I remember when the Marvel Cinematic Universe™ was in its infancy, a number of roads around Manchester were closed off so that they could film scenes set in 1940s America, thanks to the old red brick buildings that are still commonplace in the UK.
The relevance of this memory becomes apparent when I tell you that we’ve just had the longest/hottest heat-wave here in London since the 1960s, and those Lovely Old Buildings™ are absolutely appalling at keeping out the heat.
So, please, if you will, imagine this week’s links (below) delivered to you by a disheveled man who looks like he could do with a cold glass of water and a proper night’s sleep, and who feels very sorry for himself.
This just in… This week’s news.
• The big news in the direct market this week was a round of brutal layoffs at DC Comics, taking place as part of a wider restructuring of WarnerMedia, as DC Direct and DC Universe look slated for complete shutdowns and one third of editorial staff have been made redundant - The Beat has a round-up of the whys and wherefores, but this is all taking place three weeks out from DC Fandome, the company’s virtual media promotion event, which will now have a pretty huge cloud cast over it, one would assume.
• Meanwhile, proving that a week may be a long time in politics, but is even longer in comics, IDW have “parted ways” with Publisher Jud Meyer, whose tenure was announced on July 22nd, placed on hiatus less than a week later, and has now come to an end - 2020, you scamp!
• Prize-giving season continues apace, and this year the Ignatz Awards voting is open worldwide, rather than just to attendees of the show as the awards shift to a virtual event for 2020 in the wake of SPX’s cancellation due to COVID-19. Registration to vote is open now, the deadline is September 4th - meanwhile, the National Cartoonist Society have swooped in to take the calendar spot left open, with an online festival coming on September 12th, including the virtual Reuben Awards ceremony.
• In other virtual event news, ReedPOP have (for the nth time this year) bowed to the inevitable and cancelled the giant petri dish that is New York Comic Con, with the "New York Comic Con Metaverse" instead taking its place from October 8th-11th, going the live content route, in opposition to San Diego Comic Con’s recent pre-recorded virtual programming - for those who can’t wait that long, you can also check out another edition of Mainframe Comic Con, taking place this weekend, if you’re so inclined, or... buy autographs from "pop culture brands", I guess?
• One for Bay Area residents - Breena Nuñez announced that the BAYlies, a project started by Lawrence Lindell in 2018 to “archive, connect and document Cartoonist of Color and Queer Cartoonist either from or based in the Bay Area”, are offering 10 grants of $100 to cartoonists, illustrators, editors, and writers making comics in the Bay Area - deadline for submissions is August 31st.
• News from Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump, as popular manga series Act-Age will end with its most recent chapter after writer Tatsuya Matsuki was “arrested on suspicion of committing an indecent act with a female middle school student” - the magazine’s editorial department released a statement on Monday, determining that “It is extremely unfortunate to have to end a series that has received so much support from so many readers in this way. However, this decision was made because of the nature of the incident, and because Weekly Shonen Jump recognizes the weight of its social responsibility.”
• Finally, The Daily Cartoonist has obituaries for cartoonist and illustrator Edmond “Kiraz” Kirazian, and cartoonist and homeless advocate Ronnie Goodman, both of whom sadly passed away in the last week.
Is it any good though… This week’s reviews.
• Helen Chazan reviews the friendship, effort, and victory of Taiyō Matsumoto’s Ping Pong, volume 1, and looks at the history of the book in the mangaka’s oeuvre.
• Patrick Kyle reviews the extreme cartoon-logic of Amy Lockhart’s Ditch Life, finding it (spoilers) “a significant entry in an already amazing career of multi-disciplinary works.”
• Tom Shapira has a double-feature review of two recent entries into the Garth Ennis-o-verse, looking at the fanfic-fun of Ennis, Jacen Burrows, et al’s Punisher: Soviet, and the PG-13 escapades of Ennis, Steve Epting, et al’s Sara.
• Rory Wilding reviews the self-contained tropes of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Cruel Summer.
• Robert Reed reviews the entertaining characterization of Sina Grace and Siobhan Keenan’s Ghosted in LA, volume 1.
• Alex Curtis reviews the flat characterizations of Matt Fraction, Terry Dodson, and Rachel Dodson’s Adventureman #3.
Morgana Santilli reviews the grotesque beauty of Junji Ito’s Venus in the Blind Spot, translated and adapted by Jocelyne Allen and Yuji Oniki.
• Andy Oliver has another busy week, reviewing the uncomplicated parables of Tobias Hamilton and Shane Melisse’s The Last Kaiju, the wealth of joyous delights to be found in the Insider Art anthology, and the kinetic inventiveness of Abs Bailey’s Zebedee and the Valentines.
• Holly Raidl reviews the entertaining accessibility of Mady G and J.R. Zuckerberg’s A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities.
• Tom Murphy reviews the riotous invention of Henry McCausland’s Eight-Lane Runaways.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews the handsome weirdness of Jim Woodring’s And Now, Sir – Is THIS Your Missing Gonad?, the magnificent uniqueness of Josh Frankel’s Eccentric Orbits, and the multifaceted gallows humor of R. Sikoryak's The Impeachable Trump.
LA Review of Books
Nathan Scott McNamara reviews the Kafkaesque tales of Yoshiharu Tsuge’s The Swamp, translated by Ryan Holmberg.
• Justin McGuire reviews the non-linear beauty of Garth Stein and Matthew Southworth’s The Cloven: Book One.
• Matthew Blair reviews the imbalanced narrative of Tom Taylor, Danielle di Nicuolo, et al's Seven Secrets #1.
• Joe Skonce reviews the confusing ambiguity of Matt Fraction, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, et al's Adventureman #3.
The New York Times
Sheela Cari has reviews of ‘3 Graphic Novel Detective Stories’, including Gillian Goerz’s Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer, Drew Dernavich’s Elvin Link, Please Report to the Principal’s Office, and Nathan Page and Drew Shannon’s The Witch’s Hand.
Chris Gavaler reviews the satirical pairings of R. Sikoryak’s Constitution Illustrated.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The Afrofuturist parables of Roxane Gay, Tracy Lynne Oliver, and Rebecca Kirby’s The Sacrifice of Darkness;
- The dizzying delights of Alex de Campi and Erica Henderson’s Dracula Motherf**ker!;
- The colourful quirkiness of Abs Bailey’s Zebedee and the Valentines;
- The quasimusical innovations of Dave Chisholm’s Chasin’ the Bird: Charlie Parker in California.
Tom Shapira reviews the humdrum heirographics of Tom Scioli's Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics.
Women Write About Comics
• Paulina Przystupa reviews the resonant (and timely) inspirations of Akiko Higashimura’s Tokyo Tarareba Girls.
• Elvie Mae Parian reviews the off-beat ovoid adventures of Wook-Jin Clark, et al’s Gudetama: Adulting for the Lazy.
• Emily Lauer reviews the adorable action of Grace Ellis and Brittney Williams’ Lois Lane and the Friendship Challenge.
• Zoe Tunnell reviews the extraterrestrial espionage of Jeff Loveness, Lisando Estherren, et al’s Strange Skies Over East Berlin.
• Doris V. Sutherland reviews the revived charms of the Treasury of British Comics’ Tammy & Jinty Special 2020.
• Wedny Browne reviews the melodic meter of Adam Kobetich's The Wayfarin’ Stranger Meets the Lady Pirate.
Strictly on the record… This week’s interviews.
• Abhay Khosla’s 2020 report continues, as he talks to Jhayne Faust, an anonymous woman who’s spoken out, and Janelle Asselin about the coming-to-light of recent (but also long-held) allegations towards creators in comics, their experiences, and where things may go from here; then speaks to Lauren McCubbin about the realities of the Warren Ellis Forum, and Kim O’Connor about the realities of The Comics Journal - required reading on all fronts.
• Brian Nicholson talks to Lale Westvind about the geographical inspirations behind her comics’ landscapes, Swedish Christmas traditions involving Donald Duck, the importance of animal-heads, Crumb comparisons, motorbikes, and more.
Dan Greenfield and Steve Engelhart continue the ‘Inside the Batman’ series of interviews, which this week is worth it just for the cover of Detective Comics 475 - now that’s what I want when someone says “three Jokers”.
Chris Coplan talks to Gamal Hennesy about the business basics lacking in most comic creators, distribution realities, and indie comic market growth, as Hennesy launches a crowd-funding campaign for his new book The Business of Independent Comic Book Publishing.
• Heidi Macdonald interviews Dylan Sprouse about getting into comics writing, Viking parasites in Sun Eater, lessons learned from acting, and making mead.
• Sajida Ayyup talks to Jasmine Walls & Bex Glendining about the importance of making Black history comics accessible to all-ages, the predominance of white authors on historical figures, and possible future collaborations.
• Zack Quaintance interviews Gamal Hennessy about comic book law, the business side of indie comics, and the major mistakes creators make in protecting their intellectual property.
• Gregory Paul Silber talks to writer Ram V about his work on Grafity's Wall, the origins of the story, Indian street-culture, craft vs produce, and depicting Mumbai through fiction.
Tom Batten talks to Tenacious D about the evolution of their Post-Apocalypto project, the need for narrative, and parental disapproval.
Jacob Hill interviews Justin Jordan about fantasy worldbuilding, writing to artists’ strengths, and inspiration drawn from RPG sourcebooks.
Chloe Maveal talks to Jim Mahfood about keeping it cool with projects, keeping it real, and keeping it ahead of the curve.
Matt Moen interviews Rebecca Sugar and Noelle Stevenson about queer representation in their respective series, comic art as a conversation with the reader, and the expectations of fandom.
Daniel Elkin and Sarah Wary present the next installment of ‘Knowing is Half the Battle’, as Coin-Op’s Peter and Maria Hoey discuss the benefits for throwing your lot in with a publisher, agents and lawyers and what they should be doing for creators, and making friends with your local post office.
• Karama Horne talks to Gail Simone about orchestrating Lion Forge’s first big ‘event’ series, Seven Days.
• Mike Avila interviews June Brigman about the pros and cons of working on serialised comic strips, the importance of being able to draw children, and teaching that particular skill to new artists.
• Jeff Spry talks to Alex de Campi and Erica Henderson about Dracula Motherf**ker, Argento influences, and victims caught up in power fantasies.
Emma Steen interviews Walter Scott about Wendy comics, confusing the reader, and characters growing up.
Women Write About Comics
• Wendy Browne catches up with Abigail Jill Harding and Richard Starkings about their series Ask for Mercy, what season 3 holds for readers, the learning curve the series has presented, and letting characters’ actions dictate plot.
• Joan Dark talks to Tina Horn about SFSX, the journey to publication for the comic, Vertigo vs Image, comics' depiction of sex work, and avoiding cliche.
Please make the font size bigger… This week’s features and comics.
• For The Hollywood Reporter, Graeme McMillan looks at the early steps on the (presumably long and difficult) road to rehabilitation for The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, as it seeks to rebuild following the departure of Charles Brownstein, as a new interim Director comes on-board - talking to the organization’s President, Christina Merkler, and creators who have withdrawn their support for the organization since allegations regarding Brownstein’s behavior resurfaced.
• For The Paris Review, Ivan Brunetti looks at Crumb’s A Short History of America, taking in the slow accumulation of detail in the panels, establishing ‘Comics as Place’, before entering into a wider discussion of the comic’s potential precursors and predecessors.
• On her Patreon, but as public posts, Kelly Kanayama has our first trip into the mind of Jack Chick this week (more on whom below), as she has a deep dive into Chick’s seminal tract, Dark Dungeons, and its attempt to save the souls of the faithless from the spiritual scourge that is fantasy tabletop roleplaying - the power of Chick compels you!
• For The Conversation, following the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Frank Fuller looks at the lasting influence that the atomic bomb has had on manga and anime, particularly in the works of Osamu Tezuka.
• Over at The Beat - sales charts are back for the COVID-19 age, baby - and Heidi MacDonald has a breakdown of recent sales data from Milton Griepp at ICv2, so grok those figures.
• Bust Magazine have an essay on 1920s cartoons, and how illustrators shaped the look of the flapper movement, drawing from Trina Robbins’ The Flapper Queens: Women Cartoonists Of The Jazz Age, and looking at the work of Nell Brinkley, Fay King, Virginia Huget, Ethel Hays, and Edith Stevens.
• One essay in two different flavors, as NeoText and The Beat have a crossover, both hosting Paco Taylor’s piece on ‘Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Superhero Influences’, looking at the artist’s use of metahumans in his artwork, and including this excellent quote from Basquiat - “I was a really lousy artist as a kid. Too abstract expressionist…really messy. I’d never win painting contests. I remember losing to a guy who did a perfect Spider-Man.”
• For Scroll.in, Sathyaraj Venkatesan and S Yuvan look at the comics coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they’re depicting real-time societal changes, and developing their own visual language.
• Over at Solrad, Ken Epstein returns to the Comics Arts Stakeholder Survey, with an essay on artist identity, looking at the ‘professional to hobbyist spectrum’, career lengths and supplemental incomes, and breaks down the impact of discrimination and bias on the results; following up with a second essay on the activities of comics-focused Non-Profit Organisations, and what creators desire from these.
• 13th Dimension’s Teen Titans Week kicks off with a piece from Marv Wolfman, co-creator of the precocious powered punks’ flagship title New Teen Titans, looking at why the series has endured for 40 years.
• Shelfdust’s Year in the Big City continues, as Charlotte Finn looks at Astro City #32 and the recidivist take on super-criminality, meanwhile Steve Morris’ infinite dive into Infinite Crisis brings Steve Orlando into the fold to discuss the Martian Manhunter, Kayleigh Hearn digs into who Diana Price is, and continuity in JLA: Year One is discussed with, well… me. How gauche.
• The third edition of Ronald Wimberley and Beehive Books’ LAAB Magazine, the broadsheet newspaper series of experimental creative works and critical discourse is up on Kickstarter now - this edition focuses on “food, waste, compost, and sustainability, as well as broader issues from media consumption to cultural appropriation”, and contributors include Michael DeForge, Rosemary Valero-O'Connell, Ezra Claytan Daniels, Paul Pope, Mikkel Sommer, Virginia Zamora, Connor Willemsun, and Olivia Fields. Nice.
• Christine Le has a comic on what's in a name, and cultural heritage, over on Twitter.
• For The Guardian, French artist Emma has a long-form comic on benevolent sexism, and the systemic problems conventions can lead to.
• This week, The Nib has been running comics from its recent ‘Animals’ issue, including Ruben Bollings’ collection of gag strips, Sarah Glidden’s comic on reducing the consumption of animal products, and Mansoor Adayfi and Kane Lynch document how animals presented an escape to Guantanamo Bay detainees, while this week’s edition of In/Vulnerable sees Will Evans, Sarah Mirk, Amanda Pike, and Thi Bui present the experiences of an anonymous Amazon warehouse employee.
• Over at The Daily Cartoonist, Mike Peterson rounds up the editorial beat's reaction to Joe Biden's announcement that Kamala Harris will be his running mate in the 2020 election, just in case you're not already thoroughly drenched in discourse on the matter.
• Ashley Robin Franklin has a horror comic up on Twitter, Plant Mom, and it is making me throw a suspicious eye over my crop of succulents.
The algorithm round table… This week’s recommended watching.
• Simon Hanselmann’s virtual book tour in celebration of the publication of Seeds and Stems, the latest collection of Megg, Mogg, and Owl misadventures, traveled across the States this week, as Secret Headquarters hosted an in-conversation between Hanselmann and Noah Van Sciver (v. strong language advisory from the outset), and you can watch the final stop on the tour on Sunday August 16th as Hanselmann is chatting with Suzette Smith at Floating World from 6pm PDT - Quimby's Bookstore also hosted an in-conversation between Hanselmann and Bianca Xunise, but they had tech difficulties, so I'll see if I can track down an archived version of the livestream for next week.
• If you would like to watch a fandub version of Katuhiro Otomo’s cyberpunk masterpiece, Akira, featuring the vocal talents of a veritable who’s who of independent comic creators, then that is something you can most definitely do, from 8pm EST this very evening (Friday 14th August)
• As this year's graduating classes finish their studies during a uniquely turbulent time in history, Portland's Helioscope studio surveys its members on whether art school is actually all that important, and what the other options are, as the scales tip towards "nah" from the respondents - hosted by Leila del Duca.
• This week’s returning edition of Joe Q(uesada)’s Mornin’ Warm-Up featured none other than Mr Todd McFarlane, and (as you’d expect from someone as loquacious as Rowdy Toddy) it’s a long episode, with a lot of classic Marvel chat, Todd-Documentary Debrief, pandemic musings, and audience questions.
• The Believer and The Black Mountain Institute had a new comics workshop this week, as cartoonist Whit Taylor took viewers through using comics to process thoughts and producing diary comics - the actual workshop begins around the 17 minute mark.
• Cartoonist Kayfabe had our second Jack Chick deep dive of the week, as Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg took a look at the best-selling comics of all time (Chick Tracts, natch), and then returned to more familiar fare with the Marvel Covers Artist’s Edition, and looked back at Jack Davis’ sample strips for his unpublished western-tale Jesse Pike.
• Inkpulp has another hip-hop flavored episode this week, as Shawn Crystal and Jim Mahfood sit down with none other than Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na, for some music and art chat, and live-drawing and -inking galore.
• As well as Hanselmann-hosting duties, Noah Van Sciver had a double bill of chats this week, talking about comics (and television) writing with Chris Miskiewicz and Vali Chandrasekaran; as well as an in-conversation with Eddie Campbell, featuring discussion of cartoonist social circles, cartoonist histories, working schedules, and figuring out sales numbers and print runs.
• John Siuntres’ Word Balloon featured the final appearance of the week from Gamal Hennessy, discussing the business of indie comics publishing, as well as live-chats with Steve Kronenberg and Mark Waid.
• Looking ahead to next week, and the hype train is leaving the station for Lisa Hanawalt’s new book, I Want You, as Hanawalt will be taking part in Drawn and Quarterly’s ‘At Home With’ series of livestreams on Wednesday August 19th, and will be in-conversation with Emily Heller on Thursday August 20th.
Sponsored by SquareSpace™… This week’s easy-listening.
• Comic books, well, they’re burning in hell, if you didn’t already know, and this week the team are discussing Kuniko Tsurita, and the recent collection of her work, The Sky Is Blue With A Single Cloud, while Tucker’s reign of terror with the soundboard continues unopposed.
• SILENCE! is deafening, yet again, as Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die hit all the hot topics of recent weeks in sequential narratives - muppets, bolognese sauce, and becoming emotional at memories of offspring.
• Shelfdust Presents escapes into the curiosity that is Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Clayton Cowles’ Mister Miracle #1 this week, as Matt Lune and Christian Hoffer discuss the series’ hypnotic, Kirby-referencing, narrative.
• David Harper welcomes Jesse Lonergan to Off-Panel this week, to discuss Lonergan’s recent one-shot Hedra, and all the deep-dive process chat that you could possibly wave an imported brush at.
• Meanwhile, aboard War Rocket Ajax, Tom Scioli joined in the fun for a discussion on non-fiction comics, biographical subjects, the all-important research, and (inevitably) which Transformer is the best robot in disguise.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come welcomed Mike Curato to the podcast this week, as he chatted with Calvin Reid about his new graphic novel Flamer, and the important topics it covers.
• 2000 AD’s Lockdown Tapes continue, and this week MOLCH-R is talking to Anthony Williams about his career in comics, starting nearly four decades ago with convention portfolio reviews, and then traveling through the direct market, before moving into licensing and marketing.
• Dan Berry welcomes Shelby Criswell to Make It Then Tell Everybody this week, as they discuss the making of comics, making comics on a monthly basis, preparing to make comics, and getting educated on making comics.
• The Virtual Memories show is talking cars this week, as Gil Roth and Woodrow Phoenix discuss Phoenix’ book Crash Course, with detours into South London, compulsive stylistic experimentation, Carmine Infantino, and Al Hirschfield, plus: bookshelves.
That’s the links done for this week, back again soon with more, probably compiled while less sweaty and less whiny, one would hope.