Ned Kelly: Ironclad Alien Killer
Ned Kelly: Ironclad Alien Killer is a steampunk graphic novel published by Convict Comics which centres on how the notorious bushranger defeated the aliens and escaped the hangman’s noose! The work is a collaboration between Marvel and DC comics veterans Chris Batista, John Rauch and David Meikis, along with seasoned comic and game writer Nick Macari, Drew Moss (the Colonized) and newcomer Martin Chuzz, Ned Kelly: Ironclad Alien Killer is the ultimate steampunk – sci-fi – historical fiction mash up!
Earth was colonised by aliens in the mid-1800s. Landing in the Australian outback, they used masking technology to disguise themselves as humans, and infiltrated the highest levels of society in the new colony of Victoria. The resistance movement is formed by inventor Henry Sutton, a real-life Australian genius who invented early versions of the telephone, the light bulb, the television, and the aeroplane. Sutton provides the steampunk technology necessary to fight the aliens, and recruits notorious bushranger Ned Kelly to lead the charge. Let the action begin!
If you are a steampunk enthusiast, a Ned Kelly fan, an Australian history buff, or a sci-fi junkie (or all of these) you will absolutely love this action-packed and visually stunning graphic novel Ned Kelly: Ironclad Alien Killer.
Ned Kelly by Monty Wedd
Although there have been many comic versions of the Ned Kelly legend, none have been as detailed nor as authentic as Monty Wedd’s version. The original plans called for Ned Kelly to run for twenty-five to thirty weeks but when Wedd sensed the opportunity to be able to produce a detailed examination of Kelly’s life he approached the Sunday Mirror and explained what he had in mind. They agreed he should draw the comic on an open-end basis and so Ned Kelly ran for one hundred and forty-six weeks, finishing in July 1977.
Wedd’s lucid, meticulously researched narrative is never less than engaging, while his sharp visuals and densely detailed storytelling bring a persuasive clarity to his account of Kelly’s life. A unique and worthy inclusion in the ever-expanding Ned Kelly canon. The strip’s studied period vernacular and antiquated design reinforce the illusion, capturing the appearance and tone of illustrated Victorian pamphlets. An accomplished draughtsman, Wedd effortlessly blends an expressive, cartooning style with intricate cross-hatching that emulates the look of 19th-century engravings. And he readily uses cinematic flourishes when the occasion demands, such as the exciting, impressively staged Stringybark Creek and Glenrowan set pieces. The latter vividly conveys the chaos, farce, tension and pathos of the confrontation. That he achieves this while observing the conventions of a serialised comic strip, with its recaps and cliffhangers, is testimony to his skills as a graphic storyteller.
The Weekend Australian
17 May 2014
Apart from the standard research that would go into a comic of this nature, Wedd visited the courtroom and various other spots in order to make the strip as authentic as possible. He told the story with an even-handed approach and left it to the reader to make his own determination of Kelly’s rightful place in our history. Rendered in a style that resembles earlier engravings, with considerable crosshatching, the comic was an excellent example of how to use the medium to teach history.
Iron Outlaw by Graeme Rutherford and Gregor MacAlpine
In June 1970 the politically incorrect comic Iron Outlaw commenced in Melbourne’s Sunday Observer. Written by Graeme Rutherford and drawn by Gregor MacAlpine, Iron Outlaw sometimes ridiculed but mostly poked fun at the political and social institutions of Australia and set about the ‘Ocker’ image with great relish. At the same time they highlighted the popularity of comic book super-heroes, particularly the characters from Stan Lee’s Marvel Comic Group, and imitated the styles of well-known comic book artists, like Neal Adams, to reinforce their point. The alter ego of Iron Outlaw was Gary Robinson, a junior accountant for the Melvern City Council who was tormented by the injustices against the good people of Melbourne.
On a visit to Glenrowan he finds an old Ned Kelly style helmet and wishes that he had the strength and courage of Ned Kelly to combat the forces of evil. From nowhere appears Yum Yabbi the spirit of the bush and an Aboriginal answer to Britannia. With a winged kangaroo perched on her head, an Aboriginal kangaroo motif on her shield, she points a bone at Gary and by uttering the magic words ‘Ah hoo la la’ she transforms him into a super being and presents him with a pair of golden boomerangs. Gary thinks it is ‘Bonzer’.
In typical super-hero fashion, Iron Outlaw soon gained an off-sider in the form of Steel Sheila, who is really Dawn Papadopolis, a council typist. Together they ride the countryside in Iron Outlaw’s orange FJ Holden with mag wheels and a broad GT stripe. The early stories were restricted to Melbourne where they mercilessly caricatured Sir Henry Bolte, the then Premier of Victoria, as Humpo – The Hunchback of St Paul’s, who is determined to spread doom and gloom by making every day like a Melbourne Sunday. Called upon by Prime Minister John Gorton to serve their country, the strip broadened its area of operation.
A number of episodes involved the Prime Minister, then William McMahon, as the super-hero Kokoda Kid – complete with digger hat and a chest full of medals. The strip kidded the conservative reputation of Melbourne in a panel where Steel Sheila was changing out of her costume. A text box was added to read ‘In deference to our sensitive Victorian readers, Dawn appears nippless’.
With the closure of the Sunday Observer imminent, Iron Outlaw and Steel Sheila (as the strip was now called) transferred to the pages of the Sunday Review in February 1971. Now in black and white, the strip hit its visual peak with some stunning artwork by MacAlpine on a story about the Yellow Peril and featuring Madam Loo and Warlord Nong. By the time it had finished in June the same year, the comic had satirised everything in sight and, in the process, confronted readers with some of the more unpleasant aspects of our society. In the final story, Iron Outlaw becomes the dictator of Australia and imprisoned the incredulous Steel Sheila – after all, she was only a ‘little wog!’ Greg and Grae, as they by-lined themselves, moved on to other fields and the world of comic strips was poorer for their leaving.
The Kellys by Tony Bush and George Aldridge
Written by Tony Bush with artwork by George Aldridge, The Kellys is a ‘hilariously witty’ comic is based on the notorious Australian outlaw, Ned Kelly. Drawn in a strip style, The Kellys comic demographic is aimed squarely at teenagers and families. For further information on The Kellys comic series visit AUSPAC Media