Running up against deadline this week and all I had jotted down in the notes app on my phone (where a lot of this week’s links, a selection of which can be found below, gets made) was “Ides of March?”, “Scott Adams??”, and then “et tu, Dogbert???”, which makes me think those were feverishly dashed off midway through the sleepless bout of gastroenteritis I’ve just endured. Ah, well, chalk this one up to experience. We go again.
— S. Morian (@StipanMorian) March 9, 2023
This week’s news.
• The Beat shares Diamond Comics Distributors’ announcement from 2023’s ComicsPro event that their freight charges will be receiving a 40% cut over the next few months, likely a move to unruffle some feathers in their remaining customers, and make the one-time direct market distro monopoly’s prices appear more attractive alongside their new raft of competitors. For a quick catch-up on how we got to now, 2020 and 2021 saw Diamond withhold payments to vendors during COVID-19 lockdowns and initiate controversial changes to shipping rate calculation policies, with the subsequent termination of decades long business relationships with both DC and Marvel, followed by a steady trickle of other publishers also looking to diversify their own distribution need to competitors like Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster.
• The Herb Block Foundation announced that the 2023 Herblock Prize for excellence in editorial cartooning has been won by Ann Telnaes of The Washington Post, and will receive a $20,000 cash award, with Michael Ramirez of the Las Vegas Review-Journal named as this year’s finalist.
• In memoriam, remembering those the world of comics has lost, and news was shared this week of the passing of cartoonist and jazz clarinettist Wally Fawkes, aka Trog, creator of the comic strip Flook, who has died aged 98 - TCJ’s 2013 interview with Fawkes can be read here.
• News was also shared of the death of cartoonist Dina Norlund, who passed away last month at the age of 27, following a long illness - publisher Oni Press stated that they will donate a portion of the proceeds from sales of Norlund’s graphic novel, The Snowcat Prince, which was just published this week, to the Norwegian children’s organisation Sykehusklovnene.
— Alex Jay Brady (@AlexJayBrady) March 7, 2023
This week’s reviews.
• Leonard Pierce reviews the quiet assuredness of Gengoroh Tagame’s Our Colors, translated by Anne Ishii - “There are, of course, dramatic revelations and roadblocks along the way in Our Colors (its episodic format comes from its initial serialization, 2018-20, in Monthly Action magazine). But the revelations are never as dramatic as they first seem, nor are the roadblocks ever so high.”
• Brian Nicholson reviews the complex relationship of Nino Bulling’s firebugs - “A reader must look past the blandly-supportive words being said to see the desire for silence lurking just below the surface. They need to look past the superficial banality where so many comics exist to see that they are reading a work with actual depth.”
• Tegan O’Neil reviews the visual appeal of Erik Larsen’s Ant #1-6 - “On the one hand, it’s goofy as hell in a way that only comics can be - skintight red costume leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination regarding the anatomy of the wearer, yep. That’s a Larsen book for you, whatever the character pedigree, whatever the year. On the other, you cannot argue it isn’t completely indelible. The character is recognizable on the rack at fifty paces and that’s not nothing.”
• Piper Whitaker reviews the rebellious crudity of Fantagraphics’ Tits and Clits: 1972-1987, edited by Joyce Farmer, Lyn Chevli, and Mary Fleener.
• Daniel Berlin reviews the ambitious narrative of Tom Taylor, Clayton Henry, et al’s Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent #1.
• Nathan Simmons reviews the bold setup of Ed Brisson, Netho Diaz, et al’s Predator #1.
• David Brooke reviews the character explorations of Charlie Jane Anders, Enid Balám, et al’s New Mutants: Lethal Legion #1.
• Robert Reed reviews the confused ending of John Ridley, Germán Peralta, et al’s Black Panther #15.
• Joe Grunenwald reviews the big picture of Tom Taylor, Clayton Henry, et al’s Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent #1.
• Avery Kaplan reviews the solid opening of Erica Schultz, Edgar Salazar, et al’s X-23: Deadly Regenesis.
• Beau Q reviews the abstract introspection of Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s Golden Record.
• Rebecca Burke reviews the sombre emotiveness of Lucy Sullivan’s SHELTER: Early Doors.
• Andy Oliver reviews:
- The short surreality of The House of Harley’s Ugly Mug #6.
- The prescient punchline of Rachelle Meyer’s The Last Guide to Literary Conflict You’ll Ever Need.
- The uncompromising approach of A. Wolfgang Crowe’s Fractures Book One.
- The harrowing narrative of Gaspard Talmasse’s Alice on the Run: One Child’s Journey through the Rwandan Civil War, translated by Nanette McGuiness.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan Carey reviews the accessible packaging of Richard Alexander's Tales From The Richy Vegas Psychoverse #1.
Nick Smith reviews the interesting narrative of Corinna Bechko, Beni R. Lobel, et al’s Avatar: Adapt or Die; and the unresolved questions of Alex Segura, Monica Gallagher, George Kambadais, et al's The Black Ghost: Shame the Devil.
Have starred capsule reviews of:
- The gripping twists of Iron Circus Comics' The Lizard Prince and Other South American Stories, edited by Kate Ashwin, Kel McDonald, and Alberto Rayo.
- The engaging charms of Chuck D's Stewdio: The Naphic Grovel ARTrilogy of Chuck D.
• Gregory Ellner reviews the entertaining dynamism of Marguerite Bennett, Meghan Hetrick, et al’s DC/RWBY #1.
• Christopher Egan reviews the smart ideas of Scott Snyder, Francis Manapul, et al's Clear #1.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The refreshing menace of Jessi Sheron’s The Sea In You.
- The touching friendships of Michelle Lam’s Meesh the Bad Demon.
Pew pew pic.twitter.com/2XWDvMZZSU
— beluga's kin (@emmartian) March 6, 2023
This week’s interviews.
• David Brooke chats with Brian Michael Bendis about Fortune & Glory: The Musical, autobio comics and doomed stage shows, and bringing very personal memories to the page; and with Justin Jordan about Harrower, the gestation of the story, and the specifics of a good slasher story.
• Chris Coplan talks to Chuck Brown about Dejah Thoris, making the world of Barsoom accessible, and collaborating with Emiliana Pinna; and to Joanne Starer about The Gimmick, experience in the business of wrestling, and keeping characters big.
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan interviews Steve Horton about Nine Lives, crowdfunding via Zoop, picking the colour palette, and feline friends.
Brigid Alverson speaks with:
- Frederick Jones about Saturday AM and the publisher’s wider goals.
- Marc Visnick and Kae Winters about Tokyopop and the changes in the company.
- Matt Lehman and Dan Palomares about Boston’s Comicopia and retail realities.
Chris Cole interviews Zach Weinersmith about Bea Wolf, stories borne from keeping children entertained, and collaborating with Boulet.
Chris Burkhalter chats with Sammy Harkham about Blood of the Virgin, collecting ideas into a longer-form story, and advice from Joe Dante.
The Washington Post
Michael Cavna interviews Daniel Clowes about Monica, the process leading up to drawing a book's final line, and the people to whom the book is dedicated.
Women Write About Comics
• Kate Tanski talks to Karen Berger about 5 years of Berger Books, the work of an editor, and moving away from monthly serialisation.
• Nola Pfau speaks with Steenz about Heart of the City inheriting Dilbert’s former berth at The Washington Post, and the cartooning challenges posed by daily comic strips.
• Emma Rossby interviews Exaheva about Still Heroes, what’s in a name, codes of the comics form, and keeping things fluid.
• Masha Zhdanova chats with Alex de Campi about Reversal, releasing the comic on Webtoon, and the challenges of vertical scroll formatting.
— hwei (lalage) (@madaoba) March 8, 2023
This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Jon Holt and Teppei Fukuda present a translation of Natsume Fusanosuke’s 2012 essay on the transforming depictions of the human body and the physical training of the same in manga - “These are supernatural bodies that reflect the innocent desires and fun felt by their children readers. Because of gravity, you would expect that if a person fell off a cliff he would die, but that kind of realistic space does not exist here. Instead, what we see established is an iconic expression that positively uses the pictures’ semiotic aspect as a way to show this amazing kind of space, even though it is all flat.”
• Also for TCJ, William Schwartz writes on Morten Dürr and Lars Horneman’s Ivalu, and the comic’s adaptation, which is a contender for this year’s Academy Award for Best Short Film - “It’s unusual to see Greenland ever referenced in a visual sense in any context that’s not discussing climate change. The graphic novel is surprisingly restrained on that topic, with the main man-made pollution of note being a long-abandoned military base that has poisoned the nearby soil.”
• Finally for TCJ this week, originally published in The Comics Journal #306, released from the archive given its relevance to recent news stories, Abhay Khosla writes on the history of Scott Adams’ attempts to square the circle of the sociopolitical theories of Scott Adams - “Maybe it’s not that we are fooled by persuasion, but that we want to be. Maybe we want to matter enough that someone somewhere wants to persuade us. Adams flatters himself that he can see beyond the veil. But what American doesn’t know that we’re surrounded by bullshit? We all know. We carry on anyways. Adams doesn’t seem to grasp that. But if enough people see beyond the veil, it’s not a veil anymore - it’s just lingerie the powerful wear when fucking us.”
• For contemporary Dilbert reportage, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post carry features covering the fallout of Scott Adams’ removal from syndicated publication, and survey the response of other cartoonists to the debacle.
• David Harper presents responses to Publisher’s Weekly’s annual comics retailer survey, as bricks and mortar stores try to chart safe waters during a time of market turbulence and supply chain problems.
• Related to the above, Brandon Schatz and Danica LeBlanc present a new instalment of The Indirect Market, for The Beat, seeing Diamond’s olive branch of reduced shipping as sorely lacking.
• For Solrad, Rob Clough’s revisiting of the NOW anthology series arrives at the bubbling paranoia of issue seven, and Nicholas Burman reports from ‘Graphic Constellation: Young Women Authors of Avant-garde Comics’ at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona.
• Over at The Gutter Review, Kate O’Donoghue writes on the use of Matt Fraction and Christian Ward’s ODY-C in the classroom, and the layered translations of Homer’s source material to be found within its pages.
• Also on a Matt Fraction kick, Steve Morris writes for Shelfdust on Fear Itself and the smart move of putting the general public at the heart of a crossover superhero event comic, while Armaan Babu looks to Darkstar and the Winter Guard #3 in an attempt to grok the appeal of the titular hero.
• Scott Cederlund’s Claremont Year continues at From Cover to Cover, as February brings with it, as you would expect, more X-Men, and many more speech bubbles.
• From the world of open-access academia, Northumbria University presents Melanie Gibson’s Librarians, Agency, Young People, and Comics: Graphic Account and the Development of Graphic Novel Collections in Libraries in Britain in the 1990s, which led me to discover that its source, Comics Studies, Volume 1: Comics and Agency, is also available in open-access.
• For Political Geography, Simon Wellisch writes on the Reddit-based cartooning phenomenon known as Polandballs, and the geopolitical reimagining of Singapore to be found in these.
• Writing in Ilha do Desterro Sandra Mina Takakura examines the autobio comics of Cece Bell, and the various narrative layers of El Deafo’s anthropomorphism and recounting of personal experience of becoming deaf.
• 2010. Wolverine enters a new decade, and not a lot has changed, but for how much longer?
• Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s editorial beat, over at The Daily Cartoonist, as the rewriting of children’s books, and the hijacking of apps aimed at children, gave way to the childish ranting on display at this year’s CPAC.
Bad breath-- pic.twitter.com/7whwxo6P7c
— Chris Bachalo (@ShadeX6) March 8, 2023
This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Ben Katchor introduced this week’s meeting of the New York Comics & Picture-Story Symposium, as a Will Eisner week special event saw Danny Fingeroth moderate a panel talk on comics and graphic novel bannings and artistic freedoms from Jerry Craft, Michael Dooley, Denis Kitchen, Jeff Smith, and Jeff Trexler.
• Katie Skelly was joined by Alejandra Gutiérrez for this week’s edition of Thick Lines, as they spoke about Archie Comics’ The Complete Sabrina the Teenage Witch: 1962-1972, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and various other dark arts.
• WNYC’s All of It saw Barbara Brandon-Croft join Alison Stewart to discuss Where I’m Coming From, cartooning advice, the strip’s cast of characters, and the enduring relevance of the topics covered in the cartoons.
• Yes, more Cartoonist Kayfabe, as this week Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg presented videoed #content on the work of Paul Gulacy, R. Crumb’s Snoid Comics, and Paul Chadwick’s Concrete, before welcoming Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird back to the channel to talk about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issues 4 and 5.
• David Harper welcomed John Allison to this week’s Off Panel, as they discussed the denizens of Tackleford, what the direct market gets wrong/right, and what to expect from The Great British Bump-Off.
• A round-up of the various news stories that came out of this year’s ComicsPro event from Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come this week from Calvin Reid and Kate Fitzsimons, while Heidi MacDonald reports from Emerald City Comic Con, which continues with input from Deb Aoki in a new edition of Four Women in a Hotel Room.
• Gil Roth welcomed Dean Haspiel to this week’s edition of The Virtual Memories Show, as they spoke about COVID Cop, working in various media, and how the book has changed as the COVID-19 pandemic has.
Currently working maybe too hard pic.twitter.com/nOS4G5EY5v
— John Allison (@badmachinery) March 8, 2023
Loath as I am to stop linking, linking I must stop, lest the bandwidth become overloaded.
— 飯田研人 Kento IIDA (@kentoi) March 4, 2023