By Anthony N. Castle
Melbourne’s annual Big Arse comic launches have uniquely reflected the local scene over the last four years, exhibiting close to a dozen books each March as a broad platform for Aussie creators. With Big Arse Comics Launch #4 hitting the Fitzroy Beer Garden on March 15, co-organiser and creator Brendan Halyday chats about the launch’s humble beginnings and its current direction.
“It’s funny,” Brendan recalls. “We didn’t plan for an annual event. The group launch came up in discussion between some regulars at the Melbourne comic meet-ups. The meet-ups were a lot smaller back then, with maybe a dozen people, the usual suspects like Bobby N, Jason Franks, Bruce Mutard and Matt Emery, amongst others. We all had books nearing completion, I had a book with James Andre and got involved. Big Arse was born.”
Since Big Arse began four years ago the event has continued to evolve along with the changing personnel and output of the Melbourne comics scene.
“Since then, Big Arse has always reflected the growing face, or arse, of the Melbourne comic scene.” Brendan remarks. “Big Arse has been one of the events that have increased visibility for the local scene and helped jumpstart a culture of launching new books in fun ways. We didn’t plan for this, but the first one was a success and the Arse got larger.”
The fourth annual Big Arse sees some of these usual suspects joined by new faces. In fact, this year’s launch exhibits books from creative teams with decades of experience alongside the freshman works of first-time creators.
“Some of those vintage members like Matt Emery and myself are on board again this year.” Brendan says. “Darren Close, a veteran from Big Arse 2, has a new Killeroo book out this year as well. Everyone else is a newbie. Am I bothered by that? No. The aim was always to find new, quality talent and have more established creators drawing attention to the emerging ones.”
“The launches have been bigger every year and I’m pretty enthused about this year’s material.” Brendan says. “SCAR (Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr) are new to Big Arse but have been making books since the 90s. Matt Nichols is a first-timer but has to be one of the better writers in the Melbourne scene. The quality control on the books is huge. Every book that comes through is considered very carefully. I’ve seen all the previews and even some of the proofs and there is work here with serious ‘wow’ factor.
“The point of a group launch is to get the widest range of books to the widest range of readers.” Brendan explains. “And the diversity here is crazy, with indie and mainstream books from art-house to action to autobiography to science fiction and humour. No matter your tastes, there’ll be phenomenal books for you at Big Arse Comics Launch #4… get your arse there.
Big Arse Comics Launch #4 exhibits 10 new comics and graphic novels from creators based in Melbourne and interstate. Continuing the Big Arse tradition of quality and diversity, the releases include:
Rivalry by Matt Emery
Savage Bitch by SCAR (Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr)
Killeroo: Scars by Darren Close and “Team Art of Awesome”
System Earth Issue 3 & 4 by Tom Garden
Panic! Issue 2 by Brendan Halyday
Dead Ends by Anthony N. Castle and Chadwick Ashby
The Legend of Rock Issue 0 by Matt Nicholls and Chris Mcquinlan
Oswald: Monster Wrestler Issue 1 by Andy Isaac and Brendan Halyday, and
51% Issue 2 by Chris Gooch.
Big Arse Comics Launch #4 is on Saturday the 15th of March, 2pm at the Fitzroy Beer Garden, 243- 245 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.