Monday, 18 August 2014. The intrepid Comics Studio group jumps the Brunswick Road bus, then the Sydney Road tram, and then ventures along Victoria Street by foot (or, let's be honest, by feet).
To fight for their right to Ty? To get their Hoe repaired? No, no, and again no.
HERE'S what they're looking for: 309 Victoria Street.
Above: Ben Hutchings, the instigator cartoonist of Squishface, was there to talk to us about the studio. So was co-founder David Blumenstein, whose face you can see, beautifully framed by the crooked arm of the grey-garbed figure in the bottom left of the photo.
Ben tells us, "Be a cartoonist." The hours are good, and if you can find a regular paying gig like he's been able to, then that leaves you time to make the comics and animations and music that you love doing. Then you can set up an open studio like Squishface with a group of cartoonist friends, put your work up on the walls,
and when Andreas and Jac turn up, they'll take pictures of it.
I don't remember this part of the excursion. Maybe this is the white wormhole in space that we travelled through to get to the city, where we walked up Lonsdale Street in the lightly drifting rain and then travelled in instalments up the 9-people-at-a-time lift to... the Eisner Award winning... All Star Comics!
Above, Mitchell Davies, who co-founded All Star with business partner Troy Varker, describes what they were setting out to achieve with the shop: a friendly and welcoming place where the people behind the counter are interested in the customers and are keen to talk with them about favourite titles, artists, and the art of comics. I reckon they have created a great space for comics in Melbourne, and they are very supportive of local creators too. He talked as well about the Eisner Award win for Retailing received during the recent San Diego Comic Con, and about the Free Comic Book Day events held at the shop and in surrounding alleyways (first weekend of May). I even got to find out that the All Star star is called a nautical star. Never knew that.
Also I didn't know that they've started up an all-women's comics reading group, and it's on the book of faces, here.
Then some lunch (thanks to guides Chloe and Kallista) and then winding our way through the modern arcades of high capitalism (Emporium), then walking through the old Royal Arcade and the maze of lanes to Degraves Street, and then down, down down, to:
Who knew that Bernard had so much grey hair at the back of his head? Everyone, probably, except Bernard...
And there's Nicole and Matt and JC outside Sticky. Ah, Jean-Christophe! You are now en route back home to France! I'll miss your calm ways , and your drawing style - I hope you get to make some bandes dessinees of your own back at home...
And there's Luke Sinclair, up at the counter, giving us the Sticky story. They've had funding, from time to time, but these days they run as a real shop, existing on the 20% of cover price that they get off each zine that they sell there.
People sat, people typed.
Luke is a zinester himself, maker and publisher of the immortal YOU zine. Pick it up. It's free. And it's a letter to YOU.
And finally, we left Sticky and we moved a little further under the underpass and made our way up onto Platform 1 of Flinders Street Station and completed our trifecta of public transport. (It was a little bit Platform 9 and 3/4) We had visited three of the sacred sites of comics in Melbourne. We had met the people who had started those places, and they were keen to talk to us and encourage us to participate in the creation of comics and zines in Melbourne.
Back at school, after a long day of comics culture immersion, students were given the task to depict our excursion in a four panel strip. And they did:
*photos in this post by Travis McKenzie and his camera*