By OSCAR PERRI
Five young Alice Springs creatives celebrated a major milestone on Friday, officially launching their first published works, a series of graphic novels.
20 year old Declan Miller, and Seraphina Newberry, Alyssa Mason, Lauren Boyle, all 17, have been working on their stories and illustration for over three years now, with the mentorship of teacher and artist Wendy Cowan and Gesalt Publishing Editor-in-Chief Wolfgang Bylsma.
The project has been going on since to 2016, when Declan showed Ms Cowan, who was his school teacher at the time, a very early draft of his work.
She was impressed, and got in tough with the ILC, who funded a series of workshops. The other three joined around this time, initially helping work on Mixed feeling, but soon moving on to developing their own stories.
The group now work under the banner “Stick Mob” with support from the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation and other organisations, as well as being one of the businesses taking part in Desert Knowledge Australia’s DKAccelerator program.
The group have produced three graphic novels, Mixed feelings written and Illustrated by Miller, Exo Dimensions written and illustrated by Newberry, and Storm Warning Written by Boyle and Illustrated by Mason.
Newberry grew up in a family of artists, but while they mostly work on traditional dot painting, more modern popular style of comic book art.
Her book is a Mad Max inspired dystopian story filled with zombies, cyborgs and mutants, but also tells a story of an Aboriginal family, interwoven with a futurised version of Central Australian Aboriginal culture and creation stories.
Unlike the other books, Newberry has kept the original hand drawn sketch work in the illustrations rather than going over it with bold linework as is often the case with comic book art.
“It shows a bit of me, it leaves my handprint in the story and it really really brings out myself in the story and the characters. It sets my book apart and really gives it an edge,” he says.
“Before we started I didn’t really know anything about how to actually put something like this together. I could write a story and draw characters, but I’ve learnt a lot about panel work and all the other things that go into making an actual book.”
All three books are available online or at Red Kangaroo Books, where Ms Cowan said she was delighted to see them sitting on the best-seller shelf. The artists say next up is to write sequels to each book, as well as running workshops and exhibitions as Stick Mob.
PHOTO (from left): Wendy Cowan, Declan Miller, Seraphina Newberry, Lauryn Boyle, Alyssa Mason.