Let’s Make The Water Turn Black – This Week’s Links

We’re headed into a holiday weekend, so I’ll keep this brief and then head off on my merry way to eat my body-weight in cheap chocolate, in order to celebrate a religious festival in the manner in which it was intended.

There was a whole bunch of April’s Foolsing going on yesterday across the comics internet, but none of that will be covered here - this is a serious business for serious people, as can be seen in This Week's Links, below.



Guaranteed 100% free of April Fools stories… This week’s news.

• Following last weekend’s WonderCon@Home virtual event, Comic Con International announced that this year’s (theoretically) in-person November San Diego event will be called Comic-Con Special Edition, and will take place over Thanksgiving weekend 2021, which creators weren’t particularly overjoyed about, so now we get a double-threat SDCC event with people complaining about not getting in and not wanting to get in. Nice.

• It’s mega-publisher season, apparently, as News Corp announced their acquisition of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s books and media segment, following recent protests by News Corp’s Chief Executive, Robert Thompson, who slated Penguin Random House/Simon & Schuster’s proposed merger as displaying “anti-market logic” after News Corp missed out on acquiring S&S themselves. If you can’t beat ‘em, make a deal that emulates ‘em, so you’re not forced to join ‘em.

• The Book Industry Charitable Foundation have announced the Survive to Thrive campaign, that aims to “provide substantial support to as many as 200 brick-and-mortar bookstores and comic shops in the U.S. that have a strong foundation in their community but are facing financial challenges due to the impacts of the pandemic”, and has gained an initial donation of 1 million dollars from various big hitters in publishing and distribution, many of whom are involved in the previous news item.

• ShortBox have announced this month’s recipients of their mini-grants program, as Juan Gee, Rut Pedreño, and Camilla Sucre receive awards under the scheme - next month’s application round opens on Monday.

• The National Cartoonist Society have revealed the shortlist for this year’s Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year, with Hilary B. Price, Ray Billingsley, Terri Libenson, Mark Tatulli, and Bill Griffith all in the running - The Daily Cartoonist rounds up the notable firsts that could occur when the winner is announced later this year.

• Scholastic have withdrawn any further publication of Dav Pilkey’s graphic novel The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, citing recognition that “this book perpetuates passive racism,” with Pilkey apologizing for the “harmful racial stereotypes” that appear in the book, and stating that the advance and royalties from the graphic novel will be donated to “various organizations dedicated to tackling racism against Asian people, and to promoting diversity in publishing” - Pilkey is a fixture on the GN bestseller charts, with Dog Man topping cross-channel franchise sales on a near-permanent basis for the last few years.

• The Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum have announced that Ho Che Anderson has donated "all of the original art, paintings and manuscript material from his graphic novel King: A Comics Biography Of Martin Luther King, Jr" to the museum - Anderson is quoted as being "thrilled by the idea…that a cartoonist’s work can be preserved until the sun goes supernova and offer the succeeding generations a means of education, inspiration and the thrill of viewing original comic book art.”

• As 2021 continues, ICv2 took a look back at 2020’s trends for comics retail, as year 1 of the pandemic saw nearly 10% of US stores “closed or invisible based on their digital footprints”, despite a strong end to the year for sales, and some stark contrasts between periodical publications and graphic novels as lockdowns progressed.



Bringing it all back home… This week’s reviews.


• Tom Shapira reviews the soaring empathy of Joshua Dysart, Alberto Ponticelli, Giulia Brusco, et al’s Goodnight Paradise - “It’s a cliché to say ‘the city is a character,’ so I won’t say it. Venice Beach isn't a character, but it is an interesting setting, partly because it has not been overused to death like New York or Chicago or Boston, and partly because the creative team actually seems to look at the place as more than stylish grounds for a final chase scene. If you want to tell a story about the people who’ve fallen through the cracks you need to show how these cracks got there. For that, Ponchielli and Brusco are a pretty good choice.”

• Nicholas Burman reviews the fraught abstractions of Chris Gooch’s Under-Earth - “Through the imperfections of his characters and the use of screentone I suspect that Gooch is influenced by alternative manga. However, there’s no stylistic distinction between the characters and their surroundings. They’re both cut from the same rugged cloth. His dystopian, underground world reminds me of Mega-City One’s Undercity in Judge Dredd, or some of the more violent depictions of Gotham City. The decaying infrastructure that epitomizes Delforge also calls to mind sequences from Martin Vaughn-James’s post-apocalyptic The Cage.”



• Daniel Berlin reviews the vibrant action of Jed MacKay, Ig Guara, et al’s Magic #1.

• Ronnie Gorham reviews the diverse horror of Joe Henderson and Lee Garbett’s Shadecraft #1.

• Nathan Simmons reviews the dark resolutions of Jim Zub, Robert Gill, Luca Pizzari, et al’s Conan the Barbarian Volume 1: Into the Crucible.

• David Brooke reviews the confused nightmare of Bart Sears, Michelle Sears, et al's Maiden #1.


The Beat

Avery Kaplan reviews the satisfying splendor of Matthew Erman, Lisa Sterle, et al’s Witchblood #1.


Broken Frontier

• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the weightless melodrama of Sina Grace, Omar Spahi, Jenny D. Fine, et al’s Getting It Together.

• Rebecca Burke reviews the intimate delicacy of Judith Vanistendael's The Two Lives of Penelope.

• Andy Oliver reviews the meandering complexities of Veronica Post’s Langosh & Peppi, the juxtaposed horrors of Douglas Noble and Sean Azzopardi’s I Woke Up Like This, and the insightful delights of Mikaël Ross’ The Thud translated by Nika Knight.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan C reviews the unique reveals of Thomas Stemrich and Patrick Keck’s Crusher Loves Bleeder Bleeder Loves Crusher #1.


The Guardian

Rachel Cooke reviews the daring portraits of Riad Sattouf’s Esther’s Notebooks: Tales from My Ten-Year-Old Life, translated by Sam Taylor.



Nick Smith reviews the believable delights of Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter’s Allergic.



Have starred capsule reviews of:

- The taut determination of Joel Christian Gill’s Tales of the Talented Tenth: Robert Smalls.

- The dazzling philosophy of Evan Dahm’s Island Book: The Infinite Land.

- The unique chills of Val McDermid and Kathryn Briggs’ Resistance.

- The burning profundity of Jim Benton’s Can You Hear A Penguin Fart On Mars?.

- The limpid delights of Liniers' Wildflowers.


Multiversity Comics

• Brian Salvatore reviews the stunning genius of Tim Sheridan, Rafa Sandoval, et al’s Teen Titans Academy #1.

• Kobi Bordoley reviews the noteworthy freshness of Todd Cinani, Oleg Okunev, et al’s Rabid World #1.

• Mark Tweedale reviews the traumatic closure of Jeff Lemire, Tate Brombal, Gabriel Hernández Walta, et al’s Barbalien: Red Planet #5.

• Christa Harader reviews the immersive nuance of Alex Paknadel, John Lê, et al's Giga #3.

• Alexander Jones reviews the unflinching experimentation of John Ridley, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, et al's The Other History of the DC Universe #3.



Jamey Keeton reviews the complicated dynamics of Alex Graham’s Dog Biscuits.


Publisher’s Weekly

Have capsule reviews of:

- The extraordinary intensity of Regina Hofer’s Fat, translated Natascha Hoffmeyer.

- The slick perspectives of Justin Jordan, Tyasseta, et al’s Breaklands Volume 1: The Chase.

- The shallow suspense of Ibrahim Moustafa’s Count.

- The faltering retread of Jennifer Brody and Jules Rivera’s 200.

- The complex wrinkles of Joe Ollman’s Fictional Father.



• Ryan Carey reviews the heartfelt wonder of Campbell Whyte’s Home Time.

• Sara L. Jewell reviews the beautiful rewards of Emma Hunsinger’s She Would Feel the Same.

• Rob Kirby reviews the unsettling necessity of Mannie Murphy’s I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.


Women Write About Comics

Jameson Hampton reviews the fitting ending of Shaun Simon, Gerard Way, Leonardo Romero, et al’s The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem #6.



I said ‘good day’, sir… This week’s interviews.


Joe Decie interviews Zara Slattery about Coma, avoiding creative contamination of memories, and the importance of graphic medicine - “There’s something neat about just focusing on the 15 days of my induced coma. Fifteen dark nights of the soul; journeying through the tempestuous world of a modern day purgatory. There’s a clear narrative with a clear end – and then I woke up, it was all a dream - which meant I could be objective in my approach.”



• Chris Coplan speaks with Mat Groom about Inferno Girl Red, the story clicking with the art, and the specifics of tokusatsu and kaiju.

• Chris Hassan celebrates 100 X-Men Mondays by talking to a lot of the people involved with creating Marvel’s current line of mutant periodicals.


The Beat

• Deanna Destito speaks with George C. Romero about Cold Dead War and staying true to his father’s legacy for undead media; and chats with Scott Bryan Wilson and Liana Kangas about Trve Kvlt and the total control of crowdfunding.

• Zack Quaintance interviews Gene Luen Yang about Batman/Superman, metafiction, and iterative Batmobile designs.

• Joe Grunenwald talks to Mat Groom about Inferno Girl Red, searching for artists, and creating the future.

Avery Kaplan speaks with Nate Powell about Save It For Later: Promises, Parenthood, and the Urgency of Protest, striking while the iron's hot, and the importance of being aware of the symbology of white supremacy.


Broken Frontier

Jenny Robins interviews Natasha Natarajan about FML, random encounters, and the joys of naming characters.


Creative Review

Rebecca Fulleylove talks to Leomi Sadler about Tummy Bugs, creating a library of one’s own work, making nihilism comforting, and the satisfaction of crappy bits of paper.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan C speaks with Alex Graham about Dog Biscuits, the early days of the pandemic leading up to the comic’s serialization on Instagram, and the mob mentality of comments sections.


The Guardian

Kim Willsher talks to Riad Sattouf about Esther's Notebooks, charting someone's childhood through comics in real-time, and the universality of youth.



Michael Tisserand interviews Charles Forsman about enduring movie influences, finding the community in comics, and the distillation of Charles M. Schulz.


Smash Pages

Alex Dueben speaks with G Romero-Johnson about SFSX: Terms of Service, manga origins, weird coincidences, and anthology projects.

• JK Parkin interviews Mat Groom about Inferno Girl Red, podcast beginnings, UK fantasy novel inspirations, and heading to crowdfunding to retain creative control.



Kristina Stipetic speaks with Olga Makarova about Gifts of Wandering Ice, Russian geography and the country's comics scene, and researching pandemics for a story before experiencing one in real-life.



Karama Horne talks to LL McKinney about Nubia: Real One, sword collections, fanfiction origins, and art as activism.


Women Write About Comics

Wendy Browne interviews Mat Groom about Inferno Girl Red, childhood and adult inspirations, creative processes, and resilient characters.



Webster’s defines ‘cartoons’ as… This week’s features and comics.

• Here at TCJ, Artyom Trakhanov rounds up where the comics industry is at when it comes to the blockchain, and just how fungible the pyramid scheme of NFTs really is - “The life of an artist is made of compromises, big and small. Every step of the way you submit yourself to exploitative systems, and the higher you get, the harder it becomes. You're a cartoonist? Wanna draw some comics? Welcome to the Big Two, where your dreams become propaganda for the American Military Complex. Don't want to participate? Don't want to go corporate? Good luck with those “below average” page rates. Do a Patreon, or a Kickstarter, maybe even an Onlyfans. Look closely at these platforms, and see the predatory practices they are ready to unleash on you – all in exchange for a modicum of “making a living” with your art.” PLUS: shenanigans in the comments.

• Also for TCJ, James Romberger dives into Abraham Riesman’s True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee, and deliberates on how much truth is enough (or too much) truth - “An oozing stain of disempowerment seeps into the book whenever it deals with Kirby. Jack's claims of authorship are supported right up front in the Overture, if unverified---no "smoking gun"---but Kirby's own statements about this crucial issue are disbelieved by Riesman, and sometimes disputed even by others who present as being on Kirby's side. Mark Evanier was Kirby's assistant for a few years in the early 70s, also knew Lee "personally and professionally for decades" and worked for the aborted Stan Lee Media; he offers some valuable anecdotes in these pages. But several times herein, Evanier also subverts Kirby's authorship claim.”

• A new Cartoonist’s Diary also arrived at TCJ this week, as François Vigneault spoils the reader with two weeks’ worth of travels on the Côte-Nord, which you can embark on here.

• Covering the nitty-gritty of this season’s big distribution deal, Milton Griepp breaks down the Marvel Comics/Penguin Random House partnership for ICv2, and the long-term strategizing that’s going on behind the scenes.

• Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Batman’s erstwhile lover, Talia al Ghul, 13th Dimension presents a guest column from Neal Adams on how you go about drawing “the most beautiful woman in the world”, or, more accurately, how you go about convincing the reader that they’re looking at a drawing of “the most beautiful woman in the world”.

• Over at NeoText, Chloe Maveal considers Alberto Breccia’s crown of chiaroscuro, and then gazes into the career of one who followed in his inked footsteps - Brian Bolland.

• Shelfdust has a further appearance from Maveal, covering the angriest space-cop of them all for Infinite Crisis, while Tom Shapira bends the rules and makes the case for Johnny Alpha being the heir apparent to the mantle of X.

• Mike Peterson continues The Daily Cartoonist’s coverage of the editorial cartooning beat, as 2021’s Transgender Day of Visibility arrives, a stuck boat is a metaphor too big to resist, the House changing hands isn't doing much for migrant detention, and cash money remains at the heart of it all.

• Think of a very big number, double it, then recognize that this number will still pale into insignificance compared to the number of comics that Wolverine appeared in in the 80s.

• Some open-access academia from the week, as Chan Jin Vei and Krishnavanie Shunmugam publish a paper on the translation of address terms or name labels in Spider-Man comics from English to Malay, and De Gruyter’s Queer Studies series presents Kai Linke’s book Good White Queers? Racism and Whiteness in Queer U.S. Comics.

• On the longform comics front, Arwen Donahue documents the realities of farm-to-table for The Nib, LA Johnson and Eda Uzunlar continue NPR’s series on teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Meanwhile, for The Lily, Tenzing Lhamo Dorjee shares a response to the constant threat of anti-Asian violence in America, and Dabin Han explores the racialised violence at the heart of the US experience.



Let them fight… This week’s recommended watching.

• As last weekend saw a virtual convention take place, so this weekend means you have a glut of virtual panels to peruse from WonderCon@Home 2021, if that takes your fancy - be warned, however, there were a lot of them.

• The Black Mountain Institute and The Believer’s latest comics workshop saw JS Wu taking viewers through doodling as a distraction and as a way to decompress.

• CBS’ This Morning got some real knowledge, for a piece about female superheroes, speaking to Trina Robbins about the representation of women in Big 2 comics, and the inherent sexism it embodies.

• Noah Van Sciver was joined by Brian ‘from Bubbles Zine’ Baynes and (eventually) John Porcellino for a laidback livestream, as they discussed the realities of online retail, what constitutes a viable comics market, and the evolutionary history of art comics.

• The infinite reading list of Cartoonist Kayfabe continued, as Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg turned the pages of The Bill Sienkiewicz Sketchbook, Peter Bagge’s The Megalomaniacal Spider-Man, Batman vs Predator, Jim Lee’s X-Men: Artist’s Edition, Hewlett and Martin’s The Cream of Tank Girl, and some more Watchmen.

• Korean Literature Now share an interview with Keum Suk Gendry-Kim on why physical comic art matters, discovering the power of comics through translating, and feeling undervalued due to public perceptions of graphic novels.

• Comix Experience presented the March edition of The Kid’s Graphic Novel of the Month Club, as Brian Hibbs spoke to Skottie Young about Strange Academy, and his career with the big players in the direct market.

• A few trips in the Word Balloon, as John Siuntres spoke with Alex Segura about crowdfunding The Dusk, Chip Zdarsky about his work-for-hire and creator owned projects, and Joe Henderson about new series Shadecraft.



The last waltz… This week’s easy-listening.

• This week’s Thick Lines featured Sally Madden and Katie Skelly answering some listener questions, and some advice on both tertiary and preschool education.

• The hills were once more alive with the sound of SILENCE! as Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die covered the strange comics career of Jack Kirby, and weird British comics magazines, plus discussion of Zachary Edward Snyder’s Justice League.

• Also covering the topic of 4 hour superhero epics was Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come, and Heidi MacDonald, Calvin Reid, and Kate Fitzsimmons also found time to cover the issue of what’s going on with comics’ newest distribution monopoly.

• 2000 AD’s Lockdown Tapes recorded with Tiernen Trevallion, as MOLCH-R spoke with him about his evolving style, clear spirits, and keeping things fresh.

• Deb Aoki hosted this week’s episode of Mangasplaining, as the team looked at the first volume of Kiyohiko Azuma’s preternaturally positive series Yotsuba&!, and the specifics of reading manga, and manga collections.

• David Harper welcomed Ram V to Off Panel for episode 300, as they discussed The Many Deaths of Laila Starr, engineering, Swamp Thing, and how you go about balancing project deadlines.

• Michael DeForge joined Gil Roth for this week’s Virtual Memories show, as they spoke about Heaven No Hell, activism in art, and the challenges of daily comics.

• War Rocket Ajax welcomed Kyle Starks aboard to talk up The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton, a year (and counting) without conventions, and Skybound deals.

WNYC's Anna Sale spoke with Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan about Let's Talk About It, for All Of It, discussing what most sex-ed books miss out.



That’s all for this week! Time to go and roll an egg down a hill. TRADITIONS.