Ian Howard: “Action Man Story”

When our guest blogger Normana Wight stepped into the ALA Showcase to see the current display of artists’ books related to War, Politics and Refugees she was delighted to see Ian Howard’s Action Man Story displayed. In 1993 Normana was a visiting Fellow at Queensland College of Art when Howard was Head of the College. She has fond memories of Howard’s no nonsense & entertaining lecturing style and high regard for this poignant artist’ book-  Action Man Story published by Ian Howard, and printed by Cooperative d’Imprimerie Vehicule, Montreal, Canada in 1976.

Many former art students from the early ‘90’s on will be familiar with Ian Howard, artist, and former head of Queensland College of Art. Tall and lanky; very approachable, direct in manner, and giver of magical lectures. And creator of many devastating art works about, and against war and warfare in any form.
Born in 1947, Howard was a young art student at a time when, as a 20 year-old ‘ conscriptable’ male, his future was indeed threatened.

The work that emerged at that time was powerfully anti-war, and the techniques he employed were bold and full of previously unheard of initiatives. There were rubbings of grotesque weapons – even aircraft – and models of smaller and equally sinister items.
Even at the present time, with the ‘Mexican Standoff’ in world relationships, Ian’s work is of immediate importance.

In the collection of The State Library of Queensland is Howard’s slim volume based on black-and-white photocopies, and with strips of text. It is Action Man Story, ‘A parable about a universal soldier and his public- told in seventy-two scenes.’
The book is printed in stark black and white, with grainy textures,  prepared using photocopies, probably adjusted with a small brush and Kodak red stopout paint: readjusted and collaged to compose the pages of the book.

Normana Wight September 2017