Richard Rae—KG Murray Cover Artist by Kevin Patrick
A concerted effort for a line of comics
If you've been charting the fortunes of Australian-made comics for the last 25 years or so, then chances are you've come across the name Richard Rae.
You might have been one of the first Aussie comic fans of the early 1980s who picked up one of the many comic books which Richard wrote and published during 1980-1983, such as Star Heroes, The Greatest Super Hero and Fantastic Australian Heroes.
Boasting a roster of talented artists, such as America's Tom Sutton, Aussie industry veteran Hal English and newcomers like Glenn Ford and Frants Kantor, Rae's small line of comics were a tongue-in-cheek blend of superhero, science-fiction and EC Comics-style "shock ending" stories.
They may not have had a long shelf-life, but Richard Rae's comics represent one of the first concerted efforts by a local publisher to issue a line of Australian comics, since the collapse of Australia's once-booming comics industry in the early 1960s.
He even found the time edit and publish the 1983 book, Cartoonists of Australia,11Richard Rae (editor), Cartoonists of Australia, View Productions: Marrickville, 1983.... which featured biographical profiles of notable Australian newspaper cartoonists and comic book artists, including Monty Wedd, Syd Nicholls, Fil Barlow and Roger Fletcher.
If you lived in Sydney during this time, you might have also visited Richard's discount specialty comic shop, "Comic Empire". Perhaps you attended the event billed as "Australia's First International Comic Convention", which was held at the Sydney Opera House on 17-19 January 1986. This convention brought overseas guests such as Will Eisner and Jim Steranko to our shores for the first time, where they were joined by veteran Aussie comic artists like John Dixon.
You may not have known it at the time, but Richard Rae was the principal organiser of that event, too!
Of special interest to fans and collectors of Australian black & white reprint comics is the fact that Richard Rae was (very briefly) a cover artist for KG Murray, the company which published dozens of Australian edition titles reprinting classic DC Comic characters during the 1940s-1980s.