A View From Over The Edge
Posted By Jason Berek-Lewis
The Ledger Awards: Profile of Mark Selan
Paul Keating, a man who would go on to become Australia's 24th Prime Minister, once infamously described the country as being "the arse end of the world".
The tyranny of distance has plagued this young nation for years, and it's greatest impact is on fans of comic book culture!
The Ledger Awards: Profile of Mark Selan
Jason: Welcome to A View From Over The Edge. Firstly, just to give our readers a bit of background before they plunge into the world of Aussie award winners, tell us about yourself and your background. How did you find yourself working in the world of comics?
Mark: I'm Mark Selan and I think I came to where I am by way of following a link from Rich Johnston's column to Ozcomics. Upon discovering Australian comics, I was mesmerized by the fresh and inventive voice of the local product.
I became a fanboy for them and now I stick my nose wherever I can.
Jason: What are some of the comics projects that you have worked on? What was your role in those projects?
Mark: I organised the second and third Ozcomic 24 Hour Comic Challenge (putting together promotional material, prizes, coming up with rules, etc) and I co-edited the first two issues of the Ozcomic Magazine with Darren Close and completely edited numbers 3,4,5 and 6.
That just involves bugging people for articles and interviews, getting it printed and distributing the magazine to various shops around the country.
Actual creative stuff, not much. I did a gag strip with Nathan Soehardi and I've got a couple of other stories with artists at the moment.
Jason: As an Australian creator, someone Over The Edge, what are some of the challenges that you face in terms of creating comics?
Mark: Since I'm not a creator I can only give the viewpoint of a reader; and the challenges are not being able to easily buy local books, not being taken seriously on how good some of the local product is, coupled with the understandable infrequent release of said local product.
Jason: What is your view of the "health" of the Australian comic creating community?
Mark: Creative wise, it's really healthy, there are many wonderful innovative creators doing some solid books.
I haven't been around the scene for that long, but the diversity of product is extremely good from the psychedelic Bloom, to the slice of life stuff by Mandy Ord, Laugh out loud "You Stink and I don't", to the action packed Crab Allan.
Every year more and more artists and writers are working for the international publishers, probably more so than ever before. So it's fighting fit.
But there's a lot of fighting involved. It's a struggle to get out there and be seen or sold. Very few shops make an effort to source and sell local product and very few comic readers respect the local stuff in the first place.
Making comics it seems is the easy part, selling them is the hard part.
Jason: What does it mean to you to be recognised by the Ledger Awards in their inaugural year?
Mark: It means quite a bit, it means that the little dog and pony shows I put together are appreciated, that someone enjoys what I've done and hopefully has gotten something out of it.
It's a buzz that the 24-hour challenge has provided a creator with a new audience or found a group of like minded individuals to hang out with.
It's a buzz that someone has picked up the mag (Oz Comics) and either learnt something from it or have been inspired by it.
Jason: Could you tell me about the award/s that you won, the project/s recognised by your win and your role in that/ those projects?
Mark: I won the "Best Person Award", and I don't really know what it means.
Nothing was specifically mentioned on what I did, but I take it that it was in recognition of keeping the ozcomics messageboard afloat, putting together the ozcomics magazine, organising the 24 hour challenge and helping people out with creating their comics.
Jason: Do you think the Ledger Awards will help to boost the profile of Australian comics and their creators overseas?
Mark: I hope so. The whole point of any award is to raise the profile of the winners and other nominees and recognise excellence. For a creator submitting to a company or looking for a collaborator, having "Ledger Award winner" on your resume can't hurt. I think it adds a bit of credibility to the nation's 'industry' and also to the winners.
Jason: Where can we find out more about you and your work? Do you have a website?
Mark: With the demise of Ozcomics, I'm working on a new website but at the moment I can be found on my blog, http://saveded.blogspot.com/ and at various forums, www.pulpfaction.net mostly.
Jason: Thanks Mark! That wraps another Ledger Awards interview!
Next time in A VIEW FROM OVER THE EDGE, more Ledger Awards goodness! Until then ...