A few years ago Crosslight profiled Australian online comic and multimedia project Neomad. On Friday 15 April, the science fiction adventure series won the 2016 Gold Ledger award (the Oscars for comics) for the Neomad: The Complete Collection print edition published last year.
Neomad is set in Australia’s Pilbara region in the year 2076. Its heroes, the Lovepunks and Satellite Sisters, have adventures in space. They battle ancient cosmic gods, when not playfully bickering with one another.
Neomad is the result of an 18-month collaboration as part of the Yijala Yala project between the Roebourne (Ieramugadu) community and cultural development and arts organisation Big hArt. Artist, Sutu, worked with and instructed children from Roebourne in Western Australia in the use of illustrative tools like Photoshop to create this madcap adventure series about their fictional alter-egos.
A glossary of terms used from the Yindjibarndi language was included with the issues, providing an opportunity to educate a wide audience of readers. The comic was published by Perth-based publisher Gestalt, and also exists as a mixed media app available on iTunes.
In an interview for the Ledger Awards, I asked Sutu how the Neomad project first came about.
“Big hArt was invited to the Roebourne community to create a series of art projects that would help to tell their stories” he said. “Yijala Yala’s flagship project was Hipbone Sticking Out, a National Theatre show that cast a lens over the last 400 years of events that led up to the death of John Pat*. Whilst this was an important story that had to be told, the elders of the community also requested that Big hArt create a story that was fun, captured a sense of optimism for the future of Roebourne and involved their young people. That story became Neomad.”
Tapping into 35,000 years of aural tradition and creating a digital resource that mixes audio and visual assets created by the youth of Roebourne, Neomad is a unique cultural product of today’s Australia.
* John Pat was a young man from Roebourne who died in police custody one month shy of his 17th birthday on 28 September 1983. All five officers accused of manslaughter were found not guilty. Each year John Pat’s wrongful death is commemorated by the Australian Indigenous community.