It’s been a quiet summer week, is what I usually say right before some market-shattering news about revamping the entire model of direct sales distribution, or suchlike, is air-dropped into The Discourse late on a Friday afternoon. The last time we had a "June", it was chaos on a number of levels.
We're tempting fate somewhat, but..."it has indeed been a quiet summer week", albeit one still laden with links, a selection of which you can find below.
Hot Swamp Thing Summer pic.twitter.com/ws7dZiUeTp
— sally cantirino (@sally_cantirino) June 6, 2021
Accurate at the time of publication… This week’s news.
• Comic Con International announced the nominees for this year’s Eisner Awards, with Fantagraphics and Image Comics leading the pack in terms of most publisher nominations, and Gene Luen Yang receiving five individual nominations - registration to vote on this year’s nominees is now open, running until 30th of June, and let’s hope that it doesn’t end up with another data breach this year, eh?
• In other awards news, The National Cartoonists Society announced that this year’s Gold Key Award, inducting the recipient into the NCS Hall of Fame, will be presented to Mort Gerberg, whose “generosity and enthusiasm towards his fellow established artists and young up-and-coming cartoonists has been a large part of his career, and his voluntary contribution to the National Cartoonists Society is deeply appreciated.”
• Peow Studio have announced that they will cease publishing new titles in 2022, with their online store closing in early 2023, per their farewell statement - “We could go with more small tangents that added up to our final decision, but what we arrived at was very straightforward. Personal interests and passions can change, and we just needed to admit that.”
• At the other end of the spectrum, Bad Idea have also announced that they’re ceasing operations in 2022, but, much like the boy who cried wolf, their consistently bizarre publicity antics mean that this statement is being viewed with suspicion, and was quickly followed up with the inevitable “here’s the wack way in which we’ll be publishing our final comics that’ll just serve to annoy retailers” kicker. I think I’ve used this quote from The Thing before with regards to their operations, but it is 2021 AD, and “nobody trusts anybody now, and we're all very tired” is just so apt.
• Meanwhile, setting up a digital David and Goliath money-in-the-bank match, a new comics crowdfunding platform, Zoop, launched this week, looking to go toe-to-toe with Kickstarter, which Publisher’s Weekly have the 411 on.
• And, as tech startups and angel investors scent the blood in the water that is comics' current spike in physical sales and ad-revenue figures from webtoon platforms, The Beat breaks down Substack's getting into the comics game with Nick Spencer leading their charge. I think it was Pericles who said "What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into monetized electronic newsletters."
• Finally this week, proving that there’s life in the old dog yet, Spawn’s Universe #1 is set to become Image Comics bestselling first issue of this millennium (thus far), amassing over 200,000 sales ahead of its formal release later this month - The Hollywood Reporter has comments on this achievement from Spawn creator, and president of Image Comics, Todd McFarlane.
Web-man drawn by me. pic.twitter.com/ZXYychkvZI
— Kenny the Gardener is here (@CharlesForsman) June 7, 2021
Fresh off the presses… This week’s reviews.
• Irene Velentzas reviews the cyclical existentialism of Karl Stevens’ Penny - “Stevens’ work is a self-reflexive conundrum that constantly bends back upon itself. As a reader, you partake in the process of watching Penny going about mundane and instinctual practices – napping on a windowsill, rubbing against a wall, climbing into and onto things she shouldn’t, catching mice, and grooming herself. However, as the reader watches Penny’s daily routine – all the while privy to her inner thoughts, dilemmas, childhood longings, and ennui – they can’t escape the triangular observation game they have been coerced into.”
• Luke Frostick reviews the diluted history of Jenny White and Ergün Gündüz’ Turkish Kaleidoscope: Fractured Lives in a Time of Violence - “An interesting dimension of the political fragmentation that the comic shows is that the left and the right did not polarize in the same way. The right was able to keep itself in one piece, while the left broke up into a myriad of bickering factions - for instance, between Maoists and Stalinists. Even alternate interpretations of a line from Marx caused groups to split. However, interpersonal rivalry, slighted honor and squabbling were often the sources of these fractures, rather than real ideological disagreement. For instance, the comic shows a scene where one leftist group covering the posters of another led to brawling over the insult.”
• Ryan Kerry reviews the bittersweet flaws of N.K. Jemisin, Jamal Campbell, et al’s Far Sector #12.
• Madeleine Chan reviews the compelling charms of DC Comics’ DC Pride #1.
• Ronnie Gorham reviews the distinctive mystery of Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer’s The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton #1.
• Sam Rutzick reviews the unmemorable flaws of James Watson, Leo Cordeiro, et al's Star Runner Chronicles Vol. 1: Fallen Star.
Avery Kaplan reviews the essential history of Pornsak Pichetshote, Alexandre Tefenkgi, et al's The Good Asian #2.
• Lindsay Pereira reviews the strange foreboding of Brecht Evens’ The City of Belgium.
• Nicholas Burman reviews the precise absurdism of Nathan Cowdry’s Crash Site.
• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the engrossing satire of Alex Graham’s Dog Biscuits.
• Rebecca Burke reviews the beautiful moments of Lee Lai's Stone Fruit.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews a batch of Entropy Editions’ publications, including the uncompromising delicacy of Nicolas Nadé’s Barrage, the minimalist mysteries of Liva Kandevica’s Prison, and the ingenious ambitions of Danielle Chenette’s The Beast.
Nick Smith has capsule reviews of:
- The distracting carelessness of Nozomi Mino’s Yakuza Lover Volume 1.
- The gentle entertainment of Okura’s I Think Our Son Is Gay Volume 1.
Illogical Volume reviews the scathing humor of Sarah Cochrane and Joe Kelly’s Fit For Nothing, and the lush contemplations of Esther McManus’ Elsewhere.
• Jim Malakwen looks back on the dynamic surprises of Jay Faerber, Scott Godlewski, et al’s Copperhead #1.
• Christopher Egan reviews the captivating shocks of Paul Tobin, Andrea Mutti, et al's Bunny Mask #1.
• Christa Harader reviews the scrambled pace of Alex Child, Grant Morrison, Naomi Franquiz, et al's Proctor Valley Road #4.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The galvanizing charge of Bill Campbell and Bizhan Khodabandeh’s The Day the Klan Came to Town.
- The limping bumps of Paolo Baron and Ernesto Carbonetti’s Jim Lives: The Mystery of the Lead Singer of the Doors and the 27 Club.
- The fizz-bomb escapades of Jordan Morris, Sarah Morgan, and Tony Cliff’s Bubble.
- The outdated experiments of Tardi’s Farewell, Brindavoine, translated by Jenna Allen.
- The uneven snark of Will McPhail’s In.
• Keith Silva and Daniel Elkin review the clever blurring of Brendan Leach’s Slum Clearance Symphony.
• Jordan Spencer reviews the cohesive layers of Leomi Sadler's Tummy Bugs.
Women Write About Comics
Wendy Browne reviews the colorful twists of Juni Ba's Djeliya.
Death of an American Unicorn (2/2) pic.twitter.com/JfQw82bwx8
— Kasey Gifford (@Killskerry) June 6, 2021
Words in papers, words in books… This week’s interviews.
Aug Stone, with translation by Christopher Bradley, interviews Zidrou and Frank Pé about Marsupilami: The Beast, childhood connections to the work of André Franquin, and fresh takes on classic series - “Frank Pé: My desire to bring the Marsupilami to life in a realistic style also comes from my interest in wildlife drawing in general. For forty years now I’ve been drawing animals of all kinds -- lots and lots of them! -- and using this experience to bring an imaginary animal to life is a real treat for me!”
David Brooke speaks with Sam Haine and John Livesay about Slow City Blues, paternal inspirations, cultural reference points, and layered gags.
• Sean Z talks to Kay O’Neill about The Tea Dragon Society, organically ongoing series, prose and comics contrasts, and finding yourself in your characters.
• Ricardo Serrano Denis interviews John Jennison about this year’s Brooklyn Pride Comic Book Fair, organizing events during a pandemic, condensed timetables, and reconnecting the comics community.
• Joe Grunenwald speaks with Fred Van Lente about Everything’s Archie, making sure all the characters get their moment, and the impact of Archie on comics culture.
• Milton Griepp interviews Jordan Plosky about getting into the comics crowdfunding game with Zoop, market misnomers, and plans to compete with Kickstarter.
• Rob Salkowitz talks to Todd McFarlane about sustainable market growth, and picking distribution partners.
The Irish Times
Patrick Freyne speaks with Martyn Turner about fifty years of political cartoons, hideous schools, remaining outside of culture, and envy of the European comics market.
Rosie Knight interviews Casper Cendre about A.B.O. Comix, prison abolition and advocacy for incarcerated people, and evolving publishing plans.
The New Yorker
Françoise Mouly and Genevieve Bormes speak with Anita Kunz about Another History of Art, unsung achievements, and portrait packing.
Hillary Chabot talks to Hillary Chute about favorite childhood comics, the growth of queer comics in the mainstream markets, and the documentary No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics.
Alex Dueben interviews Marc Bernadin about Adora and The Distance, fantasy novel inspirations, collaborative decisions, and eschewing the graphic memoir route for telling a story about a character with autism.
Tara Bennett talks to Jeff Lemire about Sweet Tooth, character origins, adaptations and narrative changes, and the Vertigo peer group.
Tel Aviv Review of Books
Jonathan Fine interviews Rutu Modan about Tunnels, starting with the text, the boredom of opinions, and archaeology in a post-truth world.
The Washington Post
Michael Cavna canvasses cartoonists and illustrators, including Adrian Tomine and Emily Flake, as they depict returns to a semblance of pre-pandemic life, and the new social conventions that are evolving.
Women Write About Comics
• Rosie Knight talks to Emilia Clarke and Marguerite Bennett about M.O.M.: Mother of Madness, feminism and superheroes, and creating patriarchal nightmares.
• Wendy Browne interviews Ed Brisson and Damian Couceiro about Beyond the Breach, messy story origins, back and forth development, and monster designs.
A smoker on their phone pic.twitter.com/UKT898CEQg
— Patrick Kyle (@_patrickkyle) June 6, 2021
This week’s features and comics.
• Here at TCJ, Andrew Farago presents remembrances of comics creator and essayist Jesse Hamm, who passed away last month, with extensive contributions from Hamm’s friends, peers, and loved ones - “Whatever the reason, Hamm shifted his online presence away from serialized storytelling and toward comics scholarship and craft. On his LiveJournal blog, he posted in-depth appreciations of his favorite comic artists, usually classic naturalistic illustrators. His passion for lesser-known artists like Jesse Marsh and Garrett Price helped new readers discover their work, and in some cases his research and his impressive collection of rare publications facilitated modern-day reprints of comics arcana.”
• Also for TCJ, Bob Levin explores the vastness of Tim Fielder’s Infinitum, and the Afrofuturist tale of mankind’s beginning and end (spoilers) that it weaves - “I already know the universe will end. In fact, I have my doubts Earth will make it through this century. (Hey, personally, I’ll be happy to last the decade.) What concerns me is what to do in the meantime. Infinitum made me feel like a grain of sand in the Sahara – which I already accept, intellectually, in the grand scope of things, I – man – is; but I don’t care about the desert. My concern is – most of our concerns are – the grains of sand beside us.”
• Writing for The Guardian, previewing upcoming exhibitions of work by Tove Jansson and Tuulikki Pietilä, which take inspiration from their life on the island of Klovharun, Susannah Clapp dips into the pair’s views on nature and how it inspired their creative endeavors.
• Over at NeoText, Chloe Maveal writes on the unapologetic queerness of John Smith, and the indelible mark his coterie of strange creations have left on British comics; while Joanna Marsh explores The Sandman’s cast of trans characters, and their wider context in the history of trans representation in culture.
• For Shelfdust, Tegan O’Neil takes on the contrasts between American and British comics as typified by Shako, Jay Rincher looks at the failings of Milestone Returns Infinite Edition #0 as an ambassador to new and returning readers of the line, and Tim Maytom continues the Secret Invasion invasion as the plot grinds to a halt.
• Rob Clough has a new essay at Solrad, documenting the grand guignol of Corinne Halbert’s mini-comics, and the personal revelations that horror can convey.
• For Sequart, Douglas Rasmussen examines John Wagner, Alan Grant, et al’s Judge Dredd: America, and its prescient views on police militarization and abuses of power.
• I’m more used to him providing illuminating commentary on UK legislation passing through the Houses, but this week David Allen Green took the time to dip into just how it is that Neil Gaiman retained creative control over The Sandman universe.
• Contrast the previous entry against Fleen’s coverage of nuisance lawsuits centered around any title including the word ‘Zodiac’.
• Over at 13th Dimension, Dan Greenfield writes on Gil Kane’s Blackmark, and the changes to the American comics industry that its publishing rang in, as Neal Adams prepares to sell the original artwork for its cover.
• 1989. Wolverine down under. Following in the footsteps of one Crocodile Dundee!
• Mike Peterson rounds up the political cartooning from the week for The Daily Cartoonist, as the times they are/are not a-changing, mass shootings are back above the fold, Republican wagons are circled, and borders are still closed.
• On the open-access academia front, Matthew Sautman writes on Don McGregor’s work in Jungle Action for Quimbandas: Explorations of Identities; for Altre Modernità, Camilla Storskog has an essay on Hannele Mikaela Taivassalo and Catherine Anyango Grünewald’s Scandorama and its exploration of the construction of physical and ideological walls; Dhany Putra Pratama looks at the online comics/meme culture response to reports of rising Islamic fanaticism in Indonesia and Malaysia for Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research; and, for The Comics Grid, Ricardo Gonzalez-Trujillo and Ernesto Priego apply linguistic and evolutionary biology principles to develop a framework for determining when a suspected swipe is in fact simple serendipity.
• This week’s selection of longform comics, as here at TCJ A Wave Blue World presents an excerpt from the upcoming poetry comics anthology Embodied; for The Nib, Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw document the realities of long COVID, while Aubrey Hirsch shares the experience of being targeted by online incels; over at The Believer Margaret Kimball recounts teenage house party logistics; and The Lily has a pair of comics from Christine Suggs on the return of social anxiety, and nonbinary realizations.
Hey, Kids. Science Fiction Comics. pic.twitter.com/pQGMB8AzX0
— Evan Dorkin (@evandorkin) June 5, 2021
Re-Make/Re-Model… This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Some new Thick Lines this week, as Sally Madden and Katie Skelly unpacked the layers of trauma in Nina Bunjevac’s Bezimena, and when memoir informs fictional stories.
• Apple TV, still a thing, it turns out, announced a new documentary - Who Are You, Charlie Brown? - the trailer for which you can watch now, before the feature drops later this month.
• Anu Ambasna hosted the latest comics workshop for The Believer and Black Mountain Institute, taking viewers through drawing food, and breaking down favourite recipes into comics form (starts around the 2min mark).
• A typically busy week for Cartoonist Kayfabe as Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg took a look at Todd McFarlane’s work on Batman: Year Two, R. Crumb’s Complete Crumb Comics 1 & 2, the exhibition catalogue of Masters of American Comics, David Mazzucchelli's Big Man, Hero Illustrated #2, Sergio Aragonés’ Groo the Wanderer #1, and Jim Lee’s work on Alpha Flight.
• Dan Berry welcomed John Tucker to Make It Then Tell Everybody for a discussion of when you pitch to publishers, wrongfooting readers with jokes, and the psychic awakenings of professional cartoonists.
• Christopher Butcher hosted this week’s episode of Mangasplaining, as the team broke format to speak to the quality of Takako Shimura’s Even Though We’re Adults Volume 1, and the joys of good romance comics for more mature readers.
• Kelly Richards joined Matt Lune for this week’s edition of Shelfdust Presents, as the site’s Secret Invasion invasion continued, discussing the deep paranoia of Mighty Avengers #18.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come covered the big stories of the last couple of weeks in the comics industry this week, as Calvin Reid, Heidi MacDonald, and Kate Fitzsimons discussed crowdfunding successes, publishers personnel moves, and streaming swing and misses.
• Gil Roth welcomed Will McPhail to this week’s Virtual Memories Show, as they spoke about In, moving to working with multiple panels, and the best animals.
I wanted to post this again on twitter. I did this back in 2019 for a trans related comic book from my country. I was going through too much that year that i just wanted to draw something for people to relate and not feel alone. Happy pride month everyone. I love my trans folks????️⚧️ pic.twitter.com/WqHDWgL9Ug
— ももて ???? Momote (@Momotexx) June 10, 2021
That’s all for this week, now I’m off to celebrate the return of international football and cricket matches by shunning the sun and spending large chunks of the next month in front of the idiot box. Classic.
Even with a vacation in between, I'm still recovering from all the work that went into this one. New stuff on the way, though! pic.twitter.com/pRwlsqV5gW
— Zé Burnay ✹ (@Ze_Burnay) June 9, 2021