This week I finally submitted the manuscript of my second Jayne Keeney novel to Text Publishing (I thought I had it in the bag six weeks ago but decided a sixth draft was in order), freeing me up to blog about some exciting, altogether different writing I’ve been doing over the past 12 months.
This story begins with Tango, a romance comic anthology launched by the über-talented Bernard Caleo in 1997. Bernard and I have been friends for some 30 years (we met through our parents – an even longer story) and I was excited by this project that encouraged contributions from comic artists, both experienced and aspiring, on the topic of romance.
The early issues were printed in A3 format; the first ran to 44 pages. I contributed a piece to Tango: Two, published in 1998, which I both wrote and penned. I still have my copy: number four of a print run of 500. This issue ran to 56 pages, with 38 contributors.
After the first three editions, the format became smaller, the editions thicker. The contributor list grew as we were inspired by more specific themes like Love and Death, Love and Five Senses, Love and Sex, Love and Sedition.
By the time Tango 8: Love and Food was released in 2008, it had grown to 242 pages and, by my count, some 78 contributors. See here for a wonderful account of the history of Tango in comic form.
I’ve come to accept that my talents lie in words not pictures, though I continue to ‘see’ stories in comic form, inspired by the Tango themes. Bernard penned pieces for me in Tango 7: Love and Sedition and Tango 8: Love and Food, and our third collaboration will appear in Tango 9: Love and War later this year.
Our piece for Tango 8, ‘For Natasha’, was inspired by my relationship with my daughter and specifically the unanticipated joy of breastfeeding her into toddlerhood. In the piece I mused on memorable food experiences in my life, all of which are associated with people and places I love. This is way more personal than the stuff I usually write, and I think this is part of what I love about the whole Tango project. The contributions are self-portraits in a more graphic sense than what gets interleaved into novels. And Tango celebrates beauty in diversity – and the beauty of diversity.
‘For Natasha’ subsequently appeared in Essence (Vol 45, No 4, Sept 2009) the magazine of the Australian Breastfeeding Association and was selected for The Tango Collection, a kind of ‘Tango Greatest Hits’ to be published by Allen & Unwin in November 2009.
I have an advance copy and it is wonderful: I’m thrilled to see many of my own favourite Tango pieces featured – such as Andrew Weldon’s ‘The Smell of Love’ from Tango: Five Senses (to name just one). Other contributors to The Tango Collection include Michael Camilleri, Oslo Davis, Nicki Greenberg, Dylan Horrocks, Bruce Mutard, Mandy Ord, Kirrily Schell, Jo Waite — there are 57 in all. I feel humbled to be published in such esteemed company.
The production is gorgeous, too, a 19.5 x 26 cm, 248-page paperback with a glossy red cover.
The Tango Collection is the gift for lovers of romance, comics and stories, not to mention difficult-to-buy-for friends and relations.
The Tango Collection hits bookshops on 23 November 2009, around the same time as Cardigan Comics will launch Tango 9: Love and War. Take a look. Take the plunge. Or as Bernard says of romance and comics, “Read the one. Embrace the other. Dive deep.”