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Open Right

Bernard Caleo

Author, Illustrator, Online - Virtual Visits, Storyteller/Performer

Bernard Caleo is a performer, comic book maker, and comic book communicator.

Where were you born?

I was born in Melbourne and have lived here all my life.

What other jobs have you had?

I have worked as a projectionist, as a practice patient in hospitals, as a pirate, and at Melbourne Museum as part time programs officer.

What themes are recurring in your work?

The imagination is the true self. Fantasy is part of reality, not separate from it. When we make art, we shape the world.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Playing the great English scientist Michael Faraday for Faraday’s Candle, a one-man show that I wrote and performed for CSIRO in 2011/12. Discovering the Japanese storytelling form of ‘kamishibai’, or ‘paper theatre’. Introducing American cartoonist Jim Woodring on stage at the 2011 GRAPHIC festival and publishing the wonderful graphic novel The Salty River, by German author Jan Bauer, in 2015 with Erica Wagner and Elizabeth MacFarlane under our imprint Twelve Panels Press.

Where have your works been published?

In Australia, by Allen and Unwin, and by Cardigan Comics, my own publishing imprint.

What are you passionate about?

Comic books, particularly Australian comics and graphic novels. Kamishibai, the Japanese form of storytelling translated as ‘paper theatre’. Making interpretative theatre shows and performances to help audiences get the story of a place or a person or an idea.

Haven’t I seen you before?

Maybe on stage at the Melbourne Museum? I like to talk about comics and kamishibai at festivals and libraries too…

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I am one of seven children. I have a lovely wife, Susan, and two remarkable sons, Joseph and Zebedee. I really like drawing because it’s a way of discovering things.

[photo credit: Tiffany Garvie]


The staff were impressed with his professionalism, his presence and his knowledge.

—Jodie Warner, Sacred Heart Kyneton, 2019

The primary school class that visited loved the event. Everyone loved the Kamishibai that Bernard presented. Bernard’s presentation was very engaging, amusing and fun for all involved. The students loved drawing their own Kamishibai.

—Tama Neill, Stonnington Library and Information Services, 2019

The students were enthused and responded very well to the speaker and were very keen to try their own cartoons. His description of the process was clear and informative making the students aware of the history and process of cartooning.

—Andrea Scicluna, St Joseph's Primary, August 2019

Bernard came to CGS Malvern and presented to the children for part of our Book Week celebrations and all of children were just “blown away”!!! They excitedly relayed to me about how much they had enjoyed listening to him and experimenting with their own drawing.

Unfortunately I wasn’t at school that day, although over the years I have seen Bernard work his magic on the students and, it’s obvious he still has heaps of “magic dust” up his sleeve. However, as each of the classes have come to Library I have asked them what they thought about Bernard’s presentation and what they learned. Words such as “awesome”, “amazing”, “totally out of this world”, “cool” have been but a few of the adjectives that have floated my way. One student today spoke of how he needs to learn to do less detail in his drawings (less is more), another spoke of how to draw eyes and so it goes on. Even the art teacher has discussed with me that in her sessions students wanted to experiment using the “cartoon” style.

The students have been working on their own comic strip during Library sessions over the past couple of weeks, but this week they all have come in with extra enthusiasm and ready to make adjustments using some of the techniques that Bernard had shown.

The inspiration he has left behind has been dynamic and I am overjoyed seeing that in the students.

—D. Lester, Caulfield Grammar School, August 2019

His presentation was wonderful, energetic, informative, fun, knowledgable, engaging and relevant.
He bounced, waved his arms, grabbed our attention, yelled (softly), illustrated with his on-screen images, enticed us with interesting tidbits and made graphic novels a more attractive option to students than before.

—J. Durst, St Monica's Epping, August 2016

Bernard Caleo has run workshops and lectures at Redeemer Lutheran College for Year 9 students for the past two years. He has enthusiastically engaged large groups of students in the history of comics and in his personal approach to creating his own comic pamphlets. Bernard’s knowledge and passion for the subject inspired students to create their own small-scale comic strips. His approach to teaching smaller groups of students the finer points of drawing characters and designing panels was energetic and allowed less confident students to feel comfortable expressing themselves artistically. Throughout the course of a 2 hour workshop, students applied their new found knowledge of comic design and style and were able to develop complex drawn characters that they could utilize in their assignment. Bernard’s lectures and workshops provided an extremely valuable experience for students. He was able to build rapport with students with ease and kept them engaged in well-managed and entertaining sessions. His workshops have provided such a unique experience for our students that we would happily welcome him back in future years.

—T. Zinglemann, Redeemer Lutheran College, March 2015

Geelong Regional Library Corporation recently engaged Bernard Caleo to present to local school students as part of our National Youth Week celebrations. Bernard ran two sessions – a presentation to a large group of students, as well as a smaller workshop. We were really impressed by his ability to read the dynamics of each of the groups, and to capture the attention, and the imaginations, of the children. He did a wonderful job of engaging with his young audience members as he shared his skills and extensive knowledge of comics with them. Bernard has an energetic and humorous style which the kids absolutely loved.

—D. Verity, Geelong Regional Library Corporation

Bernard was really engaging and had the children eating out of his hand for the whole session. The first, younger group was enthralled with his animated and fast paced approach and the despite the second group being small, Bernard gave as much energy and enthusiasm as he did to the first group. I was also impressed with his passion and excitement about comics, which the children readily picked up. We’ve already booked him for our next school holidays and are eagerly awaiting his storytelling session.

—S. Litchfeild, Casey Cardinia Libraries 2017

Bernard’s visit went very well – his Year 8 workshops were fun and engaging, and the students responded very well to his enthusiasm and obvious love of comics. The library staff were very pleased to speak with Bernard and get his recommendations for books to stock the library.

Year 12 students were keen to learn more about Maus and have asked lots of follow up questions since Bernard’s talk with them, which is great to see. The staff that Bernard spoke to at the end of the day were also very appreciative of Bernard’s insights into the texts that we are studying.

—L. Furze, Monivae College 2017

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