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January 12, 2012

Eric Resetar, 1928-2011

imageEric Resetar, a pioneering New Zealand cartoonist best known for self-publishing several issues of his own work in the 1940s, passed away on December 21, 2011. He was 83 years old.

Resetar was a comics reader as a child despite the difficulties inherent in finding such work, due to their exclusively foreign production and the general in which they were held. Resetar described a teacher destroying a Buck Rogers comic in a portion of Shirley Horrocks' The Comics Show documentary.

Despite the low repute of comic books, Resetar began publishing them as a high school student during World War 2. He secured rationed paper from the New Zealand government with the idea that locally-produced comics might improve national morale. He traded many of his earliest efforts -- Thrills on the Planet Jupiter! starring John Power #1, Treasure Comics: Black Cobra and the Red Gold #1, Childrens Xmas Comic #1 and three issues of Crash Carson of the Future -- with sailors stationed in New Zealand port cities during the war and directly after. Those comics, the cover stock and inside paper stock derived from the same rationed sources, featured the youthful artist's boisterous mix of science fiction and more standard, newspaper-strip style adventure; the style employed would be familiar to anyone that's spent time looking at early North American comic books. He was sometimes -- perhaps all the time, it's unclear -- credited in the comic books as "Hec Rose."

Corn Stone wrote of the early Resetar comics: "The sheer snazzyiness of these incredibly isolated comics is still in full evidence. Time takes nothing away from Crash Carson of the Future. It adds to it. They have an ingenuity that goes hand in hand with the character that believed he could get these printed in a time of rations and shortages."

Resetar continued with intermittent publication in the 1940 and 1950s (Captain Sinister #1 in the late '40s, and the wonderfully-titled Crash O'Kane -- An All Black On Mars #1 in the 1950s.) In the early 1960s, Resetar reprinted his earlier, Christmas-related comic book and two new books: Mo and Jo, Invisible Smith and two issues of Half-Back Comics. Resetar eventually found employment in bookstores. When interest in the historical roots of New Zealand comics started to coalesce in the 1990s, Resetar was widely hailed for his innovative self-publishing. His work was a significant part of the 2000-2001 Cartoon Show at the Auckland Art Gallery honoring New Zealand comics history. Resetar would go on to sell facsimiles of his comics in New Zealand shops.

An awards program named after Resetar and focusing on New Zealand comics creation was begun in 2000 by an on-line discussion group. The "Eric Awards" program was held in 2001-2004, again in 2006, and once again in 2010. The awards are now biannual. Restar joined Barry Linton and Cornelius Stone as the awards' first Hall Of Fame class.

Numerous on-line mentions note that Resetar lived in the greater Auckland City area, in the suburb of Onehunga. He never married, and his nearest surviving relative is a cousin.
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