Dancin’ In September – This Week’s Links

The quantum question of whether a particular title enters the public domain when its creator says it does, or whether that entry is intrinsically blocked at the source when that title’s publisher says that it does not, actually, continues to bubble around this week, with this uncollapsed waveform likely ending up mixed into the wider cosmic gumbo of public domain conundra relating to comic book characters in general, as is the wont for existential queries such as these, and so, in the meantime, please find some answers to all the remaining big questions in life in this week’s links, below.

This week’s news.

• Starting the week with some more lawsuit news, and Cengage, Macmillan Learning, McGraw Hill, and Pearson Education have filed suit against Library Genesis (aka LibGen), seeking damages for the shadow library’s alleged violations of copyright law - the operators of the site, which hosts academic texts as well as comics and other published works, utilise aliases in their day-to-day operations, and have switched hosting to new domains in the face of previous legal action.

• Elsewhere, returning to the apparently contentious issue of graphic novels in classrooms and school libraries, it was reported this week that a middle school teacher in Texas was fired after reading from Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation to an eighth grade class, with this story occurring in the same week that a Texas judge declared the state’s law, requiring booksellers to rate titles based on sexually explicit content, to be unconstitutional, and PEN America releasing a report showing that school book bans are up 33% compared to the same period in the previous school year.

• In other comics in the classroom news, Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-creator of Batman, announced that a planned talk on comic book writer Bill Finger was cancelled recently, after refusing to acquiesce to an Atlanta school district’s requirement that sections of the talk, that made reference to Finger’s son, Fred, being homosexual, be removed from the presentation - Fred Finger died of AIDS-related complications in 1992.

• Comics prize news, and the Association des Critiques et des Journalistes de Bande Dessinée announced the winner of this year’s Prix Comics de la Critique ACBD, with W. Haden Blackman and John H. Williams III’s Echolands taking home the award - the full shortlist of titles for 2023 can be found here.

• In memoriam, remembering those the world of comics has lost, and news was shared this week of the passing of cartoonist Joe Matt, creator of Peepshow, who has died aged 60, due to a heart attack - The Comics Journal’s interview with Matt from 1996 can be read here, and an accompanying interview with cartoonist Seth about Matt can be read here. (That's also his work on today's front page image, from the Drawn & Quarterly 25th anniversary book of 2015.)

This week’s reviews.


• Tim Hayes reviews the boisterous palimpsest of Don Simpson’s X-Amount Of Comics: 1963 (WhenElse?!) Annual!: “Every individual caricature is precisely calibrated and rendered, the point-of-view dancing to Simpson's tune, although the unrelenting pace of these looney tunes all expressing cluelessness or annoyance starts to produce sensory underload, with water running out of the bucket as fast as Simpson fills it up. A reader lacking the Kremlinology might feel they inadvertently enrolled for an exam.”

• Tegan O’Neil reviews the deceptive scale of Woshibai’s 20 KM/H, translated by Megan Tan and Francine Yulo - “Woshibai is, above all else, circumspect. There is no explicit messaging here. If you’re looking for broad political agitprop, you’re not going to find it in these pages. Every layer of meaning has been abstracted to the nth degree, and it's not hard to understand why. If you made cartoons in a country where the President is internationally renowned for having thin skin about Winnie the Pooh, you’d probably want to go out of your way to avoid express topicality.”



• David Brooke reviews the tantalising mystery of Ram V and Filipe Andrade’s Rare Flavours #1.

• Collier Jennings reviews the cosmic punch of Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Montos, et al’s Green Lantern: War Journal#1.

• Michael Guerrero reviews the captivating cast of Scott Snyder, Tony S. Daniel, et al’s Nocterra #16.


The Beat

• Steve Baxi reviews the natural rhythms of Luca Debus and Francesco Matteuzzi’s Funny Things: A Comic Strip Biography of Charles M. Schulz.

• Zack Quaintance reviews the excellent action of Tom King, Daniel Sampere, et al’s Wonder Woman #1.

• Hussein Wasiti reviews the interesting question of J. Michael Straczynski, Jesus Saiz, et al’s Captain America #1.

• Cy Beltran reviews the vibrant world of Ram V and Filipe Andrade’s Rare Flavours #1.


Broken Frontier

Andy Oliver reviews the loving restoration of Tom Tully and David Sque’s Roy of the Rovers: Who Shot Roy Race?, and the uncomplicated accessibility of Rosemary Mosco and Binglin Hu’s Expedition Backyard: Exploring Nature from Country to City.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan Carey reviews the generous selection of Steve Lafler’s Dog Boy: Choice Cuts and Happy Endings, and the perspective shifts of Archie Fitzgerald And Joshua Mackie’s Venomous Feathers Split #3.


From Cover to Cover

Scott Cederlund reviews the emotional impact of Sammy Harkham's Blood of the Virgin.


The Guardian

Rachel Cooke reviews the tumultuous dynamic of Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s Roaming.


House to Astonish

Paul O’Brien has capsule reviews of Marvel Comics’ X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #104, X-Force #44, X-Men Red #15, Astonishing Iceman #2, and Children of the Vault #2.



• Michael J. Berntsen reviews the unapologetic confrontations of Alec Lapidus’s Second Language Cultural Negotiation and Visual Literacy: Comics in Class.

• Shawn Gilmore reviews the potential disconnects of Silke Horstkotte and Nancy Pedri’s Experiencing Visual Storyworlds: Focalization in Comics.

• Logan Schell reviews the worthwhile framework of Daniel Stein’s Authorizing Superhero Comics: On the Evolution of a Popular Serial Genre.

• Ashley Ecklund reviews the multidimensional analysis of Ewa Stańczyk’s Comics and Nation: Power, Pop Culture, and Political Transformation in Poland.

• Emily Hunsaker reviews the balanced insights of Gwen Athene Tarbox’s Children’s and Young Adult Comics.

• Brandon Murakami reviews the complementary analyses of The Representation of Japanese Politics in Manga: The Visual Literacy of Statecraft, edited by Roman Rosenbaum.


Library Journal

• Barrie Olmstead has a starred capsule review of the multilayered questions of Amy Kurzweil’s Artificial: A Love Story.

• Martha Cornog has a starred capsule review of the evocative action of Ayize Jama-Everett, John Jennings, et al’s Box of Bones: Book Two.


Multiversity Comics

• Joe Skonce reviews the imbalanced spectacle of Joshua Willaimson, Andrei Bressan, et al’s Dark Ride #8.

• Elias Rosner reviews the struggling start of Tom King, Daniel Sampere, et al’s Wonder Woman #1.

• Mel Lake reviews the touching honesty of Éloïse Marseille’s Naked: The Confessions of a Normal Woman.



Julie Depenbrock reviews the tender magic of Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s Roaming.


Publisher’s Weekly

Have capsule reviews of:

- The powerful details of Nora Krug’s Diaries of War: Two Visual Accounts from Ukraine and Russia.

- The nuanced emotions of Maddie Gallegos’ Match Point!.

- The dynamic visuals of Minh Lê and Chan Chau’s Enlighten Me.

- The impish mischief of Rowboat Watkins’ Go-Go Guys.



Hagai Palevsky reviews the surprising notions of Ezra David Mattes’ A Terrified Child Played by Jeremy Strong.


Transformative Works and Cultures

Francesca Coppa reviews the subtextual explorations of Supersex: Sexuality, Fantasy, and the Superhero, edited by Anna F. Peppard.

This week’s interviews.


Kim Jooha interviews Jillian Tamaki about Roaming, enduring concerns of the new millennium, publisher relationships, and the appeal of Toronto - “I do feel like we are working in an industry that is intent on pigeonholing you. If a thing does well, they want you to do it again. And if you listen to them, you'll just be constantly doing the same thing. If you made a lot of money for somebody the first time, they want you to make more money for them. A different person wants you to make the same kind of money for them that you did over there.”



• Chris Hassan speaks with Christos Gage about Original X-Men, first exposures to Marvel’s myriad mutants, and favourite X-Men teams.

• David Brooke talks to Michael Dialynas about Zawa + The Belly of the Beast, creating fictional cities, and the appeal of telling stories for a younger audience; and to Patrick McDonnell about The Super Hero’s Journey, the book’s premise, and imbuing the art with the freedom of children’s art.

• Chris Coplan speaks with Jordan Thomas and Shaky Kane about The Man From Maybe, the story’s place in the Shakyverse, and the book’s contemporary commentary; and with Rob Williams and PJ Holden about Judge Dredd: Poison, the death of legacy characters, and long term work on old stony face.


Anime News Network

Toni Sun chats with Kyoko Aiba about I Love You Enough To Tie You Up and Derail, the archetypes of BL manga, and moving into different genres.


The Beat

• Rebecca Oliver Kaplan interviews Jamie Lee Curtis, Russell Goldman and Karl Stevens about Mother Nature, serendipitous gifts, and the evolution of the book.

• Eric Buckler presents the first part of a conversation with Geof Darrow about Shaolin Cowboy, life in France, and the cartoonist heritage of Hanna-Barbera.

• Deanna Destito talks to Son M. and MadCursed about Something Crawled Out, picking a palette for horror, and upcoming violence in the story.

• Zack Quaintance chats with Rob Williams and Pye Parr about Petrol Head, the book’s lockdown origins, avian best friends, and the joys of orange.


The Columbus Dispatch

Peter Tonguette speaks with Cartoon Crossroads Columbus’ Executive Director Jay Kalagayan about next week’s events, and the guests who’ll be joining proceedings.


The Gutter Review

Chloe Maveal talks to D.G. Chichester about Daredevil, returning to the convention circuit, working as a creative director, and the joys of horror.


Multiversity Comics

Elias Rosner chats with Libby’s Kenny Cruse about lending terms and how the service works for libraries, what’s popular right now, and how it competes with physical media.


Publisher’s Weekly

• Cheryl Klein interviews Edel Rodriguez about Worm: A Cuban American Odyssey, America’s love affair with Cuba, and choices regarding colour palettes.

Amanda Ramirez talks to Faith Erin Hicks about Hockey Girl Loves Drama Boy, the relatively rare nature of sports stories starring women, and the joys of books with complex emotions.

• PW presents a conversation with Jerry Craft, Rainbow Rowell, and Ben Saunders on the induction of The Avengers, Fantastic Four, and X-Men into the Penguin Classics Marvel Collection line of titles.



Samantha Riedel speaks with Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki about Roaming, the personal elements in the book’s characters, and the unique dynamics of group travel.


The Walrus

Gabrielle Drolet talks to Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki about Roaming, the messiness of your teenage years, and writing stories that are true to life.

This week’s features and longreads.

• Here at TCJ, Charlie Gillmer takes a look at Desmond Devlin and Tom Richmond’s crowdfunded endeavour, Claptrap, and the history of MAD movie parodies - “Practiced readers of MAD spoofs will mostly find familiarity in the pages of Claptrap. Alfred E. Neuman can’t appear, the clever department titles won’t be in the top left corner, and don't expect Sergio Aragonés' marginal cartoons, but otherwise it will feel like MAD.”

• Also for TCJ, John Kelly presents the second part of a retrospective on the design work behind the world of Pee-wee Herman, and its related ephemera, speaking with the artists involved in its production - “While the Playhouse was unlike anything else in the key time slot of 11:00 on Saturday morning, the world of television was already beginning to change. MTV was launched in 1981, and Late Night with David Letterman debuted the following year. The growing presence of offbeat viewing options, many available on cable television, were redefining America's acceptance of non-traditional entertainment and humor.”

• Following the passing of cartoonist Joe Matt this week, Ryan Carey writes on the enduring legacy of Peepshow; Heidi MacDonald writes on Matt’s death, and, in a wider context, on the realities of creators’ health in the comics industry; and Jeet Heer writes on Matt's life, and the friendships and influences that helped shaped Matt's work.

• For The Washington Post, Michael Cavna covers the release of Married to Comics, speaking with director John Kinhart about documenting the intertwined lives of Carol Tyler and Justin Green.

• Over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Paul Morton has an essay on Fleischer’s Animated News, the comics to be found therein, and the contemporary relevance of these in a renewed age of creative industry strike action.

• Publisher’s Weekly has a look back at the recent Small Press Expo from Meg Lemke and a look ahead to next month’s New York Comic Con from Heidi MacDonald, as the autumnal comics event calendar is now in full swing.

• For The New Yorker, Stephanie Burt writes on the induction of Marvel Comics into the Penguin Classics line, and how the humble superhero comic has elbowed its way into the literary canon.

• For The Atlantic, Sam Thielman writes on the history and legacy of Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, as Bill Griffith’s Three Rocks: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller - The Man Who Created Nancy adds to the body of work focused on Bushmiller’s cartooning.

• Over at The Gutter Review, Jake Zawlacki looks back at Jamie Hewlett’s Fireball, the influence of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, and the irrational dreams at the heart of the book.

• For Shelfdust, Rob Cave writes on Paul Grist’s Kane #13, and the bold, vehicular storytelling choices to be found therein, and the audacity inherent in these.

• Elizabeth Sandifer’s Last War in Albion continues, as the latest edition looks to the genesis and construction of Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz’s Big Numbers.

• For The Nation, Laila Lalami writes on Chantal Montellier’s Social Fiction, the dystopias to be found in Montellier’s work, and the attention to detail inherent in the worlds Montellier creates.

• From the world of open-access academia, the new volume of ImageTexT brings with it a trio of articles covering Hellblazer and the reign of Margaret Thatcher, Silk and Asian American female representation, and explorations of Japanese American incarceration camps through YA comics.

• In the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, Mike Classon Frangos has an essay on how the medium of comics is uniquely suited to visualise the Anthropocene epoch.

• Also in the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, Khushboo Verma and Nagendra Kumar study the liminality to be found in Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass, and how this concept applies more widely to graphic novels in general.

• For Visual Studies, Sathyaraj Venkatesan and Livine Ancy A write on Sarah Leavitt’s Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me, and the way graphic memoir of this nature can help re-examine conventional notions of caregiving.

• In Orientaliska Studier, Jaqueline Berndt explores the limits in describing manga in terms of popular culture and mass culture, and indeed as a subculture, and the evolving nature of such definitions in an academic context.

• Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s editorial beat, over at The Daily Cartoonist, as the proposed impeachment of President Biden, the aforementioned premier’s economic track-record, and the targeting of Hunter Biden stood together in the spotlight.

This week’s audio/visual delights.

• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden were joined by TCJ’s own Joe McCulloch for this week’s edition of Thick Lines, as they spoke about Kazuo Umezz’s Cat-Eyed Boy: The Perfect Edition, where this fits into the wider oeuvre of bad things happening to children, and some SPX chat.

• Bill Kartalopoulos hosted the latest meeting of the New York Comics & Picture-Story Symposium, as artist Eunsoo Jeong spoke about the Koreangry zine series, and the intertwining of Jeong’s personal origin story and that of the zine.

• Deb Aoki hosted this week’s edition of Mangasplaining, as the team discussed Makoto Kobayashi’s What’s Michael?: Fatcat Collection, and where this work fits in the pantheon of funny orange cats, alongside the comic strip giants of Garfield and Heathcliff.

• Brian Hibbs was joined by Samuel Sattin and Rye Hickman for the latest meeting of Comix Experience’s Graphic Novel Club, as they discussed Buzzing, the unique storytelling aspects of comics, and editorial input on the project’s proposed subplots.

• David Harper welcomed comics retailer and ComicsPRO President Jenn Haines to this week’s episode of Off Panel, as they spoke about a strange time for comics stores and selling funny books, and the main concerns facing store owners.

• Heidi MacDonald and Meg Lemke reported from SPX and Baltimore Comic Con for the latest edition of Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come, as they spoke to creators from the floor of both shows, including Matt Bors, Robyn Smith, Whit Taylor, Jamar Nicholas, John Gallagher, Johnny Parker, and Daniel and Kevin McCloskey.

• Gil Roth was joined by Keith Knight for this week’s episode of The Virtual Memories Show, as they discussed I Was A Teenage Michael Jackson Impersonator, lessons learned from being on stage, and what went into the making of Woke.

• A couple of visits to John Siuntres in the Word Balloon, as Rob Williams and Pye Parr spoke about Petrol Head and putting the key in the ignition for the comic, and with Declan Shalvey about Old Dog and genre fiction writing plans.

• Closing out the week with some more Cartoonist Kayfabe #content, as they flipped through the pages of Geof Darrow and Frank Miller’s Big Damn Hard Boiled, Moebius and Darrow’s City of Fire, Steve Rude’s Nexus: The Newspaper Strips, John Byrne and Art Adams’ Action Comics Annual #1, Ovid P. Adams’ The Adventures of Black Eldridge, and some fifth birthday celebrations with 1996’s Wizard #60.

That’s all the answers for this week, because I just dropped my magic 8 ball, and it will take me a full week to retrieve it from under the sofa.