DARREN Koziol loves Aussie muscle cars, Mad Max and comic books in equal parts. He heads up independent Aussie comics publisher Dark Oz, and trade stands featuring his unique DECAY horror anthology comics have fast become a staple of the Adelaide car show scene. For some, the content is shocking, but the reality is that Ozploitation is nothing new. Darren is the keeper of the flame, bringing the genre into the 21st century while keeping it old-school. We met Darren and his zombie mates at the All Chrysler Day at Tonsley Park and sat down for a yarn before the impending apocalypse.
How did Dark Oz start?
I’d always wanted to make my own comics; then I found some time between jobs back in 2009, so I put the plans in motion, writing stories and contacting artists. Dark Oz is the publishing name and DECAY the first title – a horror anthology showcasing Australian creators. The first issue was released in March 2010, with the initial design work done by fellow Chrysler enthusiast and comic-book lover Dave Heinrich.
Who works on each issue?
Every issue is a collection of short stories, so there have been over 150 creators involved thus far across 24 issues of DECAY and five issues of Retro Sci-Fi Tales. Each issue is 52 pages long, so there is no bigger or better showcase of Australian illustrators, writers and designers. I give emerging talent a place to be published alongside established professionals – people who have worked in film, television and for big US publishers like Marvel and DC. I sell the comics online and at conventions Australia-wide. I was the only Australian contributor at San Diego’s Comic-Con 2016, the world’s largest comic book convention.
We’ve noticed some classic Aussie metal in your comics; have you always been a Chrysler guy?
I’ve always been into Chryslers; they were my dad’s car of choice as we grew up. Even before I was born, one of my dad’s first cars was a Chrysler Royal. As children we rode in the back seats of various Chrysler models – VG, VH, CL – and I learned to drive in a CL V8 ex-cop car. But I love all Aussie muscle cars; my first car was a 1978 XC Ford Fairmont GXL sedan.
Was it intentional to merge your two passions, Valiants and comics?
Absolutely! The first issue of DECAY featured my yellow VJ Valiant hardtop in the lead story and on the front cover. The ‘Zombie Hunter’, as it is known, has since appeared in several issues of DECAY. Issue #23 of DECAY had strong car stories and some Mad Max influence. I also produced Silver City, a Mad Max fan magazine, so naturally I plan to increase the Aussie muscle presence in future titles.
Can we expect a DECAY film or TV series in the future?
Comic books are a unique storytelling medium; film and TV productions have budget restrictions, but there’s nothing you can’t draw in a comic book. If you want battleships exploding in space, cars driving through packs of rabid zombies and giant robots pulling zeppelins out of the sky, it’s not a problem. I am old-school and prefer print over digital. That being said, I would love to make a DECAY television series or adapt some of the stories to film. A couple of Aussie producers have expressed interest, so all I can say is keep following the website at darkoz.com.au and the ‘DECAY horror comic’ Facebook page for future updates.