Well, we’re less than three weeks into this newest of years and things have already gone buckwild in the old comics space, which I think is probably a new record - pause for applause, smile graciously, gently wave hands for quiet - so, without much further ado, let’s try and catch up with this week’s links, below, before a whole ‘nother batch of them come a-flooding in.
— garin (@stegocephal) January 18, 2023
This week’s news.
• Starting our week in the artificial intelligence space, once again, and the development of AI art generators, widely trained on copyrighted imagery, took the brave step out of the theoretical realm of “is this cool, legally speaking?” into the firmly tangible land of “let’s find out, judicially speaking” as two lawsuits appeared on the horizon this week: Joseph Saveri Law Firm LLP filed a class-action in California, aimed at Stability AI, Midjourney, and DeviantArt for alleged DMCA violations; and Getty Images gave notice of their intention to also sue Stability AI, this time in the UK, over allegations of the unlawful copying and processing of images protected by copyright.
• Staying in the digital domain, and Amazon’s wave of mass layoffs, announced at the start of this year, as the tech juggernaut seeks to cut 18,000 jobs, appears to have included a large number of comiXology’s staff - Amazon acquired the digital comics platform in 2013, and finally completed a planned integration into its own proprietary online storefronts just under a year ago, to widespread user displeasure.
• Elsewhere, Publisher’s Weekly reports on the shuttering of Europe Comics ‘consumer-facing activities’ as of January, following in the wake of digital comic service Izneo’s announcement that they too will be closing down English-language services on January 31st - Europe Comics’ co-founder, Sophie Castille, passed away last summer, aged 51.
• A couple of manga-focused stories, as Euronews reports on the growth of the manga bubble in Spain, with record numbers of publications released in 2021 and 2022; and The Japan Times covers local buy-in to the popularity of manga in Japan and overseas, in attempts to boost tourism, sometimes running afoul of copyright licensing laws.
• The Beat covers some unrest at CEO-level in the comics space, as more of the boardroom scuffles faced by The Walt Disney Company are becoming public knowledge; and Heavy Metal announced the departure of former CEO Matthew Medney, amidst widespread reports of delayed payments to creators.
• Cartoonist Ted Richards, currently undergoing immunotherapy for small cell lung cancer, has launched a GoFundMe to cover medical, legal, and living expenses while unable to work during the treatment - you can donate to this here.
• In memoriam, remembering those the world of comics has lost, and news was shared that Gary Guzzo, former Director of Publicity of Marvel Comics, passed away at the start of this year, aged 69, due to lung cancer.
• News was also shared of the death of artist Jason Pearson, creator of Body Bags, who passed away at the end of last year, aged 52.
Get yourself some cool comics from @ssbcpunk and support them in these troubling times!https://t.co/F4buStXCrU
— kuš! 💧 (@kushkomikss) January 13, 2023
This week’s reviews.
• Laura Paul reviews the refreshing sincerity of Robert Nunn’s Earthman & Torch - “The original run and design wouldn’t exist if not for Nunn's wife, Erlinda, who deserves credit for spearheading a small print edition of his work in 1990. For a working class artist, the stops and starts to his efforts were significant, despite the couple also running an art gallery in Missouri a few decades before. Sometimes coherence has more to do with funding and support than desire or talent.”
• Greg Hunter reviews the sparkling appeal of Nick Pyle’s Fend - “In drawing Fend, Pyle utilized only pen, marker and paint pen, and the result is wonderfully counter-intuitive. The materiality of Pyle’s drawings as drawings is often evident; for example, a reader can spot the visual texture that results from one marker stroke atop another. But these materials make the story’s setting seem more expansive at the same time, especially in tandem with Pyle’s frequent use of negative space.”
• Andrew Isidoro reviews the interesting vignettes of DC’s Lazarus Planet: Assault on Krypton #1.
• Connor Boyd reviews the rushed fun of Joshua Williamson, Howard Porter, et al’s Batman: One Bad Day: Bane.
• Michael Guerrero reviews the spectacular payoff of Tom Taylor et al’s Nightwing #100.
• David Brooke reviews the charming team-ups of Jody Houser, Ze Carlos, Ibraim Roberson, Dave Wachter, et al’s Ms. Marvel: Fists of Justice.
• John Schaidler reviews the brilliant satire of Scott Burman, Eric Nguyen, et al’s White Savior #1.
• Ronnie Gorham reviews the racy humour of Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura's Immortal Sergeant #1.
• Rory Wilding reviews the blunt messaging of Chip Zdarsky’s Public Domain, Volume 1: Past Mistakes.
• Avery Kaplan reviews the effective details of Emma Grove’s The Third Person.
• Joe Grunenwald reviews the fantastic entertainment of Al Ewing, Kasia Nie, et al’s Wasp #1.
• Tom Baker reviews the uneven momentum of S. Craig Zahler’s Organisms from an Ancient Cosmos.
• John Aye reviews the amorphous beauty of María Medem's Zenith.
• Matthew Blair reviews the solid punches of James F. Wright, Phillip Johnson, et al’s Godzilla Rivals: Rodan vs. Ebirah #1.
• Jaina Hill reviews the exciting arrival of Kelly Thompson, Meredith McClaren, et al’s Black Cloak #1.
• Kobi Bordoley reviews the beautiful brutality of Michael Moreci, Nathan Gooden, et al's Barbaric: Hell to Pay #1.
New York Journal of Books
Myriam Steinberg reviews the gripping tapestry of Elizabeth Colomba and Aurelie Levy’s Queenie: Godmother of Harlem.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The accomplished ambition of Sammy Harkham’s Blood of the Virgin.
- The winning rhythm of Álvaro Ortiz’ Ashes, translated by Eva Ibarzabal.
- The fabulous visuals of Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot’s The Extraordinary Part 1: Orsay’s Hands, translated by M.B. Valente.
- The splendid complexities of Deena Mohamed’s Shubeik Lubeik.
Nhatt Nichols reviews the shifting layers of T Edward Bak’s Sea of Time.
Women Write About Comics
Lisa Fernandes reviews the opening intrigues of Adam Cesare, David Stoll, et al’s Dead Mall #1.
That's not all! Check out the 2023 TCAF poster for this year from one of our incredible featured guests: @kostiukwilliams! It's gorgeous 😍 pic.twitter.com/WXD2uphBPZ
— TCAF The Toronto Comic Arts Festival (@TorontoComics) January 17, 2023
This week’s interviews.
• Alex Dueben interviews John Vasquez Mejias about The Puerto Rican War, grade school comic creations, the allure of woodcutting, and figuring things out in the moment - “When I was in college I discovered that printmaking is this thing you can do. Instead of making one painting and selling it to one rich person for millions of dollars, you could make a lot of them and give them to a lot of people, my teenage brain thought. I could make a lot of things and give it to everybody! The most socialist thing. That was very appealing to me.”
• Zach Rabiroff interviews Big Bang Comics’ Bruno Batista about the current retail landscape, curating a family-friendly store, and the problems of the direct market - “As a shop, we’ve long stopped depending on single issues. We sell more graphic novels than we sell single issues. We sell a lot of action figures. The future of the comic shop is mostly going to be as pop culture shops. Shops that just sell single issues, I don’t think they’re sustainable in the long run. And it actually takes a lot more work now to sell comics than it did two years ago. There’s so many things with the different suppliers, it is actually more difficult to sell a single issue now than before.”
• David Canham speaks with Zack Kaplan, John Pearson, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou about Mindset, spoiling the series’ final twist, and utilising digital and traditional processes.
• Chris Coplay chats to Paul Allor about The Butterfly House, silent stories, abstracting personal questions, editorial accolades, and crowdfunding rewards.
• Cori McCreery talks to Nicole Maines and Leah Williams about Lazarus Planet: Assault on Krypton, favourite characters, and continuity contradictions.
• Deanna Destito interviews Christopher Sebela and Ben Hennessy about Godfell, collaborative processes, designing a god, and avoiding picking favourites.
• Joe Grunenwald chats to Joanne Starer about The Gimmick, life in and around the squared circle, the realities of wrestling's toll on the body, and depicting those who are broken.
Andy Oliver speaks with Eric Nguyen about White Savior, getting serious messages across through humour, and collaborative comics processes.
Paul Morton interviews Nick Drnaso about Acting Class, focusing on the practicalities, the competitive nature of art school, and trying to feel more kinship with people.
Rachel Cooke talks to Deena Mohamed about Shubeik Lubeik, the specificity of wishes, and breaking down the doctor-to-artist pipeline in families.
• Jim McLauchlin speaks with More Fun’s Tim Stoltzfus about retail lessons learned, the importance of networking, and finding a work/life balance.
• Brigid Alverson chats to Heavy Metal's Interim CEO Marshall Lees about taking on the role, the publisher's financial problems, and the company's ongoing plans in the face of ongoing upheaval.
Sarah Hotchkiss interviews Silver Sprocket’s Avi Ehrlich about the flooding of the store during December and January’s storms in the Bay Area, and the funding available to help cover damages.
Chris Cole speaks with Eric Nguyen about White Savior, universally funny ideas, working under the Marvel method, and wrestling analogies.
Emma Bowman talks to KC Green about ten years of ‘This Is Fine’, life after creating work that became a ubiquitous meme, and the origins of the original comic’s character.
Steven Heller speaks with Glenn Bray abo0ut Library, the source of the project and the collection it draws from, and how much didn’t make the cut.
• Meg Lemke chats with Julia Wertz about Impossible People: A Completely Average Recovery Story, and the decade-long process of making the book.
• Cheryl Klein interviews Adam Bessie about Going Remote, documenting the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of teachers during this, and living with a brain tumour.
• Rob Kirby talks to MariNaomi about I Thought You Loved Me, pandemic publishing struggles, and the visual metaphors of the book.
The Washington Post
Kelsey Ables speaks with KC Green about the tenth anniversary of Gunshow’s Question Hound going viral with ‘This Is Fine’, and how the original comic has been reframed during its memeification.
Tuesday January 24th at 2:30PM, artist TOMMI PARRISH joins us at the Roundhouse to present their free workshop HALF TRUTHS & TOTAL TRASH: MAKING COMICS FEEL ALIVE (WITHOUT LOSING YOUR HEAD)!
This workshop is FREE but extremely limited- info & tickets here:https://t.co/j5OudcIkcb pic.twitter.com/tQuT7A0XW6
— VanCAF (@VancouverComics) January 18, 2023
This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Jon Holt and Teppei Fukuda present a translation of Natsume Fusanosuke essay from Shūeisha's collected volume of Taniguchi Jirō's Summit of the Gods, contextualising Taniguchi's wider body of work and collaboration with Sekikawa Natsuo - "It truly seems that the relationship the two of them had was incredibly creative and ideal in the sense that each of them kept pushing the other to raise the levels of their respective arts. It is probably for that reason that Sekikawa and Taniguchi do not use the term “gensaku” (script) but “kyōsaku” (co-creation)."
• A new year brings with it a new chapter of Elizabeth Sandifer’s Last War in Albion, as book three continues with a shift in focus back to the work of one Alan Moore, namely the culmination of V for Vendetta, and the eventual screen adaptation of the comic which did little to repair its writer’s opinion of such endeavours.
• Brian Hibbs presents 2023's first Tilting At Windmills, over at The Beat, looking back on the year just gone, and how the retail space is changing, or failing to change, and repeating the problems of yesteryear.
• For ICv2, Milton Griepp writes on the career of Calvin Reid, who is retiring as Publisher’s Weekly’s Senior News Editor, after 36 years at the publication, and the impact Reid has had on the wider comics industry.
• The team at Women Write About Comics continue their round-up of favourite comics from 2022, this time out looking back on the year’s offerings from the big presses of the direct and book markets, and also provide a list of recent recommendations with which to ring in the new reading year.
• For Solrad, Rachel Lindsay writes on the impulse to create auto-bio comics, and the problems that externalising one’s personal life in this way can cause.
• Over at Broken Frontier, Will Betke-Brunswick provides creator commentary on A Pros and Cons List for Strong Feelings, and the processes that went into bringing the graphic memoir together.
• For Shelfdust, Steve Morris writes on The Immortal Iron Fist #16, and the manner in which Matt Fraction and David Aja chose to bid farewell to their time chronicling the life of Danny Rand; and Vannotes looks back on Emma Rios and Hwei Lim’s Mirror #6, and the example of successful collaborative play embodied by the comic.
• David Allen writes for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on the discovery of five original drawings by Carl Barks, by a reader of a previous piece profiling the artist.
• From the world of open access academia, Gideon K Frederick and Aditya Satyagraha present a paper from 2022’s Asia Digital Art & Design Association conference, outlining the need for a sustainable comics industry in Indonesia.
• Over at The Daily Cartoonist, Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s editorial beat, as illustrative focus was given to various classified documents and, uh, gas stoves.
Frontier #17: Lauren R. Weinstein pic.twitter.com/yaulIRsgbh
— Youth in Decline (@YouthinDecline) January 15, 2023
This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Sally Madden and Katie Skelly convened for a new episode of Thick Lines, looking back at the lives and work of Margaret Keane, Diane Noomin, and Aline Kominsky-Crumb, all of whom passed away in 2022.
• NPR’s Scott Simon spoke with Art Spiegelman about the newly reissued Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!, and the book’s return in an age of rampant book bannings in the US.
• David Harper was joined by Rob Guillory for this week’s Off Panel, as they spoke about Mosely, evolving careers, publishing partners, and keeping future-looking genre fiction relatable to the reading audience.
• Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg continued Cartoonist Kayfabe’s #content run, as they took a look at the artist’s edition of Barry Windsor-Smith’s Weapon X, DIY artist’s editions, 1995’s Wizard #51, the various titles of Caliber Comics, superhero doujinshi, and Darwyn Cooke’s Solo.
• John Siuntres continued a retrospective mini-series looking back at comics history on Word Balloon, presenting a 2018 conversation with Victor Gorlek on the history of Archie Comics; and also spoke in tribute to the career of Publisher’s Weekly’s Calvin Reid following the announcement that Reid will be retiring after over three decades at the publication, as well as sharing a recording of a 2016 conversation between the two of them.
• Speaking of Publisher’s Weekly, this week’s More to Come saw Heidi MacDonald sit down with David Ezra Stein to discuss new graphic novel Beaky Barnes: Egg on the Loose, and making the move from illustration to comics.
Recreation commission. pic.twitter.com/n1JvwgbMLk
— Evan Dorkin (@evandorkin) January 19, 2023
That’s all for this week, back soon with more, more, more, ever more.
Full calendar of this seasons events pic.twitter.com/c729HXtr52
— Domino Books (@DominoComics) January 18, 2023