Many consider Melbourne to be Australia's most vibrant comics city, and this is due to homegrown entrepreneurs since the 1980s, as well as to the fact that many of Australia's best cartoonists migrate to Melbourne (sometimes just temporarily)! As a result, Melbourne is home to Australia's comics awards, and both the University of Melbourne and Swinburne University of Technology offer unique graphic narratives courses.
The world's oldest cartooning organisation, the Australian Cartoonists Association, was formed in 1923, and the Melbourne chapter holds regular meet-ups at the Retreat Hotel in Abbotsford. Those more interested in contemporary genre and action comics can attend a monthly get-together at the Bull and Bear Tavern in the CBD, and for comics fans of all stripes Brunswick's Squishface Comic Studio holds regular classes and events, including a monthly drawing night for adults. All Star Comics also holds a monthly women's comic book club.
Squishface is open to the public most days of the week, and is a permanent hub for local artists, as is the Silent Army studio in North Melbourne, which often stages group exhibitions, residencies and releases collaborative anthologies. The Homecooked Comics Festival in the City of Darebin is Victoria's only festival devoted to local comic artists, including local publishers Pikitia Press and Milk Shadow Books. The local comics community also holds frequent launches. For small-press and zine fans, a trip to Melbourne isn't complete without a visit to the Sticky Institute, tucked away in the Degraves Subway.
If you’re looking to pick up international books, make sure you check out Minotaur, Comics 'R' Us, Classic Comics, Evil Empire and the two-level friendly giant, All Star Comics, which in 2014 was crowned World's Best Comics Retailer at the Eisner Awards. And if your wallet's getting skinny, Melbourne's libraries are great places to find some graphic reading material, particularly the City and Docklands Library and the new Kathleen Syme Library in Carlton.
Do you have travel plans for the April school holidays?