I was going to write about the oddity of experiencing Hourly Comics Day in year 3 of a global pandemic, and the insights it gave into the baseline of depression currently bubbling away worldwide, but… Uh-oh! A judge!
That’s right - lawsuit season continues, and it’s the most litigious week of 2022 yet, so click on this week’s links, below, quickly, before you’re served papers and have to head straight to gaol without passing Go or collecting $200.
Sleeping Statues pic.twitter.com/4fdpXSob42
— Sam Carr (@SamCarrArt) January 28, 2022
Imagine you’re a deer… This week’s news.
• Starting off the week’s legal reportage with the latest development in publishers Shueisha, Kodansha, Shogakukan, and Kadokawa’s attempts to shut down manga piracy sites, as, following the issuing of various subpoenas for user information from network company Cloudflare, the group has now filed suit against Cloudflare itself for alleged breach of copyright by distributing pirated data. This lawsuit comes in the wake of a reported loss of potential earnings for publishers in the region of $8.74bn in 2021 due to manga piracy, according to figures published by the Authorized Books of Japan, as the country's courts crack down on all forms of copyright breaching websites.
• In other subpoena news, the new year brings with it fresh moves in the Department of Justice’s case against Penguin Random House owner Bertelsmann’s acquisition of Simon & Schuster, for a reported $2.2bn, with Publisher’s Weekly reporting that all involved parties have been issuing “costly, time consuming, and intrusive” legal requests for information on publishing deals, that require the opening up of private correspondence to outside parties, with PW quoting one source as saying "the whole thing, at the broadest level, sucks."
• Elsewhere in the legal sphere, and a class-action lawsuit has been filed in Pennsylvania against publisher Action Lab Entertainment for failure to execute its responsibilities under contracts with creators - previous reporting found the publisher’s legal agreements to be predatory in nature, with no provisions to protect creators’ rights - almost 40 people had signed onto the suit at the time of publishing.
• Finally in this week’s litigation marathon, ICv2 reports that Comic Book Workers United, the union of employees of Image Comics, filed an Unfair Labor Practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against the publisher, alleging that Image interfered with employees’ rights following the unionisation announcement “by intentionally disseminating misinformation” - Image Comics spent the week celebrating its 30th anniversary.
• As if by magic, following last week’s big news story, Substack announced its next wave of deals with big-name comics creators, hoping to entice more #content to the hosting platform, with new projects from Grant Morrison, Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon, and Tom King and Elsa Charretier, amongst others, as well as a new publishing venture from members of the Mangasplaining podcast team - The Beat has a full round up of what’s been announced.
• The Hollywood Reporter has an exclusive reveal of Archie Comics’ new Editor-in-Chief, as Mike Pellerito becomes the fourth person to hold the role, taking over from Victor Gorelick, following Gorelick’s passing in February 2020.
• Koyama Provides announced the latest recipient of their grant program, awarding $1,500 to Lauren Weinstein, which will be used for active research on two upcoming graphic novel projects.
• Finally this week, checking in with ongoing COVID-19-related supply and logistic issues around the world, and The New York Times reports that more longshoremen contracted SARS-CoV-2 in the first month of 2022 than the whole of 2021, as record numbers of container ships were stuck in holding patterns off the San Pedro Bay coast, awaiting berths in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
quite simple really pic.twitter.com/t5kLtuLNJl
— clarice tudor (@claricetudor_) January 28, 2022
Jolly good shows… This week’s reviews.
• Hillary Brown reviews the fascinating secrets of Rutu Modan’s Tunnels, translated by Ishai Mishory - “Color has always been important in [Modan’s] work, but this book’s new approach to light as well as color makes us conscious of our own eyes and how they work, especially when characters late in the story are trapped in darkness with a rapidly draining cell battery. That light is precious. Modan also makes the eyes of her characters differently in this book than she has previously: round, cartoony eyes with a bunch of white space inside them, whereas before she just used dots and lines. They're not more emotive, but they do make her work look a little more cartoony and more her own.”
• Timothy Callahan reviews the organic weirdness of Greg and Fake Petre’s Giant Sized Santos Sisters #1 - “The maximalism of Greg and Fake, where they under-explain and over-introduce new characters and new jokes and new references, makes a surprising contrast to the relatively minimalistic Archie style they mimic, and it’s in that unexpected fission where the comedy works best.”
• Madeleine Chan reviews the experiential escape of Ron Regé Jr’s Halcyon.
• Ronnie Gorham reviews the engaging depth of Garth Ennis, Garry Brown, et al’s Peacemaker: Disturbing the Peace #1.
• David Brooke reviews the gritty edge of Joshua Williamson, Mikel Janin, Jorge Molina, et al’s Batman #150.
• Benjamin Novoa reviews the brash beauty of Gene Luen Yang and artist Bernard Chang’s Monkey Prince #1.
• Colin Moon reviews the delightful absurdity of Peter Milligan, Michael Allred, et al’s X-Cellent #1.
• Ben Morin reviews the impressive culmination of Marvel Comics’ X of Swords.
The Asian Studies Journal
Martin de la Iglesia reviews the arbitrary interpretations of Rémi Lopez’ The Impact of Akira: A Manga [R]evolution, translated by Jennifer Ligas.
• Cy Beltran reviews the vibrant experimentation of Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, et al’s Once and Future #24.
• Ricardo Serrano Denis reviews the nuanced depths of Joe Ciano, Josh Hixson, et al’s Children of the Woods.
• Joe Grunenwald reviews the energetic flair of Gene Luen Yang and artist Bernard Chang’s Monkey Prince #1.
• Avery Kaplan reviews the bizarre satisfaction of Peter Milligan, Michael Allred, et al’s X-Cellent #1.
• Hayden Mears reviews the vibrant return of Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples' Saga #55.
• Rebecca Burke reviews the playful abstractions of Karen Shangguan’s Quiet Thoughts.
• Andy Oliver reviews:
- The delightful darkness of Paul B. Rainey’s Gripe Night.
- The engaging nuance of Anna Readman’s Handlebar Gumbo.
- The welcome eclecticism of Sam Baldwin's Junk #2.
Rachel Cooke reviews the frenetic spectacle of Francisco de la Mora and José Luis Pescador’s Diego Rivera.
The Montreal Review of Books
Eloisa Aquino reviews the satisfying surreality of Zuo Ma’s Night Bus, translated by Orion Martin.
• Jaina Hill reviews the sweet return of Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples, et al’s Saga #55.
• Kate Kosturski reviews the imperfect action of Dan Watters, Lamar Mathurin, et al’s Cowboy Bebop #1.
• Matthew Blair reviews the obtuse tension of Benjamin Percy, Federico Vincentini, et al’s X Deaths of Wolverine #1.
• Kobi Bordoley reviews the incongruous beginnings of Ryan K Lindsay, Emanuele Parascandolo, et al's Speed Republic #1.
Women Write About Comics
• Kayleigh Hearn reviews the closed loop of Jonathan Hickman, Stefano Caselli, et al’s Inferno #4.
• Sabina Stent reviews the engrossing rigor of Supersex: Sexuality, Fantasy, and the Superhero, edited by Anna F. Peppard.
• Latonya Pennington reviews the relatable fun of Emily Kim, Takeshi Miyazawa, et al’s Silk #1.
• Bishop V Navarro reviews the stumbling rush of Tim Seeley, Baldemar Rivas, et al’s Robins #3.
• Kathryn Hemmann reviews the moving joy of Quindrie Press' When I Was Me: Moments of Gender Euphoria, edited by Eve Greenwood and Alex Assan.
I did Lynda Barry's "Monster This Is Your Life" exercise, from her book Making Comics, where you draw a monster at birth, in childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age (at their job) and old age. pic.twitter.com/4Ur96GQKId
— Anya Davidson (@anyapdavidson) January 29, 2022
No more tricks, no more misbehaving… This week’s interviews.
• Gary Groth presents an archive conversation with Gil Kane and Jean-Claude Mézières, conducted in 1986 and which appeared in TCJ #260, covering personal and comics history, working on Valérian et Laureline, and politics in the industry - “I think, still, quality pays in France. And it’s true that you can find some comic strips with no butts and blood or no sex really. But, it is difficult right now; sales are not very good. And what sells well is what I should call vulgar. It is vulgar because it is stupid.”
• Joe Decie interviews Warwick Johnson Cadwell about Mr Higgins Comes Home and Falconspeare, the melancholy of werewolves, the pacing of stories, and the skippering of boats - “Part of me was looking for ways to improve or develop my own work and I’d spot things that I could use. Like how a leg could show weight or movement or I’d wonder why a particular image carried certain mood. Mignola became a popular focus as his style and subjects were something I really liked. I have tried to sit down with comics and films and try a more studious approach but I quickly get lost and mistrust my own judgement. So it’s better to go with what I notice while I’m reading rather than hunting for something grander.”
David Brooke chats with Paul Bolger and Barry Devlin about Hound, bringing tales of Cú Chulainn to a comics audience, hybrid work processes, the interesting aspects of myths, and how it all came together.
Deanna Destito talks to Garth Ennis about Battle Action, highlighting favourite stories from the British war comics pantheon, and the influences of these on Ennis’ wider comics work.
Christian Holub speaks with the latest wave of high profile comics creators to sign on with Substack, and speaks with them about the projects that will be used to entice others into doing the same.
Josh Weiss talks to Al Madrigal about Primos, commonality with Axel Alonso, wanting to see yourself on the page and on the screen, and inspiration from drunken uncles.
Rachel Cooke interviews Astrid Goldsmith about winning this year’s Cape/Observer/Comica award for emerging cartoonists, and the bad behaviour that comes in the wake of a family member’s death.
The Hollywood Reporter
Rebecca Sun speaks with Al Madrigal about Primos, finding diversity in the minor characters in superhero comics, and publishing Spanish- and English-language versions of the comic.
Mark Tweedale talks to Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, and Tyler Crook about Manor Black: Fire in the Blood, picking back up strands of mystery, and COVID scheduling issues.
Alex Dueben speaks with Alberto Rayo, Maddi Gonzalez and Tristan J. Tarwater about Mañana: Latinx Comics From The 25th Century, comics origin stories, the anthology's story themes, and looking to the future.
Keith Silva interviews Derek Van Gieson, in the gonzo fashion, about Eel Mansions, parsing out the format, and musical explorations.
Matthew Jackson speaks with Nate Cosby and Jacob Edgar about Alter Ego, joining a hero in media res, genre hopping, and what it means to be a hero.
The Washington Post
Michael Cavna interviews Keith Knight about the #blackmugshot initiative, and working against racial biases inherent in many social media algorithms.
— Sophia Foster-Dimino (@hellophia) January 31, 2022
Read aloud, deafeningly… This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Matthias Wivel writes in remembrance of Jean-Claude Mézières, who passed away last week aged 83 - “Valerian and Laureline is consistently satirical and critical of human civilization, but ultimately founded in a belief in our ability to save ourselves. It is a work steeped in the idealism of '60s Marxism and the utopianism of the hippie movement. When Mézières draws an overgrown tenement in New York’s East Village bathed in the afternoon sun, or when he unfolds a stampede of bison along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains during a thunderstorm, he does it with a deep love for the power of nature.”
• Covering the ongoing attempts to ban books from school libraries and classrooms across the US, the New York Times and NBC speak with librarians, book providers, authors, students, and parents affected by this movement, while NPR covers the boom in sales of Maus that resulted from its removal from classrooms in Tennessee, and TCJ presents the unedited minutes from the meeting where that decision was made.
• Over at Solrad, Helen Chazan looks back on Rumiko Takahashi’s Urusei Yatsura, sharing its personal importance, and the gender journey travelled within its pages by the character of Ryunosuke Fujinami.
• Jamie Sutcliffe provides a series of entry points to the work of Junji Ito for The Quietus, writing on the mangaka’s career, selecting ten stories suitable for the newcomer, and the individual history behind these tales.
• Broken Frontier select their six UK small press creators to watch in 2022, with this year's group comprising Alba Ceide, Beatrice Mossman, Jason Chuang, Kat Cass, Manon Wright and Sammy Ward, whose work will be highlighted on BF throughout the year.
• Over at From Cover To Cover, Scott Cederlund writes on R. Kikuo Johnson’s Night Fisher, and the themes of dislocation found therein.
• Nikolai Fomich’s examination of Detective Comics #871 continues for Sequart, as visual motifs draw the reader into the story’s central mystery.
• Steve Morris takes a second step on a retrospective of Mike Carey and Peter Gross’ The Unwritten over at Shelfdust, as issue two further blurs the lines between fantasy and reality.
• For NeoText Review, Chloe Maveal writes on the timeless and singular art of P. Craig Russell, and the series that best display this.
• Elizabeth Sandifer’s Last War in Albion continues apace, as book three explores the Dadaist movement that Grant Morrison embraced for Doom Patrol, and the flawed origins of Crazy Jane and the character’s depiction of multiplicity.
• Mike Peterson rounds up the editorial beat, over at The Daily Cartoonist, as books were banned, insurrections were investigated, perspectives were confused, platforms were boycotted, and Black History Month began.
flesh chunk pic.twitter.com/G0b99mO1Pr
— Joe Sparrow (@torpordust) February 2, 2022
Straight to video… This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Kicking off the week’s selection with the return of 2000 AD’s Thrill-Cast, as Molch-R is joined by London’s Cartoon Museum Director Joe Sullivan and Learning Coordinator Steve Marchant to discuss the Dredd @ 45 capsule exhibition, as old stony face celebrates his birthday.
• New publishing ventures won’t slow down the Mangasplaining train, as David Brother’s hosts the team’s first episode devoted to a small press short-story, in the form of Minami Q-Ta’s The Blood Red Boy.
• Elsewhere in newly Substack affiliated #content creators, David Harper welcomed Elsa Charretier back to Off Panel to discuss new project Love Everlasting, and the whys and wherefores of the digital platform it will inhabit.
• Over in the world of academia, UC Berkeley's Archaeological Research Facility hosted a talk from Paulina Przystupa on the depiction of archaeology, and archaeologists, in some recent comics, and the importance of such pop culture appearances for public perception of work in the field.
• Brian Hibbs welcomed R. Kikuo Johnson to Comix Experience for January’s edition of Graphic Novel of the Month Club, as they discussed No One Else, lessons learned from David Mazzucchelli and Chester Brown, discovering Wolverine, along with a presentation on how the book came together.
• New month, same Cartoonist Kayfabe, as Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg bent the spines on Punisher Batman, Nexus: The Origin, Spider-Man #41-43, Cyber Force #1, and X-Force #116, plus some more Stan Lee deposition, and a career-spanning shoot interview with Joe Quesada.
• A few trips up in the Word Balloon, as John Siuntres spoke with Tom King about recent Substack dealings and new project Love Everlasting, Dan Slott on Marvel Comics’ The Reckoning War and taking Doctor Who for a spin, and shared an archive interview with Brian Augustyn who sadly passed away this week.
• Closing out the week with Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come as Meg Lemke and Calvin Reid discussed Eric Orner’s new graphic biography Smahtguy: The Life and Times of Barney Frank, reviewed at PW here.
A day at the beach-- pic.twitter.com/9LnhZa7Xw6
— Chris Bachalo (@ShadeX6) February 2, 2022
That’s all for this week, back soon with more, unless I get called up for jury duty again.
— Julia Wertz (@Julia_Wertz) February 2, 2022