I’ve been a professional comic artist and writer since 1982. It’s in the blood and I can’t help it.
These days, I’ve been called all sorts of things, like a ‘veteran’ and a ‘mainstay’ of the comics business in Australia. (Which seems a back-handed compliment if ever there was one, but at least people are still calling me something.)
I was born in the Sydney suburb of Campsie (at good ol’ Canterbury Hospital) and if we could just skip my childhood and school years… that would be great.
I first started my career in comics not as a pencil-sharpener or a studio-floor-sweeper, but as another kind of lower life form… a publisher! Yep, being in the comics biz in Australia in the late ’70s and early ’80s meant you pretty much had to publish yourself. So, I hooked up with a few other blokes who wanted to get into comics and started to publish my own work through the Cyclone Comics imprint. Cyclone grew to publish a range of mysteriously popular comic books with titles as diverse as The Jackaroo, The Southern Squadron, Dark Nebula, GI Joe Australia, Flash Damingo and CCQ (Cyclone Comics Quarterly).
I’ve worked with and alongside a long list of Australian creators: Glenn Lumsden and Dave de Vries on The Southern Squadron, Tad Pietrzykowski on Dark Nebula, Ashley Wood and Ben Templesmith on Morton Stone, Undertaker, Chris Sequeira, Jason Paulos, Dillon Naylor, Greg Gates… the list goes on. All the while plugging away on my own stories and art for Flash Damingo and The Jackaroo.
As the years rolled by, I started to get some overseas work as well, including US editions of The Jackaroo and The Southern Squadron; a very odd issue of The Badger for Mike Baron; the award-winning Planet of the Apes: Urchak’s Folly (OzCon Award for Favourite Writer); The Olympians, a two-issue prestige series for Marvel/Epic Comics that featured my art inked by the great Gary Martin with covers inked by Todd McFarlane (Spider-Man and Spawn) and Karl Kesel; and editorial and creative duties on Dark Horse Down Under for Dark Horse Comics — which featured the first US appearance of Morton Stone, Undertaker.
In late ’98, I completed a ten page story that was scheduled to appear in issue nine of Kitchen Sink’s Harvey Award-winning The Spirit: The New Adventures — as luck would have it, the title was canceled with issue eight. Typical. (Update: the story ended up being published in a lovely hard cover edition reprinting all of the New Adventures, published by Dark Horse.)
As far as who and what I like to read in comics, well… the list is pretty long, but at the top of that list would have to be Hergé (Tin Tin), Roy Crane (Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy), Will Eisner (The Spirit) and Alex Toth (well… anything Toth is worth tracking down). Other artists more recent include Paul Gulacy and Mike Zeck (Master of Kung Fu), Billy Graham (remember Panther’s Rage ?), Gene Colan (Tomb of Dracula), Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Dave Stevens (The Rocketeer), Mike Ploog (Werewolf By Night)… As I said, the list goes on.
In fact, I was honoured and lucky enough to have worked with the late, great Will Eisner on developing a new series of stories featuring Eisner’s early creation: John Law, Detective.
I was honoured and lucky enough to have worked with the late, great Will Eisner on developing a new series of stories featuring Eisner’s early creation: John Law, Detective.
In December 2004, IDW Publishing released the first print edition of my John Law material — Will Eisner’s JOHN LAW: Dead Man Walking. This edition was the recipient of the Ledger Award for International Title of the Year.
Since John Law, my creator-owned projects included a pulp adventure series Red Kelso, an Australian adventure series The Jackaroo — and The Undertaker Morton Stone. All are at different stages of development or re-development.
In 1990, I moved to the South-West of Western Australia, having fled the gaudily-lit streets of Sydney and Perth. In my never-ending search for the rolling hills and forests of a better place, I moved to southern Tasmania in 2009. Lots of hills, lots of forest. Check and check.
I love reading Doc Savage pulps and watching old movies, like the ones with Humphrey Bogart in ’em. I dig the old Universal monster movies as well. You know, Dracula and Frankenstein. (I actually really liked the remake of The Wolfman with Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins.) My favourite wine is the 2002 Blue Loft Pinot (hi, Charlie!).
In 2005, I started up the Ledger Awards, acknowledging excellence in Australian comics publishing. They were named after Peter Ledger. They are now known as the Comic Arts Awards of Australia and they’re still going strong. (I retired from active duty with the CAAAs in 2023.)
In 2017, I reprinted all of the Flash Damingo and The Jackaroo material in nine issues of Cyclone Redux. A collected edition is in the works at some stage before I die. But in the meantime, I plan to continue The Jackaroo’s adventures.
I’m in love with Belinda
Are you still reading? Geez–! Okay, well… how’s about…
I was the 2017 recipient of the Jim Russell Award, made to “the individual or organisation who in the opinion of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association Board has made a significant contribution to Australian cartooning.”
In October, 2023, I was the recipient of the 2023 Comic Book Artist award from the Australian Cartoonists’ Association.