It’s been an introspective week for me, as my hair reached lengths it hasn’t been in over 15 years; and I sat idly considering whether to rearrange my comics into autobiographical categories, as my shelves near capacity once again.
The main question then becomes - will quarantine see me sleepwalk into an early-onset midlife crisis? Stay tuned to find out, but, in the meantime, here are this week’s links...
You’re gonna need a bigger boat… This week’s news.
• Award season marches on delivering new winners to us, virtually in the absence of their usual host events, as the 2020 Doug Wright Awards saw a slew of new inductees, including Nina Bunjevac for Best Book. Travis Dandro has been awarded the 2020 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize for King of King’s Court; the 2020 Cartoonist Studio Prize awarded Best Print Comic to Keum Suk Gendry-Kim's Grass and Best Web-Comic to Will Dinski for Eat Street Diners Club- congratulations to all winners and nominees, as always.
• Zainab Akhtar’s ShortBox has opened up a call for the next round of their mini-grants program, and you can apply now for £100 until May 22nd, with applicants being rolled onto subsequent monthly funding rounds once submitted. Get filing.
• As comic creators increasingly look to crowd-funding platforms to get their work out there in the absence of conventions and brick-and-mortar store events, some disappointing news as Camilla Zhang, Kickstarter’s Comics Outreach Lead, confirmed via social media that she was part of the group of employees laid off by the company due to pandemic-related cutbacks.
• Meanwhile, just begging for LL Cool J references to be made, Diamond Distribution Ltd have begun a fundraising campaign (slash self-promotion campaign), “Back The Comeback™”, which they’re going about in the most Diamond Distribution Ltd way possible, by banking on there being a secondary market for pandemic-era collectibles. I’ll leave this on a direct quote from CEO Steve Geppi and then walk away: "If you want to have the complete pandemic period of comics, here's what you've got to have."
• This weekend also sees another fundraising initiative taking place, as Canadian comics folk come together for “Be Our Heroes, Canada” - benefiting the Comics Legends Legal Defense Fund.
• As pandemic-era planning shifts to a long-term focus, there are more event cancellations afoot, with September’s Rose City Comic Con and October’s (rescheduled) MegaCon Orlando both falling to sensible precautions - best not to book any non-refundable travel/accommodation for a good while yet, convention-fans.
• However, if you like avoiding crowds and watching virtual panel events anyway then this is a boon time for that, as San Diego Comic Con joins sister event WonderCon in the “@ Home” programming, so you can recreate that Hall H experience by lining up overnight to get to your laptop to watch a panel.
• In related news, Cartoon Crossroads Columbus are looking to their audience to decide what form their programming should take for their October show, and you can help by completing a brief survey.
• DC Comics continue their experiment in individualist business practices by removing the window of exclusivity previously afforded to comic stores, bringing uniformity to their business model between the direct comics market and the book market, which may reflect the strong performance of the latter and may also represent freedom from previously restrictive contracts. But the jury's still out!
• Al Jazeera reported this week on the arrest of Bangladeshi cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, taken into custody by paramilitary forces on Wednesday as part of a series arrests under the country’s Digital Security Act for “posting content on social media critical of the government's handling of the coronavirus outbreak” - human rights activists and journalists have already been critical of the law’s broad definitions and potential for misuse as a threat to freedom of expression.
• The sad news of Richard Sala’s passing, at the age of 65, reached the comics community this week - TCJ has an obituary from Michael Dean, and a remembrance of Richard from Daniel Clowes, while the archives have longer interviews between Sala and Darcy Sullivan from 1998, and Tim Hodler in 2016, in celebration of his career.
• Respects were also paid to writer and editor Martin Pasko, who passed away this week, with remembrances of his life and career from Alan Brennert, Paul Levitz, and Heidi MacDonald. TCJ's obituary will appear shortly.
Superman does good; you’re doing well… This week’s reviews.
Leonard Pierce reviews the depiction of capitalism’s brutal consumption in Gary Dumm & Scott MacGregor’s Fire on the Water.
• Nick Nafpliotis reviews the gruesome horror of Josh Williamson, Mike Henderson, et al’s sophomore series, Nailbiter Returns #1.
• Christopher Franey reviews the superhero farce of Lowell Dean and Javier Caba’s Atomic Victory Squad #1-4.
• Rory Wilding reviews the bushy body-horror (or lack thereof) in Jeff Lemire, Phil Hester, et al’s Family Tree volume 1: Sapling.
• Morgana Santilli reviews the feline fancies of Umi Sakuri, et al’s A Man And His Cat, translated by Taylor Engel.
• John Seven takes the 'Indie View' and reviews Aurélien Ducoudray and Jeff Pourquié's graphic medicine reportage The Third Population, translated by Kendra Boileau.
• Moe Abbas reviews Nicolas Debon’s graphical biography of French anarchist (and libertarian commune founder) Jean-Claude Fortuné Henry, The Colony, translated by Edward Gauvin.
• Andy Oliver reviews the brooding experimental mystery of Maxine Lee-Mackie’s The Ghost in the Window.
Gary Tyrrel has brief reviews of MT Anderson and Jo Rioux’ naturalistic fairy tale, The Daughters of Ys; Alexis Frederick-Frost's plant-based primer, Maker Comics: Grow A Garden; and Kyla Vanderklugt's corvid-covering comic, Crows: Genius Birds.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews the bizarre minimalism of Greg Stump’s Disillusioned Illusions, the hidden depths of Niv Bavarsky and Michael Olivo’s Old Growth, and the modernist mythology of David King's Hercules and the Orbs of Woad.
Illogical Volume returns with more capsule reviews, this time heading to CyberSpace® to check out the work of Erika Price, Craig Collins, Sophie B, and Artyom Trakhanov.
• Christopher Egan revisits Nate Powell’s Eisner Award-winning slice of life graphic novel, Swallow Me Whole.
• Robbie Pleasant looks back at the goofy superheroics of Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire, et al’s I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Justice League.
• Chritopher Chiu-Tabet returns to the military-industrial nightmare of Jim Woodring, Kilian Plunkett, et al’s Aliens: Labyrinth.
• Matthew Blair reviews Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, et al's Bullseye-baiting arc of Daredevil #170-172.
• Joe Skonce looks back at Chris Roberson, Alex Ross, Dennis Calero, et al's cowled crossover, Masks #1-8.
• Elias Rosner reviews Kelly Thompson and Meredith McClaren's tale of facing loss, Heart in a Box.
• Gustavo S. Lodi looks back at Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale, et al's tale of loving whatever a spider can, Spider-Man: Blue #1-6.
• CK Stewart reviews the thoughtful conversation at the heart of Alex de Campi, Ryan Howe, et al’s new digital thriller, Bad Karma #1.
• Pierce Lydon reviews the superhero ubiquity of Curt Pires, Alex Diotto, et al’s Youth #1.
Hans Rollman reviews Andy Warner's entertainingly informative graphic memoir of personal and political upheaval, Spring Rain: A Graphic Memoir of Love, Madness, and Revolutions.
Have capsule reviews of:
- Lu Zhang, Adrien Gombeaud, and Améziane's information-dense graphic memoir, Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes;
- Daniel G. Newman and George O’Connor's political polemic, Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy;
- Tom Scioli's Kingly biography, Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics;
- Simon Hanselmann's collection of gruesome Megg, Mogg, and Owl rarities, Seeds and Stems.
• Ryan Carey reviews the gorgeous brutality of Blutch’s Mitchum, translated by Matt Madden.
• Keith Silva reviews the open-ended storytelling of Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s Don’t Go Without Me.
• Alex Hoffman reviews the gut-wrenching self-awareness of Moa Romanova’s Goblin Girl.
• Phillipe Leblanc reviews the frustratingly engaging strangeness of Zak Sally’s Recidivist IV.
• Sara Jewell reviews the subversive horror of Emily Carroll's When I Arrived At The Castle.
Women Write About Comics
• Lillian Martinez reviews the sexual expression of Nagabe’s magical anthology, The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms.
• Masha Zhdanova reviews the compelling depth of Haruichi Furudate’s volleyball manga, Haikyu!!.
• Wendy Browne reviews the gory revelations of Zenoscope’s Grimm Tales of Terror volume 1.
• Claire Napier reviews the grubby rainbow of Maria Llovet's LOUD!.
I hate Sebastian Coe… This week’s interviews.
• Tiffany Babb talks to comics historian and President of the American Library Association Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table, Amie Wright, about the work of the Round Table in helping comics librarians engage with their audiences, the challenges faced by professionals in the field, and the frustrations of book-bannings.
• Austin English interviews Tony Shenton about his work repping for self-publishing cartoonists, walking the beat in NYC, and the history of comics distro, which (if your appetite is whetted) you can also read more about in this archival TCJ piece from 1995.
• Chris Hassan welcomes in another ‘X-Men Monday’ and interviews Peter Nguyen about his work in comics and animation, and how he’s been faring during lockdown.
• Nick Nafpliotis interviews Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson about their horror comic sequel series Nailbiter Returns, and what to expect in the coming issues.
• Matt O’Keefe talks to Artyom Trakhanov about breaking into North American comics from Russia, releasing work for free during COVID-19 times, and the ever elusive work/life balance.
• Joe Grunenwald interviews Matthew Dow Smith about serializing comics via Twitter, in the absence of retail supply chains.
• Zack Quaintance talks to Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire, and David Rubín about their new crowd-funded comic Cosmic Detective, and their collaborative style.
• Vaneta Rogers talks to Gene Luen Yang about Superman’s history battling the KKK, and bringing that story to comics with Gurihuru in Superman Smashes the Klan.
• Declan Shalvey and Rory McConville have a crime comics catch-up chat, covering criminality and comedy.
Jason Vondersmith talks to The Nib’s editor, Matt Bors, about the Pulitzer Prize nomination, digital comics in the time of pandemics, and maintaining editorial balance.
Alex Dueben talks to Kevin Huizenga about the insomnia fueled stories of his Glenn Ganges comics in The River at Night, the formality of his work and his process, and where to go next.
Toronto International Festival of Authors
Catch up with TCAF’s Artistic Director, Christopher Butcher, and Managing Director, Miles Baker, to talk about where the festival is headed, post-pandemic, and its changing role in the comics landscape.
#ReadAboutComicsStayHome… This week’s features and long-reads.
• Here at TCJ, Bart Hulley looks back at Fantagraphics’ anthology of Spanish cartoonists, Spanish Fever and the intricacies of grammatical nuance in retaining humor when translating jokes, down to restructuring panels in José Domingo’s “Number 2 Has Been Murdered”.
• Writing for The Seattle Times, Chris Talbott asks "how will those in the Pacific Northwest comics scene survive?", as he checks in with comics retailers and publishers, including Eric Reynolds about the state of affairs in the time of COVID-19.
• Brandon Schatz and Danica LeBlanc have another entry in The Beat’s Coronavirus Journal, diving into the alternative distributions models that are emerging in the direct market, and what these might mean for the future of the industry.
• Charlotte Finn’s ‘Year in the Big City’ reaches Astro City #19, tackling the dichotomy of superheroes without powers and their more fantastical counterparts.
• Illogical Volume takes a look at the work of Paul John Milne, Dan Cox, and John Riordan, and asks (but does not answer) the important question - did comics cause and/or have the power to cure the current pandemic?
• Chuck Wendig looks at Calvin and Hobbes’ use of imaginative flights of fancy, and how that can help us when coping with lockdown - life is one big game of Calvinball, folks.
• The ‘Seven Critics of Victory’ turn to Bulleteer #1, a comic which poses the important question - how shiny is too shiny?
• Some more top-quality backgrounds for your video conferencing platform of choice, courtesy of the Billy Ireland Museum, as they turn to George Herriman’s Krazy Kat - pro-tip: they also work really well as HD desktop backgrounds.
• Broken Frontier's 'Retroflect' series of occasional articles returns, and this time Andy Oliver is looking back at the bizarre Bronze Age fantasy comic, Weirdworld.
• The Feminist Media Histories journal is currently free-to-access, running through June 2020, including the summer 2018 edition - ‘Comics and History’ - which has articles on Trina Robbins, comics as social history archives, cultural imperialism, and more.
#ReadComicsStayHome… This week’s comics offerings from the web.
• Dream Market Digital opens for business today until May 22nd, with some excellent comic creators involved, so have a browse.
• The Nib’s COVID-focused coverage continues, this week a bit more abstractly, as Lian Chang explores sense memories, and Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg looks at the realities of bringing electoral postal voting into the mainstream.
• For NPR, Dr Grace Farris, chief of hospital medicine at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai West, has a comic about the changes to soundscapes that COVID-19 brings, and the spreading popularity of ‘discharge anthems’.
• Continuing The New York Times’ ‘Diary Project’, Ebony Flowers brings the technique of using questions and connection cards to create provocations for writing exercises.
• Having seen his films, I’m interested to find out how S. Craig Zahler’s fascination with incredibly gruesome depictions of ultra-violence translates to the comics medium, and Broken Frontier provide a glimpse of that with a preview of his new graphic novel, Forbidden Surgeries of the Hideous Dr. Divinus.
• Solrad have added a new ongoing title to their ‘...Presents’ line-up, as the first edition of Nick Francis Potter’s new comic, Model Conversations, arrives on the scene.
• Michael Walsh has joined the ranks of people experiencing more intense dreams than usual, in the times of COVID-19, and has decided to share his nightmare experiences with everyone in comic form. Thanks, Michael!
Without TV, it's hard to know when one day ends and another begins… This week’s recommended watching.
• VanCAF Online has been taking place this week, and there’s a whole lot to love with their digital video programming, as they bring us a king's ransom of in-conversations with Kazu Kibuishi, Steenz and Tristan J. Tarwater, Al Colombia, Aron Steinke and Breena Bard, Whess Harman and Cole Pauls, Simon Hanselmann and Sami Alwani, Vivian Chong and Georgia Webber, Julia Billet, Michael DeForge, and Gene Luen Yang. Thanks, VanCAF!
• Cartoonist Kayfabe continue their streak of busy weeks, and this week’s #tent includes looks at Octobriana and the Russian Underground, Two-Fisted Zombies, The Blighted Eye, Absolute Batman: Year One, and an interview with Rick Veitch.
• Drawn and Quarterly had a new edition of ‘At Home With’, welcoming Rumi Hara to their Instagram channel to talk about her new book Nori, and answer viewer questions.
• Marvel’s Joe Quesada had a double header of ‘Mornin’ Warm-Ups’ this week, welcoming Paul Scheer and Steve Whacker to talk about their new book club series for the entertainment globocorp; and Tini Howard to talk about the collaborative process and Excalibur, and some good old audience questions.
• Mark Evanier’s series of livestreams continues apace, and this week he welcomed ‘MAD’s maddest writer’ Dick DeBartolo to the show, talking about his career in comics, memorabilia collections, and writing for TV game shows; and chats to comics writer, editor and publisher, Paul Levitz, about changing tastes, DC career paths, and industry anecdotes galore.
• Noah van Sciver brought us another batch of cartoonist check-ins, having some fun chats with Eric Reynolds (Fanta back-catalogue deep-dives!), Leslie Stein (jazz guitar opinions!), Paul C. Tumey (screwball history chat!) and Derf Backderf (Eurocomix halcyon on an on!), on what has quickly become one of my favorite comics-focused YouTube channels. Thanks, Noah!
• For Monomythic’s Facebook live videos, comics historian Kevin Garcia hosted an in-conversation with Hector Cantú and Steenz, talking about the realities of the daily strip cartoon-beat, and what the industry needs to stay current.
• The AdvoCATES Book Club convened once again, this time passing their scholarly eyes over Pride of Baghdad and Doctor Strange: The Oath, plus bonus outdoor sunshine envy for anyone currently stuck indoors and/or faced with inclement weather.
• Evan Dahm’s streaming Ambiguity Program for cartoon oddities and rarities has started putting the featured animations up online as a dedicated resource, so if you want to watch a good quality version of Mr Bug Goes to Town, then have at it.
• The new era of the Inkpulp podcast continues as episode 2 rolls around, with Troy Nixey, Jim Mahfood, Tommy Lee Edwards, and host Shawn Crystal inking over Jack Kirby pencils, while chatting. Hail to the king, baby.
• Word Balloon is firmly in the visual space at the moment, and John Siuntres sat down this week to talk with Chip Zdarsky, Joe Pruett, JM DeMatteis, Mike Oeming, Vaneta Rogers, and Heidi MacDonald, so no complaining that there's nothing to watch on TV.
• A few short videos out of Ohio to finish up this week's watching, as Jenny Robb, curator of the Billy Ireland Museum, looks at an anti-suffrage cartoon from Puck, and a prophetic manga illustration from Kitazawa Rakuten; while Klay Copton talks us through an unpublished manga page by Osamu Tezuka.
Turn up the good, turn down the suck… This week’s easy-listening.
• The world’s only comics podcast returns, as the Comic Books Are Burning in Hell lads try to figure out “what’s that noise” while discussing Portrait of a Drunk, by Olivier Schrauwen, Jerome Mulot and Florent Ruppert, plus a clue as to what next episode’s discussion holds - let’s all go to The Swamp.
• VanCAF’s audio-only digital programming gets off to a strong start, as they host a guest edition of Sloane Leon and Leslie Hung’s Salt and Honey podcast, with a Matt Fraction interview as they talk writing for artists (and with artists), getting ideas onto the page, and the joys of social media.
• AIPT’s comics podcast this week welcomed Gene Luen Yang to the show, to talk about his new graphic novel Superman Smashes the Klan, and then hosts David Brooke and Forrest Hollingsworth dive into the mainstream mayhem of NEXTwave: Agents of Hate.
• Multiversity Comics’ Panels in Motion podcast decided to choose the sword this week, not the ball, and are looking at the first two volumes of Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s Lone Wolf and Cub, as well as Kenji Misume’s celluloid adaptation, Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come podcast this week took a look at the state of the industry in pandemic times, with a whistle-stop tour of publisher reports, direct market updates, and festivals shifting to a digital footing.
• 2000 AD’s Lockdown tapes had a couple of new editions this week, catching up with PJ Holden about his career in comics, and putting the crazies back in Mega-City One, as well as a dive into The Simping Detective with Shelfdust EIC Steve Morris; and chatting to Colin Wilson about his inter-continental comics work, bouncing between techno-futurism and classic western comics, and being mentored by Brian Bolland.
• Aditya Bidikar and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s Letters & Lines podcast returns for a second series, with a feature-length live intro episode, as they put the world to rights on putting words in pictures.
• The Spectacular Spider-Cast swings back into action, as Preeti Chhibber and Alex Segura look back at The Spectacular Spider-Man volume 2 & 3, and dig into the psyche of everyone's favorite newspaper editor (get out of here Perry White!) - John Jonah Jameson, Jr.
• The BBC’s Cultural Frontline ‘steps into the world of comics and graphic novels’ as Tina Daheley talks to Joe Sacco about comics reportage; Ram V discusses his vampire story These Savage Shores; and Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom talks to Karl Bos about the realities behind her graphic memoir, Palimpsest.
• Shelfdust presents takes us back to the very start, as Osvaldo Oyola and Matt Lune discuss Love and Rockets #1, and the enduring appeal of the characters that appear in its pages.
• A double-header from Off Panel this week, as David Harper first sits down with Marcos Martin to discuss everything Friday, and then there’s a live Q&A with writer Brenden Fletcher, recorded during their recent Instagram video hangout.
• Gil Roth's Virtual Memories Show had Tom Hart as a guest this week, catching up with how Florida's Sequential Artists Workshop is coping with pandemic-related disruption, and Tom's comics upbringing in the Pacific Northwest.
• War Rocket Ajax welcomed Gerry Duggan aboard this week, to talk about his various Marvel series, and (more importantly) LEGO.
• Make It Then Tell Everybody had a nautical theme this week, as Dan Berry reminisces with Hanco Kolk about teaching comics on a one hundred year old (presumably haunted??????) boat.
They practically raise themselves, what with the internet and all… This week’s links for younger readers.
• First Second’s Sketch School is out of this world this week, as Maris Wicks, illustrator of Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier takes us through how to draw astronaut Mary Cleave.
• The Kubert School has a new episode of their live sketch classes, as Fernando Ruiz hosted a special Mother’s Day edition - teaching viewers how to draw Archie Andrews and his mother, along with king of the layabouts, Jughead.
• British comics institution The Beano have made a free ‘golden’ issue of the comic available, as an option to combat boredom in younger readers stuck indoors during lockdown. Spiffing!
• Andrews McNeel and the Schulz Museum have made Snoopy: Party Animal available as a free digital download to readers signing up to their newsletter. Good grief!
• The Beat’s comic book study guide series continues, this time looking at learning lessons that can be used with Osamu Tezuka’s adventure story The Twin Knights.
• Also in conjunction with The Beat, there’s a new edition of Comix Experience’s Kids GN-of-the-Month Club, as Brian Hibbs welcomes Rod Espinosa to the show to talk about his book The Courageous Princess, and answer audience questions.
Those are all the links I have for this week, whispered to me in the dead of night by a restless spirit yearning for slumber.
In these uncertain times, stay well, stay home (if you can; be safe, if you can’t), and be kind.