In Conversation: Anthony Christou

 

During AVCon 2018, I had the pleasure of meeting fantasy artist, Anthony Christou. He had a wide variety of work on sale: all his original art, as well as his comic series, Luminous Ages, and card games in addition to the series. Recently, I was able to catch up with Christou to talk about his work and extensive successes as a working artist and illustrator.

Christou is a very driven person with a vibrant creative spark. He started off with a Bachelor of Visual Art before going on to do a Masters in Illustration at Uni SA. Christou soon after decided to follow his passion in game art and illustration. Christou began freelance work in the games industry and in 2012 decided to fully devote himself to this career. Christou worked with mentors such as Rob C. Richardson and Simon Scales, who encouraged him to further develop his work. Through exhibiting with Adelaide Illustrators, Christou secured enough freelance work to support himself.

In 2013, Christou worked on a New Zealand Kickstarter game called Path of Exile. It was here that he learned more about the games industry. For Path of Exile Christou worked on a number of aspects including illustration, 3D modelling, concept art, assets, and in-game artwork.  It was during this year that Christou began his convention work, attended Adelaide Supernova for the first time, and achieved insane sales for his original fantasy art. Christou now attends up to eighteen conventions a year, earning a profit large enough to make a comfortable living. Since then he has given talks at both Supanova and Comic-Con. The best part about conventions, he says, is that you get to leave the house and make new friends.

While much of his work is digital, Christou still works with traditional mediums as well. His piece ‘Dangerous Seas’ became the cover art for The Path Less Travelled’s album ‘Cast Out the Crowds’. Christou spoke about being approached by a lady who told him that every time she feels sad she looks at ‘Dangerous Seas’ and it reminds her she can make it through the storm. He was surprised to find that his work could have such an impact on people.

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Anthony Christou, ‘Dangerous Seas’

In 2014, Christou decided to explore his interest in making a comic series. Luminous Ages is now four issues in and remains the second highest funded comic Kickstarter in Australia with only 180 backers and a pledge of around $17,000. Thanks to this funding, Christou is able to hire freelance artists and editors to help bring his project to life. Rob C Richardson, Anthony Earl, Elena Lukina, and Christy Butt worked closely with Christou on this project.

Luminous Ages itself is a series set in a surreal world where dreams can become reality. Thirteen dragon gods are fighting for control of both the dream and real world plane. It is up to the main character, Thrakos, and a cast of dream mages to keep them at bay. The series blends cultures and mythologies together to create a multi-cultural fantasy which addresses environmental issues.

A mixture of cultures and mythologies, Luminous Ages presents a story which heralds both multiculturalism and environmentalism. The series gives Christou not only the opportunity to explore his interests but his artistic potential. Contrary to the American style comics which we are most familiar with, Christou works in a style which is very similar to French or Italian, providing richly detailed illustrations in a comic format.

As well as game design and illustration, Christou has also worked with a number of film companies including Disney, Two-tone Studios, and Wolf Creek Productions.

Christou recommends exploring your artistic freedom and not to work for free too much. He says, ‘creativity can be blocked when you work with the wrong people.’ He notes that there are lots of opportunities within Australia, plenty more than when he started out. He also stresses the importance of taking a break, saying he usually gives himself one day off a week and a couple of weeks each year. Without breaks you can’t generate new ideas.

Being an artist is an endurance race. You need to spend a lot of time developing your work and looking after yourself. And it needs to be sustainable.

He reminds us that artists and writers are a business, and you need to understand creative business. You can’t have everything for nothing and you can’t expect it to be easy. We don’t live in an age like DaVinci and Michaelangelo whose artistic development was sponsored by the church and the military respectively.

When asked about the most difficult aspects of being a working artist, Christou said it was the financial side, business, and the sacrifices you have to make for your passion. His favourite things about working full time as an artist are, of course, sleeping and travelling, but also creating images from his mind, he loves being able to “bring his imagination to life.”

Christou’s next major project is a Kickstarer for theme decks of his card game Dragon Dreams. The Kickstarter is due to launch at 5:30pm Adelaide time today. That’s in just a few hours! You can find it here: https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/luminousages/

Christou is also on Youtube and Patreon.

Check out his website here!

 


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Images property of Anthony Christou

DECAY Comics (2010-2018): Australia’s Longest-Running Horror Comic Anthology Series Is Coming to an End

After eight years and 24 issues, Dark Oz’s horror comic anthology DECAY will be discontinued. The announcement came when issue 24 went to Kickstarter in early April, stating that it will be the last issue of the Adelaide-produced series.

It’s been a tough decision, really tough and letting go of DECAY is very hard,’ says Darren Koziol, creator of DECAY and Dark Oz Comics. ‘I have decided it’s time to move on to other projects, other comic book series’ that is, I have a wealth of stories to tell.’
Issue #24 of DECAY will be the first Dark Oz publication to be funded by Kickstarter. ‘Many people have said I should try a Kickstarter project,’ says Koziol. ‘Kickstarter allows you to find a wider audience, internationally too, to showcase the comic to more customers than I can reach from conventions alone.’ The Kickstarter campaign ended on April 18th 2018, receiving a total of $AUD 5,420, exceeding its original set goal of $AUD 2,010.

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Darren Koziol (Creator) at Australian Movie and Comic Expo 2015

Koziol started both Dark Oz and DECAY in 2010. He was inspired to create DECAY after his lifelong love for comics, and a particularly keen interest in horror anthologies like Creepy and 2000AD. The series has since become the longest-running Australian made horror comic anthology series, according to Koziol.
One of the focal points of the DECAY series over the years has been on Australian arts/culture. The series features at least one Australian creator/writer each issue as a way of opening up Australian art and storytelling to the world. Many stories and covers in the past have had an Australian setting, with numerous stories being set in especially Adelaide/South Australia. The series has also had its own fair share of original characters, including The Sisters and the Fuck-Ups. The Sisters are three vampire sisters who appear in numerous one-off stories, while the Fuck-Ups are seven psychopaths who think they’re the A-Team, but as their name suggests, always fuck up. These characters were created by Koziol himself and now either have their own or planned comic series.
There have been many highlights of DECAY over the years, but perhaps the largest of them all is its appearance at the 2016 San Deigo Comic-Con (SDCC). As part of this trip, Koziol created a Best of series of DECAY comics to take over to sell to the American audience. These Best of DECAY series were retitled Ozploitation. The same was done for Dark Oz’s other series Retro Sci-Fi, which was retitled 2525. He was the only Australian exhibitor at the 2016 SDCC.

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Darren Koziol at San Deigo Comic-Con 2016

Although the DECAY series is coming to an end, the future looks bright for Dark Oz. The Retro Sci-Fi anthology series will continue, with issue six now in development, and the second issue in the Sisters series will be coming soon. Trade paperbacks of the Best of series are currently in the planning stage for DECAY and Retro Sci-Fi. ‘While DECAY is coming to the end,’ says Koziol, ‘Dark Oz comics will continue for a long time yet and will continue to publish top-quality comics, showcasing Australian creators for comic book readers and collectors everywhere.’


Words by Cameron Lowe
Pledges for DECAY issue #24’s Kickstarter campaign closed on April 18th. For those looking for information on the Kickstarter, follow the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/467328161/decay-24