Thirty-five years ago this week, in 1982, saw the publication of The Dynamic Dark Nebula. A huge (by 1982 standards) 64 page origin issue of what has become one of this country’s most enduring comic heroes.
Created and solely produced by Sydney-based Tad Pietrzykowski, The Dynamic Dark Nebula was one of the very few Australian comics that was available on the news stands at the time. John Ryan‘s essential tome on local comics and comic strips, Panel By Panel, had been released just three years earlier and he had ended his book with the downbeat admission of the paucity of local comics: “The future for Australian drawn comic books continues to look bleak. Only [Gerald] Carr’s line of comics presents even a glimmer of a hope…”
Gerald Carr had been producing his Vampire! and Brainmaster & Vixen comics on and off since 1975. The only other publishers working on original content by the beginning of the next decade were Richard Rae, whose Star Heroes and The Greatest Super Hero were released in 1980 and 1981, respectively, and Minotaur Book’s anthology Inkspots, which had launched in 1980 as well.
I picked up Tad’s graphic novel from my local newsagent and when I saw that it was a locally produced book, I mean, really local, like, just a few suburbs away… I had to get in touch. I was a young bloke who wanted to do exactly this, and I was trying hard to get answers at a time and in a place where I could hardly think of the questions. But I had some: What size is original comic art? What ink does a real comic artist use? Who are Gordon & Gotch? A couple of Welsh crooners? So many questions. And remember, back then, there was no internet, no Facebook, no Messenger, no email, no nothin’ – except the telephone, the mail man and well, talking with people face-to-face.
Tad kindly agreed to see me. I ended up at Tad’s place in Tempe. He was very open with information, showing me his original art from the book and swapping tales about his comic collecting and the other cartooning pros he had friendships with. It was an amazing afternoon, and from that day onwards, a firm friendship, forged in comics, was born.
When plans firmed up for what was to become Adventure Illustrated/Cyclone #1, Tad had the sequel to his first book already drawn and completed. The next step was a no-brainer: The Dark Nebula became one of the core characters of the fledgling Cyclone Comics imprint, joining The Jackaroo and The Southern Squadron.
Since those halcyon days, The Dark Nebula as consistently been in print (or online) in new adventures or as deluxe trade paperback collections. Even now, Tad is directing new adventures soon to be released and DN has found a place in the adventures of the new Cyclone Force.
A stellar lineup of artists have worked on The Dark Nebula over the years as well, Glenn Lumsden, Jason Paulos, Shea Anton Pensa, Shane Foley… I mean, that’s a golden roster of local talent right there!
Anyways, I couldn’t let such an important anniversary (to me) pass by without a trip down memory lane and a huge tip of the hat to the Nebulous one. Things changed pretty fast after this book was released. It’s a shame John Ryan wasn’t around to see Reverie, OzComics, Fox Comics, Cyclone!, Zooniverse, Frankie Laine’s Comics and Stories, Phantastique and so many more just around the corner. And things have never looked back.
Here’s a great interview with Tad from 2003 by David Carroll at Tabula Rasa about the production of the 1982 book.
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Saw The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise. Loved Sofia Boutella. Always enjoy Russell Crowe (that fight was great fun). But… it was a totally weird movie. I wanted to love it. My arms were open and my heart was hopeful. I wanted to love it like I love The Wolfman with Benicio del Toro. That kind of love. Which is a nasty, almost unhealthy love. But it just didn’t let me.
(He slips the extended cut of The Wolfman slowly into the DVD player once more… rrrarrrrrrr.)
Credits from the top:
Feature pic: The Dark Nebula art by Shane Foley. Colours by Sarge.
The Dynamic Dark Nebula (Helix Publications, 1982), front cover art by Tad Pietrzykowski.