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Ian's Bio

Ian Gunn – a life
1st June 1958 – 8th November 1998

by KRin Pender-Gunn


I won't be writing about Ian's illness and what it did to our lives. This is to be a celebration of what he achieved in the short time he had here. Just think what he could have achieved if he had lived the whole of his life. If anyone can think of anything they would like to add to this biography, please let me know.


Ian Peter Gunn was born in Nottingham, England in 1958.He was born at home - 52 Lambert St, Hyson Green, Nottingham He was 5 pound 12 ounces at birth and was born at 5.45 in the morning. His parents, Dorothy (Dot) and Robert (Bob) Gunn lived in the small village of Arnold. Bob did all sorts of things in his life, he fought in the Second War War and saw overseas action, he was a furniture removalist, he droves buses for a while.

When Ian was three, his parents decided to take advantage of the 10 pound emigration scheme and came to Australia. They left England on the 15th of April 1962 and landed here in May. Ian's aunt and uncle came also, with Ian's grandmother, but they went back to England after two years, being of the "Whinging Pom" mentality, leaving Grandma in the care of Dot and Bob. They moved into a flat as soon as they got here, sleeping on a mattresses on the floor for quite a while, with Ian sleeping on top of the cabin trunks they had brought with them. Two of the cabin trucks are now in our house as tables.

Ian attended Yarra Park Primary School in February 1963, then George Street Primary in August of the same year.

In 1964, Ian joined the 5th West Richmond Cubs.

Ian went to Collingwood High in February 1969.They lived for a while in housing commission flats in Collingwood. Ian told me a story of where they had dropped batteries from the roof of the flats, where they had drilled themselves quite a way into the gardens in the front of the flats, and frightened the rent collector at the same time.

In 1970 Ian was in the 4th/5th Richmond Scouts.

In about May 1971, the family bought a house in Ashwood. It was an old housing commission house and over the years Bob has done some of the most awful repairs and changes to it. The worst is running strips of masking tape down the sides of the doorway in the dining room and painting over it. It has buckled and warped over the years and looks quite silly now. Bob is ( how should I put this politely?) cautious with his money and no piece of furniture in the house has ever been bought new. Ian may have inherited his collecting spirit from his father. In 1971 Ian was in form 2B at Ashwood High School, just a couple of blocks away from his home. He went to Ashwood High from 1971 to 1976.

In June 1972 Ian was in Venturers.

In 1973 Ian did illustrations for the Ashwood High School magazine.

In 1975 he co-edited the magazine. In 1975 Ian would have been in form 6. He never completed his Higher School Certificate. He was doing art as one subject and had submitted a cartoon strip as a major work. It got lost and he was discouraged enough not to want to do another. Ian went with the school to Central Australia in 1975.

He joined the Law Department in 1976. This department changed its name many times over the time Ian worked there. He had a theory that when you did the Public Service Exam, if you were a danger to society, they put you in the Land Titles Office (what the department was called when Ian finally left in 1998). He worked in the one department all his working life but it keep changing names around him

In 1977, Ian did a trip to England, Austria and some of Europe.

Ian was in the West Wawoorong Rovers between the time he was 18 till he was 25 – 1976 to 1984. He then stayed in contact through the WROTS – sort of an old Rovers group. He was a Venturer Leader from 1984 to 1985, then a Leader at Milara from 1985 to 1988.

In 1982 he travelled with the Scouts to Toronto and Calgary then to Vancouver on him own.

Ian was very involved in the Scout association. He attended many jamborees and was connected with the Gang Show for many years. (Get names of groups and dates). The earliest cartoon I can find for Ian is one is a Scout Magazine dated 1970. Very primitive but it shows the Ian Gunn style.

In November 1978 Ian bought a ratty old holiday house in Dalyston and spent a lot of weekends down there, sometimes with Scout mates. He had this house until April 1988.

In 1984, his cartoon book "What to do with a Dead Kangaroo" was published by Bandicoot Books, Shepparton. It was distributed, very badly, by Gordan and Gotch, and many copies where pulped.

I was always in awe of the great Ian Gunn. I started writing to him after seeing some artwork of his. We met at Aussicon 2 in Melbourne in 1985. I was pushed into a wardrobe in a hotel room in the Southern Cross Hotel with Ian and James Allen. As far as I know, this was Ian's first convention. Ian had invented fandom on his own, as he didn't know established fandom existed when he started the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy fan club in late 1981. He did a Contiki trip in this year going to America and Canada, southern and central Europe and then onto England, Finland, Denmark, Japan and Norway on his own. Ian didn't realise he had done damage to his back on this trip and came back with a distinct lean to the side, which caused him trouble the rest of his life.

In 1986 Ian attended Galactic Tours in Melbourne.

Ian joined the Melbourne Science Fiction Club in March 1986. His first covers for Ethel the Aardvark were for #7 (January 1986) and #9 (May 1986). He also attended the 5th Asia-Pacific Rover Scout Moot in Christchurch , NZ in March of that year.

Ian's first illo appeared in Ethel in #15 (June 1987).

In 1988, at Zencon II in Melbourne, Ian was nominated for best Media Fanartist. He bought his holiday house in Wonthaggi in June 1988. The house was a curse and had all sorts of problems with it, the builder finally committed suicide.

In March 1989, at Swancon 14 in Perth, Ian won the Fan Artist Ditmar. He also won a masquerade award for Most Humorous with James Allen and Danny Heap for the "Get Stuffed" outfits. Before driving across the Nullaboor with James Allen and Danny Heap in a clapped out old van that should have never been used, was Conspire – 17-19th March -in Canberra. The boys drove through Griffith, New South Wales (The armpit of the universe) and collected me. They had broken a windscreen on road roads getting the Griffith, in Griffith they had to buy new tyres as the old ones were down to the wires. In Canberra, Ian had developed the game "Die, Trekkie, Die" comprised of a cardboard box with stand up figures which the player shot down with rubber bands. It was confiscated on the border going to Perth as it was made from an apple box.

Swancon 14 was March 23-27 1989 in Perth. Thus we had four days to drive across the continent, dropping you in Griffith on the way. That was why the schedule I worked out seemed to have one day with a huge drive of over 1,000 kms. We had to be there for the start of Swancon 14. I will never forget driving into the centre of Perth--the hotel was in the CBD, at about 6.00am, on a sunny morning, very pleasant and green the city seemed. We were in the old white hi-Ace van, with orange bunting we had swiped on the way all over the roof rack and Kawliga by the Residents blaring from the speaker of the cassette player. We had come from the caravan park at Fremantle, where we had got in late the night before. The van was dirty and had a road begrimed Hazel the stuffed toy tied to the front. There were not many people about, but those that were tended to stare. We parked near the hotel and went in to find the con. We were hunting Ditmars...(Ominious chord and tired rattle from van) Scunge the teddy bear went on this trip as mascot and was seen several times sitting at the Singular Productions hucksters table.
James Allen (Jocko)

In September 1989, Ian and I attended Star Walking The Convention. It was at this convention that the now famous Watch With Mother masquerade item was done. Ian, Danny Heap, James Allen, Beky Tully and myself as commentator did a reworking of Bill and Ben, with Ian and Danny as Bill and Ben with brown plastic garden pots tied to their legs. The skit was eventually timed at about 14 minutes long as we had to keep stopping as Shane Morrisey would collapse into fits of laughter on the floor. A success all round.

In late 1989, I had to go into hospital to have my gallbladder removed. This was just before keyhole surgery was developed for this. Seeing me come out of anesthetic frightened Ian so much he decided to propose. The Saturday after I left hospital we went to visit Alan Stewart for some reason. I had pain increasing during the day but had kept on a brave face till we got out to the car. "Will you marry me?" says Ian. "Oh shit" says I, "take me to the hospital". The next day I said yes. The day we were engaged was 11th November 1989.

In September 1989 we bought our little pink and grey house here in Blackburn. Ian had sold his holiday home in Wonthaggi and it had paid for half the cost of the Blackburn house. We bought this house after only seeing two houses, the second was so awful we choose this one.

Ian was Club President of the MSFC for 1989/1990, 1990/1991. 1991/1992. Ian developed and drew the idea of a club calendar at this time which helped build up the club numbers. He also introduced the cardboard hose races, the betting money being the funeral money from Chinese newsagents in Box Hill, the sort burnt to send wealth to those who have passed on.

In 1990 at Huttcon in Melbourne, Ian was nominated for best Media Fanartist. It was also his idea to have Good Fairies as the security force and he wrote and illustrated The Good Fairies Handbook to assist this security force. The Good Fairies wore tutus for their job. Roger Weddell made an excellent Good Fairy with furry boots on his feet. At the end of the convention Ian led the Good Fairy team on a run around the hall and tired them all well and truely out. (Ask Glen Tilley about this). In 1990 at Danse Macabre in Melbourne, Ian won the Fanwriter and Fanartist Ditmar's. Ian also won Best Performance in the Masquerade (any idea what it was?)

In 1990 Ian did cartoons for "VCE Physical Education Book1" by Damien Davis (McMillan)

In 1991, at Vampiricon in Melbourne, Ian Won the ASFMA for Media Fanartist. Ian won third prize in the drawing section of the artshow for "Mishap in the Regimental Assembly Hall".

In 1991, at Suncon in Brisbane, Ian won the Fan Artist Ditmar and was nominated for the Fanwriter Ditmar.

In June 1991, Ian won Best presentation at the Raider's of the Lost Ark Australian Tenth Anniversary Celebration, at StarWalking 2.(any ideas?)

In 1992, at Syncon '92 in Sydney, Ian was nominated for Fan artist Ditmar.

In 1992, at Hongcon in Adelaide

In 1992, Ian did cartoons for "Fitness for Life" by Damien Davis (McMillan).

In 1993, at Swancon 18 in Perth, Ian was nominated for Artwork for his Fanimals strip and for Space*Time Buccaneers.

In 1993, Ian and I won the FFANZ race and attended Defcon in Wellington, New Zealand. We were there to defeat the stupid costuming "guidelines" that had been presented at Hongcon. We traveled to Dunden, Christchurch and Wellington.

In 1993, Ian did cartoons for "HSC Personal Development, Health and Physical Education" by Damien Davis (McMillan).

StarWalking 3 was in May 1993.

In 1994, at Contantinople in Melbourne, Ian was nominated for Media Fanartist. As Constantinople was the combined National Media and Literature convention, Ian was nominated for Fanartist Ditmar.

In 1995, at Basicon, in Melbourne, Ian was nominated for Best Fan Writer and Best Fan Artist. Ian and I, with the assistance of Glen Tilley, ran Basicon as there was a strong possibility that there would be no Media convention in this year, due to the collapse of the chosen convention (Condiment – which had a pepper shaker as a logo). Ian and I also won GUFF this year and attended Intersection, the worldcon, in Glasgow. We spent five weeks traveling around the UK, staying with fans and doing lots of tourist things. For a more extensive report of the trip, you will be able to purchase the trip report from me. Basicon was just that. It was only $20 to join. The venue was a couple of rooms in a building in Melbourne University grounds. There was a pizza banquet where we purchased much too much pizza and had to give a lot away. The costume parade had two categories : costumes under $10 and costumes under $20. This annoyed some of the members of the Costumers Guild. It did result in a lot of imaginative costumes. The charity was Foodbank Victoria, that is the go-between for charities and business in the distribution of unused food. What could be more basic than food?

In 1995, at Thylacon in Hobart, Ian was nominated for Fanwriter Ditmar and won the Fanartist Ditmar.

In 1995 Ian did cartoons for "VCE Physical Education Book 1" (2nd Edition) by Damien Davis (McMillan) and "VCE Physical Education Book 2" (2nd edition).

In 1996, at The Festival of the Imagination (Swancon) in Perth, Ian won the ASFMA for Best Media Writer and Best Media Artist. Ian also scooped the pool for the Ditmars this year winning the Fanartist, Fanwriter and Short Fiction Ditmars. His story "Schrodinger's Fridge", was his first published short story that he had been paid for and appeared in Aurealis #15. He was also nominated for Best Artwork for the cover of Thyme 106.

In 1996, Ian received his first nomination for Best Fan Artist Hugo (Where).

In 1996 Ian received the FAAN AWard for Best Fanartist which was presented at Corflu Wave in California.

Also in 1996, Ian did illustrations for the "New Course Mathematics – Year 9 Advanced" by Paul Bigelow (Macmillan)

In 1997, at Basicon 2, in Melbourne at the YWCA Cato Centre, Ian was nominated for Media Writer and Media Artist. Basicon 2 was also the combined national conventions. Ian won the Fanartist Ditmar and was nominated for the Fanwriter Ditmar.

In 1997 Ian received his second nomination for Best Fan Artist Hugo at LonStarCon 2.

In 1997, Ian illustrated a brochure for Monash University "S/He Equality".

In 1998, Ian received his third nomination for Best Fan Artist Hugo at Bucconeer in Baltimore.

In 1999, Ian received the Fan Artist Hugo at Aussiecon 3, in Melbourne in September. This is the first Fan Artist Hugo won by an Australian and only the Third Hugo won by an Australian. I accepted this on his behalf and it was the proudest moment of my life to stand there and hold it. Mind you, I would have preferred that Ian was there to accept it for himselfÉThe Hugo now stands on the box of Ian's ashes in my lounge room so I'm sure he knows he won. He also won the Fan Artist Ditmar.

I always picture Ian now with a pad and pen his hands, drawing cartoons for the angels so they are rolling around with laughter on the clouds. I bet he has also told them the three pieces of string joke...

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