The new fiscal year has begun here in the UK, and so it is time to take stock of one’s place in an increasingly volatile market. Am I mint-in-box, very fine, merely good, or now so dog-eared and sun-damaged that I am consigned to the bargain bins and basement long boxes, to be pawed at by list-wielding collectors looking to fill a gap in their near-complete run of Tired Thirty-Somethings With Perpetually Bloodshot Eyes?
Whatever grade it is that we find ourselves in this Friday, the condition of this week’s links, a selection of which can be found below, remains unchanged, unobserved, unless you choose to click upon them, and that’s the real value of things in 2022 - clicks, all the way down.
— K. Lam (@k_lamart) April 6, 2022
That would be telling… This week’s news.
• Starting the week by checking in with 2022’s recurring book-banning news, and the American Library Association released their latest State of America's Libraries Report, as part of National Library Week, reporting that 2021 saw a record number of attempts to ban books, with 729 challenges filed largely against books “by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons” - Maia Kobabe’s graphic memoir Gender Queer was the most challenged book of 2021 - the ALA’s Unite Against Book Bans initiative is now live.
• The Joe Shuster Awards announced 2021’s delayed slate of winners for works published in 2020, with Jason Fabok awarded Best Artist for Three Jokers, Kimiko Tobimatsu awarded Best Writer for Kimiko Does Cancer, and Michel Rabagliati awarded Best Cartoonist for Paul at Home, while Ho Che Anderson, Denis Rodier, and Ronn Sutton were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
• Brand Licensing news now, and stories arrived from both sides of the Pacific, as Shueisha announced the formation of Shueisha Games to develop interactive entertainment based on Weekly Shonen Jump characters; and San Diego Comic Convention announced the licensing of Comic-Con, in order to “[work] with specialist partners to deliver authentic brand experiences,” presumably looking to diversify revenue streams during a period which has seen marked instability in the live-event space.
• Corporate moves news, and ICv2 covered Margot Wood’s move from sales at Oni Press to sales at TKO Studios, and Marc Visnik’s move from sales at TKO Studios to publishing at Tokyopop; and Variety reported on WarnerMedia’s CEO Jason Kilar bidding farewell to DC Comics’ parent corp, following a period of upheaval, ahead of its metamorphosis into Warner Bros. Discovery.
• Auction news, and a near mint copy of Captain America #1 has sold for $3.12 million, tripling its price in three years, and taking it into the top 5 most expensive comics in the world, a ranking which is increasingly in flux, as the collectibles market sees new records being set on a regular basis across the board.
• London’s Cartoon Museum announced its first ever Young Cartoonist in Residence, welcoming Jadorekid to the position, who “will produce works in response to the collection, blog posts, and [be] a friendly face around the museum.”
• ShortBox’s Zainab Akhtar announced that the publisher and comics curation service will be winding down business at the end of 2023, with 2022’s slate of new publications the last to be released - ShortBox Comic Fair, the organisation’s online festival branch, will continue to operate.
• Koyama Provides announced the latest recipient of their grant program, awarding $1,500 to Hellen Jo, which will be used to “to build three altar installations and several life-size figures,” which will flank work on “Korean ghosts, folklore, and the imagery of Korean shamanism.”
• In memoriam, remembering those the world of comics has lost, as it was reported this week that mangaka Fujiko A. Fujio (aka Motoo Abiko), creator of Ninja Hattori-kun, and one half of creative partnership Fujiko Fujio, has passed away aged 88.
25 years ago today: The Distributor Wars in comics ended and the Diamond Exclusive Era began as @Marvel closed Heroes World and returned to @DCD_Nexus. The era effectively ended when DC added Lunar and UCS amid the pandemic in April 2020.
April 1997 sales: https://t.co/KsaVVRIQfG pic.twitter.com/ISSCo1LV1H
— Comichron.com (@comichron) April 1, 2022
Writ large, medium, and small… This week’s reviews.
• Chris Mautner reviews the frustrating disappointment of Philippe Girard’s Leonard Cohen: On a Wire, translated by Helge Dascher and Karen Houle - “Every page seems to be mostly about telling you what Cohen is about to do next before hurrying on to the next sequence, and so on. Even worse, the various characters are mostly ciphers, speaking in declarative sentences to provide background info or exposition in a manner you might expect from the sort of TV biopic that was all the rage back in the pre-streaming era.”
• Tim Hayes reviews the atmospheric chaos of Stewart Kenneth Moore, Brandon Beckner, and Scott Sampila’s Project MK-Ultra: Sex, Drugs & The CIA Volume 1 - “This theater of cruelty gives Moore plenty of room to rave. Once more the focus sways from micro to macro and back, from full pages of swirling chromatic chaos and grotesque hallucinations, down to delicate character touches, as when individual strands of an unhappy woman's hair cut across the pool of spotted black making up her shadowed face, a whole mood summoned from four strokes of the thinnest digital brush in the palette.”
• Helen Chazan reviews the visual flow of Martha Verschaffel’s Passages - “Amazingly, the one sighting of the modern digital in the pages of this world situates it even more deeply in the experience of being away from modernity, away from anything else. With nothing to connect to, the unidentified figure plays and plays, and the pixel deer forges forward until it falls, overwhelmed by its environment. The player slumps back, absorbed in the fleeting pain of defeat, and begins again - sinking deeper into the glow of the backlit screen separating them from their dark surroundings.”
• Keigen Rea reviews the meaningful understanding of Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru’s Avatar: The Last Airbender – North and South.
• Nathan Simmons reviews the explosive energy of Cody Ziglar, Justin Mason, et al’s Spider-Punk #1.
• David Brooke reviews the exciting beginning of Al Ewing, Stefano Caselli, et al’s X-Men: Red #1.
• Alex McDonald reviews the distinctive charm of Alisa Kwitney and Mauricet’s G.I.L.T. #1.
• Rory Wilding reviews the vibrant fun of Chris Samnee, Laura Samnee, et al’s Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters Volume 2.
• Christopher Franey reviews the smart setup of Stephen Mooney’s The Rocketeer: The Great Race #1.
• Arpad Okay reviews the earnest confidence of Benji Nate’s Hell Phone.
• Cori McCreery reviews the masterful statement of Kelly Sue DeConnick, Gene Ha, et al’s Wonder Woman: Historia #2.
• Rebecca Kaplan reviews the anarchic irony of Cody Ziglar, Justin Mason, et al’s Spider-Punk #1.
• Lindsay Pereira reviews the effective storytelling of Julie Doucet's Time Zone J.
Four Color Apocalypse
From Cover to Cover
Scott Cederlund reviews the celebratory emulation of Jim Rugg’s Hulk Grand Design: Monster.
House to Astonish
Paul O’Brien reviews the irritating gimmick of Tini Howard, Francesco Mobili, et al’s Secret X-Men #1; the solid likeability of Fabian Nicieza, Matt Horak, et al’s X-Men Unlimited #13-20; and the appealing fun of Declan Shalvey’s X-Men Unlimited #22-25.
Montreal Review of Books
Esinam Beckley reviews the complex flair of Brecht Evens’ The City of Belgium.
• Gregory Ellner reviews the surprising pathos of Joshua Williamson, Viktor Bogdanovic, et al’s Shadow War Alpha #1.
• Christopher Egan reviews the purposeful twists of Tim Seeley, Aaron Campbell, Jim Terry, et al’s West of Sundown #1.
Women Write About Comics
Carrie McClain reviews the compelling playfulness of Trinidad Escobar’s Arrive In My Hands: Queer Erotic Comics.
— Simon Gane (@Simongane) April 6, 2022
On the road again… This week’s interviews.
Jason Bergman interviews Rick Veitch about Rare Bit Fiends and Eureka Comics, eschewing the contemporary form of the direct market, embracing print-on-demand and single-panel comics, and the enduring controversy over Swamp Thing #88 - “Working in the regular mainstream with publishers and editors, I was kind of constrained. At the bottom of my secret heart of hearts, I really am an underground cartoonist. I just happened to get onto the mainstream gravy train in the ‘80s when it was like the Wild West, but I started getting into trouble as soon as I got there.”
• David Brooke speaks with Stephen Mooney about The Rocketeer: The Great Race, the 40th anniversary of the character, and writing escapist war stories.
• Chris Coplan chats with David F. Walker about Imposter Syndrome, printing costs and publishing plans, and exploring personal stories and the creative process; and with Tyler Crook about The Lonesome Hunters, cool swords, highfalutin horror, and the profundity of trauma.
Heidi MacDonald talks to Keith Knight about Woke’s return to screens, being able to slow down, the escapism of comic conventions, and the solitary nature of cartooning compared to collaborative creative endeavours.
Lindsay Pereira speaks with Emily Carrington about Our Little Secret, the complete reading experience that comics represent, and creative influences from across a broad spectrum of media.
The New Yorker
Françoise Mouly and Genevieve Bormes interview Anders Nilsen about The End: Revised and Expanded, revisiting such a personal work after many years, and the transformative nature of grief.
Cheryl Klein talks to Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith about Wash Day Diaries, the positive nature of mundanity in comics, and visual design collaboration for characters.
Alex Dueben speaks with Otava Heikkilä about Letters for Lucardo, story changes reflecting personal growth, and asking the reader to take vampire sex stories seriously.
Women Write About Comics
• Masha Zhdanova chats with Emmett Hobbes about Royale, heist pitches for Webtoon, the instant feedback of digital comics, and problem solving the vertical scroll.
• Nola Pfau talks to Otava Heikkilä about Letters for Lucardo, vampire theatrics, and tackling the topics of consent and autonomy in a work of supernatural drama.
• Wendy Browne interviews Gary Chudleigh and Sha Nazir about BHP Comics’ slate for 2022, the Scottish comics industry, and Covid- and Brexit-related publishing shifts; and Lela Lee about Angry Little Asian Girl, processing negative emotions through art, wanting acceptance in American and Asian culture, and the pain that gender norms can lead to.
Day 3 of 10 days of the Artists' Challenge over on FBook. I was challenged by Joe Jusko to submit a photo of my work each day for 10 days, no explanation needed,
Color by Laura Martin. pic.twitter.com/qfsg4JAQGW
— Walter Simonson (@WalterSimonson) April 7, 2022
The three Rs… This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Leonel Sepúlveda writes on Andrew Hussie’s magnum opus, MS Paint Adventures, and the place in webcomics history that the comics featured there, and the community that sprung up around them, now inhabit - “Though prolific, Hussie shows a habit of letting their work disappear - the only reason most of their earlier comics can still be read is thanks to Hussie’s fans creating backups and archives hosted independently. Even Homestuck, these days, is best read through a fan-made reader application on the desktop, due to how VIZ has failed to maintain and update the site’s Flash-based architecture, rendering sections entirely unreadable.”
• Also at TCJ, co-editor Joe McCulloch writes on recent reading endeavours, including Jade Mar’s contributions to Tinfoil Comix and Cowlick Comics; Le Dernier Cri’s DC Narok; Kevin O'Neill and Chris Lowder’s Mek Memoirs Facsimile Edition; John Wagner, Dan Cornwell, et al’s Judge Dredd: The Citadel; and Kazuo Umezz’ Orochi: The Perfect Edition Volume 1, translated by Jocelyne Allen - “The idiot boyfriend returns to the heroines' house at the end of the story. The sister who disfigured herself is dead; perhaps by suicide, perhaps by sheer force of irony. Meanwhile, the condemned sister swans around the landing in a robe, glorying in her full monster form. But Umezz denies us the Basil Wolverton goods. The woman's face is completely cloaked in shadow. What she looks like, belongs only to her. Orochi approves!”
• For NeoText Review, Kelly Kanayama looks back on Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s comics ouroboros, Pax Americana, and its deconstruction of Watchmen, the comics industry in general, and the post-9/11 War on Terror; and Robert Smith pores over the refreshing ugliness of Joe R Lansdale, Tim Truman, and Sam Glanzman’s Jonah Hex comics for Vertigo, and the departure it represented from other comics under that imprint.
• Over at The Beat, Brian Hibbs returns with a new Tilting At Windmills, presenting the 19th annual breakdown of the NPD Bookscan, providing an extremely in-depth look at 2021’s banner year for comics sales; and Paolo Chikiamco writes on the contemporary Philippine komiks scene, undergoing a period of upheaval, due to COVID-related disruption of the convention calendar, and suffering losses of key members of the community, while also seeing creators rapidly adapting to a changing status quo.
• A Marvel week for Shelfdust, as Chad Nevett examines the comics buying mindset that only 90s kids will remember, trapped in Web of Spider-Man #127; and Kayleigh Hearn introduces X-Men #28 as exhibit A for Jean Grey being the best mutant there is.
• For AIPT, continuing a look at the conspiracies featured in James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds’ Department of Truth, Stephanie Kemmerer dissects the enduring theory that NASA’s moon landing was an elaborate hoax.
• Elizabeth Sandifer’s Last War In Albion arrives at the end of Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol tenure, as the series embraces and then rejects a catastrophe curve, before Rachel Pollack takes the reins and revises and refines the beleaguered “superhero” team.
• 1999. Groove Armada hit the big time. Wolverine finds a new groove.
A warm up 🚧🚦🚸 pic.twitter.com/bRcZPYKUCO
— ✨⛓Chainsaw Shan🪚✨ (@shannondrewthis) April 5, 2022
Ceci n'est pas vengeance… This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Jeet Heer’s Morbid Symptoms returns to the topic of comics, and, more specifically, the stories of Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy, rampant capitalist, and nocturnal figure of justice - Heer is joined by Doug Bell to chart the evolution of DC Comics’ caped crusader through the lens of Matt Reeves’ The Batman.
• Shelfdust Presents’ The War Effort continues, as Al Kennedy is joined by Jay Edidin and Paul O’Brien to discuss Secret Wars #5, and the connection between Mark Millar and Jim Shooter’s writing style.
• Drawn & Quarterly hosted a new edition of At Home With, this week joining Anneli Furmark to celebrate the launch of Walk Me To The Corner, translated by Hanna Strömberg, and share the inspirations behind the book.
• A regular old two-presenter week for Cartoonist Kayfabe, as this time out Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor turned the leaves of Mad Magazines from 1989, DC’s Wednesday Comics, Heavy Metal #2, more conversation from and betwixt Eisner/Miller, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s original run on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bill Sienkiewicz on Moon Knight, and Black Light: The World of L.B. Cole, plus some more deposition from Marv Wolfman.
• Catching up with Strip Panel Naked, as Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou has recently broken down the page design and story elements contained therein for Tom King and Greg Smallwood’s The Human Target, Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga, and Grant Morrison and Chris Truog’s Animal Man.
• Mangasplaining’s spring break continues, and this week it’s an episode dedicated to the gateway books one might use to get their friends addicted to manga, should you feel compelled to do such a thing.
• David Harper welcomed Charles Soule and Ryan Browne to this week’s edition of Off Panel, to discuss new comic Eight Billion Genies, and lessons learned from previous comic Curse Words.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come saw Calvin Reid, Heidi MacDonald, and Kate Fitzsimons covering the return of comics festivals and conventions, and the big money being banked on comics platforms in the wake of Kickstarter’s recent fumbles.
So I did a poster for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival this year! I love TCAF so much, this was a dream to get to do. You can find more info on the TCAF website! #tcaf #tcaf2022 pic.twitter.com/TOHHiMCrPY
— Jenn Woodall 🪐 SPACE TRASH out Summer 2022 (@jenn_woodall) April 7, 2022
That’s all for this week, back again soon with more, unless I find that I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!
While I’m receiving treatment I can revisit old travel photos and draw on my iPad. Here’s an autumnal drawing of the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo. Drawing is such a godsend. Getting in the zone is a great medicine (as is thinking of happier times). pic.twitter.com/udgpgVGMzd
— Jonathan Edwards (@Jontofski) April 7, 2022