There was a bit during the inauguration, coverage of which I second screened while reading depressing articles about vaccine distribution this week in which the commentators started waxing lyrical about when an escalator in the capitol was commissioned, explained why attendees weren’t using an elevator, and speculated on whether a particular carpet was a trip hazard, and I just closed every tab I had open, and let the universal mundanity of the political process wash over me like a digital baptism.
Luckily, prior to closing those tabs, I’d collated them for your reading pleasure!
The links are below, so get thee to a clickery!
Give me a break. Enjoying this approach with colored pencil — suggestions on characters to attempt with this style? pic.twitter.com/Fr1JPFPY00
— Dan Hipp (@MISTERHIPP) January 17, 2021
They didn't start chasing us until you turned on that getaway music… This week’s news.
• Kicking things off with a confused shrug, as Fleen highlights a recent communication from SPX throwing into stark relief just how many unknowns there are around mass-gatherings this year, let alone those reliant on international travel, and the problems that event organizers face, as the long-term realities of vaccine distribution (ie, it ain’t quick, and it ain’t easy) sink in.
• Meanwhile, continuing a window of publisher and distro personnel shuffling, that will surely go down in history as akin to the annual monarch butterfly migration in its majesty, there’s changes afoot at SDCC, Skybound, BOOM!, and Diamond Distribution’s parent corp. Truly breathtaking.
• Le Monde apologized this week after printing a transphobic cartoon that also manages to both diminish the suffering of victims of sexual abuse and incest and draw false equivalences between all the above, in a single panel, which has in turn led its author, Xavier Gorce, to quit the paper, but not before posting one final cartoon invoking the classic "I don't see why people are offended" beat - The Daily Cartoonist has a breakdown of the incident, and with both cartoons still appearing on Le Monde's website, the question of "why did it pass editorial in the first place?" becomes moot. SEO and click-throughs have a lot to answer for.
• Starting the awards machine back up, and there are some submission deadlines looming on the horizon as you’ve got until the end of the day to enter this year’s Doug Wright Awards and the National Cartoonist Society Divisional Reuben Awards, until February 15th to submit to the Cartoon Studio Prize, and until March 15th to submit to the Eisners, so don’t miss your chance for eternal glory.
• Embracing the spirit of the season, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists announced its new officers for 2021/22 this week, with Jen Sorensen accepting the office of President, and Ed Hall sitting as Vice-President.
• Following in the footsteps of WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, embracing the bright new digital future that streaming services, DRM, and temporary product ownership offer publishers, DC Comics have relaunched their proprietary digital subscription service as DC Universe Infinite, offering periodical titles to users 6 months after publication but likely soon to be reduced to 3 months to keep up with Marvel Unlimited or I’ll eat my branded headwear, and likely eyeing up the recent profit reports (and lashings and lashings of user data) from various digital-only comics platforms.
• Auction news returns as the Hero Initiative and Book Industry Charitable Foundation team up for a series of ‘Double Visions’ auctions, taking place from 2nd February to 4th May, pairing up artists to create original pieces to raise funds for both organizations. Two heads, as Power Tool once sang, are better than one.
Some of my Snoopy drawings! pic.twitter.com/ew9GaSM4YX
— Mathew New (@MathewNew) January 20, 2021
That’s a nice gourd… This week’s reviews.
• Bob Levin returns, with a new dispatch from Goshkin, reviewing the serious hopes of Charles Willams’ Cosmic Giggles - “Williams had kept holstered the fire-power with which his personal circumstances would have been expected to arm him. While Cosmic Giggles was occasionally, mildly Afro-centric, its only gay references were a couple leaden “fag” jokes; and there was no blitz-the-rich class resentment cracking through. Goshkin thought the humor faint, the flair modest, the criticism more “Darn” than “Damn.” There was none of the break-the-mold, engagingly demented, WTF individuality which compelled attention to Williams’ sculpture and assemblages.”
• Austin English has a series of capsule reviews of comics read during Our Pandemic Year, including:
- San Francisco Comic Book #6, edited by Gary Arlington.
- Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Art Simek’s Amazing Spider Man #7.
- Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, et al’s Immortal Hulk.
- Gluyas Williams’ The Best of Gluyas Williams: 100 Drawings.
- Claire Bretécher’s National Lampoon Presents Claire Bretécher.
- Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, et al’s X-Men Essential volume 3.
- Josh Bayer’s Theth: Tomorrow Forever.
- Isa Genzken’s Mach Dich Hübsch!.
• Ronnie Gorham reviews the winning potential of Victor Gischler, Niko Walter, et al’s Mann’s World #1.
• Hugh O’Donnell reviews the cosmic melodrama of Steve Orlando, Davide Tinto, et al’s Commanders in Crisis #4.
• David Brooke reviews the intriguing intensity of Matt Kindt, Matt Lesniewski, et al’s Crimson Flower #1.
Avery Kaplan reviews:
- The collaborative celebrations of Jamie Hewlett, Ed Caruana, Thomas O’Malley, et al’s Gorillaz Almanac 2020.
- The engaging conflicts of Saladin Ahmed, Sami Kivelä, et al’s Abbott 1973.
- The easy swiftness of Mathew Erman, Shelby Criswell, et al’s Terminal Punks #3.
Four Color Apocalypse
House To Astonish
Rob Salkowitz has capsule reviews of the passionate competency of David Walker and Marcus Kwame Anderson’s The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History, the engrossing imaginings of Tim Fielder’s Infinitum, and the atypical grindhouse of Ho Che Anderson’s Stone.
Have a capsule review of the charming honesty of Margaret Kimball’s And Now I Spill the Family Secrets.
The Library Journal
Tom Batten has starred capsule reviews of:
- The entertaining idiosyncrasies of Naoki Urasawa’s Asadora! Volume 1.
- The witty adventures of Jerome Mulot, et al’s The Grande Odalisque, translated by Montana Kane.
- The visceral thrills of Lavie, Tidhar, and Paul McCaffrey’s Adler.
- The empathetic nuance of Margaret Kimball’s And Now I Spill the Family Secrets*.
*nb, this review appears to be spliced with another, so just read the first half, or you’ll wonder why a graphic memoir is apparently “a fast-paced science fiction spin on the Count of Monte Cristo” - learn from my mistakes!
• Kobi Bordoley reviews the exemplary pathos of W. Maxwell Prince, Vanesa Del Rey, et al’s HAHA #1.
• Brian Salvatore reviews the masterful simplicity of Eric Peterson, Joe Aubrey, Darick Robertson, et al’s Space Bastards #1.
• Christopher Egan reviews the multilayered intrigues of Tom King, Jorge Fornes, et al's Rorschach #4.
• Elias Rosner reviews the charming schadenfreude of Jean-Luc Deglin's Rascal, translated by Edward Gauvin.
• Gregory Ellner reviews the formulaic disorientation of Francesco Dimitri, Mario Alberti, et al's Cutting Edge: The Devil’s Mirror #1.
• Christa Harader reviews the effective establishing of Zac Thompson, Andy MacDonald, et al's I Breathed A Body #1.
Carmen Maria Machado reviews the sparkling tenderness of Aminder Dhaliwal’s Cyclopedia Exotica.
• Ryan Carey reviews the sporadic vulnerability of Noah Van Sciver’s Please Don’t Step On My JNCO Jeans.
• Rob Clough reviews the intellectual misanthropy of Gabrielle Bell’s Inappropriate.
• Tom Shapira reviews the hopeful abstractions of Héctor Oesterheld and Alberto Breccia’s The Eternaut 1969, translated by Erica Mena.
• Nicholas Burman reviews the singular graphic medicine/horror of Lucy Sullivan’s Barking.
Women Write About Comics
• Kayleigh Hearn reviews the existentialist enormity of Kieron Gillen, Esad Ribić, et al’s The Eternals #1.
• Doris V. Sutherland reviews the atmospheric eloquence of Joe Hill, Stuart Immonen, et al’s Plunge.
— Silver Sprocket (@ssbcpunk) January 20, 2021
Live from New York, it’s… This week’s interviews.
Ian Thomas interviews Rory Blank about making the jump to full-time comics creation, the monotony of lockdown life, syndicated strip favorites, and time theft - “Sketchbooks are a lot of pressure because it’s going to be in the book forever. You want everything that you draw in the sketchbook to be like an important page, so that if somebody is looking at the sketchbook in its totality later, they’re going to say ‘Ah, another great page!’ and if you fuck it up then you feel like you ruined the entire sketch book or you have to rip out page. If you have a single piece of printer paper that looks good, you hold onto it. I'm holding a full piece of printer paper right now that has the entirety of the comic strip that I posted today on it in loose drawings. But if I’d done this whole page and it turned out I didn't like it, I could very easily crumple it up and throw it away and then not worry about it.”
Chris Coplan talks to Vault Comics’ Adrian Wassel and Damian Wassel about the publisher’s plans for 2021, servicing the genre fiction market, catalog aesthetics, and market realities for direct distribution; and then Bad Idea's Hunter Gorinson, Dinesh Shamdasani, and Warren Simons about their plans for 2021, lessons to be learned from the Big 2, and finding gaps in the market.
Emily Oomen talks to Ellen Forney, Gemma Correll, and Ian Williams about their paths to (and through) graphic medicine.
• Nancy Powell interviews Lilah Sturges about Girl Haven, the importance of trans stories told by trans people, showing your world building to the wider public, and the influence of Narnia on her storytelling.
• Matt O’Keefe chats with Lex Wilson and Anthony Gregori abou Starweed, crowdfunding success stories, the influence of Sergio Aragones, tracking down blueprints of Lenin’s tomb, and storytelling freedoms.
• Deanna Destito taks to Paul Allor and Paul Tucker about Hollow Heart, throwback science fiction inspirations, empathy, and colour palettes.
The Hollywood Reporter
Graeme McMillan interviews Patton Oswalt about his enthusiasm for Black Hammer, why writing blurbs will sometimes get you a bigger gig, and not pinning everything on the reader.
Brigid Alverson talks to Ryan Estrada and Kim Hyun-Sook about Banned Book Club, settling down pre-COVID, book publishing based on blabbing of secrets, and choosing the details to leave in.
Daniel Elkin presents a new edition of ‘Knowing is Half the Battle’, as Jennifer Hayden gives her view on expectations of publishers and agents, why the return of comic shows is extremely necessary, and not working for prestige.
Jeff Spry interviews Matt Kindt and Matt Lesniewski about Crimson Flower, folktale inspirations, reality distortions, and psychedelic revenge stories.
Stuart Derdeyn talks to Pia Guerra about anger leading to editorial cartoons, keeping an eye on social media during a time of upheaval, and anticipating a slightly less heightened world to depict post-January 20th.
Women Write About Comics
Wendy Browne interviews Ayize Jama-Everett and John Jennings about Box of Bones, Harvard fellowships, tastes in horror, and the importance of the ‘EthnoGothic’ genre.
— A KeMiro For All Seasons - Accepting Commissions! (@kemiroart) January 21, 2021
Reading for fun, when there’s no fun to be had… This week’s features and comics.
• For NeoText, Benjamin Marra presents a gallery of Bill Sienkiewicz' cover illustrations, Chloe Maveal reminds us all that, first and foremost, Alan Moore is just a very funny writer; and Howard Chaykin looks back at the Un Uomo Un’Avventura series of comic albums, details the creators that graced its pages, with personal critiques on each (as well as bemoaning their lack of appreciation in the North American market), and settles the score for a personal grudge against Alex Toth. Classic stuff!
• Over at 13th Dimension, Paul Kupperberg collates a list of the greatest DC (and a couple of Archie) comics that never were, but live on as proposals and pitch documents, never knowing rest, in an eternal literary purgatory, screaming to be made real.
• Shelfdust’s Infinite Crisis continues, as Gregory Paul Silber digs into the mystery of why the world’s greatest detective allows himself to get framed for murder quite so often, and Grace Kaluba highlights Nightwing's key asset, while Terrence Sage covers the missed opportunities (some for the better) of DC’s Black Lightning #1 for Back Comics History.
• The Daily Cartoonist charted the final week in which we can ever expect to see political cartoons focused on the nation’s 45th President, I’m sure, including social media lockouts, conspiracy theories, the changing of the guard, business as usual, and a look back over 4 years of low points.
• Meanwhile, away from the political beat, DD Degg looks back at the work of Bill Brewer, and his locally published rarity, Willy Muffit, or, due to printing errors (??), Willy Muffet, which lasted a grand total of 6 weeks. Better to have loved and lost, and all that, eh.
• The new year brings with it a fresh slate of upcoming titles from various publishers, looking ahead to spring releases, likely in another vacuum when it comes to in-person launches, and there’s previews for Avery Hill, SelfMadeHero, Rebellion, Silver Sprocket, TKO Studios, Drawn & Quarterly, and a round-up from across the board over at Publisher’s Weekly.
• For Women Write About Comics, Max Markov writes on the family unit as depicted in Marvel’s First Family, and the portrayal of adoption issues and generational failings in Fantastic Four.
• Over at House to Astonish, continuing Paul O’Brien’s definitive history of the ol’ canucklehead, Wolverine has made it to the 80s, and the X-Men are about to hit… The Big Time.
• Some longform comics from The Nib this week, as Anya Davidson covers the growing incidence of vehicular attacks on protestors, and the insidious white supremacy they embody, Ben Passmore writes on the history of Martin Luther King, Jr that isn’t taught in schools, and Dorian Alexander and Robin Tess look at the genderfluid allegory of X-Men's Mystique, while Elizabeth Haidle takes a Hulked out odyssey of roadside oddities.
If you haven't already, now's a good time to jump on our Patreon: we'll be publishing a new 8-page comic on there every fortnight! Our first comic, 'Sister Company' by the fantastic @1SLES, goes up tomorrow. https://t.co/ckS52w9ESd pic.twitter.com/546alGjYPV
— ShortBox (@Short_Box) January 19, 2021
Webster’s defines #content as… This week’s recommended watching.
• The Believer and Black Mountain Institute welcomed Leslie Hook to their series of virtual comics workshops last week, taking viewers through the art of time travelling via comics, and why pandemic chronology is like taffy (starts around the 7 minute mark).
• Comix Experience have released some more Comics Masterpiece Selection videos, as Brian Hibbs spoke in-depth to Stan Sakai about Usagi Yojimbo, Scott McCloud about Understanding Comics, and Mark Waid about DC’s Kingdom Come, as well as looking back at their wider comics careers, and January's Graphic Novel of the Month Club welcomed Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips to talk about Reckless.
• Comic-Con International have started a new weekly strand of educational videos, over on their YouTube channel, kicking things off with panel talks on comics as a tool for literacy with kindergarten readers, use of comics in university and colleges, and use of comics in educational settings to teach civic awareness.
• Fantagraphics and Floating World Comics hosted a launch event for Patrick Keck's new book, Peepers, as Keck chatted with Tim Goodyear about character origin stories, working out color choices, and the joys of organic matter and anatomy.
• Don Rosa returned with a new dispatch, from his studio this time, rather than his comics bunker, discussing tech and work setups, stories behind what's on his walls, including his degree in civil engineering, and choosing the comics life over animation.
• It’s a week with seven days in it, which can only mean one thing - more Cartoonist Kayfabe videos on the horizon, thousands of ‘em, and you can vicariously take a look at work by Will Eisner, Moore and Campbell, R. Crumb, Sam Kieth, Darwyn Cooke, and Walt Simonson.
• Noah Van Sciver's cartoonist chats returned this week, as he spoke to Nate Powell about the majority of books not winning awards or acclaim, the Top Shelf editorial styles, destigmatizing cartooning while otherwise employed, and opposing the rise of fascism with art while maintaining a bubble of personal safety.
— Ann Telnaes (@AnnTelnaes) January 21, 2021
Trees all around us… This week’s recommended listening.
• Bloomington’s WFHB had a program this week on American radicalism, and the comics of Art Young, as Michael Mark Cohen discusses the importance of visual artists in the political organizing of the Haymarket Generation.
• Shelfdust Presents welcomed Caitlin Rosberg to the show to discuss James Stokoe’s Sobek, and why it is quantifiably like a tasty lemon meringue pie.
• Mex Flentallo welcomed Tony Fleecs to the show to discuss the important topics - why water is bad, when Stray Dogs is out, and why WildC.A.T.S. is… good?(?)
• Off Panel pointed out to see and screamed this week, as David Harper spoke to Zander Cannon about Kaijumax, what giant monsters really represent, telling stories when the world is burning, and comics having seasons not series.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come wished a hearty congratulations to Gene Luen Yang for winning The Beat’s Comic Book Industry Person of the Year for 2020, and then discussed what’s going on at DC and the coverage it has garnered, along with what’s going on at Z2 Comics and TKO Studios and the coverage (???) that has garnered.
— JOHNNY RYAN (@JOHNNYRYAN101) January 18, 2021
Those are all the links for this week, and I’d swear that on a bible in front of the world, just see if I wouldn’t.
Back next week with more, you know the score!
Couldn't resist. pic.twitter.com/M3w6ZqxUqW
— Fantagraphics Books (@fantagraphics) January 21, 2021