Australia Day Interview: Cath Brinkley, Organiser of ACAF

1 – Please tell us, what is ACAF?

CB – ACAF is the Australian Comic Arts Festival which is a three day celebration of all things comics and good in The wide brown land. We have three different days, an academic day for discussion and formal presentations for and by those that study comics, a professional development day for artists, writers, inkers and thinkers, and kids and fans. That day is for people people working or aiming to work in the business. At the end of Day 2 we have the ACAF Launch Pad which is a function when comics and campaigns are launched and we let our hair down a bit. Day three we do
panels, portfolio reviews, cosplay and have a stupendous Artists Alley. We aim to make really sure every one gets to meet their fans, their heroes and we build on the strong and vibrant comics community here in Australia.

2- What inspired the creation of ACAF?

CB – I think there are lots of fan conventions like the big ones that travel from capital to capital and various smaller local festivals that focussed on comics and zines but ACAF is really starting our to be just about the comics and the comic artists, so we began from there, and modelled it on some of the big festivals overseas like TCAF in Toronto, LICAF and England and SPX in Washington. We wanted it to be multi facetedto every one takes something away, and we wanted to make it about developing and growing the already existing networks and showcasing the talent we have right here in our own back garden sheds and studios!

3- Please tell us when the next ACAF will happen? ( date, location, etc)

CB – ACAF 2018 will be in Canberra next year, February 9-11! So excited!!!! 379 days to go – but who’s counting? WE ARE!!!!!!

4- Can you name some of the special guest talent who attended?

CB – In 2016 we had a great range of Australian Artists like Paul Mason, Tristan Jones, Mark Sexton, Queenie Chan, Julie Dietrich, Thomas Campi, Brenton McKenna, Wolfgang Bylsma, Bruce Mutard and so many others we don’t have time to name – every one brilliant in their own way and all so supportive of ACAF as it gets off the ground! There’s some great ACAF footage and commentary on Amanda Bacchi’s blog. Amanda is THE comic moderator in this country!!!! you can see it at

5- What got you into comics?

CB – I’ve always been bit of a nerd – well, ok – a LOT of a nerd so I’m a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek tc. I ready a lot of fantasy novels as well . . . I sort of fell into comics from there . . .

6- What specific titles do you like to read?

CB – I love so many – and its like kids – you can’t have favourites – or if you do – you DON’T tell!!!!!

7- Can you tell us about other projects that you are involved in? (in particular Australian Security Research Centre & Aboriginal Studies Press – if possible)

CB – In addition to the organising of ACAF (which I don’t do alone!) I run the Australian Security Research Centre, or ASRC, which runs conference and events and produces related publications for security professionals in both the private and public sectors, and I also work in the publishing arm of the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Studies, the Aboriginal Studies Press. There I work as a production manager overseeing books as they move from proposal to manuscript, to proofs to books on the shelves. I love both jobs, and I love that they’re both about books and knowledge and people and bringing people and knowledge together . . .

8 – What else do you do in your spare time?

CB – Spare what? What is this ‘spare time’ of which you speak? I have a lovely husband that I don’t see enough of and three fabulous mini nerds who we are shepherding into full blown nerd hood so there isn’t a tonne of spare time but I do love to cook (which is fortunate seeing as small people demand regular sustenance) and I love movies, tv and knitting! I’m also partial to a good coffee, good wine and a good chat.

9- Where can fans find out about ACAF?

CB – You can visit the ACAF website and for regular email updates you can join the mailing list there. We are on Twitter, FB and Instagram, so jump on and share the love!

10- What does Australia Day mean to you?

CB – I’m a bit conflicted about Australia Day, or Survival Day, or Invasion Day. I love a good sausage and a drink to celebrate the great country in which we live but its so bitter for so many of my Aboriginal friends who’ve lost a lot… so its hard. I’d like it to be more aspirational, more about the better Australia that we can build together rather than celebrate some pretty dubious victories from many years ago.

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