A copy of ARC Comics 'Anthology' Issue 2.
Way back in 1994 (21 years ago!) a young Craig (leather jacket wearing, pony tail sporting as Damo likes to remind me) went to his first ever comic convention in Sydney (OZcon). It was perhaps the most amazing sensory overload a young Craig could ever hope to experience.
I remember specifically being shown around the convention by my tutor at the time, the late Cole Buchanan. Cole was one of the nicest and most generous men you'd ever hope to meet. Cole urged me to go and chat to this group of young aspiring comic creators who were doing cool things with superhero stories in Australia and just put out their first anthology collection titled ironically enough, Anthology.
For someone who had grown up reading some amazing Aussie books like Southern Squadron, Greener Pastures, Dark Nebula and many more (I even had a copy of issue 1 of G.I.Joe Australia), this was just amazing to meet these young guys doing the sort of stuff I could only dream of.
That very day I was lucky enough to meet Damian Shanahan and his younger brother Aaron. Two amazingly talented dudes, and what came out of that blew my mind. From that meeting i was lucky enough to score my first ever comic opportunity, writing and drawing a 4 page short story for Anthology issue 2.
Its funny as it was such a short foray into comics for me. Printing costs were astronomical at the time and the major distributor of comics to newsagents at the time was to pull out shortly after, but for that brief moment, it was bliss.
Then life took over. I went to uni and got a 'real' job and before long comics were a distant memory.
Many years later, approximately 11 years ago I found myself doing some freelance illustration work for a toy company in Melbourne called Moose. As i was sitting in their boardroom taking a brief I was informed someone wanted to say hi. Lo and behold it was none other than Damo. How awesomely small is the world these days!
Damo and I got the chance to work together at Moose for another 5 or 6 years before he found the love of his life and moved across the ocean to the US. Comics had been forgotten to me for so long. It feels strange to say that as I was working for a toy company but still the magic of comics remained a distant memory to me.
2 years ago somebody convinced me to go to Free Comic Book Day, and yet again another pinnacle moment in my life came to the fore. That day then, when I saw the alley of artists doing commissions outside All Star Comics was the day that reignited my love for the comic medium. It reminded me why I got into illustrating in the first place.
Since then I have started my own book (From Above, obviously) and am most of the way towards finishing my 7th issue. I've never been so happy drawing and creating. I feel like I've recaptured something of what made drawing fun to me, instead of just a source of employment.
But yet it was with a source of sadness that I had to confess to my wife that I no longer had in my posession, a copy of the first book I ever worked on. Anthology #2 was just a distant memory that I could only strain to remember.
The other week my wife was on a radio show, helping promote a comic anthology she edits (yes, my wife, Alana is amazing. She has dived headfirst in and embraced comics in a way that I cannot ever have hoped or imagined!). During this radio show she mentioned Anthology and that we had no copy of it.
And so, yet again the world proves it is such a small place. Today I have received a package from my mate Damo, stating he had heard I no longer had a copy of the book. Within the package are two copies of Anthology issue 2! Nostalgia and emotion floods back into me.
I leaf through the pages and it all floods back. There towards the back is my 4 page story called The Traveller. The art, well its Craig from 20 years ago (horrible) and the story is so 90's Image inspired that it's, well, I thought I could write. None of those details matter though, as its the sentiment and feelings that wash over me that bring a little tear to my eye.
Thank you to Damo. Thank you to my wife Alana... and thanks to all those that provide the impetus and encouragement that drive me on to pursue this love of creating in the comic medium. I dearly hope that ten years from now I can reflect back on a whole new set of comic book memories...