A comical look at life

BY PENELOPE SCOTT
Last updated 05:00 18/03/2010
Tim Bollinger
PENELOPE SCOTT
VALUABLE COLLECTION: Tim Bollinger with some of HW Bennett's comic books.

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The Wellingtonian

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Wellingtonian Tim Bollinger hopes to open people's eyes to the history of comics with two exhibitions at the New Zealand Comic Festival during Easter weekend.

The two works are New Zealand Comics in the '70s and The works of HW Bennett, both important subjects in the New Zealand history of comics.

Bollinger, one of New Zealand's few comic historians, said New Zealand had a rich history of comics that dated back to the 1930s.

"The 1970s is of particular interest because it was near the end of the psychedelic era and there was an underground comic movement going on," he said.

HW Bennett, a New Zealand comic artist, produced work through the 1940s and 50s for children and soft porn for men's magazines.

The festival features new and unusual New Zealand comics for sale, talks, workshops and The Black River Digital New Zealand Comic Awards – often called "The Erics" after Eric Resetar, an independent New Zealand comics pioneer.

Bollinger said the awards were "a bit of a joke as we [comic artists] are really obscure in comparison to other countries such as Japan, France and the United States".

Bollinger started drawing comics at a young age and has been researching New Zealand comic history for more than a decade.

He is hoping to publish a book and uses exhibitions as an opportunity to research.

Although New Zealand comic art dates back to the 1930s, Bollinger said research had been difficult because there were not many artists and they were usually anonymous.

"Comics were frowned upon by teachers and parents in the 1940s, so most artists didn't use their names," he said.

New Zealand comics are produced now due to accessibility to printers and technology.

"History was really dominated by people printing their own comics – there were no photocopies back then so it was much harder for them to be produced by using old-fashioned printers or by hand."

Festival organiser Robyn Kenealy said she is expecting a good turnout at the festival. In 2006 more than $2000 of comics was sold during the course of the weekend.

"That's a lot considering comics are about two dollars each," she said.The New Zealand Independent Comic Festival exhibition opens at 5.30pm on April 2 at The Basement Gallery.

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- The Wellingtonian

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