It’s heatwave o’clock, which means that the spectre of looming climate catastrophe is completely up in this business, and all I can picture in my mind’s eye is slowly trudging up the stairs of a now abandoned server farm, decked out in post-apocalyptic leather gear, carrying my digital reading device in one hand, getting mere steps from being able to plug it into one of the dilapidated stacks and download all the reading material I’ll need for the end of the world, before a wracking cough causes me to drop the proprietary electronic tablet, breaking it irreparably, as a hologram Burgess Meredith looks on pityingly while I sit there sobbing. Apocalypse or not, there’s always time to read this week’s links, which you can find below.
does photoshop messing up the automatic photomerge from multiple scans qualify as AI art? it did definitely generate a mood pic.twitter.com/FIJbSvCuJC
— tonči zonjić (@tozozozo) June 12, 2022
Picture if you will… This week’s news.
• Starting this week off with our regular ‘legal action over fish-bowl-headed villains’ update, as The Hollywood Reporter shares news that Netflix and Dark Horse have settled a lawsuit from Kevin Atkinson alleging that the design for Umbrella Academy’s AJ Carmichael character was lifted from Rogue Satellite Comics. East Texas’ federal court had previously dismissed the lawsuit twice, acknowledging the characters’ similarities, but stating that claims that Umbrella Academy creator Gerard Way would have seen Rogue Satellite Comics in the course of employment at a comic-book store were too speculative.
• Embracer Group, owners of Dark Horse Media as of March 2022, issued a statement this week defending the decision to accept a $1 billion investment from the Savvy Gaming Group, part of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the current chairman of which is Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who has been accused of various human rights violations - the amount invested represents an 8.1% stake in Embracer.
• Prizegiving news, and Lee Lai’s Stone Fruit has won the 2022 Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ* Comics, and the 2022 Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, with jurors of the latter noting that the book “...is one of those rare graphic novels where everything — story, text, images, style — comes together in full complement to create a memorable, moving experience for readers.”
• In other prize news, Danica Novgorodoff’s adaptation of Jason Reynolds’ Long Way Down has been awarded the 2022 Yoto Kate Greenaway medal, the first graphic novel to do so in almost 50 years.
• The Beat reports on DC’s official move into the Frank Gehry designed Second Century Project, noting the farewells offered to the publisher’s previous home of the Pointe, at a time when home and remote working is becoming more widespread.
• WebToon apologised this week after one of its New York City subway adverts stated that “Comics are literature’s fun side-hustle,” which went down about as well as one would imagine, resulting in a quick about-face as the digital platform wiped a kerchief across its brow, loosened its collar, and posted that, actually, “We live and breathe comics every day. They aren’t a side hustle, a second choice, or an afterthought.”
• Koyama Provides announced the latest recipient of their grant program, awarding $1,500 to Shawn Kuruneru, which will be used to continue self-publishing ongoing series Alien Glove.
• United Workers of Seven Seas announced this week that 4 members of their proposed union have been deemed ineligible for their bargaining unit, as they have been legally classified as ‘supervisors’ by publisher Seven Seas and labour and employment firm Ogletree Deakins - the final tally of eligible individuals is now 36, with 28 pledging support for the union, giving UWSS a supermajority in their upcoming vote in August.
• In memoriam, remembering those the comics world has lost, as news was shared on Thursday that Tim Sale has passed away, aged 66, after being admitted to hospital earlier this week - tributes were posted on Twitter from friends, fans, and peers.
— beetle moses (@beetlemoses) June 14, 2022
Hot, hot, hot off the presses… This week’s reviews.
• Leonard Pierce reviews the compelling evocativeness of Juliana Hyrri et al’s The Nightingale that Never Sang, translated with Zach Dodson - “Hyrri’s drawing style is simple and effective, almost childlike itself with its distorted lines and rough shadings that creep over their edges. But the composition and arrangement is quietly sophisticated, with a natural elegance that belongs not just to childhood but to nature itself - suitable for these stories where the delineation of the civilized adult world and the wild places of the natural world blur together like dreams at the edge of waking.”
• Helen Chazan reviews the marketable schlock of Yasuki Tanaka’s Summertime Rendering Vol. 1 & 2, translated by Jocelyne Allen - “The artwork does a lot of the heavy lifting here, pleasantly polished and just loose enough to scan as distinctive to a reader who has only read popular shōnen manga from the last ten years and nothing else. On closer inspection, Tanaka and his studio’s cartooning isn’t really all that great - panel compositions are as rushed as the pacing, and most locations are vaguely defined at best.”
• Keith Silva reviews the freeform self-discovery of Adam de Souza’s ish - “De Souza’s cartooning has a loose clarity that prioritizes feelings over facts; it’s like trying to analyze an unmade bed. ish looks–more to the point, feels–like de Souza has transposed his sketchbook onto the comic page with borders and panels defined as much by negative space as the actual lines, all of which leans into its feel (i.e. personality).”
• David Canham reviews the intriguing questions of Zack Kaplan and John Pearson’s Mindset #1.
• David Brooke reviews the riveting stakes of Daniel Warren Johnson et al’s Do A Powerbomb #1.
• Noelle Modelo reviews the compelling brutality of Scott Snyder, Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, et al’s Undiscovered Country: Destiny Man Special.
• Ryan Sonneville reviews the approachable discussions of Beka Feathers and Ally Shwed’s Why The People.
• Robert Reed reviews the rote apocalypse of Robert Windom, Kevin Mao, Jae Lee, et al’s Seven Sons #1.
• Cori McCreery reviews the old and the new of Meghan Fitzmartin, Belén Ortega, Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque, et al’s DC Pride: Tim Drake Special #1.
• Avery Kaplan reviews the romantic tension of Josh Trujillo, Jodi Nishijima, et al’s Hulkling & Wiccan #1.
• Hayden Mears reviews the enjoyable weirdness of Matt Bors, Ben Clarkson, et al’s Justice Warriors #1.
• Ricardo Serrano Denis reviews the explosive emotions of Daniel Warren Johnson et al’s Do A Powerbomb #1.
Andy Oliver reviews the touching celebration of Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper Vol. 1-4; the captivating comedy of Okura’s I Think Our Son is Gay Vol. 1 & 2, translated by Leo McDonagh; and the engaging clarity of Joel Christian Gill’s Tales of the Talented Tenth #3.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews the unique authenticity of Alex Nall’s Town & County #1, and the flawless creativity of Steven Arnold’s Perry Midlife, and the bizarre fun of Nate Garcia’s Gecko.
From Cover to Cover
Scott Cederlund has capsule reviews of Mike Mignola and Olivier Vatine’s Hellboy and the BPRD: Night of the Cyclops, Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips’ That Texas Blood #14, and Ram V and Christian Ward’s Aquaman: Andromeda Book One.
House to Astonish
Paul O’Brien reviews the promotional prologues of Marvel Comics’ Free Comic Book Day: Avengers / X-Men / Eternals; and the grounded resurrection of Steve Orlando, Nyla Rose, David Cutler, et al’s Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird #1.
• Joe Skonce reviews the delightful chaos of Christine Larsen’s Orcs!: The Curse #1.
• Gregory Ellner reviews the intriguing nihilism of G. Willow Wilson, Marcio Takara, et al’s Poison Ivy #1.
• Kobi Bordoley reviews the nuanced apocalypse of Mark Sable, Alberto Locatelli, et al’s Where Starships Go To Die #1.
• Elias Rosner reviews the lively fantasy of Nadia Shammas, Sara Alfageeh, et al’s Squire.
• Alexander Jones reviews the rushed twists of Daniel Warren Johnson's Do A Powerbomb #1.
The New York Times
Eugene Yelchin reviews the masterly transformations of Liam Francis Walsh’s Red Scare.
Steve Morris reviews the sophisticated anarchy of DC Thompson’s The Beano #4139.
Nicholas Burman reviews the expansive surrealism of Martin Vaughn-James’ Elephant and Projector.
Taking a moment to appreciate the variety in the design and beauty of handheld console design: pic.twitter.com/0yVrG43tej
— StephenMauriceGraham (@400facts) June 9, 2022
Conversations with acquaintances… This week’s interviews.
• Ian Thomas interviews United Workers of Seven Seas about their moves to unionise, reasoning behind this decision, and the desired outcomes of their collective bargaining - “Fortunately, the day-to-day at the office has been business as usual. We can’t speak to the reactions of any creators or licensors with whom we work in the interest of protecting their privacy, but the public support and enthusiasm for our campaign on social media has been heartening!”
• RJ Casey interviews the Freak Comics Collective about bad soft drink flavours, getting the band together, and accessible experimentation - “[Miles MacDiarmid:] I always tell people looking at an anthology that it’s really the best bang for your buck. If you really do hate a comic in there—there’s such a weird, wide breadth of different styles and artists—you might love the next story. We want to make a big bag of candy. Sometimes you might not like the nasty, slimy licorice in there, but there’s probably something good that you’ll like.”
• Chris Hassan talks to Roy Thomas about X-Men, mutant relationships, fan favourites, and the realities of writing scripts for the silver screen.
• David Brooke speaks with Nicole Maines and Tom Taylor about Superman: Son of Kal-El #13, crazy idea synergy, and writing relatable queer superheroes.
• Chris Coplan chats to Chris Ryall about Groom Lake: Grey Skies Above, collaborators on the book, alien vices, and the contemporary dangers of conspiracy theories.
• Cori McCreery interviews Nicole Maines and Tom Taylor about Superman: Son of Kal-El #13, DC’s new lineup of queer superheroes, and avoiding fan comics.
• George Carmona III talks to Karama Horne and Shawn Martinbrough about curating ‘The Artist’s Experience: From Brotherman to Batman’, and the Black artists featured within.
• Deanna Destito chats with Erik Burnham about Lady Hel, scratching various genre itches, and what to expect from this jumping on point.
• Avery Kaplan interviews George Gant about Beware of Toddler, joining Comics Kingdom webcomics origins, and favourite video games.
Rob Salkowitz speaks with Liam Sharp about Starhenge, bringing genres together for a cohesive adventure story, and the numbers behind crowdfunding and publisher-backed comics.
• Rob Salkowitz also interviews:
- Webtoon Unscrolled’s Bobbie Chase about bringing vertical-scroll comics to print, and the platform’s surfeit of content and IP.
- Tapas’ Alex Carr about helping creators transition their work from the screen to bookstores, and publishing and distribution partners involved in this endeavour.
• Brigid Alverson talks to:
- Yen Press’ JuYoun Lee about the publisher’s Ize imprint, and the decisions behind adapting web comics for physical media.
- Seven Seas entertainment’s Lianne Sentar and Lissa Pattillo about licensing decisions, and geographical differences in taste.
- Rocketship Entertainment’s Tom Akel about webtoon crowdfunding campaigns, and sales to online audience correlation.
The Los Angeles Times
Jevon Phillips speaks with ChrissCross and Geoffrey Thorne about Blood Syndicate’s return, and with players in the Milestone Initiative about what the program is bringing to the table.
Brian Salvatore talks to Joshua Williamson about Dark Crisis, generational superhero history, coordinating the big stories, and death in the DC universe.
• Tai Gooden chats with Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith about Wash Day Diaries, finding a niche in josei manga, the importance of details in more mundane stories, and relationships with hair.
• Amy Ratcliffe talks to Patton Oswalt and Jordan Blum about Minor Threats, shared love for villains, honour among thieves, and making the environment a character in itself.
Women Write About Comics
• Wendy Browne interviews Chris Grine about Secrets of Camp Whatever, the realities of life at summer camp, working with sensitivity readers, and American Sign Language apps.
• Masha Zhdanova speaks with Alec Longstreth about Isle of Elsi, financial decisions behind going the webcomics route, and lessons learned at the Center for Cartoon Studies.
Here is a four-page autobio comic I did almost five years ago about being trans. My art has gotten a lot better since then, but I think the sentiments here still stand. So Happy Pride. Fuck the governments who want us gone, or who are unwilling to do anything to help. pic.twitter.com/HAaorNI9Ji
— Comix by Chloe™️ (@Chloe_in_pink) June 9, 2022
Can also be used as a fan if printed out… This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Tasha Lowe-Newsome writes on the characters and themes to be found in the work of Melanie Gillman, and contexts of current book-banning movements in the US - “In the minds of those who advocate censorship, the YA space is a battleground. Adolescence is a time of change and curiosity. Young adult readers are hungrier for stories of “others” or outsiders than even adult readers. Bodies, hormones, and awakening personal and gender identity, as well as sexuality, are all important to the YA reader - even more so if they are struggling with any of those, or are part of otherwise marginalized populations themselves. While this has always been the case, the current moment is particularly fraught for LGBTQ youth.”
• Also at TCJ, Bob Levin returns with a new dispatch from Goshkin, handed Gary Panter’s Crashpad, available in duelling formats, to ruminate on - “Panter was now 70. If he had acquired wisdom, it must have seemed time to share it. And the “cosmic order” he hoped to “pass on” seemed to coalesce around installing a sense of one-ness. Man-with-Man. Man-with-Earth. Man-with-Cosmos. It appeared that, given present circumstances, the purpose of the oneness was to keep man from destroying his planet. If you wanted to save the planet, creating a comic book might not have been the first thing to come to mind, but, Goshkin would concede, adding one grain of sand to the dam against rising oceans could not hurt.”
• For The Middle Spaces, Dr Vincent Haddad charts the return of Milestone Media, the work of Dwayne McDuffie on Milestone’s line of comics, and examines the context of John Rozum and JJ Birch’s Xombi with the 1992 L.A. uprisings.
• Over at Publisher’s Weekly, Heidi MacDonald cover the fightback against book removals from school and public libraries in the US, and speaks to those involved in challenging the challenges; and Rob Salkowitz profiles Linda Sunshine, and dives into her unsung role in ushering in the age of bound comic collections for the book market.
• With today marking the 50th anniversary of Watergate, for The Washington Post, Michael Cavna spotlights 8 key political illustrations and cartoons from the time, and the people who made them, as open season was declared on President Richard Nixon.
• For Shelfdust, Steve Morris writes on the express confirmation of Connor Hawke’s asexuality in the DC universe by an asexual creative team, and solves the riddle of just who can be considered Batman’s greatest enemy.
• A pair of pieces from Solrad, as Tony Wei Ling begins a series exploring abstraction in comics looking initially at the work of Bhanu Pratap and the whiteness of formal abstract comics theory, while Rob Clough revisits Now #2 and editor Eric Reynolds enjoyment of the grotesque.
• Elizabeth Sandifer’s Last War in Albion continues, as Vertigo’s launch brought a flush of new readers into Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Hellblazer, before Ennis bid farewell to John Constantine with demonic plans and sprawling surreality.
• From the world of open-access academia, Dawid Przywalny writes in Ad Americam on qualitative and quantitative research into Marvel Comics’ post-9/11 output, and the extent to which titles prioritised themes of national security or issues of civil liberties.
• Also on the academic front, Giorgio Busi Rizzi and Lorenzo Di Paola write in H-ermes on the evolving nature of fandom, focused through the lens of the networks surrounding enjoyment of Tiziano Sclavi’s Dylan Dog.
• Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s editorial beat, as there was naught to be had in the news besides seeing where the dust of an attempted coup will eventually settle.
Idk I like it pic.twitter.com/J1yiT6InaO
— Nicole Rifkin🔮 (@nicole_rifkin) June 16, 2022
Cheaper than the cinema, but without A/C… This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden reconvene to appreciate the Thick Lines of Lala Albert’s Seasonal Shift: Comics 2013–2019, as well as the Oakleys of David Cronenberg, and celebrate/mourn the return/death of blogging.
• David Brothers hosted this week’s episode of Mangasplaining, as the team took a look at the space hijinks of Q Hayashida’s Dai Dark Vol. 1, and discussed the art of translation and localisation.
• Dan Berry welcomed Cab to Make It Then Tell Everybody, as they spoke about Utown, moving from prose to comics, digital work processes, and the joys of Animal Crossing.
• Calvin Reid spoke with Geof Darrow for the latest edition of Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come, about Shaolin Cowboy’s return to stands, including Steve Ditko homages, and depicting the reality of contemporary desert spaces.
• Politics and Prose hosted a discussion between Jason Reynolds and Ben Saunders on the Penguin Classics Marvel Collection, finding balance in telling superhero stories, and the changing state of comics from the Big Two. (Starts around the 5 minute mark.)
• Closing out the week with some Cartoonist Kayfabe, as Ed Piskor and Tom Scioli took a look at Alan Moore and Stephen Bissette’s Swamp Thing, Michael Golden’s Micronauts, Jack Kirby on Strange Tales Annual #2, Marvel’s Double Dragon comics, and Steve Ditko and Bernie Wrightson on Morlock 2001 and the Midnight Men.
The New Fantastic Four variant cover. Pen, brush, and India ink. 10.7 x 16.1. 2022.
I see this image out on the web now in color, so here's the b/w. I lettered the balloon as well. pic.twitter.com/ZOmiwzDzeu
— Walter Simonson (@WalterSimonson) June 9, 2022
That is all for this week, back again soon with more and iced-lollies for everyone.
To mine and yours. pic.twitter.com/2IWsXH6q1D
— Bhanu Pratap (@Bhanu_pootrap) June 11, 2022