Well, there you have it, that’s a full lid on 2021. What have we learned? Absolutely nothing, for humanity is defined by its fallibility and repeated making of mistakes. So, with that in mind, let us close out the year with one last lot of links, a selection of which can be found below, before Baby New Year 2022 AD smashes through the wall, screaming in a blind rage, demanding that we do it all over again. Hooray!
— Olivia Sullivan (@zeb_ko) December 16, 2021
Come out to the coast, we'll get together, have a few laughs… This week’s news.
• After almost a whole two weeks of will-they-won’t-they, Dark Horse announced this week that indeed they will, as 2022 will see the publisher acquired by Swedish video game company Embracer Group, which went on something of a spending spree in the multimedia space this week, making some year end moves that will ensure a healthy dose of corporate #content synergy heading into the new year.
• The first of a triptych of resignation stories in the comics space to close out 2021, as Jamila Rowser announced she would be stepping down as Kickstarter’s Comics Outreach Consultant, following the company’s pivot to crypto, which has ruffled many a feather in the indie comics world, and may result in some viable competitors stepping up in 2022.
• Elsewhere, and John Barber has announced that he has exited his role as Editor in Chief of IDW, a decision that was “planned for a while now,” but comes in the wake of IDW’s losing various high profile property licenses, with more allegedly shifting homes soon.
• The third story in this trilogy, and Jen Sorensen has announced that she will be stepping down as President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists at the end of the year, handing over the role to Kevin Necessary, stating that “I have lost several clients due to the pandemic, and I very much need to turn my attention to my own work.”
• Closing out this year’s run of corporate moves news, ICv2 rounds up the end of 2021’s employment calendars, with new roles being accepted at Source Point Press and Heavy Metal, and The Beat covers AWA's new Executive Editor hire. Lookout for the start of 2022’s strategic manoeuvring very soon. It never ends.
• Our final comics prizes news story of the season, and the nominees for the Fifth Annual Prism Awards have been announced, with winners presented via virtual ceremony on Monday 27th December at 5pm PST.
• In memoriam, remembering those who the comics world has lost, as it was announced that Hiroshi Hirata, creator of Satsuma Gishiden, passed away on December 11th, aged 84; and that Belgian comics and storyboard artist Gérald Forton passed away on December 18th, aged 90.
— sloane (@sloanesloane) December 20, 2021
Last, but most certainly not least… This week’s reviews.
Alec Berry reviews the fizzling vignettes of Bastien Vivès’ The Butchery, translated by Jenna Allen - “There’s a peculiar cynicism inside Vivès’s story, and while it may seem predictable for a book about a relationship to end with a breakup, I don’t believe he treats the conclusion as so. It feels more so inevitable, which implies cynicism. But it’s not bitter. I just think Vivès aims to show us a whole picture. While breakups could very well be inevitable, all the rest of it — the dance, the park walks, the uncertainty of why you care — comes with the experience. And that’s worth something. Just as living a human life is worth something.”
• Justin Harrison reviews the clumsy frustrations of Tom King, Jorge Fornés, et al’s Rorschach.
• Alexandra Iciek reviews the satisfying characterisation of Ethan Sacks, Ibraim Roberson, et al’s Wastelanders: Hawkeye #1.
• Alex Cline reviews the potent chills of Junji Ito’s Deserter.
• Lia Williamson reviews the authentic fun of Samira Ahmed, Andres Genolet, et al’s Ms. Marvel: Beyond the Limit #1; and the pointless mundanity of Leah Williams, Lucas Werneck, et al’s X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #5.
• Nathan Simmons reviews the thrilling developments of Cliff Chiang’s Catwoman: Lonely City #2; and the ferocious entertainment of Jason Aaron, Mahmud Asrar, et al’s King Conan #1.
• David Brooke reviews the energetic ingenuity of Jason Aaron, Aaron Kruder, et al’s Avengers Forever #1; and the intense brawling of Jock et al’s Batman: One Dark Knight #1.
Zack Quaintance reviews the stylish charms of Cliff Chiang’s Catwoman: Lonely City #2.
Andy Oliver reviews the feelgood delights of Chris Roberson, ABEL, et al’s Stranger Things Winter Special.
• Meghan Damiano has a capsule review of the brutal beauty of Ed Brubaker, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente’s Friday, Volume 1: The First Day of Christmas.
• Jason L. Steagall has a capsule review of the well-paced action of James Harren and Dave Stewart’s Ultramega Volume 1.
• Russell Miller has a capsule review of the sparkling ambition of Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, et al’s Geiger Volume 1.
• Tom Batten has capsule reviews of:
- The hefty fascination of Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell’s Murder Book: A Graphic Memoir of a True Crime Obsession.
- The resonant hilarity of Send Help! A Collection of Marooned Cartoons, edited by John Adams and Ellis Rosen.
- The comprehensive approach of Xavier Dollo and Djibril Morrissette-Phan’s The History of Science Fiction: A Graphic Novel Adventure.
- The masterful poignancy of Koren Shadmi’s Lugosi: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Dracula.
• Martha Cornog has fresh capsule reviews of releases from the last year or so, including:
- The smart horror of Carmen Maria Machado, Dani, et al’s The Low, Low Woods.
- The compelling research of Ken Quattro’s Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books.
- The nuanced details of David F Walker and Marcus Kwame Anderson’s The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History.
- The unique collage of Rachel Marie-Crane Williams’ Elegy for Mary Turner: An Illustrated Account of a Lynching.
Kobi Bordoley reviews the gritty mystery of Mike Richardson, Jordi Armengol, et al’s Cloaked #1.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The creative pleasures of Antoine Cossé’s Metax.
- The eye-opening broadside of Darryl Cunningham’s Putin’s Russia: The Rise of a Dictator.
- The thought-provoking delights of Peter Hoey and Maria Hoey’s Animal Stories.
Women Write About Comics
• Elvie Mae Parian reviews the fumbled relationship of Paul Cornell, Emma Vieceli, et al’s The Modern Frankenstein.
• Bishop V. Navarro reviews the subtle moments of James Tynion IV, Tate Brombal, Chris Shehan, et al’s House of Slaughter #2.
My variant cover for HELLBOY: THE SWORD OF HYPERBOREA issue #3 by @artofmmignola @Robwilliams71 @getcampbell @QuintonWinter and @ClemRobins pic.twitter.com/ZbnAzvwX81
— Jesse Lonergan (@jesselonergans) December 22, 2021
And to all a good night… This week’s interviews.
Alex Dueben, with translation by Joe Johnson, interviews Lewis Trondheim about Dungeon, the series’ origins, intense writing schedules, avoiding reptiles and insects, and the story behind Ralph Azham - “Sometimes, a cartoonist makes our story bend towards his universe, but often, too, he ends up calling it quits, and someone else takes over the project. We’d written an underwater story intentionally for Dave Cooper in 2004, and Killofer drew it. We also wrote for Got, but then passed the story onto Mattotti, then to Bézian, and by the end, it felt like the book had been written for him. And when authors throw in the towel, when they call it quits, we’re disappointed, of course, but we understand completely that the commitment required to do a Dungeon volume is underestimated, and after a few frames, the cartoonist understands the mountain rising before him and prefers to take his own road.”
• Joe Grunenwald talks to Mike Richardson about Cloaked, mashing up genres, what makes a good PI, and Dark Horse’s various superheroes.
• Avery Kaplan speaks with Christina Diaz Gonzalez and Gabriela Epstein about Invisible, creating a bilingual narrative, marrying diegetic translations and context clues, and media influences.
• Taimur Dar chats with Skottie Young about I Hate Fairyland, making the project collaborative, growth through repetition, and missing in-person conventions.
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Brooks Sutherland talks to Kevin Necessary about taking over the role of President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, what the role comprises, and the rapidly changing landscape of editorial cartooning.
Jim McLauchlin speaks to comics retailers from American and Canada about staffing stores in 2021, the realities of managing from home, the pandemic labor market, and minimum wage rates.
Alex Dueben interviews Terry Blas about Lifetime Passes and appreciating the time you have, Bill Campbell about The Day the Klan Came to Town and researching the varied history of discrimination in America, and Natasha Donovan about Borders and pandemic work processes.
Matthew Jackson talks to Jock about Batman: One Dark Knight, keeping the opening issue bustling, the return of the blue cape, and tragic villains.
Somethin about that desert magic pic.twitter.com/413ARRSGNJ
— PATRICK (@zapfriend) December 21, 2021
Getting to the heart of things… This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Valerio Stivé writes in remembrance and celebration of Tuono Pettinato (aka Andrea Paggiaro) who passed away in June of this year, and his comics legacy that remains - “[Tuono’s] creativity could not be contained. Neither could his brilliant intelligence and profound knowledge of pop culture and high culture. With his gags he was able to bring together a profound love of life with a cynical black humor, while showing a unique ability to open a breach on entire worlds to which anyone could relate.”
• Also for TCJ, Mardou reflects on two decades of Michel Rabagliati’s Paul stories, the loss to English-language comics that untranslated Paul stories represent, and the narratives to be found within their pages - “The only constant in life is change and as the characters evolve in this series, so does the material world around them. Rabgliati gives close attention to the politics and visual look of each era his characters grow through. Montreal landmarks look large over the series and Rabagliati gives us a history of his home.”
• Sloane Leong has new blog posts on good storytelling and good dialogue, and the elements that comprise these, as well as thoughts on comics mentorship and the narrative aspects to be communicated to developing creators.
• For NeoText, Michael Ruffino considers just what it is about Gotham’s Dark Defender© and The Most Wonderful Time of the Year™ that lets them pair together like mistletoe and wine.
• Broken Frontier feature Fahmida Azim’s new interactive webcomic I Am A Leader Of My House, and get an inside look from PositiveNegative and The New Humanitarian about how the project came about, and the importance of highlighting the stories of Rohingya people fleeing genocide in Myanmar.
• For Women Write About Comics, Kat Overland convenes the site’s contributors to hash out what makes a zine, and the spectrum of related projects that exists in the crowdfunding and social media era.
• The best-of 2021s continue, as the year draws to a close, with fresh entries from AIPT, Forbes, The Herald, The Irish Times, and Entertainment Weekly as to the comicked books that deserved the most praise from the past 12 months [hold for polite applause].
• Multiversity Comics, meanwhile, continues their fractal round-up of every quantifiable aspect of comics from 2021, sharing this year’s best new series, limited series, concluded series, publishers, small presses, cartoonists, translated series, mangaka, manga series, letterers, colorists, and cover artists.
• Also going the granular route, Ryan Carey lists Four Color Apocalypse’s best of the best, for 2021, with round ups of the year’s finest in terms of single-issue comics, ongoing series, and some special mentions, with more to come through the week.
• Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s goings-ons as featured in editooning, as omicron comes home for Christmas, and budgetary humbugs abound.
• Closing out the year’s reading with some open-access academia, as ImageTexT has papers from José Alaniz on Russia’s queer comics subculture, Benjamin Fraser on the architectural and mystical boundaries present in Seth’s Clyde Fans, and Natsume Fusanosuke (translated by Jon Holt and Teppei Fukuda) on the importance of panel construction in manga expression.
• Elsewhere, but still in the free-to-read scholarly world, and Adnan Mahmutovic examines the transnational iconography of Ms. Marvel for the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, and Kabita Mondal and Joydeep Banerjee explore the unique aesthetics of Appupen’s satirical works for the Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities.
hand-drawn wrapping paper for the boy pic.twitter.com/g9nhqU6kjj
— jake wyatt --displayed as c̶o̶n̵te̴n̸t̷-- (@jakewyattriot) December 20, 2021
Recorded live from the North Pole… This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Batman Books continue to Burn in Hell, and this week Tucker Stone and Matt Seneca are joined by Anya Davidson to discuss some classic weird Batmanning, and bask in the glory of Dick Sprang, as The Jungle Cat Queen, and Catwoman’s last hurrah (for a chaste time), are appraised.
• Jeet Heer’s Morbid Symptoms podcast returned to comic book fare once more this week, as Joe McCulloch joined proceedings to assess the politics of Steve Ditko, and how these themes appear in both Ditko’s work-for-hire and creator-owned stories.
• Cartoonist Kayfabe is prepping for the holidays, but in the meantime there were videos aplenty on Kyle Baker’s Plastic Man, Tim Truman and John Ostrander’s Grimjack, Jack Kirby on Captain Victory, and a fresh batch of deposition as Jim Shooter takes aim at Fantagraphics, and there’s a new shoot interview with R Kikuo Johnson.
• Deb Aoki hosted this week’s episode of Mangasplaining, as the team enjoyed a light respite with Fujita’s Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, and whether its core concept of nerd-love lands for the uninitiated.
• 2000 AD’s Thrill Cast bid farewell to 2021 with a look back on how things went for the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic and the Treasury of British Comics, as MOLCH-R, Matt Smith, and Olivia Hicks discussed the things to celebrate from a very odd year.
• Ending the year’s links with Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come’s review of 2021, with Calvin Reid, Heidi MacDonald, and Kate Fitzsimons looking back at the various highs and many, many lows of the comics industry from the past 365 days, and how they might influence the next year of business-as-usual.
Ho ho ho ! Joyeuses fêtes les amis, joyeuse période hivernale sympa pour ceux qui fêtent pas Noël ou quoi, en tout cas bisou tout le monde et prenez bien soin de vous ♥️ pic.twitter.com/dfBC81Cjkw
— Libon (@libon_) December 20, 2021
And that is your lot! I hope that you’re able to have a peaceful end to the year, wherever you may be, and that 2022 brings a prosperous start filled with naught but the finest of comics #content.
New commission: a Muppet version of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN featuring Pepé the King Prawn and Link Hogthrob. Mixed media on 8.5 X 11" bristol board. Special thanks to @Hafuboti, who came up with the main idea! #MuppetMonday pic.twitter.com/cdwCTS9eFs
— Bruce McCorkindale (@brucemccorkinda) December 20, 2021