The summer doldrums are in full effect at the moment, not helped by the finishing up of most of the major international sporting tournaments that I’ve been using to distract myself from the anxious cosmic microwave background thrum of life in the year 2023, however, I am blessed, and (by proxy) you are also blessed, by the unceasing antiphase presence of comics industry news and commentary, as presented, here, in this week’s links, below.
Poison Ivy + gay tea pun.
2018 commission. pic.twitter.com/6dXanIsaog
— Kevin Wada (@kevinwada) August 17, 2023
This week’s news.
• Starting this week’s selection with yet another book-banning story, as complaints from local residents have led to the removal of Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper books from a library in Mississippi, adding to the tally of what will likely be another record year for book challenges.
• A round-up of recent comics prize news stories, as the Harvey Awards nominations for 2023 were released and voting on the winners opened to comics pros, the European Press Prize and Studio Europa Maastricht announced the nominations for this year’s European Cartoon Award for best editorial cartoon, and the Association of Illustrators released their rather long shortlist for this year’s World Illustration Awards.
• Comics-related-vanishing-statue news, and it was reported that a bust of Tintin creator Hergé had disappeared from its usual haunt in Brussels, later revealed to be on the orders of the local mayor, after the sculpture’s protective box had been damaged - the story brings attention back to the decolonisation movement in Belgium, and the long-running controversy surrounding Tintin in the Congo.
• San Diego Comic-Con news, and it was announced that Fae Desmond will be retiring from the role of Executive Director of the organisation, stating that "Comic-Con is being led by amazing people who are focused on our mission, education, and serving the community. I hope to continue to contribute as Comic-Con and Comic-Con Museum move into the future."
• Comics publisher parent corp news, and Axios released a report this week revealing that the mysterious second party in the collapsed $2 billion deal with Dark Horse owner Embracer Group was the Saudi government-backed Savvy Games Group - ICv2 shares recent sales figures from Embracer, which had implemented a series of cost-saving measures following the breakdown of the deal back in May.
• In memoriam, remembering those the world of comics has lost, and news was shared this week of the death of Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto creator Nami Sano, who passed away earlier this month, at the age of 36, due to cancer.
— Evan Dahm (@evandahm) August 17, 2023
This week’s reviews.
• Ben Austin-Docampo reviews the crisp lightness of James Collier’s The Lonesome Shepherd - “Herriman is lauded for the sense of motion in Krazy Kat, conveyed by the ever-changing scenery from panel to panel. Collier’s pages aren't always so replete, but there is nonetheless something reminiscent in the clever and effective visual language he uses to show movement. Even Collier’s static scenes are drawn in an interesting way where perspective shifts adding a much appreciated dynamic to this rollicking tale. Never underestimate the power of a well placed clump of grass.”
• Helen Chazan reviews the sensual complexities of Kyoko Okazaki’s River’s Edge, translated by Alexa Frank - “Death appeals to the kids, maybe because their malaise is akin to a living death, or maybe because of some other death within them, unlovable and unknowable. But maybe it's that death is something difficult to talk about, hard to understand, sticking out amid the painful coherence of high school, the fascism of linearity. Being near death is a form of being somewhere else.”
• Brian Nicholson reviews the transgressive nihilism of Kyoko Okazaki’s River’s Edge, translated by Alexa Frank - “An infant encountering the world anew takes in each bit of stimuli and forms a mental model of reality with it. Adults cannot take surprises in such stride. Odds are approximately even that an adolescent learning of some aberrant behavior for the first time will either be upset by it or integrate it into their developing set of options of how a person might navigate the world.”
• Tom Shapira reviews the calculated execution of Garth Ennis, Jacen Burrows, et al’s The Ribbon Queen #1 - “Ennis is a very aware writer, but one that tends to get locked inside his own obsessions. The kind of having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too approach he takes to military forces as useful monsters doesn’t really track with police; soldiers in Ennis comics tend to be entangled in foreign conflicts, doing things ‘over there’ to ‘other people,’ observed from a certain distance.”
• Tegan O’Neil reviews the expressive stylings of Dan White’s Cindy and Biscuit: We Love Trouble - “Of course, it makes all too much sense that scruffy Cindy would have behavioral problems - that she’d demolish a peer’s art project at school and trash a load of her mother’s wash. She’s got bad vibes, remember? No father in the household. Such a sad thing to see. Tut tut.”
• Rory Wilding reviews the thwarted ambitions of Mark Millar, Frank Quitely, Travis Charest, Karl Kerschl, Olivier Coipel, Matteo Buffagni, Matteo Scalera, et al’s The Ambassadors.
• Keigen Rea reviews the refreshing depths of Emily Carroll’s A Guest in the House.
• John Schaidler reviews the passionate depictions of Marc Bernardin and Ron Salas’ Messenger: The Legend of Muhammad Ali.
• Nathan Simmons reviews the cosmic horror of Kelly Thompson, Mattia De Iulis, et al’s The Cull #1.
• David Brooke reviews the intriguing horrors of Jeremy Lambert, Claire Roe, et al’s Dark Spaces: The Hollywood Special #1.
• Lukas Shayo reviews the referential return of Ed Brisson, Scott Godlewski, et al’s Alpha Flight #1.
• Jonathan Jones reviews the bloody beginnings of Steve Foxe, Jonas Scharf, et al’s Dark X-Men #1.
• Collier Jennings reviews the competent marketing of Henry Barajas, Pablo Verdugo, et al’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splintered Fate #1.
• Ricardo Serrano Denis reviews the emotional arcs of Koren Shadmi’s All Tomorrow’s Parties.
• Arpad Okay reviews the unforgettable delights of Matt Emmons’ The Council of Frogs.
• Steve Baxi reviews the powerful explorations of K. Briggs' adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth.
• Avery Kaplan reviews the wasted potential of Erica Schultz, Edgar Salazar, et al’s What If…? Dark Moon Knight #1.
• Jo Grunenwald reviews the dream logic of Joshua Williamson, Tom Reilly, et al’s Knight Terrors: Superman #2.
From Cover to Cover
Scott Cederlund reviews the disturbing twists of Jay Stephens’ Dwellings #1.
Rachel Cooke reviews the heady horror of Emily Carroll’s A Guest in the House.
House to Astonish
Paul O’Brien has capsule reviews of Marvel Comics’ X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #99, Immortal X-Men #14, Children of the Vault #1, Ghost Rider/Wolverine: Weapons of Vengeance Alpha, and Love Unlimited Infinity Comic #62.
• Matthew Blair reviews the thoughtful deconstruction of Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips’ The Enfield Gang Massacre #1.
• Christopher Egan reviews the derivative construction of Greg Pak, Takeshi Miyazawa, et al’s Mech Cadets #1.
• Elias Rosner reviews the harmonious mysteries of Kelly Thompson, Mattia De Iulis, et al's The Cull #1.
Tahneer Oksman reviews the moving insights of the 20th anniversary release of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The emotional immersion of Faith Erin Hicks’ Hockey Girl Loves Drama Boy.
- The exciting lore of Jasmine Walls and Teo DuVall’s Brooms.
- The earnest feelings of Emily Riesbeck and NJ Barna’s The Pirate and the Porcelain Girl.
Western American Literature
Daniel Pinti reviews the pleasurable lessons of The Comic Book Western: New Perspectives on a Global Genre, edited by Christopher Conway and Antoinette Sol.
🚗Transportation :D 🏎️ pic.twitter.com/ELaLWv5cmW
— Angela Sung (@AngelaSungArt) August 15, 2023
This week’s interviews.
Gina Gagliano interviews Remy Lai about Ghost Book, the varied mythologies surrounding Hungry Ghosts, and the daunting nature of making graphic novels - “I need to get rid of the parents so the kids can be proactive in driving the story forward. And since I spent half of my childhood far away from my parents, kids being independent doesn’t seem odd to me.”
• Chris Coplan speaks with Viktor Kerney about We Belong and bringing together Black queer storytellers to share their perspectives in the science fiction space, and with Patrick Horvath about Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees and bringing realistic gore to an ostensibly cute setting.
Anime News Network
Kalai Chik chats with Makoto Yukimura about Vinland Saga, the unintentional focus on father-son relationships in the manga, and anti-war ideals.
Andy Oliver talks to AHOY Comics’ Tom Peyer and Stuart Moore about the publisher’s fifth anniversary, and changes to the industry over the years.
Brian VanHooker speaks with Ray Billingsley, Tauhid Bondia, and Steenz about their newspaper strip work, replacing Dilbert in syndication, and the origins of their cartoons.
Jim McLauchlin interviews Diamond Comic Distributors’ Steve Geppi about early days in the comics industry, and establishing and growing your business through necessity.
Chris Cole speaks with Graham Annable about Eerie Tales from the School of Screams, working across mediums, and the layered inspirations of horror.
• Nicole Audrey Spector talks to Adrian Tomine about Shortcomings, recurring motifs in adaptations of graphic novels, and film finance realities.
• Meg Lemke interviews Marjane Satrapi about the 20th anniversary of Persepolis, choosing never to make comics again, and the realities of book bans.
• Nathalie op de Beeck chats with Breena Bard about Wildfire, climate activism and the events that inspired the book, and telling stories involving traumatic events for a younger audience.
Joyce Lee speaks with Webtoon CEO Kim Junkoo about the realities of the contemporary market, and the data analysis that goes into adapting titles for other mediums.
Toby Morris chats with Ned Wenlock about Tsunami, the journey to print for a debut graphic novel, looking back on your younger self for inspiration, and forming sensory images with words.
Happy National Scout Day! ☀️ [ft. my OC Yul] pic.twitter.com/XhxrLd8EKH
— winchestermeg🌟 (@winchestermegg) August 15, 2023
This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Jon Holt and Saki Hirozane present a translation of Miyamoto Hiroshi’s 2001 essay on the conclusion of Anno Moyoco’s Happy Mania, and its place in the shōjo manga canon - “Normally, with eyes in shōjo manga, the bigger the artist draws them with care, the more the character then demands the reader to “look at me.” These are eyes made only to be seen. However, for Shigeta’s eyes in Happy Mania, the bigger her eyes are drawn, the more she sees with them.”
• For Women Write About Comics, Emily Lauer documents Barbara Brandon-Croft’s conversation with Calvin Reid at MoCCA Fest 2023, discussing the history and impact of Where I’m Coming From.
• Over at Broken Frontier, Andy Oliver canvases the goings on from this year’s Small Press Day, as comics creators across the UK and Ireland got together to promote the joys of the self-publishing scene.
• For Solrad, Helen Chazan navigates another Comics Gridlock, this time out sharing thoughts on The New Mutants #73, Deathwatch 2000 #2, Legion of Superheroes #12, and Marshal Law: Secret Tribunal #2.
• ICv2’s coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Direct Market continues, as Jim McLauchlin charts the historical move of comics retail out into the suburbs of America.
• For The Beat, Heidi MacDonald covers the creative and commercial slump currently hitting the House of Ideas, as Marvel Comics’ current slate of titles has failed to connect with a slowing market in general.
• Over at Shelfdust, Sean Dillon looks back on Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher #54, and how this issue best shows the two narrative wolves at the heart of Ennis’ storytelling.
• For the Los Angeles Times, ahead of the release of DC’s screen adaptation of Blue Beetle, Rodrigo Cervantes discusses the cultural history the character is drawing on, and why it has taken this long for such Latinx representation to hit a wider market.
• From the world of open-access academia, Jordi Giner-Monfort and Magda Mengual-Morata present a review of comics academia published before 1954, and the arrival of Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent.
• For the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, Madhav Dubey and Nagendra Kumar write on the depiction of trauma and ‘unhomeliness’ in Malik Sajad’s Munnu: A Boy from Kashmir.
• In Annals of General Psychiatry, Ilenia Le Donne, Margherita Attanasio, Antony Bologna, Roberto Vagnetti, Francesco Masedu, Marco Valenti, and Monica Mazza present a study on the use of comics as a non-verbal test for evaluating the ability to infer the intentions of others.
• Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s editorial beat, over at The Daily Cartoonist, as classroom lessons, cases for the prosecution, penalty shootouts, the Grand Canyon, and freedom of the press all took centre stage.
New comic, probably too small to read. Just zoom and enhance. pic.twitter.com/0fSiX9h9SV
— Joe Decie (@joedecie) August 17, 2023
This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Starting this week’s selection with the return from hiatus of Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s Strip Panel Naked series of calmly narrated video essays, as this new edition dives into Chris Sprouse’s use of scale in Tom Strong.
• David Harper welcomed Emily Carroll to this week’s edition of Off Panel, as they spoke about A Guest in the House, telling new stories after Through the Woods, fun and experimentation in your work, and enduring influences.
• An interview-packed episode of Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come, as Meg Lemke spoke with Peter Rostovsky about Damnation Diaries, and Kate Fitzsimons reported from Flame Con 2023, talking to Michael Dialynas about Wynd, Isaac Goodheart about Christopher Chaos, Stephanie Williams about Nubia and the Amazons, and Rachel Silverstein about Renegade Rule.
• John Siuntres was joined by Marc Bernardin and Ron Salas for the latest edition of Word Balloon, as they spoke about Messenger: The Legend of Muhammad Ali, and the Civil Rights history of The Greatest.
• Closing out another week with a visit to Cartoonist Kayfabe, as Jim Rugg, Ed Piskor, and Bryan Moss took a look at Geof Darrow’s work on Bourbon Thret, R. Crumb’s Fritz the Cat in The People’s Comics, Tom Scioli’s I Am Stan, Alex Toth’s Doodle Book, Frank Miller’s Ronin: Book Two, and Jae Lee on Namor: The Sub-Mariner.
All 15 issues of The Nib magazine are available to download for free. 1,600 pages of comics.https://t.co/N88t5t28Er
— Matt Bors (@MattBors) August 9, 2023
That’s all for this week, and now I shall go and run around in a park until I fall down.
A Dmitri piece I gave to one of my ex-studio mates on his retirement: pic.twitter.com/BGw0jb69FD
— Chris Weston (@westonfront) August 17, 2023