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Aug 25

Arte Publiku

Via Michael P. Fikaris:

You love ART! You love FREEDOM! So get a load of this and help our ongoing project if you can my friends -

Michael has drawn an 80 page book of the collaboration (which you can get by contributing) to ” aise awareness and spirit of this humanitarian institution in East Timor. Please have a look and contribute what you can in the next 2 weeks for this first time Arts Festival - ARTE PUBLIKU

May 18

Stockholm International Comics Festival 2014 - Day One Convention Report (Part Two)

[ is coughing up blood, so I’ll resume my notes in a separate post. (Too many pictures!)]

The ‘Kulturhuset' is buzzing with comics folks of all persuasions. Overseas comics? Yep. Manga? Yep. Svensk Spandex? Panel on Uruguay comics? (Below) They’ve got it all. 


 I’m intrigued by the phone-book sized volumes of Mattias Elftorp, who’s not only created two tomes of “Piracy Is Liberation”; he’s actually *torrented* them to walk his talk. We talk on corporatization, brain jacks, cyberpunk nostalgia and hype around the ‘Pirate Party’.   

(I’m reminded of the quote I’d seen walking downstairs in the Kulturhuset: Reading rebels against the managed world of information & the chaotic world of data. Reading is meaning. Jeanette Weinterson, 2011. It doesn’t matter if you’re a programmer, a punk or a librarian, there are tools available for you to avoid being steered into someone else’s narrative.)

For a taste, check out Mattias’ collection of stories, ‘A Subtle Fuck You’. 

Hey, there’s a table full of Finns! (I’m part Finn though you’d never know it.) They’ve got all kinds of goodies to share, including a children’s anthology. I really enjoy seeing alternative and counterculture folks look to strengthen the next generation. (What, you’re  going to leave it to Disney?) 

Shout Outs:

Souvenirs of Kashmir (dramatic parable by Henrik Soderstrom) and Moony Lena (surreal excursions by Marlena Lampinen). 

Ellen Greider's heartfelt 'Konversationer' and 'flyttfaglar'. 

Fanzine Mot Rasism: heck yeah. 

Den Hudlosa Flickan - by multimedia marvel Kristin Eklund. 

Accessible works by Linda Pedersen (An Ordinary Week) and an intriguing novel adaptation by Tove Sorblom. There’s more, what I don’t catch in today’s notes I’ll catch in some mini-reviews. 

I wrap up the day with a huge stack of comics. And draw one of my own, with an assist from the Festival staff.

For more comics goodness? Check out this cover gallery with links to author web sites.

[FYI: Hopping on a plane tomorrow. So Day Two may follow a week from now.] :)

Stockholm International Comics Festival 2014 - Day One Convention Report (Part One)

Illustration: Nina Hemmingsson

Your roving reporter had the very good fortune to be in town for the *exact* same week as Stockholm International Comics Festival 2014. Serendipity? I’ll just roll with it.   

As I walk up the stairs of the ‘Kulturhuset’ I spot a young man in a ‘Captain America’ outfit. (It takes all sorts to make proper spectacle.) 

I’ve got 5 copies of QuickDraw and a few samples of comics from Our Books, no business cards. (A lesson for me: always travel prepared!) As this is a convention report, I’m just going to mention what catches my wandering eye and save detailed reviews for later. 

This last week in Stockholm I was treated to a delightful folk concert as I emerged from the subway one morning, advocating the point that ‘traditional culture does not mean prejudice.’” This was due to the current Sweden & EU elections. The issue of immigration is a hot topic and several friends and convention-goers expressed their concerns that there is an element of prejudice in limiting migration. 

Fitting, then, that the exhibition gives prominence to ‘Comics For Equality’.  

It’s a great book full of bite-sized stories *by* migrants *about* migrants. Not just an EU issue but a global one; if you’re going to the convention, don’t miss the exhibit! 

Entering the convention I’m given some free Swedish comics, Slass Som En Tjej, Scener Fran Paradiset, and Galago. “Holy cow, is this socialism?” I jibe. “No, sorry, that’s ended now.” is the deadpan rejoinder. 

I’m encouraged to take a look at one of the conference’s younger participants: Tyra Blomster isn’t out of high school yet and has her own color zine and a video to boot! Fucking Problem" may be the title, but I don’t think she has a problem expressing herself. I ask to take a photo, it’s inspiring to see people who ‘take the microphone’ at an age when there’s intense social pressure to conform. 

I also encounter a table full of *African* comics… in Swedish! is an initiative to share comics and culture, and it’s very gratifying to see. I’m referred to the ‘Internationella Biblioteket’ staff to share Khmer (Cambodia) comics for their collection. 

There are plenty of manga-style comics, I pick up ‘The Art of Fika’ anthology by ThinkInkSweden. Fanny (the artist who’s tabling) has studied in Japan, which I’m a little envious of.

On the more serious end of the spectrum, try ‘God Hates Sweden’, relating to the issue of homophobia, with a *hilarious* ending that I won’t spoil for you.

I spot a table of - could it be? - USA feminist / queer / PoC zines! Rock on!

It turns out ‘TitWrench Stockholm' (above) is repping the 'Pampleteer Project’. Why zines for Sweden? Because even in a ‘progressive country’, overt discrimination can be just around the corner. Think I’m joking? Read this.

Zines, activism, music shows, is there anything ‘TitWrench’ won’t do? In addition to giving me some convention tips, they (very) generously give me two copies of ‘Kvarnby’. Rock on!

Kvarnby' is a very attractive (thick!) anthology, practially a 'who's who' listing of just about everyone in the show and many others. I hope to check out more about them and their efforts on the second day.

I make my way into the main room and do some comics grazing. Good gods, I can’t buy them all. It’s great to see a proper convention, in Cambodia it’s a much smaller scene. I buy Anna Syvertson's 'Punches'

and get some free fanzines from her table with Matthieu Cousin and Tove Sundstrou (?). Cute, one zine is done all left handed! And there are some ‘24 Hour’ Comics! Syvertson’s art reminds me a little of Kathy McLeod's style, and after lunch I return to buy everything they've got and snap a picture.

I manage to catch up with the Library folks, they have a convenient listing of comics and web comics they feature. Librarians have a special place in my heart, they are the bulwark against ignorance in many societies.

And next door to them I receive a warm welcome from Jigsaw comics, who are happy to swap some of their titles.

They’re students and they inform me about some distance learning comics courses - in Swedish and English. Cool! (I wonder just how far that distance could go?) I depart smiling for lunch with copies of Jigsaw, It Bugs Me, Forest Romance (above) and (yes) Comic Diarrhea. Cute and quirky. 

After lunch I explore the downstairs space. There’s an informal collective selling lots of ‘handmade’ style comics and tidbits: small prints and things. (I believe it’s ‘Kulturcollectivet Djuransikte?)

Today I settle for Asa Palmborg’s Kaleidoskop, Helena Stromborg’s Menanda #4, and Hanna Lundin Tistelo’s compelling screen-printed ‘REGNPERIOD’. Must research further. 

Near by Kate Beaton and Seth are signing their comics. Viva Canada! I’m a big fan of Kate’s pacing, and have been reading her comics since her early LiveJournal days.  

Upstairs I run into another Canadian, Dakota McFadzeann, who helps helm Irene anthology. I’m reserving my dwindling SEK for Swedish comics but I can’t resist picking up a copy. 

Feb 12

'Department of Australia' Clears Up Australia Immigration Confusion + New Kickstarter Comic

Pretty stark, eh?

That’s one of the logos on the Australian Customs and Border Protection website.

A (mostly) wordless comic ethnically profiled an expected wave of Afghan asylum seekers, and made ‘the lucky country’ look pretty harsh indeed!

Who to call? The Department of Australia to the rescue! Sydney-based Leslie Nassar gracefully inserts wordful wit to clarify the government’s misstep in a charming détournement.

[Additional art on Dept. of Australia FB Page]


There’s also an additional parody by ‘Pauline Pantsdown’. 



In other breaking comics news: Sam Wallman is selling original art from his Global Mail Detention Centre exposé to raise money for RISE.


And in further news, a new ‘Pozible’ fundraiser (by Kate Iselin (Vanity Project), Thomas Blatchford (Sticky Institute)) aims to to debunk the existing comic and print a new one: 



Postscript: more news coverage at: 

New Zealand, Once Welcoming of Refugees, Now Follows Australia

The Federal Government uses a comic book to stop the boats

The medium and the message: comics about asylum seekers

Australian Government Uses Comic Books To Stop Asylum Seekers

Refugees angered by government’s graphic novel campaign

Reddit Australia:  

Oct 23

'Arte Moris' - Documenting Timor Leste's art via comics!

The story of the project

Fikaris appeal from michael fikaris on Vimeo.

How the funds will be used

Am asking for $4900 to make a softcover perfect bound book of 500 copies to share between Australia and East Timor.
I am aiming to make a 100 page black and white printed interior softcover book with a colour cover.
The quote for printing is $3200 - my time for layout and pre press is free.
I am asking for $1000 to help with the costs of the journey and some of the expenses whilst away from my work in Melbourne. Imunization shots alone were $300.
Needing 700 to cover transport/petrol costs and visa/insurance costs for visit.

So breakdown is :
$3200, printing costs.
$500, transport hire and fuel in Timor.
$200, Visa costs and travel insurance.
$1000, rent at home and medical costs for journey.
TOTAL $4900

If, in the best case, there is excess support (all rewards add up to $10 000) - all proceeds will go towards Arte Moris and supplies for the school.
Myths & Murals is a cross-cultural public art and literacy project between Melbourne and East Timor, promoting a common sense of national identity through art and story and collaborative strategies for engagement between Australian and East Timorese artists.

Some of my other work

MICHAEL FIKARIS is a self-taught artist. He is a comic book artist, illustrator and painter. He has been invloved in small press publishing for almost 20 years.

He runs Silent Army Comic Collective ( and has been a driving force of the growing contemporary comic art scene in Australia since the mid 1990’s. His art has been collected by various galleries including the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra (Space Invaders, 2010). He has done many artist residencies in Melbourne including NGV studio (Inherent Vice, 2011) and recently at Arts Centre Melbourne with Sans Hotel (In Spite of Myself, 2013).

The Age called him a “Graphic Art Guru” (—graphic-art-guru-20110804-1idus.html )

In 2012, Michael began curating and publishing Dailies, ‘the comic art anthology of everyday retellings’ with Australasian contributors young and old. ABC National Book and Art Show reviewed it as “…what could happen in Australian comics in the next ten years.” He has edited and published over 30 comic books and has been a freelance illustrator for many varied businesses large and small over the years.

An innovator and elder in his own community of Melbourne artists, he was part of Citylights projects studios at the start of the first wave of Street Art in Melbourne and later was employed as the first tour guide of Melbourne street art when the company Melbourne Street Tours started in 2009.

As well as being a practicing artist, Michael regularly engages with schools and youth programmes as an artist-in-residence running workshops and doing as much as he can to inspire young minds with art in it’s many forms and possibilities. A proud artist at the Blender Studios in the heart of Melbourne, Michael lives in Coburg.

Video Links to Fikaris talking
the Age
Think Maven
Some Links with Fikaris
-diplomat of information on the streets
-sharer of things inside fancy buildings

other relevant links

Risk and challenges

I am travelling to East Timor with over 10 others as part of the Myths and Murals ongoing project and will be making whatever is possible with my own resources. If I do not raise enough interest here I will try again and we will make whatever we can manage to make together.

Artist statement

Artist Statement for ‘Myths and Murals’ residency with Arte Moris.

I have worked with many Arte Moris artists on a few occassions in Melbourne. First with the ‘Peace of Wall’ mural making in Hosier lane in 2010, secondly at the Signal37 workshops and thirdly with the ‘Doku Rai’ production (a few pages shown here) collecting stories and ideas from the group and helping them illustrate them while I did portraits and edited the collaborative works into a catalogue. Something I invision happening naturally on this project.

Discussing what is required at Arte Moris with some of the artists, the idea to invite people to tell the stories of the building came up. The once highly renowned museum of East Timor at Arte Moris was pillaged and most artifacts and historical monuments were destroyed or stolen in recent histories. By asking young, old, male and female locals all to tell us something they know about the space, we aim to create ‘A Documented History of Arte Moris’ through different stories translated to drawings by myself and any students of any age willing to participate. This would start as illustrations, cartoons and symbols and eventually the project would become a mural on and aound the building. I want to collect images of this process and turn into a book to share and start a new documented history for the centre.

For more information on the project contact
Chris Parkinson

Martin Hughes

Video created by
Chris Phillips

Michael Fikaris

Feb 5

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