JUST ANOTHER DAY ON THE BRAIN INJURY WARD #1
Me, making casual early-morning remarks on Facebook after a restless sleep, like this stuff happens all the time (it doesn’t): “Someone just woke me up with a knife in one hand, and an onion in the other. Not me sleepwalking either, I swear.”
Danny Zemp‘s surreal visual response…?
We continued with a few more of these silly vignettes, whereupon Nat Karmichael of Comicoz contacted me and we hatched a plan to do a 24-page book that continues the theme, with Danny’s hilarious visual touches – and hopefully raises a penny or two for some epilepsy foundation along the way.
In fact, it’s the artists I work with who have lifted my spirits throughout this hospital-bound experience. Not only meeting some of them, but the things they’ve created and sent to cheer me up. Danny has been shooting through some wonderful goodies, and he allowed me to name one of his new kids (baby goats, not people) who now gets round under the moniker of Gina.
It’s no secret that I’m mad about my daughter, Cocoa. We’re best friends who love watching movies together, and absolutely dig both the Marx Bros. and Shawn the Sheep. We’re also Captain America and Star Wars buddies.
Late last year when I was at my worst stage missing the family back in Tokyo, Dan Watts sent me an unexpected portrait picture of our soon to-be Heropa First family The Fenders, which includes Magpie, The Blow-In, Vibrator and Charlie Atlas. Funnily enough, Maggie doesn’t make the cut here. Maybe she was busy off beating someone up?
Danny Zemp then sent me a gorgeous picture of me and Maggie together (see below), which takes pride of place on my door, and once I found out I had a form of epilepsy – seizures being the giveaway, he helped me to create a new character we call Epilepsia.
Sadly, Dan Watts is so talented he’s been insanely busy with other work and so was replaced on The Fenders by Danny Zemp – yes, the same Danny with whom I’m doing the comedic mag. I really chucked the artistic gauntlet his way, mining the work of Jim Steranko at Marvel in the ‘60s and Darwyn Cooke’s work for DC on The New Frontier. Yes, The Fenders are our answer to fledgling Fantastic Four, Justice League, early Avengers, The Defenders, and just about every other team grouping in comic book history.
I absolutely love the pages Danny is creating. His bold use of colour, creative manipulation of space, and the “look” of characters involved – and there are a lot. The Fenders sets out to tell the history of Heropa, our combination Gotham City/Melbourne/Megacity One. It’s not an easy story to tell, yet Danny’s hit the sketch paper running.
In their midst is a sinister organization known as A.G.I.S., which I created with artist Graeme Jackson, loosely based on Marvel’s S.H.IE.L.D. and current global events. What’s left of my brain is lost in the bigger picture, working to keep it all tidy.
On top of this, we have other fine artists like Ken Best, SCAR and Tony Davidson, plus recycling and appropriating some great art by Chris Wahl and Matt Kyme, telling their own yarns that’ll all interweave in the grand scheme of things. Having also seen the initial roughs from a highly-regarded vet of the Australian comics scene, who I cannot yet disclose… WOW.
I’m simply awaiting the last chapter of Magpie, the high falutin’ origin story. And trying to get my teeth around picking up on Onna Bugeisha where Gareth Colliton left off.
Yes, I’m still very much coming to terms with what happened to me last year, and the mad spiral of events since then – as can be evidenced from the non-linear style of the first three entries here, if you’ve bothered to read ’em at all. Don’t feel obliged, just ‘cos I’m ailing. Heh. I was a journalist for 40-odd years, so I know when things don’t roll right, even after a stroke. Then again, there was a long while there when I didn’t know if I’d be able to write again, so churning out coherent sentences is a blessing, as is every extra day I’m at large on this wild planet of ours.
You have to count up those things on a mental abacus. Yeah, and I should write some feel-good self help books. Maybe those’d actually sell. Heh.
Credits from the top:
Feature pic: Andrez’ accommodation.
Welcome to Lilydale, art by Danny Zemp.
Cocoa, portrait by Frants Kantor.
The Fenders by Daniel Watts.
Epilepsia by Danny Zemp.
A work in progress page from The Fenders by Danny Zemp.
Nameless Nobody art by Chris Wahl.
Andrez and Magpie by Danny Zemp.
The Fenders Charter, by Andrez Bergen.