NZ comics go back long way

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS LEE

CAR­TOON­IST Adrian Kin­naird’s love of comics started when he was a 5-year-old read­ing Win­nie the Pooh.

But the story of New Zealand’s comic book pi­o­neers goes back much fur­ther than that.

Kin­naird will delve into that his­tory at the Auck­land Art Gallery next week as part of the Auck­land Writ­ers’ Fes­ti­val.

The San­dring­ham car­toon­ist and writer founded the first blog ded­i­cated to the na­tional comic book scene in 2009 af­ter get­ting frus­trated with the lack of recog­ni­tion for lo­cal artists.

‘‘I came away from a book deal which fell over, heart­bro­ken and dis­ap­pointed,’’ he says. ‘‘I saw a whole bunch of my col­leagues in the same process.’’

His book From Earth’s End: The Best of New Zealand Comics chron­i­cles the in­dus­try’s his­tory, from its for­got­ten rise and fall in the 1950s to the con­tem­po­rary car­toon­ists of to­day.

Kin­naird hopes the blog and book will help rein­tro­duce New Zealan­ders to comic books.

‘‘For a long time when I was a young car­toon­ist it was re­ally dif­fi­cult draw­ing comics be­cause a lot of people felt you were wast­ing your time and that it was just not go­ing to amount to any­thing,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s quite hard think­ing people have spent their en­tire lives here work­ing on stuff that hasn’t been re­spected or cared about.’’

But the in­dus­try is find­ing its feet again and Kin­naird fore­sees a pos­i­tive fu­ture.

He spent eight months trawl­ing through ar­chives at the Auck­land Art Gallery and Cen­tral City Li­brary and spoke with ex­pe­ri­enced car­toon­ists in­clud­ing Tim Bollinger to re­search the book.

‘‘There’s ac­tu­ally a wealth of ma­te­rial once you start look­ing. There was amaz­ing stuff – you wouldn’t be­lieve things I got out of notes which were filed away for nearly 30 years and hadn’t been read for that long,’’ he says.

‘‘Once I started dig­ging there was a huge amount of de­tail and there’s still more to find re­ally be­cause New Zealand comics were so poorly doc­u­mented over time.

‘‘There was a huge pres­sure tak­ing the whole of the in­dus­try on my shoul­ders to do my first book on the sub­ject,’’ Kin­naird says.

‘‘I had to not think about it too much or it would just be paralysing to even start the project.’’

He is now tak­ing a step back from rep­re­sent­ing the com­mu­nity to ‘‘get back to be­ing a car­toon­ist for a liv­ing.’’

Three pieces of artist Noel Cook’s orig­i­nal art­work, which haven’t been viewed in pub­lic since 1979, will be dis­played at Kin­naird’s Auck­land Writ­ers Fes­ti­val ses­sion on May 17. The talk will be in the Auck­land Art Gallery Au­di­to­rium from 1.15pm to 2.15pm. Go to writ­er­sfes­ti­ for tick­ets.

Comic cru­sader: Car­toon­ist Adrian Kin­naird will speak at the Auck­land Writ­ers’ Fes­ti­val.

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