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Bernard Caleo & Alex McDermott

Bernard Caleo, 2013 State Library Victoria Creative Fellow

Cartoonist Bernard Caleo and historian Alex McDermott used their 2013 creative fellowship to collaborate on a historical comic called The Devil collects: Faust in Melbourne 1888. In the year 1888 the 'long boom' following Victoria's gold rush began to spiral out of control, leading to the crash of the 1890s.

On 3 March 1888 the opera singer known as Federici (real name Frederick Baker) died on stage at the Princess Theatre during a production of Faust, while playing the role of Mephistopheles. This real-life drama provided Bernard and Alex with a wonderful story hook on which to hang the argument that Melbourne's boom years were the product of a Faustian deal, which had now entered its endgame.

Other Melbourne subjects researched by Bermard and Alex at the Library included a young Alfred Deakin (who shared with Federici an interest in spiritualism and was the co-premier who presided over the later stages of the economic boom) and Maurice Brodzky (editor and publisher of Table Talk, a society/scandal/arts magazine that from 1888 became the one Melbourne journal critical of the inflated growth of the period).

Visit Bernard's website