On the strength of my comedy radio show, The Wonderful Thing, on Bay FM and my comedic monologues in '05 and '06 for the writing competition Once Upon A Deadline (you can view the actual performances here), I was invited to perform an original comedy piece in NYC at the New City Theatre as part of The Globesity Festival. As luck would have it a close friend of mine in LA was going away on a film shoot and invited me to house mind in Santa Monica for the subsequent six months. The plan was to hook up through some existing contacts and try and get a TV writing gig. I'd completed my UCLA screenwriting courses a few years previous and had written six features by then, so I was confident and ready to attempt living and working there. As fate would have I landed during the infamous (and extended) writer's strike. No work for anybody.
Cut to arriving back in Australia, still amped and hungry to write / make things happen. I approached the legendary comedian Austentayshus with some film ideas and we did some brainstorming together. Nothing on film came from it but a friendship evolved and Austentayshus invited me to go on a stand-up tour with him and see if I liked it. I was part of a duo - two dumb, Ocker doormen - called The Boing Boyz. I had done stand up solo before on numerous occasions - but never billed and paying gigs.
Let's just say it was a learning experience. What I learnt was stand up is fucking hard. As much as I love comedy and enjoy performance, the pressure and expectation from pub and club crowds tests the mettle of the most devoted. I surrendered. Lesson learnt - stand up was not for me.
Back to painting. I was sleeping on the floor (on a futon) of my parent's walk-in-wardrobe at the time. Almost fifty, yes. I had made it! They were kind and gracious enough to put up with my presence for a number of years as I re-established myself. But was I ever established in the first place? Hmmm... Regardless, I boldly decided to have an exhibition of small works (done in the wardrobic space) of a couple less than fifty paintings called '48 Reasons To Love'. The show went pretty well and encouraged more painting.
Around that time I met a kiwi girl who also liked art and we made a studio in her Bondi garage. I went to the studio everyday and produced a large volume of works. And they were larger. From there I had two more shows of my paintings. Cut to the dramatic break up. Worst part: no more studio. Hundreds of orphan paintings stored in a-friend-of-a-friend's garage, then when she moved half in another benevolent friend's garage and the rest in the spare room of a divorced guy I knew from poker.
With nowhere to go to physically paint anymore I was excited and uplifted to discover a symbiotic and rewarding relationship with digital creation. The newly released Samsung Galaxy Note had a large screen, great colours and a nifty S-Pen that allowed me to create a new studio - one that I could carry in my pocket. I created new works everyday in cafes, at the library and in my car, parked at the beach during the day or outside a club at night, waiting for the next poker game to commence.
For the next two and a half years, I made new pictures. I was able to find a way to print the best ones as limited edition art prints and had three successful exhibitions of the works.
After doing 5,000 of these images, the newest generation of the Note, the Note4 was released. I got it on the release day. It was wonderful to have jumped from one to four. The quality and speed improvements were huge. I was excited. But doing more of the same didn't feel right. It felt like the end of that era. I had graduated. Somehow I decided to work only in black and white. And to include text. And to make them observational, commentary, funny. You know, like comics. Yeah, they were comics. And, with a bit of focus and devotion and trial and error... they came pouring out.
So, I've done 2,000 of them now. We're in the present. I have decided to collect them and put them in a book. A paperback of 200 or so pages. Actually, three of them. A trilogy. So I have gone back through all the work and selected the top 600. The ones that will be published. I'm going to start with the first book, first. Makes sense. There are considerable processes involved - using Photoshop (which I have skills with) and InDesign for the formatting (which I will have to learn). But, I have my mission. I plan to have the first, self-published, run out by year's end. And, the other two in reasonably quick succession.
Comics are fun because they make people smile and laugh and feel good about life. And that's something I have always enjoyed. So, it's a good place to be in.