Black Mermaid Productions™ (BMP), also known as Black Mermaid®, is an Australian creative team and publisher made up of Julie Ditrich (writer) and Jozef Szekeres (artist) that specialises in comics and graphic novels with a focus on mermaid stories. The BMP (Classic) team, which included co-writer Bruce Love, began on the Australian produced independent comic Oblagon published by Kaleidoscope in 1992. BMP got its American break a year later with the original ElfQuest: WaveDancers series for Warp Graphics, and also wrote and illustrated the Dart miniseries for Erik Larsen which was published by Image Comics 1996. Bruce Love left at the end of 2003, and BMP (New Wave) comprising Julie and Jozef began concentrating on several creator-owned projects—the first of which is the underwater romance-adventure Elf~Fin™: Hyfus and Tilaweed, which was launched in 2013. BMP also contributed a short story to the Supanova Tides of Hope Flood Relief comic book anthology in 2011. To date BMP has sold over 270,000 copies of its comics works around the world. In addition, Julie and Jozef have taught comics at various writers’ centres, high schools, and arts centres. They were also the founders and original portfolio holders of the Australian Society of Authors Comics / Graphic Novels Portfolio from 2007 to 2012. In 2010, BMP served as consultants for the Australian Cartoonists’ Association new Comic Book Artist Award category for the annual Stanley Awards. In September 2013. BMP launched its comics professional development arm called Comics Masterclass™.
Julie Ditrich is a partner of Black Mermaid Productions (BMP), a published comics writer / editor, as well as a book project management and publishing consultant. Julie has a BA in Professional Writing (University of Canberra), and has worked in mainstream publishing as a bookseller, publicist, marketing manager and author. She was also a co-coordinator of a children’s literary program for several years, and was employed as publications manager at the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) where she commissioned, wrote and edited books and professional papers on authorship. Concurrently, Julie contributed to the Oblagon comics anthology for Kaleidoscope (Australia) and, under the BMP umbrella, worked as a co-writer on ElfQuest: WaveDancers for Warp Graphics (USA) and the Dart miniseries for Image Comics (USA), which resulted in sales of over 270,000 comics all over the world. During that time she also ran a clinical hypnotherapy and PSH therapy practice in the Sydney CBD for over eleven years. Since 2004, Julie has worked as a freelance writer, editor and publishing consultant. During that time she ghosted five biographies for Sydney publisher AKA Publishing (This is My Story), and wrote an Australian history coffee table book called Realising the Promise for Icon Visual Marketing. Her niches are comics, as well as personal growth (also known as mind / body / spirit or self-enrichment). She has worked as a manuscript assessor and editor on several short stories for Australian comics creators, as well as various personal growth books, and taught comics and graphic novels at the NSW Writers’ Centre, Broken Hill Library, and at the JMC Academy in Sydney. She has been a panelist on several comics session run by the South Coast Writers’ Centre and the NSW Writers’ Centre, and presented a session on graphic novels at the inaugural Gloucester Writers’ Festival in 2011. Julie was the co-founder of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Comics / Graphic Novels Portfolio and was the co-portfolio holder between 2007 and 2012. Most recently, she wrote the comics story “Hope Floats” for the Supanova Tides of Hope anthology in 2011, as well as the Elf~Fin: Hyfus & Tilaweed comic book series which was launched in 2013. She is currently working on the Elf~Fin series, as well as several short prose and comics stories for independent publishers.
Jozef Szekeres is a partner of Black Mermaid Productions (BMP). Jozef started his career at Walt Disney Animation Australia in 1989. He was a senior animator on several video features which include Aladdin: King of Thieves, Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure, Peter Pan II: Return to Neverland, and Jungle Book II. Jozef also sculpted maquettes of the lead Disney characters for the studio. After Disney, he worked as a freelance animator and director for several Australian commercial production companies including Film Graphics. As a comic book artist his work has been published in Australian independent comics including Oblagon, Greener Pastures, Platinum Grit and the Supanova Tides of Hope anthology. His American published comic work includes the ElfQuest: WaveDancers series for Warp Graphics, the Dart miniseries for Image Comics, and Safety-Belt Man and a story in Dawn: Return of the Goddess (Issue #3) for Sirius Entertainment. Jozef has eclipsed over 270,000 sales from the two comic book series alone, which sold all over the world. In 1998, Jozef was appointed as a mascot design consultant and the maquette sculptor for the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Jozef was also a conceptual designer on the feature films, Dark City and Cut, and has occasionally worked as a conceptualist and sculptor with MEG (Make-up Effects Group) on its commercials and feature films. As part of his exploration of sculpture, Jozef launched his first 16” fashion doll Elizabet Bizelle a few years ago. Between 2001 and 2006, Jozef worked at Aristocrat Technologies as a senior illustrator (both traditional and digital) creating gaming art. He has also illustrated for Blue magazine, as well as event posters for the Sydney Mardi Gras and contributed to the Stripped Uncensored anthology. Jozef’s artwork can be viewed on his Deviant Art website. He was also the co-founder of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Comics/Graphic Novels Portfolio, and held the position of co-portfolio holder between 2007 and 2012. He taught animation and graphic novels at the JMC Academy in Sydney from 2011 to 2012, and comics at the NSW Writers’ Centre and Broken Hill Library Service. He is currently working for a European gaming art company and is also concentrating on several comic book projects—the first of which is underwater mer tale called Elf~Fin: Hyfus & Tilaweed, which was launched in 2013.