Well, we’ve almost done it - there’s just one set of 2021 flavoured links remaining after this week’s selection, which you can find below, and then we can all sit in silent contemplation of that which has befallen us, until 2022 begins the cycle anew.
However, do not yet look fearfully out of your four-poster bed, in search of any passing spirits who might want to teach you the meaning of ethical capitalism! In the meantime, there’s the return of all your old favourites to keep you sated - auction news, distasteful NFT news, awards news, corporate moves news, lawsuit news - the gang’s all here, and just in time for the holidays!
— 我喜屋位瑳務 (@gakism) December 9, 2021
It absolutely will not stop… This week’s news.
• Kicking off this week’s headlines with an update on the proposed merger between Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, currently subject to an antitrust suit filed by the Department of Justice in the US, as PRH and S&S filed a joint response to the DOJ saying that this merger to form the world’s first ‘mega-publisher’ would be good, actually, and that it in fact will not result in an unassailable position of control over the market. And if 2021 has taught us anything, it is that massive corporations can be trusted without reserve, eh, readers?
• Elsewhere in publishers and the legal system news, and, following last month’s shutting down of piracy site Mangabank, rightsholders can smell blood in the water and are pursuing operators of similar websites, as Shueisha has now applied for subpoenas against the administrators of 8 other domains involved in the hosting of copyright infringing materials.
• Award news returns in a variety of forms, as Ben Jennings won The Low Trophy for the Political Cartoonist of the Year, Scout Comics announced the winners of 2021’s Script2Comic contest, nominees for the first batch of 2021’s Joe Shuster Awards were announced, Alison Bechdel received top-billing on Publisher’s Weekly’s annual Graphic Novel Critics Poll, and the Center for Cartoon Studies and The Beat opened submissions for 2022’s Cartoonist Studio Prize with a deadline of January 30th.
• In ‘creators of NFTs plumbing new depths’ news, Motherboard covers the backlash to the announcement of a collection of Stan Lee branded tokens, launched on what would have been his 99th birthday, posthumously, via Lee’s own twitter account. The announcement post invoked condemnation from Dictionary.com and *checks notes* the official Crazy Frog twitter account, amongst others, and so really crossed boundaries in uniting all peoples against projects created in poor taste.
• Apparently returning to its traditional date of the ‘first Saturday in May’, omicron waves permitting, naturally, Free Comic Book Day announced next year’s Gold Sponsor titles to be found in a store near you once spring rolls around once more.
• The Beat brought readers a comprehensive round-up of year-end comics industry corporate moves, as various promotions and lateral steps between companies took place, marking the close to a Very Odd Year.
• Continuing the recent trend of both speculative comics business news stories and those involving IDW allegedly losing licensed properties, as The Hollywood Reporter touts a scoop that Robert Kirkman’s Skybound is looking to acquire both the GI Joe and Transformers comics licenses, but Skybound also had ‘no comment’ regarding this, so the unknowable cosmic ballet goes on.
• Finally this week, and it’s a return to auction news, sweet, reliable auction news, as a 7.0 graded copy of Superman #1 went up, up, and away on the block and sold for over $2 million, while a 9.8 graded copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 sold for $250,000, capping off a year that saw the current collectibles bubble swell to mind-boggling size.
LUPIN THE THIRD commission. A nice trip down memory lane. pic.twitter.com/Gl8O0L2Ktd
— Ethan Young | Writer + Artist (@POP_MYTH) December 12, 2021
Checking them twice… This week’s reviews.
Sean McTiernan reviews the thoughtful mystery of Conor Stechschulte’s Generous Bosom #4 - “Thriller fiction thrives on scenarios centered around a key early scene in which all is not what it seems. The questions of who is taking part, what are their motives and why are they performing certain actions is the bedrock of most Sherlock Holmes stories. Issue four of Generous Bosom does this with the comics form itself. It throws the entirety of the first issue into question.”
• David Brooke reviews the compelling action of Steven S. DeKnight, Ibrahim Moustafa, et al’s Wastelanders: Wolverine #1.
• Colin Moon reviews the perfect revitalisation of Daniel Warren Johnson et a’s Beta Ray Bill: Argent Star.
• Christopher Franey reviews the refreshing excitement of Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, et al’s Nightwing Volume 1: Leaping Into the Light.
• Reg Cruickshank reviews the messy fun of Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, Jorge Corona, et al’s Batgirls #1.
• Cori McCreery reviews the perfect charms of Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, Jorge Corona, et al’s Batgirls #1.
• Zoe Tunnell reviews the confident finale of Tini Howard, Marcus To, et al’s Excalibur #26.
Andy Oliver reviews the lively surreality of Dan White’s Terminus: Rabbit Season, Duck Season, the Collected Strips.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C has reviews of:
- The exciting impact of Clusterfux Comix, edited by Cameron Hatheway.
- The creative apotheosis of Alexander Laird’s Sleemor Gank: Burg Land 1.
- The heavy existentialism of Bhanu Pratap’s Dear Mother & Other Stories.
From Cover to Cover
Scott Cederlund has a pair of capsule reviews of recent comics with Dad vibes, with Tom King, Greg Smallwood, et al’s Human Target #2; and Robert Kirkman, Chris Samnee, et al’s Fire Power #18.
Sarah Rose Sharp reviews the amazing details of Brian Blomerth’s Mycelium Wassonii, as part of the site’s Best Of 2021 coverage.
The Los Angeles Times
Carlos Aguilar reviews the irreverent rebellion of Bob Spit — We Do Not Like People, directed by Cesar Cabral, which uses stop-motion animation to profile Brazilian cartoonist Angeli.
• Matthew Blair reviews the sterile intrigue of Danny Lore, Giorgia Sposito, et al’s Lunar Room #1.
• John Schaidler reviews the deft subtext of Colin Lorimer et al’s Daisy #1.
• Robbie Pleasant reviews the likeable revamp of Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, Jorge Corona, et al's Batgirls #1.
Etelka Lehoczky reviews the eloquent horror of James Tynion IV, Werther Dell'Edera, et al's Something Is Killing The Children.
Women Write About Comics
• Louis Skye reviews the satisfactory beginnings Derek Landy, Angel Unzueta, et al’s Captain America/Iron Man #1.
• Magen Cubed reviews the muddled predictability of Hans Rodionoff, Adam F. Goldberg, Eduardo Garcia, et al’s Possessive #3.
friends of mine pic.twitter.com/NZjdZ77en4
— Beatrix Urkowitz (@bmfu) December 2, 2021
Shouted down a chimney… This week’s interviews.
Alec Berry interviews Andrew White about We Are Breathing, sticking with comics, chasing the balance between abstraction and narrative, and the experience sought when reading comics - “On perspective, I’ve always enjoyed the way that comics can jump from scene to scene, image to image, in a way that, at least for me, can feel more natural than say a montage in film. Many people have talked about how this reflects the way our memories work, with sequences of non-linear associations, but I’d go farther and say this is often how my brain works in general. Jumping from one thought to the next, making connections that are hard to retrace once a few seconds have passed. I enjoy trying to replicate that in comics.”
• Chris Coplan talks to Mike Richardson about Cloaked, what Dark Horse has to offer creators, and the rumours circulating regarding acquisition offers being courted for the publisher.
• David Brooke talks to a plethora of people, including:
- Casey Gilly and Joe Jaro about Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer and day-job inside-jokes.
- Skottie Young about I Hate Fairyland and the benefits of working on Substack.
- Ian Cinco about Neon Spring and genre fiction influences.
- Tee Franklin about favourite superheroes and hating the holidays.
- Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, and Jorge Corona about Batgirls and favourite characters.
Rob Salkowtiz interviews Oriana Leckert, Kickstarter’s Director of Publishing and Comics Outreach, about another banner year in crowdfunded comics projects, and receives some official spokesperson soundbites on that whole crypto pivot.
Jim McLauchlin chats with Gib Bickel about Ohio's The Laughing Ogre comic store, basic business tenets, going the extra mile, embracing the market for younger readers, and stocking a broad selection of wares.
Andrew Liptak talks to Mike Mignola about Radio Spaceman, pandemic sketching, classic space-adventurer serial tropes, shifting to a speedier process, and designing characters off the cuff.
Alex Dueben speaks with Matt Madden about Ex Libris, story origins, creating a collection of short stories in disguise, and the varied limits when translating.
Matthew Jackson interviews Bobby Moynihan about sketch comedy and writing comics without jokes; and Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, and Jorge Corona about Batgirls, and keeping the whole superhero thing feeling fresh.
Women Write About Comics
Wendy Browne talks to Lee Durfey-Lavoie and Veronica Agarwal about Just Roll With It, putting your faith in a die, normalising mental health topics in fiction for younger readers, and having the sequel ready to roll.
— lee gatlin (@neilaglet) December 15, 2021
Make dust our paper… This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Andrew Farago has an obituary for Sharon Smith Kane, who passed away last month aged 89, looking back on the cartoonist’s life and work - “In 2018, Kane donated an archive of nearly 300 original Buttons an’ Beaux cartoons, clippings, and a scrapbook detailing that era of her career to the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. This work served as the foundation of the Cartoon Art Museum’s 2019 exhibition The Teen Age: Youth Culture in Comics, and the first public display of Kane’s cartoons. When notified of the exhibition, Kane replied, “It is gratifying to me to know that Buttons an’ Beaux will have renewed life through you, and that new generations of teens will be able to enjoy my work. Clothing fashions may have changed—we never wore jeans to school! It was the sweater and skirt era!—and I’m sure our vocabulary was much milder, but the teenage angst is still the same.””
• Also for TCJ, R.C. Harvey serves up a fresh dose of Hare Tonic, this time out looking back at Russ Johnson’s Mister Oswald, cartooning feats of endurance, and a singular depiction of small-town life - “Some observers have called Johnson’s drawing style in Mister Oswald “big foot.” They arrive at this designation in the belief, apparently, that there are only two drawing styles: realistic at one end of the scale, and at the other, wholly unrealistic, “big foot.” But there are gradations between Realistic and Big Foot that these would-be critics seem unaware of. For them, Big Foot is the only alternative to Realistic. According to them, a cartoonist draws in one of these styles or the other; nothing else. But there is plenty of “else.””
• For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Meg Young looks at the coming-out of Jonathan Kent, in the pages of Superman: Son of Kal-El, and uses this as a jumping-off point to explore the storied sexual history of superhero comics, and the evolving relationship between queerness and superheroes in the age of rampant capitalism.
• For The Beat, Heidi MacDonald covers the creator backlash to Kickstarter’s pivot to the blockchain, as a certain facet of the self-published comics world becomes increasingly reliant on the platform; and Gregory Paul Silber celebrates the work of George Pérez, as found in the pages of JLA/Avengers.
• NeoText presents further appreciation of the art of George Pérez, as Chloe Maveal looks back on his evolution and impact as an artist; and, on a festive note, Tom Shapira covers Shade the Changing Man #19’s subversive humbugging over modern Christmas, while Charles E.P. Murphy chronicles a grim return to the well of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in Sonic the Comic.
• Over at Shelfdust, Zoe Tunnell writes on the emotionally devastating sapphic love to be found in Emma Hunsinger’s She Would Feel the Same and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s Don’t Go Without Me, and what makes them perfect stories.
• Rod Lamberti provides some retailer-eye-view observations on 2021, over at ICv2, covering the direct market highs and lows, in a year that could comfortably be described as ‘tumultuous’ for brick-and-mortar store owners.
• Continuing this year’s ongoing best-ofs round-ups round-up, and this week we have offerings from Nerdist and The New York Times as to which comics should take 2021’s top spots, and a list focused on work with a Canadian connection from CBC.
• Meanwhile, going once more for the ultimate line in granularity, Multiversity Comics’ assessment of the finest comics and creators that 2021 had to offer includes rankings of 2021’s breakout writers and artists, and best licensed comics, reprints, digital comics, webcomics, anthologies, one-shots, and single issues with yet more to come.
• Mike Peterson rounds up the editorial beat, over at The Daily Cartoonist, during a week in which the wave function of a quantum party collapsed, Olympic boycotts left diplomats with nowhere to go, the contagion of fake news continues, as does that of fascism.
• On the open-access academic front, for Litera: The Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Rafael Carpintero looks at Hergé’s The Seven Crystal Balls, and how its varied publication formats can be analysed using Thierry Groensteen’s principle of iconic solidarity.
Miles & His Amazing Friends pic.twitter.com/HoSBGBv7Qx
— Michel Fiffe (@MichelFiffe) December 14, 2021
Now with 60% more sleigh bells… This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Starting this week’s multimedia selection with a fresh edition of Comix Experience’s Graphic Novel of the Month: Masterpiece Edition, here at TCJ, as Brian Hibbs spoke with Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo about Enigma, the book’s new reprinted edition, the contemporary cultural forces that drove the creation of the story, and upcoming projects.
• The Los Angeles Public Library hosted a talk between Jaime Hernandez and Javier Cabral, as they discussed writing characters over a span of decades, speaking for yourself through stories, depicting the LA punk scene, and creative process from script to panels (starts around the 4 minute mark).
• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden convened once more to appraise the Thick Lines of Tara Booth’s Nocturne and Gina Wynbrandt’s Someone Please Have Sex with Me, plus absolution for those who can only draw faces from one specific angle.
• The US National Archives hosted a virtual lecture from Jeremy Dauber on the history of American comics, from newspaper strips through to the ubiquity of graphic novels in bookstores and libraries across the nation (starts around the 3 minute mark).
• Over at Solrad, Alex Hoffman hosted a panel discussion with the creators and publisher of kuš! comics’ š! #43 Queer Power, speaking about how they approached their varied work for the anthology.
• Christopher Butcher hosted this week’s edition of Mangasplaining, as the team took a look at Satoru Noda’s Golden Kamuy Volume 1, and how well the opening book of this long-running series stands on its own as a piece of storytelling.
• Gil Roth welcomed Nora Krug to The Virtual Memories Show this week, as they discussed On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, the origins of the graphic novel adaptation of the source material, and visual literacy of your average reader in 2021.
• Kieron Gillen joined David Harper for this week’s edition of Off Panel, as they spoke about diving back into Marvel continuity, and avoiding superhero team book typecasting.
• Cartoonist Kayfabe ending the year as they started it, with a series of videos about comicked books, as this week Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg took a look at Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima's Lone Wolf and Cub, Sam Kieth’s The Maxx, Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane creations and confrontations, Dale Keown’s Pitt, Peter Bagge’s Hate, and Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library.
• Closing out the week with an interview episode of Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come, as Calvin Reid spoke with Siena Siegel and Mark Siegel about Tiny Dancer, and the technicalities of ballet footwork.
— yukke (@yu_kk_e) December 16, 2021
Alright, that’s your lot for this week, back again in slightly less than a week with the final round-up of 2021, which is in no way a terrifying thing to think about and then write down!
Tatsu bringing the holiday cheer! 🎄 pic.twitter.com/M9tRqqZuwX
— VIZ (@VIZMedia) December 16, 2021