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Fred Negro: King of St Kilda

Fred Negro has just knocked off his shift cleaning toilets. One of the best cartoonists in the world – according to some – doesn’t mind his day job. He’s done it for a long time. “It’s just a gig,” he says. “I always wake up early anyway, and I’m finished by 10 or 11.”

Negro, artist and musician, is a Melbourne icon. He is the creator of Pub, the comic strip that ran for decades in street press which chronicled in lurid, scatological and frequently pornographic detail the ratbags and raconteurs of the bayside suburb of St Kilda.

For a long time in the 1990, Negro lived in the suburb’s Esplanade Hotel. “I had the key to the pub. I was like the king of St Kilda! I just had to clean the joint,” he tells me. At the Espy, you could reliably find him drinking and drawing everything going on around him.

The late Rowland S Howard once said you hadn’t made it in Melbourne until you’d appeared in one of Negro’s Pub strips. That was quite something coming from the Birthday Party guitarist, who had his own laneway in St Kilda named after him after his death.… Read more..

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We can be heroes

“We don’t need another hero,” sang Tina Turner, in the theme song to the third instalment of the Mad Max franchise, Beyond Thunderdome. She couldn’t have been more wrong. In a world beset by tyrants, terrorism, geopolitical instability, rampant financial inequality, a resurgent nuclear threat and runaway climate change, we need all the heroes we can get. Marvel – the comic book franchise turned cinematic juggernaut – has always understood this.

Marvel was born in 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War amid the rise of worldwide fascism. In the 78 years since, it has given the world unforgettable characters that have spoken to our collective anxieties, including Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man and teams including The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy – enjoying its greatest successes during especially troubled times.

This weekend (May 27), Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art opens an exhibition that celebrates the history of Marvel and its transition from comic-book cult to the screen. Patrons will be able to enjoy an ongoing retrospective of films in the gallery’s two cinemas before wandering through rooms filled with fantastically detailed costumes, sets, rare memorabilia and gorgeous key-frame art works that served as the films’ storyboards.… Read more..

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