Another big week in the world of digital comics, as book deals were signed for series both old and new, and another content platform found itself on the receiving end of a multimillion dollar investment, as spiking demand for reading material bumps up against supply problems in the world of printing, and a global manga shortage hits.
Things are pretty interesting in this space at the moment, and I’m looking ahead to the inevitable Adam McKay motion picture that will feature Olivia Rodrigo or Billie Eilish recounting the collector boom-and-crash of the early 20s. In the meantime, just don’t forget that the influencers rigged the market over a year ago, and have since cashed out to instead enact their colonialist fantasies off the back of that.
So, as always, if you try sometimes, well, you just might find, you get what you need (if what you need are this week’s links, below).
— Nauy (@ke_nauy) July 24, 2021
It's 4am, do you know where your car is?… This week’s news.
• Last weekend saw the 33rd Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards take place, virtually, as part of 2021’s [email protected], with Gene Luen Yang taking home three prizes at the top of the leaderboard, and pairs of awards going to Simon Hanselmann, Adrian Tomine, Ed Brubaker, Junji Ito, Stan Sakai, Matt Fraction, and Steve Lieber - a full round-up of this year’s award winners can be found here.
• Monday then saw the announcement of the 50th Annual Japan Cartoonists Association Awards, with Koyoharu Gotouge's Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba and Joruju Piroshiki's NEW NORMAL! taking home grand prizes, and Keito Koume's War's Unwomanly Face winning the Manga Kingdom Tottori Award - Anime News Network has a full rundown of this year’s winners here.
• Zainab Akhtar announced that ShortBox will no longer be attending this year’s Thought Bubble Festival, citing the attendance of Frank Miller at 2021’s convention, and his “propagation of abhorrent anti-Muslim hate” - the festival eventually rescinded Miller’s invite, after a fairly lengthy period of radio silence, apologising for this chain of events, which then somehow became even more complicated, and the entire debacle ended up being used as a dog whistle by racists, proving, yet again, that Islamophobia is an ongoing and pernicious issue for the comics community, as if further proof of that was really needed at this point.
• Harris Bomberguy, Kat Lo, and Angie Wang have announced The Brainmind Residency, a virtual mentoring and mini-grant fund for emerging artists, seeking out BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ artists in comics, and other creative fields, with five mentorships of three months available, along with a grant of $2,000 to each recipient - applications are open now, and close on August 10th.
• Here at TCJ, Joe McCulloch announced that he is now the co-editor of this very site, with Tucker Stone, and that there are plans afoot - read the full announcement, and join in with congratulating Joe in the comments, here.
Ok finally had an excuse to draw Cable. pic.twitter.com/sgFcnfW2zq
— $corpion Millionaire (@ohnosam) July 24, 2021
The most complete creators in the world… This week’s reviews.
• Timothy Callahan reviews the unrelenting juxtapositions of Steve Aylett’s Hyperthick #1 - “Where Hyperthick #1 fails is in its excesses, but its excesses are implied right in the very title of the comic, so it seems it has achieved its goals in that regard. There’s a muchness here, including many separate stories – at least six, maybe more if you count the text pages – with different genres, varying public domain art styles, and aggressively banal lettering choices.”
• Brian Nicholson reviews the lifeless punchlines of Aminder Dhaliwal’s Cyclopedia Exotica - “To a certain extent, some fault must lay with the two-page strip format that dominates the book, which simply isn’t that good of a comedic rhythm. It lacks the punchiness of four-panel gags, nor does any kind of rolling comic momentum ever really build. There’s just this flabbiness that leaves room for reaction shots that accomplish nothing.”
• Colin Moon reviews the quiet confidence of Manuele Fior’s Celestia, translated by Jamie Richards.
• Ryan Sonneville reviews the brisk whimsy of Kaeti Vandorn’s Monster Friends.
• Alex Cline reviews the enjoyable beginnings of Mika Yamamori’s In the Clear Moonlit Dusk Volume 1.
• Jordan Richards reviews the winning humour of Hajime Kōmoto’s Mashle: Magic and Muscles Volume 1.
• Lia Kolb reviews the loveable charms of Ryan K. Lindsay and Sebastian Piriz’ Black Beacon #1.
• Avery Kaplan reviews the affecting trauma of Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters’ Sandcastle, translated by Nora Mashony, re-released due to its inspiring M. Night Shyamalan’s latest cinematic endeavour.
• Zoe Tunnell reviews the insubstantial pulp of Kaare Kyle Andrews’ Amazing Fantasy #1.
• Lindsay Pereira reviews the intermittent beauty of Brandon Montclare, Frank Marraffino, et al’s The Final Symphony: A Beethoven Anthology.
• Andy Oliver reviews:
- The wry eclecticism of Chad Bilyeu, et al’s Chad In Amsterdam #1-5.
- The lively idiosyncrasies of Radiator Comics’ Spiny Orb Weaver #2 & 3.
- The compelling journalism of Florian Grosset’s The Chagos Betrayal: How Britain Robbed an Island and Made Its People Disappear.
Gary Tyrrell reviews the satisfying vibrancy of Nidhi Chanani’s Jukebox.
Four Color Apocalypse
Rachel Cooke reviews the deft epiphanies of Lizzy Stewart’s It’s Not What You Thought It Would Be.
House To Astonish
Paul O’Brien reviews the grand plan of Jonathan Hickman, Phil Noto, Brett Booth, Mahmud Asrar, Francesco Mobili, et al’s X-Men #16-21.
Nick Smith has capsule reviews of:
- The cartoony practicality of Franckie Alarcon’s The Secrets of Chocolate.
- The enjoyable mysteries of Alex Segura, Monica Gallagher, and George Kambadais’ The Black Ghost Volume 1: Hard Revolution.
- The distracting surprises of Nathalie Ferlut and Tamia Baudoin’s Artemisia.
Have starred capsule reviews of:
- The compelling dynamism of Trang Nguyen and Jeet Zdung’s Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear.
- The rare surrealism of Jon Agee’s Otto: A Palindrama.
- The refreshing complexity of Kelly Fernández' ¡¡Manu!!.
- The bold heart of Rosena Fung's Living With Viola.
• Brian Salvatore reviews the bold gravitas of Tim Sheridan, Clayton Henry, et al’s Shazam #1.
• Christopher Egan reviews the thoughtful emotions of Cullen Bunn, Emily Schnall, et al’s Tales From Harrow County: Fair Folk #1.
• Gregory Ellner reviews the distinct marvels of Kaare Kyle Andrews' Amazing Fantasy #1.
The New York Times
Hillary Chute reviews the harrowing details of Kristen Radtke's Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, the impressive warmth of Lizzy Stewart's It’s Not What You Thought It Would Be, and the engaging urgency of Anne Carson and Rosanna Bruno's The Trojan Women.
Etelka Lehoczky reviews the organic alienation of Manuele Fior’s Celestia, translated by Jamie Richards.
Rich Wilhelm reviews the evocative details of Sergio Rossi and Giovanni Scarduelli's Edward Hopper: The Story of His Life.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The uncomplicated poignancy of Koren Shadmi Lugosi: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Dracula.
- The timeless melodrama of Greg Ruth and Ethan Hawke’s Meadowlark: A Coming-of-Age Crime Story.
- The evolving focus of Jaime Hernandez’ Queen of the Ring: Wrestling Drawings by Jaime Hernandez 1980–2020.
- The pointed immediacy of Lizzy Stewart’s It’s Not What You Thought It Would Be.
- The brief intrigues of Valentina Grande and Eva Rossetti’s The Women Who Changed Art Forever: Feminist Art–The Graphic Novel, translated by Edward Fortes.
- The empathetic meditation of Weng Pixin’s Let’s Not Talk Anymore.
Ryan Carey reviews the insular glee of Shaky Kane and Krent Able’s Kane & Able.
Women Write About Comics
• Emily Lauer reviews the satisfying nuance of Mariko Tamaki, Yoshi Yoshitani, et al’s I Am Not Starfire.
• Masha Zhdanova reviews the appealing conciseness of Hun and Jimmy’s Navillera: Like a Butterfly.
• Melissa Brinks reviews the striking juxtaposition of Eric Palicki, Wendell Cavalcanti, et al’s Black’s Myth #1.
• Wendy Browne reviews the disconnected indifference of Cullen Bunn, Leila Leiz, et al’s The Last Book You'll Ever Read #1.
• Adrienne Resha reviews the dramatic reintroduction of Jed MacKay, Alessandro Cappuccio, et al’s Moon Knight #1.
Song from Ghost in the Shell is playing at the Judo stadium…I like it…柔道会場に流れるゴーストインザシェルの音楽に反応する私 pic.twitter.com/V7TMSH2B07
— Aya Kakeda (@AyaKakeda) July 27, 2021
Promotional materials… This week’s interviews.
Warren Craighead interviews Simon Moreton about WHERE?, making peace with loss, suburban culture, and trial and error - “Mixing words and pictures [in WHERE?] was really important to me. I’ve spent a decade and a bit making comics, so whatever I was going to produce was going to involve pictures. At the same time, since starting my zine Minor Leagues in 2016, I’ve been experimenting with prose, and what happens when you mix that with comics.”
• Chris Coplan talks to Lizzy Stewart about It’s Not What You Thought It Would Be, storytelling and drawing, shorter stories coming together to form a larger whole, and the joys of dialogue.
• Ben Morin speaks with Tom Taylor about Superman: Son of Kal-El, playing with continuity, superhero team-ups, and creating a cast.
• Avery Kaplan talks to Dave Baker and Nicole Goux about Everyone Is Tulip, keeping character actions understandable, internet fame realities, and social media aesthetics; and Sophia Glock about Passport, forging a path to comics through a traditional arts education, the pain of fictionalising your life, and the emotional process of acquiring CIA permission to publish a book.
• Deanna Destito speaks with Jimmy Palmiotti about RAGE, going the crowdfunding route, bringing together a team focused on compelling visual storytelling, and on-screen adaptations; and Cullen Bunn about The Last Book You’ll Ever Read, dark corners of the mind, perfect artistic visions, and the terror of beginnings.
Andy Oliver chats with Alxndra Cook about Kiyomi’s Prequel and Wednesday’s Child, offering work not all illustrators can, animation influences, and comics as therapy.
Sean Z talks to Bon Idle about Henshin!, childhood animation memories, growing a story from a single-issue idea to an ongoing series, and designing a cast that is representative rather than performative.
Brian Salvatore interviews Scott Snyder about that big new deal with comiXology, fitting the digital format to the book, what the Best Jackett imprint is all about, and digital deals in the bricks and mortar retail space.
• Ryan Carey talks to Glenn Head about Chartwell Manor, the long gestation of the book, things to keep in mind when drawing an autobio story, and what’s on the horizon.
• Josh Hicks speaks with Katie Skelly about editing Jaime Hernandez’ Queen of the Ring, the creative tendencies of a true Libra, an obsession with Jucika, and the emotional fit for genres.
Matthew Jackson interviews Tom Taylor about Superman: Son of Kal-El and Superman’s radical origins; and Reginald Hudlin, Leon Chills, and Doug Braithwaite about Icon and Rocket: Season One and putting Black characters at the forefront of stories.
Women Write About Comics
Wendy Browne speaks with Lizzy Stewart about It’s Not What You Thought It Would, thematic consistency, keeping things ordinary, and stylistic experimentation.
‘I’m gonna draw a scooter it’ll be fun’ ???????????? pic.twitter.com/N9VtzfaoS9
— Nicole Rifkin???? (@nicole_rifkin) July 28, 2021
Bringing home the gold… This week’s features.
• Here at TCJ, Tom Shapira tips a hat to the Weird Western Tales: Jonah Hex Omnibus, the standards of a cowboy living out the great American Myth, and the deadeye pencilling of Tony DeZuniga - “There’s something wonderful about the pretense-free nature of these stories. The cities are corrupt, yes, but the frontier as well. The simple, honest folk of the westward expansion are just as big a bunch of assholes as the various robbers and killers that plague them; and the biggest asshole of them all is Hex himself. A man whose hideous face hides… often equally as ugly a soul. Nothing solemn about him or the way he acts. An ugly man for an ugly world.”
• Also for TCJ, Kim Jooha presents an expanded essay from TCJ #305, looking at the interconnectivity between comics and collage, and the artists who explore this - “Comics and collage both operate in two layers: surface appearance (page) and the underlying source (panel). The ontology of component original images -- such as space, time, methods, and medium of the source images of collage -- disappears, and the new distinct ontology of the page -- such as spacetime or the narrative of comics -- appears.”
• Over at The Guardian, Rich Pelley presents a brief oral history of Viz, from co-creators Simon Donald and Chris Donald, including the inspiration of Gilbert Shelton's comics.
• For Shelfdust, Steve Morris returns to unravelling Journey Into Mystery, as both secrets and mysteries are piled atop one another in Exiled #1; and Rebecca Kaplan shares the empowering nature of West Coast Avengers’ Big Bertha, and the importance of media literacy (and the media’s role) in understanding unhealthy beauty standards [content warning for discussion of eating disorders].
• A few pieces from NeoText, as Sergio Lopez writes on the rise of the pastiche comic in the 90s, and their reflection of wider storytelling trends in the history of comics, and the outsiders who created them; Justin Harrison examines Todd McFarlane’s ‘Perceptions’ storyline in Spider-Man, and the manner in which it is both harmonious and discordant with Twin Peaks; and Cole Hornaday looks back at the creation of Doctor Strange, and the character’s embracing of spiritualism’s exploitation of tropes of Oriental exoticism.
• Elizabeth Sandifer’s Last War In Albion continues, focusing once more on Grant Morrison, charting the incremental construction of Arkham Asylum in DC’s various continuities, and Arkham Asylum’s invocation of the triple goddess, conspicuous due to the absence otherwise of female roles in the story.
• For The New York Times, Aurelien Breeden covers the French government’s Culture Pass app scheme, that gives 18-year-olds €300 to spend on cultural purchases, and the apparent surprise that a large number of those involved chose to buy manga, instead of “Proust’s greatest works or to line up and see Molière”. Incidentally, earlier this month, Publisher’s Weekly reported that book sales in France fell by 2.3% in 2020, while manga and graphic novel sales rose by 29%.
• A strong week on the open-access academia front, as Parisa Vaziri examines an instance of cartoon blackface in a 1960s comic strip from Iranian magazine Sipīd ū Sīyāh, and sets forth the failings of existing frameworks when deconstructing such examples; Yi-Chun Chen and Arnav Jhala present a baseline computational model for comprehending manga, along with a dataset to compare Japanese comics to their western counterparts; Daniel Stein explores the white supremacy, and lynch mob origins, inherent in the superhero genre, and the manner in which comics such as Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner and Jeremy Love’s Bayou offer alternative frameworks through which to view this; and Nilakshi Goswami writes on the narratives of Amar Chitra Katha, the first indigenous children’s comics in India, and the re-presentation of history found therein.
— Tom Gauld (@tomgauld) July 25, 2021
An eternal fanfare… This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Last weekend, as I’m sure you’re all painfully aware, saw this year’s edition of [email protected] take place on the world wide web, and there are (or were, as of yesterday, when last I checked) 371 video events for you to consume, running for between 15-75 minutes, so say an average of 45 minutes, which would roughly pan out as around 11 and a half days worth of constant viewing, so have at it. One individual video I’d flag up is this year’s Best & Worst Manga panel, which didn’t take place as part of official programming, so you can find that here.
• Thick Lines returned, and this week Katie Skelly and Sally Madden were tackling the life and times of one Mr Joseph Dredd, and his journey into The Cursed Earth, as the British sense of humour was litigated and found wanting.
• Ayesha Rascoe was guest host of this week’s edition of NPR’s It’s Been A Minute, interviewing Emilia Clarke about Mother of Madness, and the life experiences drawn on for it.
• The real Matt Lune returned to host Shelfdust Presents this week, as Ro Stein joined proceedings to discuss Junpei Inuzuka and Takaaki Kugatsu’s Restaurant To Another World Volume 1, and the variety of genres that Japanese comics cover compared to western counterparts.
• Another varied week of #content from Cartoonist Kayfabe as Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg, and Tom Scioli took a little look through issues #400 of Batman and Superman, Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier, The Best of Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, Todd McFarlane’s work in Infinity, Inc., and Charles Burns’ Close Your Eyes sketchbook.
• A couple of livestreams from Comix Experience this week, as Brian Hibbs spoke to Alison Bechdel about The Secret to Superhuman Strength for July’s Graphic Novel of the Month book club; and Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Chris Ryall about Locke and Key for this month’s Masterpiece Selection.
• 2000 AD pressed play on a fresh Lockdown Tape, as MOLCH-R spoke with Scott Weatherly, Julian Darius, and Tony Farino about Sequart’s new collection of essays on Mega City One’s sternest lawman, Judging Dredd, and the mirror that the character holds up to contemporary society.
• Dan Berry welcomed Jenny Robins to Make It Then Tell Everybody this week, as they discussed teaching, not shortchanging the reader, and the importance of details or lack thereof.
• David Brothers hosts this week’s episode of Mangasplaining, as the team discussed Katsuhisa Kigitsu’s Franken Fran Volumes 1&2, the messed-up contents to be found therein, and a sponsored manga blind date with Haro Aso and Kotaro Takata’s ZOM 100.
shy ones pic.twitter.com/CBa0ABoZa5
— ○ (@maruti_bitamin) July 29, 2021
That’s all for this week, more links soon, because in this time the most precious substance in the Universe is content.
— Jon Chandler (@NewmanCruise) July 29, 2021