Finally, the glorious day is upon us when Leigh gets to sit down with his good mate Gary Chaloner and have a good old-fashioned chinwag. Don’t miss this one people it’ll be a ripper. It’s Gazza for neeeeee sake!
VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION (text may contain errors)
Voice Over (00:00:03):
This show is sponsored by the ComX Shop. We hope you enjoy the show.
Leigh Chalker (00:00:25):
Hello and welcome to episode seven of Tuesday, Lee Chalker from Battle for Bustle. And this is Mr. Gary Chaloner. And how are you sir?
Gary Chaloner (00:00:39):
I’m very well under the circumstances. Yes, yes, totally fine. You’re looking well over
Leigh Chalker (00:00:44):
There. Oh, I’m trying to stay out of the sun and do all those healthy things mate. So good. Hey Nick. And yeah, no, great pleasure to have you on the show tonight mate. I’ve been looking forward to this one. So yeah,
Gary Chaloner (00:00:59):
You’ve been threatening it for a while.
Leigh Chalker (00:01:02):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I guess what got you on is like there’s 5,000 emails that I sent you and all those letters in the mail and coming home and this letter just poured out of the mail mailbox and you just thought,
Gary Chaloner (00:01:20):
Well it’s better doing this than getting that restraining order filled out
Leigh Chalker (00:01:24):
<laugh>. Ah, okay. I’ll stop then. <laugh>,
Gary Chaloner (00:01:30):
You stay up there, I’ll stay down here and
Leigh Chalker (00:01:34):
Yeah, yeah, never to cross the Queensland border sort of thing. <laugh>
Gary Chaloner (00:01:39):
Two states between us, so that’s a difference.
Leigh Chalker (00:01:42):
Ah, you’ll be safe. You’ll be safe. It’s like I’ll probably walk to air and then turn around and forget why I was coming down that way for anyway. So how you been mate? What’s what’s doing
Gary Chaloner (00:01:57):
Well chugging away here. I was hoping by this show, cause we’ve had this planned for a few weeks now, but I’d have some news to about Adventure Illustrated number two, which I’m still working on the tail end of that. It’s getting pretty bloody close to being finished. But the whole health issues that I’ve been going through have just slot the long, the loose end drags the ending of the project. So I’m just trying to get that finished at the moment and I was hoping against hope that I have it finished by this show as a bit of a deadline, but it just hasn’t happened cuz the Parkinson’s is really thrown me for a bit of a loop as far as productivity’s concerned. So I’d just like to send out my apologies for people that are waiting on the second issue. It will happen and it’s getting there.
Hopefully it’s gonna go to the printers in the next couple of weeks. But yeah, it’s been a very, very strange couple of years of overlapping the whole Covid that everyone’s been experiencing but the whole Parkinson’s road that I’ve been on. So I thought I’d sort of take the opportunity to maybe talk through that a little bit just to explain where I’m at physically is and mentally as well as far as still doing comics and the plans for the future as well. So if that’s okay with you, I might take a couple minutes just to tell that background. You go ahead Ben. Well when did Covid first kick in? That was early 2020 was it? Yeah, early 2020, yep. Yeah, so I do work at Nona, which is the museum down here in Hobart. I work there as a supervisor and they had decided to close the museum when Covid really kicked in.
I think it was around March, 2020. And so I was still, what was the job keeper? Was it? So I was at home working away and I was doing some yard work pulling out some black breed bushes and I thought I’d overdone it and I had started to develop a bit of a tremor in the right arm and I thought I’d just overdone it. And over the next couple of days this tremor in the arm wouldn’t go away. So I went down to the docks and she said straight away, well it seems Parkinsonian to me. And I thought, you know what the bloody hell. So she recommended I go off and get some tests and it started this very long process of MRI scans and CAT scans and talking to a neurologist and trying to find out why I had developed. Cause I’m still relatively young for someone who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
But they thought, geez it’s an early onset Parkinson’s job. So trying struggling through the Mya of a diagnosis was very hard. And I had already finished let’s see, where was I? I produced Adventure Illustrated one and there was a sign signing going to be done at the end of 2020 at King’s Comics. But by that stage my arm was going crazy. My right hand side of my body was just shaking uncontrollably and I couldn’t get much artwork done at all cause I hadn’t been medicated properly cause there was no diagnosis of Parkinson’s. What was throwing them was that one of the MRI scans was showing some scar tissue on the brain, wrong side of the brain. They’re going, what’s this scar tissue all about here? If he’s got Parkinson’s, he should have signals or signals in the scan or items on the scan that indicate the right hand side is gonna be affected.
So they couldn’t work out where all this brain scarring came from. I could tell ’em ages ago that I was brain damaged. But anyway so it was throwing up a bit of a fog as far as the diagnosis was concerned. So they ended up getting this professor in who’s a big deal with Parkinson’s and MS multiple SC sclerosis in particular. And for a while there they actually thought it might have been a dual diagnosis of both MS and Parkinson’s at the same time. And I was there for about six months. I was going, no, that that’s the worst possible outcome that I could ask for. So they brought in this professor to look at my case and he’s an MS specialist and he defined after going through a spinal tap and going through another MRI that the scar tissue that they were confused about, it was quite old.
It was very old damage <laugh> like I’ve been damaged since I’ve been a kid <laugh>. So he was happy to remove that from the table of diagnosis, which allowed for a clearer diagnosis of Parkinson’s. So that was, by the time that happened, it was about July, 2021 last year. And I had started work on the second issue of Adventure Illustrated thinking that, oh well it’s early days in park in the Parkinson’s diagnosis, I’d still be able to be fast enough to do the Kickstarter, get the issue finished and all that kind of stuff by Christmas. And it just hasn’t happened. It’s just turned out that my ability to draw so far hasn’t been diminished in quality, but it’s just purely in speed. The shaking hands just of course when you’re doing detailed inking makes it that much harder and some days you just can’t even pick up a pencil.
So I’ve actually, I’ve just got a new purchase which is this little do that here, which is a splint that you put on your finger that stops the hand shaking it of gives it some support there so that I can actually ink without the hand spasming at the moment. I’ve got spasms shooting down my right hand side and my right hand is not stopping. It’s shaking all the time. So if any artist out there realize when you’re penciling and when you’re inking, you need that fine motor control. And that’s what I just don’t have. So in finishing off this issue it’s on a day to day basis on whether my right hand side of my body can actually stay solid enough or firm enough to be able to work through things. So this is a tool that I got shipped to me last week and they’re really hard to get and they’re quite expensive for a bit of molded plastic.
But what you do is actually clip in your pencil fits into the device like that and you put your finger through there and it allows you to hold a pen and it stops your finger spasming. And that’s where the problem was trying to get the control back into your inking and my art style. Of course <laugh> over the years you’ve developed or I’ve developed an art style that sort of is reliant on smooth constant lines, outlines and feathering detail. So I’ve been trying to maintain that quality and maintain that standard so that it still looks like a page done by Gary of course when it doesn’t and misses with your head space as well. So there’s been a lot of days where I’ve gone, is this it Dubai? Walk away from the drawing board with an issue. Four fits done and I can’t finish. There has been days where I really felt like just turning around and walking, but I’ve realized that it’s an assessment that has to be made on a day to day basis.
Some days my hand doesn’t shake at all and I can get quite a lot of stuff done and of course being on the computer is a different set of muscles to being on the drawing board. The drawing board is the big thing. So I suppose there’s an option that I could go digital, but I’ve tried to refrain. I think you’d still have the same problems with holding a pen. Pen on a tablet would have the same kind of shaky issues like that. That’s my hand relaxing at the moment and that’s the shake I’ve got. Part of that’s because I’m actually online and talking to you a little bit nervous and what have you. But on any given day I’ve gotta try and control that and it’s only gonna get worse as the Parkinson’s develops over the years. So that’s holding up adventure illustrated to and it’ll happen, but it’ll just be a matter of when I physically can do it.
And I’ve had offers from friends, artists friends saying, Hey, I’ll ink the story to finish things off. And that is, is a great option, but that’s not what it’s about. That’s about, I wanted to do Adventure Illustrated as a showcase for my stuff as well. And that could still happen where at the end of the day I’ll get people to come in and finish off pages for me. But at the moment it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do and it’s a mental challenge and a physical challenge and I’d like to get this issue finished the way I would like it to be finished. Future issues, I’m happy to compromise as much as I physically can to get other issues out. I still have plans for Adventure Illustrated three and four onwards for next year and as well as other projects. But this one is just it’s a real deal breaker and if I don’t finish it <laugh> myself, I think I’ll put the head through a window or something.
But yeah, so that’s what I’ve been working on each day is a question of where am I at physically where I at mentally and getting some artwork finished and I’m still, I’m very happy with what’s being done. I’m very proud of the issue as it’s coming together. What I am disappointed about as well is that Tim McEwen, who is a contributor with Greener Pastures as the third story in the issue, has been so severely affected by this as well with we had plans of having so many issues out by now and that has just basically got out the window. So he’s been amazing and very supportive of the circumstances and I just more power to him. And I know for a fact that based on what’s happened over the last 12, 18 months he’s made plans to in 2023 next year to really jump off into the deep end with his greener pastures material without the bench illustrator, he’ll go off and do his own thing and certainly he shouldn’t wait for me because I’ll <laugh> be taken forever.
So look out for next year for greener pastures coming back in a big way. But just for sticking with me for the first two issues and sticking with me through the last and final year of the Ledger awards that he and I coordinated together. I think just yeah, he’s an amazing bloke and I’m sorry it’s turned out the way it has and I know that I shouldn’t need to, well have to apologize, but you’re still human and you still know that your plans were derailed and it was by events that you may not have had any control of. But it still is disappointing to not see things reach fruition the way you would’ve liked them to the end
Leigh Chalker (00:13:31):
Would’ve. Yeah, that’s powerful stuff mate. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, I could only look, I couldn’t imagine, to be honest with you the difficulties is someone that enjoys drawing myself that you would be going through right now mate. So my heart is with you in that regards, but you’re a fighter mate, you’re not given up, you’re sticking to
Gary Chaloner (00:14:00):
It. But it’s just disappointing where you have a Kickstarter campaign, you have people expecting things. I know that there is a lot of support out there and that’s been invaluable in keeping me going. And I don’t mean it in the wrong way when I say it’s only when it compares to your health, it’s only a comic book, but it represents a lot more now. It represents my mental ability and my tenacity in seeing whether I can draw for as long as I possibly can to a standard that I’m happy with. I don’t mind walking away from the drawing board in due course, I just don’t wanna do it yet. I’ve still got things that I wanna do drawing wise that I don’t want this to take away from me any sooner than I’m mentally prepared for. And it’s been hard on my family as well.
So it’s a whole readjustment of plans that Tim and I had made for the next year, the next couple of years. And what I wanted to do with Cyclone Comics and with the creative ips that I have that’s all been thrown out the window and has had to be reassembled again in a plan that is under the constructure of, well how able are you to move forward with this? So everything’s sliding a bit. Some things completely have been taken off the table. I’ve had to give up being the publisher of Dark Nebula and helping Ted put that together. And he thankfully has found a perfect home in Rry publications for his dark nebula. But he’s been with me along this ride as well, all in while trying to relaunch his new title. So there was a whole stick in the spokes there as well. And the future of a few other projects that some of them are still on the drawing board and we’ll see completion. But some long term, longer term plans have really, some of them have gone off the schedule completely cuz I just will never ever realistically get to them. So a lot of reassessment for sure. A lot of reassessment
Leigh Chalker (00:16:16):
Certainly would be lot of adjustment too mate like to change your lifestyle and stuff like that as well in only assume So
Gary Chaloner (00:16:29):
Yeah, there’s been a lot of change over the last couple of years in a lot of things you never expect, of course you never expect this kind of thing to happen and it could be a lot worse, but still it’s annoying enough to adjust your life and the decisions you have to make enough to be just a huge pain in the bum. But you just have to stay nimble. What do we talk about the way the comic book way, just keep your head down your bum up, keep your knees bend a little bit so you can move a little bit to the left, a little bit to the right when the crap happens and just stay nimble and stay flexible.
Leigh Chalker (00:17:09):
So I often am in situations where I come back to your advice about the way, mate. So I found it hasn’t just helped me withdrawing and comic books and stuff. I’ve also felt it it’s it’s presence at certain decisions that have happened outside of comics too. So it is cool, always gotta stay nimble, always get ready, you never know what’s gonna happen
Gary Chaloner (00:17:38):
And stuff. Being prepared for the worst. That whole adage about being prepared for the worst but expect the best and try for the best and the best outcome in publishing, whether it’s Australian comics or anything else, is to stay focused on what you gotta do creatively as an artist or as a writer. Stay focused on what you gotta do. Don’t worry too much about the rest of the crap that happens around your head space. Just stay focused, keep your head down and your bum up and get the project done. Cause you’re not a cartoonist unless you get something published. You’re only as good as your last project. And yeah, you gotta get that stuff done. You gotta get it started and finished and stay focused and you know, are a perfect example of that in getting battle for bustle up and running. And lately you’ve been telling me about how good you’ve been going with the fifth issue and it’s just great. Exactly it. Don’t worry about what’s happening with anyone else’s title. Don’t worry what’s happening about anyone else’s dramas that they’re going through. Just get your stuff done and get the next issue out. Of course. Otherwise you’ll just be left behind.
Leigh Chalker (00:18:46):
Well you’ve given me a lot of great advice over the last period, mate, that’s been super helpful for me too. And with utmost respect man and for what you’ve gone through and stuff, you’ve always had the time for me to throw me an answer out mate, even as mundane as the question is from me in the face of what you are going up against mate. So thank you very, very much for that cuz
Gary Chaloner (00:19:13):
Well I, I’ve said what I’ve said less as a whinge or it’s more just an explanation and a reason why things have slowed down. I think a lot of people owed a little bit more of an explanation as to what’s happening with me. And I’ve tried to stay off social media a little bit, just try to stay focused on getting this stuff done and you know, have your up days and your down days and on the down days you think that you’re letting everyone down and you’re not. It’s just want to get a page done, you wanna get a panel done and you can’t. So of course you get into a bit of a funk about it, but it also plays into the, it shows that I’m still keen to get this issue finished so I’m still invested in it and I’m invested in telling more stories down the track as well. So that’s a good sign sign. But the important thing is not to give up and to see the end result. So I’m gonna be pretty chuffed when I get this thing off the presses for sure.
Leigh Chalker (00:20:16):
Oh man, I reckon. Would this one that you get to the presses, would that be one of those in your time span doing comic books and stuff, would that be the one that you’re most proud of at this point? What you’ve
Gary Chaloner (00:20:32):
Had to get? Definitely be up there as a highlight of it’s so close now, but it’s like you, you’re drunk jumping in a lake and you can’t turn back now you gotta keep on swimming to the other side. You gotta keep on swimming, you can see the shore, you just have to keep on swimming so, and you’ll get to the other side eventually. And even when I didn’t have parties and I’m slow enough artist as it is anyway the best of times. But there was a saying that I’d heard from someone that they won’t remember if it was late, well not too late, but they won’t remember that it’s late. But they’ll remember if it’s bad or if it’s sloppy or if it’s rushed. So as long as you can produce an item that you’re proud quality wise to show someone, I think that’s the key.
Particularly in comics. And when you shrink that down, particularly in Australian comics, Australian comics you know, don’t have the monthly deadline grind or anything like that. You don’t have the corporate need to have something out every month. So what do you have? Have the need to be good, you have the need to be professionally produced, have the story being fantastic to have the art artwork being fantastic, the print quality and all those other things. If you can’t have a monthly regular title when you do release something, just make sure it’s good to the best of your ability, <affirmative>. And there’s been too many projects that where I’ve succumbed to the need to get it done quickly and regretted it. So I try not to do that anymore. Even with the Parkinson’s, if you were remove that from the whole equation, I was still going to approach the material that I’m working on now from a make sure it’s good. Don’t make sure it’s on time, you can be late. Just make sure it’s good.
Leigh Chalker (00:22:19):
Yeah. Have you rushed things in the past due to just wanting to get it out? You know what I mean? Just
Gary Chaloner (00:22:29):
Bit younger track generally been editorial pressure. One of the things that came to mind was <laugh>, when I was doing Breckenridge Elkins for Dark Horse though, I was doing an adaption of a Robert Howard character called Breckenridge Elkins, who was a big goofy cowboy and dark horse. I was running it online and I was doing it under my own schedule of a page a week or a page, a fortnight. And then they expressed interest in reprinting all of the web stuff. But I hadn’t finished the story. I still had I don’t know, 10 pages or something to go and they wanted the artwork for the print edition fairly quickly. So I thought, yeah, they said, can it be done for this issue that has a deadline of here X? And I said, yeah, sure, yeah, no problems. And it just turned into the most bizarre all night.
The family were working on colors and it was artwork everywhere and this editor from Dark Horse was going, I need it by this time. And I was doing the time clock and was going, okay, so he needs it by 5:00 AM where I am, 5:00 AM per time and it’ll be open up there at nine o’clock. It’ll be dark horse over in Portland. And he had a Dropbox for me to drop the artwork into digitally, like a drop off and pickup so he can get it when he comes into the office. And I was going thousand miles an hour trying to get this thing done. And I had my stepson, I had my wife all hands on deck sort of proofreading and lettering and rubbing out lines and I was coloring and it got done, but it got done with about, he got into the office and all the pages were there, the bar won where I was working on. He goes, where’s this last page?
10 more minutes, you got tell I’m gonna go for a coffee when I come back, it’s gotta go to the printers. And I said, I was texting you and I was going, okay, it’s go going. And the last page finally came through was about half hour late. And that’s after that. I mean that’s happened to me a couple of times in my career. And after that I just said to myself ever again, never again, it’s a young man’s sport doing a work through and it’s a young man’s sport sort of trying doing that workload. It’s just not worth it. That’s not worth it. I’m still was happy with the result for that Breckenridge Ecan story, but it could have been so much better if I had taken my time. But Dark Course is Dark Horse and when they have a deadline and a print production deadline and they need something, some they don’t care what you are going through, they just want the artwork. Yeah.
Leigh Chalker (00:25:03):
So they just want, mate, you get it to me when I asked you to, eh. Yeah. Yeah. That’s crazy.
Gary Chaloner (00:25:09):
It’s a couple of fun adventures like that in my professional career. So I’m too stupid to have learnt. I shouldn’t say no a lot more often but hey
Leigh Chalker (00:25:23):
May not, I would say that you are probably from what the viewers and myself know now and judging from your drive and your ambition and stuff like that, you would’ve been back when you were younger and you know what I mean, just learning and wanting to get into comic books and all that. You would’ve been a well driven dude, mate, did
Gary Chaloner (00:25:48):
Everything well driven, just never fast enough, <laugh>, just never fast enough, not commercially fast to a speed where I could hold down a regular title. Never was that fast. And that’s a bit of a problem. And I don’t know how modern artists reconcile the amount of detail that is required in a Marvel or DC comic these days. Cause my style is fairly cartoony so I can get away with a certain amount of detailing backgrounds or whatever and take shortcuts. Or as a writer I can even cover up a whole blank area of a panel knowing that it’s all gonna be words. So I don’t have to draw anything there. Cause it’ll be a huge word balloon if I’m writing and leering the story in myself. But you know, pick up any standard Batman comic these days and the work that goes into it is just incredible whether you like that stuff or not, it’s not to my taste, but the detail in modern comics is absolutely staggering. So I can see why there’s a large burnout of artists that can only stay on a title for eight or nine issues and then they need a break and they sort of wonder away and do something else.
Leigh Chalker (00:27:02):
Yeah, there were a lot long runs back in the day, weren’t they? And John and all his, John
Gary Chaloner (00:27:11):
Junior was about to say as a good example of someone who had had a very simple style, but his sense of design what was key, and it made all of his storytelling jump off the page. But he had a very simple style and was allowed to turn those pages effectively. And yeah, I love his stuff as a stylist, I reckon he’s great. But I do feel sorry for the artists that sell themselves as someone who can do a lot of detail and maybe they’re used to that kind of pressure and skill, but I look at it in awe that some of the stuff that’s done on modern superhero comics these days and how that can keep that standard up is incredible. Yeah.
And I know when I did an issue of Astro City affiliate issue, I thought, oh, this is my chance to try and replicate that modern superhero feel. And I was lucky enough to have an inker who Wayne Gr Badger was his name, but he’s worked with the best pencils over in the States. So I was really quite keen to see what he would do. And he did lift my work incredibly. But after doing that one issue of Astro City, it was like, oh, if I don’t do 12 of these plus an annual or whatever, there’s no way fill an issue was fine for me. I’ll just go back to my stories the way I like to tell them. <affirmative>.
Leigh Chalker (00:28:44):
Oh I, it’s still cool to tell people you did an issue with Astro City mate. I remember when Astros City off the shelves when it first came out long ago. But who was the writer? Kurt.
Gary Chaloner (00:28:56):
Leigh Chalker (00:28:57):
Music, yeah, that’s him. And the artist was Brent Anderson from Yeah, who did God Loves Man Kills and stuff, the X-Men graphic novel back in the eighties. Yeah, no, that was
Gary Chaloner (00:29:12):
I first stumbled onto him doing Kaza or Kaza I think when it was a direct market only back in the days when the direct market first kicked in and there was titles like Kaza and a few other things, or you can only get in the comic shops. And Brent Anderson was doing that then. And that’s before I think he did the X-Men graphic novel. But yeah. Yeah, he’s a great artist. And of course you get the Alex Ross covers on Astro City as well, the painted covers and yeah, Alex Ross. Yeah, one, what a great artist he is. Yeah,
Leigh Chalker (00:29:46):
Turns out too, that bloke, it’s unbelievable when you see the new drawings, paintings and stuff He does too. But yeah, no, he’s good. Right. But hey mate, what was your thinking back on it, what was your one comic book that you loved and you hold onto dearly now that you first collected?
Gary Chaloner (00:30:09):
Oh, that I first collected well I came up through the ranks in the seventies reading Marvel Comics. So I think Master of Kung Fu by Gal was a prime company and taken over by Jean Day and then Mike Zack as well. So that sequence of artists stayed fairly strong and the Billy Graham run with Rich Butler of Don McGregor’s Rage in Jungle Action, the Black Panther stuff that influences the movie so much. So I got the original issues of that. And that was at the time as well when the Marvel monsters were happening. I know that’s making a big comeback at the moment. We wolf by night a Halloween specialist coming out soon. So we wolf by night two Mid Dracula it goes right to a certain extent, swamping, all those kind of characters. So it was a big one for the old universal monster movies. So when Marvel got inspired and started doing Dracula and Frankenstein and The Mummy and all that sort of stuff, that sort of kicked me right between the eye as well. Yeah,
Leigh Chalker (00:31:19):
Yeah. Well that’s great adventure stuff, isn’t it?
Gary Chaloner (00:31:23):
It all gets sort wrapped into what I’m doing or what I have always wanted to do with the OO character as well. But you don’t know that you’re the sum of your influences sometimes that you think, oh well I’m gonna sit down and do an adventure character. And after five or six years of writing stories, you turn around and realize that it’s not really an adventure character. There’s a lot of other themes and kind of influences you’re playing with here. And I been a character like Morton Stone, which was supposed to be a black humor character, but it gave me an entrance way into the world of monsters and supernatural. And I’m starting to real flies that I’m dipping back into master of kung fu. I’m dipping back into where night I’m dipping back into all of these early influences, even Frank Tta, Conan paintings and things like that.
I mean, all these stuff that you absorb as a child of course comes out and you work as an adult but sometimes just don’t realize it. So it’s been interesting getting to be an older bloke, turning around going, you didn’t realize this. I mean, you’re an idiot, Gary, of course that’s what you’re trying to do. Of course that’s where this character is coming from. And so it’s been exciting planning over the last five years. A bit of a continuation of the OO character that I hopefully will get going next year. The major project that I want out after Adventure Illustrated is a soft relaunch or a continuation of the Jackaroo. Cause there’s so many things that were left undone when cyclone split back in the day and I got overseas work and I was never able to get back into the Jackaroo character. So that’s one of the big things I’d like to get to with the knowledge now as being the age I am and looking back at what I started trying to do with the Jackaroo, how I can continue it on now quite successfully and happily and ring all those bells and tick all those boxes of things that I’ve always wanted to do in comics.
So I’m looking forward to doing that. If my hand allows
Leigh Chalker (00:33:38):
Gary Chaloner (00:33:40):
I think giving it out for people to do the artwork and I’ll just write the stories
Leigh Chalker (00:33:45):
<laugh>. Well, Hayden just sent a little thing in there, man that said that you’re, the sum of your influences is such an interesting thought and it certainly is,
Gary Chaloner (00:33:57):
Whether you like it or not, sometimes <laugh>,
Leigh Chalker (00:34:02):
Hey, now would I be right in saying that the oo is you’ve had some big creations over the years, man, but the oo from talking to you and stuff that seems to be your baby for
Gary Chaloner (00:34:19):
Yeah, that’s my baby. Yeah, the world of the Jackaroo is a very expansive one and I’ve always regret isn’t the right word, but I’ve always wanted to get back into and showing readers what the character had the potential to be that I never felt that it was met back in the day with Cyclone. It was starting to be fleshed out and to actually get to some of the potential that was there for the character. But he’s so much more than what people may assume. He’s not just a spirit rip off or a too fisted Crocodile Dundee kind of person. There’s only a few people actually that I’ve divulged the big picture with Jack Kegan and I wanna keep it under wraps so that the surprises can unfer accordingly. But that sort of goes what I’m trying to say, what am I trying to say here?
That the character needs nee needs some attention and some love now that back in the day or may have been only perceived as an artist but now I’m tending to the Jackaroo, not just as an artwork but as a writer and as a creator as well. And I’m seasoned enough now to be able to pour a lot of great ideas into the character. So even if I can’t draw the Jackaroo and I give the stories out for artists to draw for me I’d still be creatively satisfied now because I’m wearing the writer’s hat more so than being known as an artist as well. I dunno whether I’m being clear in my
Leigh Chalker (00:36:09):
Yeah, no you are. I’ve always thought you’re a great writer man from your early stuff and all that I, I’m surprised that you feel that you’re more of an artist than a writer cuz I think you’re writing strong dude.
Gary Chaloner (00:36:24):
Well it’s just the perception you get as people comment and the gigs you get. I mean you get overseas jobs as an artist and not as a writer. So you sort just make some assumptions about yourself, I suppose that you may be incorrect, but I’m trying to now set that to write that I can be a writer. There’s actually a project I’ve got that I’d like to do for next year that is again on the cards where the Jack is in a pros story that Glen Lumsden is doing some spot illustrations for and the cover. So that hopefully will come out next year. And that again is more of this decision to do a, sorry happened before the Parkinson’s diagnosis, but it was in an effort to strengthen my writing skills and how that will play into the other comics that the oo in as well.
So it’s time to develop Jackaroo as an IP is I suppose the short version of what I’m trying to say and I’m looking forward to that. It’s like saying no to a lot of other things working on eventually illustrated for my other characters like Stone and Cyclone Force, which plays into the OO world as well. They’re all sort of part of a larger oo universe and hopefully next year you’ll get to see some new oo issues proper to continue the story and develop things the way that I’ve always wanted it to be developed. You’re probably the same with Battle of a Bustle with notes and Bibles and stories and filling up files and you just need to draw it now. You just need to draw it and get it out there. Well I’m the same situation with the Jackaroo is that he’s not who you think he is, he’s not the kind of character that you think he is, but he’s also gonna be the sum of everything that I’ve learned in my career so far. And it’s just gonna be hopefully surprising and entertaining cuz it’s horrible to be stale in the comic biz.
Leigh Chalker (00:38:37):
Oh mate, I I’m sure it’s gonna be awesomely exciting mate. That’s great. These are cool characters. So hey this is Rick Smith now he says hi Gary. What Outback Pub did you use as photo reference for the multi-shot setup in the oo story? Shots from different angles or was it all imagination?
Gary Chaloner (00:39:02):
It was all Imagination woke up and it was all a dream <laugh>. No, that pub I made up it was basically loose loosely based on the <inaudible>, the wonky Outback pub that was in the old Australasian Post magazine, the cartoons by was it Who drew those things? Oh Mona,
Leigh Chalker (00:39:27):
I can’t remember the artist but I know I’ve been to that pub down in New South, Southern New South Wales or somewhere. It’s out in the middle of nowhere. Here’s that pub.
Gary Chaloner (00:39:37):
Yep, yep. So yeah, just doing some very loose research about old buildings and things like that. But the actual DAA Dugger pub is an original creation. So same with the positioning of the Rusty U that’s slowly devolving into the dirt out front of the pub. And it’s funny how things that you draw a lot, you don’t need reference after a while. You, I do know the layout of the building and what angle to draw it from and yeah, not too hard to draw from memory now. Yeah. But that’s one thing that was just an invention. I’ve gotta now think about it. The rest of the town the funny thing, I mean the reader has seen it from this direction, but what happens if you were to look around the other way? What’s on the other side of the road from the Duga Dugger Pub? So that will all be revealed further down the track.
Leigh Chalker (00:40:34):
<laugh>, hey particularly the oo, now I’m a fan of your artwork. And I do have to say though that I would think for me that image of the oo where the blinds are behind him and the lights coming through him, that now that’s an image to me that’s iconic. Like that is man, I look at that and I’m like whoa, what was your story behind that one? Cuz you’re always searching for a ripper cover in your mind and stuff. What was that?
Gary Chaloner (00:41:18):
That comes from the old black and white films. I suppose there’s a dollar of Frank Miller in there as well but at the time, I think it was around the same time that Miller was doing Sin City. So that’s probably where the blinds, stripy blinds came from. But the Moody the dark inks thick inking and feathering stems right back to Will Eisner as well, I suppose. So it’s a combination of influences there. Yeah. But Moody is the go for that one. The oo is an interesting combination. He’s a guy that allows me to go from bright daylight in Dugger Dugger to Dark Shadows of the city in Sydney and Kings Cross. And that’s what I love about him is that he allows me to illustrate or to tell stories in whatever mood I’m in and it all just still works. So he’s a good character to be able to give me flexibility. I can practically do any kind of story with him and would kind of make sense. So
Leigh Chalker (00:42:31):
Yes. Yeah that’s cool. That’s cool. Hey just quickly, I saw a little comment pop up there too and it was Dave Dy letting us know that the edberg cartoonist name was Ken Maynard.
Gary Chaloner (00:42:46):
Ah, that’s it. Maynard, yeah, Ken Maynard. I’m going for Mona, but that was another Australian. Yeah, thank you very much. Yeah. And with these big crows with the boots swearing the boots, the crows that would fly over the pub and things like that. So that was my initial <laugh> initial influence I suppose. But a little bit of research here and there. Plus having traveled around a little bit in the country, you get to these buildings have I kind of look to them really. So it’s a vibe, it’s a feeling. The great Aussie Pub.
Leigh Chalker (00:43:23):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s even just out in, cuz I’ve spent a lot of time traveling out West Queensland, new South Wales and stuff in particular and they’re, there really are places that are like that out there. The little towns are on a rail line, the railway doesn’t go through there anymore and the little towns still there and the buildings are those wonky shapes and have that great character to them and stuff.
Gary Chaloner (00:43:53):
Don’t tell my wife about rusty stuff. She’ll just load up the boot with railway nails and lengths of railway track and old timbers and you name it, she’ll just put it in the back of the car and drive it all home. So
Leigh Chalker (00:44:06):
<laugh> a collector.
Gary Chaloner (00:44:09):
Yeah, she she’d take a whole country town and bring it home and set it up in the backyard.
Leigh Chalker (00:44:16):
I get flowers and branches mate. I get told quick pull the car up and run, jump a fence and run across a park and bring back big Palm Froms, you know what I mean? And they’re in car. It’s like, yeah, I dunno how I get away with it. I’m main roads mate. You they like
Gary Chaloner (00:44:33):
That they have controls for that stuff.
Leigh Chalker (00:44:36):
<laugh>. I haven’t been caught yet, so <laugh>. Yeah, yeah, it’s the things you do.
Gary Chaloner (00:44:44):
Funny. And speaking of Doug Dugger, a little bit of trivia it’s actually named after a sound effect in a Phil Barlow’s universe comic. There was a rubber headed character that was being pulled through a vice or something and their head sort of flop forward and the sound effect was, and the way Phil had led it it just was superb. So I decided to name the town Duga Dugger to in honor of a nice sound effect.
Leigh Chalker (00:45:18):
Yeah, that’s cool. I like that. That’s a cool name. Yeah, it, I like it works heaps, man. I guess. When first got your first American work international stuff, what was that like for you? Cause you know would’ve been plying your heirs with cyclone and your characters in Australia and stuff then
Gary Chaloner (00:45:51):
That. Well it was a reprint of the oo, first off the very first American deal was reprinting the cyclone material. So yeah that was again, the big details on that will be written about in Daniel Best’s book about the origins of cyclone that’s working on at the moment. That should be out soon. But yeah, the first overseas expression of interest that we got was cause we developed through Cyclone, we developed some friendships with some overseas creators that came to Australia for signings like Mike Re and Mike Barron for two examples. But around that same time as well we had some cyclone artists, one in particular, Shay Anton Penso had moved back to the states and he was trying to sell his wears. So he made contact with Malibu who had the license for maternity comics, adventure comics and a few other things, planted the apes and whatever and they cotton onto the oo via his portfolio showing as well.
And I got in touch so I sort of went from there. So that was a pretty big deal for any of the Siteline guys to get a sniff of interest from the States at that time, particularly where Cyclone was. So that was hard to refuse. It was a bit disappointing that it didn’t take off. It was the middle of the early nineties and there was a black and white boom happening over in the States. And so there was a need for a lot of products to take advantage of this upswell in interest of black and white independent comics. And I dunno, I think it was probably a product of its time. I dunno whether the Jackaroo gone well at any other stage over in the States beyond relatively recently. But the fact of the matter was they were looking for material and they saw the Jackaroo stuff and got in touch and said, Hey, we like your stuff.
Would you like to do something for us? Or could we reprint the Jackaroo material? And I said, oh well reprinting sounds great. So that went from there and then they were looking for other stuff and they got the Southern squadron with Dave and it sort of went from there. But in hindsight and thinking about it, there was a pretty big deal for an Australian artist who had a desire to get published in the States. The dream is always to see stuff in the big marketplace of America. So to actually see the Cyclone logo and the oo mass head on an American edition of your work is pretty trippy. So although it only lasted three issues the damage was done. I think I had that little bit of success that I thought, oh well this could actually work if professional editors and publishers over in America think that it’s worth repackaging. I may be onto something beyond an Australian market. So yeah, it was a very, very good experience and it’s a shame that it didn’t go longer than three issues. But there go maybe next year we can continue on to do a little bit longer than that.
Leigh Chalker (00:49:16):
Yeah, yeah. Well I mean you had an Astro city there now I noticed. I’m glad Daniel sent in a comment before I come back to it. And in regards to your writing being excellent, but also another IP that you did artwork for that when I found out I didn’t know that you’d done this and maybe six, seven months ago, I think I sent you a message, go, I didn’t know you did Planet of the Apes, like a story there. How did Gary come into the world of planted the Apes?
Gary Chaloner (00:49:58):
Well that flowed directly onto the lack of success of the Jackaroo. The guys over there at Malibu still liked dealing with me and they liked my style of art. So they said, well if we’re not gonna do Jackaroo what would you like to do? And I said, well what have you got? And they said, well we’ve got these licenses for different movies anything there of interest. And I was a Planet of the Apes fan. I sort of loved the original movies and things like that. So I said, oh yeah, I’ll do that. And so it was basically a table of opportunities that they said, you know, can take your pick. So I said, oh, I’ll do a Planet of the Apes miniseries and I’ll, I’d like to write it as well. And I’d like to not have the gorillas and monkeys look like the movies like Men in Suits with.
I’d like to actually use the comic medium to show what it might really be like being humans, being conquered by real gorillas and real tangs and chimpanzees and things like that. So they allowed me, and obviously the rights holders, Warner Brothers or whoever had the rights to plant to the apes allowed me to develop a visual look that had more of an animal primate vibe to it than what they would see in the movies. So that was a fun project and I was able to work with Dylan Nailer on that as the inker. And Greg Gates came in towards the end to help with the last two issues as well. And that was I was looking for, I didn’t want to ink it myself cause I knew that my inking style was probably a little bit too pretty or refined. So I wanted someone that I knew was confident with lots of blacks introduce a thicker line to help create that mood that I wanted.
And so I thought of Dylan straight away and he and I just had such a fun time on those first couple of issues, at least getting the work done. I think that really looks quite a distinctive. And I still get emails and comments from people out of the blue sort of getting in touch saying, oh man, I really love that S Folley. No, it was one of the best things that Malibu did and all that kind of stuff. So it’s nice to know that it actually resonates through the years and people are still commenting about it. It’s a shame that it will never get collected in into a trade paperback, the course of the rights going sideways and different people having rights to the planet of the Apes stuff. But it was a good thing to experiment with. And that was a fun writing project cause it allowed me to again, play in a sandpit that I wouldn’t usually get to play in.
Leigh Chalker (00:52:43):
Yeah, that I’d be an exciting one if you’re a fan as a kid suddenly to have that. We’ve got Tom McGee here and he is writing, I typically wing it right down to the lettering. Any advice or tips for an artist transitioning to doing more writing when making their comics?
Gary Chaloner (00:53:08):
That’s a big one. So if you’re an artist and you’re starting to write more of your own stuff yeah, write the story down first into what you want told on each page I think would be the key. And then make sure you have strong layouts that allow for word balloons. I think the biggest sin a lot of people still do is that the artist doesn’t allow space for the word balloons or enough space for word balloons. And that the word balloons sometimes can be placed badly on the page. So to develop an understanding of how much wordage to put on a page so you don’t get bogged down, you have to be as lean as you possibly can. Space for the word balloons. But boy oh boy, it’s so important to put the balloons in the right reading order around the page top left to bottom right in an individual panel and then across the page as well so that people can follow a page top right to bottom left, top left to bottom right, I should say.
Yeah. So it’s really important to understand the language of comics and the tricks, the simple tricks that it takes. And sometimes can be harder than it looks, particularly when you have a script heavy page. But you’ve gotta think of the reader, you’ve gotta think of their eyes, you’ve gotta think of how much time they have concentrating on a panel. And as a writer, if it means that you have to cut something because there’s just too much wordage or the story has to expand a page you just have to, that’s what editors is good for, or at least people who know what they’re talking about that can advise you as a new writer when you are, you’ve written too much. I still consider my writing to be far too wordy. I need to cut, cut, cut all the time. So be brave, be as lean as you can.
And that means realizing the essence of the story, the essence of the scene, the essence of the page, the essence of the panel, trying to get it down to as fine tuning as possible, but also learn the technical aspect of where to put the balloons so that you don’t lose the reader. Over the years, I’ve heard so many people say, oh I don’t like reading comics, it’s too hard. It shouldn’t be hard at all. It should be, our job is to make it as seamless and easy as possible so that the reader, even someone who’s not used to reading comics, can fall into the page and we hold their hand and they don’t even know that their hand is being held as the story is being told from panel to panel. And if they get brought up, that means you’re not doing your job. If there’s a question about which one to which word balloon to read next, that means you haven’t done your job correctly.
So it’s a matter of going back to basics and becoming invisible. Like you’re telling stories mostly about fictional characters, you need to bring them to the fore. The story has to come to the fore. The technical aspects of a comic book need to go into the background. They need to be so well learned and implemented that no one knows that they’re experiencing it. That’s the trick. It’s hard and a lot of people fail even in comics I see today from the big two publishers, I wince at some of the balloon placements and some of the barriers that a page puts up to a reader. And I can certainly understand if you’re not into reading comics on a regular basis, how those barriers could really impede your enjoyment of a story.
Leigh Chalker (00:56:40):
Did you get to your level of understanding there through someone like mentoring you through your time? Or did you just get there through trial and error mate and developing your strengths in that regard?
Gary Chaloner (00:56:54):
Yeah, I think pretty much trial and error. You know, read the technical books. I was lucky enough to work with Will Eisen on his technical books about how to construct pages. And you just deal with like Glenn Lumps is another expert in the field of storytelling and structure and balloon placement and Dave Dre and Tad, these are all people that you learn from and absorb as you go. So you think you’re learning it all yourself, but it’s really you’re a sponge and you learn these things the hard way. And when you see it applied correctly and what you’re looking for, it’s quite a sweet things. Now that page is great and it really looks like a comic page when the word balloons are in place. It doesn’t actually look like a comic page until then. And then you put ’em in place and it’s like, yeah, that’s right.
And now let’s read the story and does it work? No, that one, that balloon there pulls up the page and yes, you get to learn it from osmosis and learning from the old masters as well. And you get to a point where when a page works and when it doesn’t. And that just takes experience I suppose. And people wanting out to you when it’s blatantly wrong and that’s fine as well. And that’s what the good editor should do if you’re dealing with the big companies or a company that actually has an editor in place. I know that Wolfgang from Geal, Wolfgang Gsma, he tries very hard to edit and correct and adjust. Cause he does a lot of the lettering on the Geal projects as well. And he’s very mindful of that. He probably be one of the best proponents of editing in Australia. He’s certainly knows his stuff as far as balloon placements is concerned.
And yeah, editors come in very handy. Not so much. I have never had a relationship with an editor where I’ve had to wrestle a story to the ground or the editor has disagreed with where I’m going with something. And I’ve heard of stories where the editor was such a part of the creative process that he was almost should have been built above the writer and artist of the story. There have been stories that I’ve heard in the past from American publishers where the editor was a very strong and dominant personality and I’ve never had that. The editors that I have had dealings with in the past have been fairly light as far as the creative touches, but more on a production level. They’ve been facilitating deadlines and production to the Inca and to the letter and colorist and things like that more so than creatively turning around going change it.
There was one guy, I did a fill issue of the badger for Mike Baron and that was actually setting Doug Dugger, the badger was coming to Australia for a illegal racing competition or something and I had to take all the artwork over to the states finish. This is before the internet. I was still using FedEx shipping and stuff, but I was going over to the states. I had all the artwork with me and this guy, I went to San Diego Con and the editor, I won’t say his name looked at the pages and sat down in a cafe, in an open forum on the convention floor and started and just like blue lining through all this artwork going, nah, do that. And there’s no way he could have read the story and appreciated what I was trying to do from across 22 pages. But he sat down and he said, ah, no, I need a close up of an emu head there. That mid shot’s not good enough. And that one there changed that. So I was there going, where am I gonna do, I’m supposed to be at the convention having fun and now I’ve gotta go back to the hotel room and do all his edits, <laugh>.
So that was the one time that I’ve had an editor who arbitrarily or not you still argue whether his decisions were correct. I had to go away and make some fairly severe artwork alterations before I got accepted.
Leigh Chalker (01:01:10):
Yeah. How does that make you feel? Surely at the time you wouldn’t have been like you are now and just Oh yes, they were rough, but I go back and do them would’ve been rather annoying. I on team,
Gary Chaloner (01:01:22):
It’s just being professional. You just take it on the chin. I mean, I had my opportunity to haggle with him, but also he was a senior editor, so you of give him the appropriate amount of professional respect and courtesy. And if you can’t sway him, if he still thinks that none of that needs to change, okay, I’ll go away and change it. So that’s what I did. It was a learning process. Yeah.
Leigh Chalker (01:01:52):
Cause professionalism and meeting those deadlines, you always hear from some of the bigger dudes in America and stuff like I guess Todd McFarlane and everything I see about him, he always his is meet that deadline, meet that deadline, sort get into those. So it’s obviously very important. And I’m going to segue off Todd’s name briefly cuz it does interest me. You were lucky enough to have him in a cover of your artwork for a comic you did a while back, the Olympians. Mm-hmm. That correct? And what was your experience with Todd, if you had any at all? Because he would’ve been pretty big name back at that point.
Gary Chaloner (01:02:46):
Yeah, when I had the pleasure of going out to his place with Dave Mike Grl was hosting us around that area of Seattle and Vancouver and Vancouver Island. So I was lucky enough to crash at Todd’s place for a night or so. And he was pretty driven. He was working on and Dave can probably correct me as far as what he was working on, I think he was just starting his Spider-Man title. His solo title. And he had proven to his editors that he was more important than they were so <laugh>, he got the title, he had the big eyes, he had the webs going everywhere. And previously he had many arguments with his Spiderman editor saying, you’re drawing the eyes too big or there’s too much web. It doesn’t look like Spiderman. And Todd’s there going, Hey you knows sell through the roof. So if you tell me to reduce the eyes, I’m gonna make a little bit bigger and you tell me to stop making all those spiderwebs going everywhere, I’m gonna put more in.
Cause the kids love it. So he knew, he was confident in himself and he was confident in the marketplace and he rolled the dice that if Marvel was to have the editor and Todd hanging from the cliff, chances are they’d save Todd more so than the editor. So I think, and Todd knew that his star was on the rise and he had a certain amount of cache and fan power behind him that he could do things the way he wanted. So that was at the point where I met Todd. And so he was very much a driven person that knew what he wanted that run on spot and broke a lot of records and changed the way comics were perceived from layouts and art style to what would become the image style. And a lot of people were influenced by the way he approached the page as well.
So yeah, when I knew him around that time supremely professional cocky for a reason. Cause he knew what his skill set was. I remember him saying to Dave and I in context to people coming up to Todd saying, why don’t you do this kind of title or why don’t you do that kind of title? And he was there going, I like doing the Hulk. I mean, why would you want to send murdering blood Firstie Thug? You’d put him in the front line of your army. You there, there’s the enemy go and kill. And that’s what I’m about. This is what I’m very good at and I don’t want to do other things. I know that my skill set is drawing. I know it’s drawing the incredible Hulk and Batman. And he said, why would you want direct me away from anything else? And so he was supremely aware of where he was in the industry I think at the time.
So it was interesting to talk to him. He was still operating on a severe, however many pages he had the hit per day. And he was a really nice guy. His family was a great host, but he was still drawing all the time that I was there. I was on holidays with Dave, we’d just been to San Diego and we’re now going, we taught McFarland’s house and all that kind of stuff. But he was there, he was hardly around because he was behind the drawing board. Gotta get it done, gotta get it done. And he was living in Victoria Island so that he had to FedEx via a plane from Vancouver Island to Toronto or wherever and then get that down to Marvel. So he was hitting those marks. It was hard for him to work from there cuz he’d moved from Arizona or somewhere where he was living before. But yeah, he was hitting those marks and even though he had guests, even though he was had grill and all these other high fluting artists visiting all the time, he was behind the drawing board meeting those deadlines.
Leigh Chalker (01:07:08):
Yeah. So how did, did you convince him to ink your cover?
Gary Chaloner (01:07:14):
Yeah <laugh>, honestly, I don’t remember, but I asked the question either. It was through when I came back to Australia through the editor Marie Evans I think may have, I said like, Hey, I know Todd, maybe Todd Link, wouldn’t it be great? And she said, yeah, that’d be great if we can get Todd. So I think she got in touch saying, Hey, this guy called Gary who’s doing a series called the Olympians wants to know whether you could ink his cover. And Todd, I was still fresh off the bloom from having visited him. He probably was just a nice guy and said yeah. So I think that’s how that came about. So I do know that’s still pretty
Leigh Chalker (01:07:55):
Cool, man. Still pretty cool I reckon.
Gary Chaloner (01:07:58):
Well apparently it was Dave Dure can tell you a story about, I think he went back to Todd’s place at some stage and he saw the cover on Todd’s drawing board and Todd was, there was a commitment above and beyond his regular workload thinking his cover and Todd was inking it like a foot at a time or a roll of toilet paper or that character there, that head. And it was being done around the edges of his main Spider-Man gig that he was working on. It eventually got done and it did turn out really well. I was very happy with it. But yeah, it was nice of him to do it, but I think it was probably a bit of a burden based on the workload that he had at the time. But yes, go Todd.
Leigh Chalker (01:08:38):
Yeah, so Daniel just said that was one of the last Marvel jobs that McFarlane did. So that was from Daniel
Gary Chaloner (01:08:48):
From after. Then from there he went off to image and just away went away we go
Leigh Chalker (01:08:55):
And went into baseballs and toys and all that sort of job where this taker. Yeah. You’ve done a fair bit of traveling too in your time around Australia, like New South Wales and you’ve been to Western Australia cuz you’ve done some stuff over there. Back to Tazzie all over the spot. Did you move for different publishing reasons or just changes in life at that time? Wanted a new scene?
Gary Chaloner (01:09:31):
No, it was more driven from just personal choices, starting up families and things like that. I was born and raised in Sydney, Sydney side and my first wife who I met in Sydney, all of her family was based in Perth. So when it was time to settle down she said do you want to go back to Perth? I’d never been really, hadn’t seen much of Australia. And I thought, oh yeah, why not? So went over to Perth, had our family over there, stayed there for another 20 years lost one marriage, started another moved all around WA down in the southwest area, saw that, and then moved to Tazzie and I’ve been here for now for about 14 years now and don’t think we’ll be going anywhere else. It’s a lovely little part of the country. Yeah, so it’s good. Great things.
Yeah, it, well one of the great things about it is after so many years of going around the country and doing comics in different formats and versions and having all these different trials and tribulations of living a life as you do has turned out that Glen Luson and his partner are living in the north of the state. So I get to catch up with him on a regular basis again after a big gap of time where he was in South Australia and working with Dave and doing his own thing to be able to touch bases with him. And we formed quite a close bond again after a huge gap from the cyclone years to us both, I won’t say semi-retired but comfortable in Tasmania and I, it’s great being able to go up to Glen’s place and see some of the stuff he’s working on when he finishes a phantom cover for through or develops or finishes a page of continuity on what are his stories, he’ll send it through for comment and I’m lucky enough to see that while it’s in production and we some see each other, he comes down, we go up there to his place, we sort of spend weekends together and things like that.
And it’s such a nice thing to have happened after decades of being in the trenches and starting out when he was a young guy very young when he started doing comics and come back full circle and he knows what he’s doing, he’s having a great success with his phantom artwork and the stories that he would like to write as well. And I’m about to enter the same kind of phase as he of not really wanting to say yes to outside projects anymore, just concentrate on doing what you want to do but do it well. And that’s where he’s at and hopefully next year that’s where I’ll be at more as well once this whole Parkinson’s settles down and we can get on with telling some new stories with the oo. So it’s been a real bonus being able to catch up with him. And the talks we have is much this. You can only imagine that it goes off into the we small hours talking about movies, talking about comics. And it’s the same things that sort of happen all the time talking about what we like and don’t like. It’d be great to actually record some of those conversations, but they like gold. But yeah, they’re great. Glen’s a very lovely guy, very smart, knowledgeable, and boy. Yeah, is he talented? That’s it’s amazing.
Leigh Chalker (01:13:12):
Yeah, no, I definitely admire his artwork. I do collect the phantoms. So now here’s Spy, he’s got one for you mate. So Gary, what do you think about the state of Aussie comics and what can we do to improve the scene? Good one, spy
Gary Chaloner (01:13:31):
God, bloody hell. I think it’s all heading in the right direction. I think looking at the state of Aussie comics, I think it’s very healthy at the moment. There’s different it’s unkind to say different levels, but there’s a wide variety of publishing outlets that people can take advantage of now. And if you’re driven enough, the opportunities for getting into international publishing is much greater now than it ever was with the opportunities now comics. I think in Australia, what I’ve learned in when putting the ledgers together and seeing the long list being developed year after year is that it’s not just about superheroes anymore. They still have a large part of the pie but there’s so many other genres and expressions of interest using the comic book language that are coming into play now and the zine fairs that are out there, the low key photocopied comics are still relevant.
The web comics, the Instagram comics, the digital printing, the low print runs, but also the attention that major publishers like Alan and Unwin and players like that are giving to graphic novels and graphic novelists. Even the American publishers like Fano Graphics and drawing them quarterly paying attention to Australian graphic novels and either reprinting them or commissioning brand new material from different creators as well. So I think there’s never been a better time to get your ideas down and the hard thing is to realize what you want to do with them. Some people are quite content, they might have the next war and piece in mind, but they’re quite happy just posting it on their Instagram page and that’s totally fine. But there’s also, if you have the next war in peace, you can also pitch it to a large real deal publisher and it’s in with just as much of a chance as any other project to get picked up. I think that’s strengthening as the years go by.
As far as the Australian comic scene is concerned, I’ve always thought that the biggest strength of the scene or the industry in this country is its diversity and how the support is there. The community, the comics community and the Reary Publishing community and even people that are behind the guest graphic novels and the higher quality releases from companies like that, Alan and Unwin as I’ve said. And then you’ve got the creators that aim to do work locally, but they also aim to pitch their work for the American and overseas market. No two projects. That’s again from the ledgers I found that there’s no two projects you could really compare side by side, which is why Tim and I decided on the way to approach the ledgers was to approach judging a project on its own merits. Cause comparing two super Australian superhero comics could be quite unfair, or comparing a superhero comic to a five photocopied comic would be unfair as well.
But if you could judge a project based on what it’s set out to do, what the creators tried to achieve as that one off project. So it’s really competing against itself and against the skills of the creator, how successful was the team in bringing that idea to fruition? And that’s the way we were trying to sell to the judging panel, how to approach this cause the Australian comic scene is so diverse and it would be unfair for it to be a competitive thing when we have such a strong history over the last 20 or 30 years of being supportive of new work, being supportive of new creators as much as possible. And I think that’s still one of the strengths is the community aspect to it.
Leigh Chalker (01:17:50):
Ben Sullivans just said, this is a fantastic conversation. Thank you both. So I’m glad you’re enjoying it Ben. He’s a good dude, Ben mate. Do you think the strength and diversity of Australian comics, I guess for me personally, just I’m just talking as a kid here and stuff going backwards in time, there was lots of stuff in the news agents drops and then in that mid nineties, you know couldn’t really buy a lot of Australian stuff from your news agents and mini Martin that. And then somewhere along the lines, probably 2007, 2008, I noticed things for me was getting a bit better coming into finding people and that I guess the internet was coming and that do you think in its own strange way with, cuz I spin out and I’m only a baby at this that, but I spin out how many people creators with voracious appetites and stuff are just coming through and pumping our comic books. And do you think in a strange way that as bad for people and stuff, the covid was for people that have a story, I guess a bit more introverted and stuff like drawing and that, do you think Covid may have brought that out in some of these creators that may have just let it sit?
Gary Chaloner (01:19:26):
Yeah, I think there was an up pulse beat there, an opportunity there that allowed for creators to have some head space to try and process, not just Covid and how that world changing event happened and the way we lived our lives in Australia. But if you could compartmentalize that, cause for me was Covid was a very small part of my diagnosis year to year and a half with Parkinson’s. I would sit down with Bell, my wife and it’d be sort of like, well that’s crappy. I’ve got this and this and we’ve got this to worry about and work and da da da da. And then we’d pause and go, oh yeah and by the way there’s on top of all that and I’m sure that wasn’t the only one that was having all different kinds of emotional upheavals that was overlaid by the existential upheaval of the Covid pandemic.
But what it did allow, excuse my shaky arm, what it did allow for was with people not working as much, they could maybe have time to assess their thoughts and as you say, have time to put it on paper. Whether it’s writing it up for someone to draw or sitting down to draw that story that they would never normally have that 18 months to two years worth of reduced work or no work to actually approach. So I think there was a lot of opportunities taken. I know on a more grander scale that there are several graphic novels that were probably finished in the Covid period that normally would still be being worked on. So I think that was a great opportunity and it gave a inkling of what life could be like for artists and writers if we didn’t have the grind of paying the bills so much.
Or the way our society is structured where the nine to five Monday to Friday kind of thing gets in the way of being creative and hopefully it allows, it allowed for a lot more creators to say, Hey, I can do this and I still, yeah, I’ve gotta go back to work but now I’m invested and I know what it’s like to create a page or a project or a zine or a mini comic and I’ll still do it. That opportunity there, that was great and I’ll try and now force the issue by making time for myself to get some more stuff done. So I hope that’s the case. I hope there are more small time comic fairs and zen fairs around. I know there’s one coming up this weekend in Hobart, the small Zen Fair I think in Hobart and that’s these smaller festivals very well attended and that whole grassroots subculture is where it’s all gotta start from. And it’s like the music industry where you start getting your first gig in a pub and start honing your craft gotta happen. And I think Australia is very good for starting to do those kind of things more and more
Leigh Chalker (01:22:32):
Now. Have you found with the ledges and stuff that you are getting more entries and stuff over the last couple of years since you’ve been doing it? That
Gary Chaloner (01:22:42):
It’s been kind of constant? I have to admit, since I was doing it for essentially across a 10 year span and it’s slowly creeping up, it’s slowly creeping up, but it’s always been a problem getting people to not participate. But some people creators are very diligent and want to represent and want to add their work to the long list, but just by definition you can’t get everyone. And so there’s a whole swag of people who don’t tune into the internet communities and don’t know the circle of social influence that certain things happen so their work gets missed. And that’s always been a problem that we want to outreach and all it really might mean for whoever takes the awards on moving into the future, whether it’s Bruce or someone else is to try and that that’s a part. You need outreach, you need some promotion, you need people to be aware that get onto the long list that makes it worthwhile. And really the Ledger awards isn’t so much about the winners, it’s more about participating and making sure that your work is acknowledged as a thing. Even that thing just means being listed as an annual a thing that was achieved in 2012 or a thing that was achieved in 2023 or it’s important to be there amongst a whole mob of other creators to be part of the community.
Leigh Chalker (01:24:19):
Yeah, that’s cool cause now Brett, your work’s also available, I’m gonna talk about Owner Indy which is another Australian online comic book shop. Now your work is through Owner Indy. Yes. That’s available there if anyone watching wants to jump on and get some of Gary stuff. And mate, do I recall that now there’s some Planet of the Apes artwork available on that, isn’t there?
Gary Chaloner (01:24:47):
Yeah, I think so. I dunno whether the entries are still relevant, but they might very well be. I think I’ve updated the site enough that yeah, there’s a couple of pages there and I’ve still got a stack of artwork here that I’m slowly letting go for sale and things like that. So yeah, no
Leigh Chalker (01:25:03):
Gary Chaloner (01:25:05):
Yeah, some projects I still have the original art for it’s, it’s funny, it’s never been the side of things that I’ve worried too much about that the artwork just sort of piles up there and every now and then when the need arises it’s like, oh maybe we put something on the market and sell a couple of pieces as a recover or something. But it’s never been a driving force for me so I just let it pile up a little bit and then Daniel Best comes along and takes it all off my hand.
Leigh Chalker (01:25:33):
<laugh>, I was gonna say be sitting out there going a pile of artwork where bag there next time
Gary Chaloner (01:25:46):
Probably have a fan base of one, a customer base of one
Leigh Chalker (01:25:51):
<laugh>. Yeah, that’d be awesome man, to have a look at all that cuz it’s like yeah and that never really phased you were more interested in doing your artwork and producing your comic books and getting that out there to people. Cause I know there’s a lot of people that do as soon as they’ve finished the page they offload it and things like that.
Gary Chaloner (01:26:14):
Yeah, no I tend to keep it for a little while. The whole prospect of selling it doesn’t really come into my mind unless months later there’s a need where I need to raise some money or anything like that. But generally on selling the art beyond the print projects, not very high on my agenda at all. So I know lot some artists have agents that handle original art sales and things like that, takes it off the hands of the artist completely and they just say, yeah, tell me what you sell, send me a check when you sell the 20 pages or whatever. But I’ve never done that so yeah, it hasn’t been much of an interest.
Leigh Chalker (01:26:59):
Yeah, yeah, fair enough. Oh here’s one from Danny Nolan. I Okay, your work on the Australia Comic Book database is one of the most important projects currently running in Oz comics.
Gary Chaloner (01:27:10):
Oh thank you. Yeah I would,
Leigh Chalker (01:27:13):
Yeah, that mate like good on you Danny cuz I also agree with that mate. So tell us about that one Gary.
Gary Chaloner (01:27:23):
Well that was a flow on project from the ledgers that again, the long list each year is so important that people contribute their information to the site so that not only are they eligible for the awards each year, the Comic arts awards of Australia as they’re now called but that also allows me to have a track record of all the creator information. And when you register to become a participant in the Ledger awards, we ask you to send through a PDF of the issue for the judges to have a look at. That allows me at the same time, to have access to a nice cover scan and all of the legal information and the creator information that I can make an entry for the comics database, which is sort of like a sister site to the long list. I’m using the long list as my basis and working through the past years.
And Daniel Best is working through new comics and whatever old comics he can finally work through in his collection as well. So he is working on old stuff and new material and I’m slowly working through all the ledger awards entries that I still have on my filing system here to get the flesh out, the two thousands and the 1990s working backwards using the long list as a basis. So it’s a double edged sword. You get the long list for yearly awards and then I use that resource to flesh out the database and then hopefully it’ll get to a stage where I can make it accessible where people can upload their own comics themselves with their own cover and then I just have to, or Daniel and I edit the entry to make sure it’s accurate and keeps it up to date and it becomes a resource for everyone to utilize.
Cause I don’t think people really realize how many comics are produced each year and how many comics have been produced over the decades. The good thing about something like the comics database is you can go into little Search and you can put in a year and it brings up all the comics that I’ve made entries of for that year. And you can start to see, oh yeah here, but the Hippo was out at the same time as this one was and you get 1994 for example, and you get all these amazing lists of it. It’s sweet going down memory lane when you’re looking at all these titles, Dar and Dill, but the Hippo Zero Assassin greener pastures all lined up next to each other, you know, can do your different searches and parameters to get different kind of results. Just putting the creator’s name and put in Dylan Nailer and see all his comics come up there and it’s like, oh man, he’s done a bloody lot of, he’s done a lot of work.
So there’s lots of ways to enjoy the site beyond just pure information and new titles. But it’s nice to do different search parameters and see what the results are and it’s only gonna get better. I think last time we updated the site we’re up to about almost 1600 entries and I’ve still got probably about five years worth of old ledger entries to add as well as current eids and things like that. So there’s a lot more to go and that’s not really being so comprehensive with the pre 1980s entries that older historical material for Australian comics is covered really well in a couple other sites like OS Reprints and a few other things like that. We will be dipping into that. It’s not our main mandate. We want to get those ledger years covered and being able to get new comics moving forward, 20 22, 20 23 and each year get that content created of new comics that are being produced. So we’ll work backwards as best we can, but where our main thing is chipping away from year to year with new stuff.
Leigh Chalker (01:31:26):
Now that’s I’ll just read out that website if it pops back up to get through to you. Obviously given the fact at the moment. There it is for anyone that’s Australian comics d db.com au. So next question Gary can obviously we don’t wanna bombard you at present, you’re a busy man and stuff. Can people that have produced a comic book that may have only produced 10 or 20 copies of it, send emails to there and so no, you don’t have to have, be scared that you’re not up to a print run like sales standard or
Gary Chaloner (01:32:13):
There’s no restrictions and for the database itself, you don’t really necessarily have to enter it into the comic awards either. You can go straight to the database site and just send us the what we’re after basically is a decent cover scan or a pdf of the book itself. So we can get a cover scan from the PDF and a thorough list of creators and anything else that, a little bit of a blurb about what’s in the book. And that way we can make a fairly comprehensive entry and leave it at that. But any kind of comic really as long as it’s Australian or has an Australian creator involved they’re the parameters. We wanna be inclusive instead of exclusive. And hopefully once I get Jet Illustrated number two finished that’s one of the projects I’d like to do is to make it a little bit more to up upgrade the whole database so it’s a little bit more user friendly where people can claim entries.
So you can have people that look after their own family of entries like comics and things like that can come in and curate their entries if they want as well. So Danny and I are both, he is co-editor of the site and he’s got some ideas for it as well as far as growth and expansion, but one step at a time just trying to get all this workload out the way and trying to streamline the whole experience of uploading new comics to the site. But it’s growing really well and I’m really happy where it’s at. But there’s lots of potential for growth there for using it as a really interactive and robust tool to have a play around comics current and past going backwards.
Leigh Chalker (01:33:58):
Yeah, yeah, it is an important tool mate, to be honest with you. Cuz I think when you look at stuff like that I, I’ve looked at the site and things and gone through the list of comic books, it amazes me even too with Owner Indian stuff to see just how much volume of work that is out there by creators men. And I actually find it myself really inspiring men to think that there’s others that have gone before with me at this point and there’s others that’ll come into the future men and it gives them I don’t know, it’s a pretty good feeling mate to know that there’s others out there that are doing it. And I think it’s a hugely important thing, man. It’s amazing.
Gary Chaloner (01:34:51):
It’s hard to corral some cravings and their output into a single resource. Someone, I’m just trying to think of an example of Scar. Steve Carter and Antoinette Rider, they have had such a huge career and they’ve worked for so many publishers, their own publishers, but so many dotted projects colorful career it’s their kind of work that I’d love to be able to be fairly comprehensively listed on the site and people like that that don’t necessarily, for me, I’ve got a fairly linear kind of career, but there are a lot of creators out there that have had stops and starts and working for different people and little obscure series that we’ll never know about. And I worked for the Northern Territory newspaper on a comic that was an insert somewhere and strange little things. That’s the kind of stuff that I’d love to be able to corral and I’ve got to upload <laugh>, Teddy bass, yeah, <laugh> got lots of scar stuff. Good. But that’s just an example. Those two creators have had such an extensive and wide, wide reaching standing career both in Australia and overseas as well that that’s the kind of stuff that I like to corral and be searchable online so that there’s a and the information is correct. Cause that’s the other thing some of this stuff has incorrect information attached and it’s good to have it correct and definite and so you can go to one resource and know that chances of it being correct are 90 to a hundred percent.
A lot of things get lost in the wash with Australian publishing and that’s what we’re trying to capture so that it doesn’t get lost.
Leigh Chalker (01:36:48):
Yeah, it’s amazing too what you see people bring up on the Facebook sites and stuff too Australian. There’s little things like Australian pre decimal comic books and stuff that man, I look back on and there’s little stories, pick this up at a flea market or pick this up here, there and everywhere. These little gems that are just tucked in someone’s drawer for 30 or 40 years just may have been a thousand printed in the day, but due to time and things happening, you know about that you had a flood that happened to one of your comic books back in the day. So natural disasters can happen, anything can happen to finish print it.
Gary Chaloner (01:37:36):
And I’ll still get people as well just talking about the history of cyclone people getting in touch going, oh, I never knew that you did that. And it was a maybe kinetic comics that Phil Barlow and ICO published under the Cyclone Banner or the occasional Cyclone special that people who say that they’re fans of Cyclone and think they’ve got a fairly thorough collection of cyclone titles and that’s just cyclone. And then you can still pull up a title that they go, well <laugh>, I didn’t know that you published that. Never heard of it before. And it’s like, come on. It’s like loans aren’t that hard to track down, you would think, but mm-hmm <affirmative>, there’s a hole in someone’s mental collection of Australian comics that can easily be filled.
Leigh Chalker (01:38:23):
Yeah. Do you, you’re writer, you’re an artist, you’re a mentor to a lot of Australian creators and stuff like that. I can think of many names. There’s Ashley Wood and different Ryan Val’s one like me. What side of it have you liked the most of the time that you’ve been doing it? Man, I guess is what I’m asking. What’s the side that really
Gary Chaloner (01:38:57):
I’ve probably gone through phases of wearing the cyclone hat there for many, many years and that was a driving force trying to get the cyclone brand up and running and to have it maintained. That was my publisher Pat, I suppose. And I’ve now grown into of maybe that to a certain extent. And now I wanna concentrate on the creative side again, which comes back to the work that I wanna do with the Jackaroo and it goes through phases, but obviously there a great chunk of my professional career was trying to maintain cyclone as an imprint more so than individual ipss. I was there trying to keep the squadron and dark Nebula and GI Joe and the Jacko to a certain extent as well, all spinning plates at the same time. And I was having great joy in seeing that come together and that sort of informed my decisions when Cyclone Comics quarterly with Ashley came out and the project with Dark Horse comics with dark tacos down under.
And even with Modern Tales, when I did a anthology, a little section of the Modern Tales commercial web comic site called Short and Curs that featured a few Australian creators for the American market. It all had that cyclone hat on, which was different to being a creator. It was promoting Australian creators, it was trying to curate curators under one spot. I tried that a couple of times. So that impetus was there quite strong in me, obviously. And that played off of me doing my own stuff as well. You occasionally get an offer from Mike Barron to do a Badger or Kurt Busick to do an Astro City or Kurt again asking me to come on doing that Batman man hunter thing for power company where I got to draw Batman. And they were not interruptions, but they were opportunities that had happened along a career that was being built. And I’m almost 60 now and I’ve learned that saying no sometimes is a good thing to know when you need to focus and stay on target. And there’s many times in my career where I’ve gone off target to the detriment of the bigger plan and I think now it’s just a case of saying no more. And the way is head down, bum up, keep your knees bent so you can avoid any kind of trouble as it happens the older cricketers behind the batsman waiting for the case. Yeah,
Leigh Chalker (01:41:52):
No, we could keep a get ready. Yeah,
Gary Chaloner (01:41:54):
Stay focused. Yeah. And I’ve had this chat with you as well many times about the way, but also haven’t mentioned the way to Glen Langston, but he and I are on the same page of stay focused. Don’t worry about all the other crap that happens. Don’t worry about all the politics and the back biting and that may happen in a community every now and then. Just get the work done, done to the best of your ability. That’s what you’re waking up wanting to do. If you’re into comics as a creator, you wanna write stories or if you’re an artist, you want to get a really good story and you wanna start drawing it and you wanna finish it and then, oh my God, you may wanna even get it published. Well stay focused and do that. Just stay on target. It’s like the Star Wars quote, stay on target <laugh>.
Leigh Chalker (01:42:45):
Yeah, yeah. But it’s perfect advice, man, to be honest with you because even in my little time here, you know can start off and then you get all these sparkles thrown out at you and you’re like, yes, I’ll do that. I’ll do this, I’ll be happy to, I’ll be happy to, I’ll be happy. And then suddenly you realize like, wow, I’m six months doing other things and I’ve lost what I started this mission for. But if
Gary Chaloner (01:43:17):
You were say to me, this is don’t ever put me on a debating team because I’ll be on both sides. But if you were to say to me, would you ever take away the Batman issue that you did for Power Company? I would say no. Would you ever take away the experience of working on Astro Astro City comic? I’d say no. Would you ever take away the experience of spending four or five years working with Will Eisen on John Law? No. But overall decades later, those things were distractions. They were fantastic distractions, but they were distractions that how many Jackaroo comics could I have drawn in that time? And how many we’ll leave it at that. How many oo comics could I have done in that time instead of these little side projects, which were wonderful in and of themselves, but they were major successes in my life. There were many not so successful yeses that I said yes to that just ate up time that just were, I shouldn’t have said yes to that. There’s no way. And the more of those less than pleasant experiences you have across your career, the more you realize that saying no is a mighty, mighty thing. That sometimes is what you gotta do, but you live by your decisions and you die by your decisions and there he is a career.
Leigh Chalker (01:44:35):
Yeah. Oh Peter Elaine just wrote a comment there and he wrote exactly, forget about the political stuff and focus on comics. And
Gary Chaloner (01:44:48):
Sometimes that can be hard to do. I’ve had my fair share of headbutting with people, particularly with the Ledger awards and navigating those waters of the nature of awards and people feeling that they’ve been ignored or that the awards didn’t come to the right projects or all of the vagaries of putting something like that together. I’ve had my kicks to the head and my frustrating screening out in the darkness in frustration at certain things that are outcomes that have happened there. But that’s all part of it. I don’t regret for a second, I still believe this country can have a set of comic book awards that reward excellence because we’re doing more and more excellent stuff. And so to shine a light, to have a focus each year on the work that’s been done is very important. The long list is very important and I think we’ve got our long on now, we’re not in shorts anymore, we’re strong enough and big enough to be able to take a few wax on the chin if people don’t like what’s going on.
But I think we’re, as an industry, as a scene, we are big enough now and strong enough now to weather some rough weather and to be able to take it’d be great to be able to have a really, not negative critical, but a critical site that is set up or comments made where more attention is given to the language of comics, the art of comics, the deconstructing of comics as whether a given project is successful, more along the lines of what alleges are set up to do, but more on a forum of a book or a magazine or a website that focuses on that kind of stuff. So that when a project gets released, the latest issue of a battle for bustle, you don’t just get a promotional blurb about it, you actually get someone who knows what they’re talking about deconstructing it for strengths and weaknesses as well. And that you as a creator get something from that. That you’re not just going, that guy’s full of crap or whatever. I think we’re at that stage where that could be, maybe I’m wrong, what do you think? Are we at a maturity stage in this scene here where it’ll probably go down a lead balloon, but I still strive for that sort of creative robustness of commentary.
Leigh Chalker (01:47:26):
I would think that there’s certainly in the people that I have stuff to do with and a lot to do with mate, there’s an admiration for their work. And I also think there’s also having the comfort to improve, I think don’t think you necessarily do this stuff to just do one and done, you know what I mean? You sort of want to improve yourself, your own skills, whatever they are your position are standing how you view yourself in the community and stuff. I think that healthy stuff is good. I mean, God, you’re never gonna escape trolls and stuff, are you on the internet these days? You know what I mean?
Gary Chaloner (01:48:16):
That’s why the person offering the review has to have bonafides and is a credible person that their opinion actually means something. And I think there’s enough of those kinds of people percolating around the scene from all different cuts of cloth that would allow for an interesting debate. Even if a given review on a site might have two or three different people having an online review conversation about certain points of an issue so that don’t just have one reviewer, you have a conversation about a comic from different points of view that allows for more comprehensive examination of what the book is about. All to the point of getting people to pick the book up because that is the tool that allows them at entranceway into what they’re doing. Yeah,
Leigh Chalker (01:49:08):
So I would think you’re right. I think there’s definitely people that you know, can have conversations with about that. That’d be hugely interesting to me. Cuz I know when I started this I was just head down driven, I’m gonna finish battle to bustle and I didn’t sort had my own views and my own ideas of what I wanted to do with the comic book and stuff. And since talking to peers and people I admire being lucky enough to talk to you and asking questions and doing art with other people, I’ve found a desire in myself to improve my artwork and writing as best as I can. And that for me, the importance of that for me has come from having conversations with people like yourself and others that have read Battle for Bustle and have met me and talked and seen how I draw and just maybe think this that, but I myself personally have no issues with anyone that wants to have dialogue with me in that regard cuz.
Gary Chaloner (01:50:17):
And I think that the approach is important. It has to be an overarching positiveness about it that we’re not doing this to rip shreds off anything. It’s gonna be, and if it’s a positive review, it’s a positive review, but it’s gotta be couched in a positive framework that no one’s no intentional damage being done. This is all constructive. And I just thought then of the comic arts workshop that has been held a couple of years in a row, and I think there’s another one on soon where a whole bunch of people that have ideas or graphic novels or projects to work on take what they’ve got, it’s unfinished and all their notes and they go off for a week and each of them have their moment in the sun to pitch their work to these other creators in the room and the whole thing gets pulled apart and put back together again.
And that workshopping of ideas is so invaluable. Like a raft of award winners from recent ledger awards have been through that workshopping process and come out the other end with publishing deals. And they’ve been through that mentoring process where it’s not mentoring necessarily from above by someone who is more expert or more senior. It’s from the side, from people who are going through the same creative process as well. So I know that negative reviews or constructive criticism can be damaging and that’s what you have to be very mindful of. That kind of review has to be couched in a positive way. And the comic arts workshop does a lot of good in getting to that stage before the work gets published. It’s actually workshop and any problems created, problems talked about with a friendly supportive environment before the work gets finished. So I think that’s pretty important. But to have that expanded and reflected in a right, you’ve got the latest issue of stud man come out from Geal let’s pull that thing apart and see where it goes from there. From a couple of people that are approaching the reading experience from different points of view.
Leigh Chalker (01:52:32):
<affirmative> well I think that’s healthy. And I mean there’s all elements too from talking to you tonight and talking to other guests and meeting people. There’s so many different levels of it too. And everyone’s important. Whether you, as you said, your editors are very important, not just, I guess the artist is the lead guitarist, isn’t it? You know what I mean? And the comic book and the writer like the singer, but
Gary Chaloner (01:52:58):
You come in for the art and you stay for the story,
Leigh Chalker (01:53:03):
But there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes and from reviewers to colorist teeth and the fans and stuff like that, people will buy your comic books and all that. And I think involving people from all of those different areas into a nucleus I guess is a healthy thing, man. I think that creates a community to live and thrive myself. And essentially that’s what you wanna do. You wanna improve. Cuz as you just said earlier, you know, want your last work to be the best, but right there, that’s your best. But you, you’re gearing up to get onto the next one with the lessons that you’ve learn from getting that last work out and always trying to take a foot forward. This is coming positive,
Gary Chaloner (01:54:01):
This is coming from the beginning point of you assume that most people who put pen a paper and go down to the photocopier and do their little a four photocopies and fold it in half and staple it and then go to the zine fair. They may be the most shy and retiring creator ever and have no prospect or dreams of being published by a major publisher or anything like that. But they go to that Z fair and they sit behind that table and they talk about their creative work that that’s what it’s all about. If not, they would stay home and not do it. So that starting point is you’ve got a creator that has something to say and wants to interact with the general public in some way. So whether it’s a small press zine fair, or whether it’s pitching to a publisher so that their work gets to a larger market or they put it online as an Instagram comic, it all means it’s a extrovert statement, it’s a step towards the public, it’s a step towards having a conversation with your readership. So even if the creator doesn’t talk to the person, the comic talks to the person as well. And so there’s a positive outward motion of getting that stuff done. And that’s the starting point of everything.
So when you’re talking about doing reviews and doing constructive reviews I wouldn’t want it to be damaging at all. But there is also the understanding that if you put it out there, the audience has to have a thought about it and you need to be able to take that on board somehow or be able to be resilient enough to say to take not criticism, constructive criticism, let’s say and then build on it from there.
Leigh Chalker (01:55:40):
I think that’s fair. I think we’re in a position where there’s a lot of people out there that can do that, mate. So again, I might like, mate, I’m all about building the community as best as you can and strong cuz I love comic books man. So it’s like whatever works for people, everyone’s different but like
Gary Chaloner (01:56:04):
Oh that’s right. And people can find their own level. I think the community in Australia at the moment is such where you can float at whatever level you feel comfortable with and if you want to go into deeper water, if your willpower is there, your skill set is there, you feel strong enough. So there’s little, there’s markers all along the different levels of professionalism in Australian comics and you can find your own comfort level and if you wanna sit at that one level for years and years and years and not move from there, you can do that as well.
Leigh Chalker (01:56:35):
Yeah, yeah, that’s a lovely thing really to have that thought process of having that comfort. Cuz you’re right, you can go all the way to the top or you can just be chilling out man and happy in your creativity and whatever your sense of bliss is for the whole purpose. Cause would you think after all your time in the industry, it’s not, how do you think that your own drive to keep creating and putting stories out is not just a personal drive and probably not just a dream that you’ve had since a kid, but do you think it takes a particular individual? From what I’ve seen, it’s almost like a compulsion. This, I’ve gotta do it, I’ve got a day off, I’m gonna draw, or I’m gonna sit down tonight after 10 hours of work and I’m gonna put two or three hours into it. There wouldn’t be too many people out there that are just touched by the golden warn. You know what I mean? That would just get,
Gary Chaloner (01:57:46):
Yeah. And it’s hard. It might not be hard if you just doodling something fairly light, but when you start to go commercial it’s a hard job sitting down doing eight pages, 12 pages, 24 pages on a semi-regular basis or even as often as you can. It’s hard to get into the zone. It’s hard to do a page that you’re happy with. The different stages of production on a commercial comic is so variable that it’s hard getting a story together. It’s hard doing the artwork if you’re just an inker, it’s hard inking a page that you’re happy with. Then there’s the whole publishing and delivery of the whole thing. It is hard but it does get you, it’s the kind of thing where it’s occurred to me several times during my diagnosis period where as I mentioned to you earlier, I thought about packing it in that that’s not an option, that I can’t continue what’s not, what’s the point? But if I can’t produce at the level that I need to produce that to be happy I should maybe consider walking away and just becoming a writer instead of a writer artist.
But then I also thought what am I gonna do? I can’t just walk away from that. I think I’ll always be an artist, even if it doesn’t get released, I will still sit down and there’s nothing that brings me more joy than sitting underneath this studio lamp when everyone else has gone to bed and you’ve got your headphones on and a bit of music and you’re drawing away and it’s actually working. You’re actually in the zone. And that hands that you’re drawing is actually, oh that’s not a bad hand for once. And that host that you’re trying to draw is a stupid bloody horse. But hey, it looks like a horse. And you’re thinking that you’re trying to, you’re doing something metallic and it’s actually working out that zone, that small little golden moment where you’re doing comics and you’re by yourself. Cause it is a very solitary and egotistical kind of thing to do.
Cause you really are the main customer for a lot of what you do. You’re doing the story that you wanna tell and you wanna be the person that picks that comic up and buy it. Yes. I’d love the next issue of the oo Oh, thank you very much. I know exactly what you want young man, <laugh>. So Gary is the main customer for the oo. Cause I know exactly what I want. And to be sitting on your drawing board and just working on a page, on a panel, on a cartoon. If you’re in the zone as an artist or if you’re a writer and you’re writing the page and it’s flowing, it’s starting to flow. That’s just flowing it. That’s like a drug you wanna keep on having that zone moment of being in a zone. Yeah.
Leigh Chalker (02:00:46):
Yeah. I assume that your drawing over your time would’ve been like your meditation in all times of your life. You’ve always, oh what’s, okay, here’s a maid of mine actually got one for you, Peter Gassy. What do you listen to when you’re drawing?
Gary Chaloner (02:01:14):
I have been delving into a bit of a true crime podcasts lately, but as far as music a wide variety of stuff from into the classic rock and roll I suppose Bruce Springsteen and the Who and that kind of era. Kate Bush, original Kate Bush, because before she became famous <laugh>.
Leigh Chalker (02:01:38):
Yeah, three times <laugh>.
Gary Chaloner (02:01:42):
But yeah, a wide variety of stuff. But doing the podcasting lately is always good. When I’m writing I don’t mind working in silence as well to a large degree. And I find myself just going through phases of having the studio when no one else is around. Very loud music pouring through the house as I’m working away. Or writing quietly or drawing quietly at the moment now. So some family members that have gone to sleep. Cause I’ve gotta get up early so it’ll be a quiet night to night if I was to draw or anything. But yeah, it depends. But generally Squeeze uk, squeeze Australian Crawl, I love Springsteen that kind of stuff. So fairly standard, but I’m not doing that. Then I’m listening to podcasts and Lee Chaka on Chin Chinwag seven shows.
Leigh Chalker (02:02:51):
Gary Chaloner (02:02:55):
Live about, we haven’t been canceled yet. What’s
Leigh Chalker (02:02:59):
Gary Chaloner (02:03:00):
You’re a lucky man. You’re a lucky man.
Leigh Chalker (02:03:04):
Oh well they’ll probably saving it up for you being on here next week and next week now mate. I’ll get a phone call
Gary Chaloner (02:03:12):
Man. You’ll get canceled after this. The whole station down.
Leigh Chalker (02:03:19):
Oh mate, you know what? For me, if that was the way, if was, it was gonna go I, I’m a happy man mate. <laugh> I got me mate here of I’ve been lucky man. That’s the other thing, luck sometimes, man. You get lucky. Different perceptions of levels of luck and stuff. So I’ve got nothing to complain about man. It’s lovely. Enjoyable. Yeah, having fun. But <laugh> my mate Pete who just sent that question in about, what are you listening to? He’s a voracious music. Listen to man. The man listens like nonstop. I sometimes would think that he probably even listens to music while he is a sleep mate. There’d be something going in the background. But he’s a big Bruce Springsteen fan himself mate. And I know that’s one of your very big ones. There you go. Peter Gas. Excellent. <laugh>. Yeah, we’ve had, what do we got here? Comics. Oh yeah, this is our Shane, this has been awesome. We wanna sign you on for five more seasons. <laugh> is Gary. You’re coming on those five seasons mate, so you’re not out of it that quick man.
Gary Chaloner (02:04:45):
Yeah, well I, I’ll come back on after the Cyclone book is released and we can have another chat about that. Cause that’s another big thing that’s looming in the future is finally putting that together. Cause that’s the first part of a much larger project that Daniel Best is planning. He was on, was it last week? Yeah. And he and I have had many long chats about the need of getting this stuff down on paper. It’s sort like it was a flow on from the database really, that he’s always had an interest in getting the history of Australian comics on paper. But it was too big a project. It was a problem on how do you approach such a varied resource or history or spotted history of Australian comics. Even if you were to close the window to post panel by panel by John Ryan, that book that ends in about 79 it’d be so difficult to try and get a single volume happening.
So the logical answer to that was to break it up into a series of quite comprehensive history books but the angle of it being to talk to the creators involved, which is what Daniel is good at. He’s good at research and he is good at talking to people. So I was lucky enough to, he had a lot of content together that was cyclone based, so we kind of decided that maybe that was the first one to get knocked into shape. He’s got other books that he’s finished writing that will form a part of the series, but he wants it to flow out in a certain way so that there are book two and book three that comes after cyclone that starts to build quite a comprehensive jigsaw puzzle that builds upwards front and backwards timewise to create hopefully a comprehensive picture of Australian comics right around the country and the different people and personalities involved.
Cause the other side of the coin is that you’ve got your hair buts and your zero assassins and your towel guards and all these characters, but there are characters on the other side of the coin and they’re the creators that are involved. And those stories and how those characters got on the page are just as interesting. And that’s the angle that Daniel I think is taking with these history books. And I hope more power to him that he can get a whole swag volume seven, volume eight, volume nine to get to the comics history of comics and talk to the players involved and fantastic in the Melbourne scene and the Perth scene and Brisbane. And it’s all there to be talked about. And it’s less about the characters more so than the characters behind the characters. Cause Australian comics has a lot of amazing people involved and a lot of amazing stories as from the Len Lawson story that Daniel put together in that volume called Monster, that history through to the different murder mysteries that have involved and different kinds of crime cases, right through to the opinions and political fighting of publishing companies like Phosphorescent Comics and Cyclone and why certain things were wound down and started up again and where players went and how they moved around the scene over the years.
It’s quite, it make for very interesting reading. So hopefully the first one will set the scene for other volumes down the track.
Leigh Chalker (02:08:36):
Yeah. Yeah. I mate, I said to Daniel last week can definitely, there’s been a few comments pop up there from decent different peoples telling us that they’re really looking forward to that cyclone book and yeah, I think you’ve got a lot of people’s attention there cuz the other thing is too, man, the history of Australian comics is deep and it goes for a lot longer than what a lot of people realize too. We had Daniel on last week talking about that and stuff and one of the topics that we even spoke about d and I thought this was interesting and I’d love to get your perspective on this if that’s cool with you. The topic of different, I guess different people have a different I idea of what a comic book is. So Daniel and I got onto the topic last week and he gave his answer what he thought they were and I would present you with the same question mate. What do you think a comic book
Gary Chaloner (02:09:42):
<laugh>? Well, in my experience with dealing with the judging panels of the ledgers, this question comes up a lot as to what is a comic book what is a illustrated children’s book, picture book? And there was no firm answer. The conclusion that Tim and I decided on was let the judges decide themselves as part of the judging process as to whether it should even be in running for being the thing that is for me that the technical response is a series of sequential panels telling a story. It’s a cartoon if it’s one panel and it’s a comic book if it’s, or comic strip or comic book if it’s a series of panels telling a story. So time passes between the panels or the arrangement of images. That’s a technical version. But yeah, you’re right, opinion will vary from person to person as to what the first comic book was what a graphic novel is. Whether reprint collections of floppies in a spine book means it’s a graphic novel or is it just a trade paper back? That argument will go on until the cows come home <laugh>. But I think what is worth mentioning that I’ve always wanted to say in a public forum that one of the most important contributions I think that the artwork has, that the comic art form has given the world and it’s not necessarily used all the time in comics, but it’s still the most important contribution, I think is the word balloon.
What that represents is sound. And I think it’s pretty miraculous to have an oval with a little pointy bit coming out of it. And everyone in the world knows what that represents. That represents a voice that someone is talking, the reader does the rest of the work. The reader will give accent, the reader will give a speed of delivery but the word balloon itself and then by extension, the thought bubble. But the word balloon itself I think is one of the most important symbols or contributions that the comic book language is given to communication in the world. How many logos or how many usages of the word balloon can you see that have nothing to do with comics? But as soon as you see that symbol with a little pointer, exactly what it represents and that is sound. And how hard is it to communicate sound on a piece of newsprint or a piece of art board that I think that’s amazing that it’s the miracle of what the language of comics is all about. That symbol, the little oval, the stick coming off it pointing to a mouth represents sound and then that allows the reader to do all the rest of the work. I reckon. That’s amazing.
Leigh Chalker (02:12:34):
Yeah. Did you find that when you were growing up and when you were reading comic books as a kid and stuff, you’d have different voices for different characters that you’d made up in your internal dialogue as you were reading. Did you ever feel a little bit disappointed when you saw the movies? Oh, it’s not how I imagined it sounded like <laugh>. Yeah.
Gary Chaloner (02:12:56):
Yeah. And I sort of corrupted my boy as I was growing up. My bedtime stories would be with Tin Tin and I would use different voices for different tin tin characters. And even the dog and Tin Tin, I decided <laugh> mix up bit. So my voices were not the way they should be. So when my boy eventually saw the cartoons and the animated movies and stuff like that, he was not pleased with me at all. He was to have a rough, deep voice and had, it was come on tinting, let’s go over this way. Thousand whispering particles. So I presented tinting all upside down to my boy. Yeah. So you can have some fun with it.
Leigh Chalker (02:13:44):
Yeah. Yeah, you, my dad used to do read comics to me when I was young and he’d do the different voices as well. So I have some unusual <laugh> remembrance. The
Gary Chaloner (02:14:00):
Thing as well, the thing about reading Batman comics or Superman comics to your boy as well, or girl you child is that you don’t have an American accent. So they get to see a Batman cartoon or a movie and stuff like that and it’s already wrong because, so no, no, no. Batman’s supposed to have a Sydneysiders accent <laugh> going on here or man up in Per what’s going on Superman from Man Up
Leigh Chalker (02:14:27):
<laugh>? Yeah. Oh mate. Someone from towns will do Batman. I’ll tell you. That’d be interesting.
Gary Chaloner (02:14:35):
I am the Knight
Leigh Chalker (02:14:37):
<laugh>. Ah, I’m gonna so try that when I’m down here by myself in the next couple of days drawing and that I’m gonna try and bust out my best Batman voice.
Gary Chaloner (02:14:49):
Leigh Chalker (02:14:51):
Gary Chaloner (02:14:53):
Leigh Chalker (02:14:54):
Yeah, I’m the Batman mate, you know? Here you go. <laugh>. Oh man. No you
Gary Chaloner (02:15:03):
Leigh Chalker (02:15:07):
Yeah, I’ll the bloody hell of the bat car keys, man. That sort of stuff. I always wonder about that with superheroes and things. They’re
Gary Chaloner (02:15:17):
Problem get in the car, we’ve gotta go.
Leigh Chalker (02:15:20):
Yeah, yeah. You call me Durango so much it’s like <laugh> change his name, the Durango. But actually that’ll be a funny bootleg comic book if that was ever the case. I tell you
Gary Chaloner (02:15:33):
Like a Ryan DI’s making notes already,
Leigh Chalker (02:15:36):
<laugh>, I wonder if he is madly squiggling things down. Yeah, yeah. Shout out to Ryan too man. What do you reckons, I guess, amongst all the other advices that you’ve given tonight to the people that have been listening and stuff? And it may mean, you know, may go back, you may have to repeat something depending what your answer is. What’s the one piece of advice that you can give to anyone of any level starting out intermediate on their way up that you would pass on to any creative out there wanting to get into comics?
Gary Chaloner (02:16:32):
Just the one. Yeah. Well
Leigh Chalker (02:16:35):
Gary, you can tell us 500, man, I’m happy to sit here and listen mate. It’s like,
Gary Chaloner (02:16:40):
Well no, I think back to the step towards pushing your idea out into the world. So it’s is a case of the old just do it is don’t be scared about putting your idea on paper. Don’t be scared about drawing or writing a first draft. Just do it and don’t be scared about asking for feedback, whether it’s a trusted friend or a trusted colleague or schoolmate or teacher if you are a young person still at school. And also to know that there are resources out there and organizations out there and people out there that will help you and answer questions that you may have about certain things that it’s not a close shock anymore. I mean if it was 1975 in Australia, that it’d be a hell of a lot harder to get anywhere than it would be in 2022. So you’re not alone, you’re as alone as you want to be.
And so you I think just, just do it. Take the first step and if you have questions, don’t be scared to ask of people, whether it’s a teacher or an organization like comics or publishers, I don’t think there’s any publishers out there that wouldn’t in a very supportive and friendly way, get back to anyone who has questions about entering the industry or what to do with a certain project whether it’s on Facebook or Instagram. Just get in touch, drop of the line and you’ll get pointed in the right direction. I think there’s lots of very friendly and supportive people around here that’ll do what they can to help out.
Leigh Chalker (02:18:24):
Yeah, I think that’s good advice. Just that rings true with talking to different people over the time is the first step is just to do it and reach out and communicate and with Means come and other organizations as you’ve said, and publishers and that around Australia, it’s like, don’t not I guess writing letters anymore and hoping, waiting six weeks or seven weeks for a reply and stuff. There are formats that are available, podcasts, live streams you can reach out, emails, Facebooks, all of those things. And
Gary Chaloner (02:19:00):
There’s also a lot of I know it’s over eighteens cause it’s pubs and stuff like that, but there are lots of drink and draws or monthly creator catch ups at different cities Melbourne and Brisbane and Sydney. I know Perth I think also has a pretty strong community where they have regular get togethers that again, take your stuff along and if you’re brave enough to show it you know, gotta show it at some stage. Cause at some stage you wanted to get that stuff out, you have it in your mind. Just get some advice from people who are there as well. Take some photocopies along in portfolio and you know, definitely won’t have the experience that I had of having my work critiqued on a convention floor by a editor in the middle of the day while everyone was standing around. You would be in a much more comfortable and <laugh> safer and less traumatic environment. <laugh>,
Leigh Chalker (02:19:58):
Hey, speaking of which you Senior hoarder or artwork, you got any of those original ones tucked away from when you’re a young fellow? I first starting out,
Gary Chaloner (02:20:07):
Yeah. Yeah, I still got that. In fact there was a whole swag of Flush Domingo history that I’d completely forgotten about that I was a community newspaper that I did a free comic strip for that. Oh my God, how do I condense this into something that was, that’s anyway funny story, Sydney, 1970s, late seventies, there was a character called Jeff Little, the smiling policeman. Now he was a traffic cop that had a big goofy smile and he was chatting up the ladies as the traffic was going by and now crossing the road and he had an article or two written about him in the newspapers and he thought this was great. He thought, now hey Jeff Little, the smiling policeman and I’ve got a couple of articles in a row. So he thought that he was a minor celebrity. So for some reason he stumbled onto me in my early cartooning days and he came in this is after his shift duty one day and he still had his police uniform on and he is getting the John Wayne walk happening is it’s my studio and I’m only a young guy, I’m like 16 or so at the time.
And he says how would you like to develop a Jeff Little, a smiling policeman comic strip? And I was there going, yeah sure, that’ll be great and you can base it on me and we can have a couple of little school age friends that we get into all kinds of adventures with. And I invented instead of having a dog, I thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a pet platypus the kids drag around with them and the platypus would think all these strange things that the kids are getting into all kinds of adventures and the is there going, oh my god, what are we getting involved with now? And this platypus character was called Sniffer. Sniffer the Platypus. And so that was the very, very early version of Flash Domingo from, Hey, how many platypus characters can one person think up? So Jeff Little smiling policeman and everyone I heard from everyone in the police central that he worked with that everyone hated his guts,
Leigh Chalker (02:22:17):
Gary Chaloner (02:22:18):
Pratt. But he walked in with his, oh, he’d spill a newspaper onto the sergeant’s desks and go, oh, spill the newspaper. Oh look, there’s an article about
Gary Chaloner (02:22:27):
Me there, <laugh>.
Gary Chaloner (02:22:30):
And when this newspaper strip lasted for, I don’t know, 12, 18 weeks or something like that. And he’d come in and he’d published in this city free city newspaper and he’d come in and grab a handful each time it came up the presses. And you can even have to imagine him going through the police headquarters dropping off copies going, eh, let copy of Jeff Little hiring policeman. Then my adventure is here. Would you like me to sign a copy
Gary Chaloner (02:22:55):
Gary Chaloner (02:22:56):
Oh my God. So to answer your question, I still have that, still have the original clippings of the Jeff Little yeah. Comic strip, which hopefully no one will ever see, but who
Leigh Chalker (02:23:09):
Knows? I dunno, I reckon that would be pretty cool.
Gary Chaloner (02:23:13):
He went into some branding and since merchandising where he had a badge and a T-shirts and stuff he loved posing with the busty ladies with the wet t-shirts on and stuff like that. And one of his sayings was a smile is a curve that can set a lot of crooked things. Straight
Gary Chaloner (02:23:30):
Leigh Chalker (02:23:36):
Gary Chaloner (02:23:40):
I dunno whether he is still alive or not. Cause that was a while ago. I certainly don’t want an angry retired cop on my case. But no, no, he was a bit of work. But that’s one of the very first gigs that I got was this little community newspaper thing and sniffer the That’s right, sniffer the tracker platter was and yeah, it passed comment on all the it was my voice in the comic strip actually. Cause I kept on calling Jeff Little an idiot and where are you going now? And there was me being able to actually translate my real feelings about the situation in the comic. And he was going, now is it a bit rough that snips calling me a dickhead?
Leigh Chalker (02:24:28):
Oh that’s an awesome story man, that the whole idea of that dude cruising around with that quote too, that shirt man is like
Gary Chaloner (02:24:38):
Gary Chaloner (02:24:39):
Nerve that can set a lot of crooked things
Leigh Chalker (02:24:42):
Straight. Oh, you can only show the pride beaming outta that dude is he would’ve been cruising at startling around the streets mate, looking at that.
Gary Chaloner (02:24:51):
It would’ve been a cure. I would love to have dealt with him in a certain manner quite roughly. Very, very roughly. Yes. He didn’t have many friends. Anyway, the life of
Leigh Chalker (02:25:04):
Hey, gotcha. It got you one of your most famous characters started, mate you they like I gating.
Gary Chaloner (02:25:11):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And sniffer, the tracker play was had a spiked collar on as well. Yeah. So into the old r B and D
Gary Chaloner (02:25:21):
Gary Chaloner (02:25:23):
That was my next job as a freelance graphic designer and cartoonist was I was working for a studio in George Street in city in the city. And the boss came in one day and I was again, 16, 17 years old, just starting out. And he came in with this gorgeous looking lady and she was mistress Tony and was just introduced as Tony. But her business was a house of dominance in Redfin and which was an area of town where a lot of terraces had those kind of organizations and businesses run. And she was interested in having a comic strip done about her. So yeah, we can’t go into too much detail, but this young boy was sent up to Redfin to do research
Leigh Chalker (02:26:12):
Gary Chaloner (02:26:13):
<inaudible> and her goings on. Yeah, that was my second professional job. Yes. Anyway,
Leigh Chalker (02:26:23):
Good times, <laugh>. Good time.
Gary Chaloner (02:26:25):
Yeah, very, very educational. It was very educational. Yeah.
Leigh Chalker (02:26:29):
Yeah. The second story was probably more educational than the first bit. What’s the old line from Kiss? You taught me things I never learned in school from that song when I had <laugh>,
Gary Chaloner (02:26:42):
Well I’ll likely to clean, but in the Terrace you open up the front door of the house of Dominance that you don’t, no signage anywhere but just you open up, there’s the staircase going up to the top floor. So there’s a space underneath the stair that had cage set up underneath it. And my first visit there, I walked down the central corridor to go to the kitchen out the back and the office out the back. And I walked past this cage underneath the stairs near the front door and there’s a bloke sitting there on the floor and <laugh>, I just get a, and Tony whipped around and said, don’t talk to him. He’s paying good bloody money to be ignored. Yeah. That’s the honest truth. Yeah. And that was the a good story. There was some nasty ones as well, but
Leigh Chalker (02:27:40):
Oh, that’d be a good man. <laugh>. So you’re 16 and these are your first couple that professional jobs men. Yeah,
Gary Chaloner (02:27:58):
Leigh Chalker (02:27:59):
Gary Chaloner (02:28:01):
I think I gotta write a book about my late teens and some of the oh, I’m surprised I survived, to be totally honest. There’s some stupid things I got up to, but yeah, that was one of the more safe ones. <laugh>.
Leigh Chalker (02:28:15):
Yeah. Wow man.
Gary Chaloner (02:28:18):
Sydney in the late seventies and eighties was a very crazy place to be. Let me tell you. It was particularly up around the cross and all those kind of areas. <affirmative>. Yeah. And my mum used to be when she was alive, she’s passed now, but she was a manager s in the liquor industry and she was given the tough job of looking after Oxford Street in going down to Paddington and Darlinghurst, there was a bottle shop there that she was the manager rest of. And she’d get all the drunks, she’d get all the drug addicts, she’d get all the drag queens, all the prostitutes all coming through there. And she had a reputation for being a bit of a Tuffy, but they all loved her. And when the gay Mardi Gras started it was a case of Gary, the shot shuts at eight o’clock, I wanna be on the train and out of Oxford Street by five past eight because when that gay Mardi Gras hits you won’t be able to get me outta here at all. Cause they would’ve picked her up and she’d be on the main front float <laugh>. So when it was Mardi Gras not, I’d have to get in there and help her get up and out, count the till, shut the doors, get the alarm on and just get out of Oxford Street real fast. Cause here comes the go Mardi Gras. So yeah, I’m fine.
Leigh Chalker (02:29:34):
I’m starting to see some parallels here talking to you of how okay dimensional the oo is mate and she said that
Gary Chaloner (02:29:47):
It all forms of work.
Leigh Chalker (02:29:50):
The work, yeah, yeah. No that’s awesome man. I love hearing stories like that cuz for me these characters come from somewhere, you know what I mean? And to hear those stories I can see how as well you had two characters gurgling away there in the back of your mind while going through all this sort of stuff. Yeah,
Gary Chaloner (02:30:17):
It all gets turned into fodder really. <laugh> you of think is the jackaroo Gary K and you have to say no it’s not. But he kind of is in a lot of ways in the world that he inhabits and the kind of adventures and people that he meets. It may not be him, he may be an idealized fictional character but there’s so many other elements to the stories that that just comes from me in the life that I’ve led, I suppose. Yeah,
Leigh Chalker (02:30:48):
Well it all adds to the flavors of what you were saying, him being your baby I guess. And even since you haven’t done him for a while, you’re obviously percolating there to chew at the bit, get back in him. So there’s lots of stories to tell that it could be extremely interesting. I’m excited man. I like that. I do. I’m excited that you’ve got so much drive man. I find it quite infectious when I auntie and stuff cuz you’ve told me that information that you spoke about earlier in the show before and every time I’ve spoken to you’ve always been much like this, really positive, well driven trying to do the best you can and adjust to things mate cuz certainly wouldn’t be easy. But I just wanna pass on mate, much respect and honor for you man and
Gary Chaloner (02:31:58):
Thanks for the opportunity to talk through a few of these things today. It was pretty important for me and I think it’s helped a lot and hopefully it’s cleared up a few things for people out there that maybe have a few questions about the whole Adventure Illustrated situation and plans for the future. But when eventually illustrated it is, the second issue is finished. I’ve got some Morton Stone stuff that I’m doing. There’s a Morton Stone single issue collection that has stories by Jason, Paul, Matthew Dun, Ryan, Bella, Dylan Nailer so that will be packaged up and hopefully released before Christmas as well. And then my 2023 is looking pretty packed and the main thing for next year is the oo. So hopefully my ability to draw will allow me to at least start that whole exercise of getting the oo adventures up and running again and if needs be drawing on, not drawing, bring in help from friends and other artists as well to finish the job off. But I think once that gets started I’ll be in such a happy place seeing new adventures of the oo that it might go on for a while. So that’s the plan.
Leigh Chalker (02:33:17):
Yeah, I like that. I like the fact that you’re staying busy and you’re doing those things man. Cuz it’s a great thing man to me, you’ve been a trailblazer from when I was a kid, knowing who you were and stuff and your crew and what you just did and all that. And through the nineties and two thousands I’ve always known who Gary Chalen is and yeah man, it’s one of those lucky things for me to be able to call you a mate and getting to talk to you and stuff and letting you talk, just doing what I hope does mate, is allowing people like yourself to tell their stories and just have a yarn and stuff mate and pass on their advice to people. And there’s a lot of history in Australian comic books and stuff and you’re a major part of it mate. So
Gary Chaloner (02:34:22):
Leigh Chalker (02:34:22):
Gary Chaloner (02:34:23):
Yeah, hopefully chinwag get some interesting and deep conversations casual, fun conversations over the next couple of weeks as well. But I, I’d like to come back when the cyclone walks out to sort pick that apart as well cause I’m sure there might be a few people interested in once it’s out and the people have had a read go through that as well.
Leigh Chalker (02:34:47):
Mary, you are welcome back mate. Anytime. Do you want you just tell me when you want to come back mate. And you are the man as far as I’m concerned, yeah
Gary Chaloner (02:35:01):
But I think next year’s gonna be a big year for comics in general, not just the oo stuff, not withstanding, but I know for a fact that there’s a lot of stuff happening next year that’s pretty exciting and not just my projects but what I’ve heard around the traps that’s coming up in the next 12 months. So yeah, it’s an interesting time to be in comics and that’s just at the level of professional f floppies and things that I know about, let alone the zine shows that are coming in, the conventions are coming back online again and the graphic novels that have been picked up by overseas publishers that’ll get released across the year. It’s just all growing and it’s all bloody exciting.
Leigh Chalker (02:35:45):
And Peter Elaine’s just sent a comment through mate saying what a great interview and inspirational chat, so awesome, awesome. See
Gary Chaloner (02:35:54):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, no worries.
Leigh Chalker (02:35:58):
Yeah man. Alright, well we might wind it up mate. I don’t want to, I certainly don’t want to but I’d keep talking. Still
Gary Chaloner (02:36:07):
Got money to talk about.
Leigh Chalker (02:36:09):
Yeah, well mate I’m willing if you want keep talking, I’m happy to keep rolling brother. It’s it’s entirely up to you so
Gary Chaloner (02:36:20):
No, it’s your show, it’s your call man. What, two and a half hours up to you. We can always do a part two at some stage so we’ll leave it at that. Shall we let people go to bed?
Leigh Chalker (02:36:32):
Well are you happy with leaving it at that? Yeah, right. No worries. Right. Well everyone that’s watched viewers and everyone, thank you very much for joining us Tuesday. The show is sponsored by the Comics Network. Monday night there, Aussie verse Tuesday night, chinwag, Friday night there’s drink and draw with guests and heaps of artists get together and draw characters. So if anyone out there wants to get onto the Friday night drink and draw contact in, feel free. We are a community here and do encourage positivity and people get out there. And other than that, mate, Gary Cha, always a pleasure mate, you are an absolute legend. So thank you very much man and no worries. And next week we have spy coming on for the Tuesday Chinwag, so we’ll see what makes Mr. Lyle tick. Until then, thank you
Gary Chaloner (02:37:38):
Everyone. Let’s see, two hours, 37 minutes. Spy’s gonna have to talk for a bit longer than that.
Leigh Chalker (02:37:45):
Yeah, yeah, edzell probably give it a good shot though mate. Don’t you worry about that. <laugh>, you
Gary Chaloner (02:37:51):
Probably to turn up. You are not. You’re
Leigh Chalker (02:37:55):
Mate. I’ll just one screen man. One screen <laugh>. Awesome. All right, well good night to all you and thank you very much. We’ll see you later. And remember, community is Unity. Thank you.
Voice Over (02:38:09):
This show is sponsored by the comics shop. Check out comics.cx for all things comic X and find out what come is all about. Then head over to come.shop to pick up a variety of Australian comics from multiple creators and publishers, all for one flat hostage rate. And don’t forget to check out the Conex channel on YouTube. We hope you enjoy.