This week is the first that I can recall, since taking up the mantle of TCJ’s linkblogger-at-large back in March of this year that there haven’t really been any big breaking news stories resulting from decisions seemingly made in haste which will likely change the mainstream comics landscape in long-lasting and momentous ways. Which is nice!
I realize that 2020 has been one for the history books in a number of extremely important ways, but the impact of COVID-19-related market-slumps, and the commercial machinations surrounding these in the book and periodical channels, have been a thing to behold on a week-by-week basis, and their reverberations (that we haven’t really started to feel yet) will be sounding for a long while, I’d imagine.
Anyway, this entire preamble will be rendered moot if DC pull their usual trick of announcing that, oh, I don’t know, Batman will now be marketed solely as a memory of a particular smell, that will be delivered by proprietary app, an hour before this post goes live on a Friday. We’ll find that out next week, if they do, but for the time being... onwards to the links!
For when the pardons start flying as feverishly as Rudy at a shirt-tucking convention. #trumpcrimefamily #lockthemup #anemiccaligula #charmlessslenderman #potterybarnuday #insideoutbatcorpse #marieantoinepotism #turdreich #thedailydon pic.twitter.com/gwEMZY2cOs
— TheDailyDon (@JRDuquette) December 7, 2020
C’mon DC, don’t do this to me… This week’s news.
• Koyama Press have announced a new recipient of their Provides… grant program, awarding $1,000 to Eric Kostiuk Williams, who “will be using the Koyama Press Provides grant towards the printing costs for a new 32-page pamphlet comic. It will be a self-contained story, reimagining Kafka’s The Metamorphosis in the context of a contemporary queer bar.”
• Corben Studios broke the sad news that Richard Corben passed away last week, aged 80, following heart surgery - Chloe Maveal has a remembrance of Corben for NeoText, and Christopher Chiu-Tabet provides an obituary for him over at Multiversity Comics - you can find more of Corben's work at his website, which his family will be continuing to update.
• A quiet week, otherwise, as mentioned up top. Don’t forget to check last shipping dates if you’re ordering/mailing stuff out for the holidays, and support your local independent bookstores. Here endeth the PSA.
feels good nothing pic.twitter.com/03o5qXommY
— Tom McHenry (@tommchenry) December 10, 2020
Checking them twice… This week’s reviews.
• Robert Kirby reviews the unmissable pathos in the ninth of Michael Rabagliati’s series of semi-autobiographical graphic novels, Paul at Home - “Everything flows effortlessly, Rabagliati keeping time with each change in the story’s tempo. His inviting, ligne claire drawings have an immediately appealing, nostalgic mid-century vibe, and his panels breathe with seemingly insignificant incidents and minute visual details that work in tandem with his naturalistic style of storytelling.”
• Brian Nicholson reviews the textural constrictions of Alice Bloomfield’s Inside the Palace - “My main criticism of this book is not so much that I wish it had more of a story, and more that I wish it was printed on different paper, or bound differently, so it could be read more luxuriantly, with the pages falling wide: For all the emphasis on fashion, it would be nice if you could read it like a magazine. The moments where I felt most confused visually are when there’s two-page spreads, with each page having two panels to it, but it’s meant to be read across the bleed, from left to right across the top tier, then back to the left page for the bottom tier. That the book is constantly trying to snap itself back shut contributes to how counter-intuitive this feels. On another hand, it fits the book that it should seem forever withdrawing back into its hermetic isolation.”
AIPT (At this time, AIPT seems to be down. -ed)
• Forrest Hollingsworth reviews the Appalachian arcana of Alex Paknadel, Nil Vendrell, et al’s Redfork.
• Justin Harrison reviews the futuristic anti-heroics of Alex de Campi, Duncan Jones, and a veritable army of artists’ Madi: Once Upon a Time in the Future.
• Nathan Simmons reviews the overwhelming anarchy of Steve Orlando, Ricardo López Ortiz, et al’s The Pull.
• Rory Wilding reviews the plodding retread of Matt Fraction, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, et al’s Adventureman Vol. 1: The End and Everything After.
• Benjamin Novoa reviews the weighty themes of Mike Costa, Nate Bellegarde, et al’s Stealth.
• Alexandra Iciek reviews the mythic violence of Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Steve Orlando, Al Morgan, et al’s Kill A Man.
• Keigen Rea reviews the complex creepiness of Zac Thompson, Jen Hickman, et al’s Lonely Receiver #4.
• Joe Grunenwald reviews the entertainment present in TKO’s latest reinvention of the wheel, TKO’s Knockout Shorts, including Liana Kangas, Joe Corallo, Paul Azaceta, et al’s Seeds of Eden; Sebastian Girner, Baldemar Rivas, et al’s The Father of All Things; and Steve Foxe, Lisandro Estherren, Patricio Delpeche, et al’s Night Train.
• Avery Kaplan reviews the entertaining dynamics of Matthew Erman, Shelby Criswell, et al’s Terminal Punks #2.
• Jenny Robins reviews the cartoonish genre-hopping of Vali Chandrasekaran and Jun-Pierre Shiozawa’s Genius Animals?.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews the abstract horrors of Jason T. Miles’ What It’s Like, the respectful ridicule of Ryan Alves’ Moustache, and the infectious complexity of Jonny Petersen’s A Brief Yet Rambling Journey Through A Bunch Of Country Style Quotes And Bits Of Worthless Advice and Me Me Me Me.
House To Astonish
Paul O’Brien reviews the joyfully contrivances of Gerry Duggan, Stefano Caselli, et al’s Marauders #7-12.
The Library Journal
Tom Batten has starred capsule reviews of:
- The berserk nightmares of Junji Ito’s Remina.
- The riotous absurdity of Mark Russell, Steve Pugh, et al’s Billionaire Island.
- The page-turning brutality of Chris Gooch’s Under-Earth.
- The unashamed silliness of Matt Fraction, Steve Leiber, et al’s Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen?.
- The profound adventures of Daniel Warren Johnson, et al’s Wonder Woman: Dead Earth.
• Elias Rosner reviews the confusing frustrations of Tom King, Clay Mann, et al’s Batman/Catwoman #1.
• Kenneth Laster reviews the mixed distinctions of Dan Watters, Caspar Wijngaard, et al's Home Sick Pilots #1.
• Robbie Pleasant reviews the brief amusements of Zeb Wells, Gurihiru, et al's Heroes At Home #1.
• Craig Fischer reviews the desolate virtues of Paul Rabagliati's Paul at Home, placing it in the author's wider body of work.
Women Write About Comics
• Paulina Przystupa reviews the enjoyable beginnings of Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices #1.
• Lisa Fernandes reviews the enthralling excellence of Evan Dorkin, Roger Langridge, et al’s Bill and Ted Are Doomed #2-4.
• Jameson Hampton reviews the painstaking details of Shaun Simon, Gerard Way, Leonardo Romero, et al’s The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem #3.
• Zoe Tunnell reviews the cliquey smugness of Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, et al’s Crossover #2.
— megan kirby (@megankirb) December 7, 2020
The PR machine absolutely will not stop, ever… This week’s interviews.
• James Romberger has an in-depth conversation with Ralph Reese, covering all aspects of his career thus far, including trying to look gangster, studio life on the work-for-hire grind, and the realities of illustration in the 70s - “In the beginning I used "scrap" a great deal and kept extensive files of photo reference and also of other artists' work, as I learned from [Wallace] Wood. I used to spend whole days just cutting out pictures from magazines and filing them. When I was up at Continuity we would all pose for each other whenever needed and you have probably seen some of those photographs. I used photo reference a lot in [One Year Affair] but as I have mentioned before it was always a problem to get the same girl to model for me more than a few times, especially since I wasn't paying anything.”
• Nicholas Burman presents a conversation with Hannah Berry and Katriona Chapman, discussing the results to be found in the recent UK Comics Creators Research Report, the current state of the UK comics industry, the apparent cut-off point of 44 years of age for creators in Blighty, as well as centralization of creator hubs across the UK - “I don't imagine many people have moved to London to begin a comics career, but it has a very established social scene which probably keeps a lot of creators going where otherwise they might have burnt out or lost interest. There's another big group in Leeds, and I'm sure this has a lot to do with the city having been home to Thought Bubble, one of the biggest annual comics festivals in the UK. There's also a huge community in Scotland focussed around Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh, which all boast a solid social scene and are served by some fantastic festivals and conventions. Plus Scotland has devolved arts funding (ie not directed by London) and it seems to be much more supportive of comics as a medium.”
AIPT (At this time, AIPT seems to be down. -ed)
• Chris Hassan interviews the architects of the recent comings and goings in the world of Mutants, Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard, covering co-writing processes, everyone’s favourite Brian, Captain Britain, and making narrative changes on the fly.
• Ritesh Babu talks to David Walker about bringing President Superman back into the spotlight, for DC’s Very Merry Multiverse #1, growing up with George Reeves’ portrayal of the Man of Steel, and taking a Young Frankenstein approach to Bizarro.
• Joe Grunenwald interviews Matt Kindt & Matt Lesniewski about their new series, Crimson Flower, the dark potential of folklore, refraining from phoning things in, and the appeal of complete creative control.
• Joe Grunenwald talks to Art Baltazar and Franco about their latest collaboration on DC's ArkhaManiacs, making time for Batman, childlike mindsets, and running out of space for Two-Face.
Sean Z chats with Justin Barcelo Osterling about working on Dryad during the pandemic, the American healthcare system, a recap on a hectic summer for the direct market, and publishing realities for ongoing series in the age of COVID.
Edgar interviews Jim Keefe about his time behind the controls of Flash Gordon, the Flash Forward anthology strip's celebration of the movie's 40th anniversary, sample page rejections, and lessons that Flash Gordon has for Sally Forth.
David Barnett talks to Alex de Campi and Spike Trotman about the current state of Kickstarter as a platform for comics funding, in light of recent publishers, creators and celebrities trying to cash in on the crowd-funding boom (pun intended).
Sky Gooden interviews Annie Koyama about her arts patronage, the impetus for supporting creators, the benefits of insomnia-fueled social media dives, and the ways in which patronage would no longer be needed, in an ideal world.
New York Times
George Gene Gustines chats with Berkeley Breathed, as Bloom County turns 40, the strip’s return in 2015 (sans deadlines), merchandise design flaws, and the realities of winning a Pulitzer.
Cheryl Klein talks to Margaret Kimball about her graphic memoir And Now I Spill The Family Secrets, the addictive nature of genealogy, memory abstractions, and client briefs as graphic narrative prep.
Dan Kois interviews Paul Rabagliati about his new book Paul at Home, the realities of living with cyclothymia, embracing the way of the neo-Luddite, and the correct use for kids’ rooms when they fly the nest.
Alex Dueben interviews MK Czerwiec about editing the graphic medicine anthology, Menopause: A Comic Treatment, the inspiration of Lynda Barry, and bringing together perspectives for a group book; and talks to Mr. Fish about his new book, Nobody Left, the existence of progressive politics, the 1980s as a fork in the road, and emotional truth.
Daniel Elkin presents a fresh installment of ‘Knowing is Half the Battle’, as Jesse Lonergan shares his thoughts on judging where you’re at career-wise, publisher frustrations, and the importance of three squares and eight hours a day.
Ernie Estrella talks to Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo about their Filipino supernatural-crime comic Trese, its upcoming Netflix adaptation, and lunch break collaborations.
— Roger Langridge (@hotelfred) December 8, 2020
Deep and crisp and even… This week’s features and comics.
• For TCJ, RC Harvey looks at the story told in Derf Backderf’s latest book Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, and the twin feats of narrative and exhaustive research contained (and combined) therein, unflinchingly recounting the violence enacted on the victims by the National Guard - “The storytelling is achieved by combining a series of isolated instances, each developed on its own, as a story with a beginning, middle and end. There may be other ways to tell the story of the Kent State shooting, but this is the best way. By telling his story this way, Derf avoids the pitfall that many factual graphic novels slip into—captioned pictures, which are inherently without the dramatic impact that engages a reader. Derf’s method has impact.”
• Over at The New York Times, Tiffany May writes on tennis star Naomi Osaka’s upcoming appearance in manga magazine Nakayoshi, and the work done to avoid previous issues with whitewashing that arose when animating Osaka for an advertisement.
• For AIPT, Chris Coplan looks at recent remarks made by Alex Ross, regarding WarnerMedia’s failure to meet royalty commitments, and explores how the overall attitudes towards creators rights are still stuck in a pre-enlightenment age.
• Heading into what is likely to be a fairly interesting week, amongst other already notable weeks, in American politics, The Daily Cartoonist has a round-up of recent editorial illustrations, as we (possibly) can expect look forward to 4 years of slightly less vitriolic political cartoons.
• A few from the academic beat, as Between has an article by Alessio Aletta on ‘adaptation and appropriation in Detective Dante’, while Michael Green and Shelley wall round up the best graphic medicine of 2020 for The Journal of the American Medical Association, and synchronicity is abound as The Lancet prescribes a dose of the same.
• For Nerdist, Rosie Knight presents a best comics of 2020 list, including two appearances from Rumiko Takahashi, lest we forget that there were a few bright spots in an otherwise pretty awful year.
• Bringing similar fare to The New York Times, Ed Park and Hillary Chute put forth their picks for the best graphic novels of 2020, a year which saw a number of the big hitters of the ‘comics with spines’ clique releasing their newest tomes into a world isolated, and starved for content.
• Over at Sequart, Brian Puaca writes on the history of the DC Comics public service announcements of the 1950s and 60s, and their mixed successes in hitting the progressive bullseye, from a contemporary viewpoint.
• For Popmatters, AJ Rocca has a deep dive into Sandman x Shakespeare x Gaiman, looking at the interplay between the two writers (and one godlike being), and the history of The Immortal Bard’s appearances in the funny pages.
• House to Astonish’s complete character biography of James “Logan” “Weapon X” “Wolverine” Howlett continues apace, as he’s still in the 70s, and *checks notes*, yup, still angry!
• Shelfdust temporarily became the one-stop-shop for information on NBC’s hit comedy show Frasier this week, but still managed some comics-focused output, including Kim O'Connor on Spawn being pretty fly (for a wife guy), and why Todd McFarlane remains a beautiful paradox in modern comics; and Charlotte Finn hit week 49 of a year in Astro City, asking just what is a superhero, and why?
• For Women Write About Comics, Ali Selby presents a trans reading of Marvel’s recent House of X, the safe place that Professor Charles Xavier’s new haven of Krakoa represents, and why it’s important in the evolution of X-Men’s wider line on alienation and marginalization.
• Over at NeoText, you had a piece from Chloe Maveal on Kent Williams’ fine art and (also fine, tbf) comics art, Tiffany Babb wrote on the dual characters and parallel narratives exploring identity in the work of Gene Luen Yang, and Benjamin Marra provides introductions to galleries of the work of Paul Gulacy on Swamp Thing and Black Widow, and the work of Simon Bisley and George Tuska.
• The Nib has a longform comic from Emi Gennis on, well, goat testicles, and the fraud of John Romulus Brinkley; and Taneka Stotts and Ria Martinez on queer creativity and the myth of art being all about the struggle.
• Lawrence Lindell has a comic for The New Yorker on never getting fooled by New Year’s resolve again (and again).
• LA Johnson illustrates a piece for NPR by Mara Gordon on mitigating your chances of catching the common cold this holiday season.
— Matei Monoranu (available for freelance) (@minotauro__) December 8, 2020
Biggest turkey in the window… This week’s recommended watching.
• Just in time for homemade gifts season, The Believer and Black Mountain Institute hosted a new comics workshop with Malaka Gharib, Amy Kurzweil, and GB Tran taking viewers through how to make some cards and zines for the holidays - tis the season!
• Cartoonist Kayfabe had a grab bag of videos this year, with looks into Mirage Mini Comics, Chris Ware's ACME Novelty Date Book (vol. 1), the 90s iteration of Batman: Black and White, Neal Adams on Superman vs Muhammad Ali, JRJR's madness on Cable, Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane's first forays into comic art, and (getting into the festive spirit) the Lobo: Paramilitary Christmas Special.
• Inkpulp saw not one but two Shawn Crystals appear on this week's episode, one of whom sounded oddly like Matteo Scalera, along with Eric Canete, as the trio discuss what they're up to currently, crowdfunding realities, and dealing with people who are abrasive on the internet and how they are using crowdfunding.
• Noah Van Sciver had a cartoonist chat with one Frank Santoro this week, as the pair got down to it and discussed Santoro's new book Pittsburgh, the brutality of 2020, Ben Katchor appreciation, and getting credit on airline tickets to Italy.
• John Siuntres' Word Balloon has our first mention of Mike Grell this week, as the two discussed his body of work, and there were also interviews with Ed Brisson, David Pepose, and Tom Talyor to be had.
• Broken Frontier highlight a Myriad Editions panel on comic competitions and how they can drum up interest in the medium in the general public (or not, as the case may be), featuring a who's who of the UK comics scene discussing how the industry is getting on in 2020.
Great Gator Gift! ALLIGATOR TALES (a @MassMICE Mini-Grant winning comic) tells short endearing stories of a modern alligator who is having trouble getting his life together. Funny, touching, and colorful, Julia Gootzeit's comic is a great gift for adults! https://t.co/aXuonTw2jB pic.twitter.com/swpikQc6vn
— Radiator Comics (@RadiatorComics) December 9, 2020
A choir of angels… This week’s easy-listening.
• It was a three-headed episode of Comic Books Are Burning In Hell this week, and our second discussion of the work of Mike Grell, namely Longbow Hunters being real gnarly, before Chris Mautner, Tucker Stone, and Joe McCulloch got down to the matter at hand - the books of Michael Rabagliati, MS Harkness, and Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, and the twin questions of how much auto-bio is semi-auto-bio, and when is graphic reportage just not very good?
• Make It Then Tell Everybody got into the cussing game this week, as Dan Berry and John Allison discussed the trouble with 2020, burnout while trying to stay ahead of the game, formalizing the process of drawing, and selling the sizzle not the steak.
• Salt and Honey returned this week, and Leslie Hung and Sloane Leong were similarly discussing the COVID rut that 2020's brought with it, impostor syndrome, escaping pigeonholing, evolving styles, and avoiding creative block.
• 2000 AD's Lockdown Tapes beamed down to Earth once more, as MOLCH-R spoke to Kek-W and Dave Kendall about returning to Deadworld for a cheeky catch-up with those irascible scamps the Dark Judges, and all the apocalyptic horrors you'd imagine would go along with them. What're they like, eh!
• Publisher's Weekly's More to Come podcast welcomed Comix Experience's Brian Hibbs to the show, as he discussed DC Comics' recent business decisions with Calvin Reid, Heidi MacDonald, and Kate Fitzsimmons, along with the current status quo of the book and direct markets, following a somewhat fractious summer, and how retail has been hit by it all.
• Shelfdust Presents reached one of the leviathans of first issues this week, as Matt Lune and Kelly Kanayama looked at the seminal Watchmen #1, and asked quis custodiet ipsos.
• David Harper spoke to Ed Brisson on this week's Off Panel, discussing life in Halifax, comics origin stories, crime origin stories, and crowdfunding origin stories.
• NPR's Bullseye with Jesse Thorn (confusingly hosted by Brian Heater this time out) had Adrian Tomine as a guest this week, discussing The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist, virtual books tours during a plague year, comics writing as screenwriting, and infamous interviews.
Have some future Dredd for good measure. pic.twitter.com/CrPRTPa0oF
— Duncan Fegredo (@duncanfegredo) December 9, 2020
Done! Congratulations for reaching the end - I’ll be back next week with the final round-up of the year, before I head out to a cabin in the woods to weather the coming storm of a no-deal Brexit in the UK.
Ahhh, you’ve got to laugh, just like in the Academy Award-winning film Joker, which is probably streaming now, I’d imagine, despite using Gary Glitter’s music on its soundtrack, years and years after that could be considered in any way appropriate! What a ridiculously bad decision to make on top of all that film’s other bad decisions!
— JOHNNY RYAN (@JOHNNYRYAN101) November 30, 2020