Fox Comics gallery

I made a new page to display my collection of Fox Comics. This was an Australian comics venture, edited by David Vodicka who was based in Melbourne, with his friends and co-editors Phil Bentley and David Bird. They did it through the mid-1980s up until the early 1990s.

I think Fox (co-edited by Vodicka with Lazarus Dobelsky) was originally an article fanzine, but Fox Comics was a showcase for new and original comic strips. They used local talent from around Australia, including artists as far afield as Sydney and Adelaide. Starting with issue 5, they invited UK small press artists (including myself) to contribute. I appeared in issue 5 and drew the cover for it in 1984.

At this time it was an A5 sized small press comic, and in editorial intent and coverage was not too far apart from what was happening in the UK. Over time, more UK artists joined the pages of Fox, including Phil Elliott, John Bagnall, Eddie Campbell, Glenn Dakin, Chris Flewitt, and others; sometimes drawing new work, although Fox was happy to reprint strips that had already appeared in the UK.

In 1986, Fox Comics changed to cropped A4 magazine size, with two-colour printed covers. For issue 14, they managed to persuade Dan Clowes to draw a cover. The editorial stance got a bit sharper, as did the layout and design; the creators tried to make it look less like a fanzine, more like a proper newstand magazine with typesetting, etc. Each issue bore the slogan “Australia’s International Comics Magazine”, indicating something about the range of contributions.

This general trend towards professionalism culimnated with interest from Fantagraphics Books, who took over publishing (and distributing, I suppose) the magazine. They launched this new venture with a one-shot called Fox Comics Special in 1989. Suddenly, glossy covers printed in full-colour appeared. I think this lasted for about a year before the whole enterprise folded, or ran out of steam. But before that happened, I managed to do a full-colour painting for issue #25.

I liked the editorial attitude of Vodicka and his crew, who seemed very relaxed and open to ideas, and if they liked something they published it. They had a fairly brisk turnover too, getting the mag out on a regular basis, although that impetus mysteriously slowed down the more professional they tried to be. They also published more women cartoonists than most magazines did at that time, including Chloe Brookes-Kenworthy and Maria Pena. You can see the cover of Chloe’s Words and Pictures book in the gallery. Eddie Campbell wrote the introduction for that, and turned in what I thought was a succinct and memorable assessment of the unique phenomenon of the small press comic: “It seemed to happen on photocopiers all around the world simultaneously,” he wrote. “A spontaneous language of the visual poem”.

Click here to view the Fox Comics gallery

Further reading: interesting post by Lars Ingebrigtsen