I spent this week watching a tiny helicopter embark on its successful first flight on the surface of Mars, and a nascent cash-grab of an international football tournament crash and burn in record time here on good old terra firma. Both equally entertaining in their own ways.
What happened recently in the world of comics, you ask? Why, scroll down, and find out, with This Week’s Links, below!
Comic Book Retailer Sketches, 2020. Bane. pic.twitter.com/LaE4vckN4I
— robliefeld (@robertliefeld) April 21, 2021
Houston, we have a problem… This week’s news.
• The Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) have opened applications to the Survive to Thrive grant program, with submissions running through to 10th May 2021, open to brick-and-mortar stores in the US and US territories the program aims to “help stores that have found ways to continue meeting their communities’ needs and that are overcoming the burdens created by the pandemic, helping them to thrive” - Binc’s annual Author Leadership Circle Campaign Chair, Garth Stein, is running a matched donation campaign to the program that closes at 5pm today, aiming to reach $2 million - Binc managed to provide $3.2 million in emergency assistance to over 2000 bookstores and individuals in 2020.
• The Hollywood Reporter covers a lawsuit brought by the screenwriters of Predator against Disney, who then filed a countersuit, focused on exploiting the rights tied up in the franchise - not a comics story per se, but interesting when viewed in parallel with Marvel’s recent cancellation of orders on the upcoming Predator comic and variant-cover tie-ins, and their alleged failures to pay royalties on comics properties acquired when Disney brought various franchise tie-ins in-house. Dollar signs all the way down.
• The Daily Cartoonist reports on the end of Tarzan as a syndicated comic strip, bringing 92 years of publication to an end, due to a falling client list, and the content issues inherent with running a comic created almost a century ago - the GoComics page for daily digital reruns of the strip contains the warning that it “may contain harmful stereotypes, problematic and antiquated ideologies, or otherwise negative cultural depictions and themes indicative of the context in which it first appeared”.
• The LA Times announced the winners of their 41st annual Book Prize, via virtual ceremony, with Bishakh Som’s Apsara Engine taking home the award for 2020’s Best Graphic Novel.
• Continuing the book channel’s current run of form in the market, ICv2 reports that book sales rose 29% in Q1 of 2021, with graphic novel sales up by 4 million units compared to 2020 - 80% of that 4 million comprised manga titles, also reflected in current direct market shares, which probably explains why I can’t find an English-language copy of Chainsaw Man Volume 1 anywhere.
• Meanwhile, this season’s ongoing comics distribution storyline added a fresh character, as The Beat shared the PR for on-demand micro-distributor Comic Distro - pundits are saying this series has jumped the shark in 2021, but there’s still not much else to do except binge watch things at the moment, eh, reader?
Gd idk pic.twitter.com/J59mrcOCPn
— Ben Passmore (@DAYGLOAYHOLE) April 17, 2021
Podium places pending… This week’s reviews.
• Brian Nicholson reviews the delightful surprises of Max Huffman’s Cover Not Final - “It doesn’t take a decoder ring to understand these comics, just a willingness to accept the high velocity by which a new moving part can jut out and brain you, based around comedic rhythms that at one point existed in a context where they were more intelligible.”
• Tegan O’Neil reviews the enjoyable cheesecake of Garth Ennis, Goran Sudžuka, and Miroslav Mrva’s Marjorie Finnegan: Temporal Criminal #1 - “No bones about it, the book knows exactly what it wants to be and do, and sets out to accomplish those things from the very first page. What does it want to accomplish? Well, it’s a sexy ultraviolent romp through time. Doesn’t that sound like your bag? If it isn’t I’ll understand, but you’re not hurting anyone but yourself.”
• Jamey Keeton reviews the befuddling mess of James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds, et al’s Department of Truth Volume 1: The End of the World - “The bewildering metaphysics of The Department of Truth is underscored by its frenetic and opaque art style rendered by Simmonds. The art attempts to capture an aesthetic that is jarring and divorced from what things actually look like and is more interested in what things ought to look like where reality is constantly warping in accordance with our collective beliefs. As individual panels, the images are striking and gorgeous, but as comics, or sequential art that are always considered in juxtaposition to one another, the images seem dead and static.”
• Keigen Rea reviews the polished brutality of Kieron Gillen, Jacen Burrows, et al’s Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar.
• Sam Rutzick reviews the lifeless dissonance of Jason Aaron, Torunn Gronbekk, Mattia De Iulis, et al’s The Mighty Valkyries #1.
• Rory Wilding reviews the stunning heart of Naoki Urasawa’s Asadora! Volume 2.
• Jordan Richards reviews the intelligent intrigues of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s Chainsaw Man Volume 2.
• Ronnie Gorham reviews the entertaining buildup of Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening, et al’s Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors #1.
• Dan Spinelli reviews the effusive mysteries of Ram V and Filipe Andrade’s The Many Deaths of Laila Starr #1.
Ricardo Serrano Denis reviews the commendable balance of Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodríguez, et al’s Locke and Key/Sandman: Hell & Gone #1.
• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the imperfect captivations of Val McDermind and Kathryn Briggs’ Resistance.
• Andy Oliver reviews the energetic quirkiness of Seaerra Miller’s Mason Mooney: Paranormal Investigator.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews a couple of Mini Kus! offerings, with the flawless disorientation of David Collier’s Before The Pandemic There Was A Touch Football Tourney, and the ingenious uniformity of Matt Madden’s Bridge.
• Brian Salvatore reviews the generic smoothness of Massimo Rossi, Alex Nieto, et al’s Locust #1.
• Matt Sherman reviews the emotional potential of Julio Anta, Anna Wieszczyk, et al’s Home #1.
Arlette Hernandez reviews the masterful contrast of Shigeru Mizuki’s Tono Monogatari, translated by Zach Davisson.
Have a capsule review of the rip-roaring nostalgia of Shotaro Ishinomori’s Super Sentai: Himitsu Sentai Gorenger—The Classic Manga Collection.
Diane Darcy reviews the delightful juxtapositions of Jody Houser, Roberta Ingranata, et al’s Doctor Who: Missy #1.
• M. Delmonico Connolly reviews the luminous creativity of John Vasquez Mejias’ The Puerto Rican War.
• Sydney To reviews the unflinching deftness of Augusto Mora’s Illegal Cargo.
• Kay Sohini reviews the eloquent discomfits of Espé’s The Parakeet.
Women Write About Comics
• Lisa Fernandes reviews the chaotic extremes of Marvel’s Deadpool: Nerdy 30.
• Latonya Pennington reviews the satisfying charms of You Kajika’s The Treasure of the King and the Cat.
Now I understand... I was born to draw this Lil Nas X Hellboy tribute pic.twitter.com/JLb2zRvVPN
— chiz (@chizicus) April 16, 2021
All the answers to life’s many questions… This week’s interviews.
Andrew Neal interviews Max Huffman about Cover Not Final, savoring the joys of working slow and getting things done quick, detective fiction favorites, and the complementary nature of music and comics scenes - “Most of the stuff that influences my work today I came across in college. I don’t want to go into list mode but going to comix shows, making zines with friends and becoming aware of fine art all kind of made my brain explode. Gary Panter’s classes had a big impact. He really tried to get his students-- most of whom were at cartoon school to make comics about cartoons about comics -- thinking about art and writing and cultural movements.”
• Chris Coplan talks to Ed Piskor about Red Room, creating a world’s worth of characters and motivations, and the digital frontiers for contemporary horror.
• David Brooke speaks with Aubrey Sitterson and Tony Gregori about The Worst Dudes, pandemic book publishing, and avoiding punching down; and chats with Sophie Escabasse about Witches of Brooklyn, the excitement of writing for younger readers, and favourite fictional magic users.
• Deanna Destito interviews Wendy Chin-Tanner about Embodied, comics and poetry backgrounds, diversifying contributors and content, and the complications of anthology production; and speaks with Matt Emmons about Gardener, life getting in the way of things, taking a crowdfunding chance, and being attached to monsters.
• Avery Kaplan talks to Rose Eveleth about Flash Forward: An Illustrated Guide to Possible (And Not So Possible) Tomorrows, the mechanics of podcast adaptations, research challenges, and imagining cultural and technological shifts.
The Hollywood Reporter
Graeme McMillan speaks with Axel Alonso and Jon Kramer, for a piece looking at the new Hollywood rush for the next big stand-to-screen adaptation.
Blair Stenvick chats with Matt Bors about getting out of the political cartooning game, how he kept going for so long during a bleak(er) period of history, and publication realities since the 2008 financial crisis.
Rob Kirby talks to Will McPhail about the creative spark of autobiography, the fascination of interpersonal connections, and being freed from the restrictions of single panel cartooning.
Daniel Elkin speaks with Dan Stafford about Kilgore Books and Comic’s publishing during pandemic times, keeping things analog, and what venues are friendly to indie publications in 2021.
Alex Dueben interviews Jason Novak about Joe Frank: Ascent, early experiments leading to a fully-fledged book, the gamble of publishing, and making peace with the page; and speaks with Marcus Kwame Anderson about The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History, the responsibility of committing history to the page, and balancing research with getting the book finished.
• Karama Horne talks to Ibrahim Moustafa about Count, science fiction nomenclature, breakdancing inspirations, and the shift away from serialised comics.
• Mike Avila speaks with Bryan Edward Hill about Far Cry, kid-free free-time, letting the story dictate the series length, and collaborative collaborations.
Women Write About Comics
• Wendy Browne interviews Olivia Cuartero-Briggs about Silver City, organic inspirations, exploring reincarnation, and working in your own interests.
• Reagan Anick chats to Greg Keyes and Drew Edward Johnson about Godzilla: Dominion, dreaming of monsters, the morality of kaiju, and seeing things from Big G’s point of view.
인간들 맨날 싸우더라 pic.twitter.com/YcfYvcwSbh
— 초이초이 (@jychoioioi) April 18, 2021
Best viewed sideways… This week’s features and comics.
• Here at TCJ, Tom Shapira digs into the meat of Shaolin Cowboy, and the humble mastery exhibited in Geof Darrow’s meditatively macabre magnum opus - “Go back and read Hard Boiled. It’s not just that Darrow draws scenes of vast destruction and violence - he also makes sure to draw the people around them. Impossibly vast masses, each person minding their own business. These people have internalized the violence around them, none of them looking outside themselves. They do not ‘ignore’ the destruction, as that would imply a conscious effort; instead, they simply accept it and move on.”
• Also for TCJ, Austin English looks back at Mort Weisenger’s overseeing of the Superman line of comics in the Silver Age, and the kind of younger reader who would find themself drawn to such titles, with bonus Seinfeld discussion in the comments - “Weisinger’s stringent rules (Superman’ powers don’t work on Krypton, The Fortress of Solitude is a safe space where precious things can be stored) allow the gift to remain concrete. There are no lingering questions, no further tomes of mystery to address tantalizing ambiguity: the bizarre concept exists in these pages solidly, a living breathing new idea captured and constrained. Grafted-in-stone-chaos for young readers with similar contradictions.”
• A couple of pieces from Heidi MacDonald, as comics adaptations on streaming services are driving surges in graphic novel sales, but it’s the same old song when it comes to creators on work-for-hire projects seeing any dividends from their storylines appearing on-screen.
• Tegan O’Neil’s The Hurting continues diving deep into the complexities of Rogue, and explores how X-Men’s core premise fails its characters, much in the same way that Marvel repeatedly fails its readers (and its characters too, for good measure).
• For NeoText, Chloe Maveal celebrates the 45th anniversary of Jack Kirby’s The Eternals, and its ambitious redefining of an entire fictional universe, before looking at the busy textures of Duncan Fegredo’s comics work, while Benjamin Marra presented a gallery of some Diabolik greatest hits.
• Shelfdust’s Infinite Crisis continues, as Adrienne Resha explains the circumstances under which a Green Lantern might conceivably carry a gun and Claire Napier explains the circumstances under which a Green Lantern might conceptually be pointless, while Duna Haller introduces New Mutants #73 as evidence for Magik being the best mutant, exploring the character’s experiences mirroring those of people with complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
• Over at 13th Dimension, ahead of the arrival of DC’s Who’s Who omnibus, editor Robert Greenberger presents a limited series looking back at the legendary series, picking 13 favorite pages, 13 artists who he wishes had been involved, and 13 characters who didn’t make the cut, while Neal Adams explains how you go about designing a nemesis for The World's Greatest Detective.
• Elizabeth Sandifer’s Last War In Albion charts more of Grant Morrison’s early years at DC, as Animal Man sees a metamorphosis and a tying-in, and there’s some exploratory dallying with the Justice League.
• The Daily Cartoonist rounds up the editorial beat, as Pat Bagley offended Utah, there were some symptoms of military withdrawal, remixes are not encouraged, trans rights continue to be used as a political beach ball, good old fashioned hatred remains in-season, jurors deliberated, justice was served, and the fight continues.
• Some recent longform comics from the digital frontier, as here at TCJ there are previews of Alexis Beauclair’s Free Fall and Josh Pettinger's Goiter #6; The Nib has pandemic life responses from four contributors; LA Johnson and Eda Uzunlar share Shaheem Patel’s joyful discoveries when teaching during the pandemic for NPR; Sarah Mirk documents how you go about making universal preschool a reality for Oregon Humanities; Tanna Tucker’s plans of escape are thwarted by border closures; and Edward Ross and Jamie Hall present an educational comic on the microscopic world of bacteria.
GOES launches today. A not-for-profit publishing venture that gives away free books. The first book is Luke Kruger-Howard (my buddy and the publisher). Intrigued? Look here: https://t.co/mst6gHXgeJ pic.twitter.com/FdBebIGgzk
— Sophie Yanow (@sophieyanow) April 15, 2021
I believe that TiVo is still a going concern, possibly… This week’s recommended watching.
• Kicking off this week’s selection with a couple of visits to Comix Experience’s Graphic Novel Club, as Brian Hibbs speaks to Barry Windsor-Smith about Monsters and what kept him in comics; and hosts a discussion with Neil Gaiman, Karen Berger, and Paul Levitz on Sandman and their comics careers to-date.
• Some upcoming book launches and virtual tours from Drawn & Quarterly authors, as Darryl Cunningham speaks with Sarah Glidden about Billionaires on 8th May, Aminder Dhaliwal digitally tours Cyclopedia Exotica from 10th May, and Joe Ollman is in-conversation with Seth for the launch of Fictional Father on 20th May.
• Also on the virtual events calendar, VanCAF announced 2021's CanCAF as Canadian comic artists go head-to-head on the squared circle of laptop screens to determine once and for all which is the best city in the nation; and next month sees 2021's virtual Queer Comics Expo from the Comics Art Museum, as well as some upcoming educational workshops.
• The Black Mountain Institute and Believer Magazine’s latest cartoon workshop saw MariNaomi taking viewers through making diary comics, and keeping things simple, while having fun and keeping those drawing skills fresh.
• On a similar note, Radiator Comics have been running a series of virtual talks and panels on making comics, zines, and various aspects of the publishing process, all of which can be found on their YouTube channel.
• Comics great and small on Cartoonist Kayfabe this week, as Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor took a look through Charles Burns’ El Borbah, the collabo fan-comic Image Grand Design, Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, Jeff Smith’s Bone, Richard Corben’s underground joints, and Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics.
• Comic Con International’s educational series returned, following the deluge of #content from [email protected] with a panel on selecting graphic novels for teaching settings with Jillian Ehlers, Shveta Miller, Karina Quilantán-Garza, Christina Taylor, Jana Tropper, and Tracy Edmunds; and a panel discussion with Rumi Hara, Kiku Hughes, and Jose Pimienta on the personal perspectives in their comics, moderated by Carla Riemer.
• Noah Van Sciver hosted a cartoonist chat livestream in celebration of the Kilgore Books kickstarter currently running, speaking with Dan Stafford, Josh Pettinger, Karl Christian Krumpholz, Lauren Barnett, Mike Freiheit, and Alex Nall about like on the crowdfunding campaign trail.
• Tom Brevoort joined John Siuntres aboard the Word Balloon as they discussed the brave new frontier of podcasting and video content, editorial tips and tricks, and Big Two comics past and present.
Happy Earth Day! Walt Kelly created this strip for Earth Day 50 years ago (April 22, 1971). Kelly’s parody of a quote from a War of 1812 battle report perfectly summarizes mankind’s tendency to create our own problems and is sadly still relevant today. pic.twitter.com/MRIt3r2ju0
— OSU Cartoon Library (@CartoonLibrary) April 22, 2021
Pick it up, pick it up… This week’s easy-listening.
• Thick Lines returned from a little break this week, as Katie Skelly and Sally Madden discussed Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend by Winsor McCay, public transport dream lifehacks, the hypnagogic repetitions of those olde tymey comix, and an impromptu liveread.
• Also returning from a break is Mex Flentallo, as Ramon Villalobos and Daniel Irizarri were joined by Michel Fiffe for an all-encompassing chat about comics through the ages, getting tired of multimillionaire creators, and the names that should appear on a comic’s cover.
• There was a new edition of The Beat’s Graphic Novel TK, as Alison Wilgus and Gina Gagliano spoke with Drawn & Quarterly’s Julia Pohl-Miranda about getting a book out there and keeping people’s eyes on it once it is.
• House to Astonish opened its doors once more, as Al Kennedy and Paul O’Brien dove headlong into what’s been going on in comics distribution this year, what’s been going on in comics auctions this year, and what’s been going on in readers voting for character inclusion in comics this year. 2021 is mental.
• 2000 AD hit play on a fresh Lockdown Tape, as MOLCH-R spoke in-depth with Laurence Campbell about his work in and out of comics, learning on the job, and experiencing the joys of the 2000 Ad forum.
• Christopher Butcher hosted this week’s edition of Mangasplaining, as the team entered into a spoiler-filled discussion of Taiyo Matsumoto’s TekkonKinkreet Black & White, its dark, demented mayhem, and Matsumoto’s bande desinee influences..
• The Beast Must Die returned to SILENCE! rejoining Gary Lactus for a lovely old chat about the good and the bad of 2000 AD, and Al Davison’s Spiral Cage graphic memoir.
• The New Podcast beacon was lit once again, as Tom Kaczynski and Gabrielle Bell launched Uncivilized Territories, with discussions of recent comics work, both in print and digitally, philosophy, psychogeography, and dogs - you can catch up with the first three episodes here.
• Gerry Duggan was this week’s guest on Off Panel, as he spoke with David Harper about all things mutant, voting for superhero team line-ups, and virtual comics offices.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come welcomed Kuo-Yu Liang to the show this week, as he spoke with Calvin Reid about the various upheavals that the comics industry has faced in the last year, and where things might go in the next twelve months.
My variant cover for "Action Comics" #1033. pic.twitter.com/CiXf9Vd5Fy
— J. Totino Tedesco (@TotinoTedesco) April 21, 2021
That’s all for this week, back soon with more links for clicking. I still refuse to use the word “soccer”, and you’ll never catch me!
Happy #EarthDay from Hedorah the Smog Monster and his dance club mutants! pic.twitter.com/9E9Wa08Ujc
— Joey ???????? Weiser (@joeyweiser) April 22, 2021