A Cloudy Day In Metropolis – This Week’s Links

Keeping this brief, as I’m sure everyone has holiday weekend plans to be cracking on with, even if they mostly just involve prodigious napping, however, first there are links to be clicked, and nobody may light a barbecue until that is done. 

I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them unwaveringly, so click This Week’s Links, below, with wild abandon.



Ripped straight from an olde timey stock ticker… This week’s news.

• Comic Con International have announced this year’s recipients of the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing, with six posthumous awards having been unanimously selected by a blue-ribbon committee chaired by Mark Evanier, who stated that "since we are not yet in a position to honor a writer who is still with us in a proper ceremony, we’re going to a long list of comic book writers from the past who we feel did not receive sufficient recognition or reward for their contributions to the field.” 2021’s winners comprise Robert Bernstein, Audrey ‘Toni’ Blum, Vic Lockman, Robert Morales, Paul S. Newman, and Robert White.

• ICv2 and Comichron have released their comic sales report for 2020, with the big take-away being that comics and graphic novel sales in 2020 were up overall by 6% on 2019’s figures, hitting approximately $1.28 billion, with strong sales in the book channel, and despite there being a 30% reduction in new periodical titles published compared to the previous year.

• The Beat reports on some more corporate moves in the digital comics space, as Wattpad and Webtoon have joined forces to form Wattpad Webtoon Studios, with a $100 million injection from Webtoon’s controlling corp, Naver, representing the latest in a series of high-profile financial investments in digital comic platforms.

• Speaking of aspects of the comics market that are being eyed up as sound investments, ICv2 rounds up the latest arrivals to the young-reader comics gold rush, with new lines for middle grade and/or young adult audiences coming from Skybound, Dynamite, and Legendary. Money in the bank.

• Finally this week, closing out the saga of last week’s main characters of the comics internet, Image Comics released a statement that the announcement regarding a continuation/conclusion of Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s Fell “was neither planned, nor vetted, and was in fact, premature” and that the publisher would not be working with Ellis on any projects “until he has made amends to the satisfaction of all involved” - The Hollywood Reporter rounded up the conclusion to the week’s events.



Quantitative easing… This week’s reviews.


• Brian Nicholson reviews the fictive delights of Kurt Busiek, John Paul Leon, and Todd Klein’s Batman: Creature of the Night - “Leon’s work stands as a reminder of how realistic depictions of human figures in comic book art can actually be startling and vivid if given something of the excitement of life to capture, when a script does not just call for talking heads, but for human bodies moving through and interacting with their surroundings. If the digitally-modeled textures of so much 21st century comics coloring diminishes the line art to achieve a 'digitally painted' look closer to the CGI rendering found in superhero movies or video game cutscenes, then Leon’s evident draftsmanship, which grounds his work in the observational, keeps it closer to classic cinematography”

• Hilary Brown reviews the compelling mundanity of Keiler Roberts’ My Begging Chart - “The other thing about Roberts's work is the way she structures the words in her strips, almost entirely through dialogue. The beats are punchline-oriented but the punchlines are dry or flat. It's like watching a Beckett play and wondering whether or not you're supposed to find something funny (as opposed to the usual gut-level, instinctual reaction to humor).”



• Alex Cline reviews the shallow beginnings of Christopher Cantwell, Dale Eaglesham, et al’s The United States of Captain America #1.

• Ryan Sonneville reviews the expressive personality of Jennifer Holm and Savanna Ganucheau’s adaptation of Holm’s Turtle in Paradise.

• Noelle Reyes reviews the ominous fascination of Jeremy Holt and George Schall’s Made in Korea #2.

• Colin Moon reviews the hollow prettiness of Cullen Bunn and Andrea Mutti’s Parasomnia #1.

• Justin Harrison reviews the clunky juxtapositions of Frank Gogol, Simone Ragazzoni, et al’s Power Rangers Unlimited: Edge of Darkness #1.

• Nathan Simmons reviews the surprising depth of Michael Moreci, Nathan Gooden, et al’s Barbaric #1.

• Ryan Perry reviews the effective celebrations of DC Comics' Green Arrow 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular.


The Beat

Avery Kaplan reviews the fascinating experiment of Shaky Kane and Krent Able’s Kane & Able, and the engaging perspectives of Jeremy Holt and George Schall’s Made in Korea #2.


Broken Frontier

• Andy Oliver reviews the football focus of Tim Bird’s Wednesday, and the quiet eloquence of John Cei Douglas’ All the Places in Between.

• Lindsay Pereira reviews the lighthearted playfulness of Pascal Girard’s Rebecca and Lucie In the Case of the Missing Neighbor, translated by Aleshia Jensen.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan C reviews the rare honesty of CJ Patterson and Jeremy Rogers’ Mondo Groovy #2, the solid idiosyncrasies of David G. Caldwell’s Yankee Doodle Strangler, and the meticulous passion of Sue Coe And Stephen F. Eisenman’s American Fascism Now.


House to Astonish

Paul O’Brien reviews the niche fun of Louise Simonson, Walter Simonson, and Laura Martin’s X-Men Legends #3-4.


Mindless Ones

Illogical Volume reviews the timely connections of Val McDermid and Kathryn Briggs' Resistance: A Graphic Novel.


Multiversity Comics

• Matthew Blair reviews the florid density of Todd McFarlane, Jim Cheung, Stephen Sergovia, Marcio Takara, et al’s Spawn’s Universe #1.

• Robbie Pleasant reviews the solid depth of Frank Gogol, Simone Ragazzoni, et al’s Power Rangers Unlimited: Edge of Darkness #1.

• Gregory Ellner reviews the expansive details of Ram V, Fernando Blanco, Kyle Hotz, Juan Ferreyra, et al’s Catwoman 2021 Annual #1.



Juanita Giles reviews the accessible allegory of Chad Sell’s The Cardboard Kingdom: Roar of the Beast.


Publisher’s Weekly

Have capsule reviews of:

- The splendid immersion of It’s Life as I See It: Black Cartoonists in Chicago, 1940–1980, edited by Dan Nadel.

- The stunning commentary of Alberto Breccia’s Dracula.

- The somber oddities of Zuo Ma’s Night Bus, translated by Orion Martin.

- The bizarre mysteries of Taiyo Matsumoto’s No.5 Volume 1, translated by Michael Arias.

- The jarring resonance of Adam Smith and Matt Fox’s The Down River People.



• Ryan Carey reviews the delirious hilarity of John Cuneo’s Coping Skills.

• Nicholas Burman reviews the collaborative promise of Extinció Edicions’ Forn de Calç, edited by Marc Charles.


Women Write About Comics

Emily Lauer reviews the madcap adventure of  Ryan North, Derek Charm, et al’s The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher: A Johnny Constantine Graphic Novel.



Just chattin’... This week’s interviews.


Sara Lautman interviews Beatrix Urkowitz about The Lover of Everyone in the World, eschewing the traditions of plotting, music moods, and pandemic life - “Contrivance can be fine; if we took all the artifice out of comics there would be almost nothing left. My greater issue is that structure is often a shortcut to emotion. How often do people say, "That movie was so stupid, but it made me cry?" Structure is often used in fiction to create investment in something that may not be very interesting and may not actually have anything to say to an audience. The audience sticks around because structure assures them the story is going somewhere.”



• Ronnie Gorham talks to Eric Palicki about Black’s Myth, good werewolves, supernatural affections, and creative routines.

• David Brooke speaks with Jennifer Holm and Savanna Ganucheau about Turtle in Paradise and working in historical settings, and with Michael Moreci about Barbaric and keeping comics’ lunacy alive.


The Beat

• Nancy Powell talks to Carey Pietsch and assorted McElroys about The Adventure Zone: The Crystal Kingdom, RPG histories, reading lists, and design challenges.

• Heidi MacDonald interviews Isabelle Melançon and Xellette Stillwell about Hiveworks, business models, pandemic impact, and revenue diversification.



Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ziggy by talking to Tom Wilson Jr about the comic, fan letters, greeting cards, and working in the moment.



• Kristina Stipetic interviews Zhang Ke about Hoodie Trilogy, adapting styles for a freelance creative career, people not getting paid, and life in Beijing.

• Daniel Elkin presents a new edition of Knowing is Half the Battle, as Josh Hicks shares thoughts on positive publisher experiences, correspondence red flags, and convention realities.



Mike Avila talks to Sal Buscema about The Heroes Union, inking philosophies, the toughest pencils to ink, and favourite comic book characters.



En bref… This week’s features and comics.

• Here at TCJ, Tegan O’Neil begins a three-part look back at Batman’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, laying down the case for the prosecution as to why Knightfall doesn’t really work as an event series, even with Bane in the house (literally), and the undeniably strong case for the defence as to why Jim Aparo is the best Batman artist that there ever was and/or will be - “The story wears the scars of its age, for better or for worse. Batman is a relentlessly political character inasmuch as the boundaries and incentives in his world are under constant negotiation by different and often opposed understandings of justice. The triumph and tragedy of Batman in one stroke is that the character encompasses so many different ideologies - and so many different marketing niches - that he can be made to do just about anything, and with some conviction.”

• Also for TCJ, Nicholas Burman documents Dutch cartoonist Eric Heuvel’s involvement with alt-right publication Gezond Verstand, and the questions this poses about his prior work - “It was issue #2’s cover, also by Heuvel, that created a real storm. On it, a group of schoolkids is being led around a museum in which there are artifacts associated with transatlantic slavery. In their hands are notebooks that have “slavernij” written on them. This being the era of COVID, they’re each wearing face masks. In the background are images of enslaved Africans in iron bits: muzzles made of metal, which were weapons of punishment, torture and public humiliation. The message of Heuvel’s cover is clear, and also disturbing: wearing a surgical or cotton facemask at a museum is the same as being enslaved.”

• For Women Write About Comics, Liz Pfeiffer continues a series of essays examining Bitch Planet through a critical race theory framework, in this edition exploring the themes of cultural appropriation, intersectionality, and misogynoir in the short comic Basic Bitch by Bassey Nyambi, Eyang Nyambi, Nyambi Nyambi and Chris Visions from Bitch Planet: Triple Feature! #5.

• Over at NeoText, Chloe Maveal writes on the life and work of Touko Laaksonien, aka Tom of Finland, and the bright sensuality found therein - it probably goes without saying that this one is pretty NSFW, but say it I shall.

• Writing for Comicosity, Jude DeLuca looks back (forward???) at the many alternate futures found in the pages of DC Comics titles, focusing in on Legends of the Dead Earth, and its heroes, now lost to time immemorial.

• November Garcia had an essay on how to mitigate burn-out, and the mental health pressures that making comics can create, and Gale Galligan presented some related thoughts on Twitter about rooting out the source(s) of said burn-out.

• For Hyperallergic, Olivia Cieri writes on the straight assumptions woven into the character of Northstar, and the comics code-enabled homophobia that dogged the superhero, reflecting decades of the mainstream comics’ industries ideas on the gay community.

• Over at Shelfdust, Sara Century writes on the iconic looks of Darkstar (and the whiny looks of Iceman) in Champions #13; Masha Zhdanova celebrates the brief return of Meredith Gran’s Octopus Pie as its coda gives the characters one last goodbye; and the Secret Invasion invasion continues as Caitlin Rosberg examines the muddled messaging of Secret Invasion #5, and there’s a tie-in with The Beat as the series takes over Gregory Silber’s weekly column.

• Parallel to the release of last year’s comics sales figures report, ICv2 presents thoughts from Rodman Comics’ Rod Lambert on the difficulties inherent in ordering comics for retail, and the complexity of predicting the market and customers’ budgets.

• Mike Peterson rounds up the editorial beat for The Daily Cartoonist, as its Giuliani no more, no room for fighting in the war room, a check-in on the scales of justice, and certain truths not being held self-evident.



We’ll do it live… This week’s audio/visual delights.

• Kicking off this week’s selection with a couple of event recordings related to this parish, as Blake Scott Ball was in-conversation with Gary Groth about Charlie Brown's America: The Popular Politics of Peanuts (begins in earnest around the 12 minute mark), and Anita Kunz spoke with Steve Brodner in celebration of the launch of Another History of Art.

• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden were transported once more into The Drifting Classroom, as they checked in on the Thick Lines of Kazuo Umezu, with the frenetic pace of volume 2 bringing tiny bugs and big baseball games into the equation.

• Virtuous Con have started releasing archives of livestreamed talks from their Juneteenth weekend event over on YouTube, so if you’re lacking in viewing material for this holiday weekend, then there’s plenty to dip into.

• Your usual varied assortment of Cartoonist Kayfabe video subjects this week, as Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor, with some bonus appearances from Tom Scioli, took a look at some Batmen in the Steve Ditko and Alan Moore style, Michael Golden comics and how to draw them, your weekly dose of Kirby and Miller, and Jan Strnad and Richard Corben’s Mutant World comics.

• Brian Hibbs welcomed Robin Robinson to Comix Experience's Kids' Club Selection for June, as they discussed No One Returns From The Enchanted Forest, streamlining art styles while maintaining expression, and eschewing violence and swords in stories for younger readers.

• Noah Van Sciver presented part one of a cartoonist conversation with Art Spiegelman about apartments and depression, cartooning educations, and how the Raw gets made.

• 2000 AD’s Lockdown Tapes continue, and this week MOLCH-R was speaking with Alec Worley and DaNi about Black Beth and The Devils of Al-Kadesh, and key influences while keeping things fresh.

• Deb Aoki hosted this week’s episode of Mangasplaining, as the team took a look at Kaoru Mori’s A Bride’s Story, and DC Comics’ failed adventures in the manga market.

• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come covered one of the big comics releases of the year, as Calvin Reid and Meg Lemke discussed Alison Bechdel’s The Secret to Superhuman Strength.

• Gil Roth welcomed Andi Watson to this week’s edition of The Virtual Memories Show, as they discussed The Book Tour, genre and style fluidity, and writing for younger readers.

• Shelfdust Presents kept focus on the wacky world of Secret Invasion tie-ins this week, as Matt Lune and Tim Mayton spoke about Avengers The Initiative #15, and how well the comic handles being dragged into a line-wide event.

• KALW’s Out in the Bay put the spotlight on comics this week, as Porfirio Rangel spoke with Gabby Rivera and Luciano Vecchio about working on LGBTQ* characters in Marvel’s pantheon, and the importance of representation in mainstream comics.



That’s it for this week, back next Friday with more. I hope those celebrating have a safe and fun 4th of July, while here in the UK it’s nothing but sports this weekend - tennis, football (coming home), formula one, throwing a squash ball against a wall during the fleeting minutes that televised sport isn’t available so you don’t have to think about the unending horrors of modern life. Something for everyone!