Imagine You’re A Deer – This Week’s Links

Busy, busy week for comics, as battle lines were drawn on social media by the pro- and anti-Snyder Cut camps, with no quarter to be given by either side, almost as though any excuse for an online barney will be jumped upon at this point in the pandemic as people flail around for an outlet through which to vent their anxiety.

Despite this, or maybe in service of it, the links kept on a-coming, and you can read them below. Comics will presumably have a quiet week as an industry at some point, but this ain't it.


And it keeps coming… This week’s news.

• Late on in the week, Marvel Comics announced that they are entering into an exclusive distribution deal for the direct market with Penguin Random House, ending a long-running partnership with Diamond, from whom stores will still be able to order Marvel periodicals and graphic novels on a wholesale basis. Penguin Random House confirmed that they will be setting up a new direct market team, but the dust is still settling with regards to the finer details, so time will tell if this benefits brick and mortar stores - this change comes less than a year after DC parted ways with Diamond, which caused some major feather ruffling at the time, however, PRH's free shipping policy may mitigate that this time round, for retailers going with the new (and much bigger) kid on the block.

• Meanwhile, as various other comics publishers jumped ship from Diamond to Simon & Schuster over the past few months for book channel distribution, the latter’s proposed merger with Penguin Random House (uh oh), is now under investigation by the UK’s Competition and Marketing Authority, as it seeks to determine whether S&S/PRH's formation of such a mega-publisher/distributor  would lead to a “substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services”. Call me Baltic Avenue, because it looks like we've got ourselves a new monopoly in town.

• Koyama Provides have announced the latest recipient of their awards program, as Ø.K. Fox receives a grant of $1,000, which will be used “to produce an archive of a seemingly disparate set of cartoonists, musicians, and drag performers brought together by SONIC 2006 CLUB. SONIC 2006 CLUB is both a party [Fox] threw for 5 years, and an exploration of how collective reference points have the potential to create enduring community despite fracturing from larger societal atomization.”

• Broken Frontier shared the launch of the #threefingers campaign, as cartoonists work to raise awareness of the ongoing situation in Myanmar, following a military coup in the country last month - proceeds from affiliated fundraising will be used to support Mutual Aid Myanmar.

• Surprising, I assume, no one - the comic BRZRKR, co-created by Keanu Reeves, and published by Boom! Studios, that apparently needed crowdfunding help to make it to print, will now be a Netflix film and anime series, which in no way was the plan from the start *elaborate wink*.

• Also presumably surprising no one, given the last few weeks’ digital gold rush, is the news that readers are to be subjected to the first ever non-fungible comic book token, as Matt Kindt’s MIND MGMT is set to return as an NFT. The announcement was quickly followed up by a statement regarding donations from proceeds of the comic’s auction to offset the environmental damage its publishing via the blockchain will cause, but that didn’t go over particularly well, as you’d expect.

• Finally, the sad news arrived late last week that cartoonist Gary Leib passed away on March 19th, aged 65, of a heart attack - Michael Dean has an obituary for the prolific artist, here at TCJ.



Can’t stop, won’t stop… This week’s reviews.


• Brian Nicholson reviews the liberated realities of Michael DeForge’s Heaven No Hell - “The political content in DeForge’s stories is never annoying because the tone isn’t self-congratulatory. The politics being casually expressed are never the point, and they are not meant to satiate the readership’s desire to feel they’re being agreed with. It’s understood we can agree on all certain principles, but that there’s still going to be conflict, and there’s still going to be mess. But in the same way it’s not worth arguing with people online, it’s not worth writing characters into fiction to simply serve as strawmen to rage against.”

• Hillary Brown reviews the unapologetic weavings of Shira Spector’s Red Rock Baby Candy - “How is it readable? Sometimes it's not. Spector's truest predecessor isn't a comics artist at all but the poet Walt Whitman. Her book is a song of herself, even down to its titular parody of "Big Rock Candy Mountain." "Poetic" can be an insult, but it's not here. Spector's book, which is mostly about infertility and the deaths of her family members, would be much harder to read emotionally if she were more direct and less poetic about her pain. “



• Sam Rutzick reviews the spectacular indulgence of James Stokoe’s Orphan and the Five Beasts #1.

• David Brooke reviews the brooding horror of Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Salvador Larroca, et al’s Alien #1.

• Justin Harrison reviews the shallow sketches of Peter Milligan, ACO, et al’s American Ronin Volume 1.

• Colin Moon reviews the stumbling desolation of Jared Muralt’s The Fall Volume 1.

• Rory Wilding reviews the dynamic drama of Sina Grace, Omar Spahi, Jenny D. Fine, et al’s Getting It Together.

• Ryan Sonneville reviews the wondrous storytelling of Shigeru Mizuki’s Tono Monogatari, translated by Zack Davisson.

• Lia Galanis reviews the exciting modernisation of Kelly Thompson, Andy Fish, Veronica Fish, et al’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Something Wicked.

• Robert Reed reviews the missed opportunities of Jason Viola and Andy Ristaino’s Science Comics: The Digestive System.


The Beat

Joe Grunenwald reviews the predictable disappointments of Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Salvador Larroca, et al’s Alien #1.


Broken Frontier

• Jenny Robins reviews the colorful ambiguity of Curtis Clow, Pius Bak, et al’s Slightly Exaggerated #1.

• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the hypnotic nuance of James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds, et al’s The Department of Truth Volume 1: The End of the World.

• Andy Oliver reviews the dizzying abstractions of Olivia Sullivan and Sean Azzopardi’s Substrata, the delicate succinctness of Mollie Ray’s Two Stones, and the witty claustrophobia of Josh Hicks’ Death Machine & Gravy Train Stay Indoors.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan C reviews the indistinct absurdity of Matt Lubchansky’s The Antifa Super-Soldier Cookbook, the memorable texture of Steve Lafler’s BugHouse Book One, and the charming confidence of Ashley Robin Franklin’s That Full Moon Feeling.



Nick Smith reviews the annoying stupidity of Daiki Kobayashi’s Ragna Crimson Volume 1.


The Library Journal

Tom Batten has starred capsule reviews of:

- The visceral dread of Junji Ito’s Lovesickness.

- The epic explorations of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Jérémy’s The Knights of Heliopolis.

- The expressive bombast of Lee Lai’s Stone Fruit.


Multiversity Comics

• Christopher Egan reviews the excellent explorations of DC Comics’ Superman Red & Blue #1.

• Johnny Hall reviews the successful experimentation of Duncan Jones, Alex de Campi, et al’s MADI: Once Upon A Time In The Future.

• Matthew Blair reviews the strange passion of James Stokoe’s Orphan and the Five Beasts #1.

• Mark Tweedale reviews the teasing setup of Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Bridgit Connell, et al’s Lady Baltimore: The Witch Queens #1.

• Jodi Odgers reviews the intoxicating captivations of Ibrahim Moustafa et al's Count.

• Joe Skonce reviews the exceptional return of David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, Sanford Greene et al's Bitter Root #11.

• Gregory Ellner reviews the inaccessible slow-burn of Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Salvador Larroca, et al's Alien #1.


Publisher’s Weekly

Have capsule reviews of:

- The hefty complexity of Iron Circus’ You Died: An Anthology of the Afterlife, edited by Kel McDonald and Andrea Purcell.

- The unflinching conviction of Katja Klengel’s Girlsplaining: A (Sorta) Memoir, translated by Nika Knight.

- The polished overkill of Ted Rall and Pablo Callejo’s The Stringer.

- The thoughtful provocations of Paru Itagaki’s Beast Complex Volume 1, translated by Tomo Kimura 

- The powerful resonance of Koni Benson et al’s Crossroads: I Live Where I Like: A Graphic History.



• Ryan Carey reviews the timeless honesty of Alex Graham’s Dog Biscuits.

• Tom Shapira reviews the genuine dread of Douglas Noble and Sean Azzopardi’s Pocket Chillers #1-3.

• Nicholas Burman reviews the disturbing ambiguity of Spugna’s Fingerless.

• Deshan Tennekoon reviews the incredible empathy of Christophe Chabouté's Alone.


Women Write About Comics

• Elvie Mae Parian reviews the confused edginess of Thomas Day, Olivier Ledroit, et al’s Wika, translated by Christopher Pope.

• Melissa Brinks reviews the stylish bombast of Matthew Erman, Lisa Sterle, et al's Witchblood #1.



More of a statement than a question… This week’s interviews.


Ian Thomas interviews Michael Mark Cohen about radical cartooning’s status quo, the driving forces of 19th century media’s evolution, and cartooning’s connection to collective action - “I spent a tremendous amount of time digging around in old socialist and union newspapers, journals, magazines and pamphlets where I expected to read the work of earnest revolutionaries discussing socialist strategy and news from the latest strikes around the world. Of course, I found all that and more. But what most surprised me about this popular literature was that it also served as a platform for so much great cartooning.”



• David Brooke speaks with Christopher Golden and Bridgit Connell about Lady Baltimore, Covid delays, and spoiler aversion; and Trung Le Nguyen about The Magic Fish, storytelling process, and quarantine routines (or lack thereof).

• Colin Moon talks to Sean Knickerbocker about Rust Belt Review, anthology inspirations, getting eyes on comics, and financial challenges.


The Beat

• Heidi MacDonald interviews Tom Akel about Rocketship Entertainment, publishing print copies of digital comics for creators who don’t have the time, and expansive plans for 2021.

• Kerry Vineberg talks to Paco Roca (with translation by Ricardo Serrano Denis) about The Winter Of The Cartoonist, creating new histories, and chronology as a narrative puzzle.

• Deanna Destito speaks with Alex Segura about The Dusk, subverting the crime-fighting vigilante genre, and taking a crime novelist’s view of the superhero schtick.

• Avery Kaplan interviews Shelby Criswell and Matthew Erman about Terminal Punks, vibe playlists, and anti-capitalist ironies.


Broken Frontier

• Lindsay Pereira interviews Zack Davisson about the work of Shigeru Mizuki, the place of the supernatural in classic Japanese stories, and baseball metaphors.

• Andy Oliver speaks with Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele about Sexuality: A Graphic Guide, playfulness and accessibility, and visual diversity.


Smash Pages

Alex Dueben talks to Dean Haspiel about The Red Hook: Blackout, studio moves, art trades and bartering, and the realities of publishing in a pandemic.



Daniel Elkin presents a new edition of Knowing is Half the Battle, as Richard Short shares his thoughts on how much leeway a tattoo of your artwork should buy, not fearing rejection, and being upfront about expectations regarding book design.


Women Write About Comics

Wendy Browne speaks with Christopher Golden and Bridgit Connell about Lady Baltimore, subverting classic setups, and chaos magic research.



Above and/or below the fold… This week’s features and comics.

• Here at TCJ, Bob Levin, with encouragement from Tucker Stone, dives into Drawn and Quarterly’s recent reprintings of the comics of John Porcellino, and the private life in pictures that they represent - “If he had written [Perfect Example] at a different point in this decade, the heavens might have unleashed tornadoes, hurricanes or locusts. The uplifting ending was a gift from a Porcellino who differed significantly from the Porcellino who had lived the events depicted in his book, or who had lived through the years before he sat down to portray them. Whether and in what proportion marriage, meditation and illness contributed to this shape-shift is a question for the gods.”

• For The New York Times, Mike Isaac looks at Facebook’s ongoing problems with content moderation, and its apparent inability to parse satire, resulting in the removal of political cartoons, while The Daily Cartoonist collects reactions from the other side of the aisle to the piece.

• As the COVID-19 pandemic hits one year in the US, The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald canvasses retailers on how they’ve weathered lockdowns, distribution shutdowns, and digital life.

• Marking the 35th anniversary of the publication of The Dark Knight Returns #1, there are a pair of pieces up at 13th Dimension, as Paul Levitz recounts the behind-the-scenes machinations at DC’s offices to get the title reprinted when it hit big, and Fred Van Lente looks at the cracks in the comic’s storytelling from a 2021 perspective.

• For Multiversity Comics, august (in the wake of) dawn explores what Superman could, and should, stand for in 2021, after spending the start of this millennium continuing to engage in the same old pugilistic status quo.

• Over at NeoText, Annabel Paulsen looks back at Fun Home, and its deeply subjective portrayal of another’s truth, Benjamin Marra presents a gallery of Milo Manara’s illustrations of Mozart’s operas, and Chloe Maveal pays homage to the truncated genius of Lynn Varley’s coloring work.

• Sheldust’s spin of the X-Roulette wheel continues, as Steve Morris considers the fundamentally flawed power fantasy of contemporary X-comics, while Mark Turetsky looks back on the varied tellings of Usagi Yojimbo’s origins by Stan Sakai (and one instance of guest inking by Sergio Aragonés), Rachel S covers the Green Lantern Corps for Infinite Crisis with Adam P. Knave on LEGION duty, and Kenneth Laster examines Keith Pollard’s career (and the financial issues facing superhero comic artists in the 90s) through the lens of his work on Black Cat for Black Comics History.

• The Daily Cartoonist provides another handy wrap-up of the week’s editorial cartoons, as racism abounds, and, well, abounds, and yet another tragedy occurs, as America returns to the old normal, which never really went away.

• For the Entangled Religions academic journal, Dunja Sharbat Dar has an article on the depiction of angels in the manga Kamikaze Kaitō Jeanne, and what religious manga can tell the reader about the inspirations drawn from Buddhist, Shinto, and Christian iconography in popular Japanese media.

• Some recent longform comics, as Dorian Alexander and Levi Hastings track the illegal trade in exotic birds for The Nib, Nathan Gray recounts the hard choices faced by families of COVID-19 patients for The LA Times, LA Johnson and Eda Uzunlar share lessons learned by virtual teachers for NPR, while Rachel Quast and Brittany Long Olsen take a look at some societal norms for The Lily.



Sight beyond sight… This week’s recommended watching.

• A couple of recent virtual talks from The Kubert School, as Amy Chu spoke to viewers about the writing process for superhero comics and hitting those all-important narrative beats, while Todd McFarlane dropped knowledge on getting your name out there from a lifetime of experience spent on the comics hustle.

• The Black Mountain Institute and Believer Magazine presented a new cartoonist workshop, as Danica Novgorodoff took participants through drawing comics about nature, and connecting with the outside world while expressing oneself on the page.

• Fantagraphics and Floating World Comics co-hosted a book launch for I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, as Mannie Murphy and Stephen R. Bissette discussed the proliferation of cults in North West America, revelatory research for the graphic novel, and some live reading from the book.

• Meanwhile, Drawn and Quarterly and The Beguiling celebrated the launch of Heaven No Hell, hosting an in-conversation between Michael DeForge and Eleanor Davis, as they spoke about the early days of online comics, storytelling spontaneity, and nice booksmell.

• Noah Van Sciver spoke with Karl Stevens for this week’s cartoonist chat, discussing new book Penny, the convention beat, learning about indie comics via Cerebus, and not pursuing illustration work, before taking things live and solo for a good old-fashioned Q&A session.

• Cartoonist Kayfabe stayed the course this week, leafing through copies of Bad Boy, Frazetta: The Living Legend, Elektra: Assassin, GI Joe, Black Canary, Eternity Comics, and Incredible Hulk vs The Thing.

• A couple of trips up in the Word Balloon, as John Siuntres spoke with Chris Burnham about DIE!DIE!DIE and Batman Inc as well as taking audience questions, and talked to S. Craig Zahler about Forbidden Surgeries of the Hideous Dr. Divinus and his comics history.

• Salt and Honey's livestream odyssey continued, as Sloane Leong and Leslie Hung reviewed James Harren's Ultramega #1, Gege Akutami's Jujutsu Kaisen volumes 1&2, and James Stokoe's Orphan and the Five Beasts #1.



A superior audio experience… This week’s easy-listening.

• Play is pressed on a new edition of 2000 AD’s Lockdown Tapes, as MOLCH-R speaks with Rob Williams about apocalyptic Dredd stories old and new.

• Dan Berry welcomed MariNaomi to Make It And Then Tell Everybody, as they discussed choosing art or storytelling, page rates in terms of speed of drafting, and when the work day starts.

• David Brothers presented this week’s episode of Mangasplaining, as the team discussed Hiroaki Samura’s Wave, Listen to Me! and whether it can live up to the description of “like Garth Ennis doing Sesame Street”.

• Alex Segura was David Harper’s guest on this week’s Off Panel, as they spoke about crowdfunding The Dusk, contemporary and classic Archie Comics, and the allure of crime fiction.

• Gil Roth was joined by Kate Lacour for this week’s Virtual Memories Show, as they talked about taking up taxidermy, plans for after the pandemic, and how it feels when a book launch goes well.

• Ramon Villalobos and Daniel Irizarri welcomed Brodie Reed to Mex Flentallo, taking Doug Mahnke and John Arcudi’s The Mask, zoom stand-up shows, and the failure of the trickle-down model of economics in the age of streaming.



That’s it for this week, time to knuckle down and spend four hours pondering whether it is indeed appropriate for Batman to swear, before drawing the conclusion that we do, in fact, live in a society. 

Anti-life equations for everyone!