All awards news all the time this week, coming out of last weekend’s virtual event scheduling nightmare - note to self, do not plan anything for September 12th 2021 - and plenty of coverage of a Pilgrim come unstuck in time.
So it goes, and so YOU should go and scroll down to this week’s links.
It’s free real estate… This week’s news.
• In the first of our big awards stories this week, the National Cartoonists Society last weekend announced Lynda Barry as the winner of 2019’s Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year, and accepted her award saying “One of the things that’s so beautiful about comics is that whatever may be missing from your world, you might be able to find it in comics.” You can see the full list of Reuben Award winners here, and the archived video stream from the day’s virtual ceremony/festival livestream is available here.
• The other big awards news to arrive from September 12th, comics’ new national holiday apparently, is the winners of this year’s Ignatz Awards, including Rosemary Valero O’Connel as recipient for Outstanding Artist (the first ever back-to-back winner, albeit not without controversy, classic 2020) - the full award ceremony can be watched here, and you can find all the virtual SPX panels from the weekend here.
• Breaking the rule of 12, the Comedy Women in Print Prize announced its inaugural winners for Humorous Graphic Novel on Monday, awarding a joint prize to Danny Noble (for Was It… Too Much for You?) and Posy Simmonds (for Cassandra Drake) - you can watch the award ceremony here, with the graphic novel bit, including interviews with Noble and Simmonds, starting at the 5 minute mark.
• Given recent less-than-fair practices by established publishers, and some pretty amazing contract work by “publishers”, now seems a great time for a database of agents for illustrators, and, as luck would have it, there is now such a thing, thanks to Nilah Magruder and Cameron Decker.
• ICv2 reports on the results of IDW’s pivot to the book market and direct-to-customer (but not via the direct market, you dig?) sales, reporting a break-even quarter, amid aggressive selling and reshuffling of their executive divisions. Business!
• Shortbox, Zainab Akhtar’s independent publishing and curated comic box endeavor, announced that its first ever comics fair will be taking place this October 24th and 25th, and has written an extremely frank state of the union for the company, as pandemic-related event cancellations and increases in shipping costs have eaten into the bottom line.
• Toronto’s Speech Project has announced a call for applicants to their latest series of online workshops, open to 10 applicants aged 15-25, with priority given to first-time artists and those from marginalized groups - the workshops will “explore the importance of documenting visual narratives surrounding personal identity”, and the deadline for application is 21st September.
• Some more news out of Toronto, and Koyama Press have announced a new recipient of their Presents program of grants, with LA-based artist Eunsoo Jeong receiving an award of $1,000 that will be used towards production costs of issue #9 of the Koreangry series, which "will cover a collection of comics from April-August with the theme of Mother. It will include mythology of Ung-nyeo, a bear woman who became the female god and mother of Korean ancient nation."
• Finally, a new fundraising initiative to support comic retailers suffering financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been announced this week, as Give Comics Hope, a charity founded by former Diamond Comics VP/Pacific Comics founder Bill Schanes, plans a series of fundraising auctions in association with the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC).
Bad meaning good… This week’s reviews.
• Tim Hayes reviews Jim Rugg’s journey into familiar territory, co-opting a cult revolutionary symbol for Mtsyry Octobriana 1976, a blacklight ode to underground comix that “also feels like a B-movie up from Roger Corman's id back when all he could afford were buxom ladies on motorbikes and plasticine crab monsters”, which is a description that I think speaks for itself, to be honest.
• Leonard pierce reviews the intense relevance of Derf Backderf’s Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, and notes the cyclical nature of tragedies such as the one it depicts, as “Backderf takes pains to illustrate that the victims weren’t the savage revolutionary Weathermen they were made out to be by the authorities, but even if they had been, they wouldn’t have deserved to be shot dead on the ground for protesting an immoral war.”
• Craig Fischer reviews the “winking combination of the inadvertently surreal, kitschy aesthetics of moldy, old comics with unexpected subject matter” of Eric Haven’s Cryptoid, but notes that you don’t get much bang for your buck, or indeed book.
• Alex Curtis reviews the exciting post-modernism of Ryan North and Albert Monteys’ graphic novel adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.
• Alex McDonald reviews the dark satire of Mark Russell and Steve Pugh’s Billionaire Island #6.
• Ryan Sonneville reviews the canine chuckles of George Caragonne, Warren Kremer, John Romita Sr, et al’s Star Comics: Top Dog - The Complete Collection Vol. 1.
• Abraz M. Khan reviews the rip-roaring enticements of Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, INJ Culbard, et al’s Tales from the Umbrella Academy: You Look Like Death #1.
• Rory Wilding reviews the emotional grotesqueries of Darcy Van Poelgeest and Ian Bertram’s Little Bird: The Fight for Elder’s Hope.
• Morgana Santilli reviews the charming romantic pratfalls of Rumiko Takahashi’s Maison Ikkoku volume 1, translated by Matt Treyvaud.
• Avery Kaplan reviews the refreshing magic of Sophie Escabasse’s The Witches of Brooklyn.
• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the comforting noir collisions of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Pulp.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews a trio of Ley Lines publications, looking at the immaculate juxtaposition of WT Frick’s One & Three (Ley Lines #18), the gorgeous intrigues of Diana H. Chu’s Trance ‘n Dance (Ley Lines #19), and the remarkable emotionality of Gloria Rivera’s Island of Elin (Ley Lines #20).
Rachel Cooke reviews the earnest and educational graphic novel collection of Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan’s Pulitzer Prize winning comic strip, Welcome to the New World.
Have starred capsule reviews of:
- The eye-opening depictions of Guantanamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison, edited by Sarah Mirk.
- The sweet earnestness of Brian “Smitty” Smith’s Pee, Bee, and Jay: Stuck Together volume 1.
- The delightful expansiveness of The Nib’s anthology Be Gay Do Comics.
- The satisfying immersiveness of Tim Probert’s Lightfall: The Girl and the Galdurian.
- The defining simplicity of Mike Curato’s Flamer.
- The rambunctious laughs of Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin’s Akissi: Even More Tales of Mischief, translated by Marie Bédrune.
- The quirky thrills of Remy Lai’s Fly on the Wall.
• Frida Keränen reviews the delightful absurdity of Kentaro Takekuma and Charlie Nozawa’s Super Mario Adventures, translated by Leslie Swan.
• Johnny Hall reviews the fantastic experimentation of Ryan North and Albert Monteys’ graphic novel adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.
New York Times
Ed Park takes a tour through the works of Tom Scioli and Jack Kirby, also reviewing the former’s biography of the latter’s life, Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics.
Etelka Lehoczky reviews the engaging uncanniness of Sophie Yanow’s The Contradictions.
Alex Spencer reviews the disorienting beauty of Ryan North and Albert Monteys’ graphic novel adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.
Ryan Carey reviews the multi-faceted resonances of Gipi’s One Story.
Women Write About Comics
• Zoe Tunnell reviews the refreshing bombasticness of Steve Orlando, Davide Tinto, et al’s Commanders in Crisis #1.
• Melissa Brinks reviews the palatable toothlessness of Tom Taylor, Darick Robertson, et al’s Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #1.
• Stephanie Halmhofer reviews the mysterious chronology of Tom Taylor, Daniele Di Nicuolo, et al’s Seven Secrets #1.
• Masha Zhdanova reviews the exciting character of Hannah Templer’s Cosmoknights.
• Alenka Figa reviews the casual cleverness of Reimena Yee’s Séance Tea Party.
• Jameson Hampton reviews the uncanny machinations of Tim Seeley, Blake Howard, Tini Howard, Devmalya Pramanik, et al’s Vampire: The Masquerade: Winter’s Teeth #2.
We want information… This week’s interviews.
• Ian Thomas interviews comics maker and educator JB Brager about productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of the funny pages and good independent shops for nurturing a love of comics, insulting critiques, digital/analogue dichotomy, moving to longform work, and the comics academia space - “in general we’re pretty firmly past the idea that comics are not to be taken seriously...There’s a lot of exciting work happening and a lot of room to do cool stuff, and I want history students to be engaging with that on the undergraduate level. Maybe this means they leave the class with the ability to use comics in a history classroom, or to have a level of comics literacy that they can use to read comics as primary sources. Maybe they leave with the skill-set to write their own comics about history.”
• Alex Dueben talks to cartoonist and educator Keiler Roberts about the chaos of checking in with oneself during lockdown, teaching and sharing lectures online, managing expectations, the tumultuous economy of indie comics, and noticing the little things - “There is nothing inherently important or unimportant about my subjects, but it’s what I see and love about the world. Rather than any particular topic or event, it’s the quality of experience that I’m trying to portray. Artists aren’t essential workers, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t the most essential work that I can do.”
• David Brooke talks to UK Comics Laureate Hannah Berry about her work on the latest chapter of webcomic Planet Divoc-91, handing over lettering and colouring duties to other creators for the first time, the state of the UK comics scene at a weird point in history, and her own comics origins.
• Chris Hassan has an X-Men roundtable, for the 75th edition of ‘X-Men Monday’, talking to the creators and editorial team working on Marvel’s latest crossover event, X of Swords, and just how is it that you do a line-wide crossover when the direct market is in a constant state of flux.
• Avery Kaplan interviews Ryan North about his and Albert Monteys’ graphic novel adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, their history with the celebrated author, the responsibilities of adapting Vonnegut’s work as a comic for the first time, and the continuity of the Kurt Vonnegut Extended Universe (KVEU).
• Matt O’Keefe chats with Jim Zub about marrying comics and tabletop roleplaying for fun and for profit, returning to Skullkickers after half a decade away, and writing trad stories for D&D as well as those that send up the tropes of the game.
• Sajida Ayyup talks to Matt Lubchansky about their work on The Nib’s anthology, Be Gay Do Comics, and the accessibility that comics as a medium has for queer voices to thrive.
• Zack Quaintance interviews Scott Snyder about his move to the crowdfunding distribution model, the access it gives fans to creators (and vice versa), and those all-important stretch goals.
• Gregory Paul Silber interviews Bob Fingerman about the latest collection of his work, Dotty's Inferno, the creative DNA of underground comix, and walking the fine line of depicting nudity in Hell.
Andy Oliver talks to Nigel Twumasi about the British manga imprint mayamada, the realities of building a brand in 2020, and the contrasts in diversity between manga and western comics.
Teddy Jamieson talks to Trina Robbins about The Flapper Queens, giving the cartoonists featured in it the due they deserve, the popularity of their work at the time, the loss of freedoms and visibility suffered by women cartoonists after the boom of the 1920s, and the simple equation of drawing comics about fashion when you like fashion.
The LA Times
Tracy Brown interviews Keith Knight about Woke, the new show based on his life and work, addressing complex issues with humor, the ongoing implosion of editorial cartooning as a career, and the events that inspired his work, that have in turn inspired this new TV series.
Elias Rosner interviews Ryan North about his and Albert Monteys’ graphic novel adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, how the project came about, longform adaptation work compared to original/licensed work, adaptation anxiety, and the devastating bleakness of Vonnegut’s prose.
Chloe Maveal talks in-depth to Nick Abadzis about Hugo Tate, as well as to Hugo Tate, about the character’s origins, the halcyon days of Marvel UK, the importance of European comics and working as an editor on his wider comics career, the chaos of Deadline, and Tate’s eventual career as a script doctor - it’s a great interview.
The New Yorker
Françoise Mouly has a brief chat with Chris Ware about his latest cover for The New Yorker, the end of ‘the weirdest summer ever’, watching the American people try to get along, and good ol’ politics.
Kat Calamia talks to interested parties in the ongoing Kickstarter debate, regarding who "should" be using the platform, interviewing retailer Jen King, former Kickstarter comics outreach Camilla Zhang, and Iron Circus Comics Publisher C. Spike Trotman, as well as creators who are using the site to reach new (or, more likely, already engaged) readers for their work.
Matt Patches interviews Junji Ito about cats (of course), America leading the way with live-action adaptations, and the anxiety of meeting with Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro.
• Daniel Elkin and Sarah Wray present the latest installment of ‘Knowing is Half the Battle’, as Charles Forsman shares concise advice for dealing with the comics industry as a creator.
• Meggie Gates interviews Madeline Horwath about reneging against graduation declarations, pivoting from standup to cartooning, and the broad appeal of horrifying imagery.
Michelle Delgardo talks to Lisa Hanawalt about her new book of old work, I Want You, launching said book while also running a TV show while also surviving a global pandemic, hating body horror while making body horror, drawing inspiration from nightmares, and her career path from webcomics to LA.
Road signs are nature's books… This week’s features and comics.
• Here at TCJ, Tom Shapira clears up after the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen retirement party and finds Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s Cinema Purgatorio waiting for someone to present it with a gold watch, which, as an Avatar Press title, it’s unlikely to receive. That said, it seems there’s much to like about this perhaps maligned brainchild of the League team, and the comments reminded me that Crossed+100 rapidly fell into the shadow of Providence, so the more things change, eh.
• Also for TCJ, Steven Ringgenberg has an obituary for artist’s artist Bob Fujitani, who sadly passed away earlier this month, looking at the life and storied career of the cartoonist, one of the longest working artists in comics, prior to his retirement in the 90s.
• Finally for TCJ this week, Robert Elder presents an excerpt from his book Hemingway in Comics, an exploration of “more than 120 Hemingway appearances, adaptations, homages, and doppelgängers from across the 18 countries. In the last 100 years of comic art, Hemingway has appeared alongside Wolverine, Superman, Mickey Mouse, Lobo, Jenny Sparks and Captain Marvel, just to name a few. The book features the work of creators such as Charles Schulz, Garry Trudeau, Colleen Doran, Cliff Chiang, Paul Pope, Sophie Campbell, Frank Miller and dozens more.” Cor! In the excerpt, you can see an appearance from Superman #277, the work of Chris Ware, and (most appropriately) Hemingway Comix.
• Over at Solrad, Joana Mosi has an essay on the evolution of coming-of-age stories in the era of a golden age for YA novels, and looks at recent big hitters on the comics scene Skim and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, to assess the broadening spectrum for relatable stories in the genre across a broad age of readers.
• The Middle Spaces presented the first part of their annual academic round-table this week, with a series of essays, edited and curated by Dr Leah Misemer, focusing on the parts of comics that are often skipped over if you’re an impatient reader (like me) - paratexts, aka letters columns and advertisements.
• Also on the academic front, the latest edition of Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society is now online, and while it’s currently behind an academic paywall, it’s always worth dropping the authors an email if there are any articles that take your fancy, as they may be able to provide a copy via email.
• Chloe Maveal has a new essay for NeoText, this time around looking at the first issue of the bi-weekly spin-off from The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, the Judge Dredd Megaz- nope, wait, sorry, it’s the other one, The Judge Dredd Fortnightly, that didn’t last past its mooted inaugural outing, and definitely didn't reach its 35th birthday like the Megazine has this week, but did spawn a number of classic strips for its parent title.
• Also at NeoText, as part of an article on women's pen names in fiction, Avery Kaplan looks at the work of Marie Duval (aka Émilie de Tessier) on Ally Sloper, Tarpé Mills (aka June Mills) on Miss Fury, and novelist NK Jemisin, who is currently writing DC's Far Sector.
• For The Beat, Heidi MacDonald takes us back to 1992, and a photograph of the exclusively middle-aged white male line-up for the Internal Correspondence Roundtable begs the question “has anything changed?” (other than less adventurous choices of patterns for ties in the year 2020.)
• At SYFY Wire, Mike Avila has a piece on the work of Joe Kubert as a comics educator, how his work at DC prepared him for that role, and memories from a 2004 NBC segment looking at the work of the Kubert School.
• Shelfdust had an action-packed week, as Toussaint Egan looks back at 1972’s Super Soul Comix #1 and the controversial work of Richard “Grass” Green, Steve Morris covers a bold claim in the third ever issue of Amazing Spider-Man, the coverage of Infinite Crisis sees Steve Lacey assessing the murder of Ted Kord, Emma Houxbois looking at the resulting case of Wonder Woman killing Maxwell Lord, and then Sean Dillon tying a bow on everything as Batman shoots Darkseid (because you can’t spell “Geoff Johns crossover event” without “violent homicides”), meanwhile, Charlotte Finn’s year in Astro City hits uncharted territory as the odyssey reaches issue 37 and a comic’s greatest enemy - musical numbers.
• Wolverine continuity makes no sense, and I don’t think it’s a good idea for one person to have worked for so many different secret government organizations, if you ask me, which nobody did.
• A couple of longform comics from The Nib, as Maki Naro and Matthew Francis tackle the issue of herd immunity and the cost that comes with it in terms of deaths and long-tail symptoms/chronic conditions, while Laura Athayde explores the dark evolution of the folklore surrounding Brazil’s “Boto Cor-de-Rosa”.
Is there such a thing as “too much YouTube?”… This week’s recommended watching.
• A new Comix Claptrap interview this week, as Rina Ayuyang, Thien Pham, and Josh Frankel talk to Sophie Yanow about her new book The Contradictions, incorrectly identifying the nationality of Gipi, the west coast comics scene, and (most importantly) Magic the Gathering.
• The Believer and the Black Mountain Institute’s latest comics workshop saw Jonathan Hill take viewers through creating comics without words, with a focus on storytelling and editing, as well as how best to figure out showing a concept without telling.
• A busy week for Cartoonist Kayfabe as Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor took a look at the Essential X-Men of John Byrne and Terry Austin, Barry Windsor Smith’s Conan: Red Nails Treasury Edition, Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art, the coloring work of one Mr Todderick McFarlane on Spider-Man #4, the Ed Piskor Studio EDition (naturally), Donald Goines’ Daddy Cool, and Harvey Kurtzman’s Visual History of the Comics.
• Noah van Sciver then turned the spotlight back on Jim Rugg, chatting to him about all things Octobriana and the pitfalls of creating a number of isolated works, before catching up with Casanova Frankenstein about all things Tad Martin and avoiding the curse of the fanboy sellout.
• Celebrating the release of Post-Apocalypto, Jack Black and Kyle Gass (aka Tenacious D) hosted a live launch for the book, answering audience questions while signing copies, providing updates on clogging, and giving advice on poetic license.
• Inkpulp gets to the heart of the matter this week, looking at the holy art of comic book inking as Shawn Crystal, Jim Mahfood, and Jason Shawn Alexander talk viewers through the dark art via the pencils of Mike Mignola, and also discuss the weird old pandemic times.
• Comix Experience’s Graphic Novel Club is tackling the classics this week, as Brian Hibbs is in-conversation with Garth Ennis on diving into Preacher with Vertigo, and the career path that led to it; and talks to Robert Kirkman about the zombie phenomenon The Walking Dead, and how he got into comics the Marvel way.
• A couple of flights in the Word Balloon this week, as John Siuntres sits down with Paul Kupperberg to put DC comics to rights, and B Clay Moore to put the crime comics to rights… the right to remain silent!
• First Second has a new Sketch School class for younger viewers this week, as Natalie Andrewson takes viewers through how to draw Marie and The Nutcracker from her graphic novel interpretation of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.
• There’s also a whole lot of video content from last weekend’s comics convention-a-palooza floating around the internet, including the virtual SPX, but that’s linked above, so if you’re looking for it here then you came too far, traveller.
• Nah, mate, it’s cool, the panels from last weekend are all archived here.
Turn up the phonograph… This week’s easy-listening.
• Shelfdust Presents this week is talking issue 1 of Y: The Last Man, as Matt Lune and CP Hoffman look back at its jumping narrative POV and whether it holds up as an engaging entry point for the series.
• Dan Berry welcomed Zoe Thorogood to Make It Then Tell Everybody for the latest episode, as the pair discussed imperfection and intensity, and the horrors of ocular degradation, as well as their potential for story-fodder.
• Salt and Honey had a spotlight on Yeong-Shin Ma’s Moms this week, as Leslie Hung and Sloane Leong discussed the book in spoileriffic fashion, and the little-seen (in western comics) social perspectives that it depicts.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come took a look at the big names throwing their lot in with Kickstarter this week, and Heidi MacDonald, Calvin Reid, and Kate Fitzimmons also discussed The Adventure Zone’s fan-artist payment kerfuffle, and general publishing contract confusion, which seems to be one of the secondary themes of 2020.
• Off Panel covered the little known comics genre of “superheroes” this week, as David Harper and Oliver Sava presented the podcast’s fifth Superhero State of the Union, during a turbulent time for the Big Two, but the big question of why Ben Affleck is the best Batman was left uncovered, despite the answer being an easy one - it’s the tire workouts.
• Gil Roth welcomed R. Sikoryak to The Virtual Memories Show this week, to discuss his new book Constitution Illustrated, the surprises you find in legislative documents, and the correct density of word balloons.
The links draw to a close once again - I’m off to frolic in the countryside for a few days before the weather here in the UK reverts to the default setting of “grey”. See ya!