Can Bane really be taken as a prime exemplar for cross-infection mitigation in the COVID-19 age? He wears a face-covering mask, yes, and his nemesis is Batman - who famously leaves his mouth, a primary infection/dispersion site for coronavirus, mostly uncovered - but he favors a fighting style that necessitates close proximity and physical contact, while also wearing fingerless gloves. Much to ponder, I’m sure you’ll agree.
What does any of this have to do with this week’s links, which you’ll find below? Absolutely nothing.
A day in the life… This week’s news.
• Following allegations of his past behavior coming to light, a statement has been released signed by 60 individuals targeted by Warren Ellis over the last twenty years - in the statement, the group calls for ‘mediated transformative justice’, a sentiment echoed in interviews conducted by Sam Thielman for The Guardian, in order to prevent the systemic protection of abusers in the future, an issue that Asher Elbein at The Daily Beast covered in-depth this week.
• Newsarama reports that the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund anthology, Defend Comics 2020, intended for distribution as part of this year’s (delayed) Free Comic Book Day, has been flagged for destruction by its organizer, Boom! Studios, after it was “shipped out to retailers early in error” - this request coming soon after allegations of abusive behaviour resurfaced regarding former Executive Director of the Fund, Charles Brownstein.
• The Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo have announced that Nate Powell will be acting as Special Guest Judge of their Mini-Grant Awards program this year, choosing which of the 30 recipients of the awards will receive the grand prize of $500 towards production of their comic - applicants have until August 1st to submit their grant proposal.
• Koyama Press have announced the latest recipient of their $1,000 Provides grants, this time around presenting an award to cartoonist Lawrence Lindell, who’ll be using the funds in support of his latest project - a ten-page mini comic in the form of a series of 18x24 canvas paintings, which will later be photographed and released in traditional (and more bookshelf friendly) comic format.
• ICv2 have reported that Diamond Distribution are currently operating with limited staff, due to COVID-19 restrictions, as businesses adapt to the ongoing pandemic, the organization having reopened in May, amid high infection rates in the US and upheaval in the direct market.
• Comichron and ICv2 have estimated that 2019 saw comics and graphic novel sales pushing $1.2bn, setting a new record for retail, which is probably why, now more than ever, comics are being seen as big business for media giants - take a guess as to whether this trend is reflected in pay rates for creators overall, however.
Kicking the tyres… This week’s reviews.
• Irene Velentzas reviews the wonderfully strange visual journey of Disa Wallander’s Becoming Horses.
• Kent Worcester reviews the detailed comic book (and family) history of Brett Dakin’s American Daredevil: Comics, Communism and the Battles of Lev Gleason.
• Jean M. Hodges has a review of the emotive pathos of Carta Monir’s Napkin, combined with an interview with its creator.
• Marc Sobel has a new installment of The Strip Mine for us all, digging into the back-issue longboxes and coming up for air, with looks back at Lone Wolf and Cub #10, Tales of the Mysterious Traveler #15, Blue Ribbon Comics #2, Omega Men #16, and Imagine #4, plus a plethora of pithy postscripts.
• David Brooke reviews this month’s big hitters from the Big Two, as Al Ewing, Dan Slott, Valerio Schiti, et al’s Empyre #1 ushers in the big event comic of the summer; and Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Evan Shaner, et al’s Strange Adventures #3 beams into shops.
• Christopher Franey reviews the luxuriant rom-com twists of Jeremy Holt and Elizabeth Beals’ Virtually Yours.
• Sam Rutzick reviews the heartwarming finale of Matt Fraction, Steve Lieber, et al’s Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen’ #12.
• Morgana Santilli reviews the beautifully sanguine deluxe re-issue of Kohta Hirano’s Hellsing, translated by Duane Johnson.
• John Seven reviews the dramatic inaction at the heart of Anna Sommer’s The Unknown, translated by Helge Dascher.
Four Color Apocalypse
• Edward Haynes reviews the psychedelic haze of Paolo Baron and Ernesto Carbonetti’s Paul is Dead.
• Elias Rosner looks back at the uncomfortable philosophies of Denny O’Neil, Deny Cowan, Rick Magyar, et al’s The Question #17-20.
• Michael Mazzacane looks back at the aesthetic history of Brian Holguin, Liam Sharp, et al’s Spawn: The Dark Ages #1-5.
• Brian Salvatore reviews the milestone obliterating overkill of Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon #250.
• Christopher Chiu-Tabet reviews the disappointing dryness of Lun Zhang, Adrien Gombeaud, Améziane, et al's Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes, translated by Edward Gauvin.
Etelka Lehoczky reviews the new iterations of René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo's ever indomitable Asterix.
Chris Gavaler reviews the absurdist horrors of Juan Sasturain and Alberto Breccia's Peraramus: The City and Oblivion, translated by Erica Mena.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The perceptive familiarity of Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan's Welcome to the New World;
- The underbaked jauntiness of Cynthia Levinson, Sanford Levinson, and Ally Shwed's Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Graphic Novel;
- The evocative narrative of Eleanor Crewes' The Times I Knew I Was Gay.
• Daniel Elkin reviews the cohesive incomprehensibility of Spencer Hicks’ Day of the Corvid.
• Matt Vadnais reviews the thrilling observations of Cole Johnson’s The Dark of the Forest.
• Alex Hoffman reviews the absurd maximalism of Little Thunder’s Wakame & Wave & Infinity.
Women Write About Comics
• Masha Zhdanova reviews the average construction of Meredith Moriaty’s Third Shift Society.
• Melissa Brinks reviews the wonderful vulgarities of Simon Spurrier, Aaron Campbell, et al’s John Constantine: Hellblazer #7.
• Louis Skye reviews the timely narrative relevance of Charlot Kristensen.
I forgot to hit record… This week’s interviews.
• Ian Thomas interviews Tom Scioli about his approach to comics creation, his reading and listening habits, comics collection by way of personal history, and a lot more besides - ‘Ok, this is the big time. Don’t blow it.’
• Jean M. Hodges has an interview with Carta Monir about her personal photo-comic zine, Napkin, combined with a review of the work itself.
The Steve Engelhart Interviews continue, and this week Dan Greenfield discusses the return of Hugo Strange with his guest, and, more importantly, the arrival of Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin on Detective Comics.
• As multimedia educational webcomic project Planet DIVOC-91 launches this week, Zack Quaintance talks to contributors Sara Kenney and Dr Bella Starling about what to expect from the hybrid project going forward, and how it came together.
• AJ Frost interviews Box Brown about his new book Child Star, the ‘kayfabe’ present in all forms of media, the real life people making up the book’s protagonist, and going the documentary route for a work of fiction.
• Gregory Paul Silber catches up with Tim Seeley about Heavy Metal hitting the big 3-0-0, enticing new readers to a long-running magazine, and the history the publication brings with it.
• Deanna Destito talks to Laura Sanapo about the history of Miss Fury, ‘strong female characters’ in 2020, and teaching at the Kubert School.
Mark Peters catches up with Matthew Allison about the improvisational nostalgia of his comic Cankor: Calamity of Challenge for a new edition of Kirbyology!.
Kyle Welch talks to George Mann and Joe Eisma about their new comic Engineward, how the story has evolved from initial conception, sticking to 12 issues for the zodiac narrative, and the all important question of their star signs.
New York Times
Richard Bienstock interviews Van Halen’s David Lee Roth about spending the COVID-19 lockdown diving into comics making as ‘performance therapy’, his hybrid process of creation, and the elusive nature of humor and meaning - “If I explain it, it’s a bumper sticker. If I let you explain it, it’s art.”
Bill O'Driscoll talks to Tom Scioli about his new book Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics, the enduring popularity of Kirby's creations, and retaining the childlike wonder needed to create new worlds.
Brigid Alverson talks to VE Schwab about creating believable fantasy worlds, and being defined by a larger body of work.
Matthew Jackson interviews Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber about the end of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, and staying true to the character’s history while trying to stick the landing.
Daniel Elkin and Sarah Wray present another edition of Knowing Is Half The Battle, as Josh Bayer offers advice on elaborate sarcasm as a red flag, experience versus payment, and the amplification of appropriation.
The Washington Post
Michael Cavna interviews Doonsebury’s Gary Trudeau, as he prepares to release his latest Trump-baiting book in the run-up to this year’s election, and why the next generation of activists are a cause for hope.
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci… This week’s features and comics.
• Here at TCJ, Steve Brower has a touching personal remembrance of his uncle, legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser, with more tributes in the comments - “Giants walked among us.”
• Also for TCJ Ryan Holmberg has part one of a two-part essay on the response in manga, and manga-adjacent media, to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the ‘Amabie’ phenomenon and #abenomask cartoons.
• Serving as an appetizer for an upcoming piece here at TCJ, Tom Kaczynski has an essay on hyperobjects and Crisis on Infinite Earths, framing the 35 year obsession that DC 'Crisis' crossover events seem to have had with cataclysmic events scaled beyond human comprehension.
• For Publisher’s Weekly, Rob Salkowitz takes a look at Vortex247, a digital comics platform based out of Lagos, Nigeria, as the local digital market experiences a period of rapid expansion.
• Xavier Files’ Zachary Jenkins has an editorial on Marvel’s current publishing plan, and how it’s disproportionately punitive towards minority writers, looking at the model of ‘Writers’ Retreats’ and how these embed systemic racism and sexism on the shelves of the direct market.
• Over at Shelfdust, Wendy Browne looks back at 1972’s Creepy #43 and the career of Billy Graham, the first Black artist (and subsequently the first Black Art Director) in mainstream comics, as part of the site's ‘Black Comics History’ series; Graeme McMillan reaches the disappointing punchline of Bulleteer #4; and Charlotte Finn’s year in Astro City hits issue 28, and the appearance of heroes from Down Under.
• Comics Forum presents a paper by Peter WY Lee, the first of a two-part article on Lev Gleason’s comic publications, some timely further reading to Brett Dakin’s book (reviewed above) - Comics Forum have also launched their call for proposals for this year’s (virtual) academic conference, with a submission deadline of September 1st.
• For ICv2, Steve Bennett has a piece on the re-examination of superhero comics, and spin-off media properties, in the light of the movement to end police violence, and the failure of superhero stories to engage with their roles in the upholding of marginalizing power structures.
• Mike Avila steps ‘Behind the Panel’ once more, this time around looking at John Byrne’s tenure on the Fantastic Four, and how his ‘back-to-basics’ approach regained the title’s position as Marvel’s First Family.
• For House to Astonish, Paul O’Brien has the next part of ‘The Incomplete Wolverine’, this time looking at what Logan got up to (maybe?) before heading to the fields of World War I.
• Latonya Pennington has an essay on what makes Phantom Thief Jeanne so compelling as a character, and why, ultimately, that’s down to her civilian alter ego.
• As The Guardian announce they’re making cuts to their publications as cost-saving measures, Stephen Collins has the scoop on why I don’t really like music festivals, and David Squires celebrates the life of a footballing hero.
• Social media seemed to get it into its head that having 10k followers is some magic cut-off point for making it in life this week, so this comic from Gale Galligan offers some sage advice on… well, not doing that.
• Esther Pearl Watson has the next entry in The New York Times' 'Diary Project', depicting the evolving messages to be found in chalk drawings on the pavement.
• The Nib has a trio of longer-form comics this week, as a number of contributors appear to have fallen prey to scams; Thi Bui, David Ritsher, Sarah Mirk, and Amanda Pike report on the business of building bunkers; and Steve Teare and Ryan Briggs report on the economics controlling prison inmates’ communication with the outside world (which is also being covered in the world of music at the moment, coincidentally).
• Solrad Presents have a new addition to the line-up, as Jef Harmatz’ Danger Diver surfaces from the deep blue sea.
I should probably rewatch Videodrome at some point… This week’s recommended watching.
• SÕL-CON, Ohio State's Brown, Black, & Indigenous Comics Expo, have a summer series of videos up online to watch now, including virtual panels on narrative and memory in comics, Black representation in media, Latinx comics in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, comics and resistance, and Latinx superhero mythos.
• If you're reading this on day of publication then there's still time to sign up for The Believer's next comics workshop, this time led by Georgia Webber, otherwise the archive will most likely be up on the Black Mountain Institute YouTube channel soon.
• VanCaf have a couple of new videos up, following the success of their virtual festival last month, bringing viewers an in-conversation between Cole Pauls and Kim Edgar discussing the Yukon comics scene; and a spotlight interview with Wayde Compton and April dela Noche Milne on their new book The Blue Road, hosted by Taylor Brown-Evans.
• Now, this one was interesting - this week saw a live-streamed performance of Conner Willumsen’s comic Anti-Gone, directed by Theo Triantafyllidis, utilizing 3D animation, and including audience participation via the chat - it’s an interesting experimental improv pilot production, and you can watch the video archive here.
• The first trailer for ‘Feels Good Man’ has arrived - the Sundance Award-winning documentary follows cartoonist Matt Furie’s experiences with the alt-right memeification and appropriation of his character Pepe the Frog, and arrives on screens in September - worth it for the origin story of Pepe’s name alone.
• Meredith Gran has released a new trailer for her upcoming point-and-click adventure game project, Perfect Tides, set in the wild west of early 00s internet culture and featuring a guest appearance from the enduring universal turmoil of being a teen.
• There's a new episode of The Beat and Comix Experience's Graphic Novel Club, this time around talking to Ram V and Anand RK about their book Grafity's Wall, and the Indian comic scene.
• Cartoonist Kayfabe have a ‘Raw Dog’ double bill this week, looking back at Real Deal before sitting down with artist Lawrence Hubbard to talk about his comics work and the history of Real Deal, and Piskor and Rugg also talk with writer/editor (and Marvel Comics legend) Ann Nocenti, who you can watch in-conversation with Chip Zdarsky about all things Daredevil, as a chaser.
• Noah van Sciver caught up with cartoonist Keren Katz this week, streaming in live from Tel Aviv, giving viewers a glimpse into a formidable book collection, and talking about CCS Fellowships, Israeli art education, working as an assistant for Richard McGuire, and more.
• Shawn Crystal welcomes Inkpulp episode 11 into the world, and this week the show’s become part of the Pharcyde TV network, so the visuals and audio are levelling up, and Jim Mahfood’s in the house to chat about The Dark Knight Returns, and ink some appropriately themed illustrations while doing so - also, as a bonus, an inking tutorial from Shawn.
• John Siuntres caught up with Axel Alonso on Word Balloon this week, talking about his work as co-founder of AWA Studios, as well as a whistle stop tour through his work as a journalist, before moving to comics as an editor for Vertigo and Marvel Comics.
Is this thing even on… This week’s easy-listening.
• Comic books continue to burn in hell, which will, presumably, be the case for eternity, and this week it’s the turn of Jack Kirby’s enjoyably insane 2001 comic, and his pretty accurate prediction on where fandom would end up in the future, which is now the present.
• Shelfdust Presents throws another issue to your porch as Matt Lune and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou discuss Paper Girls #1, and the warmth at the heart of the series’ disjointed narrative.
• For more from Otsmane-Elhaou you can head over to Letters & Lines episode 3, as he and co-host Aditya Bidikar discuss what makes a good opener for a comic, and why the medium is so enamored of panel grids.
• Mindless Ones present yet more sounds of SILENCE! as The Beast Must Die and Gary Lactus talk about debuting comics that will never be, and an almost argument ensues as a job-lot of Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children is snapped up secondhand.
• 2000 AD’s lockdown tapes continue and this week MOLCH-R talks to Rory McConville about his work in the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, and getting his start as part of a talent hunt at a convention, before welcoming Adam Sherif to the show for a deep dive into Alan Grant and Arthur Ranson’s classic comic Judge Anderson: Shamballa.
• War Rocket Ajax open the pod(cast) bay doors to guest Shawn Pryor this week, talking about his work on Kentucky Kaiju, indulging in some Power Rangers chat, and quarantine life.
• Robert Kirkman joined David Harper on Off Panel this week, discussing his new comic Fire Power, recently reviewed here on TCJ, and his upcoming return to The Walking Dead with Negan Lives, as well as a debrief on the realities of running (shambling?) the perennial undead series cum multimedia empire.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come welcomed Joe Sacco to the show, as he discussed his new book Paying the Land (also recently reviewed here on TCJ), and the history of Indigenous People in Canada’s Northwest Territories, with host Calvin Reid.
• Salt & Honey returns, and this week hosts Sloane Leong and Leslie Hung are talking romance, what works with the genre, and the difficulty of conjuring it up between characters.
• Gil Roth welcomed Everett Glenn to The Virtual Memories Show this week, as they discuss using narrative storytelling to unpack personal histories, the influences on his work as a cartoonist, racial identity as a Black American living in Germany, and more.
Unlimited screen time for all… This week’s recommendations for younger readers.
• A couple of cool comics activities for budding creators, as the long summer days continue, with Melissa Mendes presenting a ‘Comics Camp in a Box’, and The National Cartoonists Society publishing an activity book in support of the National Cartoonists Society Foundation.
• First Second’s #SketchSchool has a new class in session, as Wyeth Yates takes viewers through drawing Nadia, protagonist of The Mars Challenge.
That’s all the links for this week - if you’re going to go out and break a costumed-vigilante’s back this weekend, try to do it while practising social distancing.