Midnight in a Perfect World – This Week’s Links

And thus, as if by magic, January has passed in the mere blink of an eye, leaving one to ponder what other stories might have come to be, if a butterfly somewhere had flapped its wings twice instead of once, before drawing one’s gaze back to the mortal realm of constants, and realising that a fresh selection of links is waiting - and these aren’t hypotheticals - they need clicking posthaste! 

This week’s news.

• Starting off with what has become a recurring story, of late, and North Dakota lawmakers began consideration of a bill which would seek to ban books containing ‘sexually explicit content’, including, by the bill’s definitions, sexual preference and gender identity, with potential prison sentences for any librarians refusing to comply with the legislation, if passed - the wave of book-challenging and -banning in the US is continuing apace in 2023, and North Dakota currently has a raft of anti-LGBT legislative proposals under consideration.

• ICv2 shares news that Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment is seeking crowdfunding investment, via the Republic platform - Forbes has an interview chock-full of corporate exhortations to get involved in this latest, and presumably not last, round of handing over of legal tender to a business entity, if that is your wont.

• Manga translation switcheroo allegations news, and accusations of a bait-and-switch between the preview pages for Titan Comics’ translation of Toshiki Inoue and Hitotsu Yokoshima’s Kamen Rider Kuuga series, and the finished product, were flung around the internet this week, with readers claiming the translation as released makes for confusing reading at best - Titan Comics thanked fans for their input on the matter, before quickly realising this wasn't one of those situations and releasing a second statement promising to correct the translation errors.

• The Beat reports from the continent, as Emmanuel Guibert was elected to France’s Académie des Beaux-Arts, and is set to join the department of engraving and drawing, only the second-ever cartoonist to hold such a post; and the Angoulême Festival International de Bande-Desinée announced that Riad Sattouf is the winner of 2023’s Grand Prix.

• In upcoming comics awards deadline news, you have until January 30th to submit to this year’s Cartoonist Studio Prize, February 1st to submit to 2023’s Minicomics Awards, and April 30th to enter 2000 AD’s Art Stars competition.

• In memoriam, remembering those the world of comics has lost, and news was shared last week of the passing of cartoonist David Sutherland, a prolific artist for The Beano, aged 89 - The Beano paid tribute to Sutherland, who received an OBE for services to illustration last month, citing the cartoonist as one of the most important in the comic’s history.

This week’s reviews.


• Leonard Pierce reviews the shifting focus of Simon Hanselmann’s Below Ambition - “...you wouldn’t believe absurd moments like cruising for drugs to kill dental pain because you don’t have any insurance, grooving along with the one guy in the audience who inexplicably seems to like your band, or driving a rival group nuts by spreading a rumor that they’re Christians, unless you’d seen them in action.”

• Hagai Palevsky reviews the varied forms of Alan Moore’s Illuminations - “Yet Illuminations isn't a claim to perfection from a literary titan whose every word is thunderous and wondrous, but an exercise - and a mostly successful one. It serves as a reminder of Moore's oft-overlooked grounding; like the worlds he builds, he exists simultaneously in the sweeping cosmic gestures and in the minuscule and intimate.”



• Rory Wilding reviews the enjoyable evolution of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s Before Chainsaw Man: 17-21.

• Jason Segarra reviews the convoluted lore of Simon Spurrier, Jan Bazaldua, et al’s Legion of X.

• Alex Schlesinger reviews the emotive action of G. Willow Wilson, Jamie McKelvie, et al’s Batman: One Bad Day – Catwoman #1.

• Andrew Isidoro reviews the shining vignettes of DC’s Lazarus Planet: We Once Were Gods #1.

• David Brooke reviews the connective history of Kevin B. Eastman, Tom Waltz, Ben Bishop, S.L. Gallant, et al’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin –The Lost Years #1.

• Colin Moon reviews the faithful nostalgia of Amanda Diebert and Carlo Lauro’s Darkwing Duck #1.

• Connor Boyd reviews the refreshing mystery of Mat Groom, Erica D’Urso, et al’s Inferno Girl Red #1.


The Beat

• Zack Quaintance reviews the macabre fascinations of Richard Sala’s The Chuckling Whatsit.

• Eoin Rogers reviews the fizzing dynamism of Mike Mignola, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, et al’s Our Encounters With Evil and Other Stories.

• Avery Kaplan reviews the brutal hilarity of Leah Williams, Carlos Gómez, et al’s X-Terminators #5.

• Cori McCreery reviews the feline fancies of Tini Howard, Sami Basri, et al’s Catwoman #51; and G. Willow Wilson, Jamie McKelvie, et al’s Batman: Catwoman – One Bad Day #1.


Broken Frontier

• Lindsay Pereira reviews the powerful resonance of Barbara Brandon-Croft’s Where I’m Coming From.

• Andy Oliver reviews the diverse perspectives of Sensory: Life on the Spectrum, edited by Bex Ollerton.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan Carey reviews the harrowing authenticity of Lance Ward’s All That We Take With Us, and the amusing absurdity of Chad Bilyeu and Juliette de Wit’s The Re-Up #2.


Kirkus Reviews

Have starred capsule reviews of:

- The captivating nuance of Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter’s Squished.

- The beautiful execution of Betty C. Tang’s Parachute Kids.


Library Journal

Tom Batten has a starred capsule review of the mesmerising intensity of Yoshiharu Tsuge’s Nejishiki, translated by Ryan Holmberg.


Multiversity Comics

• Robbie Pleasant reviews the terrific tie-in of Gene Luen Yang, Bernard Chang, et al’s Monkey Prince #10.

• Chris Cole reviews the lively comedy of Scott Burman, Eric Nguyen, et al’s White Savior #1.

• Matthew Blair reviews the emotional depths of Kevin B. Eastman, Tom Waltz, Ben Bishop, S.L. Gallant, et al’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin –The Lost Years #1.



Helen Chazan reviews the trashy smut of Rei Taki’s Last Gender: When We Are Nameless, and the effective explorations of Kazuki Minamoto’s The Gay Who Turned Kaiju.


Women Write About Comics

Lisa Fernandes reviews the impressive variety of Boom! Studios’ Buffy ‘97.

This week’s interviews.


Zach Rabiroff interviews Joe Quesada about life after Marvel, filmmaking, happy accidents, and the realities of the comics business - “You know, I come from the world of creator-owned comics. If you look up really early interviews with me, I get asked the question a lot: “What is it that you miss the most now that you’re editor-in-chief?” And I'd say, you know, I miss the actual act of creating from scratch. I miss drawing. It’s kind of like a phantom limb, you know?”



• Chris Coplan talks to Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks about Action Comics #1051 and the Kent family unit; and to Joshua Williamson and Jamal Campbell about Superman #1 and acknowledging continuity.

• David Brooke speaks with Ram V about Detective Comics #1068 and what it means to save a city, and with Lambcat about Cursed Princess Club and adapting Webtoons for print.


The Beat

• Avery Kaplan and Rebecca/Oliver Kaplan interview Justin Hall about the documentary adaptation of No Straight Lines, and the tighter focus of the film compared to the book.

• Rebecca/Oliver Kaplan also interviews Paul Allor about Pink Midnight Presents: The Butterfly House, and weird fiction influences.

• Deanna Destito speaks with Chuck Brown about Dejah Thoris, and the fun of telling new stories set on Barsoom.



Josh Weiss talks to James Tynion IV about Blue Book, UFO conspiracies, and the truth not quite being out there like it used to be; and to Josh Bernstein and “Weird Al” Yankovic about The Illustrated Al: The Songs of “Weird Al” Yankovic, and getting to adapt the deep cuts.


Multiversity Comics

James Dowling chats with Tyler Boss about What’s the Furthest Place From Here?, writing processes, coming up with titles, and dream collaborations.



Dan Avery speaks with Justin Hall and Jennifer Camper about No Straight Lines, and the accessibility of comics for LQBTQ* storytellers.



Michel Martin interviews Michael Frizell about Female Force: Brittney Griner, and the athlete’s personal history that the book explores.



Oliver Sava chats with Robert Kirkman about Invincible’s 20th anniversary, channelling emotion through your stories, and managing expectations.


Publisher’s Weekly

Maurice Boyer talks to Stephane Metayer about Tephlon Funk, publishing deals, story origins, and character inspirations.


Smash Pages

JK Parkin speaks with Eric Nguyen and Scott Burman about White Savior, wanting to work on something funny, and giving the reader everything.


The Washington Post

Olivia McCormack interviews Alison Bechdel and Vivian Kleiman about No Straight Lines, queer comics history, and FCC Regulations.

This week’s features and longreads.

• Here at TCJ, Eric Reynolds writes in remembrance of the life and work of cartoonist Michael Dougan, who passed away this month - “Part of Michael's obscurity is because in 2006 a fire destroyed his house in Seattle, taking all of his art and archives—and in some ways his comics career—with it. He seemed to process what was a cartoonist's Worst Case Scenario better than most could have, but it also seemed to fuel a desire to move forward rather than look backward.”

• Also for TCJ, Tom Shapira looks back at Alan Moore and Alan Davis’ collaboration on Captain Britain, and the former’s eventual absence from the stories’ publishing credits, as is The Original Writer’s wont - “Moore’s scripts challenge Davis; he develops by leaps and bounds throughout. The battle between the reality-warping Jim Jaspers and the seemingly-unstoppable Fury is one for the ages: the characters shift; the scenery shifts; the mood shifts. You would expect so ‘controlled’ an artist to have a tough time with a character as visually exuberant as Jaspers, but Davis more than succeeds.”

• Finally for TCJ this week, Ritesh Babu writes on Ram V, Filipe Andrade, et al’s The Many Deaths of Laila Starr, depictions of death and immortality in comics, and the cultural and historical influences on the story - “To write a book set in India at the intersection of myth and mortality, whilst leaning on Hindu influences? It means you inevitably have to contend with and work the contemporary reality into the story, in some measure or another. It has to be reflected in some capacity in the work, otherwise you’re leaving out something crucial, something real that is so essential to this subject, because what these riots are is the prime intersection of myth and man. Men and their deployment of myth; men and their obsession with one interpretation of myth, wreaking havoc and doing untold damage.”

• The Beat has coverage of comics’ digital and physical domains, as Heidi MacDonald reports on the fallout of comiXology’s ongoing demise, while Brandon Schatz and Danica LeBlanc look ahead to the sights that 2023 may have to show retailers.

• For Solrad, Bradathon Nu has an essay on the work of Masaaki Nakayama, and how one goes about defining the quality of ‘creepiness’ in a creator’s stories.

• Over at The Gutter Review, Chloe Maveal writes in celebration of Larry Welz’s Cherry Poptart, and the pornographic punchlines punctuating those comics.

• Elizabeth Sandifer’s Last War in Albion continues, as the fallout from the film adaptation of V For Vendetta lands, and Moore’s working relationship with DC dissolves.

• From Cover to Cover’s Scott Cederlund writes on the recent writing endeavours of one Todd McFarlane, and how sometimes the pictures are best left to speak for themselves.

• Over at Shelfdust, Steve Morris looks back on 100 Bullets #100’s curtain call, and the frustrating dissatisfaction to be found in Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s finale; and Priya Sridhar examines deaths and the prevention of a death to be found in Neil Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg’s Sandman #16, and the wider Doll’s House arc.

• From the world of open-access academia, writing in Audiology Communication Research, Gabriel Rovadoschi Barros, Camila Dias Möller, Célia Helena de Pelegrini Della Méa, and Elenir Fedosse present results of using cut-up comic strips to facilitate a study of therapeutic practice when interacting with subjects with aphasia.

• For The Washington Post, Michael Cavna surveys the responses of political cartoonists to the alleged mishandling of various confidential documents by inhabitants of the White House.

• Over at The Daily Cartoonist, Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s editorial beat, as ink (and digital ink) was slung towards US debt, climate change, mass shootings, and the aforementioned classified documents.

This week’s audio/visual delights.

• Vivian Kleiman and Justin Hall’s documentary, No Straight Lines, received its broadcast premiere, featuring Alison Bechdel, Jennifer Camper, Howard Cruse, Rupert Kinnard, Mary Wings, and other queer cartoonists - it can be watched on the PBS website now.

• The New York Comics & Picture-Story Symposium returned for its spring slate of programming, as Austin English hosted a freeform talk from Victor Cayro which starts with Romper Stomper [1992, dir. Geoffrey Wright], and then charts a course through self-taught artistic processes.

• NPR’s Bullseye with Jesse Thorn saw Kate Beaton joining proceedings as this week’s guest, speaking about the making of Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands, and the decisions behind which memories made it into the book.

• Mangasplaining returned from winter break, and this week Deb Aoki hosted a discussion of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s very well selling Chainsaw Man, and the strangeness, or lack thereof, of the book having its origins in contemporary Shōnen Jump.

• SILENCE! also returned, as this week Gary Lactus welcomed Dark and Golden’s Douglas Noble and Tom Oldham to the show to speak about this publishing endeavour, and others, before the recording succumbs to the inevitable decay of entropy.

• A time for heroes in a half-shell on Cartoonist Kayfabe, as Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg spoke with Peter Laird about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and creator ownership, and hosted Laird giving a page-by-page creator commentary on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1.

• David Harper was joined by Polygon's Entertainment Editor Susana Polo for this week’s edition of Off Panel, as they spoke about the current media publishing landscape, and current comics reading for work and for fun.

• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come covered last week’s comics industry chaos, as Calvin Reid, Heidi MacDonald, and Kate Fitzsimons discussed the various stories of dismay and discontent in the digital comics space.

That’s your lot for this week - next time: Bah gawd, that’s February’s music!