Ok, no long intro this week, as we’ve got a lot of Joker news to cover - we’ve got your multiple Jokers, we’ve got your Joker Wars, we may get a special appearance by Joker from Akira, so if you’re coulrophobic then this is going to be a tough one.
My main question, however, is this - can Geoff Johns write a Joker so big that DC could not publish it? It remains to be seen, but they who laugh last laugh longest. Onwards to this week’s links!
Hello darkness, my old friend… This week’s news.
• I'd be remiss not to start this week by wishing a 'Good Grief!' and happy seventieth birthday to good ol' Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang, as the strip becomes a septuagenerian - The Daily Cartoonist has a piece on the comic's global legacy.
• As we head into the end of 2020’s awards season the Harvey Awards have announced this year’s inductees into their Hall of Fame, welcoming to the roster Osamu Tezuka, Jill Thompson, and Milestone Media founders Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, Derek T. Dingle, and Dwayne McDuffie - the full Harvey Awards ceremony takes place 9th October during this year’s New York Comic Con Metaverse virtual event.
• A planned international exhibition of the works of painter and political cartoonist Philip Guston has been postponed until 2024, after half a decade of planning and preparation, due to the hosting institutes deeming it “necessary to reframe our programming and, in this case, step back, and bring in additional perspectives and voices to shape how we present Guston’s work to our public”, provoking the ire of some quarters of the art world, and somewhat repeating history with the display of Guston’s paintings.
• In the UK, Pink News highlights The Guardian's controversial employment of cartoonist Andrzej Krauze, who 'stands accused of promoting far-right extremism in Poland', and has a history of homophobic and Islamophobic illustrations - the hiring has drawn widespread condemnation from the LGBT+ community, with The Guardian responding “We do not take responsibility for work that our contributors may produce for other media outlets”, presumably while closing their eyes and jamming fingers in their ears.
• Long-running syndicated comic Mark Trail has found itself a new cartoonist, as Love, Joolz creator Jules Rivera will take the helm on the strip from 12th October - Rivera is looking “to reimagine Mark for a new generation”, which may help mitigate some of the perceived stuffiness in its environmentally-friendly messaging, while losing its 75-year long Gainesville connection.
• In other syndicated strip news, The Daily Cartoonist reports on further cancellations from GoComics’ slate of titles, featuring some surprising inclusions, given their readership, as 12 more strips are removed as part of a cull of over 500 comics with Teresa Burrit’s Frog Applause receiving an 11th hour reprieve after an outpouring of fan support.
• In ‘I don’t think you’ve fully thought this through, despite your claims to the contrary’ news, LA Comic Con have announced that they are planning an in-person event this December, to which the Los Angeles Department of Convention and Tourism Development replied with the statement that “under current state health guidelines, conventions are not allowed.” That seems fairly conclusive to me, and the House of Mouse agrees, delaying their next symposium to 2022, so don’t make any big event-related travel plans to the west coast for 2021 just yet.
• Finally, sad news out of Argentina that Mafalda creator Quino (aka Joaquín Salvador Lavado) passed away this week, aged 88 - Mafalda, which ran until 1973, celebrated its 56th on Wednesday, and Quino's passing was marked by UNESCO as a loss of “possibly the greatest Latin American cartoonist of the 20th century.”
The vision that was planted in my brain… This week’s reviews.
• Irene Velentzas reviews the stunning tapestry of Sloane Leong’s A Map To The Sun, finding a nuanced take on the traditional sports narrative as coming-of-age story - “Leong’s sublime coloration transcends both panel and page borders to shine on and warm the reader, extending the storyworld’s and the characters’ emotional landscape beyond the book and into our own through the sensual connection between book and reader.”
• Tom Shapira reviews Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ latest take on well-worn noir tropes, aided and abetted by Jacob Phillips, looking at the genre box-ticking of Pulp - “At this point in their career these creators know this stuff inside and out. You can grumble that they don’t surprise you, but do you read the next Ed McBain or Donald Westlake novel trying to be surprised? Of course not! The regularity does not necessarily denote lack of artistry, simply a level of professionalism in one’s craftsmanship.”
• Katie Skelly reviews the unsettling visions of Natsuko Ishitsuyo’s Magician A, translated by Jocelyne Allen - “The reality of magic is never dismissed as a fantasy but instead is presented as one of many consumer choices for self improvement, and is more often than naught unlocked through sexual practice. It’s this commitment to a self-encased, almost blasé surrealism that finds its footing in the films of Švankmajer or Věra Chytilová, but assembles a coda all its own.”
• Ronnie Gorham reviews the pacy secrets of Dan Panosian and Marianna Ignazzi’s An Unkindness of Ravens #1.
• Nathan Simmons reviews the compelling relationships of Kelly Thompson, Veronica Fish, Andy Fish, et al’s Sabrina: Something Wicked #3.
• Christopher Franey reviews the chilling mysteries of Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson, et al’s war on Jason Todd in Batman: Three Jokers #2.
• David Brooke reviews the varied entertainments of DC’s anthology one-shot, Batman: The Joker War Zone, because if it isn’t Watchmen then it apparently needs to be the Clown Prince of Crime.
• Rory Wilding reviews the personal redemptions of Curt Pires, Alex Diotto, et al’s Olympia.
• Benjamin Novoa reviews the subversive swansong of Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy.
• Tom Murphy reviews the disquieting confinement of Julia Gfrörer’s Vision.
• John Trigonis reviews the tumultuous parallels of Shawn Kittelsen and Eric Zawadzki’s Heart Attack, and the confusing execution of Al Ewing and Simone di Meo’s We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #1.
Four Color Apocalypse
Have starred capsule reviews for:
- The vibrant warmth of Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright’s Twins.
- The frightening violence of Jason Reynolds and Danica Novgorodoff’s Long Way Down.
- The hyperbolic humor of Matthew Cody, Yehudi Mercado, and Colleen AF Venable’s Cat Ninja.
- The sophisticated dynamics of Trung Le Nguyen’s The Magic Fish.
- The inspiring charms of Christian Staebler, Sonia Paoloni, and Thibault Balahy’s Redbone: the True Story of a Native American Rock Band.
- The optimistic terrors of Stanley Donwood’s Bad Island.
• John Schaidler reviews the compelling tropes of Daniel Kraus, Chris Shehan, et al’s The Autumnal #1.
• Kobi Bordoley reviews the intriguing characterizations of B. Clay Moore, Stephen Molnar, et al’s Miles to Go #1.
• Jodi Odgers reviews the haunting evocations of Lucy Sullivan’s Barking.
• Kenneth Laster reviews the serviceable horror of Jeff Lemire, Mike del Mundo, et al's The Immortal Hulk: The Threshing Place #1.
• Brian Salvatore reviews the effective evocations of Hope Larson et al's All Together Now.
• Gregory Ellner reviews the shifting conspiracies of James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds, et al's The Department of Truth #1.
Chris Gavaler reviews the evolving eclecticism of World War 3 Illustrated #51, edited by Seth Tobocman, Peter Kuper, and Ethan Heitner.
• Ryan Carey reviews the admirable aesthetics of R. Sikoryak’s Constitution Illustrated.
• Alex Hoffman reviews the convention-breaking fun of Pascal Jousselin and Laurence Croix’ Mister Invincible.
Women Write About Comics
• Kayleigh Hearn reviews the earthshaking shocks of Jonathan Hickman, Tini Howard, Pepe Larraz, et al’s X of Swords: Creation #1.
• Alenka Figa reviews the non-linear loneliness of Cathy G. Johnson’s Black Hole Heart.
So, then I says to Mabel, I says… This week’s interviews.
Chris Coplan talks to Nick Roche about his and Chris O’Halloran’s new series Scarenthood, and Irish urban (and folk) legend influences, the real parental anxieties the comic is tapping into, and hitting that 80s B-movie vibe.
• Deanna Destito chats with Mandi and Hana Kujawa about their writing partnership on A Slug Story and why its story of dealing with long-term medical conditions is important for younger readers in similar positions to see; and interviews Rebecca Taylor about Vault Comics’ middle grade imprint, Wonderbound, and how to get more kids reading comics.
• Joe Grunenwald talks to Vali Chandrasekaran and Jun-Pierre Shiozawa about their new graphic novel Genius Animals?, their collaborative process, the differences in creating for television and comics, and the mystery of ‘the bloop’.
• Zack Quaintance interviews Kyle Higgins and Lance Briggs (yes, the footballer) about their new comic The Trap, the realities of Briggs’ upbringing that influence the comic’s story, inventing new fictional sports, and the comic characters that define Briggs’ career as a linebacker.
Andy Oliver talks to Dominique Duong about her versatile comics output, the importance of anthology work for up and coming creators, and the allure of working in black and white.
The Hollywood Reporter
Apparently Bad Idea finally got that billionth click, because they’ve launched the first slate of titles they’ll be publishing in 2021, and Graeme McMillan caught up with Robert Venditti and Juan Jose Ryp about their upcoming series Tankers.
Deborah Amos interviews Jake Halpern and the Aldabaan family, whose story forms the basis of upcoming graphic novel Welcome to the New World, about the realities of fleeing civil war in Syria and settling in Connecticut, facing Trump’s victory in the 2016 election and his stance on Muslim refugees, and the universally scary nature of basements.
Erika T. Wurth talks to Kimiko Tobimatsu about collaborating with Keet Geniza on graphic memoir Kimiko Does Cancer, the failings of cancer organizations in representing the best interests of patients, and the respect that graphic medicine as a field deserves.
Vivek Menezes talks to Janet Hong, translator of Yeoung-Shin Ma’s Moms, about the unique nature of the story it tells, South Korea’s transformation into a global cultural superpower, and how this is being accepted by media consumers in India.
Daniel Elkin and Sarah Wray present the latest installment of ‘Knowing is Half the Battle’, as Keren Katz provides her perspective on working with small press publishers, putting your work in the right hands the right way, and not working ‘for exposure’.
• SE Fleenor interviews Véronique Emma Houxbois about her diary comic Transcription, the ‘pandemic ceasefire on transphobia’ in the comics industry, and hosting a webcomic on OnlyFans.
• Ernie Estrella talks to Matt Kindt about his and Doug Braithwaite’s new series ENIAC, part of Bad Idea’s slate of launch titles, the problematic nature of alternate histories, and what Bad Idea are bringing to the table.
Two pound a pair… This week’s features and comics.
• Here at TCJ Steven Ringgenberg looks back on the life and career of Ron Cobb, political cartoonist and production designer extraordinaire, who sadly passed away on his 83rd birthday last week, leaving behind a body of work that will likely influence science fiction for generations to come - “Cobb somehow convinced the Pentagon to grant him the use of a pair of Kray supercomputers...The Krays were the fastest computers in the world at the time and required a cooling system that took up an entire building next door. Cobb was one of the first film artists to plunge into creating his images on a computer and Stout credited him with always being at the vanguard of adopting new filmmaking technologies.”
• Also for TCJ, Simone Castaldi takes a look at the stylish geometry of Italian comic creator Giorgio Carpinteri, as he returns to the medium after a 23-year hiatus with Aqualantic, and his work in the preceding decades that placed him amongst vying groups of Italian new-wave creators - “Born out of a centripetal poetics, his body of work strings together futurist and neoclassical visual cues, high and low cultural references, and the cruelty of surrealist and paraphysical theatre, with an often-unexpected levity. Yet, not only does this mosaic of cultural tiles remain surprisingly coherent and elegant, but it also manages to be propelled by a strong narrative drive.”
• Returning with a longform essay for TCJ, on his travels through the south to visit the Confederate monuments still standing in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, Ryan Holmberg recounts his experiences in Graham, North Carolina, as the city fell under de facto martial law back in July, and looks at the comics documenting the razing of Confederate monuments and statues of slave owners, speaking to members of Forward Motion Alamance, a group “uplifting the voices of BIPOC while supporting the liberation of Alamance county from its own systemic injustices” - Ryan’s instagram posts over the last six months have been fascinating to me, as a total outsider to the south of the US, and this essay is a compelling documenting of this summer’s protests, and the art being created within them.
• Over at Comicosity Véronique Emma Houxbois writes on Emma Jayne’s comic Trans Girls Hit The Town, and the importance of trans voices in comics telling trans stories, along with the failings of the direct market in supporting those voices and stories, and some of the most glaring examples of these failures.
• The Middle Spaces has the third and final part of this year’s academic roundtable at the site, as Dr Leah Misemer presents a series of essays on paratexts in comics, this time around focusing on the ‘blue age’, with pieces from Charlotte Johanne Fabricius, Aaron Kashtan, Adrienne Resha, and Kalervo Sinervo, as comics firmly embrace social media in media.
• Also on the academic front, and sadly paywalled by its hosting journal, I couldn’t not flag up Sébastien Rocher, Mark Christensen, and Yves Roy’s paper “This looks like a job for an accountant! (with good funeral insurance)”: The changing roles of accountants in superhero comics from 1938 to 2018, published this week in Accounting History, the abstract for which you can read at the link above.
• A couple of essays over at Women Write About Comics as Zoe Tunnell charts the evolution of Jeph Jaques long running webcomic Questionable Content from its painful 00s beginnings through to its current-day queer soap opera comfort food; and Kay Sohini presents part one of a pair of longreads on graphic dissertations, looking at comics as scholarships and comics as thinking, as comics are viewed through the lens of a comic, exploring the formalist and critical space.
• For ICv2, Rob Salkowitz looks back at the BookScan numbers from this summer, when graphic novels firmly cemented their dominance of the sales charts, no matter how much people might moan about the term ‘graphic novel’, proving once and for all that biff pow comics aren’t just for kids anymore, unless you want to actually make money from them, in which case you should definitely be accessing that market of YA readers biff pow.
• Fleen has a new dispatch from French correspondent Pierre Lebeaupin, with a mini-tour round socially distanced comics events on the continent, as face-shields become the new haute-couture.
• House to Astonish presents part 8 of the life and times of one Mr Logan T. Wolverine, as the irascible scamp falls under the spell of Barry Windsor Smith and emerges... WEAPON X.
• Another jam-packed week from Shelfdust as Steve Morris looks at Marvel’s new-new with X of Swords (1 of 22) and the now fairly old Amazing Spider-Man #691, Kayleigh Hearn dusts off the new iteration of Tammy & Jinty and finds fresh life within, Emma Houxbois looks at the post 9/11 influence on Wonder Woman’s shift from 0 to murder in Infinite Crisis, David Brothers looks at the many crimes of Jack Bauer in relation to said Crisis, and Charlotte Finn welcomes spooky season early in Astro City #39.
• A couple of longform comics, as La Johnson illustrates Elise Hu and Rachel Miller’s advice on how to prepare for a pandemic winter for NPR, and Breena Nuñez hits a wall translating non-binary gender queerness for the uninitiated over at The Nib.
• Odie, noooooooooo.
Festivals for everyone… This week’s recommended watching.
• A quartet of virtual festivals to dip into this weekend, as Cartoon Crossroads Columbus kicks throws its annual shindig including an appearance from Bill Watterson (!!!) this evening, MICE’s ongoing month of online programming opens its first week, Brooklyn Book Festival has a closing event with Leslie Stein and Adrian Tomine in-conversation, and if that wasn’t enough for you then you can also check out the video archives of last week’s Texas Latino Comic Con (Mi Casa).
• Katie Skelly’s virtual book tour to celebrate the publication of Maids is gearing up, and you can see her in-virtual-conversation with Alissa Bennett in a couple of weeks, courtesy of McNally Jackson.
• For The New Yorker, cartoonist Liz Montague has a short video on how to draw social change (while keeping things funny), along with an accompanying piece by cartoon editor about how the magazine is attempting to move away from its tradition of white male cartoonists in its output.
• A couple of Comix Experience GN Book Club meetings to catch up on, as Brian Hibbs sits down with Veronica Post to talk about Langosh & Peppi; and then there’s a timely discussion on just how on earth you go about fixing the Greek’s favorite political system, with Daniel Newman and George O'Connor, authors of Unrig: How to Fix our Broken Democracy!.
• New York’s The Japan Foundation had the first episode of a new series, bringing together scholars of manga and anime to discuss why they chose their particular field of study, and the interplay with western comics academia (starts around the 5 minute mark).
• The Believer and The Black Mountain Institute presented the next edition of their comics workshop series last week, as Bianca Xunise took viewers through developing ideas for one-panel political cartoons, breaking down the creative process of saying less to get your point across.
• Cartoonist Kayfabe started the week looking back at Miller and Darrow’s maximalist masterpiece Hard Boiled, and then dove headlong into superhero territory with videos on Moebius and Stan Lee’s Silver Surfer comic, Rick Veitch’s not-for-the-faint-of-heart Brat Pack, the ouroboros of Rob Liefeld paying tribute to Todd McFarlane in Uncanny X-Men, Grant Morrison casting Wile E. Coyote as an ACME Jesus Christ in Animal Man, and then casting a critical eye over Bernie Wrightson’s art in The Amazing Spider-Man: Hooky, before jumping off the spandex train to look at Mort Cinder.
• The OG Inkpulp crew, Shawn Crystal, Jim Mahfood, Tommy Lee Edwards, and Troy Nixey, are in the house this week, as they work on pencils from Kevin Nowland, dive into what actually is inking, and discuss professional injuries to fingers.
• Noah Van Sciver welcomed Sophie Yanow to his show for a new episode of his cartoonist chat show, as the pair discussed the joys of traditional architecture, Fantagraphics internships, and the real-life inspirations behind The Contradictions; and spoke to Brother Malcolm about what he's reading at the moment and his all-time faves, submitting his work to publishers, and his background in religious studies.
• A trio of flights in the Word Balloon with John Siuntres this week, as Ram V checks in about Batman and Justice League Dark, Tom King discusses his corner of the DC universe, and Brian Stelfreeze pops in for a chat about new crowdfunded comic Thomas River.
• Drawn and Quarterly presented a live in-conversation event with Sophie Yanow and Jason Lutes, that you can watch not-live now, as the two discuss The Contradictions, timeline compressions for graphic memoirs, and what they're up to during COVID lockdowns.
• First Second’s Sketch School welcomed Sloane Leong to the show, drawing Ren from A Map To The Sun, which (I think) makes a nice companion piece to Irene Velentzas’ review of the book here at TCJ this week.
Airhorns for everyone… This week’s easy-listening.
• Claire Napier was the guest on this week’s Sheldust Presents podcast, sitting down with host Matt Lune to discuss the first issue of John Allison et al’s ode to student life in the north of England, Giant Days.
• Queens College’s Team Human podcast welcomed none other than Grant Morrison to their show this week, discussing (naturally) the magical power of fictional narratives and transforming the world through storytelling.
• House to Astonish returned to the airwaves with a fresh podcast, catching up on all the latest news from the Big Two, including hot hot streaming platform news, and Archie and IDW making moves regarding their access to the direct market, plus autumn/fall/homicidal pig chat with The Autumnal.
• MOLCH-R’s back with another Lockdown Tape from 2000 AD, and this week the show welcomes the team behind the Misty! & Scream! Special for some behind the scenes spookiness, and Claire Napier’s back to discuss the absolutely bonkers terraced-street violence of Invasion!/Savage.
• There’s a new episode of SILENCE! as Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die discuss the weirdness of a year without conventions (likely to be true for 2021 too), the endearing chaos of Deadline, and an update on recent happenings on Ramsey Street, as well as a look into bizarre competitions from British kids’ comics of yesteryear.
• David Harper welcomed Erica Henderson to Off Panel for this week’s episode, as the pair discuss new book Dracula, Motherf***er!, aesthetics of the vampyr, and getting the punches and explosions right.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come was all about that DC this week, as Heidi MacDonald and Kate Fitzsimmons covered all that breaking vertical integration news, Watchmen winning a fresh slew of awards in a new medium, and look back to the publishing practices of ancient times - 1994.
The links take their bow at the end of another week. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains. Hrm.