May You Live In Interesting Times – This Week’s Links

I’ll say one thing for trying to keep an eye on a lot of different comics news sources all at once - it really gives you some nice low-impact training for injecting pure uncut election news directly into your eyeballs for hours at a time, as the voice in your head, the one that cries out “you should probably get some sleep and/or fresh air now”, slowly fades away, to be replaced by the CNN ‘Breaking News’ theme.

Relatedly - this column is henceforth renamed This Week’s Links Total Landscaping.

Read on, Macduff!



Seriously though, that press conference was insane… This week’s news.

• There were big personnel stories from both sides of the direct market aisle this week, first from Marvel, as they experienced a parting of the ways with former Publisher John Nee, who was laid off as part of widespread cutbacks at Disney; meanwhile, over at DC, Marie Javins was promoted to Editor-in-Chief as part of ongoing restructuring at the Burbank publisher of superhero stories, while more redundancies were in the offing at the company, as parent corp WarnerMedia continues its “painful” streamlining efforts.

• The Society for Comic Studies and Committee for Studies at the German Society for Media Studies have opened the call for papers for the Martin-Schüwer-Prize for Excellence in Comics Studies - open to writings on comics no longer than an article or book chapter, published between January 1st 2019 and December 31st 2020, with a submission deadline of March 31st 2021, the prize aims to “create more visibility for comics-related research, promoting and communicating its importance to a wider public” - the full English-language call for papers, with more details of the prize, including €500 to the winner, can be found here.

• Drawn & Quarterly announced the results of their fundraising efforts via sales of R. Sikoryak's The Unquotable Trump, 25% of net proceeds from the sales of which was earmarked for donation to the ACLU, generating $11,000 since 2017, which has now been donated.

• Via Broken Frontier, Lawrence Lindell and Breena Nuñez have announced a new publishing endeavor, Laneha House, a small press that will be the official home for The BAYlies comics anthology, along with other titles by Lindell and Nuñez.

• While COVID-19 vaccine efficacy news starts to filter through from clinical trials around the world, convention organizer ReedPop is hedging its bets, moving events slated to take place in the first half of 2021 to December 2021 at the earliest, as virtual conventions look likely to be a staple of the summer months again, following this year’s lockdown-imposed trial runs.

• Another week, another story about a comics art theft, which I’m hoping isn’t going to become a running theme. But it is 2020 after all, as 45 pieces of original art by John Buscema have been stolen from the artist’s daughter, Dianne Buscema-Gerogianis - you can find more info on the pieces here, and it’s likely they could end up on reselling sites in the near future.

• A comics story that I feel duty-bound to report on as a resident of the United Kingdom, as Rupert the Bear, created by Mary Tourtel, celebrates his 100th birthday this year, along with other residents of the village of Nutwood - comic strips starring the friendly ursine are still in publication, currently drawn by Stuart Trotter, with around 50 million copies of books of his adventures having been sold worldwide.



It keeps coming, til the day it stops… This week’s reviews.


• Nicholas Burman reviews the charming road-trip that Zoe Thorogood invites readers on in The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott, offering respite from the seemingly unending march to Brexit - “It’s surprising that given all the bad things that may well happen [in the UK] over the next twelve months, many of the negative effects of which will mostly affect younger generations, a new book by a relatively young author delivers a positive visualization of the present and near future. Perhaps this is going to be our new survival mechanism moving forward, it’s not like dour realism has helped us much in a material sense.”

• Joe McCulloch embodies DC’s spirit of chaos, spoiling the major beats and reviewing, Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok, et al’s Batman: The Three Jokers, as the specter of Alan Moore is once more summoned to the Multiverse to be bothered and cajoled - “Three Jokers is not a superhero comic like those earlier [Geoff Johns] titles, though; there’s plenty of fighting and violence, but its cadence is not exactly that of an ongoing serial, or something meant to ride on sheer sensation. It's an essay on the nature of the Joker, and the pain he has caused to various Batman characters, but constructed from the same building blocks as Johns' other works: the moments, the literalism - and this is how its accrual of stuff becomes absurd.”

• Toussaint Egan reviews the in-vogue cyberpunk showcasing of the first in Peow’s new anthology series, Ex.Mag #1: Full Metal Dreamland, edited by Wren McDonald, and presenting an enjoyable initial showing - “As far as genre-based anthologies go, Ex.Mag #01 is about as strong as they come. With a generous assortment of stories crafted by artists playing within and apart from the bounds of what is typically considered the conventions of cyberpunk. Ex.Mag #01 is an oddball assortment of funny, adventurous, and entertaining comics, but without a clear thesis around which to hone its considerable roster of talents around, it ends up reading like a partial equation of what McDonald set out to create.”



• Christopher Franey reviews the old and the new for DC, with the return of Carol Ferris in Grant Morrison, Liam Sharp, et al’s The Green Lantern: Season 2 #9, and the flawed setup of James Tynion IV, Sam Johns, et al’s Punchline #1.

• Alexandra Iciek reviews the hindered fun of Michel Yves-Schmitt and Vincent Caut’s Where Are You Leopold?: The Invisibility Game.

• Arbaz M. Khan reviews the emotional flow of Saif Ahmed and Fabiana Mascolo’s Yasmeen #1-3.

• Jordan Richards reviews the modern strengths and contemporary weaknesses of Carl Barks’ Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Under the Polar Ice.

• Nathan Simmons reviews the bombastic disconnect of Matthew Erman, Shelby Criswell, et al’s Terminal Punks #1.

• Ben Morin reviews the gripping cinematics of Mike Mignola, Adam Hughes, et al’s Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. The Seven Wives Club.


The Beat

Avery Kaplan reviews the surprising rewards of Bill Holbrook and H.H. Glynn’s Dethany and the Other Clique, and the grounded bizarreness of Matthew Erman, Shelby Criswell, et al’s Terminal Punks #1.


Broken Frontier

• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the toxic inferiority complex of Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, et al’s Crossover #1.

• Andy Oliver reviews:

 - The immersive majesty of Alex Paknadel, John Lê, et al’s Giga #1.

 - The tragicomic pathos of Joe Stone’s Neurotic Fiction #1.

 - The non-conformist escapism of Fraser Geesin’s Journey to the Surface of the Earth #2.

 - The haunting poignancy of Peony Gent’s For Sarah.

- The vibrant relationships of Katriona Chapman's Breakwater.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan C reviews the audacious ingenuity of Miles MacDiarmid’s Exit, the fascinating cartooning of Alex Nall’s Kids With Guns No. 3, the refined confidence of Hyena Hell's No Romance in Hell, the niche hijinks of Tenacious D aka Jack Black and Kyle Gass’ Post-Apocalypto.


The Guardian

Rachel Cooke reviews the latest ‘Graphic Novel of the Month’, selecting the joyous intimacy of Yeong-shin Ma’s Moms, translated by Janet Hong.


Multiversity Comics

• John Schaidler reviews the dazzling intuitiveness of Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, et al’s Crossover #1.

• Michael Mazzacane reviews the elliptical intertextuality of Matt Hawkins and Yishan Li’s Swing vol. 3.



Ryan Carey reviews the psychedelic speculation of Paolo Baron and Ernesto Carbonetti’s Paul Is Dead: The Day The Beatles Lost McCartney.



Sara Century reviews the complex horrors of Jordie Bellaire and Vanessa R. Del Rey’s Redlands.


Women Write About Comics

• Melissa Brinks reviews the fresh tragedy of Simon Spurrier, Matías Bergara, et al’s John Constantine: Hellblazer #10.

• Paulina Przystupa reviews the heavy-handed expansiveness of Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, Dev Pramanik, et al’s Dune: House Atreides #1.

• Stephanie Halmhofer reviews the contemporary layers of Mark Sable, Giorgio Pontrelli, et al’s Miskatonic #1.

• Doris V. Sutherland reviews the engaging hallucinations of Carmen Maria Machado, Dani, et al’s The Low, Low Woods.

• Masha Zhdanova reviews the restrictive formatting of Macroverse's digital presentation of Jason Brubaker's Phobos.



You don’t need to do the accent… This week’s interviews.


Gary Groth interviews Katie Skelly about her new book, Maids, her interest in the crime it depicts and the trauma surrounding it, who may ultimately be to blame for what occurred, high regard of Isabelle Huppert, and honoring the complexity of stories grounded in reality - “I do feel annoyed when I read things now that feel like they’re supposed to be parables instead of stories. Do you know what I mean? Everything is supposed to be instructive and hitting you over the head. ‘This behavior is good and this behavior is bad. This is a victim and this is not.’”



• In the first of many interviews to celebrate the book finally reaching publication, David Brooke talks to Adam Hughes about his work on Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Seven Wives Club, the delays the book faced, the dangers of Google image research, and the necessary escapism of horror stories.

• Alex McDonald interviews Stuart Moore about his new book, Captain Ginger: Dogworld, with June Brigman, the SF touchstones the story is drawing on, and the pressures associated with killing off anthropomorphic characters.


The Beat

Zack Quaintance talks to Adam Hughes about drawing Spanish moss for Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Seven Wives Club, the absence of any Krampus-connection, and chronology of the Mignolaverse.


Broken Frontier

Andy Oliver interviews Jenny Robins about new book Biscuits (assorted), her background in UK small press comics, and winning the Myriad First Graphic Novel competition.


The Guardian

Killian Fox talks to Yuval Noah Harari about stepping into the spotlight for the graphic adaptation of his book Sapiens, with Daniel Casanave and David Vandermeulen, and the specificity that illustrations require.



Hakim Bishara interviews Edel Rodriguez about political cartooning in 2020, the constant inspiration of the 45th President of the United States of America, and his political perspective as a Cuban immigrant.


Multiversity Comics

Mark Tweedale talks to talks to Adam Hughes about Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Seven Wives Club, getting the band back together with Mike Mignola, and setting the horror in the state of Georgia. 


Smash Pages

A couple of recent interviews from Alex Dueben, talking to Gerardo Alba about his recent anthology work, and taking on the role of Editor of the Latin American division of Webtoon; and chatting with editor Mark Siegel about First Second’s line of nonfiction graphic novels, World Citizen Comics, and the importance of educational comics in the modern reading landscape.



• Nicholas Burman interviews Genie Espinosa about being a comics lifer, color craziness, moving into mural work, and why curiosity is only deadly for cats.

• Daniel Elkin presents the latest installment of ‘Knowing is Half the Battle’, as Eric Kostiuk Williams gives his hard-sell for self-publishing, and what to ask for when writers and/or publishers come a-calling about collaborations (ie money).



Kara Ortiga talks to Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo about their path from self-publishing to Netflix adaptations, as their Filipino crime comic Trese gets the animation treatment, along with an international distribution push for the source material.



Excerpted from a longer audio discussion, Dhany Osman talks to Sonny Liew about choosing to tackle the big topics via the medium of graphic novels, putting the cartooning front-and-centre, and the state of Singaporean governmental support for the arts.



Let’s face it, you need more tabs to open, we both know it… This week’s features and comics.

• Here at TCJ, Simon Abrams presents an emphatically not safe for work (and I'll emphasize the Not part there) look at the comics work of one Glenn Danzig, in such titles as Verotika, Satanika, Jaguar God, and Igrat X, and what one can expect to find nestled betwixt their covers - "You might remember Verotika #4 in particular from State v. Kennedy and Hunter, better known as the Planet Comics case, a well-publicized mid-‘90s court battle that led Oklahoma-based comic shop owners John Hunter and Michael Kennedy to close their store, and, after a prolonged legal battle, to plead guilty to two felony charges, including “trafficking in obscenity”, for which they were sentenced to a three-year deferred prison sentences and $1500 in fines per person." Again, not safe for work.

• For The Middle Spaces, Osvaldo Oyola presents the second part of an essay on Tyroc, only the third Black superhero published in a DC comic by 1976, and the problematic manner in which the character is repeatedly defined and othered by solely by being a non-white character, and the wider issue of DC’s track-record with Black characters and depicting Blackness in their superhero output in the 70s and beyond.

• Over at NeoText, Chloe Maveal has an essay on the evolution of periodical comics from wartime pick-me-ups to military-recruitment propaganda-tools to anti-war polemics, while Benjamin Marra presents an intro to a gallery of Earl Norem covers.

• AIPT has a piece from Chris Coplan on the crowdfunding kerfuffle that’s been kicking off in recent months, as battle-lines are drawn as to who should have access to the lucrative extra-direct market, during a span of time when stores may not be safe to visit, and what’s the deal with publishers anyways.

For Monkeys Fighting Robots, Darryll Robson has an essay on the core issue when it comes to comics academia - what actually is a comic, and how do semantic issues for the medium affect its study? Comics is as comics does, as the saying goes, or should go.

• Appropriately for 2020, it appears the election will last a full calendar year, compressed into two calendar months (lawsuits pending), and The Daily Cartoonist rounds up the eternal vigil of the editorial cartoonists, except on Sundays, but even the funny strips can’t escape voting. Zip!

• House to Astonish’s exhaustive Wolverine chronology continues, and boy oh boy was he busy between the years 1974-1975, well, he became busy over the years between those years, and… look, it’s canon, just take the hit.

• 13th Dimension presents a new Spider’s Web from Alex Segura, looking back this time at Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz’ work following up the Stern/Romita Jr run on Amazing Spider-Man with the cool black and white costume. Coooool.

• ShelfDust’s week saw Charlotte Finn visit the 70s for Astro City #45, Steve Morris visit Marvel legislature in Amazing Spider-Man #550, Luke Herr visit a classic bit of moral absolutism in Infinite Crisis, Rosie Knight visit Gotham's No Man's Land also for Infinite Crisis, and Claire Napier visits The Night for a look back at ShadowHawk #1.

• Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was a lot of comics election coverage this week, but Steve Brodner had a good round-up of the greatest hits, from a weird 7 days, for The Nation.

• Solrad added a new comic to their Presents… line-up, welcoming into the fold work from the Humdrum Collective, based out of Israel, kicking things off with Omer Hoffman’s This Story Is not About Me.

• For The New Yorker, in an extract from A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection, Steve Martin and Harry Bliss document how their collaboration came about, and how it’s not just fun and games, the gag business.

• Over at The Nib, Ben Passmore sees a crisis of confidence for a certain Avenger.



Never not looking at a screen... This week’s recommended watching.

• A couple for younger creators this week, as The Phoenix have made available a treasure-trove of free resources for budding comic makers, and First Second present a new edition of #SketchSchool as Jason Walz takes viewers through drawing The Sheriff from GN series Last Pick.

• Noah van Sciver's cartoonist chats return this week, as he spoke to Uncivilized Books' Tom Kaczynski about keeping it together while creating and publishing books during COVID-19, chess club stories, and the cruel realities of book sales; and the roles were then reversed as Adam Clayton-Holland interviewed van Sciver about new book Please Don't Step On My JNCO Jeans, as part of a virtual launch party for Floating World Comics.

• Hallowe'en has been exorcised for one more year, and so Cartoonist Kayfabe are back to regular ol' comics, as opposed to spooky ol' comics, this week looking at Art Adams on Longshot, Jim Steranko on Chandler: Red TideBarry Windsor-Smith on Weapon XShotaro Ishinomori on Zelda comics in Nintendo Power, Gil Kane's Savage!, and the screaming faces of Darker Image #1.

• Continuing something of a comics YouTube crossover event this week, Shawn Crystal and Jim Mahfood welcomed Jim Rugg to Inkpulp to talk all things Octobriana the perils of shipping comics, and Rugg's changing styles between (and within) projects.

• Concluding this week's crisis on infinite tubes, Inkpulp then crossed over with Word Balloon, as Shawn Crystal and John Siuntres discuss pivoting to video, career worries and making bank, and the inside baseball of podcast and video editing.

• A couple of short comics pieces from the mainstream media this week, as CBS had a pice on Steve Martin and Harry Bliss' cartooning collaboration; and Deutsche Welle interviews the current creators of the Lucky Luke series, as the 77th installment, A Cowboy in High Cotton, introduces the first Black sheriff in the book's 74-year history.

• Presented by Barnes & Noble, Faith Erin Hicks and Gene Luen Yang discuss their work on Avatar: The Last Airbender comics, and take viewers through analogue and digital drawings of characters from the series.

• ICv2's Insider Talks comics track took place a couple of of weeks back, and videos from the day are up online to view, including a discussion with the AWA Studios team on making comics during and for a pandemic, and Calvin Reid interviewing Keith Knight about his comics making their way to TV, why now is the perfect moment for that, and maintaining momentum from this year's protests.



Headphones on for the best possible experience... This week’s easy-listening.

• Comic Books are Burning in Hell returns, and this episode Tucker Stone, Matt Seneca, Chris Mautner, and Joe McCulloch are discussing all things CF - new CF, old CF, making readers who don't like alt-comics read CF and admit that maybe they do - and there's a director's commentary for Joe's recent piece on Homme Chauve-Souris: Les Trois Jokers.

• This week also saw the return of SILENCE! and Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die caught up on recent Green Lanternings and the work of Charles Burns, as well as the dichotomy of Frank Miller.

• A podcast you can get in on the ground floor of, as this week saw the first episode of Ramon Villalobos and Daniel Irizarri's Mex Flentallo (great name, 10/10), as they discuss 45's engagement with the Latino population, before diving into diving into their respective careers and how they got started on the path to comic books, as well as the current state of the industry.

 Shelfdust's Presents podcast looked back at All-Star Superman #1 this week, as Matt Lune and august (in the wake of) dawn discuss the 12 issue victory lap by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Jamie Grant, and Phil Balsman.

• MOLCH-R welcomed Rob Williams and Chris Weston to 2000 AD's Lockdown Tapes this week, as they discuss new friends and enemies and frenemies for Judge Joseph Dredd in Judge Dredd: Control.

• Trung Le Nguyen joined David Harper for this week's episode of Off Panel, as they discussed new book The Magic Fish, autobio and fairy tales, and the comics scene in Minnesota.

 Publisher's Weekly's More to Come returned this week, and it was a busy one, as Heidi MacDonald, Calvin Reid, and Kate Fitzsimons discussed the best graphic novels of the year, racism at DC, and in-person comic conventions during a time when you probably shouldn't do those really, eh.



What does next week hold? I have absolutely no idea, and anything I predict would likely pale in comparison to whatever nonsense actually takes place, but let’s find out *together*.