Busy week on Comics Twitter, friends - you had your auteur theory arguments (don’t ask), your questions as to why exactly BOOM! Studios need to be kickstarting the unpronounceable Keanu Reeves comic book (bruz rukkuh?) when they pay everybody so badly, and Greg Land (allegedly) being guided by another’s hand (again) - 10/10 scroll-fodder, would stare vacantly at a handheld device to ingest again.
If you’ve exhausted those distraction sources and still need something to tide you over until bedtime, then you can find this week’s links below. Sorted.
Tales of the expected… This week’s news.
• Awards shortlisting season seems to spiral out of control earlier each year, as, following last week’s Ringo awards nominees, we now have confirmation of this year’s Harvey Awards nominees (voting for which closes September 21st, with a virtual announcement ceremony taking place during NYCC’s Metaverse event next month), and 2020’s Ignatz Awards nominees (voting for which closes September 8th, open this year to the general public, with a prize-giving ceremony on September 12th) - Fleen notes an irregularity whereby Rosemary Vallero-O’Connell is on the Ignatz nomination panel and is also a nominee in 2020, as there are no terms of reference for recusal/conflicts of interest on the SPX site, which seems like a fairly large oversight.
• Kicking off what looks set to be an extremely busy weekend for virtual events, Sol-Con, Ohio State’s Brown, Black, & Indigenous Comix Expo, has opened registration for a day of comics webinars on Friday September 11th, including an extra credit program for engagement with students in the (virtual) classroom.
• Taking place the next day, the National Cartoonist Society have announced the program for this year’s NCSFest, running from 10am on Saturday September 12th, on what is becoming a virtual event singularity, whereby Reuben Award winners will be announced in blocs between virtual plenary talks and panel sessions, culminating in the awarding of Cartoonist of the Year - there’s also a 50 minute talk from Jim Davis on what is funny, and humor as an industry, plus (I assume) lasagna chat.
• A new month brings with it new rounds of corporate restructuring, as IDW hopefully welcome a new Publisher to their ranks for longer than a week this time; and DC tap up the futuristic world of video games for the role of General Manager, ostensibly so that Jim Lee can let his creativity shine and hide more sketches in back-packs. It certainly doesn’t have anything to do with the myriad of Batman-related games products that were announced at the Fandome event, and the record sales that console games have seen during the pandemic.
• ShortBox has announced the final round of its micro-grant award recipients for 2020, with £100 going to Runqi Yang, Kayla Lui, Lee Jacob, Yetunde Ekuntuyi, and Ghazal Qadri, and a total of £2,500 having been awarded to 25 creators over the past 5 months, with the majority of these having been provided from donated funds.
• Jordanian cartoonist Emad Hajjaj has been released by authorities, following his arrest last week for a editorial illustration poking fun at relations between Israel and The United Arab Emirates, that led to an investigation into his allegedly ‘harming relations with a friendly state’ - his detention resulted in widespread condemnation of Jordanian authorities by human rights groups - per Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab, via Associated Press, “the legal chaos reflects Jordan’s difficult position of trying to balance its relations with the oil-rich emirates with the rights of its own citizens to express themselves.”
• Based out of Liverpool, England, Marginal Publishing House, the first young-person led publisher in the UK, made by disadvantaged young people aged 8 - 25, are currently crowdfunding their start-up costs, with an eventual aim of mentoring and publishing the work of young comic creators during a time of widespread local government cut, and diminished access to outreach programs - I was born in Liverpool, so this is one close to my heart, and their business model looks to be an interesting one.
You be the judge… This week’s reviews.
• Tegan O’Neil takes a bite out of (sorry) 90’s vampire nostalgia, reviewing the surprising character gambits of Tim Seeley, Devmalya Pramanik, et al’s Vampire: The Masquerade Winter’s Teeth #1, and its bloody (sorry) good art - “I would not in the least be surprised if [Devmalya Pramanik] found himself poached by a larger concern before too long. Maybe he already has! He doesn’t cheat on backgrounds or three-point perspective so he’s already doing better than most.”
• Beatrix Urkowitz reviews the post-apocalyptic wanderings of Tsukumizu’s Girls Last Tour, and ruminates on changing attitudes towards dystopian and utopian speculative fiction - “In this way Tsukumizu poses a single utopian question: If moments of happiness are possible even at the end of the world, what might be possible now?”
• Chris Coplan reviews the futuristic anachronisms of Al Ewing and Simone Di Meo’s We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #1.
• David Brooke reviews two of DC’s more ‘grown up’ titles this week, looking at the precision storytelling of Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Doc Shaner, et al’s Strange Adventures #5, and the lucid sophistication of G. Willow Wilson, Nick Robles, et al’s The Dreaming: Waking Hours #2.
• Nathan Simmons reviews the slow-burn intensity of Jeff McComskey and Tommy Lee Edwards’ Grendel, Kentucky #1.
John Seven reviews the collaborative personality of Julie Dachez and Mademoiselle Caroline’s Invisible Differences, translated by Edward Gauvin.
• Moe Abbas reviews the metaphysical metanarratives of Rik Worth, Jordan Collver, et al’s Hocus Pocus #2: Séance.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews the organic weirdness of Desmond Reed's The Funnies and the contemporary vibrance of Janelle Hessig's Big Punk, and then finds a purrfect pair of feline fancies in Lauren Barnett’s plant-bothering Bernadette and Kriota Willberg’s anatomically-correct Cat Friends, Bird Acquaintances, And Their Human Furniture.
• Jodi Odgers reaches the finale of Takako Shimura’s manga, Wandering Son, as the series delivers a delicate and touching send-off for its characters.
• John Schaidler reviews the stylised history of Rodney, Jason Shawn Alexander, et al’s Killadelphia #7.
• Paul Lai reviews the facile resonance of Adrian Tomine’s The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist.
• Kate Kosturski reviews the subtle authenticity of Sweeney Boo, et al's Eat, and Love Yourself (with a content warning for depictions of bulimia and body dysmorphic disorder.)
New York Times
Hillary Chute reviews a trio of 'Graphic Novels That Burst With Life', looking at Howard Cruse's Stuck Rubber Baby, Bishakh Som’s Spellbound: A Graphic Memoir, and Cristy C. Road’s Next World Tarot.
Oliver Sava reviews the ‘Full Kirby...inverse-Galactus situation’ of Al Ewing and Simone Di Meo’s We Only Find Them When They’re Dead.
Chris Gavaler reviews the insightful minimalism of C.C. Tsai's Laozi: Dao De Jing, translated by Brian Bruya.
This week have capsule reviews of:
- The exhilarating rowdiness of Yuriko Akase's Sazan & Comet Girl, translated by Adrienne Beck.
- The monstrous mumblecore of Reza Farazmand's City Monster.
- The rewarding inspirations of Khalil Gibran and Pete Katz' The Prophet: A Graphic Novel.
- The provocative and paternalistic short stories of Naoki Urasawa's Sneeze, translated by John Werry.
• Ryan Carey reviews the therapeutic understanding of Vivian Chong And Georgia Webber’s Dancing After TEN.
• Sara L. Jewell reviews the illuminating shadows of Laura Lannes’ John, Dear.
Women Write About Comics
• Zoe Tunnell reviews the returning favourites of Michael DiMartino, Irene Koh, et al’s The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Library Edition.
• Emily Lauer reviews the artful straightforwardness of Mike Curato’s Flamer.
• Linda Codega reviews the happy endings of queer history comic anthology Dates III, edited by Zora Gilbert and Cat Parra.
• Sabina Stent reviews the touching wit of Sina Grace, Siobhan Keenan, and Cathy Le's Ghosted in L.A..
All done virtually, one assumes… This week’s interviews.
• Irene Velentzas interviews John “Derf” Backderf, looking back through his entire body of work, and discussing confusing the reader for fun and for profit, making the shift to long-form narrative comics, experimenting in short-form strips, maintaining creative discipline, and the publication of his new graphic novel, Kent State - “I can’t hold a line for long. Some creators haven’t varied their style for thirty years. I’m amazed by that. I’ve always chased this drawing style I had in my head but struggled to get down on paper.”
• Nicholas Burman talks to Owen D. Pomery about drawing buildings and making buildings, depicting possible realities, new books British Ice and Victory Point, the films of Robert Eggers, architectural manifestos, and comic book panels as spacial experiences - “I’m fascinated by the endless feedback loop of people creating the built environment and then how the environment affects them in return.”
Chris Coplan talks to Sina Grace and Omar Spahi about their slice-of-life series Getting It Together, depicting pre-COVID life in a book published during the ongoing pandemic, and the enduring cultural influence of sitcoms.
• AJ Frost talks to R. Sikoryak about Constitution Illustrated, his legislative longform comic, looking back at US political history to look forward, choosing the particular characters to illustrate each page, and making the book conveniently portable.
• Zack Quaintance interviews Rafael Alberquerque about Funny Creek, his comiXology series with Rafael Scavone and Eduardo Medeiros, setting a book for younger readers in the era of the creators’ own childhoods, and hitting a love-it or hate-it conclusion.
• Matt O’Keefe chats with Jesse Lonergan about his Image one-shot Hedra, the varying scales of indie comics, iterative panel breakdowns, and production control.
• Ricardo Serrano Denis interviews IDW’s Justin Eisinger about the publisher’s line of Spanish translations from their library of graphic novels, where the idea for the translation initiative came from, and what to expect from phase 2 of its rollout.
Rachel Kramer Bussel interviews Annie Koyama about the end of Koyama Press’ comic publishing endeavors, the Koyama Press Provides funding initiative, and where that program of awards is headed in 2021.
• Charles Bramesco talks to Arthur Jones, director of the new documentary Feels Good Man, that looks at cartoonist Matt Furie’s fight to reclaim the character of Pepe the Frog from the alt-right, about diving into the internet subcultures of Reddit and 4chan.
• Sian Cain interviews Yeong-Shin Ma about his book Moms, combative maternal relationships, art as familial reconciliation, and the intimacy of telling other people’s stories.
Susana Montoya Bryan interviews artist Jeffrey Veregge, comic store owner Lee Francis IV, and Native American comic fans about upcoming Marvel Comics publication Indigenous Voices #1, and the history of Native representation in superhero comics.
Gregory Ellner interviews Cullen Bunn and Miguel Valderrama about medical misadventures in Cyberpunk 2077: Trauma Team, the second of this week’s tabletop RPG tie-in comics being covered. Roll for initiative.
Susana Polo interviews John Ridley about his upcoming series, The Other History of the DC Universe, with Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, and José Villarrubia, the "theatre" impinged on marginalized characters, the odd synchronicity of Black characters and electricity powers, and viewing the history of DC plot-lines from the viewpoint of characters normally pushed to the periphery.
• Shaenon Garrity talks to Katie Skelly about finding the balance between high-camp and high-detail, sororal relationships, and empathy, as seen in her new graphic novel, Maids.
• Eugene Holley Jr interviews Dave Chisholm about his new graphic biography, Chasin’ the Bird, working with the Charlie Parker estate, and his artistic inspirations for the project.
Alex Dueben interviews Rob Kirby about his in-progress book Marry Me A Little, the shift from shorter comics to longform, the responsibilities of launching a Patreon, and personal interrogations of marriage and its surrounding industry.
Daniel Elkin and Sarah Wray present the next edition of ‘Knowing is Half the Battle’, this week talking to Dan Berry about what publishers can provide, mitigating risk, and spotting murky communication.
Women Write About Comics
Wendy Browne interviews Christina Faust about her work on Bad Mother, avoiding ‘Sad Daddy cliché’, societal erasure of women as they age, embracing the mundane, and fan-casting a possible screen adaptation.
A pleasing sequence of marks on a screen… This week’s features and comics.
• One of this week’s Google Doodles, the illustrations that appear above the search box for the internet’s directory of choice, often animated/interactive, featured a celebration of the life and work of Jackie Ormes by cartoonist Liz Montague - there’s an interview with Montague on the link above, and a profile of Ormes, “widely recognized as the first and only Black female newspaper cartoonist of her time in the United States.”
• For The Beat, Ricardo Serrano Denis has a piece on Black horror comics, and the racism that haunts America, and some recommended reading that views the latter through the former.
• Osvaldo Oyola’s ‘WAUGH and On and On’ series hits the final Marvel issue of Howard the Duck credited to Steve Gerber, revealing that charity is the true villain, and finds the creator in the character, meanwhile… Enter Bill Mantlo!
• The Daily Cartoonist continues to cover the editorial comic beat as the RNC stumbles to its conclusion, and local newspapers remove such illustrative work altogether, in the face of reader complaints, which seems contrary to the spirit of the thing, in my humble opinion.
• Chloe Maveal has a new essay for NeoText, looking back at Joe Kubert’s war comics for DC, 75 years on from World War II, and the anti-war tone they convey, compared to some sister publications of the time.
• For Vice, Gita Jackson looks at DC’s Strange Adventures, and its writer’s (alleged) history in the intelligence business, and includes a System of a Down video, which is cheating, as I’m honor bound to include it in this column because of that.
• A couple of Jack Kirby related pieces, celebrating the King’s birthday just gone, as 13th Dimension has a re-run of Rob Kelly’s piece on Kirby’s “adaptation” of 2001, and SUNY Cortland presents Miranda R. Cobo’s essay on the effects of misrepresentation and the example of Marvel’s Black Panther comics.
• For Women Write About Comics, Kelly Richards has a piece on depictions of Death in popular culture, and the enduringly fearful personification of the being meant to usher us into oblivion and/or play stand-up bass in Wyld Stallyns, presenting alternative visions of Death that reframe the end of life, and leaving the mortal coil.
• Paul O’Brien’s Incomplete Wolverine continues, and today I learned that Logan once posed as a Russian advisor to the Viet Cong, which seems… far fetched, although I do like the idea of him growling “Bub” in, presumably, a terrible Russian accent.
• A busy week for Shelfdust, as Steve Morris runs Spider-Man’s Gauntlet, Mark Turetsky considers the tranquility of a Usagi Yojimbo tea ceremony, Charlotte Finn professes love for Astro City’s Jack-In-The-Box, and the Infinite Crisis claims yet more critics as Steve Cederlund covers Formerly Known as the Justice League and Ron Cacace shines a light on Blackest Night.
• The Nib’s latest edition of the In/Vulnerable series sees Thi Bui, Anjali Kamat, Sarah Mirk, and Amanda Pike present the story of Dr Rajnish Jaiswal, an ER doctor based in East Harlem who’s seen his hospital overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients during the pandemic; and Matt Lubchansky looks at the fashion industry’s ‘Genderless Future’, which appears at odds with itself.
• Via one Mr Robert Liefeld, John Byrne's free-to-read X-Men fanfic comic maxi-series Elsewhen is now up to issue 14, continuing next week - you can start from the beginning here for some throwback mutant mayhem.
• The University of Dundee’s Scottish Centre for Comics Studies’ Pandemic Tales anthology is starting to take shape, and you can read the first stories from it now.
• Chapter 2 of Benji Nate/Caroline Sweater’s monthly comic series Bloodroot is out now, via Gumroad, available as a pay-what-you-want digital comic.
• For The New Yorker, Karl Stevens flips the script on catcalling, and takes shots at the humble gilet.
• Laika wants revenge? Laika wants revenge!
1080p is the p for me… This week’s recommended watching.
• Some more offerings from this year’s virtual VanCAF, which really has been a treasure trove for video content during this weird summer, as Deni Loubert interviews Joan Steacy and Roberta Gregory for ‘Zooming the Pandemic’, and Cole Pauls is in-conversation with Juli Majer and Jordan River.
• The seasons may be changing, but book tours are remaining virtual for the time being, and this month it’s the turn of Sophie Yanow, celebrating publication of The Contradictions, including in-conversation events with Suzy Exposito and Alison Bechdel - taking place over the next couple of weeks.
• The Believer and The Black Mountain Institute’s series of comics workshops continues, and this week’s saw Erin Williams taking viewers through making body comics, and how to depict what somebody is feeling without overt visual indicators (starts around the 5 min mark)
• A Mornin' Warm-Up with Joe Quesada with Adam Kubert comes from the House of Mouse, as they discuss Kubert's work as "the youngest letterer in comics", keeping the creative flow going, and take audience questions, with only minor technical difficulties (15 mins in if you want to skip those).
• Cartoonist Kayfabe dives deep into a trio of lauded books this week, looking at the artist’s edition of Hellboy in Hell, David Lapham’s Stray Bullets: Innocence of Nihilism, and Stan Lee and John Buscema’s How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way.
• Some more John Buscema action over at Inkpulp this week, as Shawn Crystal, Troy Nixey, Jim Mahfood and Tommy Lee Edwards are all inking Buscema’s linework and singing his praises, plus a bonus Etrigan inking tutorial.
• Noah Van Sciver chatted with Koren Shadmi this week, discussing the end of the New York cartoon era, how big is too big for big books, interactions with the general public at festivals, and absolute power corrupting absolutely.
Loud noises… This week’s easy-listening.
• Comic Books are Burning in Hell presents a new episode of, well, Comic Books are Burning in Hell this week, as Tucker, Matt, Joe, and Chris have a lively discussion on reinterpreting Jack Kirby's life and work through the medium of comics, plus a dive into French Comics (The Kind Many Like). Next week: Chris' final thought?
• Also on a King Kick this week, ShelfdustPresents is looking at New Gods #1, as Matt Lune and Paul Lai bear witness to the Kirby Krackle and whistle-stop introductions of many (too many?) gods whomst are new.
• MOLCH-R is on a recharge week, so there’s a dip into the Thrillcast archives this week as the Lockdown Tapes feature a rerun of the mammoth (three hours!!!) John Wagner interview from 2016 - it’s a cracking listen, covering the entirety of an amazing career in comics, but may make you pine for the pub (they have those in America, right?) with the background noise from the recording.
• Letters and Lines returns as Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou and Aditya Bidikar discuss uses of dialogue in comics, and the current hot-topic of backgrounds.
• There’s a new episode of Salt & Honey, and this week Sloane Leong and Leslie Hung are looking at the affects art can have, specifically potential harm caused by “immoral art”, from the perspective of creators and consumers of comics and animation, and whether that art being able to positively impact a viewer necessitates the inverse.
• Make It Then Tell Everybody welcomed Woodrow Phoenix back to the show this week, as he and Dan Berry discuss prejudices against “commercial art”, teaching in a subjective medium, getting the words into the pictures into the story on the page, and cars (not the Pixar film).
• David Harper was joined by TKO Studios’ Editor-in-Chief, Sebastian Girner, this week, as they talked about the publisher’s plans and business model, the enduring allure of revenge stories, and the western market’s love of samurais.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More To Come looked back on a busy week for DC, post-Fandome and redundancies, and hosts Calvin Reid, Heidi MacDonald, and Kate Fitzsimmons also looked at the issue of racist stereotypes in Asterix, ahead of new editions hitting American stores.
No more links this week, I’m afraid - I will spend the next seven days regenerating and return anew with fresh content soon!