5 Years of Gestalt in One Sweaty Pub

On Thursday night I decided to curb my notoriously unsocial ways and venture into a place of strangers, uncertainty and unhealthy food. Yes, I went to a pub. There was even beer involved (well, a middy at least) and a taxi ride home. The motivation for getting me out of the house was certainly cause for celebration though, as Perth publisher Gestalt celebrated 5 years in “the biz.” They have an impressive library of books, as one glance at their table at Clancy’s Fish Pub for the night would attest, and it looks like they have bold plans for the future, with greater international distribution and more OGNs spinning out from Rombies. The eery trailer for Justin Randall’s April-releasing Changing Ways left everyone impressed and the wait for signatures from Randall, and Rombies creative team of Tom Taylor and Skye Ogden was also impressive.

Grant Stone, host of long running radio show Faster Than Light officially kicked things off and enthusiastically praised Gestalt (and urged us to buy their books at the end of the evening – for the sake of our children!). Gestalt’s Managing Director Wolfgang Bylsma was up next and thanked all the attendees for their support, and also mentioned that Clancy’s was where he and Ogden (Gestalt’s Art Director) decided to form their own comics company half a decade ago. Ogden was third, and spoke a few words in Japanese (as he resides in the country) with Tom Taylor translating, with the aid of a laptop.

Taylor (writer of Star Wars: Invasion and now The Authority) rocked the mic like a rapper at a beat box competition (in enthusiasm, if not vocal gymnastics, though I’m sure the ex-juggler can probably sing too). The Melbourne scribe’s praise for Gestalt continued, and his jokes and volume had everyone’s attention, including bewildered patrons at the pub who were only there for a quiet night and were probably perplexed about what all these geeks were up to.

It was an unusual place for such an event, as the assembled comics fans had to avoid the sweaty environment and the speedy waitresses carrying paper cones filled with wedges, but it served to remind me what a fairly close knit community it is.  A few of the people I already knew, and some I knew of but had never actually met, such as Taylor and Ogden. It really was a fun night, and it’s very encouraging to see the roster of local talent in supply in our humble city, and thankfully, a vessel through which those same creatives can share their skill with the world.

Mladen and Dave (two of my mates, but I do have more).

Wolfgang Bylsma

Skye Ogden

Lean On Me: Tom Taylor and Skye Ogden

Some of Gestalt's goodies