Since 2002, under this name, hundreds of artists have come together and shared their time, ideas, skills and dedication
to enable a collective expertise in various areas of practice that extend from the art of comic book making.
Michael Fikaris, Gregory Mackay and Kieran Mangan began Silent Army and drafted together a fairly tight group of like-minded people working in comics in Australia at the time (mid-1990s to 2000). While Kieran, Greg and Michael had supreme editorial and creative control with the books and various Silent Army exhibitions and events, they drew on a wider group of artists for help. We were all comic makers that wanted to push the boundaries of what comics can do. Everyone in the Silent Army books had total creative freedom for their individual pages; if you were asked to participate you were given creative autonomy and trusted to deliver great pages. After an initial residency and Infermary Publication, Silent Army continued on with Kieran Mangan and Michael Fikaris at the wheel. (taken from Tim Danko interview about Silent Army by the National Gallery )
From 2003 on Silent Army had closer ties with street art through Andy Mac and Citylights Projects, also through some of the Empty Shows that were organised. The Silent Army collective made it possible for people outside of comics to get a sense of who we were as a group and what we were about. Opportunities outside of regular comic avenues became available through the ease of dealing with a collective and inn 2005 Fikaris went to explore the world and pollute as many minds with the Australasian battlers in trade fairs, exhibition, streets and libraries of Canada and America.
Returning home in 2006 Fikaris found Silent Army was completely silent after some failed book deals, tired soldiers and many broken pens. Fikaris began working more in other areas like painting and drawing and did some small collaborations with other artists and independant collectives including Breakdown Press and Tape Projects. Fikaris soon started a monthly drawing night in Melbourne with colleague Lachlan Conn called 'Trails' to leave marks and make contacts. Started in 2007 'Trails' has since popped up at the many studios rented by Fikaris and various other locations nationally and internationally. These nights, aswell as the occasional exhibition always maintaining some presence has enabled Fikaris to meet all sorts of comic artists passing through Melbourne, short or long term.
2008 saw Silent Army used by only Fikaris and he began the building of this website to keep the collective idea alive. In 2010 and the National Gallery of Australia's 'Space Invaders' touring exhibition saw Silent Army become Silent Army Comic Art Collective and arrive in the twenty teens with a little more energy. In 2011 Silent Army was the second collective to do a residency in the new NGV studio in Melbourne's Federation square. The 6 week stint saw many new opportunities and ignited a new flame for the strengthened community that came from the exposure and a new mailing list. Fikaris soon opened Silent Army Storeroom where he was given a few other opportunities through his street art background before gaining confidence to begin a new anthology in 2012 'Dailies'. Silent Army Storeroom was part of his space at Blender studios, where over his 3 years we saw 15 launches aswell as several pop up exhibitions and events focusing on the same community growth and small press spirit of the ninth language of art that got him started - comics!
2015 saw the storeroom move to a new location - WOT studios. While a little bit more up the road in the ever gentrifying CBD, it opened as a more relaxed and tidy space for people to visit. Continuing as an outlet for 'art comics' but by appointment and for a series of more exciting private launches and events of the comic book lifestyle, the storeroom also expanded to make available a variety of printed matter from other parts of the world that connections had been made in by Fikaris. 2017 sees a refurbished Storeroom and an exciting roster of launches from likeminded comic art publishers met on a 2016 tour of European and Britain. Who knows where we will end up!
Draw, draw, draw and then draw some more.
MP Fikaris : co-ordinator and janitor
Klara Wilson : production assistant
Dan Sibley / Nick Potter : photography
Kieran J Mangan : co-founder