CLOSET TALES

CLOSET TALES

Closet Tales is a underground comic I brought out in the eighties. This page is really for the benefit of those who bought or contributed to the comic at the time and it contains some explanations on what stories were about and how they came about plus info on contributors and influences.

CLOSET TALES ISSUE 1

CLOSET TALES 1

Closet Tales number one was my first attempt at creating my own comic book. It was released in September 1983 while I was working as a warehouse manager in the Melbourne suburb of Tottenham.

The comic didn't sell well as I only produced 500 copies and as I financed the release myself I could not get a distributor to get it into the news agencies circle. I tried to push my way in by approaching some of the larger News Agents in Melbourne like McGills and MCN (Both now closed) but just got a flat out refusal as they only accepted comics from their major distributors. So most copies of Closet Tales 1, 2, and 3 were sold to friends and work colleagues for the very reasonable price of $2.00. The only shop to take stock from me was Minotaur Books. I had done some work for a magazine called Fox Comics which was run by David Vodika who was working at Minotaur at the time. Minotaur took twenty copies of the mag and probably sold about 2 or 3.

Closet Tales had developed from a book called The Fonok Chronicles that I had hanging around my house. It was a Hard covered faint and paged account book and myself and friends would draw, write or stick humorous photos into it as a way of passing the time. Soon small comic strips started to appear and in time some of them were redone for Closet Tales.

There were several contributors to the first issue aside from myself. David McHardy was responsible for Patch which was probably the most popular strip to appear in Closet Tales. Executive Dreaming was done by Peter Mayne another budding cartoonist I worked with in Tottenham. Peter Schroder wrote The Crushed Shovels Of Baghdad as well as contributing to Closet Funnies. Joe Romic and Harry Koecher also contributed work. The first issue was truly a labour of love. It was taking 9 hours to do each page and it quickly became evident that it wasn't going to be a monthly release.

CONTENTS ISSUE 1

Above: Contents page Closet Tales 1

CONTENT

The first story in this issue was a strip called Addiction. This was a sort of post apocalypse story involving three travelers one of which is addicted to a small alien creature. 

ADDICTION PAGE 1

Addiction had been set around the train line that ran from Newport to Footscray. Back in the early seventies there was a track which almost ran the entire length of the train line. It ran behind people's houses, under bridges, over creeks and behind shopping centers. It was a bit of a childhood adventure to think that this could be a very dangerous place after the apocalypse.

The residence which holds the 3 travelers at the beginning of the story was based on Anglises Meat Works in Footscray. Some friends and I attempted to film this story on video tape one day but half way through the production  we discovered that you needed to be able to act to be in a film. The film was never completed but scenes from it still exist. 

The final shot of the film is set on a train line in Kingsville. While filming that scene we were nearly arrested when police cruised by and saw one of us holding a gun. Fortunately when they saw the comic they believed we were doing the film. After a polite warning we were sent on our way.

MAN IN THE WALL

Above:Denis on the mile at night.

THE MILE CHARACTER

Above: First sketch of the mile characters

What We All Want was a strip about freedom which incorporated a type of Beauty and The Beast theme.

The couple were not lovers and the story was more about envy.

I'd always enjoyed detail and hiding things in the background especially things I loved. In What We All Want when the bird man visits his friend I modeled the inside of the apartment on my own.

I had a poster of the Bosch painting Christ Carrying The Cross on my wall. Not for any religious reasons just because I love Bosch's paintings. I included the poster in the strip.

birdman & bosch

Above: The Birdman and The Bosch.

Dog In The Field was a look at cannibalism without actually saying the word.

DOG IN THE FIELD

Above: Detail from Dog In The Field

I'll Show You What The Sky Looks Like is a story about kindness and how it can backfire. This was one of Luis Buneuls favourite themes. I try it here with a slightly unusual story-line which was also influenced by the Twilight Zone program Nervous Man In A Four Dollar Room.

I'll show you what the sky looks like

Above: Detail from I'll Show You What The Sky Looks Like

The final story in Closet Tales 1 was The Madness. This is still probably my favourite story of all. It was a surrealist nightmare in the way I saw it. I won't explain what I wrote it about as any explanation hinders the story. All that matters is a strange little man enters a house and then suddenly he leaves.

THE MADNESS

Above: Detail from The Madness

madness sketches

Above: Early sketches for The Madness

madness character

Above: Another early sketch

closet tales ad issue 1

Above: Closet Tales Ad issue 1


 

COLOSET TALES ISSUE 2

CLOSET TALES 2

The second issue of Closet Tales was released in June 1985. Working a day job doesn't leave much time for drawing comic strips and relaxing so it took nearly two years to get this organized.

The Twilight Zone was being re-screened on Channel 10 in Melbourne when I was working on this issue and looking at it today I can see the influence it had on me. Dave McHardy submitted several Patch cartoons for this issue and Peter Mayne returned with Tant Hit's Town. Peter Schroder returned writing The Burning Colosseums of Cameroon and drawing several strips for the closet funnies section and Joe Romic again submitted Elmar Ferdaz. Contributions were also made by Photographer Ian Kenins, Writer Cameron Grace and Ian Bennett.

 

CONTENTS ISSUE 2

Above: Contents page Closet Tales 2

CONTENT

The Woodbridge Murders was heavily influenced by the Twilight Zone episode An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge. The stories have little in common but I loved the mood of that episode and wanted to re-create that on paper.

THE WOODBRIDGE MURDERS

Above: Detail from The Woodbridge Murders

 

Stories Told To Me By The Walker was a story of a guy that walked the streets and the teenage boy who befriends him through his fascination with the Walkers eclectic view on life. During my teenage years in Altona  there was a local character we called The Bloke. We gave him this name as everywhere we went we would see him. He would walk around topless in the summer tanning himself until he was beet root red. Sometimes if we were playing soccer or cricket he would walk past and the game would immediately stop while everyone broke down in hysterics unable to believe this guy had walked past again. I guess the walker strip was an attempt to create a wisdom associated with That Bloke. The bloke finally went insane and could regularly be seen fighting with trees on the side walks of Altona North.

STORIES THE WALKER

 

The Last Roo was a story about extinction. Apparently not everyone agreed with my sentiments here a girl who I had asked to contribute refused because she lived in the country and considered the kangaroo to be a pest. I don't really see what that has to do with not getting your work published I think she may have been lacking a bit of confidence.

THE LAST ROO

 

 I Love The Ice Queen was a story about blindly entering into relationships done in a slightly surreal way.

Many people thought this was a comment on a girl I knew at the time but it wasn't, it was an observation of men and their behaviour towards women.

I LOVE THE ICE QUEEN

Above: Detail from I Love The Ice Queen

True Life Mouse Tales were in fact true stories of people I knew with everyone disguised as mice. The Captain Boulton story was about a guy I worked for. He was a warehouse Manager and he tended to deliberately get his workers into conflict with each other by lying to them.

True life mouse tales

Above: Detail from True Life Mouse Tales

Young Ethiopians was a story of what used to be the typical Australian male going to Ethiopia to cheer up the starving population. That was before hair products took over from Beer as the main thing in their life.

young ethiopians

Above: Detail from Young Ethiopians 

Cabin Fever was done after I attended a gig by Melbourne band the Corpse Grinders. They did this song and I kind of got the idea that Cabin Fever could be a totally different thing if it was members of this band in the cabin. Of course the story is fictional. The character in the strip is based on their bass player Arthur Kane who worked with a friend of mine at the time. 

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever

CONTRIBUTORS

On the back cover I did caricatures of the contributors to issue 2 they are from left to right Peter Schroder, David McHardy, Joe Romic, Myself, Harry Koecher, Ian Kenins, John Bansky, Ian Bennet and Peter Mayne

MAIL ARTICLE

Above: Footscray Mail article

closet tales ad issue 2 

Above: Closet Tales Ad issue 2

 

CLOSET TALES ISSUE 3

closet tales 3

Closet Tales #3 was released  in september 1986 and this time didn't contain as much of my material. I now had several other artists contributing work. The original intention of the comic was to try and showcase as much local talent as I could. Aside from the regulars I now had two strips from Sue Churchill a female cartoonist whose work I had become aware of through a friend in St Kilda and for the first time we had included a letters page which was edited by Buddy Fermentel (John Bansky).

contents issue 3

Above: Contents page Closet Tales 3

CONTENT

The first story I did for this issue was a 3 page strip titled I Asked The Devil To Dinner. This was a poem I had written about The devil arriving for dinner and bringing along some notoriously unwanted guests. I'd revisit this topic again with the Murder Calendar in 1993 and 1994.

I asked the devil

Above: Detail from I Asked The Devil To Dinner

This issue also contained my first effort at Surrealist Dad. This is the first of many of these strips which I am currently working on. They have gone from 3 panel to full page strips.

Surrealist Dad original

Above: Surrealist Dad episode 1

This issue also contains a single page story about my father who died from Alzheimer's Disease in 1988. The story was titled The Long Grass and was basically just an outside view of a life slowly decaying.

THE LONG GRASS

Above: Detail from The Long Grass

I suppose the decline of my father's health had led me to accept he was going to die and the last strip in issue 3 Around The Lake is about that confrontation and how sometimes it's a little hard to accept. When I was a child my father, my brother and I had wandered into a swamp while visiting my Aunt in Port Arlington. The memory of that place has stayed with me my whole life. This strip is set in that swamp.

Around The Lake

Above: Detail from Around The Lake

All 3 issues of Closet Tales were heavily influenced by Luis Bunel. I love his films and the SBS network in Melbourne were playing lots of them which I was feverishly putting onto videotape. Where as the appearance of the Monstrance in The Madness was taken directly from L'Age Dor most of the other stories were my attempt at Surrealism. Dragi The Evil Farmer was a bit of a surrealist comedy. When I was doing this comic I didn't consider whether anyone in the world would be interested it was all just flowing out of my head.

dragi the evil farmer

Above: Detail from Dragi The Evil Farmer.

Gulls and The Rock are both rather unusual love stories. At this time I wondered about relationships, they were a bit of a mystery to me. The thought of taking on somebody's life seemed to be somewhat of a burden and I wondered whether people did it just so they would appear normal. Both of these stories are about this situation, as was I Love The Ice Queen in Closet Tales 2. I also approached the same subject in the early drawing A Strange Wedding This (1978). 

Gulls

Above: Detail from Gulls

the Rock

Above: Detail from The Rock

A Tale Of The Tiger was a story about the extinct Tasmanian Tiger much like the Last Roo from issue 2.

A Tale of The Tiger

Above: Detail from A Tale Of The Tiger

 In this final issue Dave McHardy and I co-wrote an episode of Stories Told To Me By The Walker. We both drew sections of the strip as well. We also combined our artwork for this Closet Tales Ad.

CLOSET TALES AD ISSUE 3

 Above: Closet Tales Ad issue 3

CLOSET TALES ISSUE 4

I'm not entirely sure what happened but Closet Tales 4 was never completed. Probably the frustration of not being able to sell it through traditional outlets took its toll on me and I just called it quits. Much work was done for it however and it remains to this day unpublished.

the vultures

Above: The Vultures Page 1

The main story for issue 4 was a story called The Vultures. The idea for this came from a friend of mine, Kris Hansen, who told me she would never bring another child into the world as it was such a dangerous place. The story was about a gang of juveniles who terrorize a mother and her child. I tried to give the neighbourhood a"To Kill A Mockingbird" feel. The little girl in the story was based on Dave McHardy's daughter Jessica. Oh, and by the way Kris had another child.

OVER THE WATER

Above: Over The Water Page 1

Over the water was the story of two men looking for a lost friend who they believe had disappeared on a near by island.

 ELEVATOR DRIVER

I'd done episodes of Elevator Driver since Closet Tales 1. It had always been a four panel cartoon in the Closet Funnies section of the mag. But for issue 4 I decided to do a full page episode. The basic story of E.D. is that he is a very frustrated, lonely man. His attitudes were a combination of those I saw in the people around me and myself no doubt. Here he unknowingly offends some of the great monsters of the movie world.

 MY FIRST WITCH HUNT

Above: True Life Mouse Tales-My First Witch Hunt

Just continuing the Adventure of the mice.

THE DOCKS AT MOMBASSA

Above: The Docks At Mombassa

John Paisley was one of the packers at Collins Olympic when I worked there in the late seventies. John was an alcoholic and not afraid to admit it. He used to tell all the young guys these fantastic stories of far off places he had worked, meeting albino natives and his experience with explosives. He used to keep a bottle of port under his packing bench. He would work really well till lunchtime and after that the booze would start to slow him down. He wore his hair slicked back and as he began to lose the plot his hair would begin to hang over his face. He lost his job when he engaged the General Manager in a drunken conversation at the front door while he was knocking off early. He died only a few months after losing his job.

VOICES IN THE SKY

Above: Voices In The Sky.

This was a sort of twist on the message from God thing. It sort of backfires and the people get embarrassed.

THE TRAGEDY OF FLOATING BABIES

This was just a bit of fun with the birth process and how the doctor explains your baby has just floated out of sight.

THE PASSENGER

Above: The Passenger Page 1

I've used a lot of Public Transport in Melbourne over the years and I've seen thousands of unusual things happen that you just don't see traveling to work by car. I went into this subject in much more detail some years later with P.T. My Life On Public Transport. Sometimes when I was on a train I'd find myself singing the Iggy Pop song of the same title.

THE ORIGINAL STORIES.

Prior to the first issue of Closet tales being put together I did two stories which I took and showed to Philip Bently at Minotaur Books. I was aware that he and Greg Gates and David Vodika were working on a comic together and I was hoping I could get some work into it. After talking to him I became determined to do my own comic. Thinking I already had two stories done I went away and started the long haul that became Closet Tales 1. In the end the two stories I had started with got left out and were never used.

A SAFE PLACE

Above: A Safe Place Page 1

A Safe Place was the story of a man who shared his room with a monster. He slept there at night but had to be out at daybreak, because the monster had been out all night causing mischief and needed the bed.

It is a story of insecurity. I did the artwork with a repeatograph so the lines were really fine. I was worried that they may not print up too well in the final product so I dropped the story.

A MAN AND HIS DOG

Above: A Man and His Dog Page 1

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a cat person but for some reason I keep doing these stories about dogs.

I left this out because the page layout was done to a different size and back then that was a problem when printing. All the stories after this were done in uniform size. This is a fairly emotional story about a man whose only friend is his dog.

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