Darren Close

Main Guest

Darren Close

Time for Leigh to chat up a man who can arguably be known as having the most recognisable and popular character in Australian Comics. Whats not to love about Killeroo. Well now it’s time to direct that love at Darren Close himself.

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Transcription Below

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Voice Over (00:04):
This show is sponsored by the Comics Shop. We hope you enjoy the show.

Leigh Chalker (00:26):
All right, good evening and welcome to Tuesday Chinwag. We are here, Bo and Ben, they’re flooding in. Alright, thank you for all the comments coming through. Well, tonight’s obviously Tuesday Chinwag. My name’s Lee Chalker. I’m the creator of the Australian Independent Comic book Battle for Bustle published through X. Now Tuesday Chinwag is simulcast broadcast over two channels and you can see both of their addresses along that little yellow ticker box running across the bottom of the screen. One is x now com X is split into three sections. There is the community which brings like-minded people together from all aspects of the community to talk about the love of comics. The other one is the Comics Network, which produces shows like Chinwag Friday Night Drink and Draw. Let’s make a comic book, the ACOM X Show of varying other shows that pop up. There is also the Comex Shop, which sponsors the show that is the home of over 100 Australian independent comic books and you can get one or 20 of them for the flat rate of $9.

Now the other channel is Aussie verse, and if you’ve never heard of Aussie verse, Aussie verse is a group of people that love comic books, entertainment and all the things that go in between. They have interviews with creators and people in the community. They do talks about comic books, they do hall videos, they do what they’ve bought reviews just about anything you can find. They’ve got hundreds of videos all over Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Now, the most important thing you can do to keep these things going is to like and subscribe anywhere you can find them and the more likes and subscribes we get where you go further up the algorithm and all that computery stuff that I don’t really understand, but I just look at it like it’s a tree. It just grows. So the more likes and subscriptions is like more water, so it just gets bigger and bigger and it gets better and better and helps produce all of these shows and all of the things that we’re doing for you and brings creators like the, well, I’m going to just throw it out there and say pretty much Australian legend right now this evening.

Mr. Darren Close who the stars have aligned this evening. Darren and I have been trying to get together on a chinwag for a while, but it turns out that February the 27th provides a lot of alignment. It is Darren’s birthday. Happy birthday to you sir. It is the release of his new Kroo book, which is out on Kickstarter right now. The address will pop up in a tick if you haven’t gone and pledged for that. Jump on board that thing there it is right now for horseman koo.com for any of you that are listening. Now, four is the numeral four, not the word for, and we’ve also got man, old man Rufuss is hitting post office boxes and homes and everything. Man, you like you’re doing the behind the scenes work, running the campaign of the Greener Pastures issue eight Kickstarter campaign, which is a huge success and I’m going to say or suggest even that this week’s been pretty damn good for you mate. How are you feeling?

Darren Close (03:52):
Yeah, not too bad.

Leigh Chalker (03:53):
That’s the way. How’s your birthday today? You get lots of things.

Darren Close (03:58):
No, not many presents. I had a lot of great people posting on Facebook wishing me happy birthday with, which is always nice. Yeah,

Leigh Chalker (04:06):
That’s lovely man. Super Marcy, I’m here to annoy Darren. Mate, that is no worries. You can annoy Darren all you like. Who else we got? Uri Matsu. Let’s hear about the roo. We got Peter Lane. Happy birthday Darren. Woohoo, everyone just garish. Eleanor, looking forward to this. Chinwag. Hello sir, everyone, Ron and the accuser. Good day, good day. We do enjoy comments on the show and try to interact as much as we can. KJB, pulling up a chair for tonight’s old Chinwag welcome back mates and the show is fluid. So hello Dave. We talk about lots of things, everything and I tell you that it’s all about who, what, where, when, why, and how. But really we just get to who and then it’s off and running, so we’ll see how we go. Rob O’Connor, good day buddy. And I love that new book of yours, Rob.

It’s good stuff man. It’s lovely. Darren, happy birthday from Facebook user. Let us know who you are. Facebook user. Happy birthday Daaz. Darren, you’re getting a lot of love here brother. Look at this Jackie Chin wag and happy birthday Darren. Half an hour of this. Well look at this. Happy birthday. Darren Mate, look at your go. Dan Jo May. Happy birthday Darren, keep him rolling. Hey, share the love. That’s what chinwag iss all about. Love Spie. Get aid mate. Happy birthday dad. Oh, here’s another one. Don’t forget to like and subscribe. That’s exactly right. Omni bow. That is the most important thing anyone can do now on with the festivities. Get your face around the reckons. Good on you mate. Darren, we’re going to start off hard and fast, mate. Hard and fast. All right.

Darren Close (05:48):

Leigh Chalker (05:51):

Darren Close (05:54):

Leigh Chalker (05:56):
Who? Who?

Darren Close (06:01):
I don’t. Sorry, I don’t understand.

Leigh Chalker (06:04):
You don’t understand. Well, who

Darren Close (06:07):
Are you asking?

Leigh Chalker (06:09):
I’m asking you who are you? Who is Darren Close? The of Kroo, the existential make you up as a man, however you would like to answer the question.

Darren Close (06:24):
Okay. Yeah, I’m a comic publisher graphic designer. I’m very old, which is why I’ve been around so long. And yeah, just been making primarily Kroo comics for the last 25 years or so and working as a graphic designer. I’ve helped a few people run Kickstarter campaigns and just generally been around, I guess in terms of the Australian comic scene, I try to support as many people as I can and if I see one who’s particularly talented, I try and grab hold of ’em and get ’em to work on a killer. But

Leigh Chalker (07:12):
Yeah. So what was your first, did you start with Kroo or were you dabbling with other stuff before then?

Darren Close (07:22):
I went to high school with Damien Shanahan who did Pizza Man and Anthology comics back in the nineties, comic comic. And I was kind of writing his coattails. I was watching what he and his brother used to self-publish and it gave me a focus for, I was always into art, but I didn’t really have a focus for it. But seeing what they were doing, I created my own characters and the first one was actually an alien character called Eclipse,

And I put together a little mini comic for that and Damien actually took it with him to, I think it was Ocon nine five or something like that in Sydney when he was launching his anthology series. And I think it was just a hundred photocopied, a five books that I did on the photocopier at dad’s work. And yeah, I sort of honed my skills since then and until probably around 2001, which is when I first published the first Kiri book. And that came about from, is that the one quick one? Yeah, that came about essentially from a website that I created called Oz Comics, and this is all pre social media, so it was mainly just a message board, but that message board became kind of a nice place for Australian creators to sort of catch up and share what they were working on and showing pictures that they’d drawn and so forth. And I saw what everyone else was doing and I thought, well, maybe I can make a comic book. And reached out to a few creators who were like John Summer and Danny McGill, Evan Jacobson and Jason Paul Ross, and basically said, look, I’ve got this kangaroo character that I created back at uni, but I’d never actually done anything with him, and I basically gave those artists carte blanche. So sort of like if you’ve liked the idea of drawing a story with this guy and I’ll publish it. And that’s essentially what the end result are. So it was just a nice convergence of meeting other creators and putting it all together into a comic book.

Leigh Chalker (10:10):
I like the fact you did start from the ground up if you started with mini comics, there’s a beauty to mini comics, having that real do it yourself. You are not relying on anyone, anyone else to help you just get in and pull the sleeves back, mate, and I want to get this done and put it out there. Yeah, I’m actually a fan of mini comics, man. I love seeing people do that. There’s a lot of great artists out there now. Hello Don, how are you buddy with Let’s go back to happy birthday, you bald headed far, Facebook music. That sounds like a Daniel Best sort of a comment. I could be wrong there, but yeah, it might be. We’ll find out later. Put your name to it. Facebook user.

Let’s go back to 2001 when you did bring out this comic book and you went through minis, you’ve set up your forum page, which went for a long time. We’ll focus on that because, and we’ll come into, because maybe you can clear some stuff up for me too, because after years of, I suppose pulverising my body and brain through to varying things over the years as people know about, I can’t really remember the exact details of how we got into contact back in the day. So hopefully we’ll be able to work that out and there might be some revelations there, but with that community, did you find at the time that was obviously back in the dial up days and would’ve been a little bit harder to get around and I suppose you didn’t have Facebook at that point, so it would’ve been, how did you reach these people? Was it just going through your comic book collection and just seeing names and reaching out to the seeing say cyclone and seeing an email and sending one off to bring ’em in or anything?

Darren Close (12:22):
Stretching my brain to go back that far myself,

I suspect it was probably just people that I emailed for and I probably just said, look, I’ve built this website, it’s got a message board, we can talk there. So I think I was using, it might’ve been ICQ, which was a very early app back those days for a messenger chat. So I’d be talking to people on that and also forwarding them to the website. And I think even the original Oz comics site did pretty well in search engines, so I think people who typed in Australian comics, that would come up as number one and it just sort of built, people would just show up kind of organic.

Leigh Chalker (13:14):
Yeah, no, I remember you used to have a drawing, Daniel Best, that old message board was the true wild west of Aussie comics. Hello Daniel. Yeah, I came a little bit later. I wasn’t part of that message board and stuff, but I did used to see the weekly drawing competition that you used to put on Turner and man, that went for a long time. There was well over a hundred entries into that. Yeah,

Darren Close (13:48):
Yeah. I think that was actually on Facebook. The A comics website had finished by then and I’d sort of reestablished a brand as a Facebook page and just created to put up every week I would just say, okay, this week we’re drawing Spiderman and people would send in entries and I’d post them all in a gallery and there were no prizes or anything. It was just, let’s build a community again on Facebook. And I think it almost went to about 250 weeks worth of entries. They’re all still there on the Facebook page. If you go to Oz comics in the photo albums, there’s hundreds of photo albums full of just people submitted art. It was a lot of fun back then.

Leigh Chalker (14:48):
You would’ve seen some good ones come through. Hey, I imagine back then first time and people have gone on for still to this day.

Darren Close (14:56):
Well, again, to be perfectly honest, it was a nice little marketing machine for me because I would see people sending in this artwork and if I thought it was particularly talented artwork, I would just go, alright, I’m going to contact that guy and see if I can get him to do a killer story. And that guy and that girl and just, I kind of cherry picked to be perfectly honest, if I saw something I liked, then I even did a few, it was a bit self-serving, but I would do the occasional Australian comics is the subject for drawing this week, or there might’ve been a kroo one. So instead of drawing Spider-Man or Deadpool, everyone was drawing instead. So yeah, it was worked out well.

Leigh Chalker (15:54):
Yeah, no, that’s good man. Well, you may as well, I mean you would’ve, comic books are a double-edged sword, aren’t they? I suppose we’re all relatively introverted people. We like to sit at home and do our thing in the comforts of our own environment, but in order to get out there into the world, you have to take chances and use the resources that you got, man. So I mean, using those resources and finding talent and providing a place for fellow like-minded people to meet and greet and show off their wares and their talents and skills, I think it’s a beautiful thing. That’s why I’m such a big, I love community men. That’s why I’m a huge advocate of what Comex is doing. I guess you were the forefather really, to be honest with you, with all of that sort of thing.

And you did give people the opportunity to come forward. Actually, I didn’t pick this up in the day. I actually randomly came across this at my work maybe about six months ago, man, and boxes of comic books come through. And I’m lucky enough that the boss is always like, I dunno if I’ve told this story on Chinwag, but I’ll let you know. Basically when boxes of comics come through the porn shop, I work at, my boss lets me go through ’em and I take what I want and I do commissions of Warhammer for him. He loves Warhammer. So that’s our little deal. And yeah, this was in one of the boxes and I was like, get out here. I’ve got to check this out, man. Man, that has to be, I would say a very iconic Ben Temple Smith cover. That’s anyone who’s been around for a while would’ve seen that

Darren Close (18:07):
A lot. I was very lucky to get in touch with Ben for that one early on, pre-Health born pre 30 days of night. He went off to have a great career, but I managed to get him just before then and he did that great going, so I’m very,

Leigh Chalker (18:28):
Yeah, no, it’s beautiful man. It’s really nice. And there’s even like, God, man, if anyone’s got it, there’s sketchbooks from John Sova with early Koo drawings and stuff like that. It really, and you can see the character obviously you were saying before about you were giving them Cardone blanche to here’s my character, have a shot at it, the different varieties of Rufuss coming through here, man. Did you yourself have the original image in your mind? Had you already drawn Rufuss and handed them the layout of this is what my boy looks like, or were these do given you back their versions?

Darren Close (19:18):
It was a bit of both. I had sort of a torso up idea of what he looked like. I’d done several sketches of the Anth anthropomorphic, which parts were human, which parts were more kangaroo like the neck and the tail and the feet and that sort of thing. But generally with those first two books, I didn’t really restrain them too much.

It was pretty much, let’s say what they’d come up with. And when I developed the character into something a bit more definitive, I would basically cherry pick, oh, I like how Jason Paulo drew him like that. And I liked how the feet that this artist did, and I basically assembled who the character would be from an ongoing basis. And from that point I had model sheets drawn up. So anyone who does work for me, I have a whole stack of resources and model sheets to give them so that they know how to draw the character definitively.

Leigh Chalker (20:31):
Yeah, yeah. I like the fact that you allowed those dudes to, I guess, dabble with Rufuss to begin with and you could get the best possible version. Get to a little later on, I want to keep talking about you, but Rufuss is not the easiest character to draw. I can tell you back when I was a long time ago, he is tricky. There’s certain aspects and nuances to the character that you have to get or else, I guess he just looks like the torso just looks like a man with ears, doesn’t it? You’ve got to get certain neck shapes and the size of shoulders and things like that. So ears tricky.

Darren Close (21:18):
The key point is the ears, kangaroos have very distinctive ears, and if you don’t get it right, you’ll either look like a bunny rabbit or a dog or I’m a bit of an ear Nazi, that’s probably Emmanuel RNAs With that comment, I would constantly, if the artist didn’t get the ears, I would send them back. It’s like, no, you’re going to have to adapt that. Just basically show here’s a whole bunch of photos of kangaroos and what their ears look like and how they function. Because on there’s swivels on the top of their head, which allows them to rotate, I think about 180 degrees, lets them twist them very rarely in the same position, just straight up. There’s usually one up and then one off to the side kind of thing.

Leigh Chalker (22:26):
Yeah, well, I guess that’s all their sensory thing, man, like their radar and stuff. I find it funny that this is just me talking now and the little things that I’ve observed over the years on Facebook, but anytime anyone sees a kangaroo flexing or a giant red kangaroo out in the outback that someone’s randomly caught, they always send it to you. Darren, have you seen this? I got to say, you must have a whole catalogue of the same kangaroo man, just different angles. It’s like he’s in a playboy or something. That dude. Yeah, yeah. But pretty handy references though, because some of those kangaroos are pretty big and scary.

Darren Close (23:10):
There was one particular kangaroo, it was called Roger. He lived in a sanctuary in Alice Springs, and he was the focus of a TV show, I think it was on A, B, C, and then I think I went to BBC, it was called Kangaroo Dundee. There’s a guy who’s just, he basically bought a few acres of bushland. He is fenced it all off, and whenever a truck hits a kangaroo or a car or something like that, and there’s a little baby Joey in the, they send them to him. So he’s filled basically his land with all these kangaroos, whole mobs of kangaroos that he’s hand reared. This particular one, Roger, he was kind of the alpha male of the pack for a while there, and he became probably an international sensation. If you look up big red kangaroo generally it’s a photo of this particular kangaroo, Roger, because he went through that TV show, he became quite famous and he’s pretty much, I’ve got so many photos of him, he’s probably the main reference that I use when I’m drawing because he is big, he’s muscle and he’s got a particular, not all kangaroos look alike, red kangaroos are very different from Eastern grey kangaroos, which are different from Wallabies and so forth.

So I always use the red kangaroo as the model for people who want to draw.

Leigh Chalker (24:51):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, that’s fair enough because couldn’t imagine Kroo being like a wallaby. It’s not because Rufuss is an intimidating looking character on the page, but he has, from reading your books and stuff, there’s a sensitivity to him. It’s not all just brawn and stuff. There’s been nice stories of seeing his soft decide, you know what I mean? And I think that comes through when it’s properly done. I can’t think of the story off the top of my head, but there was one in one of the gang war stories that I really liked that had a very sensitive side to him and things, everyone out there should go and check out gang wars. That’s the big anthology of stuff Now, mate, taking me back actually to your Facebook thing, the one that caught my eye with all the drawings and the weekly challenge you did, and I dunno if you know this other people who watch the show, Mike, but there’s two things in the film comic and book world that I’m obsessed with, and that is Dune and the other one is the Crow.

And yeah, I saw you had part of the competition one day on Facebook, and I remember The Crow was the first one that I came across. I don’t ever think I’ve contributed to that actually. I don’t even think I’ve ever drawn the crow. How weird is that? Can I think about it? I dunno. But that’s when it came to my attention. And once the ACOM X message boards and that side of the community was there, you would’ve been feeling motivated and seeing other people’s artwork come through. And essentially you are 47. I’m 46, so we’re the same age, essentially a couple of months between us. I would assume that was it. Was it you that got into comics first or did your dad collect them, your mom collected them, A brother or sister and uncle or an aunt who got you into that vibe of collecting?

Darren Close (27:13):
I think initially when I was a little kid, my dad had a whole bunch of Uncle Scrooge comic books like Donald Duck comics that he had as a kid. He hadn’t kept them in bags or anything, so they were all ratty and falling apart. But I really dug reading those comics. I ended up, my dad gave me those comics at one point, and I know Dylan Nailer is a massive Carl Barks fan, and a lot of it was all Carl Barks. So I actually gave all of those comics to him because no one’s going to value them more than he will.

But I think the first superhero comic that I got into, I think I was down in Rosebud visiting my grandmother, and I went into a news agent and for whatever reason, I picked up a comic book off the newsstand, and I think it was Batman 4 29, which I think is the last chapter of the Death of Robin, quite a famous book. And it had a Mike Magno cover and Jim APA did the Interiors and it was basically Batman and Superman teaming up against the Joker. And I used to watch the Batman TV series and I loved the Superman movie, and I think that comic brought all of those things together into a printed book. And from that point on, I was pretty much a Marvel fan boy, but I did, you’re old enough to remember when news agents used to have comic books, a lot of comic books in them, which was when I was in high school and I grew up in Country Victoria, so the only access that I had to comic books was through the news agents. And I would go down there and I’d buy a whole stack of Superman, Batman.

I was really into Spider-Man for a while. I very quickly got into the artist side of things and I became, I think Todd McFarlane was the first artist that I really hooked onto. I think Damien Shanahan might’ve shown me a copy of his Spider-Man books. And then it became my mission to track down all the McFarlane issues. And that led me into Eric Glass, and I followed both of those creators to Image when they were doing Spawn and Savage Dragon. And it was a fantastic time in comics that early nineties, just the best comics that I think Marvel ever made, probably DC as well. And there was just such an energy about comics and if you were around at that time, it was contagious.

Leigh Chalker (30:21):
Yeah, mate, I agree with you. You’ve got a similar track of what you collected to what I was getting. My dad was a huge, amazing Spider-Man, character fan. I had Weber Spider-Man’s Marvel team up spectacular Spider-Man, the amazing Spider-Man. Any Spider-Man, every annual you could imagine. It was insane how many Spider-Man comics there were back in that day. And I was pummelling with your Ron friends, your John Ram Jr. Dad collected them as a kid. So I grew up with Ditko and all that sort of stuff and oh man, and then, oh, it was just insane. And dad loved the Avengers. And look, people don’t throw stones at your screen, you’ll break it. You can write letters of disapproval to comics, email it somewhere if you don’t like what I’m going to say, I’ve never been a big Avengers fan. Dad was the Avengers man.

He was a big Marvel dude. And then when I started getting my own comics, he would give me money. I immediately hooked him. I don’t know why I gravitated towards GI Joe. Issue 11, I think was the first comic book from memory that I ever bought and just bought straight into that. And man had a thing, a huge thing for Norm Bra Fogel’s version of Batman. To me that is the quintessential Batman. I would love to see that Batman in a movie that dude could draw. Still one of the great influences. But then when you came out of like Ron Friends and then you got straight, and then McFarlane just turned up, he was doing the Hulk and stuff too, which was okay. It was pretty good. The Hulk’s pretty good, but then when he hit Spider-Man, there was something like, whoa, okay, this dude’s hum. And that was mind blowing. So I’m totally with you on that. I remember sitting there, wow, look at this dude. He had legs over here and there was just lots of action in the panels happening. Highly influential. Larson came along. I know you’re a massive fan. I’ve seen you post your love for the Savage Dragon. You’ve got nearly every issue with that, or you do have every issue.

Darren Close (32:48):
I do. I stopped buying a lot of other comics, but I never stopped buying Savage Dragons. I have the complete run of 264 issues.

Leigh Chalker (33:00):
Yeah. What do you like so much about the Savage Dragon? I only ask because it’s very rare to come across someone that’s collected such a huge run of one series. What is it that tickles your fancy men?

Darren Close (33:14):
There’s quite a few things. I’ve always liked his art and his art has really evolved over that time. He was very McFarland esque to start with, but he’s more of a Jack Kirby kind of style now. So I’ve enjoyed the evolution of his art style, but also all of his characters age in real time. So the character of Savage Dragon is now dead, and the book is his son. It’s his son and his adventures. So every year in our time is a year in the book. So when you look at 260 issues, that’s many, many years. Because I think Larson stated it a few times that something that always bothered him about Spider-Man is he never ages

Leigh Chalker (34:05):

Darren Close (34:05):
Generally around 20 to 30 years old and he doesn’t get any older. And obviously there’s reasons for that. Marble wants to keep the character pure. And so when people pick up an issue of Spider-Man, they’re not going to get lost on where they’re at, that kind of thing. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that I think Larson kind of just said, yeah, I’m not doing any of that. I’m going to do my thing. And the character will age in real time. He kills off. I think he must have created somewhere between 300 500 characters through the race dragon and half of them are dead. You’ll read an issue and it’s like, bang. Yeah, he’s gone. It’s just the unpredictability of what you’re going to get with that book is something that’s always attracted me, still attracts me now.

Leigh Chalker (35:02):
Yeah, no, that’s cool. He seems to be an edgy sort of dude. I don’t tend to follow a lot of posts and stuff. I’m not really on social media as heaps. I’ll pop on and see things if they pop up. And it’s interesting, I read it, but I’ll say one thing since he’s been around that I’ve known him, he’s definitely had an opinion. He seems a very authentic person, just sticks to his guns and stuff like that. And from what I understand about his creating and obviously your enthusiasm for it as well, there is I guess an infectious vibe to someone just doing their thing, man. And he doesn’t seem, he just does his thing. That’s how it seems to me. It’s like all this other stuff goes on around him, occasionally pokes it, you know what I mean? Has his piece but then just disappears and keeps drawing and creating. And I like that. And he’s got an unusual style.

Darren Close (36:06):
I really liked that. He’s just started releasing hardcover collections of Savage Dragon, which he hadn’t done up until a few years back. So I think Bo from Aussie verse was talking about it. He’s never read Savage Dragon. So with these hard covers, I think a whole new audience of people are going to find this book. And if you read those first two or three hard covers, you’re going to get hooked. I did. And you’re just going to get read. So that’s really cool. The first hard cover, I think you mentioned, there’s a John Sova sketchbook in that Kru book, the first hardcover volume of Savage Dragon has 50 pages of sketches.

Leigh Chalker (36:58):
That’s beautiful.

Darren Close (37:00):
It goes through, and this is what I was thinking with this and this, I tried this for a cover, it didn’t work. And then I went for a process junkie like me that’s just old. I absolutely love

Leigh Chalker (37:13):

As we’ve said, we are the same age, and before a lot of those things became available on the internet, the only way to get any of that process stuff was to actually buy trade paperbacks, which was super expensive as a kid, you know what I mean? And you might get lucky to get, I dunno, maybe 10 pages at the back of pencils. And I remember particularly one in particular that had a huge impact on me. To me, I saw pencil and I saw Inca when I was younger most of the time, two different names. And it didn’t really, I guess I just didn’t perceive at that stage what a penciler brings and what an Inca can bring good or bad to either side. And oh man, it must’ve been in the mid nineties. I was just drawing, man, I didn’t know anything about pens and pencils. I’d just pick up a pencil or a big borrow and scribble and draw away texts, whatever. And then I got lucky and it had some money and they brought Jay Lee was the big thing at the time.

And I picked up an issue of Naor, and it was unusual. That was about the time that you’d sort of been through your steady block block panel, panel panel of comic books. And then old Jay comes in and he sort of came around from memory about the time Biley was sort of really humming with his bits and bobs, and that caught me. It was something new. And then he did that massive in Humans Run that brought the in humans back into popularity with Marvel. And I got the trade paper back and I loved it. And then at the back of it opened it up and they were pages of his pencils. And that was full on a revelation to me at that time. I was like, oh, this is what a pencil does, and that what I’m looking at is what an Inca adds to it. And it was like those moments, man, now you can just jump on the internet and you can just see, oh, that’s what pencils of this page from 60 years ago look like and this is what an Inca does. But yeah, no, it was tricky to find that sort of stuff, man. Back when we were younger, Tre paperbacks weren’t really a massive thing either at that stage.

I know you’re a McFarlane fan because I’ve seen that, and you’ve spoken about that a lot when he came out of I Am Too, regardless of people are for that age, that age where you’re a sponge man and you’re soaking up good stuff. When he left, there was all that conjecture, and I’m not talking about the amazing, I’m talking about he left. There was some good stuff on that. He was doing Ghost Rider and all that, and then the whole juggernaut thing came, and then he bugger image happens. What were your feelings when Spawn came out? Because a lot of people wouldn’t realise that Spawn was pretty edgy too at that particular point in time.

Darren Close (40:37):
Yeah, I was a massive Spawn fan at the time. I got caught up in the wave. I bought Spawn from Issues one to about a hundred, and I think issue 100 was when Greg Cap left the book. And I kept buying for a couple of issues after that, but then I gave up and didn’t collect it anymore. But yeah, I used to be a huge Spawn fan. Todd’s art, Greg Cap’s art. It was some really magic stuff in there.

Leigh Chalker (41:11):
Yeah, yeah, I agree with you, dude. I agree. They were good times. Now I want to talk about your artwork because when did you start drawing mate? Did you start drawing when you fell in love with comic books or was that just something you did as a little kid you just found comfortable with the pen and paper?

Darren Close (41:36):
I think my grandmother had a story that she would tell. I think I must’ve been about five, and I had think a small set of derwin pencils. They figured out that I really liked to draw, and she was trying to get involved in it and said, oh, I like that. I like that purple you’re using. I said, this is not purple, this is magenta.

She told that story to everyone who would listen to it. So I was really drawing, I guess, from a young age, but it wasn’t until probably high school that I focused it onto comic book artwork. I used to draw animals and leopards and dolphins and a bit of painting and that sort of thing, but I didn’t really have a focus until I got into seeing McFarlane and particularly seeing Damien Shanahan making his comics. And he would give me, he’d photocopy some of his pencils and he’d give them to me to colour in. I was really quite enamoured with what he was doing, and then I started drawing my own stuff. So yeah, I guess probably from about 95 onwards, that’s where I was mainly drawing comics.

Leigh Chalker (43:03):
Yeah. Yeah. And so as you were saying earlier is about the time that Eclipse your first character was created. Have you ever done anything with the Eclipse or you just moved away from him and went on to Kroo?

Darren Close (43:20):
Yeah, I didn’t really between, I created that and I made that Eclipse mini comic. I think that would’ve been about 93, 94. And I just did that comic and that was it. And I stopped drawing comics so much. Then I went to uni and I was more focused on graphic design

Because I’d figured out, okay, if I want to be an artist and I want to have a job, there’s not too many jobs for artists. So graphic design was kind of the nearest best thing where you’re doing creative stuff. So I sort of went into that and when I was at uni, there was a magazine, it was Latrobe University magazine that had this, someone had drawn, I think it was called Rat Race. It was like a cartoon strip that they’d published in it, and it was fairly amateurish. And I guess that’s the first time where I got a little bit cocky and I thought, I reckon I could probably do something a bit better than this. And it was at that point that I created the idea of a kangaroo that could fight back. I think I’ve told the story before, but I think at the time there was some news articles about someone had shot a kangaroo, I’ve lost you. Someone had shot a kangaroo with an arrow. So they found this kangaroo injured with an arrow sticking out of its neck. It might’ve been students that had done it. And I thought, well, what if you a k kangaroo that fought back? And I created this one page, which was pretty derivative. It had, I think I referenced aliens and the movie aliens. And basically it just had a kangaroo with a machine gun that shot up a bunch of students because it was defending itself of, and he had a little sidekick on his shoulder, which was possum.

When I think back of it, it was more amateurish than the strip that I was unhappy with, but they published it on the back cover of this university magazine. And so I created the ip, but I didn’t really do much with it until when I created the Aus Comics page and met with all those other artists, sort of dusted off that character and started publishing comics with it.

Leigh Chalker (46:22):
Yeah, yeah. Okay. So that was 93 you said, was the first I’m going to go with that’s a published kroo because So 93, 95 ish, man, you’re nearly 30 years with that character if you celebrated the 30th yet, where was I for that?

Darren Close (46:48):
I don’t think I have

Leigh Chalker (46:52):
Because I don’t remember you doing it. You should do it, man. You should do it. Everyone else is celebrating it. It’s like celebrating their forties and thirties and all that sort of j and Man, come on back. When I was getting into it in the two thousands, I’ll tell you what, I remember a Kroo dude in the nineties, and this is what I anecdote for you in the nineties and stuff, I collected a lot of 2000 ad, a lot of black and white Australian comic books. I was pretty bored with a lot of Marvel at that stage. I found a little bit derivative, same sort of stuff in DC It was cool. Image was out. There was a lot of comics, there’s a lot of stuff. And I don’t know, I was just looking for different things. Not that there’s anything wrong with anyone collecting all of those things.

It’s all cool. The world has, everyone in the world was the same. It’d be a dull place. I was just looking for something different. And I came across 2018 and a lot of black and white Australian comic books and stuff, and for some reason I disappeared out of comics for a while, just didn’t collect them. I was just into other things, music and life. And then in the mid two thousands when I was 2004, 2005, and I’d been drawing my own stuff and still drawing and started coming back into comic books. It was really weird, man. To me, I don’t exactly know where I first came across. It was sort of like subliminally in my head, if you know what I mean, that I recognised Kroo, even to the point dude, that I thought, I didn’t realise it was Australian. I just knew Kroo. Why is this in my mind?

Where have I seen it before? And then I started cottoning on to seeing more Kroo stuff come through. And at that stage, to me, I couldn’t find, and no disrespect to other Australian creators that are out there. I mean, distribution channels have changed. The internet wasn’t as friendly back then. So many things that happened, man, you know what I mean? To bring us to where we are now, I just couldn’t seem to come across things other than Cyclone Quarterly was one that I came across at that stage too, I think was around that stage age. And I was really enjoying that. And those quirky things, stories and stuff, they really gravitated to me. But it almost feels as though for a period, man, that you were the only dude that was sticking in there, man. You know what I mean? And keeping that Australian, I guess, community and drive and original IP pushing.

So now that we’ve worked out, that’s like a 30th anniversary, man, nice one. Like congratulations on that. That’s a big effort. I mean, I only knew I’ve drawn since I was a little boy, but I’m only what, three or so four years old in the Australian comic community. And I’ve already seen a lot of people come and go, and I’ve already seen a lot of hearts broken and people not get out of it what they wanted. Perhaps you would’ve seen a lot more. And you’re still here, bud. So that’s a big credit to you with Koo and you plug away,

Darren Close (50:38):
It’s either that or I’m too stupid.

Leigh Chalker (50:43):
Well, there’s two of us here that might be silly in that regard, mate. But I would say that to be quite frank, that is passion, man. That is something that you’ve wanted to do. You’re proud of your ip, you’re proud of your work and your product. And the other thing is too, I want to, before we move into comic books, and while we’re talking about this as well since I’ve been, I spoke to you at the start of the show that I wanted to have a yarn to you about this. And thankfully you are open to it, but you do know you can throw out the safety word anytime you like.

And for anyone who hasn’t been on the show before as a safety word, in case I ramble on about things that no one wants to talk about, okay, you can learn that when you come on the show, it’s a show thing. So with, I’m just trying to think with your drawing and your artwork, because you have been doing it a long, long time, and I’m only now becoming, look, I’ll be honest with you, when I was younger, I was very ego driven. And obviously if everyone knows what an ego is, an ego is good in small pieces. Everyone does need one to a certain extent. But when it gets out of control, it can be insanely devastating for not just yourself, but those around you. It stops you from being self-aware. It stops you from, I guess being kind to people and seeing and understanding what other people are going through.

So over the course of the last couple of years when I have been on the socials and stuff like that, looking and reading about people’s stuff, I often come across, there’s a lot of groups if anyone doesn’t know watching on Facebook and varying things, and there’s a Sydney comic book group, there’s Melbourne groups, there’s lots of little pockets of creators and people and stuff. I generally come across pretty regularly like topics of conversation that everyone has each week. And there’s little things like paraphrasing, what’s holding you back, things, what makes you feel uncomfortable about putting your work out there and things. And it seems to be a fairly common theme that, again, to narrow it down resonates around a lack of confidence, a lack of, you’ve got to be very, how can I articulate this? There’s something personal when you do your artwork, I mean, you are putting yourself there with any art if you’re doing it authentically and it’s part of you.

For me, creativity has saved my life. So I’m very nervous to be honest with you about putting a lot of my stuff out. But the one thing I found really nice about you, Darren, is your vulnerability on your posts regularly, particularly through the Old Man Rufuss campaign with being honest. I mean, life things don’t go as planned man. No one controls anything except their own responses to stuff. But you’re very open with your communication and discussion with people. And one of the things that I do recall you were talking about is your nervousness towards doing your short story that was in the back of that. And the reason I bring this up with you is because I was hoping to get your, I guess to discuss with you the fact that you’ve been doing it for 30 years now, man, to me, you’ve got, success is graded differently with different people, but I believe that you have an extremely successful IP in Australian comic books. You’re a well-known figure. 30 years is not something just to shake a stick at, man. You know what I mean? That’s some work and trials and tribulations and some kicks, and you’ve got back up, have gone into that.

I guess for younger people that are trying to do these things that you are doing, you still feel that way. Why is that? So I ask you purely because of your extensive cv, you’ve got to the youngsters because I think the youngsters, and I’m included in this feel, sometimes they are alone in feeling that way. But I want to sort of push across a positive message from you that it’s okay to feel that way. What are your thoughts on the vulnerability and the nervousness about your artwork? Man,

Darren Close (56:17):
Well, I’ve just sent through a link to Sizzle if he wants to put it up. But essentially, I covered a lot of this, a book I created called Struggle, which is a short order biographic story, which is free for people to read. They can click the, I dunno if you can do clickable links, but if it’s up there long enough, they might be able to type it in. But yeah, essentially I’ve always struggled with levels of confidence in my own drawing ability. And a lot of that comes from when you’re working with, I’ve worked with some amazing artists and some very talented creators, and when you see the kind of stuff that they can do, and then I’m trying to do it myself and I’m not measuring up to that, it’s hard not to feel discouraged to a degree because comparison is the worst thing because you’re either looking at Marvel books or someone else’s books and you just go, well, that’s better than what I can do. And there’s a certain point where when you’re putting yourself out there, there is that vulnerability of, I worked so hard on this and it’s still not as good as what other people can do. Should I even publish this? Should I just leave it and not worry about it? And it’s tough. It’s really tough.

You were talking about ego before. I think ego is probably important to be able to push through that and that lack of confidence and just try to, I never discourage anyone from making their own comics and putting it out there. It’s never been easier with digital printing and Facebook and the internet. The way is, it’s never been easier to get your story out there, even if you’re just posting it on a Facebook page or on a website or something like that, and you’re going to get better. But it’s going to take time. And what I’ve found, I came up against this, it’s kind of a fear of failure mixed with a fear of success where I’m kind of on the threshold of, I feel like my art is starting to get good, and I’ve spent decades in a place where I’ve always thought my art isn’t good enough.

And as sadistic as it sounds, that’s a comfort thing. I’m comfortable with my art being, I’ve become comfortable in not being good enough, if you like. And it’s almost like a comfort blanket that goes with that like ness in the Snoopy cartoons. But I still struggle with it. The old Man Rufuss book, you will have read. The biggest thing that’s holding this book back is my drawing a story for it. Ryan finished his story for the main book a year ago, but I’ve got an eight page backup story in it that it’s like pulling teeth. I can’t tell you why, apart from what I’ve already said terms of I still don’t think I’m good enough. And when you compound that with people who have been waiting a year, two years for this book, the pressure of that just builds up and up and up. It becomes almost a physical being like pushing you down.

And it’s hard. It is hard to break that. And I still struggle with it, but I’m pushing through it. And the way I’m probably this backup story will be less conventional comics and probably more illustrated story. And that’s probably going to be the way that I can get through it. So rather than having to worry too much about the storytelling in panel to panel to panel, I can just pick scenes and illustrate those and have a company in text of what’s happening in the story running alongside it. And that’s probably the way that I’m going to go. I’m still working on it now, but that will at least enable me to get it done, get eight pages of art finished, and when I get that finished, it’s going to be such a relief off my shoulders. And the big lesson that I learned is if you’re going to commit to doing something that’s going to make you uncomfortable, don’t do it to anyone else’s deadline. Don’t launch a Kickstarter that is dependent on you having finished that story. If you’re going to do that, finish the story, then launch the Kickstarter. So it’s really good print getting you off you go, because I’m so used to working with other artists to submit the art. I’ve got it there. I letter it, I get the colorist working on it, and I can put it all together and it looks great. But when it comes to my own art, I run into this brick wall every time.

It’s not easy, but you’ll only get better over time and you just have to keep force yourself to sit at the table, even if it’s only for five minutes or even have, when I’m doing my graphic design work, I’ll have a sketchbook on that desk and when I’m trying to work out a design problem, I might start scribbling. And it’s just that physical act of putting pen to paper that you’re going to get more and more comfortable with. It probably sound like a broken record, but it’s still something I struggle with. But I’m getting there. And for anyone out there that feels anxiety about their own artwork or creating and being afraid of what other people might think, I’m 47, I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and that for me, that has never gone away. So you either make friends with it or you just stop because the anxiety will just give you in the end of it. So if you want to really pursue it, go for it. Nothing’s stopping you except yourself. And that was the main story from that struggle book that I mentioned. I guess maybe that can be added to the YouTube link, like the description or something like that so people can click it and be able to read it. I don’t really have an easy URL for people to read, so if we can put that link in there, that’d be good.

Leigh Chalker (01:04:13):
Yeah, we can

Darren Close (01:04:14):

Leigh Chalker (01:04:14):
That, mate. I think that answers it very succinctly. And there’s the link just down there for anyone that’s watching jump on that because I’ve had the pleasure of reading that. Oddly enough, Darren, I, years ago was going through a bit of a phase where I felt exactly the same way and came across that book, and that was one of those moments where I thought, wow, there’s other people that feel like this out there as well. And I think well said, and thank you. I’m very grateful for you answering that question and being yourself and giving the best answer for yourself as you could there, because I think that’s a battle that a lot of people go through and they don’t speak about it. And I think what you just did there, hopefully we’ll enable some younger creators. Some people are going through the same thing to realise they’re not alone.

It’s pretty amazing the things you can learn in a community that people that have been doing a comic book for 30 years still feel the same way as the person that’s finding their feet and their style. And is this good and is this not? Obviously, I mean, I’ve been drawing my whole life, but I don’t have the comic book publishing career that you do. But I would probably just say to those people that feel like that, just keep going. Be true to yourself. Find your voice and only compete with yourself. Don’t worry for me. Don’t stress about what anyone else is doing. Be proud of what you are doing. Darren, I also, I think you’re a good artist, man. A fine artist. Your homage you just did for your new Kru book was a good drawing, excellent drawing. There was one you did, man, maybe a month ago, a kroo, and I hadn’t seen one of your drawings for a while, and I came across that on a Facebook feed and I actually, whoa, man.

Fire. So I hope you do, man. As someone who’s, we’ve known each other, this is the first time I guess we’ve met and talked, but we’ve known of each other for a long time. I certainly hope that you do put more artwork out there, man. I enjoy what you put out there and I know there’s a lot of other people that do. So feel confident that the work you do is appreciated, man, given a lot of people. No problem, mate. My pleasure. Because there’s a lot of people that had a leg up from that and your creativity. So on veering off to that, I’m hoping now Darren and I, strangely, we’ve met once on a Friday night drink and draw, but Friday night drink and draws are a bit tricky to meet and talk to people and stuff. So this is the first time I’ve actually spoken one-on-one with Darren. Other than a few little bit of Facebook stuff.

Now I’m hoping we might be able to step back in time here and clear up some of my vagueness of my memory. 2011, I think it was 2010, 2011, I cannot remember. You put an ad out. I think there used to be from memory, there used to be an Australian comic book newsletter that used to go to comic book shops, like a little four double-sided thing. And I came across you and your email looking for people that were interested in drawing kroo at the time. And this is stemming back to earlier in the conversation, Kroo was subliminally in my mind already, and I was a bit like, okay. And that’s where I started coming into the Oz comics and things like that. And Facebook was up and running and humming and gang wars. Beautiful thing too, man. The symmetry of things. I had Rob O’Connor on a couple of weeks ago, and your great mates with Rob and you two met from his stories through the same forum. And it turns out that Rob’s in the same bloody issue as what we’re going to talk about as what I was. How weird is that? That was cool. Yeah. I chanced my arm one day, nervous as I was, yeah, I’ll give it a go. Send off some stuff to you. And you were very cool enough to go like, yeah, man, I’ll send you a script now. That was the first script that I’d ever come across. I can’t remember the gentleman’s name, who the script is. So Kevin

Darren Close (01:09:51):
Was his name.

Leigh Chalker (01:09:53):
That’s him. Is he still going? Is he still around the place?

Darren Close (01:09:57):
I haven’t kept up here with him. I’m not entirely, sir. Just to refresh my own memory, you see my eyes darting. I’ve pulled up gang wars number one, just to refresh my memory because

Leigh Chalker (01:10:12):

Darren Close (01:10:12):
You see, going back always.

Leigh Chalker (01:10:15):
Yeah, yeah. So how did you gather all those? You had a lot of people come from all over Australia, and that was through the community of Oz comics and stuff like that, that brought all, that’s what you were talking about before when you were like, I like that. I like that. Would you like to do this? Would you like to do that? That was a big battle, man. That was five issues that were big comic books too. You know what I mean? This is what I mean. You’ve started off as well to give people, you’ve started off the nuts and bolts like the mini comics, then you’ve gone to that, and this would’ve been back in the days before, I guess minimum runs. And that you would’ve had to have done quite a few.

Darren Close (01:11:06):
That one was on plate, that was before digital, so that cost fortune. It was printed off plates, which they don’t really do now unless it’s a really big print job. But yeah, that book costs more than, I think, I’m trying to think of the actual numbers, but compared to what you can print now, you can print 20 copies at an office works or comic books on demand or wherever you want. And the printer just, it’s all digital. It just goes straight in, the file goes in, the book comes out. But back then they actually had to print off printing plates. And yeah, it cost a fortune. So it’s changed a lot. But in terms of your question, I think it was either people that I’d known through the message boards or that may maintain contact with, it might’ve been the Facebook group as well. But essentially, I had assembled with Ryan Wilton, a series of story outlines that we had in mind for, because he and Daniel Lawson created the Scars comic book, which essentially is the origin story of Kroo. But at the end of that sets up Gang Wars where he basically becomes the leader of a motorbike gang, and they have adventures had in the outback from that point on. So we put together probably one paragraph story outlines and found a bunch of writers that I knew or who’d submitted to me before, and said, well, do you want to try fleshing out one of these outlines into a script? So then we got 20, 30 scripts together.

And then similarly, I asked, there was a sample page that I got the artist to do, so everyone was drawing the same page. So we can see the storytelling ability, the style of artwork, that sort of thing. And then based on, there was a few people that didn’t make the cut, but most did, because I already knew what their capabilities were beforehand, it was just a trial. So I’d get those scripts that were fleshed out from the paragraph, and then I’d find artists that I thought would particularly suit that story. And the one that Kevin wrote particularly, I thought, particularly Suit Your Style, which I mean from Memory killer doesn’t really appear in it very often. It was more of a, I think the idea was that the government wanted a plant inside this gang to report back on what was going on. So he was the mole in the group.

Leigh Chalker (01:14:21):

Darren Close (01:14:21):
Towards the end of the story is when he actually becomes introduced to Killer’s Gang, and through circumstances, he becomes part of that group. And that then followed on to several other stories where he got exposed as a mole in the group and was betraying them to the government and that sort of thing. So he was an important story that you drew because it set a lot of that up for future stories. So yeah, it’s in the first book, book one. Both yours and Rob O’Connor’s stories are in there.

Leigh Chalker (01:15:03):
Yeah, yeah. No, well, I keep all the comic books that I do framed, man, the first

Leigh Chalker (01:15:12):

Darren Close (01:15:21):
Stuff and

Leigh Chalker (01:15:21):
One that I’ve got, and yours is, it’s right there for bus.

Darren Close (01:15:37):
Sorry. I think the video seems to have frozen for

Leigh Chalker (01:15:49):
All right. How’s that? Better?

Darren Close (01:15:51):
That’s better. Alright, sorry, we’re talking

Leigh Chalker (01:15:55):
About, sorry, man.

Yeah. Am I still here? We’re all good. Just double checking with you. Yep. Alright. Yeah, no, I keep ’em all framed, man, just as a, I’m proud of him and stuff. I remember at the time, because you had a few books under your belt and everything like that, so you knew what you were doing. And at that stage, I’d been drawing a lot of battle for bustle and sort of had created that at that stage. And I hadn’t had anything to do with comic books except what I was drawing. And when you got a crew around you, and this is why sometimes growing up in rural areas, you need a community and you need mentors and stuff because when you’ve got your mates and you’re sitting there and having beer and mate, look at that, you’re the man. So your ego gets fed by all that sort of jive.

And obviously at that stage, I was really happy that you’d given me the go ahead to do this comic book and things. And you were the first person that had given me a taste of what the owner of the IP wants. And I remember this is where we were going to with the ears earlier. You know what I mean? I’d send you off a drawer and you’re like, no mate, no ears got to be this way. Or no, he can’t do that. He can’t do this because I’m being honest with you here, man, this just truth is the way. At the time I was like, what the hell, man? I couldn’t get it. And you created now at the time, because being younger and obviously egocentric, I was very different back then. I had a different attitude towards it. But now that I’ve obviously had a little bit more of perception change and I’ve seen more of what the community and the industry’s about and how important the creation is to the creator, and really, I mean, I would put it in my shoes if I gave Haki Gecko one of my characters to someone and said, Hey, draw away, I’d be very much like you.

I’d be very much in hindsight like, no, no, she doesn’t look like that. Do this, do that. The swords are a particular way and things. So you taught me a hell of a lot.

And when I went away from it, because it was a long process, and again, there’s no disrespect to you, I’m not showing you any disrespect at all. I’m showing you complete respect here, man, because you gave me a kick up the bum that I needed until I brought battle for bustle out. And it was a hard slog, that story, but a lot of lessons learned invaluable and to get you to teach me along the way and stuff. And I guess it made me realise, okay, I want to put my time seeing your passion and what you wanted and your directives and things. I realised at that stage, looking back on battle for bustle, that I needed to, I guess, incorporate your attitude to the creation of my own thing. So I went back to the drawing board with B for B, and it wasn’t until reverie and that period where I damaged my back and I had all that artwork that I brought battle for bustle out.

But yeah, Kroo was the one that taught me, it basically taught me like, dude, you are an egghead. You dunno what you’re doing. This dude’s just giving you a good slap. You didn’t like it, but you know what the dude was right? So pull your head in and learn. And that’s where I started really, really understanding because comics and all facets of them, from what you’ve been saying to minis, to production, to printing and things like that, it’s not just sitting there drawing. There’s so many nuances to it and levels that you’ve got to learn to that if you’re not prepared for it, it can blow you out of the water man. And really quickly, because the

Darren Close (01:20:56):
Thing that I, sorry.

Leigh Chalker (01:20:58):
No, you’re right, man, you go ahead.

Darren Close (01:21:00):
I was just going to say, recall a story about my mom. My mom used to be an artist when she was growing up, but she never really pursued it. But whatever I do, and this is kind of a general thing, but when I draw something, my mom thinks it’s wonderful. And there were times where she used to draw really good horses. That was her passion. And I think I got a commission where I needed to draw a horse. So I wanted some constructive criticism from my mom on how to get the anatomy and the look of the horse. But she couldn’t do it. She wouldn’t give me constructive criticism. She couldn’t. She’s looking through rose coloured glasses. Whatever I do, she thinks is wonderful. And I think in terms of what you were saying about your mates, if you’re just around your friends, it’s an echo chamber.

They don’t want to say anything that’s going to hurt you or disparage you from doing what it is you want to do. And that’s kind of a lesson that if you want to be a comic artist, you need to grow a thick skin and be prepared to learn from people who are, they have experience in putting these books together. I know we were talking about Eric Larson before, he is notoriously brutal in his portfolio reviews. You bring a portfolio of stuff to Eric and he doesn’t think it’s up to snuff, he’ll tell you it’s shit. He probably won’t tell you it’s shit in that many words, but you won’t pull punches. It’s like, this isn’t up to the standard.

I can tell you a few of the things that you need to work on, but you’re not going to get work with this. And it’s kind of a hard lesson, but it needs to be learned because it’s one thing to learn from your peers or even your artistic peers, but they might be really good at painting. They’re not really good at comic books. You need to hear constructive feedback from comic book people who do this for a living because they know all of the pitfalls and the tricks and the kind of things that just aren’t going to fly. If your storytelling’s not up to snuff, it’s very, very clear. So it is very tricky. There’s a point where you need to be encouraged as an artist to grow to a certain level, but to take that next step to build your art to the next level, you’ve got to learn some hard truths. And you’ve got to learn them from people who know what they’re talking about. If you’re just going to your echo chamber of does this look good, you’re not going to get an honest answer. They can’t give you an honest answer.

So along the lines of what you were saying, I certainly didn’t intend to offend anyone, or I just had a particular vision for what I wanted for the book and a creator. And I didn’t take any offence, by the way. It’s just part of the parcel. If I’m commissioning someone, work for hire to do a job, even if it’s not very well paid job, even if it’s just this project needs to be done. And if you can’t, I’ve got to find someone else to do it. So until you get to that level where you understand and you have an understanding between the artist and the writer or the creator, it’s a good learning skill. Like you said,

Leigh Chalker (01:25:13):
When no man, dude, I wouldn’t have it provided me, as I said to you, it provided me with a well dude talking to myself here. I remember thinking like, wow, man, okay, check reel yourself in, take what he said. And then I started and then I knew, and then I thought, no, no, I can do this. I want to do it. I was head into B for B as I was doing B for B, I just had lessons that you were telling me like this has got to be this and that and that. And I was trying to incorporate that sort of stuff into the comic book as well.

And then the next phase, then I sort of disappeared for a couple of years, man, I guess I was doing, lots of things were happening. I mean like recovering alcoholic and drug addict, you’ve got lots of things going on in your life, mate. You know what I mean? But drawing was there and I was trying to learn and do things. And then I was very lucky that I saw a series of synchronicities, really, Hey, one morning I was really hung over. I destroyed my back at work and hung over as hell one morning and I was on the phone and on Facebook, and when I was really young, boy, my dad had a copy. He bought it in Canberra of a Ry comic, an anthology back in the early eighties and stuff. I always remembered, I always remembered Ry and Dad had a saying at that stage, we used to, I’m just telling you a story here, it’ll all add up in a tick.

Just what I do. It’s fluid. And he used to take me down to Mud flats and stuff near his house, and we used to catch skippers and mud skippers and little crabs and put ’em in ice cream containers and make little worlds and stuff like that. And they were like awesome times. And one of the things that he said to me randomly one day, and I dunno why I was only about maybe six or seven when he said this, some things just stick in your head. He always said, look at the world with reverie. And I dunno why. I just always remember that being there. So this day I was like, I’d come out of you a couple of years previous I’d had issues, a battle for bustle ready to go. I was nervous. I didn’t know what was happening. I’d sort of developed my own thing.

By that point. I hadn’t read a lot of comics and doing my own thing. And then I’d done me back. I didn’t know where I was going to go. I couldn’t do what I was doing. I was on the tail end of recognising that I’ve got these addiction issues. There was a whole real, I guess semi partial, the first portion of a little awakening happening, of self-realization if like, man, come on, you go eat shit together. And I saw this Revey thing turn up and I immediately contacted Gary er. And he said, yeah. So I sent him off. He said a couple of pages and I sent him I think four issues or something. And he was like, oh, okay. And then the really weird part is it brings it back to you. He didn’t agree initially to do battle for bustle. I had to wait a week or two before.

He like, yeah, mate, we’ll do it. And the go ahead to do it was you, because he’d reached out to you and he said like, man, this dude did a Kroo story and what’s his gay? And apparently you had said at the time, give him a game mate. And that’s how battle for Bustle came into the world. So in a strange way, I thank you for that. And here we are this evening on your birthday and the launch and everything going off. So the universe works in funny ways, man. And yeah, I’ve been very lucky in hindsight to well, I have had luck, man, and I’m grateful for it. I can tell you, mate, did you realise, here’s just something I was thinking about today too.

You had, this made me chuckle today when I thought about it. So three of me mates and I did a comic book last year called Ring Around the Rosie. And you know that the three dudes that drew Ring around the Rosie have all done or doing Kroo work. There’s another thing who’s Ben who’s watching the show, is working on something with you. And you’ve had Ryan a great mate, bloody Valla, who did Old Man Rufuss, which that’s cool. That’s cool. I probably don’t get him into trouble, but I’m going to tell you, I was looking at artwork and stuff before that came out. He was pencilling and we always share stuff, man. We keep it on the quiet, obviously him and me just sharing things and talk and see, this is the thing about community too. You meet people, man, and you just sort of meet and Oh, I do that, do this.

Oh, you could do better than that, or I can do better than this. And you just all work together and help and feel good about it. And you learn, man, that’s what it’s all about learning, and that’s the lovely part of it. But I just chuckled today, I thought three ring around the rosy dudes have all done. So it’s one of those lovely things. Now, man, I, let’s get into Y new Kroo book, which launched today because that’s big. I mean, look, really, it’s the week of Darren Close when you think about it, man, today’s the day of Darren Close, like for horseman.koo.com. Now you got old man Rufuss is hitting, as we said, the post office like boxes, and it’s in people’s hands. There’s photos of it turning up. It looks delightfully good. You’ve got your new comic I’ll get to, and you’ve got the Greener Pastures campaign because I, and this is the other credit to you, man. You’re not just a creator and have a kue ip, you’re doing lettering, you’re working on colours, you’re doing a whole heap of stuff. You’re doing Kickstarter campaigns with people and stuff like that too, and pushing and promoting and things like that. Like you publishing. I mean, your hands are full, man. I mean, that’s a big, you’re carrying a load there, man.

The other beautiful thing that I must say that caught me is someone that I don’t think I’d be going too far as to say has been very important in our lives in general is Mr. Gary Shaer. And in terms of mentoring friendship, probably giving us both a kick up the bum at certain times that we’ve needed to keep going. But man Killer Ru in Adventure Illustrated, that was some pretty wicked stuff. How long were you gestating on that for a while? Because that’s a great comic book, man.

Darren Close (01:33:29):
Gary really knocked out of the park. That’s one of my favourite story stories of all time. The colours, the way that he drew the character, the story beats. I had a very small part in that. He would just simply give me a few selected pages to Ink and Ink in Gary Cha’s Pencils is kind of a privilege all of itself because Gary reached out to me, there’s a pinup of his in that book. One, he reached out to me very early and kind took me under his wing and helped me put that book together and gave me advice on lettering and in all manner of things. So I owe a lot of my success to Gary and I couldn’t be, there you go. Yeah, way back in 2001. But that story in Adventure Illustrated is, I think it’s fantastic. I hope more people are able to see it. I know, I don’t think it’s available in too many stores, which is a shame, but really if people can track down a copy, I actually got a variant cover version of that book printed so that I can sell it at conventions. It’s a really beautiful story and I hope more people get to see it.

Leigh Chalker (01:35:02):
I agree with you, man. Yeah, he’s one of those dudes that just works quietly in the background. You know what I mean? He’s not out there, he’s there, he’s just doing his gentlest thing, man. He’s there and he’s just helping you along and giving you advice where you need it. And he’s given me some great advice and no doubt you as well. But man, God damn, you’d be chuffed to have him draw on your character. I’ve never had the privilege of inking anything of his, but was it scary?

Darren Close (01:35:51):
It was a little bit intimidating, but his pencils are also not difficult to ink. He’s got such a confident line and all the shapes and everything, so there’s really a certain amount where you just tracing a lot of it. But particularly with Rufuss in particularly now, I’ve drawn him that many times and I really enjoy inking other people who draw him. It becomes kind of a merging of their style and my style. And there’s certain ticks and things that I draw about the character that others don’t, and I get to add a little bit of me into that picture when I’m doing it. But yeah, he is not a difficult penciler to eat, that’s for sure.

Leigh Chalker (01:36:44):
Yeah. Did you attack it with pens or did you go brush Indian ink? How did you look at it when you got it? What was your first thoughts?

Darren Close (01:36:55):
I’m a big fine liner guy. I use a lot of fine liner uni pins, but I also like some Ki brush pens. They have a nice solid line. And I think those are probably my two main weapons is the fine liners and the brush pen.

Leigh Chalker (01:37:19):
Yeah. Yeah, right. Nice. I just always like to ask because as someone that draws, I always like to find out what other artist weapons of choices are, man, just for fun and see what other people are doing. But alright, so let’s get back to your Kickstarter launch today on your birthday, you and Stuart Black. Now talk to me about how this all came together because, and it’s your sequel, isn’t it? From Helen back, so, yeah.

Darren Close (01:37:57):
Yeah. So this was the first Kickstarter book that I ever did with Stuart. This was back in 2019. I’ve known Stuart for years. We actually lived pretty close by to each other and I’ve always dug his style and he’s so prolific. You want to talk about the output? This guy’s done 40 comics in the last 10, 15 years. He just pumps them out. He’s terrible at marketing because I don’t think too many people know an awful lot about his books, but he just keeps making them and printing ’em and sending ’em out via mail order

And he’s got such a definitive style. And yeah, we just hit it off. I think we met at one of the Melbourne comic meets and talked about if we did a crossover with his characters and my character and what that would look like. And we just went back and forth with ideas. And before I knew it, this is an 80 page book. This is the thickest book that I think I’ve ever done. And it’s all Stuart. Stuart would do these kind of pages he would do in a day. He just pumps it out fully coloured. He’s a mad guy. And yeah, that Kickstarter did really well for a first effort. I learned a lot of lessons from that Kickstarter because we had so many unlocked stretch goals. So people who ordered just the comic, they got a bonus sketchbook, they got a set of trading cards, they got a fridge magnet, they got a set of six prints, they got stickers because I was only inexperienced in Kickstarter, as soon as it went up another thousand dollars in funds, I would add something else.

Leigh Chalker (01:40:10):

Darren Close (01:40:10):
It ended up costing us a fortune. We made a good amount, but it was all taken up by the printing costs of all these extra things. So people who backed that Kickstarter got a real bargain because they might’ve only bought the comic, but they got 15 other things that came with it. They got a

Leigh Chalker (01:40:34):
Swag of stuff, mate.

Darren Close (01:40:35):
They did. They did. And we just had, over time, we thought, well, do we want to do a follow up to it? And most of last year was Stuart just quietly working on this book. I had less to do with this particular one than the previous one because we sort of figured out each other’s boundaries and what he wanted to do and what I wanted to do and the things that he could and couldn’t do with Kroo, that sort of thing. And he’d send through panels that had koo on them and I’d ink the Koo and we just sort of went back and forth and he’s done another 80 page story and you just have a very particular style writing style, art style, and it came up really nice. This book is literally ready to print. So unlike the lesson I learned with Old Man Rufuss was don’t kickstart something until you’re ready to print it.

Leigh Chalker (01:41:45):
I was going to ask you, I’ve seen other people run into a few troubles with Kickstarters. I mean, you’re not the only one. There’s other people out there that have done it. I mean, it’s just all learning because Kickstarter is essentially a new way. We were talking about mini comics, the plates to digital printing, and that Kickstarter is a new distribution thing. What was your main lesson? Was it that have the comic ready to rock and roll, kickstart it, print it, get it out, ASAP?

Darren Close (01:42:17):
Well, I think I’ve lost a fair bit of trust with my Kickstarter backers because old man Rufuss has taken so long, and as I’ve mentioned before, how much that weighs me on my shoulder and how it dries my anxiety and so forth. So I said to Stuart, if we’re going to do this as a Kickstarter, then it needs to be finished before we start. And Stuart’s done all of that. So the book is ready to, the only thing that needs to be drawn is there’s a couple of cameo levels. So if people want to be drawn into the comic, they can do that. So there’s a bunch of empty panels where he hasn’t finished, where he is going, going to put in the likenesses of people who might back that level. But apart from that, the book’s ready to print.

Leigh Chalker (01:43:10):
Yeah, yeah. No, that’s cool. I looked through your campaign today, obviously you’re coming on today, and I thought, oh, I’m going to check out, see what’s happening. I saw a little cameo things and I like that idea of oh little not personal touch man to,

Darren Close (01:43:26):
It’s a fun thing that some people, it’s pretty cool, they like comics, they might not be able to make their own comics, but the idea of seeing themselves in a comic is a novelty that some people particularly enjoy. I know Stuart has fun drawing them, and I think he has even more fun killing them in the book. It’s probably Killer who might rip you limb from limb, and that’s your cameo appearance in this book.

Leigh Chalker (01:44:00):
Oh, mate, that’d be a good, I could live with that if my character met their demise by being pulled apart limb by a limb, by Rufuss, man. But what you’re saying there is you might’ve lost some confidence with your backers and that from the old Man Rufuss thing, I mean, mate, from what my sights on things were, you were communicating with people, you were going through some stuff from, you had a fair battle man, just in life in general at that stage, man, you were going through a few health issues, mental health issues, just things were happening. And that does happen in life, mate. But the way I see it, the way I see it is you fulfilled it, you’ve done it, you’ve finished it, and it’s getting out there. Now mate, learn your lessons because you did it the Marvel way, didn’t you? I think I read somewhere, you didn’t have a script, you were writing, you had a synopsis, you wrote a script to the artwork and things.

Darren Close (01:45:28):
Yeah, so when I get to the stage that I normally really enjoy lettering, a book that’s part of the production process that I really enjoy. But when I got to start lettering this book and I don’t have a script, it becomes a case of I’m scripting this as I letter it

Leigh Chalker (01:45:52):

Darren Close (01:45:52):
The same kind of mind games and so forth. So I’d write a caption and then I’d go, no, that doesn’t read. Well, I’m going to do that again. And then I’d write another caption and I didn’t like that either, and I’d just write it again and write it again, and then I’d write some dialogue and that doesn’t sound right. The amount of second guessing that came in because I had done it that way. Yeah, I’ll never do it again that way because it’s just, it’s counterproductive. The lettering took me six months when it should have taken me six days. You know what I mean? Yeah.

Leigh Chalker (01:46:36):
Did you find with the counter productivity of it as well and having to, you would’ve obviously come across some loopholes that, oh, I might need that panel or this panel changed. It would’ve inadvertently, in a sort of circular way, affected some of the art or with the storytelling to make it a bit clearer

Darren Close (01:46:59):
With this one. Ryan really killed himself to get the pages done, so I really didn’t want to request any alterations to the page. There were a few things where I wanted things to bleed to the edge and he hadn’t drawn that. So the colorist would add a bit of extra stuff in there so that it would bleed to the edge, but I didn’t really send anything for Ryan to redraw. It was more a case of I had to write to better match what he’d drawn rather than the other way around. And if I’d done a proper script, I wouldn’t have run into that. I would’ve seen what he’d drawn and I would say that it didn’t match what I had in mind. And then I could say to him before he’s ink it, can you do another look at that panel panel five fixed? It needs a little bit of work. I’d like you to make it look like this.

When you have the script all sorted and locked in, you don’t run into problems. Problem. And you touched on the big thing with Kickstarters really is communication. These people are people who have looked at what you’ve done and what you’ve said you’re going to do, and they’ve backed you. They’ve gone, I like this. I like what this guy’s doing. I’m going to give him some money so that he can go and do that. And as you said, life happens. You run into things that you weren’t expecting. You make mistakes, but the last thing you want to do is ghost your backers, keep them informed at every stage, even if it’s bad news, even if it’s, I’m really running into it with this, I’m going to have to delay the release because it’s just not going to get done.

You have to do it. And as long as you’re honest with those people and you’re regular in telling them, okay, this month’s update, this is what I’ve done, this is what needs to be done, et cetera, I think you’re going to lose less trust because Altman, Rufus has something like 50 updates of where I’ve told them where the book’s at and what’s going to happen. So I’m hoping that those have lost a little bit of confidence in me can at least see, okay, here’s a photo. The books are going out, they’re in people’s hands. I’ve seen the digital file, I’ve read through it, it looked great, and just waiting for the book to arrive now. So it’s a case of, I completely understand if someone back old man Rufuss and they don’t have their book, and here I am putting my hand out again, give me more money so I can make this other book. I can completely understand why someone would be hesitant to say, I haven’t got the other book yet. How am I going to pay you to get this one done when I still haven’t got that one done? It’s completely understandable.

So people I’m expecting, and I’m seeing in the numbers that there’s a fair bit of hesitation from quite a few people, and I’m just going to have to wear that. That’s my fault. I’ve caused that and I need to rebuild trust with my backers and being able to deliver this book about two months after the Kickstarter ends. I think we’ll go a long way to help rebuild that trust. I said, yep, you backed it. You waited two months. Two years for Old Man Rufuss for this one. You wait two months and here in your hand. And I’m trying to time it so that I end up printing this book and the remaining old man Rufuss book at the same time. So I’ll get both the printer at the same time and I’ll fulfil both of them at the

Leigh Chalker (01:51:02):
Same time. Yep. Well, I mean, I think first thing you’ve done there through my recovery, what I’m learning is truth. And the truth is the most important thing, as hard as it is to tell some people that you’re wrong or you have to accept the fact that you did make a mistake, but things didn’t go the way they planned. Like truth is always the best thing. I would also suggest that you’ve done that, man, respect to that. For anyone that’s watching and things like that, I have complete respect for anyone that does that more respect for you. Now, the other thing I would say to people is you do have 30 years credit under your belt. Sometimes I think people only look a little way back instead of looking a long way back. And for the varying circumstances that look really transpired and reared their head in your life last year, I think it’s probably these things happen. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. But you’re doing the best you can right now, man. You’re communicating, you’re being honest, you’re working hard. You’re back out on the socials and the forums. You’re doing your thing.

You’re facing your own demons with your artwork. You’re doing that publicly, man, which I admire in my own way. I’m trying to do that with my own thing because people might sit in the background, Darren, because you’re always going to get people that are in the back of the stand. Look at this, you’re never going to outrun them. But I was asked the other day by someone I won’t mention, why do you always talk about alcoholism and drug abuse? And it’s like the reason I’m so loud and talk about it as authentically as I can is to allow space for the people that wear it in silence and don’t have the courage to recognise that they may too also have a problem or things going on. So I’m quite prepared to get out there and express, Hey, this is what I am. Yeah, man, I screwed up. I made a lot of mistakes, but I’m not going to stop championing it. And I greatly respect the fact that you’ve also done that with yourself tonight, mate. You know what I mean? Just don’t worry about those dudes in the background, man, or the people that are going to, you’re doing what you got to do, man. And

Darren Close (01:53:55):
I think the big thing of what you were talking about there is a lot of people think they’re alone in their struggles. They’re dealing with alcoholism or drug problems, and they think, my friends, my family, none of them can relate to what I’m doing. And I’m trying to stop and I’m trying to get better, but I’m not seeing anyone being sympathetic and understanding. And I think that’s one of the most important things is people do struggle with a lot of addictions and things like that, and that’s part of a life. You’re not alone and you’re not a bad person because you’re going through that things didn’t work out your way and it’s led to you being where you’re at. But it doesn’t mean you can’t change things. A great example of you, you can pick yourself up and you can make something of yourself, or if you continue down that path, you’ll probably end up dead in a gutter. And that’s your choice. Whatever that choice is, you need to make peace with and understand that there are things you can do and things that are out of your control. You just have to make the best of it.

Leigh Chalker (01:55:13):
That’s exactly right, mate. And it’s not just addiction as well, it’s also comics is a champion for mental health and stuff like that. Anxieties, all those things, man, I guess there are mountains that every individual has to climb, mate. You know what I mean? But I am 100% for people attempting to climb that mountain and do it the best they can. And I believe that the best way forward is through positivity. And that’s just how I guess my recovery has what it’s shown me. I also see it in other people that are struggling. It’s just one step forward, positivity. I see you tonight, positive coming out of the blocks. There’s a lot of good things, man. I think things happen for reasons, Darren lessons sometimes you get a bite on the bum man, and it’s all about perspective and things too, man. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes you just need a little, ooh, every now and then just to bring you back. Speaking of positivity and things like that. The other thing thing that I will say to you, Darren, is over the years as well, and it does stem back to

Everything we’ve spoken about tonight and all you being involved in it at that time where I genuinely, I mean apart from Mr. Shauna and the Phantom, a handful of others that I can recall, there was a time when Australian comic books weren’t looking real healthy mate back in the mid two thousands and into the 10 and 11 and 12 and that, and a handful of gentlemen and creators, not just gentlemen, ladies and creators, through passion and positivity for the medium, kept it pushing. You believed in yourselves, and you went and you plugged away and you stuck it out there and you did your wares and you had your community and you were trying to create something and stuff. And a lot of you in never stopped, man. And I look at that as possibly

Being the most important now that I look at the history of Australian comics and I’m seeing it more and I’m a student of it and I’m asking questions and I’m meeting people. To me, that is probably the most important period of Australian comics that you guys were involved in there. Because without you guys, I don’t think there would be Australian comic books at the moment. I think it would’ve just completely dried up man. And there wouldn’t be much happening. There’d be a few trickle and through here and there, but there wouldn’t be people that have given people like myself, Rob O’Connor go. There’s not people that have been Jason Paul is another one that’s been plugging away. Dylan Nailer, I don’t want to forget names, but there is a group that really stuck it to tried. It’s a beautiful period. I think what you’ve done is pretty amazing, man. And I’ve watched over the years, as you’ve copped a little bit of flack from people, I think you’ve stuck to your guns. I would think that from getting to know you for the last couple of hours now, and talking to you very honestly, and getting very honest answers and seeing where you are at, I would say continue to stick to your guns, man. Don’t give up on Kroo.

I would say take your place, man. Don’t listen to those people because you know what? They might be putting flack on you, but they’re putting flack on everyone else. And you know what, Darren, at the end of the day, bud, you are still here. You are still bringing out comic books, man. You get dusted, you pick yourself back up. You’ve been doing it for 30 years and for all those people that are back in my day back in this, where are you at? Where you at? You’re not doing, bring us 30 years of comic books, man. And so

Darren Close (02:00:06):
Thank you.

Leigh Chalker (02:00:07):
I would, man, much respect to you, much love for giving me a go 10, 12 years ago and giving me a kick up the bum to give me, make me better as an artist and give me something to aim for and stuff. And the weird little synchronicities that we all have. But with, for anyone that’s out there, suss out the new Kroo book, go and get any kroo books. You can. You’ve got a back catalogue that’s on that Kickstarter as well, don’t you, mate? You’ve got a whole heap of things that is there. What are some of the rewards you can get on that Kickstarter or tier or whatever they call them that people can look for? Yeah.

Darren Close (02:00:59):
Now we’ve mentioned the cameo tier where people can get drawn into the book. There’s three different covers to this book, which if you just order one copy, you’ll be able to pick which copy you like the most, and that’s the one you’ll get. There’s some completionist that I want all three covers, so there’s a reward level for that. And there’s also, I don’t know that this new book is as reader friendly as the previous one. It introduces a lot of characters in the first one, and we don’t get the kind of introduction that they probably need in this book. So I think you can still follow it, but it would help if you have the original book and are able to read that first. And I’ve got stacked of copies of that. So you can get a bundle where you get the original book, the sequel, and you also get a not Safer work sketchbook that we did as part of the first kickstart. So you can get three books and have the full story. And that’s a hundred nearly 200 pages of story I’d say combined. All full colour, all perfect bound books. So yeah, that’s

Leigh Chalker (02:02:25):
An amazing amount of work. Like 200 pages. Huge.

Darren Close (02:02:32):
Yeah, so there’s those options. There’s digital options. I know times are tough and not everyone can afford to buy books and then have them ship. The shipping is always a killer with comics in Australia. So there’s several digital levels that you can back it at, and it’ll be just an email that you get and you can download the PDFs and read them on your screen. So there’s plenty of options there. There’s a high end level reward, which goes into a bit of my self-publishing experience and my Kickstarter experience. So you can get two 90 minute video sessions like this one

Where if you’ve got a comic, I’ll have a look at it for you. I’ll give you some feedback, things that think would work out well. I know good a good job to print this depending on how many copies you want. Or also if you want to launch a Kickstarter and you’re not really sure how to do that. I’ve done nearly a dozen Kickstarters now, so I’ve become a bit of an expert and I have a lot of, there’s a lot of tips and tricks to it that I can impart. So that reward level, it’s about $800, which is a lot of money, but you get three hours of my time where I’ll give you constructive feedback, I’ll help you do the lettering, I’ll help you wherever I can to help you make your project work. That’s what you get.

Leigh Chalker (02:04:14):
Yeah, man, it’s beautiful. Now you’re forgetting one that I saw today, which I thought was pretty cool too. We were talking about your artwork today. Oh yeah, you’ve got that original piece as well. How big is that?

Darren Close (02:04:31):
It’s a three, so it’s beautiful. That one. A homage to a Jim Lee Wolverine piece that I loved back in the nineties,

Leigh Chalker (02:04:42):
Issue 50. That’s

Darren Close (02:04:44):
The one. Yeah,

Leigh Chalker (02:04:45):
I know.

Darren Close (02:04:46):
Really iconic shop. And I basically just took that and I light boxed it and made it into Koo instead of Wolverine. So full respect to Jim Lee for what he did. But yeah, I just wanted to make a killer version of that pose,

Leigh Chalker (02:05:08):
Dude, it turned out really well.

Darren Close (02:05:11):
I use a colouring team in India called B Studio. They’ve coloured several of my books. They coloured the Scars book. They’ve coloured a couple of gang war stories that I’m going to collect in the trade paperbacks. And they also coloured that they coloured old man and they this cover. So I’ve got the original A three art. If you buy that, you’ll get that. And I’ll also send you a copy of the book with that cover. So you have the art and then the finished product next.

Leigh Chalker (02:05:47):
Yeah. Yeah. Just how long a piece of string, but how long does it take you from start to finish, you reckon round guests to do a piece like that?

Darren Close (02:05:57):
If I sat there and did it in one sitting, it’d probably be six or seven hours, but I’m terrible at that. I’ll do a bit at a time. So that particular piece has been sitting on my drawing board for the last six months. And every now and then I’d sit down and I’ll ink those trees or I’ll finish inking the face or fill in the rendering on this. I do it in bits and pieces, which is not recommended. It takes you far longer than it would had you just sat there to sit and finish it. But I think I also probably put more work into it than I needed to. So you can see every minute that I spent on that page.

Leigh Chalker (02:06:42):
Yeah. Do you find that you just get, when you get the time and you sort of hit that conscious, you’re just in the zone, man. You just find yourself just drifting into it. And if you really like a drawing, you sort of don’t really want to leave it sometimes. Hey,

Darren Close (02:06:59):
I think there’s an element to that.

Leigh Chalker (02:07:01):
Yeah, I know. I understand, man. Completely that whole thing. It’s like I can spend days on some drawings. It’s like I just get lost in a thing, man. But I guess that’s part of the meditation, the relaxation, the love, the pure consciousness that goes into the creativity when you’re in the zone and stuff like that. That’s part of the creative process, man, which is a lovely, lovely thing, which we both love. And there’s lots of other people out there that enjoy it too. And you don’t just have to be a writer to be in the creative process. You’d be a chef, you could be a swordsman, you could be garden. There’s lots of different ways. That’s right, mate. That is right. Darren Mate, as we wind down the show, I always like to ask, you’re sitting at a convention, what would you say to Little Daz that walked up to you at the other side of the table, being where you are now, looking back on you as a young fella, what would your words of advice be, mate, to leading into the world of comics?

Darren Close (02:08:16):
I say don’t take things so seriously. Learn to have a bit more fun and be a bit more casual and keep things light rather than keeping things bottled up inside. Find friends that you can relate to and talk to. I think therapy is probably a good thing for everyone. I don’t think anyone on this planet would benefit from a bit of therapy and I’d probably say, go and see a doctor so that you don’t need to get heart surgery later on. I’d give him a heads up and say, you’ve got a bump heart. You might want to get someone to look at that sooner rather than later.

Leigh Chalker (02:09:07):

Darren Close (02:09:08):
That’d be a couple.

Leigh Chalker (02:09:10):
No, that’s fair enough, man. That’s fair enough mate. I’ve really enjoyed the night, man.

Darren Close (02:09:19):
Me too.

Leigh Chalker (02:09:22):
I’ve, I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a long time, man. It’s the universe brought us together at exactly the right moment, so it’s been really cool. I’m glad I got to know you a little well. Much better. I’m glad for many things. Thank you very much for giving me your time this evening. Thank you very much for giving me your time with 10 pages back in 2011, which kickstarted me, man. So for that, I’m ever grateful. Thank you very much. Alright, so for everyone out there, Mr. Darren Close, Papa Ru is go and check out his Kickstarter and Stuart Blacks Kickstarter right now. That address will pop up in a Jiffy for you to go and get four horsemen.kroo.com, go and pledge. There’s plenty of tears. As Darren has said, you can get the back catalogue of varying Kroo comic books. I would highly recommend it very privileged to be part of that as my first foray into Australian comic books.

Realistically, it is a 30 year comic book. There’s a lot of legendary comic books that celebrated their anniversaries over the last couple of years, and I believe that Killer Roof should very rightly be up there with them. So go and check it out if you haven’t already seen it. Now look, I just want to remind everyone, the show is sponsored by the Comic shop, which is over 100 Australian independent comic books, and it’s all available for a flat rate of $9. You can buy one comic, you can buy as many as you like. You don’t have to buy mine. You can buy anyone’s help, an artist and a creator or a creative team. Anyone get out there into the world. This is the beauty of community. There’s a lot of things you can learn. It’s wonderful to be a part of. As you can see, things with chinwag keep coming together in the strangest, synchronised ways of late, and it’s very beautiful.

I find that everything is becoming a Symbi circle. Next week on the show, it’s a prerecorded show next week. I made the mistake last year of not letting people know that when I was doing pre-recording because the artist next week is from overseas in Los Angeles. His name is Matthew Schofield. Now, you may not have heard of Matthew Schofield, but you do know of Matthew Schofield. If you know anything about the world of animation, I’m going to leave you with that little hint there. But that was a really nice conversation and you’ll be surprised with Matthew and his comic book, steamroller Man, that’s coming out.

Look, I bid you a Jew. Thank you very much for this evening and being with Chinwag again. We’ll be back next week. Well, you’ll see a past version of me in the future in your present. So all that time, space, and interface stuff and all those dimensions we live in, how weird it is the world, but it is what it is. So thank you again, Darren. Good on you bud. And I wish you every success man and all the best with the Kickstarter community is Unity and Chinwag is always made with love. So don’t forget to like and subscribe. See you later.

Voice Over (02:13:00):
This show is sponsored by the Comex Shop. Check out comex.cx for all things Comex and find out what Comex is all about. We hope you enjoyed the show.


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