La Belle Dame Sans Merci – This Week’s Links

This week saw the annual conjunction of the literary spheres, as Will Eisner Week and World Book Day once again fell into alignment a-- Sorry, I’m being handed a note, which I will now read. It says:


Blimey. Well, I’ll admit that decrypting This Week’s Links, below, caused the destruction of an area of the rainforest the size of Wales, but I think you’ll agree it’s all worth it in the end.



Tim Curry was right… This week’s news.

• The LA Times have announced the finalists for 2020’s Book Prize, with Yeon-sik Hong’s Umma’s Table, KAITO’s Blue Flag, Ben Passmore’s Sports is Hell, Bishakh Som’s Apsara Engine, and Jim Terry’s Come Home, Indio all in the running in the graphic novel/comics category, and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) receiving this year’s Innovator’s Award - winners in all categories will be announced on 16th of April.

• Speaking of BINC, the Foundation have announced the opening of 2021’s BINC Scholarship Program, which “seeks to make a lasting impact in bookstore employees’, comic shop employees’ and owners, and former Borders Group employees’ lives offering scholarships to their dependents and spouses/partners” with applications to the program closing on 15th of April.

• Similarly, BINC’s Give Comics Hope store assistance fund is open once again for applications, with comic shops in the US, US territories, or Canada eligible to apply if “in any 30-day period from April 1st to September 1st 2020, the business lost at least 50% of sales and/or net income as compared to the same period in 2019 due to the Covid-19 public health emergency” with applications to the fund closing on 15th of March.

• ShortBox announced the first round of this year's mini-grant recipients, with awards being issued to CAP Ward, Jamie Kinroy, and Mikoto - information on how to donate to the funding program can be found here, with the next round opening on Monday, details of which can be found here.

• Bangladeshi cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore has been granted bail by the High Court in Dhaka, following his imprisonment for ten months under the controversial Digital Security Act - the news comes in the wake of protests following the death of Kishore's co-accused, writer Mustaq Ahmed, and Kishore's announcement that he had been tortured while in prison - Cartooning for Peace have a full statement and timeline of the events.

• Comic Con International have announced that 2021 will see July’s San Diego Comic Con taking place in the virtual space again, as the WHO cautions against premature relaxing of COVID-19 mitigation restrictions. A smaller in-person event is planned for November, but 8 months is a long time in virology, and CCI notes that multiple event postponements have left the organization with “limited financial resources”, so I’d be willing to predict we’ll see some smaller/mid-level events faced with the decision to go ahead and take place in unsafe settings or be bankrupted by venue cancellation penalty clauses while trying to maintain liquidity through ticket/table sales.

• In terms of book sales during year 1 of the pandemic, ICv2 reports on 2020 being another banner year of growth for manga in the book channel - increasing 44% from 2019 - so, let’s end with a modicum of good news, eh?



Scrooge McDuck’s virtual coin pool… This week’s reviews.


Aug Stone reviews the perfect insanity of Pierre-Henry Gomont’s Brain Drain: Parts 1&2, translated by Edward Gauvin - “Gomont is an artist and writer to look out for. Being unfamiliar with his work, I was impressed enough with simply the stylish covers of these two books to want to delve into their contents, and they did not disappoint. Published in French as La Fuite de cerveau, the English translation gets the nice ring of ‘Brain Drain’, to which ‘entertain’ would also rhyme and be quite apt.”



• Ryan Perry reviews the exciting brightness of DC Comics’ Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0.

• Ronnie Gorham reviews the straightforward wit of Rory McConville, Joe Palmer, Chris O'Halloran, et al’s Write It In Blood Volume 1.

• Nathan Simmons reviews the fantastic introductions of Marvel Comics’ Conan the Barbarian: Exodus and Other Tales.

• David Brooke reviews the contemplative pacing of Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler, Sami Kivelä, et al’s Undone By Blood: The Other Side of Eden #1.

• Justin Harrison reviews the fascinating prospects of Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt, Ron Garney, et al’s BRZRKR #1.


The Beat

• Ricardo Serrano Denis reviews the story-deficient hyperviolence of Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt, Ron Garney, et al’s BRZRKR #1.

• Avery Kaplan reviews the irresistible appeal of Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter’s Allergic.

Deanna Destito reviews the varied connections of A Wave Blue World's Embodied.


Broken Frontier

• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the leaden coldness of Jan Novák and Jaromír 99’s Zátopek.

• Andy Oliver reviews the candid starkness of Victoria Anderson and Wallis Eates’ Wings: A Prison Odyssey, and the sublime intrigues of Zain Dada and Shazleen Khan’s Sultana.



Gary Tyrrell reviews the considerate wisdom of Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan’s Let’s Talk About It.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan C reviews a triple bill from Mike Shea-Wright, with the raw energy of Venue, the unsubtle joy of Beach, and the trippy fluidity of Beeline For The Crafty.


The Guardian

Rachel Cooke reviews the resonant punctuations of Élodie Durand’s Parenthesis.


Multiversity Comics

• Paul Lai reviews the impressive impact of Bastien Vivès, Florent Ruppert, and Jérôme Mulot’s The Grand Odalisque, translated by Montana Kane.

• Joe Skonce reviews the uninspired tropes of Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, et al’s Crossover #4.

• John Schaidler reviews the discomforting mysteries of Tyler Boss' Dead Dog’s Bite #1.

• Christa Harader reviews the cluttered frustrations of Scott Snyder, Tony S. Daniel, et al's Nocterra #1.


Publisher’s Weekly

Have capsule reviews of the piercing reflections of Mannie Murphy’s I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, and the meticulous observations of Julie Blanchin Fujita’s Tokyo Love Story, translated by Marie Velde.



• Ryan Carey reviews the unfocused naturalism of Ann Nocenti And David Aja’s The Seeds.

• Floyd Tangeman reviews the refreshing gravity of Mara Ramirez’ MOAB.


Women Write About Comics

• Louis Skye reviews the heartwarming flow of Marvel Comics’ Marvel Voices: Legacy #1.

• Kat Overland reviews the accumulated baggage of Kalinda Vazquez, Carlos Gómez, et al’s America Chavez: Made in the USA #1.

• Shea Proulx reviews the striking self-examination of Myriam Steinberg and Christache's Catalogue Baby: A Memoir of Infertility.

• Alenka Figa reviews the satisfying heart of Laura Knetzger and Lyle Lynde's Bug Boys: Outside and Beyond.




A lovely old natter… This week’s interviews.


• Jeanette Roan talks to GB Tran about Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey, finding a comics community in NYC, and telling the small stories - “For me, telling stories is heavily influenced by this idea in manga where the environment is as much of a character as the characters in the environment. When the story happens in a place that not all of your readers may have been to, and they may not know what it looks like, it’s really important for me to capture the details of the place.”

• Nicholas Burman and Isabel Palomar interview Ana Galvañ about Tarde en McBurger's, influences from the Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism, and the organic/geometric divide - “I have struggled drawing characters smiling or expressing any other kinds of emotion ever since I started drawing. I guess it’s a matter of shape and style because my narration is also synthetic and schematic. That’s why I use other resources, like colour, to communicate emotions and feelings.”



• Russ Dobler talks to James Tynion IV about The Department of Truth, and the inspirations of real-life conspiracy theories, before interviewing Bob Blaskiewicz, conspiracy researcher and assistant professor of critical thinking at Stockton University, about the damaging theories that surround Sandy Hook and other school shootings, the topic of issue 3 of the comic.

• David Brooke interviews Justin Jordan about Breaklands, how digital-first affects the work process, and life after a movie option.


The Beat

• Ricardo Serrano Denis interviews Michael Watson about Ithaca, bringing an ensemble cast into the Lovecraft space, and the difficulties of trying to hit cosmic horror through comics; and then talks to the artist on the series, Theresa Chiechi, about changing styles between projects, and writing and illustrating Drawn to Key West.

• Heidi MacDonald talks to JD Morvan about Muhammad Ali: Kinshasa 1974, comics as the antithesis of photography, and increased recognition from an English-language audience.


The Guardian

Sam Jones talks to Ana Penyas about Todo Bajo el Sol, Franco’s lasting influence on the Spanish tourism industry, and the socioeconomic problems caused by an endless capitalist cycle.



• Milton Griepp interviews Viz Media's Kevin Hamric about the recent growth of the US manga market, what 2020 did for the book channel, and the constant unknowns of what happens post-pandemic; and chats with Tokyopop's Stu Levy about disparities between the growth of manga and anime markets, incremental change, and waiting for the digital shoe to drop.

• Brigid Alverson talks to Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner about The Invincible Red Sonja, story checklists, and plans for widening appeal.


Multiversity Comics

• Brian Salvatore interviews Mike Mignola about quarantine sketches, cavemen and bat people, and raiding the memory banks for documentary interviews.

• Kyle Welch talks to Evan Dorkin about the return of Beasts of Burden, keeping things open for new readers, and hitting laugh lines and jump scares in comics.


Publisher’s Weekly

• Louisa Ermelino speaks with Kristen Radtke about Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, the arduous nature of learning to make comics, and the importance of admitting to feelings of being isolated.

• Calvin Reid interviews JD Morvan about Muhammad Ali, Kinshasha 1974, deriving comic stories from photography, non-linear narrative structures, and telling the story as it was lived.



• Ken Eppstein talks to Hannah Berry and Katriona Chapman about surveying various comics communities, digging into responses to surveys on working in comics that they’ve received, and how the data can be used going forward.

• Daniel Elkin interviews Jamila Rowser about Black Josei Press’ publishing work during the pandemic, taking a break from work when there’s more important things going on, and what the future might hold for small presses.


Women Write About Comics

Wendy Browne talks to Greg Hunter about Lerner Books, plans for 2021, and going against editor instincts when necessary.




This week’s features and comics.

• RC Harvey returns to TCJ, with a fresh dose of Hare Tonic, this week charting the Golden Age resurgence of the Western comic book through the lens of, appropriately enough, Western Comics, edited (haphazardly) by Steven Brower - “In the WWII aftermath, there was a general falling off in comic book circulation, which many casual observers interpreted as a loss of interest in superheroes. More likely, the falling off was a result of the end of the war and the return to civilian life of hundreds of thousands of servicemen. They’d all been avid readers of comic books during the war: soldiering has been described as a “hurry up and wait” lifestyle—more waiting for action than acting. And while waiting, what better way to pass a few otherwise idle hours than by reading comic books? They entertain without demanding much from the reader, and they can be quickly put aside when the bugle summons everyone to action. So soldiers were responsible for the soaring circulation of comic books during the war.”

• For NeoText, Chloe Maveal looks at the history of Tijuana Bibles, the pseudonymous creators behind the cartoons, and the archival aspect of the characters that were chosen to appear within them; and looks back at the career of one of the British comics greats - Arthur Ranson.

• Over at SYFY Wire, Mike Avila takes a look at the return of Milestone Comics, and asks - where’s Blood Syndicate?

• For 13th Dimension, Paul Kupperberg shares some favorites from his collection of DC fan pages of the 1960s, as the publisher attempted to catch up with Marvel's efforts in what consultants would now call "core audience engagement and retention".

• On the open-access academia front, from Outpatient Care, Jonathan de Rothewelle assesses the extent to which medical comics could answer the WHO’s call for effective COVID-19 communication, while The Journal of Social Archaeology has a paper from Heba Abd el-Gawad and Alice Stevenson on the use of online comics to confront colonialist aspects of museum collections of Egyptian heritage.

• ICv2 has a new column from Paul Levitz looking at where the direct market goes in 2021, as pandemic restrictions on the economy theoretically open up, and why it shouldn’t include a return to saturation point from publishers.

• For Publisher’s Weekly, Brigid Alverson follows the money, and speaks to creators and publishers involved in one of the fastest growing markets in the book channel - namely, books aimed at readers aged 4-8 - and what to expect from its rapid expansion.

• Comics Academe returns to Women Write About Comics, as Liz Pfeiffer writes on the tropes of  whiteness and patriarchy that Bitch Planet subverts, along with the sociopolitical theories that the book engages with, and the mirror it continues to hold up to the world, despite having been on hiatus for 4 years.

• Over at Comicosity, Carolina González Alvarado looks at the work of Augusto Mora, and how his latest graphic novel, Los Fantasmas De Mi Ciudad, embraces the supernatural to depict the realities of urban life in Mexico.

• For Polygon, Masha Zhdanova looks at the secret weapon behind Webtoon’s digital comics domination - positive comics with messages of growth - inconceivable!

• Wolverine has lived a long time, but most of that seems to have been in the 80s, throwing widely held theories on entropy’s unstoppable march into the bin.

• Shelfdust’s Infinite Crisis continues, as infinity is wont to do, and this week David Gallaher gives a topographical overview of Mongo, not Mogo, while Kelly Kanayama lays out the case for the prosecution against Batman’s worst foe - boners.

• For 13th Dimension, Paul Kupperberg ends his series of looks back at the best house ads from superhero comics, bowing out with Marvel playing nothing but the hits in the 1970s.

• Continuing to document editorial cartoons’ railing against the dying of the light, Mike Peterson collated this week’s political beat entries, as America said hello to the new boss, same as the old boss, and continued its push on international relations, and people continue to realise the business of Facebook is the business of Facebook, while DD Degg looked at some bad weather for (right wing) ducks.

• A handful of longform comics from the usual suspects, as Joyce Rice and Greg Miller consider what post-pandemic public planning may look like for The Nib, Maritsa Patrinos charts the joys of depression for The Lily, and Mimi Pond warns against the delicious dangers of ham for The New Yorker.



Entertainment for the masses… This week’s recommended watching.

• Starting this week’s watching with an upcoming event for younger comics creators, as 22nd of March sees Dav Pilkey running a live (virtual) lesson on making comics from 1pm ET.

• Some upcoming (virtual) book tour dates for Shira Spector in celebration of the launch of Red Rock Candy Baby, with a trio of Q&As with Fiona Smyth, Phoebe Gloeckner, and Whit Taylor.

• Monday sees the Westport Library hosting a talk from Abraham Riesman on the year’s hottest biography, True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee.

• The latest edition of The Black Mountain Institute and The Believer’s Friday comics workshops was hosted by Jett Allen, taking viewers through drawing from memory, and how the process can help uncover subconscious memories and lost details from events and experiences.

• A week of reminiscing about comics from the past, over at Cartoonist Kayfabe, as Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor leafed through Spawn #1, Golgo 13, Preacher, Street Code, Xenozoic Tales, Wolverine, and Mage #1, absolute units one and all.

• The Charles M. Schulz Museum presented a video archive of last month's livestreamed event with Gale Galligan, Michelle Mee Nutter, Molly Knox Ostertag, Maria Scrivan, and Shannon Wright discussing the making of comics for younger readers and female-led narratives, moderated by Jessica Ruskin.

Noah Van Sciver's cartoonist chats returned, as he spoke with François Vigneault about Titan, the Montreal comix scene, keeping the story fluid while getting it down on the page, and fitting the project to the publisher.

• February’s visit to Comix Experience’s Masterpiece Selection series saw Brian Hibbs talking to Jolly R. Blackburn, Barbara Blackburn, Brian Jelke, and David Kenzer about Knights of the Dinner Table: Bag Wars, art direction (or lack thereof) when collaborating, how the series evolved over time, and how you get into tabletop gaming.

• Strip Panel Naked returned with a fresh episode, looking this time at the style of Jaime Hernandez in the pages of Love and Rockets, depictions of humanity, and his use of the good ol’ 9 panel grid.



Louder than Bonds, James Bonds… This week’s easy-listening.

• Shelfdust Presents returned, with a look at X Factor #5, as Matt Lune and Jay Rincher discussed the constant conundrum of who all these mutants about the place are.

• A new episode of House to Astonish arrived on the market, as Al Kennedy and Paul O’Brien took a look at the recent goings on in the land of monthly periodicals, including Todd McFarlane hearing that you like Spawn, so he’s put a Spawn in you Spawn, so you can Spawn while you Spawn.

• Fantagraphics’ Jacq Cohen appeared on The Beat’s Graphic Novel TK this week, for an episode recorded pre-pandemic, discussing what working with authors for a publisher entails, albeit pre-pandemic.

• Dan Berry and Richard Short told everybody about making it this week, discussing the upcoming release of a new Klaus collection from Breakdown Press, comics all-nighters and cheating, and keeping things simple.

• Deb Aoki hosted this week’s episode of Mangasplaining, as the gang took a look at Rumiko Takahashi’s Mermaid Saga Volume 1, and how you introduce a new reader to a creator with a daunting body of work.

• Chainsaw time on Mex Flentallo, as Sarah Horrocks joined Ramon Villalobos and Daniel Irizarri to discuss volume 1 of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s Chainsaw Man, how wild readers can expect things to get after its already fairly insane opening, digital platforms, and how you remain polite while critiquing fellow comic pros.

• SILENCE was golden this week, as Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die chatted about Mancunian performance poets, Brummie punk bands, and then some reviews of recent purchases of old comics.

• David Harper welcomed Joëlle Jones to Off Panel this week, taking a look at what’s to come with DC’s Future State shenanigans, and how the publisher works with up-and-coming creators.

• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden looked back at the Thick Lines of Kyoko Okazaki's Helter Skelter this week, discussing its satire on celebrity and pitch perfect depictions of gossiping.

• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come took a look at the entertainment event of the millennium this week, discussing Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and then there was also talk of other recent comics news, but the big story was the Snyder Cut, if you ask me.

• Gil Roth spoke to Leslie Stein for this week’s Virtual Memories Show, talking about publishing I Know You Rider and living a life of putting your personal experiences on the page.



That’s all for this week, more again soon - I’m off to go and spend my savings on an encrypted JPEG of a Digimon.