It’s time for another freshly picked crop of this week’s links, organically grown and sustainably transported from link farm to table.
The secret theme of this week appears to be crowdfunding, and whether the direct market is needed when Kickstarter and Patreon exist, but remember that platforms like that are but one public offering away from a detrimental change to T&Cs.
If you sleepwalk into a cyberpunk capitalist dystopia then will Keanu Reeves and a dolphin truly be there to save you? There's only one way to find out, traveller...
Are we on the air… This week’s news.
• DC Comics had a slightly more sedate time of it this week, following recent upheaval, as the company went into PR damage-limitation mode with Jim Lee toeing the party line in the kind of interview that readers who enjoy corporate press releases would probably take at face value (basically, AT&T definitely 100% ≠ the anti-life equation, kids). As the dust settles, the company has installed industry veterans Marie Javins and Michelle Wells as interim Editors-in-Chief, but the future of the publisher remains uncertain in a period of corporate pruning, especially in light of AT&T’s share prices still being 10 points down from January 2020 (at time of writing).
• Meanwhile, in the DC FANDOME… One day enters! Two days leave?! Who run Insiderverse? Master Blaster runs Insiderverse! Etc etc, so on and so forth.
• Prism Comics, Queer Comics Expo and the Cartoon Art Museum have announced the finalists for this year's Prism Awards, the prize-giving ceremony for which will take place via a livestream event on September 19th and 20th - the awards are in their fourth year, and "are presented to comic works by queer authors and stories that promote the growing body of diverse, powerful, innovative, positive or challenging representations of LGBTQAI+ characters in fiction or nonfiction comics."
• Koyama Press continue to put good into the universe this week, announcing the next of their ...Provides project grants - awarding $1,000 to Bianca Xunise, who will use the funds as “a chance to take a moment to breathe and then allow creativity to flow towards the projects I have the passion for and not just small gigs to make ends meet.”
• On a similar note, Shortbox have opened up the August call for submissions to their micro-grants program, with a deadline of August 31st, and five grants of £100 available, with previous (unsuccessful) applicants automatically re-entered into this round.
• As this year’s presidential election ambles along towards November, The Australian, a Rupert Murdoch owned outlet, has thrown its hat into the ‘here we go again’ ring with a cartoon by Johannes Leak that managed to be both racist and misogynist, prompting the paper to strongarm contributors into supporting the illustrator, which isn’t particularly surprising at this point.
• Following recent criticism of its operations, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival are soliciting feedback as to how they can do better, with anonymous suggestions currently being collected, while also undertaking a review of the festival’s existing policies. Recommendations due to the TCAF board next month.
• The *deep breath* Jonathan Cape/Observer/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize 2020 is now open for submissions, with a deadline of Friday 6th November - a £1000 cheque goes to the winner, as well as seeing their comic appear in print and online - this year’s judges are Neel Mukherjee and Steven Appleby.
How delightful… This week’s reviews.
• Nicholas Burman reviews the 75th edition of European comics anthology Stripburger, which this time around is focusin’ on fumetti™, and features a (genuinely) remarkable cover price, which allows readers to “draw a nice thread between one of the country’s most influential comics collectives and some of the emerging and nearly-established artists and animators of today.”
• Edward Gauvin reviews the expertly prepared deadpan sensibilities of Tom Gauld’s Guardians of the Kingdom, with a side-serving of on-trend nihilism.
• Austin Price reviews the constrained catharsis of Naoki Urasawa’s Mujirushi: The Sign of Dreams, and along the way offers a critique of Urasawa’s body of work in general, weighing up the God-of-Manga-In-Waiting and finding him wanting.
• Nathan Simmons reviews the fantasy body horror of Cavan Scott, Corin Howell, et al’s Shadow Service #1.
• David Brooke reviews the likable science fiction hijinks of Ryan Copple, James Asmus, and Connie Daidone’s Voyage to the Stars #1; and the call-to-fantasy-action of David M. Booher, Drew Zucker, et al’s Canto II: The Hollow Men #1.
• Jordan Richards reviews the gently-relaxing culinary fantasy of Junpei Inuzuka, Takaaki Kugatsu, et al’s Restaurant to Another World, volume 1.
• Zack Quaintance reviews the bombastic finality of Daniel Warren Johnson, et al’s Wonder Woman Dead Earth #4.
• Morgana Santilli reviews the humorously educating autobiographical stories of Ayami Kazama’s I Don’t Know How To Give Birth, translated by Julie Goniwich.
• Lindsay Pereira reviews the steely silliness of John Stanley’s Little Lulu: The Fuzzythingus Poopi.
• Jenny Robins reviews the refreshing hopefulness of The Dreams of Queer Utopia, edited by H-P Lehkonen and Paju Ruotsalaine.
• John Trigonis reviews reviews the accessible top-notes of Benoist Simmat and Daniel Casanave's Wine: A Graphic History.
• Andy Oliver has a series of micro-reviews of recent small press comics, including Giant by Mollie Ray, Greetings from Bubbletown by Josh Knowles and Sofie Dodgson, The Belles by Jane Sayer, Claudio Munoz Cabrera, Dave Cooper and Rob Jones, Blaster Bunny by David S Livens, HustlerbyName Comics by Glenn Hustler, and x,y,z by Iqbal Ali.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews the inventive fluidity of Brian Beaver’s From Beneath, the instinctual experimentation of Aidan Koch’s House of Ruin, volume 2, and the modernist memoirs of Paula Lawrie's High Socks New Jersey 1950.
Rachel Cooke reviews the dazzling brilliance of Trina Robbins’ The Flapper Queens: Women Cartoonists of the Jazz Age, The Guardian’s graphic novel of the month.
Have capsule reviews by Nick Smith of:
- The serious cleverness of MT Anderson and Jo Rioux’ The Daughters of Ys.
- The entertaining cartooning of Ryan Estrada and Axur Eneas' Student Ambassador: The Missing Dragon.
• Elias Rosner reviews the fascinating pastiches of R. Sikoryak’s Constitution Illustrated.
• Kobi Bordoley reviews the commanding moments of Simon Spurrier, Chris Wildgoose, et al's Alienated #5.
• Gregory Ellner reviews the occult oddness of Cavan Scott, Corin Howell, et al's Shadow Service #1.
• Etelka Lehoczky reviews the grim delights of MT Anderson and Jo Rioux’ The Daughters of Ys
• Glen Weldon reviews the anthropomorphic realism of Lisa Hanawalt’s I Want You.
Have capsule reviews this week of:
- The breathtaking escapades of Merwan’s Aster of Pan, translated by MB Valente.
- The exhilarating shenanigans of Thomas von Kummant and Benjamin von Eckartsberg’s Gung Ho volume 1, translated by Ivanka Hahnenberger.
- The spiky anecdotes of Merrill Markoe’s We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe.
- The parodic chuckles of Shannon Wheeler and Steve Duin’s The Mueller Report: Graphic Novel.
- The unnerving eeriness of Carmen Maria Machado and Dani’s The Low, Low Woods.
- The enriching dynamism of Ryan North and Albert Monteys’ adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, or the Children's Crusade.
- The riveting narrative of Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace's The Teachers March!: How Selma’s Teachers Changed History.
- The exacting emotions of Salva Rubio and Pedro J. Colombo's The Photographer of Mauthausen, translated by Matt Madden.
- The fast-paced gravitas of Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Alberto Breccia's The Eternaut 1969, translated by Erica Mena.
- The admirable ambitions of Marisa Acocella's The Big She-Bang: The Herstory of the Universe According to God the Mother
- The stilted expositions of Jean-Yves Delitte and Giuseppe Baiguera's Great Naval Battles of the Twentieth Century, translated by Joe Johnson.
• Rob Kirby reviews the iconoclastic surrealness of Kuniko Tsurita's The Sky Is Blue with a Single Cloud, translated by Ryan Holmberg.
• Ryan Carey reviews the cohesive scope of All-Time Comics: Zerosis Deathscape, written by Josh Bayer and Josh Simmons, with a rotating Murder’s Row of artists.
• André Habet reviews the emancipatory transformations of Lala Albert’s Seasonal Shift.
Women Write About Comics
• Jameson Hampton reviews the impressive bite of Blake & Tini Howard, Tim Seeley, Devmalya Pramanik, et al’s Vampire: The Masquerade, Winter’s Teeth #1.
• Lisa Fernandes reviews the complicated flaws of Leigh Dragoon’s Little Witches: Magic in Concord, adapted from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
• The team have recommendations for Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, GDBee’s HoverGirls, Wai Wai Pang’s Ripples, Lynda Barry’s One! Hundred! Demons!, and Skate!!! Fire 100.
Answer if you can… This week’s interviews.
Irene Velentzas talks to Tom Gauld about his latest book Department of Mind-Blowing Theories, childhood doodling, his personal library, judging covers, and settling the age old debate (once and for all) of Sciart vs. Artience - in the words of Gauld himself, “My aim is usually to tell the story well. Sometimes, I look at it later and see then what I meant … It’s sometimes rather pleasurable to send comics into the world and understand them better yourself later when you’re out of the panic and the flurry of making them.”
‘Inside the Batman’ reaches the final issue of Steve Engelhart’s 1977 run on Detective Comics, and this week he’s speaking to Dan Greenfield about the Clown Prince of Crime’s return to Gotham City, and the changing face of the dark metropolis.
• The first of two comics taking aim at crowdfunding victory this week, David Brooke talks to David Pepose about his and Ruben Rojas’ new book, The O.Z., and whether there’s still life to be had from adaptations of L. Frank Baum’s work.
• Chris Coplan talks to Kris Anka about The White Trees, created with Chip Zdarsky, looking back at the experience of getting it published, and how the project landed with readers.
• The second of this week’s crowdfunding big-hitters, and Zack Quantance talks to Scott Snyder and Tony Daniels about their new book, Nocternal, as Snyder launches a new auto-correct bothering comics imprint - Best Jackett Press - which The Beat has more coverage of here.
• Matt O’Keefe chats to Jeremy Holt and Elizabeth Beals about their new romance graphic novel, Virtually Yours, and what makes a compelling love story, in a relatively sparse market for such.
Promoting the two big crowdfunding endeavors of the week, Christopher Chiu-Tabet talks to David Pepose about The O.Z. and L. Frank Baum’s proto-shared universe, while Brian Salvatore interviews Scott Snyder and Tony Daniels about Nocternal and how Batman is a good training ground for stories set in constant darkness.
David Harper talks to Mike Huddleston about his work on Decorum, Huddleston and Hickman's Image comic, influences, artistic appetites, narrative threads, and pretentious meanings.
Daniel Elkin and Sarah Wray present the latest edition of ‘Knowing is Half the Battle’, as Melanie Gillman extols the virtues of good publishers and due diligence.
Women Write About Comics
Rosie Knight interviews Gamal Hennessy about crowdfunding his new book The Business of Independent Comic Book Publishing, building the foundations with business basics, and the historical milestones the industry has seen (and may again, IP farms aside).
Breakfast in sunny Southend… This week’s features and comics.
• Abhay Khosla rings in the third and final week of The 2020 Report, here at TCJ, as he looks at allegations made against Jason Latour and others plus the surrounding issue of BarCons, and the systemic issues riddling the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Dark Horse Comics, with a final edition of his pieces here on the site today, as 2020 really swings for the fences.
• Also for TCJ, Noah Berlatsky takes a timely look at the updated disease tropes of Hitoshi Iwaaki's Parasyte, a manga that holds up a mirror and asks the age-old question - is humanity the planet’s deadliest disease?
• As a new series of Asterix translations arrive in the states via Papercutz, Brigid Alverson and Calvin Reid look at the racist stereotypes that feature in the books, and discuss with Ronald Wimberley and Papercutz Publisher Terry Nantier how a new generation of readers should have such work contextualized.
• Coming via Fleen, who have further commentary on the subject, French webcomic Maliki now has an English-language version of the comic explaining its shift away from publishers to crowd-funding, and while it’s a few years old now it’s still a pretty potent explainer for the issues facing creators in comics over the last ten years or so.
• Over at The Daily Cartoonist, Mike Peterson continues his round-ups of recent editorial cartoons in a particularly fractious week, as the gloves come off in the lead-up to November’s election - only… 74 days to go!
• Zoe Tunnell has an essay for Women Write About Comics, looking at the space-policing of Green Lantern, and the various flavors this has appeared in over the last few years, as superhero comics grapple with (or don’t, as the case may be) their portrayal of unilateral militarized police actions.
• For The New York Times, Anna Diamond has a piece on the cartoons of the suffragette movement, and how editorial illustrations have historically allowed those moving for social change to fight back against bad-faith arguments against their ideologies.
• The Middle Spaces has a new essay from Anna Peppard on the core mystery of Marvel’s The Vision, namely, whether the character has a penis, why that penis has not been shown to the reader, its hidden symbolic sexuality, and whether less is ever truly more, when it comes to mores.
• In what could very prosaically be described as “a bit of a rough time for DC Comics”, Justin Munday looks back to ‘Vertigo’s Legacy in Modern Comics’, and the British Invasion of the direct market, all of which increasingly seems like ancient history these days, I think.
• Wolverine, well, he’s the best at what he does, and what he does is apparently show up for every big moment in American history, bub!
• Another bumper week for Shelfdust as the next entry in the ‘Black Comics History’ series has Matthew Cowans looking at the Blaxploitation roots of Luke Cage, Charlotte Finn checking out the jetpacked joy of Astro City #33, Steve Morris is haunted by the ghost of Gwen Stacy, and the Crisis of Infinite Critics sees Caitlin Rosberg explaining Brother Eye, Ritesh Babu tackling the ever-changing issue of The Multiverse, and Terrence Sage revealing the secrets of the antimatter universe.
• I missed this one first time around, but, thanks to a paper from it popping up as a new journal submission, that wrong can now be righted - there’s a veritable treasure-trove of presentations and papers to be had from this summer’s International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference, at University of the Arts London, which focused on ‘The Resonance of Comics: Social Impact and Possible Futures’.
• For more comics academia content, Comics Forum have a new article by José Alaniz looking at disability representation in contemporary Russian comics, and the depiction of traumatic amputation in the spy comic Allies.
• The Korea Economic Daily has a piece on the economics of Webtoon, breaking down the readerships and financial data for investors, as South Korean manhwa make inroads on the digital comics market - I like the subheadings on this column by Min-ki Koo a lot, especially the pinpoint accuracy of "GENRE DOESN’T GUARANTEE SUCCESS" - slap it on a t-shirt.
• As part of its World Humanitarian Day coverage, the UN presented a series of comics celebrating the work of ‘Real Life Heroes’, including Dr. Edna Patricia Gomez, Dr. Debryna Dewi Lumanauw, Dr. Marie Roseline Darnycka Bélizaire, the Barikamá Food Collective, and Dr. Mohamed Mohamud - no creator credits on the comics themselves, but a little digging takes you to an article on the project which lists everyone involved.
• On Medium, Sacha Mardou has a long-form auto-biographical comic about unsafe workplaces during COVID-19, and how fragile patriarchy really isn’t the way to go right now.
• For The Washington Post, Erica Lies and Elly Lonon ask whether classical scholars are missing out, thanks to social networks not existing back in Ancient Times.
• The Nib have a new installment of In/Vulnerable, as Thi Bui, Christopher Harland-Dunaway, Sarah Mirk, and Amanda Pike present the story of Douglas Hawkins, a funeral home director, whose job has been made infinitely more difficult by social distancing; and Amelia Fiske and Jonas Fischer look at the long-term implications of petrochemical extraction in the Amazon Rainforest.
• The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, 2000 AD, have teamed up with Humble Bundle, and you can now get a lot of British sci-fi anthology comics action for not very much money at all, in support of the War Child and Special Effect UK charities - the power of Tharg compels you!
• Nothing particularly new, but who doesn’t want a nice high-def gallery of EC Comics images and some accompanying history, over at The Guardian.
TV on the Internet… This week’s recommended watching.
• Comix Experience has a trio of new book club episodes this week, as Brian Michael Bendis swings in for a look back at Ultimate Spider-Man, Adrian Tomine discusses The Loneliness of the Long Distance Cartoonist, and Vivan Chong and Georgia Webber talk about graphic memoir Dancing After TEN - as Brian Hibbs notes in the Ultimate Spider-Man episode, that chat was recorded ten days after he suffered a heart attack, so I’m really glad to see he’s bounced back already and is on the mend. What an absolute trooper!
• Comix Claptrap, aka Rina Ayuyang, Thien Pham, and Josh Frankel, started their new season over summer, this time with an added visual component to each episode, and you can catch up now with their recent chats with Lisa Brown, Charles Forsman, T Edward Bak, Ebony Flowers, Adrian Tomine, and this week’s guest Tom Scioli.
• Cartoonist Kayfabe take a look at three distinct comics this week, poring over Dan Clowes’ PUSSEY!, peak 90s hyphenated-comic crossover Spider-Man/X Force, and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Spirit, The New Adventures, but the big video of the week is a shoot interview with 2000 AD’s enfant terrible, the ever-ebullient Pat Mills, who has a thing or two to say about American corporate comics.
• The Believer and The Black Mountain Institute have a new comics workshop this week, as Ben Passmore takes viewers through making a political strip, ignoring the two-party squabbles of US politics, and instead focusing on disenfranchised groups that make things happen and the importance of grassroots activism - the workshop proper kicks in around the 7 minute mark.
Following last week's video on whether art school is ever "necessary", residents of Portland's Helioscope Studio are this week discussing their experiences of attending The Kubert School, as Leila del Duca interviews Steve Lieber, Ron Randall, and Tadd Galusha on their time at the New Jersey institute.
• Denver’s Pop Culture Classroom had a recent edition of their Excellence in Graphic Literature Award Winner book clubs, as Eleanor Davis joined in for a discussion of The Hard Tomorrow, which took home 2020’s EGL for Best in Graphic Adult Literature.
• It’s the big 2-0 for the new incarnation of the Inkpulp podcast, and this week Shawn Crystal’s joined by The Last American B-Boy, live and direct from Staten Island, as they cover the important topics of childhood comics obsessions, Slick Rick, and how to draw The Hulk.
• Drawn and Quarterly hosted a new edition of At Home this week, in celebration of the publication of Lisa Hanawalt’s new book, I Want You, as she took viewers through her workspace and sketchbooks, and answered audience questions.
• Mark Evanier had a new livestream chat show this week, welcoming Kurt Busiek aboard to answer audience questions, discuss the (small-)business of comics, Denny O’Neil anecdotes, what the Japanese mass market got right for comics retail, and how powerful Batman is.
• Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou has a new episode of Strip Panel Naked, this week looking at action scenes in André Araújo’s work for the final episode of his creators edition series, focusing this time on Black Panther: Long Live the King.
• A couple for younger viewers, as First Second’s Sketch School had new classes from Alex Graudins, drawing characters from History Comics: The Great Chicago Fire, and Jo Rioux taking viewers through illustrating Dahut and Rozenn from Daughters of Ys.
• Coming up next week, UK Comics Laureate Hannah Berry is hosting a live Q&A about the recent Uk Comics Creator Survey, with those who helped bring it together, so if you love quantitative data then this is the event of the season for you.
Internet on the Radio… This week’s easy-listening.
• Comic Books Are Burning In Hell has a new logo image this week (on Apple podcasts, at least), and with that comes two important questions - what is cyberpunk, and why is Alberto Breccia? PLUS: A special musical guest appearance by P.O.D..
• 2000 AD’s Lockdown Tapes comes via ReedPOP’s recent Metaverse online event this week, as MOLCH-R hosts a panel discussion with Rosie Knight, Joelle Monique, Olivia Hicks, RAMZEE, and Claire Napier looking at the history, and future, of comics aimed at female readers.
• Shelfdust Presents covers Runaways #1 this week, as Matt Lune and Adreinne Resha discuss the inaugural issue of Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona, et al’s enduring coming-of-age superhero story.
• Dan Berry has a double bill of Make It Then Tell Everybody this week, presenting a two-part chat with Tony Cliff, as they discuss just how you make money out of graphic novels, and the scourge of subscription models.
• On this week’s Off Panel, David Harper is joined from Alberta by Variant Edition’s co-owner Brandon Schatz for a chat about everything retail, including single issues sales during a period of chaotic upheaval for the direct market.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come tackles the recent restructuring chaos at DC Comics and IDW this week, before hosts Calvin Reid, Heidi MacDonald, and Kate Fitzsimons look at Bianca Xunise’s recent cartoon censorship, and discuss the rise of virtual conventions.
The links are done for one more week, and will be back again in one more - see you then!