Well, it happened again. You can’t turn your back for more than a minute, the comics industry being akin to an unruly toddler at their most troublesome, without some kind of corporate upheaval taking place.
Along with a return of The Great Gatsby, as copyright expired, these new ‘20’s seem determined to take that whole “may you live in interesting times” idea, and roll with it to the inevitable conclusion of all things, so why not check out the latest round of The Chaos, with This Week’s Links, below.
Here’s an NFT but it’s not an NFT so trade freely and widely pic.twitter.com/S8RSCpMuJR
— GEEZER’S BUTLER (@CHIRPENDALE) May 14, 2021
 days since our last market shake-up… This week’s news.
• After a year that saw streaming platforms contributing to record demand for manga and comic books, the other shoe dropped at the weekend, as DC Comics’ parent corporation, AT&T, decided to roll the antitrust dice again, and usher in a merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery, part of the ongoing evolution of digital content delivery platforms - I’m running out of ways to describe the chaotic state of DC’s business engagements, so let’s just stick with “turbulent” - The Beat has a summary of the wheeling and a-dealing, while The Hollywood Reporter looks back at DC’s journey through the corporate landscape.
• Meanwhile, as the above story broke, it was announced that Alex Segura will no longer be co-president of Archie Comics, and will instead be (deep breath) senior v-p of sales and marketing at the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group, while Jamie Lee Rotante and Ron Cacace see themselves promoted within the Archie ranks. Spring is here, and industry maneuvering season has begun! May gods have mercy on us all.
• The sad news was shared this week that M. Thomas Inge, comics scholar and author of Comics as Culture, has passed away, aged 85 - Virginia Commonwealth University posted a remembrance of Inge's academic achievements, and contributions to the university's comics art collection.
• News arrived at the end of the week that Kentaro Miura, creator of Berserk, died on the 6th of May, aged 54 - Kotaku has a translation of the announcement and accompanying statement from Young Animal, and an outpouring of tributes to the mangaka on social media was accompanied by obituaries at The Guardian, The Washington Post, Multiversity Comics, The Beat, NeoText, and SYFY Wire, amongst others.
— Jillian Tamaki (@dirtbagg) May 18, 2021
Demanding nothing but the best… This week’s reviews.
• Tegan O’Neil reviews the signature groove of Richard Sala’s Poison Flowers & Pandemonium - “[Sala] loved silent movies, Fantomas, Edward Gorey, Famous Monsters of Filmland. It’s a recognizable and fertile vein, similar to that popularized by the likes of Tim Burton but hardly exclusive to film or fashion. Sala seems distinctive on account of appearing very near to goth without ever actually being goth. I think it has something to do with the fact that even if they utilize the same primary sources there’s no hint of punkish confrontation with the present, only nostalgia. Sala’s list of genre referents stops more or less at the 70s, with a small dollop of Hanna-Barbera. His pastiche is loving and very idiosyncratic.”
• Leonard Pierce reviews the kinetic strengths of John Wagner, Colin MacNeil, Carlos Ezquerra, et al’s Judge Dredd: Guatemala - “The politics of the series have always been difficult to plumb; Dredd is a dystopian authority figure set against a remorselessly grim backdrop, his only likable qualities being his ruthless efficiency and expertise at killing. He has been invoked both to satirize right-wing law and order tropes and to defend them, often in the same stories, by the same authors. Dredd is a comic book reflection of Truffaut’s legendary statement about the impossibility of making a true anti-war film, because “to show something is to ennoble it”; as much as the material winks at us, we’re still led to delight in it because there he is, being a bad-ass for our delectation.”
• Joe McCulloch reviews the crowdsourced sentimentality of Ilan Manouach’s Peanuts minus Schulz - “Ask yourself: is this mystery play not a drama of today? Anybody who has been to the movies or looked at memes in the past three years can tell you that Thanos is more a storehouse of affective investment than the authored work of Jim Starlin. And, when you are posting memes online, or logging a contrarian take on Letterboxd, or commenting "Joe, this is ridiculous and you have again wasted our time" via Disqus on TCJ dot com, you are performing value-adding work on behalf of those platforms.”
• David Brooke reviews the stomach-turning horror of Alex Paknadel, Juan Ferreyra, et al’s Immortal Hulk: Time of Monsters #1.
• Dan Spinelli reviews the confusing charms of Mark Russell, Sean Izaakse, et al’s Fantastic Four: Life Story #1.
• Colin Moon reviews the clunky pessimism of Joe Ollmann’s Fictional Father.
• Ryan Perry reviews the flawed promise of Joelle Jones, Jordie Bellaire, et al’s Wonder Girl #1.
• Rory Wilding reviews the punk genre-clash of Dan Watters and Caspar Wijngaard’s Home Sick Pilots Volume 1.
John Seven reviews the complicated contemplation of Joe Ollmann’s Fictional Father.
• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the cramped struggles of Al Ewing, Simone Di Meo, et al’s We Only Find Them When They’re Dead Volume 1.
House to Astonish
Paul O’Brien reviews the unremarkable randomness of Steve Orlando, Andrea Broccardo, et al’s X-Men: Curse of the Man-Thing #1.
Ysabelle Cheung reviews the poignant vignettes of Aminder Dhaliwal’s Cyclopedia Exotica.
Have starred capsule reviews of:
- The engaging sweetness of Mika Song’s Apple of my Pie.
- The compelling optimism of Eleanor Crewes’ Lilla the Accidental Witch.
- The insightful catharsis of Charise Mericle Harper and Rory Lucey’s Bad Sister.
• Christopher Chiu-Tabet reviews the curious introduction of Stephanie Cooke, Insha Fitzpatrick, Juliana Moon, et al's Oh My Gods!.
• Robbie Pleasant reviews the uneven entertainment of Gene Luen Yang, Dike Ruan, et al's Shang-Chi #1.
• Kobi Bordoley reviews the engrossing impact of Julio Anta, Anna Wieszczyk, et al's Home #2.
• Ryan Carey reviews the stiff history of David F. Walker and Marcus Kwame Anderson’s The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History.
• Charles Hatfield reviews the decorous adventure of Liniers' Wildflowers.
Women Write About Comics
Wendy Browne reviews the early possibilities of Tini Howard, Alberto Foche, et al’s X-CORP #1.
"Rush Hour" // mini comic pic.twitter.com/4NxpPJKY51
— Gizem Vural (@gizem__vural) May 19, 2021
Yoghurt pot telephones… This week’s interviews.
Ian Thomas interviews Eddie Raymond about Strangers, its evolution from fanzine to small press publisher and distributor, finding gold buried in the dollar bins, and diversifying the coverage that Strangers provides - “So many of the comics I hold near and dear have pitches that are so off the wall that they border on asinine. "Planet of the Apes but they’re in a biker gang." That’s the coolest shit I could ever imagine. Comics is a medium where you can literally do whatever the fuck you want, and it seems so silly that people would waste it with art comics or something critics would describe as ‘pushing the medium forward’. Myself and my readers just really want to see two mech robots fighting each other with chainsaws, but not done by someone who’s just waiting until Marvel or DC picks them up for the next Teen Titans book.”
• Christopher Franey talks to Lowell Dean about Atomic Victory Squad, career and character origins, and bringing a team together.
• Davide Brooke speaks with Megan Huang about Rangers of the Divide, creating alien ecosystems, less being more for storytelling purposes, and video game inspirations.
• Chris Coplan chats to Jeremy Holt and George Schall about Made in Korea, crafting a fresh cautionary AI tale in 2021, graphical influences, and balancing big-picture with little-details.
• Nancy Powell interviews Ram V and Filipe Andrade about The Many Deaths of Laila Starr, the many conceptions of death, and the many interests of deities.
• Heidi MacDonald chats with Dan Fogler and Ben Templesmith about Fishkill, convention meetings, and leaning into the conspiracy theory vibe.
• Kerry Vineberg talks to Will McPhail about IN, where a zoology degree comes in handy, pacing things out for graphic novel storytelling, and telling a story with themes of isolation during a pandemic.
• Joe Grunenwald interviews Glenn Head about Chartwell Manor, being upfront with readers, reaching the point of being ready to recount certain experiences, and depicting the consequences of human behavior.
• Avery Kaplan speaks with KC Green about Funny Online Animals hitting syndication, the fascination of memes, the inevitability of cartoons, and revisiting the work of Scott McCloud; talks to Jeremy Holt and George Schall about Made in Korea, the genesis of the project, designing a (possible) future, and the crux of artificial intelligence narratives; and interviews Eric Anthony Glover and Arielle Jovellanos about Black Star, world-building intimacy, and emotion through color.
• Frederik Hautain speaks with Jeff Lemire about Sweet Tooth, creative processes, characters as the core to building a story, and career-defining stories.
• Andy Oliver talks to Sayra Begum about Mongrel, comic book alter egos, memory subjectivity, and rewarding feedback.
Oliver Sava speaks with Keiler Roberts, as well as her publishers, about My Begging Chart, paths for professional artists, and Animal Crossing.
Jim McLauchlin interviews Jami Jones about Atlanta’s Infinite Realities, how to stock a store, business in a community, and comics eventing.
Michael Tisserand speaks with Benjamin Marra about What We Mean By Yesterday, author/reader relationships, author photos, and satire via genre fiction.
Tuck Woodstock, Ethan X. Parker and Delta Vasquez present a graphic interview with activist Fran Tirado, speaking about 2020’s march for Black Trans lives in Brooklyn, and protesting during a pandemic.
• Heidi MacDonald speaks with Lee Lai about Stone Fruit, story/art quality balance in graphic novels, and offering up writing for critique.
• Gilcy Aquino chats to Remy Lai about maintaining a child-like perspective, trusting your editor, and canine inspirations.
Mike Avila talks to Mark Russell about Not All Robots, social media inspirations, unplanned obsolescence, and humor as a delivery system for blunt truths.
Women Write About Comics
Wendy Browne interviews:
- Chris Roberson and Leila del Duca about Mysteries of The House of Lost Horizons and character inspirations.
- Paul Cornell and Sally Cantirino about I Walk With Monsters and effective horror.
- Glenn Head about Chartwell Manor and the liberation of sharing a personal story of abuse.
— Molly Mendoza (@thisismollym) May 19, 2021
Punch it up a bit, add a car chase… This week’s features and comics.
• Here at TCJ, Robert Newsome and Tucker Stone write in remembrance of Patrick Dean, who passed away last week - per Newsome, “Stubborn to the end, Patrick continued to draw even as ALS stole his ability to move. As his mobility decreased, his drawing style adapted to the changes. When he could no longer move his arms and hands, he started creating works using eyegaze technology. Quickly adapting to this new way of creating, Patrick’s eyegaze works are immediately recognizable as his own, retaining his distinct lines, heavy shadows and, above all, his sense of playfulness. Patrick leaves behind a vast network of friends and family, a testament to his gregarious nature. His death leaves a crater in the Athens comics community, but the impact ripples out across this network as well.”
• Also for TCJ, originally printed in issue 304 and now appearing on the site, Kim Jooha writes on the works of Ilan Manouach, and the critical commentary on the comics medium that they embody - “Manouach pulls the veil off of ideologies behind matters that are assumed to be apolitical in the medium — formats, colors, printings, translation, character design — and demonstrates how indifferent comics discourse has been toward these matters. Ilan Manouach’s comics don’t have to be read panel by panel to understand them. It is the very act of making them that manifests the artist’s message. Some critics argue whether these works should be regarded as comics or not, which I find unproductive nitpicking. It is more constructive to regard them as Conceptual Comics — or Expanded Comics — and start asking questions that actually matter.”
• Kim Jooha also has a piece up at Solrad, laying out the concept of Navigating Space Comics, namely, “comics that are interested in exploring space instead of characters, emotions, or plot development”, suggesting various examples that help define the genre.
• For The New Yorker, Jeff Maysh tells the story of cartoonist Arno Funke, aka Dagobert, and the connection between Donald Duck comics and a very odd (and popular) crime spree.
• Over at NeoText, Chloe Maveal writes in praise of Kevin Maguire’s work on Justice League, and charts the parallel through-lines of Lindsay Anderson’s If… and the adventures of a particular scouse psychic in Grant Morrison et al’s The Invisibles.
• Cementing the adage that I just coined that “you know there’s gold in them hills when the markets take notice”, writing for Nikkei Asia, Kotaro Hosokawa rounds up the recent battles for supremacy in the domain of South Korean webcomics.
• Shelfdust provide some mutant musings, as Dan Grote writes on Peter Winston Wisdom’s quality as a character in spite of his progenitor, and Gregory Paul Silber writes on Uncanny X-Men #324’s lack of quality being entirely down to its writer.
• For 13th Dimension, Paul Kupperberg continues his series of features, this time around picking a selection of personal favorite back-up comics from across the DC, Marvel, and Charlton lines.
• Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s political cartooning, over at The Daily Cartoonist, as pens were drawn over in-fighting in the war room, human rights seemingly not applying to all humans, a grab-bag of the various disasters 2021 has served up thus far, and more attempts to cover the ethnic cleansing taking place in Gaza.
• On the open-access academia front, writing in The Journal of the American College of Radiology, Dr David Schulman et al present a study on the use of comics as teaching tools to reduce student anxiety on calculating elusive P values.
• Some recent longform comics action, as here at TCJ Richard Short and Breakdown Press provide a preview of Haway Man, Klaus!; for The Lily, Katie Wheeler explores the concept of motherhood, and Brittany Long Olsen preps for mental health emergencies; for The Nib, Amber Cortes and Carl Nelson report on how COVID-19 is exacerbating America’s homelessness crisis, and Tom Humberstone documents the racism inherent in animation history; while over at NPR, LA Johnson and Eda Uzunlar share the experience of a special education teacher during the pandemic, and Ruth Tam and Connie Hanzhang Jin provide a graphic guide to intervening when witnessing someone being harassed.
Recent fan arts over the last year - Nausicaä, Deathface Ginny, Femto Griffith, Darth Vader pic.twitter.com/OfmiPm5ZQO
— Ian MacEwan (@ianmacewan) May 14, 2021
Pomp and/or circumstance… This week’s recommended watching and easy-listening.
• Shary Flenniken celebrated the launch of the long-awaited Trots and Bonnie collection by speaking to Sarah Glidden about its publication, lessons from improv theatre, and dip-pen process tips (starts around the 5m30s mark).
• Celebrating another of last week’s big graphic novel launches, BookPage’s Christy Lynch talked to Alison Bechdel about The Secret To Superhuman Strength, feeding birds during the pandemic, the difference in telling stories for fun and for a living, and the pains of getting older.
• The Believer and The Black Mountain Institute hosted a new cartooning workshop, as Bianca Stone took viewers through making poetry comics, focusing on using a poem as a jumping-off point for comic making, rather than getting into the why and wherefore of the genre.
• Another variety pack of comix old and new on Cartoonist Kayfabe this week, as Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor took a look at the covers of early Love and Rockets, and turned the pages of Dave Sim and Carson Grubaugh’s The Strange Death of Alex Raymond, Fist of the North Star, X-Men and The New Teen Titans, and Troy Nixey’s Bill the Clown, plus there’s some bonus Piskor on this week’s Word Balloon with John Siuntres, for those so inclined.
• Brian Hibbs hosted a new edition of Comix Experience’s Graphic Novel of the Month Club, as Brenna Thummler discussed Delicates, shifting from illustration to comics, economy of form when laying out panels, and the emotions of storytelling process.
• Noah Van Sciver hosted a fresh cartoonist chat, speaking with Glenn Head about Chartwell Manor, comic creators who quit the form, anthology editing secrets, and lessons learned from films and documentaries.
• Jeff Smith joined David Brooke and Nathan Simmons to talk Tuki on this week’s AIPT podcast, discussing the flow problems encountered when collecting a webcomic, and what happens when you start from scratch on a project.
• Christopher Butcher hosted this week’s edition of Mangasplaining, as the team discussed the 20th Anniversary Edition of Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss, getting into deep spoiler country, and what audience the book is aimed at, along with some of the contentious beats in the story.
• SILENCE! rang out through the reviewniverse once more, as The Beast Must Die and Gary Lactus continued their journey through comics of the 80s and 90s, plus brief discussion of a more modern release, this week focusing on some Alan Moore greatest hits and girls comics of Ye Olde Englande.
• David Harper welcomed Ed Brubaker to this week’s Off Panel, as they spoke about Friend of the Devil, writing for the graphic novel format, collaborations with Sean Phillips, and character growth.
— Tom the Dancing Bug, by Ruben Bolling (@RubenBolling) May 15, 2021
All done for this week, zero clue what next week might bring, so let’s reconvene soon and compare notes, before sighing and parting once more.
— Tom Gauld (@tomgauld) May 16, 2021