Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Meeting

At the tender age of eighteen, I attended a meeting in a dank bookstore where the next issue of Inkspots, a large format comic magazine, was being discussed by it's publishers and contributors. The conversation turned deadly serious as Colin Paraskevas, one of the publishers, asked, "who wants to do the COVER?!" The room fell completely silent. No one said a word as nervous eyes darted around the room. I broke the uncomfortable pause with a tentative, "I'll do it!!" I had missed all of the interior page allocations, and this was my first introduction to everyone in the room.

The subject of the cover was deliberated upon and decided, a harlequin clown from the story by Steph Campbell and Daryl Lindquist. With that decided, the meeting was adjourned. I discovered that there were four other Philips involved in Inkspots, making a total of five Philips in one publication. I had been using the icon FIL to sign my artwork since I was fifteen because it made a nice graphic, so I decided to change my name officially to Fil by deed poll, which was achieved before the issue of Inkspots hit the stores. 

Cover of Inkspots issue 2 in 1981 by Fil Barlow

Inkspots barely came out once a year so I would submit comics to other periodicals to practice my craft. For a time I shared a 2nd story loft studio on Chapel St. in the busy Prahran shopping area with other artists. It was a very creative period where I painted and conceived a multitude of comic ideas. One of my favorite experiments was Cryptic (shown below) it was an experiment in using words to create the visuals while linking seemingly unrelated images together. I wish there had been more publications for me to unleash these experiments on, but sadly there wasn't a comic industry in Melbourne to support me.
Cryptic was published in Issue 4 of Inkspots in 1984.


  1. Hi Fil,
    yeah I was 18 in 1984, trying to do a comic for my HSC art project. I loved Inkspots 4 and just stared and stared at this little comic called Cryptic. Especially that first panel. I really loved the cover and main story too. Great to have you explain what happened next.

    I also have a few copies of your later magazine Artopia.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. I really wanted to do more comics like Cryptic, it was an experiment in having the text be more visual than the images which were more like unrelated snapshots. If only we had a vibrant comic industry in Australia, I would have had venues to publish more stories.

      Artopia Magazine was an attempt at creating a possible venue, but it got so little support in Australia that we had to end it after the 12th issue. It ran up a considerable debt as well.