Australia’s best comic books announced at the 2016 Ledger Awards

Australian Arts Review NEOMAD Ledger AwardsNeomad, a collaborative comic book project lead by artist Sutu won the top Australian comic book honour, the Gold Ledger, at the 2016 Ledger Awards held at All Star Comics in Melbourne on Friday evening.

This futuristic space opera comic book set in Australia’s Pilbara region in the year 2076 is the result of the Yijala Yala project between the Roebourne (Ieramugadu) community and the cultural development and arts organisation Big hArt.

Sutu trained children from Roebourne in digital comic book creation to create their own alter-egos and they themselves coloured the art created by Sutu. Neomad is available both as a print publication (Gestalt Publishing) and as an interactive multimedia app.

Bernard Caleo, the eccentric and highly energised host of the awards night, was also the recipient of the highest honour of the evening, the Platinum Ledger Award, for the contribution he has made to the comics arts and community in Australia through his advocacy and promotion of Australian comic talent and through his own merit as a comic creator.

Caleo feels that “there is more bravery that is required from Australian makers, (though) there is a lot there already. There is a great darkness in Australia in our history and our current politics, and comics are a way of tackling difficulty, and trauma even, and are a very accessible way for readers to understand those issues”.

While the harsh reality is that Australia does not have a supported comic book industry, the 2016 Ledger Awards shows us that our country does have a rich history and a promising future. Peter Chapman (The Shadow, Phantom Ranger) and the late Syd Nicholls (Fatty Finn) were honoured for their lifetime achievements, joining the newly formed Australian comic book Hall of Fame.

Internationally known and respected comic artist Nicola Scott (DC titles Wonder Woman, Earth 2, Birds of Prey) won a Silver Ledger award for her work on the Image title Black Magick – joining the delightful children’s publication Anders and the Comet by Gregory Mackay, the clever story The Diemenois by JW Clennett about the “true” fate of Napoleon Bonaparte, Fly the Colour Fantastica – a colour themed anthology by 12 Australian artists, and the wickedly hilarious sexually charged web comic Oglaf by Trudy Cooper and Doug Bayne.

The Ledger Awards, named after the late Australian artist, comic creator and adventurer Peter Ledger, attracts over 200 entries each year, and are open to all Australian based comic titles and creators in print or digital form. For more information, and a full list of recipients, visit: www.ledgerawards.org for details.

Image: NEOMAD (supplied)

Words: Jimmy Twin

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