hysterical bullshit where Henson's photographs of young teens were seized from a Sydney art gallery, Frank made some comments about that, and how the people who really have to examine themselves are the ones who see photos of nude children and start getting all kinds of perverse ideas, and how fucked up is it when Australia's Prime Minister can call these photos "revolting" - I mean young girls have enough problems with body image from Twiggy Hilton and the whole magazine/fashion/Australia's Next Top Anorexic Model industry without the PM adding to it.
Anyway, that was cool. Then we sat outside and had a drink, at which point Ross Radiation phoned and said come on down to the comics exhibition a couple of blocks away because he was there with Chris Mikul, Ben Hutchings, and others. So we went there, and there was some great comics art on the walls from what I saw, but I didn't get to see much because the beer supply there had just dried up so it was voted that we move promptly to the nearest pub, which was the Clarendon and we remained there the rest of the night, which was pretty cool because that was where my room was! There was a private function there (an engagement party as we later guessed) and one of the young dudes in the party looked like a young Tom Cruise. Even his mannerisms were similar, y'know, those jerky sort of movements he does, and at one point he even jumped onto the dancefloor for a minute to show the girls his moves, and it was Risky Business. And his name was Chad! It was very funny. The music they were listening to was fucking awful (they were even singing along to Cold Chisel, it was disgusting) but at least we had Chad Cruise.
So we were out in the beer garden, Chris Mikul, Cath, Ben Hutchings, Ross Tesoriero, Gerard Ashworth, and Clint 'Q-Ray' Cure showed up with his daughter Sonnet (5). Sonnet had a great time standing on the table pulling big shiny green leaves from the tree and putting them on Gerard's head, and making him leaf hats (that is, putting a single leaf on his head).
It was really getting late so we decided to go over to the Festival Club to see if anything was happening, but everything had closed, and there was nowhere to get any more beer (probably a good thing, in hindsight) so we all called it a night.
The next day Gerard and I walked over to Civic Park where the zine fair was supposed to be, but it was empty. We found out that it had been moved to the big hall adjoining the Festival Club, so we walked over there and claimed a table. Nobody else we knew was there yet, but soon Chris and Cath arrived and grabbed the table next to us. Then Komala (and EvilHayama) arrived with not only her own stack of comics to sell, but the Blackguard #1 'guts' she had very generously offered to print after my 'China Crisis', so I got busy stapling them to the covers I had brought, with Mr Ashworth assisting. Komala also let me share her table because they had all been booked out when I tried to get one. (I tell ya, it's been a rocky road..)
We had been looking forward to the zine fair being in the park (like the first year) but the big hall it ended up in was a great location - big warehouse type deal with a huge amount of vertical space so it didn't turn into a sauna. The only thing we found objectionable was the open mic set-up in one corner with spoken word people blabbing out nonsense that nobody could understand because of the acoustics. But it was a great afternoon, and besides selling a bunch of Blackguards, I also scored an impressive stack of comics and zines. I've only started reading through them but two highlights so far is Ben Hutchings's hilarious Lesson Master comic and a couple of microzines from the States, Urinal Gum 5 & 6, also very funny.
Dann 'Betty Paginated' Lennard arrived later in the afternoon and joined our table. Along with his own zines he had brought a US zine called Zine World, which he is now working for as their Oceania correspondent. Zine World is really great, wall-to-wall zine reviews that remind me of Factsheet Five and Destroy All Comics. I was flipping through it digging some of the great zine names when I saw a review of a zine called Urinal Gum. I showed this to Gerard and Komala and Komala said, "Oh they've got that one here!" It was over at the Sticky table so I zoomed over there and picked up two issues. (That was pretty cool, first time that's ever happened - reading about some cool zine and finding out you can get it in the same room!) I have to say here how impressed I was with the Sticky folks' set-up. Really together and professional, they're a distro but also have a shopfront in Victoria. I ended up buying quite a few comics and zines from them.
Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr (SCAR) were there and they had TWO tables. They had so many comics it made your eyes pop. I picked up a copy of their Gorgasm. Antoinette told me it was their "heavy stuff', which is the kind of thing to say that works on me like hypnotism. This one has a coloured version of the drawing they sent me way back for the cover of Sick Puppy # 6 [Nov 1997].
Anyway, it was a fun afternoon, and was so great to catch up with comix and zine people I hadn't seen in years.
P.S. In the rush to get the comic together for Newcastle, I found out that I had screwed up two things - I should have put Khe Sanh's two-pager on two facing pages; and I left out a SCAR page while doubling up on another page. Please forgive me! I am a big retard, I know. But I'll be rectifying both of those for the main print run I'm doing in a week or two, so anybody who has one of the cock-ups will get a replacement. Just reply to this or email me >>> sstratu AT gmail DOT com