From My Laboratory In The Castle East – This Week’s Links

A week of numbers for This Week’s Links, a selection of which can be found below, as quantitative answers were provided to the following questions: 

1) How many Marvel comics do you need to read to fully grok Marvel Comics? 

2) What is the minimum threshold of bisexual representation in a monthly DC title for it to become the main character of a news cycle? 

3) How many attendees do conventions need in 2021 to be considered a success?

Your own answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Webster’s defines 'news' as… This week’s news.

• Fall awards season continues apace, and last weekend saw 2021’s Harvey Awards taking place as part of New York Comic Con - The Beat has a full round-up of this year’s winners, with Trung Le Nguyen taking home prizes for Book of the Year and Best Children or YA Book for The Magic Fish.

• Matt Davies won this year’s Rex Babin Memorial Award for Excellence in Local Cartooning, announced by the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists as part of last weekend’s 2021 Zoomfest - The Daily Cartoonist has a selection of Davies’ work, as well as that of the other award finalists.

• Koyama Provides announced the latest recipient in their grants program, awarding $1,000 to Alex Graham, which will be used for financial support while completing work on a new graphic novel with the working title of The Devil’s Grin.

• The Beat reports on the settling of a lawsuit between the Dr Seuss estate and ComicMix over a proposed parody publication of Oh, The Places You’ll Go! crossed with Star Trek, which the Courts ruled was not sufficiently transformative to be protected by the First Amendment - ComicMix have stated that the settlement was entered into due to artist Ty Templeton’s cancer diagnosis, in order to save from “additional stress that would in any way impinge on his health and recovery.”

• Cartooning for Peace shared news that Tanzanian cartoonist Optatus Fwema has been released on bail, following an arbitrary arrest last month for publishing a satirical cartoon of President Samia Suluhu, the detainment having drawn censure from Reporters Without Borders, and reflecting a deterioration of press freedom in the country in recent years.

• In memoriam, remembering those from the world of comics who recently passed away, as The Daily Cartoonist has a selection of remembrances for Dan Dare artist Greta Tomlinson, who passed away last month, aged 94; and Multiversity Comics has an obituary for Marvel Comics colorist Andy Yanchus, who died last month, aged 77.

Supplies may vary… This week’s reviews.


• Tegan O’Neil reviews the noble frustrations of Douglas Wolk’s All of the Marvels - “Many times throughout I had to chide myself for what I was actually doing, which was critiquing the imaginary version of this book that exists only in my head. That hypothetical full reckoning with the Marvel corpus appears in my shimmering imagination a stylistic hybrid between Caro’s Years of Lyndon Johnson and Frazer’s Golden Bough, and if I can’t berate Douglas Wolk for not writing the exact hypothetical book I want to read, well! I guess we just chalk up another victim to cancel culture.”

• Timothy Callahan reviews the destructive horror of Josh Simmons’ Birth of the Bat - “In all of the Josh Simmons comics I have read, and I’ve read most of them, I’ve never much thought about Simmons's achievements as a visual stylist. I’ve appreciated how his style retains the cartoony quality of a Nickelodeon Magazine strip contrasted with the mundane weirdness of something akin to Chester Brown’s perversions, but other than thinking “I like Josh Simmons comics and they make me laugh and shudder,” I haven’t spent much time considering the craft of his image-making.”



• Justin Harrison reviews the grandiose bleakness of Don McGregor, P. Craig Russell, Herb Trimpe, et al’s Killraven Epic Collection: Warrior of the Worlds.

• David Brooke reviews the crossover-noir thrills of Scott Snyder and Francis Manapul’s Clear #1.

• Dan Spinelli reviews the muted fascinations of Mattson Tomlin, Andrea Sorrentino, et al’s Batman: The Imposter #1.

• Lia Kolb reviews the exciting return of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Robert Hack, et al’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #9.

• Alex Cline reviews the comic timing of Nao Fuji’s Marvel Meow.


The Beat

• Kyle Pinion reviews the experimental enrichment of Douglas Wolk’s All of the Marvels.

• Avery Kaplan reviews the tragic satisfactions of Ethan Sacks, Marco Lorenzana, et al’s Intrusion.

• Cori McCreery reviews the grand finales of Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Doc Shaner, et al’s Strange Adventures #12; and Grant Morrison, Mikel Janín, et al’s Superman and the Authority #4.


Broken Frontier

• Lindsay Pereira reviews the rewarding power of Mirion Malle’s This Is How I Disappear.

• Andy Oliver reviews:

- The layered satire of Rachelle Meyer’s Joy Ride and Rainbow Collie

- The entrancing vibrancy of Anabel Colazo’s All The Things I Forgot.

- The clever perspective of Joe Decie’s No Comply.

- The poignant humour of Geov’s Mercury’s Closet.

- The gentle malevolence of Sadiya's Don't Look.


The Guardian

Rachel Cooke reviews the complex adventures of Rutu Modan’s Tunnels.


House to Astonish

Paul O’Brien reviews the frustrating experience of Jonathan Hickman and Declan Shalvey’s X-Men Unlimited/Infinity Comics #1-4.


The Los Angeles Review of Books

Mia Nakaji Monnier reviews the vivid reminders of Kiku Hughes’ Displacement.


Multiversity Comics

• Kobi Bordoley reviews the bold punches of Brian Buccellato, Hayden Sherman, et al’s Chicken Devil #1.

• John Schaidler reviews the outstanding energy of Tochi Onyebuchi, Setor Fiadzigbey, et al's Black Panther Legends #1.

• Christopher Egan reviews the competent silliness of Scott Tipton, David Tipton, Gavin Smith, et al's Star Trek: The Mirror War #1.


The New York Times

Ed Park reviews the quarantine creativity of Simon Hanselmann’s Crisis Zone, Art Spiegelman and Robert Coover’s Street Cop, and Gareth Brookes’ The Dancing Plague.


Publisher’s Weekly

Have capsule reviews of:

- The limited narrative of Philippe Girard’s Leonard Cohen: On A Wire, translated by Helge Dascher and Karen Houle.

- The robust flavor of David Hajdu and John Carey’s A Revolution in Three Acts: The Radical Vaudeville of Bert Williams, Eva Tanguay, and Julian Eltinge.

- The stunning empowerment of Recognize! An Anthology Honoring and Amplifying Black Life, edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson.



Edward Howard reviews the rhythmic counterpoint of Rob Churm and Malcy Duff’s The Floating Bridge #1.


Women Write About Comics

• Kayleigh Hearn reviews the intense finality of Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Schiti, et al’s Inferno #1.

• Wendy Browne reviews the impressive action of James Maddox, Gavin Smith, et al’s Dead Legends II.

Justifications… This week’s interviews.


Laura Hudson interviews Douglas Wolk about All of the Marvels, covering a mess of history, overdoing it on comics consumption, and the demands of storytelling - “How you find your way and understand the stuff that confuses you at first is you ask a friend. Or you look it up. Just because you don’t understand something right away doesn’t mean you won’t understand it forever. Maybe you can reread it later on if you feel like it. Maybe this is something that brings you closer together with a friend. Maybe it’s something that lets you find a new way to get information.”



Chris Coplan speaks with Helen Mullane, Kev Sherry, and Katia Vecchio about Painted, learning by doing, harmony between comics and music, and emotional colour palettes.


The Beat

• Dean Simons talks to Drew Brockington about Waffles and Pancake: Planetary-Yum, prequel wriggle-room, constraints for making stories with younger readers in mind, and balancing narrative beats.

• Ricardo Serrano Denis speaks with Mad Cave's Mark London about the publisher's ongoing ambitions, monster folklore, and the younger reader markets.

• Avery Kaplan interviews Gord Hill about The 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance Comic Book: Revised & Expanded Edition, honing one’s skills, and systems of protest; and Ivy Noelle Weir and Amber Padilla about The Secret Garden on 81st Street, history with the source material, contemporary adaptations, and updating to have a positive impact for readers.


The Los Angeles Times

Sonaiya Kelley talks to Saba Moeel about Pink Cat Daily, the compliment of Garfield comparisons, internet godheads, and getting your work off social media platforms and into a book.


Multiversity Comics

• Brian Salvatore continues a look back at the birth of DC’s New 52, speaking with Rachel Gluckstern about DC editorial and Captain Atom, logistical feats of bravery, public perceptions, and the growth of online fandom’s influence on creative teams.

• Kyle Welch interviews Stephen Byrne about Joy Operations, unconscious influences, dynamic action scenes, and narrative unfoldings.


RT News

Sophie Shevardnadze talks to Alan Moore about the scale of the apocalypse, politicians swiping from V for Vendetta, and anonymity on the internet, plus who was the best Brit.


Smash Pages

JK Parkin interviews Mike Federali about Felix the Cat, the longevity of the fabulous feline, sticking to Core Felix visuals, and keeping things whimsical. 


Women Write About Comics

Wendy Browne talks to Nate Piekos about The Essential Guide to Comic Book Lettering, the long road to publishing books, the intersection of lettering and graphic design, and font choice inside-baseball.

An admirable collection of words… This week’s features and longreads.

• Here at TCJ, Michael Dean covers the latest skirmish in Marvel and Disney’s ongoing war against copyright law, looking at recent terminations filed against various of the House of Idea’s long-standing character IP, and the tangled web of ‘work for hire’ - “Rest assured, Marvel movies aren’t going anywhere, regardless of how these litigations play out. For one thing, [Larry] Lieber and the heirs want to board the gravy train, not derail it. This is all about [attorney Marc] Toberoff’s clients making a bid to share in the immense profits generated by properties that these creators made possible. Secondly, the terminations only concern copyrights; Marvel/Disney would still own the trademarks, the recognizable symbols of the entertainment properties. The worst-case scenario for Marvel/Disney is that it would end up in partnership with Lieber and each of the heirs.”

• Also for TCJ, Brian Nicholson presents our first con report of the week, with a massively in-depth look at the inaugural Philly Comics Expo, speaking with the exhibitors, and recommending some of the wares to be found there - “I don’t think the goal of PCX was to fill the role of the established small press cons that were cancelled this year: your Small Press Expo or Comic Arts Brooklyn. To me it seemed like a classic “small show” or zine fest, which would generally not receive any sort of press coverage were larger scale events not currently discouraged. Aside from the open air setting, a small show like this is implicitly COVID-conscious simply by not creating any professional obligation to attend. I can’t presume that the exhibitors weren’t motivated by commerce, but I do think the social aspect, after a year of quarantine, constituted a larger part of the show's appeal.”

• Taking place last weekend, various outlets had reports from the return of the New York Comic Con, a scaled back edition for this year, with some notable exhibitor absences, but cautious optimism for the future of in-person comics eventing on a large scale - pick your coverage from Publisher’s Weekly, AIPT, Forbes, ICv2, or The New York Times.

• Reporting on a comics scene a bit further afield, for Solrad, Cisi Eze writes on 2021’s Lagos Comic Con, speaking with organisers and exhibitors, and putting the event in context within the wider Nigerian comics industry.

• Covering the other other big corporate property news of the week, for NPR, Glen Weldon writes on DC’s continuing strategy to add queer characters to their pantheon, with Superman’s (but not that Superman) coming out as bisexual being the latest in an ongoing trend for the publisher.

• Further coverage of the wider forces at play in the presentation of, and performative backlash to, LGBTQ* comic book characters comes courtesy of Ryan Carey, presenting a three-part examination of the politics of Big Two product marketing, over at Four Color Apocalypse.

• Brian Hibbs who, given the opening to this week’s ‘Tilting at Windmills’, I hope makes a full recovery soon, writes on the arrival of Penguin Random House to Direct Market distribution, and how their inauspicious first weeks of deliveries reflects some misunderstandings of comics distro in general.

Oh, maybe Penguin Classics publishing some reprints of Marvel's output will help smooth things over?

Probably not.

Some positive coverage relating to the House of Ideas, as, for the Los Angeles Times, Douglas Wolk expands on the systemic attractions of Marvel’s output for his son, Spencer, mentioned in this week’s interview here at TCJ, above, and their bonding over crossover events.

• Over at The Atlantic, Mary Stachyra Lopez presents a brief selection of books to dive into for a general overview of the possibilities, and problematic history, of the humble cartoon strip.

• For NeoText Review, Tom Shapira writes on horror comics’ enduring history with the Holocaust, Sergio Lopez dives into the murky evolutionary history of Marvel’s monster comics, and Chloe Maveal presents a look at the concept art from Ridley Scott’s Alien.

• Shelfdust’s Field Theory series continues, as Steve Morris examines the enigma of Garfield’s conceptualisation of romance and spatial awareness, and Sergio Lopez makes a second appearance to examine the traumatic confrontation of what it means to be a hero in Daredevil #191.

• Mike Peterson covers the editorial beat for The Daily Cartoonist, looking back thirty years to cartoonist reactions to Anita Hill’s testimony to Congress, and then returning to the present as vaccine uptake in rural areas and the US economy are low, Columbus Day coverage is confused at best, and approval ratings are subject to context.

• On the open-access academia front, adding a third dimension to the ninth art, from the Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision, Deblina Bhattacharjee, Martin Nicolas Everaert, Mathieu Salzmann, and Sabine Süsstrunk present a paper on estimating depth in images from comics, and training a digital model to distinguish between text and linework in panels - warning: contains fairly confusing equations.

• Also providing some free-to-read academia, for Image [&] Narrative, Gerardo Vilches and María Porras Sánchez analyse the themes of precariousness present in the comics work of Mamen Moreu, Ana Belén Rivero, Ana Oncina, Teresa Ferreiro, and Roberta Vázquez - all creating stories during times of global socioeconomic strife.

Multitudinous multimedia… This week’s audio/visual delights.

• Here at TCJ, continuing a partnership with Comix Experience, Brian Hibbs speaks to Magdalene Visaggio and Claudia Aguirre about Lost on Planet Earth, and audience responses to work.

• Comic Books Are Burning In Hell again this week, as the Trinity of Tucker Stone, Joe McCulloch, and Chris Mautner eulogised Takao Saitō, and asked what was the deal with DC’s weekly experiment 52, besides some really rushed deadlines?

• Noah Van Sciver welcomed Dash Shaw to a good old fashioned cartoonist chat, as they spoke about Discipline, the immediacy of Civil War history in the South, religious upbringings, and manga presence in adolescence or lack thereof.

• House to Astonish returned to set the comics world to rights, as Al Kennedy and Paul O’Brien discussed litigious goings on in the world of superhero properties, and the creator-owned/work-for-hire publishing merry-go-round - cue the calliope.

• A classic triple-host week on Cartoonist Kayfabe, as Jim Rugg, Ed Piskor, and Tom Scioli took a little look at Will Eisner’s Shop Talk interview with Jack Kirby, Chester Brown’s The Playboy, the gallery edition of Frank Miller’s Ronin, Joe Maduriera’s Battle Chasers, Adam Warren’s Gen 13: Bootleg, Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury: Agent of Shield artist edition, and  Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr’s Eternals.

• 2000 AD’s podcast returns from a brief break, and MOLCH-R and John Freeman spoke this week with Kelvin Gosnell about The Stainless Steel Rat, plus some bonus Supermarionation and Gerry Anderson talk, including what voltage you need to make crocodiles act.

• A few trips up in the Word Balloon with John Siuntres as conversations were had with Cliff Chiang about Catwoman: Lonely City, Tony Fleecs about Time Shopper and Stray Dogs, and Rob Williams about OUT.

• Dan Berry invited Carey Pietsch to Make It Then Tell Everybody this week, as they discussed collaborative processes, comic layouts, and shot blocking for static images.

• Deb Aoki hosted this week’s episode of Mangasplaining, as the team read Shuzo Oshimi’s Blood on the Tracks Volumes 1 & 2, killing the cat, and keeping things creepy, plus an interview with Denpa’s Ed Chavez.

• David Harper welcomed Jonathan Hickman to Off Panel this week to sum up what is happening at Marvel, and what is happening at Substack, embodying the duality of man.

• A couple of NYCC interviews from Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come this week, as in-person events meant a return to in-person chats, with Calvin Reid catching up with Scott Snyder and Alitha Martinez, plus some convention floor reportage from Kate Fitzsimmons.

• Jeet Heer’s The Time of Monsters continues, and this week Charles Hatfield joined proceedings for a chat about The Eternals, and how it fits into Jack Kirby’s wider body of comics work.

That is your lot for this week, back soon with more, after I solve once more for x.