Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kimble Bent: Malcontent

Through striking illustration in this new graphic novel, author illustrator Grosz retells the story of this now little-known character in New Zealand history, whose escapades elevated him to folk-hero status at the turn of the century. Bent was a reluctant American solider who became privy to some of the fiercest and most infamous battles of the Taranaki land wars.
Bent ended up in New Zealand in the 1860s, fighting with the 57th regiment, the Die Hards, against the Hauhau. The discipline of soldiering life did not suit him and after a spell in military prison, Bent deserted and found himself living with the very tribes he had been fighting against.
Kimble Bent: Malcontent depicts Bent’s life as a Pakeha Maori, his assimilation into tribal life and his observation of Hauhau war rites. Bent was there at the battles of Te Ngutu o te Manu and Tauranga-ika, and was acquainted with some of its most legendary personalities, such as master strategist Titokowaru and pacifist Te Kooti. He identified the slain body of Gustavus von Tempsky, and ran for his life with the Hauhau from Kepa’s formidable kupapa forces.
Chris’s interest in New Zealand history was sparked by working at the Canterbury Museum as a young man, under Roger Duff and Tony Fomison, and it was here he first heard about Kimble Bent. While working in Hong Kong as a political cartoonist and newspaper designer he noticed that quite a few of his staff liked to read Manga comics rather than traditional novels using just the written word. This combination of words and pictures seemed a great way to entertain while also educating, and hence the idea for Kimble Bent was born. Told as a boy’s-own adventure story, Kimble Bent: Malcontent is an exhilarating tale encompassing bloodshed, mayhem and danger. A retelling of James Cowan’s original book published in 1911, The Adventures of Kimble Bent, are these tall stories embellished by Bent or real-life adventures?
Rendered in scraperboard, a technique involving removing a top layer of black ink to reveal white china clay underneath, these expressive and bold hand-drawn illustrations vividly portray the sense of darkness and threat in a dramatic and tumultuous time in New Zealand’s history.
 About the author/illustrator:
Chris Grosz is a graphic designer, author, painter and illustrator. He has worked as a poster designer for such names as Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, and U2, as well as in teaching, illustration and art direction for TV and advertising, and as a political and editorial cartoonist. This is his first foray into drawing for one of his own projects, which developed out of an exhibition of paintings he produced for Maheke galleries in 2006.
Grosz has a regular column in the Australian magazine The Monthly with the crime novelist Shane Maloney. A collection of fifty of these works was published in 2010 under the title Australian Encounters.

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