Natural’s Not In It – This Week’s Links

I spent a tense morning earlier this week watching live coverage of India successfully delivering a rover to an unexplored area on the surface of the moon, and now I’m struggling to connect to wi-fi on board a train to write these very words, which is proof if proof be need be that the system works, and that this week’s links, below, are the most vital of payloads to be dispatched that one could ever hope to imagine.

This week’s news.

• Beginning the week’s selection with a look to the burgeoning field of AI copyright law, or lack thereof, and U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell last week upheld an earlier decision by the U.S. Copyright Office that the products of generative AI systems are not generally protected by U.S. copyright law, which can only apply to “works of human creation.”

• Returning to the other hot topic of legal discourse in 2023, namely antitrust cases, and ICv2 shares details of an open letter from the American Booksellers Association, the Authors Guild, and the Open Markets Institute in support of the FTC’s planned lawsuit against Amazon, as the e-commerce megacorp is likely to be targeted for its anti-competitive practices relating to its Prime subscription model, and the penalties it imposes on sellers who don’t utilise the company’s proprietary logistics systems, or those who seek to promote other platforms as part of their business.

• Finishing out this week’s legal dispatch, TorrentFreak reports on the latest DMCA filing brought by a manga publisher in an American court, as Kadokawa seeks to identify the developer/s of piracy apps made available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store - Google recently processed its seventh billion website takedown request since records began of its DMCA removal tracking system back in 2012.

• Awards news, and The Beat shares Cartoon Crossroads Columbus' announcement that the winner of 2023's Tom Spurgeon Award is Calvin Reid, who recently retired from the post of senior news editor at Publisher's Weekly - this is the third annual Tom Spurgeon Award, which honors those who have made substantial contributions to the field of comics, but are not primarily cartoonists.

• Elsewhere, Kathleen Glosan, Production Manager for Cartoon Books, shared the news that Jeff Smith is recuperating from a cardiac arrest which occurred on Sunday - Smith had been part way through a book tour at the time, the remainder of which has been cancelled.

• In memoriam, remembering those the world of comics has lost, and news was shared of the passing of artist and inker Dan Green, who has died at the age of 70, with extensive tributes paid on social media to the lasting influence of Green’s work.

This week’s reviews.


• Leonard Pierce reviews the appealing sprawl of Drew Lerman’s Escape from the Great American Novel - “It’s Lerman’s first major attempt at an ongoing narrative, his first truly coherent work from a story standpoint, and an artistic progression that doesn’t entirely shed the qualities that make his drawing a love-it-or-leave-it proposition, but which builds and advances what he’s good at (his interiors in particular are hugely improved, and there’s a sense of motion and energy present that speaks of an artist really coming to understand and expand what he can do) without losing anything or getting overly polished, which would be a fate worse than death for Snake Creek.”

• Tegan O’Neil reviews the thoughtful excellence of Emma Jon-Michael Frank’s I Never Found You - “Frank’s work is raw and expressive. Purposefully primitive, intentionally ugly. Makes sense for a story like Egbert’s. The narrative remains tightly on Egbert’s life and adventures; we hear his thoughts throughout. The pictures form something like free indirect discourse, to use a hoary old technical term - not precisely Egbert’s view of the world, considering just how ugly and sordid his own actions, how unvarnished his rationalizations. But close enough. We see all the painful little ironies very clearly, even as Egbert manifestly does not.”



• Connor Boyd reviews the engaging mystery of Tom King, Rafael de Latorre, et al’s The Penguin #1.

• David Brooke reviews the rousing finale of Tom Taylor, Yasmine Putri, et al’s Dark Knights of Steel #12.

• Keigen Rea reviews the entertaining core of Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, Stefano Caselli, et al’s Infamous Iron Man.

• Jonathan Jones reviews the rewarding explorations of Louise Simonson, Bernard Chang, et al’s Jean Grey #1.

• Ronnie Gorham reviews the riveting action of Doug Wagner, Doug Dabbs, et al’s Klik Klik Boom #3.

• Collier Jennings reviews the inventive juxtapositions of Ryan Stegman, Kenny Porter, Tyrell Cannon, et al’s The Schlub #1.

• Connor Christiansen reviews the inherent problems of Cavan Scott, Ario Anindito, Andrea Broccardo, et al’s Star Wars: The High Republic Phase II Vol.2 — Battle for the Force.

• Timothy O’Neil reviews the educational variety of Susumu Higa’s Okinawa, translated by Jocelyne Allen, Andrew Woodrow Butcher, and Christopher Butcher.


The Beat

• Zack Quaintance reviews the strong start of Tom King, Rafael de Latorre, et al’s The Penguin #1.

• Cy Beltran reviews the thunderous fantasy of Al Ewing, Martín Cóccolo, et al’s The Immortal Thor #1.

• Khalid Johnson reviews the cartoonish dynamism of Ryan Stegman, Kenny Porter, Tyrell Cannon, et al’s The Schlub #1.

• Michael Kurt reviews the fascinating worldbuilding of Simon Spurrier, Charlie Adlard, et al’s Damn Them All Volume 1.

• Ricardo Serrano Denis reviews the dark twists of Salvatore Simeone, Kenny Porter, Szymon Kudranski, et al’s Lonesome Days, Savage Nights: The Manning Files Volume 2.


Broken Frontier

Andy Oliver reviews the ethereal experimentation of Gareth Brookes’s mini kuš! #115: Gym Gains, the eerie broodiness of Darin Shuler’s mini kuš! #116: Piggy Fire, and the intelligent meditations of Ana Margarida Matos' mini kuš! #117: Grapefruit.


Discourse and Communication

Shuoyu Fang reviews the comprehensive overview of Discourses, Modes, Media and Meaning in an Era of Pandemic: A Multimodal Discourse Analysis Approach, edited by Sabine Tan and Marissa K. L. E.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan Carey reviews the deft innovations of Lily Thu And Generoso Fierro’s CHUA.


From Cover to Cover

Scott Cederlund reviews the transportive visuals of Tradd Moore and Heather Moore's Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise.


House to Astonish

Paul O’Brien has capsule reviews of Marvel Comics’ X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #100, X-Men: Red #14, Dark X-Men #1, Uncanny Avengers #1, Alpha Flight #1, X-Men: Days of Future Past – Doomsday #2, Marvel’s Voices: X-Men #1, and Love Unlimited Infinity Comic #63.


Kirkus Reviews

Have starred capsule reviews of:

- The warm dynamics of Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann's Look On the Bright Side.

- The shining storytelling of Chiara Lagani and Mara Cerri's adaptation of Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend, translated by Ann Goldstein.


Multiversity Comics

• Joe Skonce reviews the lacklustre mediocrity of Andrew Maclean, Jake Smith, et al’s Godzilla: War For Humanity #1.

• Gregory Ellner reviews the dynamic pacing of Ed Brisson, Scott Godlewski, et al’s Alpha Flight #1.

• Alexander Jones reviews the haunting intensity of Dan Watters, Riccardo Federici, Mike Perkins, Stefano Raffaele, et al's Knight Terrors: Detective Comics #2.

• Mark Tweedale reviews the impressive scale of Jérôme Hamon, Suheb Zako, et al’s Dreams Factory, translated by Jeremy Melloul.


Publisher’s Weekly

Have capsule reviews of:

- The eloquent episodes of Daniel Clowes’ Monica.

- The heartfelt expressiveness of Pablo Roca’s Memoirs of a Man in Pajamas, translated by Andrea Rosenberg.

- The harrowing intensity of Nicholas Breutzman’s Phil Hill.

- The adept disorientation of Jean-Christophe Deveney and PMGL’s adaptations of Haruki Murakami Manga Stories, translated by Cathy Layne.

- The melancholy meditations of Amy Kurzweil’s Artificial.

- The bold vibrancy of James Moffitt and Bizhan Kodabandeh’s The Little Red Fish.

- The powerful revelations of Julian Voloj and Andreas Gefe’s Not a New York Love Story.


Women Write About Comics

Kathryn Hemmann reviews the gritty shocks of Kyoko Okazaki’s River’s Edge, translated by Alexa Frank; and the woven complexities of Sas Milledge’s Mamo.

This week’s interviews.


Mark Peters interviews Charles Glaubitz about Starseeds, working on the beginnings and ends of a new universe, and becoming the stories we tell - “Every time I see Kirby Tech, I am in awe of what it is and what it could mean, because it's abstract art. I look at it as abstract art. And anytime I have an opportunity to talk about anything that's biological or technological or biotech, I think of Kirby Tech. I think about that way of communicating the idea of circuits and things connected and things pulsating and moving.”



Chris Coplan chats with Michael Schwartz about Armored, editorial additions, themes of loss in the book, and preparing to resolve mysteries.


Alta Journal

Molly Colin talks to Fred Noland about Steady Rollin’: Preacher’s Kid, Black Punk and Pedaling Papa and Major Taylor, and changing the narrative of American cycling history. 


Anime News Network

Bamboo Dong and Kalai Chik speak with Kafka Asagiri about Bungo Stray Dogs, Osamu Dazai’s similarities to a donut, and the central themes of the series’ narrative.


The Beat

• Avery Kaplan talks to Josh Pettinger and Simon Hanselmann about Werewolf Jones & Sons®: Deluxe Summer Fun Annual, and the marketability of controversy.

• Marion Pena interviews Johnny O’Bryant about Noir Caesar’s slate of manga titles, inspirations from the world of professional sports, and what goes into launching a publishing endeavour.

• Deanna Destito chats with:

- Sara Frazetta and Bob Freeman about Vampirella: Dead Flowers, preserving the Frazetta legacy, and the team behind the book. 

- Rodney Barnes about Alice Cooper and Alice Cooper, working with Dynamite, and keeping horror fun.

- Steve Orlando about Sainted Love, the inspirations for the story, publishing the book with Vault, and artistic collaborations.


The Bookseller

Charlotte Eyre interviews Alex Norris about How To Love, silliness and deconstruction, eschewing rote terminology, and published books versus social media virality.


Comics Grinder

Henry Chamberlain speaks with Bill Griffith about Three Rocks: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller, The Man Who Created Nancy, Bushmiller’s life and work, and the origins of the book.



Milton Griepp talks to Mike Friedrich about Star*Reach, the early days of the direct market and learning on the job, and work at Marvel and DC.


Multiversity Comics

Mark Tweedale chats with Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt about The Midnite Show, meta media influences on the book, and lettering choices with Jim Campbell.



Hagai Palevsky interviews Ivana Filipovich about Where have you been?, collaborative projects and solo endeavours, and differences between the European and North American scenes.



Quincey Reece speaks with Pennsylvanian library professionals Sharon Coronado, Jamie Falo, Patti Kalsnick, and Tracy Trotter on the realities of book challenges and graphic novel bans in the state. 

This week’s features and longreads.

• Here at TCJ, Goshkin returns, as Bob Levin navigates the past as a country subjectively depicted in Riad Sattouf’s memoir, The Arab of the Future - “From these decades, Sattouf carried away, primarily, not sights or sounds or objects of substance, but smells: incense and animal poop; dust and sweat; urine, sweat and perfume; urine and pine trees; manure and sweat; dried cobwebs, concrete and oil; bleach and cigarettes at his father’s university; cleanliness and death in the hospital where his mother lay.”

• Over at Multiversity Comics, Drew Bradley’s Ghosts of Comics’ Past series turns back the clock to 1973, looking at the roots of modern distribution methods for comics periodicals.

• For Shelfdust, Ritesh Babu answers the entangled questions of who and what Black Axe is, and why the sum of the comics’ parts are more important than the book itself, in the grand scheme of things.

• As the end of summer (in the northern hemisphere) draws ever closer, Polygon’s Susana Polo canvasses the artists of DC’s G’nort’s Swimsuit Edition on how they get superheroes beach-ready.

• From the world of open-access academia, in the Journal of Middle East Women's Studies, Nevine El Nossery writes on the work of Zainab Fasiki, examining the activism inherent in Fasiki’s art, in the wider context of comics and political caricaturing in the Arab region.

• For La Memoria Digitale, Giorgio Busi Rizzi presents a paper on the use of generative AI models to produce comics, the current state of the technology involved, and the ethical concerns surrounding this.

• As former president Donald Trump sets some ignominious new records for one formerly holding that office of state, Michael Cavna canvasses cartoonists’ commentary on the situation for The Washington Post.

• Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s editorial beat, over at The Daily Cartoonist, as indictments and debates in absentia of the aforementioned former president, and spiralling costs associated with the housing market all took precedence.

This week’s audio/visual delights.

• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden reconvened for the centennial episode of Thick Lines, finally tackling the superhero deconstruction of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen, and empirically determining which of the characters it contains is quantifiably the most annoying.

• Christopher Butcher hosted this week’s edition of Mangasplaining, also approaching its centennial, as the group made good on promises to make Chip Zdarsky read Naoki Urasawa and Osamu Tezuka’s Pluto, and discussed where it fits in the wider canon of Dad Comics.

• Claire Napier and Tegan O’Neil present a fresh pail of Udder Madness, as the spotlight falls upon one David Finch, and the titles Ascension and Aphrodite IX, the lessons to be learned (or not) from Marc Silvestri, and successful character aesthetics.

• The doors opened to the House to Astonish once more, as Al Kennedy and Paul O’Brien discussed the recent happenings in the direct market, Tom Brevoort’s move between lines within the Marvel stable, and what may or may not be happening over at IDW.

• Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die reconvened for more sounds of SILENCE! as tales were told of events in Olde London Towne, reviews given of comic books old and new, thoughts shared on diary comics, and a non-zero amount of musical interludes indulged in.

• David Harper welcomed Oliver Sava back to Off Panel, as they attempted to summarise just what it is that is going on with superhero comics in 2023, as the Big Two appear to be having troubles in various forms of media.

• Calvin Reid, Heidi MacDonald, and Kate Fitzsimons teamed up for a fresh episode of Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come, as Image’s distribution move to Simon & Schuster arrived at the same time as the latter being sold off to an investment firm, because there is no such thing as a quiet week in the business of comics.

• Brian Hibbs welcomed Van Jensen and Jesse Lonergan to this week’s edition of Comix Experience’s Graphic Novel Club, as they discussed Arca, choosing the medium of comics, and the specifics of panel layouts and grids.

• A pair of trips to Word Balloon, as John Siuntres spoke with Paul Jenkins about thoughts on coming back to comics and the current media strikes, and with Kyle Starks about work-for-hire and creator-owned books and telling stories in both arenas.

• Rounding out the week with Cartoonist Kayfabe, as Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor took a look at 1981’s Raw #3, 1988’s offerings from MAD, Michael Golden’s Marvel Stories: Artist’s Edition, picks for favourite artists on Aliens titles, Gary S. Carlson’s masterminding of Megaton, and Akira Toriyama's Sandland.

That’s all for this week, next time: SEPTEMBER.