A WORLD away from muscle-bound Captain America battling communists with his star-and-stripes shield, Australian comic creators quietly toil away on very local tales.
From January 21 to February 15 The Good Shepherd Bar in Leederville is hosting Gutters, an exhibition showing off the best local comic talent.
The show’s named for the ‘gutters’ in comics; spaces between panels that indicate time has passed or the location’s changed. By changing the size or shape, the spaces have their own hidden story, an analogy for the tales local creators write in the margins of an industry focussed on endless superhero sagas.
Bayswater artist Campbell Whyte has spent years working on his comic Home Time, a tale of six WA school children and their dog.
“There’s definitely a peculiarity to Australian comics, perhaps because they are so marginalised here,” he says. “Not just in terms of their cultural footprint, but also the relatively small number of active makers.
“The works that interest me the most are those that are situated firmly in Australia and there are plenty of creators who do that. If we don’t tell stories about this place and our relationship to it, then no one else will.”
WA’s comic scene also differs from the big end of town by having a strong female contingent. Half of the creators in Gutters are women, including Sarah Winifred Searle who’s just won a publishing contract for her graphic novel Thimble.
Originally from New England, USA, she says local comics have helped her understand her new home.
Gutters runs January 21 to February 15, noon to 8pm.
by DAVID BELL