Michael Fikaris, Kieran Mangan and Gregory Mackay 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, Gregory 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.
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 in 2005 Fikaris went to explore the contemporary comic art world and display these Australasian battlers in trade fairs, exhibition, streets and libraries of North America.
Returning home in 2006 Fikaris found his core of colleagues more silent than usual after some failed book deals, life trials and many broken pens. Fikaris began working more in painting and public art and made a few collaborations with other artists and independent print collectives including Breakdown Press and Tape Projects. Silent Army started a monthly drawing night in Melbourne with Forepaw studios 'Trails' in 2007, continuing to happen whenever possible at various studios locally and abroad. These events, and the occasional group exhibition are some of the things that have enabled Fikaris to meet all sorts of artists and collaborate and/or expand on skills together on different projects.
In 2010 the 'Space Invaders' touring exhibition from the National Gallery of Australia's saw 'Silent Army Comic Art Collective' arrive in the twenty teens with some confusion and a new found audience. A residency at the new NGV studio (National Gallery of Victoria) in 2011 for 6 weeks saw even more confusion and some new opportunities. The residency ignited a new flame for the community and the walk through space gave some of the 8 artists a healthy exposure to working outside of their bedrooms. The relentless live drawing, including a 24 hour live collaborative drawing event and unending photocopier supplied as part of the residency gave way to more experimenting and an often shared style between some of the late night workers.
Fikaris soon opened Silent Army Storeroom in his new city studio on the other end of Melbourne city where he continued the late night work with the then thriving street art community and put together a new anthology filled with all sorts of artists and non-artists alike in 2012 called 'Dailies'.
Silent Army Storeroom began as Fikaris renting an open studio space in Blender studios over a 3 year tenure, enabling 18 comic book launches as well as several pop up events focusing on the same community growth and friendship that got this started in the first place. See the blog for more photos.
ABOVE: photo of Silent Army Storeroom in 2012.
2015 saw the storeroom refresh with a move to a new location in North Melbourne, which continues to hold small exhibitions and happenings allowing comic artists and small press publishers free space to launch their own titles or projects in the space. While still releasing collaborative anthologies, the space also hosted international launches from collectives in France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, England and Indonesia due to Fikaris researching and collaborating with these other collectives. Silent Army continues to collaborate and publish and can be followed here for current updates.
ABOVE: photo from Silent Army Storeroom 2015
ABOVE: photo from Bread & Roses #1 by Glenn Smith 2017
2002 - 2017 w/ text from - Silent Army Comic Art Collective for the National Gallery & Silent Army Storeroom for Melbourne, City of Literature