Ah, spring is finally here, and I can watch the parakeets (emphatically not released by Jimi Hendrix) eating blossom off the tree outside my office window - a lovely, serene suburban scene, that I am sure will in no way be interrupted by breaking entertainment news that could have massive ramifications for the direct market’s biggest publisher - anyway, time to sit in front of my laptop and take a big sip of my drink once more, before opening up my news feed to compile this week’s links, below.
— Mooncash🏳️🌈 (@mooncash_) March 28, 2023
This week’s news.
• Starting the week with the continuation of a fractious quarter at The Walt Disney Company, as planned layoffs of 7,000 jobs, around 3% of the company’s workforce, enacted as part of a drive to cut costs by $5.5 billion, turned out to include one Isaac ‘Ike’ Perlmutter the (now former) Chairman of Marvel Entertainment, as well as Marvel Entertainment Co-President Rob Steffens and Chief Counsel John Turitzin. The layoffs are accompanied by a decision to integrate Marvel Entertainment (and thus Marvel Comics) into “larger Disney business units,” with Wikipedia now listing that company as ‘defunct’, as of one day ago, as the organisation presumably looks to streamline its transmedia verticals and neatly fold the House of Ideas up into the House of Mouse, at a time when the question of how much Cinematic Universe is too much Cinematic Universe is being answered - no word yet as to whether this will involve further layoffs, like those seen at DC during similar restructuring, but it is 2023, and the font size of the writing on the wall is increasing at a rate of knots.
• Court news, and the Internet Archive lost the first battle to defend the operation of its National Emergency Library, and its deviation from the previously held norms of ‘controlled digital lending’ - the Internet Archive announced they would be appealing the court’s decision, and stated that “For democracy to thrive at global scale, libraries must be able to sustain their historic role in society—owning, preserving, and lending books.”
• Crime news, and ICv2 reports on the theft of 50 rare Marvel Comics from the Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum in Indiana - a list of the comics stolen, which includes a copy of Captain America #1 from 1941, can be found at the link above, and a crowdfunding campaign to cover repairs to the damages caused can be donated to here.
• Awards news, and R. Kikuo Johnson becomes the first cartoonist to win a Whiting Award in fiction, while the National Cartoonists Society Foundation announced that Sasha Wootten is the winner of the 2023 Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship.
• Awards yet to be awarded news, and various shortlists were announced this month, including those for the 19th annual Doug Wright Awards, and the 2023 Cartoonist Studio Prize, while this year’s Hay Festival will see Heartstopper creator Alice Oseman receive a medal for fiction.
• Following on from the announcement of the 2022 Best Graphic Novel Reading Lists for adults and children, nominations can now be submitted to the American Library Association for 2023’s reading lists for, you guessed it, adults and children.
The Society will be closed March 31 and April 1 for #MoCCAArtsFest. Join us in celebrating a selection of top comic, cartoon and illustration artists from around the world over at Metropolitan Pavilion! Get tickets here: https://t.co/sa4turSFiC pic.twitter.com/oEWyp8xUyu
— Society Illustrators (@SOI128) March 30, 2023
This week’s reviews.
• Shea Hennum reviews the important reframing of Johnny Damm’s I’m A Cop - “Because Damm mostly steals from comics published before the arrival of the Comics Code Authority, which explicitly prohibited negative depictions of police or positive depictions of crime/criminals, it is possible that some of the original comics may have painted police in unflattering light. Accordingly, it is hard to discern what pages reroute copaganda specifically and what pages do not.”
• Tegan O’Neil reviews the meticulous composition of Robert Windom, Kelvin Mao, Jae Lee, et al’s Seven Sons #1-7 - “Over the decades, Lee’s line has evolved into something far more delicate. The closest comparison I can find is in Lee’s precise contemporary Paul Pope. There’s a similar purposeful tentativeness in their lines, something that recalls a more mature iteration of Tony Salmons’ diaphanous mid '80s style. Very rare to find any manner of solid bold line in a Jae Lee comic book.”
• Nathan Simmons reviews the refreshing positivity of Cody Ziglar, Justin Mason, et al’s Spider-Punk: Battle of the Banned.
• David Brooke reviews the charming action of Steve Skroce et al’s Clobberin’ Time #1.
• Keigen Rea reviews the frustrating construction of Adam F. Goldberg, Carlos Pacheco, Will Robson, et al’s Damage Control: New Employee Handbook.
• Piper Whitaker reviews the fun humour of Dennis Culver, Chris Burham, et al’s Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1.
• Timothy O’Neil reviews the twisting intrigue of Spencer Akerman, Evan Narcisse, Jesús Merino, et al’s Waller vs. Wildstorm #1.
• Collier Jennings reviews the vibrant fantasy of David M. Booher, Sam Maggs, George Kambadais, et al’s Dungeons & Dragons: Saturday Morning Adventures #1.
• Alex Schlesinger reviews the haunting beauty of Cathy Malkasian's The Heavy Bright.
• Arpad Okay reviews the deft pacing of Joe Sparrow’s Cuckoo.
• Zack Quaintance reviews the quality concepts of Dennis Culver, Chris Burham, et al’s Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1.
• Avery Kaplan reviews the adorable mischief of Kelly Thompson and Gurihiru’s It’s Jeff! #1.
• John Trigonis reviews the flat characters of Tyler Crook’s The Lonesome Hunters.
• Andy Oliver has reviews of:
- The transcendent visuals of Gareth A Hopkins’ Explosive Sweet Freezer Razors.
- The splendid compilation of Simon Harrison, Tim Crowfoot, et al's Shuk & Doode.
- The glorious stories of Rebellion’s A Very British Affair: The Best of Classic Romance Comics, curated by David Roach, and edited by Olivia Hicks.
Have starred capsule reviews of:
- The dazzling sensuality of Léonie Bischoff’s Anaïs Nin: A Sea of Lies, translated by Jenna Allen.
- The pleasurable ambiguity of SJ Miller’s Mage and the Endless Unknown.
- The immersive contrasts of Sarah Myer’s Monstrous: A Transracial Adoption Story.
- The honest emotions of Sarah Sax’s Picture Day.
- The informative enthusiasm of Lindsey Leigh’s The Deep! Wild Life at The Ocean’s Wildest Depths.
Rachel Cooke reviews the mordant mischievousness of Erik Svetoft’s Spa, translated by Melissa Bowers.
• Chris Cole reviews the unique elevations of Zach Weinersmith and Boulet’s Bea Wolf.
• Christopher Egan reviews the pedestrian mundanity of Jim Starlin, Rags Morales, et al’s Order and Outrage #1.
• Kobi Bordoley reviews the enjoyable eeriness of Curt Pires, Rockwell White, Alex Diotto, et al's Indigo Children #1.
• Alexander Jones reviews the breakneck bombast of Joshua Williamson, Jamal Campbell, et al’s Superman #2.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The hallucinatory titillation of Katie Skelly’s The Agency.
- The heartwarming whimsy of Brian Schirmer, Elena Gogou, et al’s Quests Aside: Adventurers Anonymous.
- The wild action of David Lester, Marcus Rediker, and Paul Buhle’s Under the Banner of King Death: Pirates of the Atlantic.
- The enjoyable antics of Nancy A. Collins, Enid Balam, et al’s Blade Runner Black Lotus: Leaving L.A..
Rob Clough reviews the compelling evolution of Audra Stang’s The Audra Show and Star Valley Stories.
Women Write About Comics
Sabina Stent reviews the riveting history of Elizabeth Colomba and Aurélie Lévy’s Queenie: Godmother of Harlem.
“ya boy gregor” pic.twitter.com/vBdL4Hx69V
— kcg (@kcgreenn) March 28, 2023
This week’s interviews.
• Edward Dorey interviews Sam Meier about editing Tits & Clits 1972-1987, experiences at Harvard, and archival research about Lyn Chevil and Joyce Farmer’s Nanny Goat Productions - “Another reason why Wimmen’s Comix was more prominent in scholarship than Tits & Clits or Abortion Eve is due to Trina Robbins. She has played an important role in documenting women’s comics. Trina always mentioned Tits & Clits and the work of Lyn and Joyce, although she was not as directly involved with the series.”
• Zach Rabiroff interviews the founders of the Cartoonist Cooperative about the group’s aims, supporting creators creatively, and working out the kinks of such an endeavour - “That so many arms of the cartooning world seem to be convergently evolving to various forms of collectivity is an indicator of a broad and longstanding economic pressure, under which more creators are finding it all but impossible to survive through dint of their own wits and hustle.”
• Chris Coplan speaks with Joshua Williamson and Sean Izaakse about Green Arrow, family dynamics, and fleshing out the villains.
• Connor Boys talks to Kyle Higgins and Michael Busuttil about the Massive-Verse, multiplatform storytelling, and the joys of letter columns.
Deanna Destito talks to Fred Van Lente about Pathfinder: Wake the Dead, writing across genres, and the importance of maps.
Anne Field speaks with Manuel Godoy and Geiszel Godoy about Black Sands Entertainment, the company’s origins, and growth strategies.
Milton Griepp interviews Renato Franchi about bringing CMON board game properties to comic books, and decisions on periodical lengths.
Chris Cole chats with Matt D. Wilson about Impostor Syndicate, crowdfunding on Zoop, and the book’s long gestation.
Susana Polo speaks with Ryan North and Erica Henderson about Danger and Other Unknown Risks and how the graphic novel format lets jokes breathe.
Steven Heller talks to Monte Beauchamp about the return of Blab!, the genesis of the magazine’s first iteration, and the publication’s evolution.
JK Parkin interviews Che Grayson and Kelsey Ramsay about Dark Spaces: Good Deeds, comic book origins, and publishing under Scott Snyder's imprint.
Join us 4/14 and 4/15 when #SchomCom2023 returns in person! Panelists include: David Crownson (Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer), Tim Fielder (Infinitum), Regina Sawyer (publisher/writer The Rippers), and many more. #SchomburgCenterhttps://t.co/9Mo0VCb73A
— SchomburgCenter (@SchomburgCenter) March 28, 2023
This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Edward Dorey presents an oral history of Tits & Clits, speaking with Joyce Farmer, Mary Fleener, and Ron Turner about the anthology series, in an age when the rights and liberations that it celebrated appear to be increasingly limited in the U.S. - “[Mary Fleener:] The series did not exist to be a “feminist manifesto”. It was just something that would talk about what we have to deal with at different levels than men. I was not a political person at the time, though I voted. (Of course, I voted against Reagan.)”
• Also for TCJ, Ryan Carey explores the challenging and mysterious works of MMYOPE, and the flexible collaborations of Abel Eba to be found therein - “Eba makes no bones about the fact that he and his creative partners in MMYOPE are very much feeling their way forward with this project, and learning to trust in instinct and intuition as they progress, but the clarity of vision that informs everything being done under MMYOPE’s auspices is best summed up, in my mind, when Eba states that his aim is “to give everything the story and reader require within the final bound product,” and that he’s discovered in so doing “that ends up being so much less about narrative than what I initially thought.””
• MAI presents a wide-ranging focus issue on feminist discourse in comics and graphic novels, featuring essays, interviews, and book reviews from across the comics spectrum.
• Over at Solrad, Pietro Scarnera provides more winter reportage from Europe from a visit to Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and Hagai Palevsky writes on the strengths and failings of the questions asked and answered in Domingos Isabelinho’s The Reading Gaze.
• For Shelfdust, Steve Morris has a double feature, looking back at the bittersweet idealism to be found in the ending of Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier, and the lighting of the touchpapers in Kieron Gillen and Richard Elson’s Journey Into Mystery #641.
• Phil Hoad writes in The Guardian on France’s ongoing manga boom, and its origins in a 90s mania for Japanese pop culture in the nation.
• From the world of open-access academia, in Cognitive Science, Yuri Sato, Koji Mineshima, and Kazuhiro Ueda present a study on whether humans and neural networks can recognize visual representations in photographs and manga as expressing negation.
• Continuing this manga bloc, in Science and Technology Asia, Kittinun Aukkapinyo, Seiji Hotta, and Worapan Kusakunniran also look to neural networks, developing a model for training these to detect faces in manga.
• Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s editorial beat, over at The Daily Cartoonist, as a week that began with more overuse of the word ‘woke’ and scrutiny of China’s business and diplomatic relationships gave way to coverage of yet more mass shootings.
Maybe a new mini…? 🐍🖤⚔️ pic.twitter.com/a0GyABhXU0
— Molly Mendoza (@thisismollym) March 28, 2023
This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Austin English hosted the latest meeting of the New York Comics & Picture-Story Symposium, as Ron Regé, Jr. joined proceedings to speak about comics as related to ideas of gnosticism and hermeticism, The Poet and The Muse, William Moulton Marston’s Wonder Woman, long-running zine-subscription schemes, and research obsessions.
• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden were answering listener questions for this week’s edition of Thick Lines, as thoughts on the United Kingdom, Philadelphia, and Peoplehood were shared, as well as hopes for the upcoming return of Daniel Clowes.
• Brian Hibbs convened the March 2023 meeting of the Comix Experience Graphic Novel of the Month Club, as Paul B. Rainey spoke about Why Don’t You Love Me?, comics-making origins, story spoilers, and making the move to digital.
• Cartoonist Kayfabe and on and on, as Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor took a look between the covers of Alan Moore and Oscar Zarate’s A Small Killing, Alan Moore and Alan Davis’ Captain Britain, George Pérez on She Devils and Oracle, Rob Liefeld x Captain America, and Archie Meets The Punisher, before speaking with Denis Kitchen about Kitchen Sink Press and the underground scene.
• David Harper welcomed Torunn Grønbekk to this week’s edition of Off Panel, as they spoke about recent work-for-hire, the Norwegian comics scene, and plans for the future.
— Amilcar Pinna (@amilcarpinna) March 27, 2023
Next week - wherefore, April!?
"Tack Town" for Cloud Empress
— pbbeta (@RePlayMaster) March 30, 2023