Archive for the Shameless Namedropping Category

Little Nothings: Uneasy Happiness by Lewis Trondheim

Posted in Graphic Novel review, Shameless Namedropping on December 15, 2010 by brunswick

Little Nothings: Uneasy Happiness
by Lewis Trondheim
NBM Publishing, 2010

The third in a series by the prolific Trondheim – check out Mister O and Mister I if you’ve never read them. Yes, it’s a diary comic, but instead of the usual scribblings about an aimless and self-involved young cartoonist struggling for success, Trondheim is speaking from a more accomplished position and with much better artwork, beautiful yet simple watercolours, like the work of Chris Slane.

The subtext of many autobiographical comics is “I work really hard at drawing cartoons, why aren’t I famous yet?” which demonstrates a heartening belief in the American Dream if only a tenuous grasp on reality. The best New Zealand autobiographical comics (G.C.R.’s Bip Bip and Meredith Harris’s How to Understand Everything and Not Hate Yourself) are mostly concerned with analysing the dynamics of personal relationships, and are not cartoons about drawing cartoons. Maybe New Zealanders cartoonists lack the required ego. Maybe it’s a time-management thing.

Anyway, something else which distinguishes Trondheim’s work from most autobiographies is that he’s fully aware of his shortcomings as a human being (or, in these volumes, a sort of dour monobrowed eagle), and pokes fun at his neuroses and many awkward habits as he travels to exotic places and suffers in the presence of uncouth friends. He would probably make a very cool uncle.

Neville Colvin & Modesty Blaise

Posted in Cartoon stuff, Shameless Namedropping on October 29, 2010 by brunswick

I attended an interesting presentation this morning at the National Library. Illustrator Claire Colvin presented the National Archives with a selection of her father Neville Colvin’s work from The Evening Post and The Sports Post. He was The Evening Post’s editorial cartoonist from 1946 to 1956, before Nevile Lodge (who I met in the early ’80s), so there was a table’s worth of yellowing originals in pretty good condition, being handled with cotton gloves by the NZ Cartoon Archives staff and Tom Scott.

Scott (for it was he) posed for photographs and stayed for the canapes but didn’t stay for the short lecture Ian F. Grant gave in the National Library auditorium. After years at university, it was great for me to see a number of people in a room listening by their own free will to an expert talk on a specific subject. I would’ve invited along other Wellington cartoonists if I’d thought anyone I know was the slightest bit interested in editorial cartoons.

Among the A3 originals was one of Colvin’s Modesty Blaise strips, which he drew from 1980 to 1986. The originals are quite valuable. I noted the serial number (5544, from mid-1982) and then trotted to Central Library – and the very first Modesty Blaise book I pulled off the shelf had that cartoon reproduced in it.

Syncopated: An Anthology of Nonfiction Picto-Essays

Posted in Graphic Novel review, Shameless Namedropping on September 22, 2010 by brunswick

Syncopated: An Anthology of Nonfiction Picto-Essays
edited by Brendan Burford
Villard Books, 2009

Although it tests the reader’s patience immediately with the clunky title* and a diagrammatic essay entitled How and Why to Bale Hay (need one ask?), this is a fascinating collection of short pieces covering everything from the history of postcards to Chris Pape’s historic Freedom Tunnel, with a few purely visual segments from artists’ sketchbooks, documenting a specific time and place.

Joe Sacco is the most famous graphic reporter (or comics journalist, take your pick) but he made his reputation by covering conflicts in Israel, Palestine and Bosnia. These articles are shorter and concerned with broader and less violent topics. I particularly liked Burford and Jim Campbell’s Boris Rose: Prisoner of Jazz, the story of an obsessive collector who recorded live radio and TV broadcasts over sixty years, amassing thousands of hours of unique and historic jazz performances, and Alec Longstreth’s Dvorak, based on writer Robert Parkinson’s account of the many humiliations Dr. August Dvorak endured trying to popularise the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard.

All interesting stuff, even though some of it is a bit dryly presented. To my knowledge Toby Morris is the only New Zealander to seriously attempt graphic reportage – it’s a broad yet under-patronised genre, so if you know any journalists who can draw…

*Actually, it’s no less eloquent than calling something a graphic novel.

An interesting honour

Posted in Fitz Bunny: Lust For Glory, Shameless Namedropping on September 9, 2010 by brunswick

You know, I’ve always wanted to be quoted in Playmarket’s annual report.

Wellington on a Plate

Posted in Shameless Namedropping, Unwarranted criticism on August 19, 2010 by brunswick

Ho to Fratelli with relucent birthday girl Kate to try their Wellington on a Plate dinner menu, selected on the basis that it contained smoked cod, stuffed Parkvale button mushrooms, sage-wrapped pork loin and tiramisu*. Oh, and three wines. We had a fantastic dinner, although none of the food we were expecting was on the menu – I think I had spaghettini, braised chicken breast and biscotti. Oh, and three wines. And I might have drunken the Amaretto that came with the biscotti.

They explained that because the brochures are designed four months in advance, at the time they just make up a rough menu which is then subject to change. Quite a bit of change, really. All of it. Fine and dandy, except I got their menu from the website. Surely that would be a doddle to update? Great meal, anyway. Don’t check out the website on an empty stomach.

*Not mixed together in a bucket, obviously.


Posted in Jitterati, Shameless Namedropping on August 5, 2010 by brunswick

Guess who got a phone call from Jon Gadsby last night? He was super nice as well. Several people (including Playmarket) had sent him this week’s Jitterati, so I’m sending him a print of the cartoon.

Lumiere Reader review

Posted in Fitz Bunny: Lust For Glory, Shameless Namedropping, Unwarranted criticism on July 17, 2010 by brunswick

I wasn’t expecting there to be any more FB:L4G reviews, but here’s a new one Anita pointed out to me from the Lumiere Reader by Renee Laing:

Fitzbunny: Lust for Glory is an entirely different kettle of fish (or should that be bundle of bunnies?).  Anyone who thinks bunnies are harmless and cute better think again: Fitzbunny is a two-foot tall homicidal megalomaniac with a penchant for pink who thinks nuclear bombs make good interior design. When a deliberately released calcivirus kills most of her (very large) extended family, Fitzbunny (Sara Stone) gathers her acolytes (Olive Asi, Jessica Bates, Omer Gilroy) and a hapless journalist (Virginia Frankovich) and they swarm New Zealand like a Black Power gang in sequins. Along the way she confronts guerilla sheep, dubious politicians (as if there were any other kind) and crazed American generals (see under politicians). She also contests a mayoral contest against John Banks and Len Brown. I found myself wishing for a world where wearing hotpants and going shirtless was acceptable pre-mayoral behaviour, though possibly if any of the incumbents tried it, I’d quickly find myself wishing for the opposite. But I digress.

What I mean to say is that Fitzbunny is explosive, funny and very, very unpredictable. It’s in a genre of its own. But if Fitzbunny was holding a knife to my throat, punk rock political manga burlesque comedy may partially cover it.  Wellington Playwright Grant Buist plays fast and loose with current events and local politics and he’s clearly done his Auckland research (Len Brown’s credit card fiasco gets a dig, as does John Banks’s… well, all of John Banks). And did I mention the live three-piece band, and the all-singing, all-dancing numbers? The crazy sequined costumes and the high heeled boots and fishnets for everyone including the boys? Sometimes the laughter came out of sheer disbelief, but mostly because it’s all good exuberant fun. Special mention to Stone for the fine voice with which she carried out her lead role, to the chorus (Christopher Bryan, Jordan Mooney, Imogen Prossor, Thomas Webster and Jae Woo) for their energy, and to my favourite character of the night, Enderby the lisping lovestruck hedgehog (an aaw-worthy Daryl Wrightson).

I can’t take credit for the Len Brown credit card fiasco line, that was probably the cast! Nice that it mentions everyone by name, shame it doesn’t include Simon Coleman’s direction and Robin Kelly’s musical direction, which makes the show what it is.

The Nightline story will appear on Monday, apparently tonight’s show was already full up. The timing is good, it’ll help counteract the second-week slump that Young & Hungry usually suffers from.

Many cast interviews

Posted in Fitz Bunny: Lust For Glory, Shameless Namedropping, Unwarranted criticism on July 15, 2010 by brunswick

There’s a lot of Fairfax community newspapers in Auckland, and many of the FB:L4G cast are enterprising little bunnies:

Bunny play puts spring in step of young talent (an interview with Virginia from the Harbour City News)

On stage in fishnets (an interview with Jordan from the East And Bays Courier)

Hopping for the best show (an interview with Olive from the Manukau Courier)

Must dash, I’m being interviewed by Nightline this afternoon. Toodles!

Six things Radiradirah got right:

Posted in A Good Whinge, Shameless Namedropping, Unwarranted criticism on July 9, 2010 by brunswick

1) The title
Giving the show a made-up name for the title was brilliant -although a bit tricky to spell, when you Google it, you’re not going to get, say, a former duchy of north-central Germany instead.

2) The animation
Finally Robert & Sheepy gets some decent exposure. There was also a pleasing variety of animation styles in the show, from Guy Capper’s claymation to the vector-graphics (and Maya?) of Beached Az and Flash of FOT.

3) The format
It’s been ages since we’ve had an ensemble sketch comedy – nostalgia may have clouded our memory of the quality of Skitz… most of it was pretty dreadful, despite the magnificent gurning of Lyndee-Jane Rutherford. Funny Business from 1988 is definitely still worth checking out, despite the dodgy formatting of the recent DVD.

4) The tone
An essentially good-natured show, often childlike in parts.

5) Bringing John Clarke back to NZ television
Always watchable. Shame we drove him away in the first place.

6) The length
Eight episodes is sensible – more ambitious than six, not stoopid like 26.

Don’t click on this unless you enjoy ranting.

FB:L4G Herald preview

Posted in Fitz Bunny: Lust For Glory, Shameless Namedropping on July 3, 2010 by brunswick

This rehearsal photo from today’s NZ Herald was taken by ATC’s capable Amber McWilliams… distressingly, I know exactly which number they’re performing here.

From the article by Dionne Christian:

And now for something completely different: a pink bunny with a Napoleonic complex and an ego the size of Norway who has a nuclear weapon and wants to be mayor of the Auckland Super City.

It is Fitz Bunny, a musical adapted by Grant Buist, 36, from his cult 2007 cartoon-strip Brunswick when he was trying to impress his then girlfriend.

“I had a girlfriend who could sing and act but there wasn’t much work around at the time so I decided to write something for her.

“I thought it was quite romantic but she objected to having to audition.”

The relationship ended but Fitz Bunny, with its political satire, fringe humour and music, earned rave reviews. Buist, who likens the production to The Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Cabaret, says he’s adapted his script for Auckland audiences with plenty of references to the Super City mayoral race and a swag of new songs.

Simon Coleman, a director and set designer, says it’s a licence to be silly and have fun with an outrageous but clever script. At 42, he describes himself as “old and full but young at heart”.

“Young and hungry – that’s what you have to be to make a life full of stuff that you want around you doing things you want to be involved in.”

Good article, this, slightly open to misinterpretation – she didn’t “object to having to audition”, it just happened that she didn’t want to be in Young & Hungry that year*. This is also the second time an interview has gotten the title wrong – it’s Fitz Bunny: Lust for Glory, not Fitz bunny or Fitzbunny: Lust for Glory.

*It also makes me sound like I was seeing someone in 2007 who was young enough to be in Young & Hungry (i.e. 25 or under), when I was actually trying not to die from overwork.