The Goodlands Release: Week 257

Illustration for the graphic novel.

What would it be like if people never died?

I realized it was not a new theme in literature, especially in romance, but it still got me thinking. How would the government work? What would motivate people? Would culture be identified by nationality, by epoch, or both?

What about despotic rulers like Hitler or babies that never stopped crying? Even if people never aged, would they slowly be worn down by natural elements? Not even mountains can escape this.

From my ideas I began to weave a story that explored the intricacies and darkest corners of eternity. The only problem was that the only way I could imagine presenting the story was in a graphic novel format.

I’d gone to school for photography and done some drawing on the side, but I wasn’t entirely convinced I could pull the art off. I went as far as to buy a pad of drawing paper and after completing page one I realized I would be 80 by the time I finished.

The idea was shelved for a few years until I stumbled across it again while living in Australia. The big difference being that now I knew a very good artist – Barret Thomson.

After discussing the storyline over numerous flat whites, we were excited to get started. I spent evenings at the NSW State Library, researching character backgrounds. Barret bought anthologies of historical costumes and began designing clothing and environments.

The more time we spent, the more time we realized was needed. In the end, we decided to take a sabbatical in Colombia so we would have more time to dedicate to getting the project off the ground. Not only has it been cost effective to live n Colombia, but it has also helped inspire the art.

The Goodlands is still a work in progress, but we are excited to say that we have finally launched chapter one and from here on out there will be an update every Thursday.

Happy reading!

The Goodlands Comic

For comic updates: The Goodlands Comic

For development blog updates: Tumblr

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Manizales Book Festival: Week 235

Soma - Tyrannus Melancholicus - Screen Print from the Feria del Libro de Manizales

It was that time of year when ambitious students print up their zines, tastefully display their most shocking art, and try to earn a bit of beer money. It was time for the Feria del Libro de Manizales.

The Manizales Book Festival had its main installation on Santander Avenue, outside the Palogrande Campus of the University of Caldas. Along the large, white building were tents and book vendors from all the main bookshops in the city. In between those were stalls of secondhand and special interest books.

However, my favorite part of the book festival were the student stalls in the courtyard of the building. There were around 15 of these little cardboard stands filled with cleverly designed notebooks, buttons, and zines.

Buttons from Tyrannus Melancholicus - Found at the Feria del Libro de Manizales

The first purchase I made was a screen print of a burning car from a vendor named Tyrannus Melancholicus. I was kind of surprised that even though it was an original piece of art, it was still cheaper than a paperback book. The same designer also had a zine about bread and a corresponding collection of cute buttons.

Larva graphic anthology - Feria del Libro de Manizales

Another exciting discovery we made was of a publication called Larva. Barret had been wanting to find graphic novels in Spanish to practice reading, but the hardcover volumes we found were a bit too pricey to justify their purchase. Larva, however, was not only on sale but it was also a sample of some of the best comic artists in Latin America.

Notebook by La Libreteria Ediciones - Feria del Libro de Manizales

The last purchase I made was from a Medellín-based designer called La Libretería Ediciones. At first glance, the cover of the notebook appeared to be a watercolor of a very busy public square. Then I noticed the dead man leaking blood on the cobblestones while two soldiers looked on. I loved the contrast between the softness of the media and the actual content of the imagery.

I hadn’t bought nearly as many books as I had hoped to, but I did walk away with a lot of work by Colombian artists. And I count that as a definite success.

About: Feria del Libro de Manizales

About: Tyrannus Melancholicus

About La Libretería Ediciones: lalibreteria@gmail.com

About: Larva 

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation Trivia Night: Week 191

Print

Round three began with quotes.

They danced by the light of the moon.

Hmmm…. Nope. Doesn’t ring a bell.

I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Yet another blank answer on our trivia sheet.

“A horse’s back is good enough and hence the vulgar bull.”

We were probably the only table using a smart phone and it still wasn’t helping. That quote does not exist on Google.

Our team didn’t care if we won. The main goal of the trivia night was to raise money for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, an Australian organization that supports literacy within remote Indigenous communities.

On the other hand, we didn’t necessarily want to lose by such a large margin. We had come in thinking the questions would be typical pub quiz stuff and we were quite surprised to realize the focus was literature and the majority of the teams were in the publishing industry.

“Who was the 2014 prize winner for the Miles Franklin Literary Award?”

Judging by the reaction in the room, that must have been an easy question.

“Which author was the first to win four Miles Franklin Literary Awards?”

“What the hell, Emma.” One of our teammates finally exclaimed. “What have you signed us up for?”

“Who was the first indigenous author to win the Miles Franklin Literary Award?”

Come on! You can’t ask three questions about the same award!

Put the following books in order of publication:

George Clooney’s Haircut, The Mud House, Why Men and Necessary, and Desperate Husbands.

You could buy an answer to one question each round and we had our hands up every time. The host, ABC’s Richard Glover (also the author of the aforementioned books), saw us raise our hands and declared, “Not this table again. Very wealthy but a bit dumb.”

During the intermission the audience was encouraged to bid on the silent auction items and purchase more raffle tickets. My friends and I had been outbid on all our items, so we took the time to confer with the second half of our group that was seated at another table. They were having an existential crisis. While Emma assured them they were smart enough and did actually belong there, one of the staff members came by. “Did your table write I have no fucking idea on their sheet?”

“Yes.”

“Ok, I just need your team name at the top.”

We were assured that the next round would be easier.

Name a Nobel Prize winner in literature from each of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, and South Africa

“OH MAN!” I exclaimed. “Who’s that Irish guy? You know, what’s his face?!” Everyone else at the table looked at me blankly. “I know this! AHHHHHHHH. What’s his name?”

Emma drew a stick figure with an inquisitive look and above it she wrote ‘High-brow eyebrow’.

How many countries are larger than Australia?

Earlier that night my friends and I were reading ‘most popular’ pub quiz questions in the taxi. Our Canadian driver gave us this answer; that ride was money well-spent.

What house does Harry Potter belong to?

Yes! It felt good to finally get one question right without the assistance of Canadians or cell phones. Our team was probably in the bottom three, but like Richard Glover said, it was our deep pockets that counted most.

About: Indigenous Literacy Foundation

Sydney Writers’ Festival: Week 115

Sydney Writers' Festival 2013

Following Gertrude Stein: In this panel discussion with readings, there will be spars with high and low culture, politics, wit and lots of energy.

Ugghh… This was not what I had in mind- being crammed inside a small, hot room overlooking Walsh Bay. Four presenters at the front of the room discussed experimental poetry while the late afternoon sun blinded and burned half the elderly audience.

Despite the sailboats gliding across the sapphire harbor and squawking seagulls swooping in front of the windows, people were somehow still paying attention. I don’t think it was a testament to the quality of the poems, but rather the soporific effects of warm weather.

It was the final day of the Sydney Writers’ Festival- an annual event which covered everything from poetry, workshops, feminism, and Australian fiction to an overview of Barack Obama’s digital campaign. Even Molly Ringwald was there to close the festival with her jazz band and new book When It Happens To You. So how exactly did I manage to pick the single most boring event?

Well, a couple weeks ago I realized that free workshops like So You Want to be a Writer? were already fully booked while the ones that might still have a few spots- Killings Your Darlings, Writing History, Freelance Writing for Magazines– cost  a minimum of $85 to attend.

While not a starving artist, I already had plans for my expendable money so I decided to focus on the less expensive author presentations. Since the first five days of the festival mostly took place during work hours, I was unfortunately limited to the closing weekend.

Festival Highlight: Karl Ove Knausgaard

Karl Ove Knausgaard discusses My Struggle, the six-volume autobiographical novel that intrigued the people of Norway to the extent that some workplaces had to declare “Knausgaard-free days”. By turning a frank and unforgiving eye on his own life- without changing any names- Karl shocked his family and became a media sensation.

One of the most interesting offerings on Sunday and at $14, one of the most sold out.

With an ever-narrowing selection to choose from I finally decided on Tales From the Editorial Front Line. However, because it was a free event without bookings, I found myself at the wrong end of a long queue.

Not wanting to listen to the presentation outdoors by speaker, I hastily jumped ship to follow people interested in other people following Gertrude Stein.

I wonder why the line was so short?

Just as I was leaving the festival totally dejected, I stopped near a group of people gathered around a pair of open windows. Inside was the tail-end of Words Collide, an exhibition of performance poets. Even with my limited view it was clear that the audience was electrified. The crowd stomped their feet in a rolling applause and hung off the balcony cheering.

The good news from the Sydney Writers’ Festival: not all poetry sucks.

The bad news from the Sydney Writers’ Festival: I still don’t know the gentle art of persuasion. Please send me $150 and I will find out next year how to supercharge my prose.

About: The Sydney Writers’ Festival

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