COMICS SANS ATTITUDE IN PORT CHALMERS

by Insiders Dunedin
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Local artist Spencer Hall with a rack of comics at his new Dunedin Comic Collective space in Port Chalmers. 

Comic book store guys get a bad wrap, in that they are usually tied in with this bitter gentleman. With a full head of hair, and a desire to build up his community rather than tear it down, Dunedin artist Spencer Hall is doing his best to counter these stereotypes. On the back of a series of cartoon anthologies, under the DUD brand, he has recently taken the big step of opening a store in Port Chalmers to push the same barrow. 

AH: The Dunedin Comic Collective is … a shop? A gallery? A maker-space? All of these things?

SH: Okay, the Dunedin Comic Collective is a relatively loose-knit group of cartoonists, formally we're a registered trust with a charitable status. DUD Comics, our store in Port Chalmers, is certainly all those things and more; it's a distribution point for independently published comics, especially from New Zealand, a studio space for fortnightly workshops we're running, a gallery space and a place to project films. Also quite probably a space for some low-key music gigs. The plan is to have CDs, vinyl and merchandise from some local bands too.

Your work on comics / zines formed your art school practice. How receptive was the Dunedin School of Art to your project?

They have been very supportive. We're actually working with DSA’s printmaking department "The P Lab" on their zine course, and we’re planning on having an exhibition/zine launch for them in the near future.

DUD Comics is only open on Thursdays & Sundays. Why such limited hours and how is this financially viable? 

Yeah, those are our hours at the moment, Thursday night and Sunday day. We're open less to build more anticipation for when we're open? Our target demographic is the Sunday drive to Port Chalmers type? The really boring reason is that between working, study and volunteering for other things those are two of the only times I have free to head out there and I haven't sorted out anyone else to look after it any other days. Haha. We'll be open more often during the cruise ship season for sure. It's financially viable because our overheads are extremely low. We have a monthly lease and our landlords are the loveliest people in the world.

What's the plan with the store’s Events Schedule, will these just be arranged on an ad hoc basis?

Yes! We're having events every Thursday from 5:30-8pm alternating between comic launches, different kinds of workshops, exhibitions and film screenings. We've got the foreseeable future booked up which is pretty exciting!

What is your dream result from the project?

A wider, thriving DIY community of cartoonists that are more aware of one another and are pumping out quality exciting stuff and not leaving town!

How does what you are doing fit into local and national events like Storylines & Zinefest?

The Storylines festival is a national festival held throughout New Zealand focused on books and literacy for children. It's a fantastic event held at the Dunedin Public Library each year that has storytellers, famous writers and fun activities. Last year I held a workshop making comics in a zine format. It was a real hit! The kids did some great stories and each of them took home a stack of copies of the comics they made.

This was in the leadup to Zinefest which we were heavily involved in organizing. Zinefest is a self-publishing festival with stalls, talks, workshops, a zine library and resources for making zines. We had a stall at it and also did a comic jam workshop. The comics we did at that will be in one of our future anthologies "JAM"

The DUD compilations, as suggested by the title, were local anthologies. Is this still a local community focus, or has that expanded in its current incarnation?

It's still well and truly a Dunedin focused comic, but we've had some very talented artists from around New Zealand contribute comics to it. Local community focus is the name of the game and I'm proud to have Dunedin as a playground.

DUD Comics is open on George St (the main drag) in Port Chalmers on Sundays from 10am-5pm, with events / workshops / film screenings happening on Thursdays from 5.30 - 8.00pm. Last week they played the David Lynch documentary on the great comic artist Crumb and this week they celebrate the launch of The Shed Is For Dad's Only.

Post Submitted by Aaron Hawkins

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