The penultimate month of the Gregorian calendar year arrives, and with it the first smattering of end of year lists, but more on those next month, stored away in a trusty notes app for the meanwhile, as is appropriate for the ordered passage of time, because this week’s links, below, have plenty to recommend for themselves, from the here and now, as it is.
— Inken (@InkenArt) November 2, 2023
This week’s news.
• Starting the week in the courtroom, as U.S. District Judge William Orrick this week dismissed elements of the class action suit filed by artists Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan and Karla Ortiz, against Stability AI, Midjourney, and DeviantArt for alleged misuse of copyrighted work in training generative artificial intelligence systems, and copyright infringement in those systems' subsequent output - Orrick had stated back in July that most of the claims were likely to be dismissed, but could be amended and differentiated, with attorneys for the claimants saying that restated claims will be filed next month, while Andersen’s original claim that Stability infringed copyrights when training Stable Diffusion has been allowed to continue by Orrick.
• After recent controversy surrounding an aborted proposal that would have allowed schools to exclude diverse titles from their book fairs, Scholastic made headlines yet again this week after members of the Scholastic Union staged a one-day work stoppage over wage-related issues, with the union posting on social media that employees of the publisher have not received a pay rise in almost two years.
• Elsewhere, in company acquisition news, investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts completed its purchase of Simon & Schuster this week, paying $1.62 billion for the publisher, after a proposed merger between S&S and Penguin Random House was blocked by a justice department antitrust suit - KKR’s acquisition makes S&S an independent private company, with S&S now a book channel distributor for a number of comics publishers.
• In other news from the boardrooms, ICv2 covers more squabbling at the House of Mouse, as Disney's largest individual shareholder, Ike Perlmutter, gave over voting power associated with those shares to Nelson Peltz and asset management firm Trian Partners, as they square up for a rematch over control of the board.
• Koyama Provides announced their next wave of grants, meant this time round as “encouragement to persevere” to artists, rather than being linked to specific projects, with $1500 awards given to Austin English, Seth Scriver, and Karen Shangguan.
• In memoriam, remembering those the world of comics has lost, and news was shared last week of the passing of artist Steve Erwin, co-creator of Checkmate, who has died at the age of 63 due to a sudden heart attack.
Barbara Brandon-Croft was the first Black woman to have her work published nationally in not just one mainstream newspaper, but over 65 across the world.
— MoMA The Museum of Modern Art (@MuseumModernArt) November 1, 2023
This week’s reviews.
• Tom Shapira reviews the good-looking shenanigans of Darko Macan and Goran Sudžuka’s Martine Moon #1 - “Macan knows how to utilize Sudžuka’s particular set of skills - not just in drawing the female form, but also in selling light comedy. The first story has a running gag of Martine constantly correcting people who try to address her as "Ma’am" (“It’s 'Miss'”), which Macan manages to introduce, develop and wrap up in a manner that makes it feel as if it’s been around for ages - just a natural part of a long-running adventure strip.”
• Tegan O’Neil reviews the strong selection of Strega Sporca’s Viscere #1: Body Horror, edited by Katie Skelly - “Ah, the human body, site of trauma both primal and picayune. Is there anything more annoying in all the world than having to take care of this sagging, steaming bag of meat? Just between you and me and the lamppost, I’m sure they could have done better with this thing. Knees alone - what the hell were they thinking?”
• David Brooke reviews the bloated anticlimax of Chip Zdarsky, Tini Howard, Mike Hawthorne, Nikola Cizmesija, et al’s Batman / Catwoman: The Gotham War – Scorched Earth #1.
• Christopher Franey reviews the fun add-ons of DC’s Return of Superman 30th Anniversary Special #1.
• Eric Thomas and Piper Whitaker review the touching narrative of Mariko Tamaki, Skylar Patridge, et al’s Supergirl Special #1.
• David Canham reviews the delayed hook of Christopher Yost, Val Rodrigues, et al’s Unnatural Order #1.
• Colin Moon reviews the enjoyable chemistry of Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man/Deadpool Modern Era Epic Collection: Isn’t it Bromantic?.
• Collier Jennings reviews the sweeping vision of Jonathan Hickman, Stefano Caselli, et al’s Ultimate Universe #1.
• Zack Quaintance reviews the aesthetic flexibility of Emily Carroll’s A Guest In The House.
• Beau Q. reviews the flat ambiguity of Jeff Lemire, Gabriel H. Walta, et al’s Phantom Road, Volume 1.
• Yazmin Garcia reviews the dynamic action of HYBE and BTS’ 7Fates: Chakho, Volume 1.
• Derrick Crow reviews the compelling opening of Mojito’s ENNEAD, Volume 1.
• Joel Savill reviews the character focus of Marcey Naito's Tying The Knot With An Amagami Sister, Volume 1, translated by Devon Corwin.
Andy Oliver has reviews of:
- The touching romance of Lor Phoenix and KitsuneArt’s Starlit Lovers.
- The stunning visuals of Martin Simpson’s NORD.
- The intense honesty of Joe Stone’s Five Months on Earth.
- The shifting abstraction of Anastasia Hiorns’ Shedding.
- The charged claustrophobia of Faye Stacey’s Find a Seat.
- The powerful visuals of Ria Grix's Kotiin.
Ollie Barder reviews the tank action of Akira Toriyama's Sand Land.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan Carey reviews the consistent quality of Jonathan Baylis et al’s So Buttons #13.
House to Astonish
Paul O’Brien has capsule reviews of Marvel Comics’ X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #110, Alpha Flight #3, Uncanny Avengers #3, Dark X-Men #3, Realm of X #3, Jean Grey #3, Uncanny Spider-Man #2, Ms. Marvel: The New Mutant #3, X-Men: Days of Future Past – Doomsday #4, and Predator vs. Wolverine #2.
Montreal Review of Books
• Esinam Beckley reviews the relatable authenticity of Lawrence Lindell’s Blackward.
• Ian McGillis reviews the dazzling evocations of Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki’s Roaming.
• Sruti Islam reviews the unafraid honesty of Éloïse Marseille’s Naked: The Confessions of a Normal Woman.
• Robbie Pleasant reviews the solid characterisation of Tim Sheridan, Cian Tormey, et al’s Alan Scott: The Green Lantern #1.
• Mark Tweedale reviews the visual language of Faith Erin Hicks’ Hockey Girl Loves Drama Boy.
• Christopher Egan reviews the thoughtful horror of Szymon Kudrański’s Blood Commandment #1.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The emotional directness of Mylo Choy’s Middle Distance: A Graphic Memoir.
- The eerie peculiarities of Robert Sergel’s Satan’s Kingdom.
- The trippy horror of Sean Ford’s Shadow Hills.
- The existential melancholy of James Sturm and Joe Sutphin’s adaptation of Richard Adams’ Watership Down.
Alex Hoffman reviews the cosy pleasantness of Cam Marshall’s Matchmaker.
— Mel T. (@meltow_) November 2, 2023
This week’s interviews.
John Kelly interviews Daniel Clowes about Monica, the overall vision for the book, the realities of a story hitting shelves, and being plagiarised by Shia LeBeouf - “I had all these other stories in mind, but I wasn't sure it was even going to be the same character. And then, all of a sudden it started to gel, and I was thinking about periods in my own life that felt very separate from each other-- episodic almost, but somehow related, and I began filtering those emotions and experiences through this character, and all of a sudden I felt very free and I began to feel her coming to life and becoming her own person.”
• David Brook chats with Ben Stenbeck about Our Bones Dust, robot and AI designs, building a unique dystopia, and the importance of silence in storytelling.
• Chris Coplan talks to:
- Ram V about Detective Comics and winning diehard fandoms around.
- Christopher Yost about Unnatural Order and the 90s style of first issues.
- Tim Seeley and Jim Terry about Deathstalker and the through line of the source material.
- Benoit Dahan about Inside The Mind Of Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s concept of a ‘brain attic’.
• Deb Aoki speaks with Ablaze’s Rich Young about Gannibal, selecting stories to publish, turning to crowdfunding, and horror manga recommendations.
• Zack Quaintance talks to Dan Schkade about the return of Flash Gordon, the enduring influence of Alex Raymond, and the demands of a daily comic strip.
• Deanna Destito chats with Tim Seeley about Deathstalker, the comic’s cinematic history, the genesis of the project, and working with Slash.
• Goldie Chan interviews Archie Comics’ Jamie Rotante about the Archie Horror line of titles, and the ideas behind its current slate of publications.
• Rob Salkowitz talks to Vault Comics’ Damian Wassel and Aethon’s Steve Beaulieu about the companies’ cross-media publishing partnership.
Four Color Sinners
Presents a conversation with James Romberger on a career across comics, advice from Jack Kirby, advice for the next generations of artists, and the appeal of K-dramas.
Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics
Vera Camden and Valentino Zullo speak with Raina Telgemeier about comics reading and publishing origins, and the Facing Feelings: The Art of Raina Telgemeier exhibition.
• Chris Cole talks to Faith Erin Hicks about Hockey Girl Loves Drama Boy, titles that explain the plot, trauma in narratives, and the difficulty of drawing hockey gloves.
• Mark Tweedale interviews Tyler Crook about The Lonesome Hunters: The Wolf Child, the central tenet of The Lonesome Hunters series, and character designs.
Women Write About Comics
Alenka Figa presents part one of a three-part conversation with Jamila Rowser on writing and researching comics scripts, and wider thoughts on working as part of a collaborative team on a project.
📚📗📘📕Short Run Comix & Arts Festival returns for it's 11 year in Seattle at @seattlecenter's Fisher Pavilion! About 250 artists will attend this year, showing off their zines, comics, and other book-related art, here are a few to get excited about https://t.co/iVRTbvGOIH
— The Ticket Seattle (@TheTicketSEA) October 28, 2023
This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Andrew Farago writes in remembrance of the life and work of Keith Giffen, who passed away last month, aged 70, and speaks with Giffen’s friends and collaborators on lasting impact of that body of work - “With Ambush Bug, Giffen found his voice. His style loosened up considerably as his fourth-wall-breaking protagonist, fully aware that he was a comic book character, set out to make mischief, offer pointed commentary on the modern comic book industry, and to have as much fun as possible along the way. This breakthrough—the realization that superhero stories should be fun—would set the tone for much of Giffen’s subsequent work.”
• Also for TCJ, Austin English curates tributes to Keith Giffen from Tucker Stone, Matt Seneca, Ryan Carey, Michel Fiffe, Erik Larsen, and Tim Goodyear, along with David King’s strip on the creation of Trencher from But is it... Comic Aht? #2 - “[Austin English:] But Giffen has always been a cartoonist, though a cartoonist working, paradoxically, as a collaborative artist in mainstream comics. He is a cartoonist even when simply working as a plotter, that's how deeply he understood comics. Mainstream comics is a collaborative field, but so often that collaboration is highly uncreative. Giffen is a counterpoint to this. You see this confidence in his work: while he lets his fellow artists breathe and express themselves on the page, his idea of what makes a story is not obscured. “
• Finally for TCJ this week, Bob Levin considers the AI-facilitated comics of Carson Grubaugh and the writings of the author to be found in The Abolition of Man’s deluxe edition - “The characters’ figures are such that males are distinct from females and one male or female distinct from another; but they are, without exception, freakish, mutant, as misshapen as their world. Midjourney does birth some unlikely, designed-for-kinkiness rodents. But let’s not go there.”
• For Women Write About Comics, Caitlin Sinclair Chappell writes on the accessibility of comics for dyslexic readers, and wider thoughts on comics and graphic novels in the classroom and other academic settings for dyslexic students.
• From Cover to Cover's Scott Cederlund looks back on Darwyn Cooke's series of Parker adaptations, and what Cooke's visual storytelling brought to the characters and machinations of Richard Stark's novels.
• ICv2's coverage of the 50th anniversary of the direct market continues, as this week Jim McLauchlin profiles Los Angeles' Golden Apple store, and the legacy of co-founder Bill Liebowitz who passed away in 2004, with remembrances from those who knew and worked with Liebowitz.
• Over at Shelfdust, Adrienne Resha looks back on the little apocalypses to be found in Steve Gerber and Mike Ploog’s Giant-Size Man-Thing #1, and the anger that can be found at the heart of Man-Thing.
• For AIPT, Crooker writes on the potential, and express, influences on Kazuki Takahashi’s Yu-Gi-Oh!, and the general interplay between the manga and western comics.
• From the world of open-access academia, in the Journal of Popular Culture, Lucía Bausela Buccianti presents analysis of self-awareness in superhero narratives, and the diegetic disruptions that self-aware characters trigger in comics.
• For Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, Ching-Shiuan Chen, Yu-Jie Lin, and Wei Jeng present a study on the impact of page-by-page and scrolling formats on readers of digital comics.
NYT illo for a Times Insider interview about watching/reviewing horror movies with Erik Piepenburg pic.twitter.com/IiF9etzpmg
— Michael DeForge (@michael_deforge) October 29, 2023
This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Noah Van Sciver’s YouTube channel reawakens, as this week Fantagraphics’ Eric Reynolds picks five books from the publisher’s back-catalogue to highlight, including work by Jeremy Eaton, Steve Ditko, Ted Jouflas, Ray Fenwick, and Murray Olderman.
• Brian Hibbs welcomed Daniel Clowes to Comix Experience’s Graphic Novel Club, as they spoke about Monica, the graphic novel versus serialisation decision, the X factor of comics, and the changing realities of selling your original artwork.
• Gil Roth was joined by Josh Bayer for this week’s episode of The Virtual Memories Show, as they spoke about Unended, the source material of the book, teaching storytelling techniques to students, and picking comics over aht.
• David Harper spoke with Juni Ba for the latest edition of Off Panel, as they discussed Mobilis and The Unlikely Story of Felix and Macabber, closing out a project and sending it to print, and personal growth.
• Calvin Reid reported from this year’s Cartoon Crossroads Columbus festival for the most recent episode of Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come, speaking from the show floor with Matt Bors, Raeghan Buchanan, Ben Passmore, and Evan Salazar, as well as CXC’s Jay Kalagayan.
• A few visits to the Word Balloon, as John Siuntres spoke with Jeph Loeb on Batman: The Long Halloween and lessons learned from the movie biz, Shelly Bond on Suddenly One Summer Camp From Hell and playlists for comic book issues, and with Jim McLauchlin about Comic Book U and the work of the Hero Initiative.
• Closing out the week with more Cartoonist Kayfabing as Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor took a look at Bill Watterson and John Kascht’s The Mysteries, Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola’s Cosmic Odyssey, Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s The Ambassadors #1, James O’Barr’s The Crow, Daniel Clowes’ Eightball #7, and The Buyer’s Guide #1, as well as a shoot interview with Kelley Jones (plus input from Matt Wagner) on Dracula and more.
— Ｇ・Ｎ・Ａ (@100MegaGNA) October 31, 2023
No more links this week, as I have to light the fuse on various fireworks and then retire to a safe distance until they ignite.
Happy 96th birthday to comic book artist and reviewer, Steve Ditko! pic.twitter.com/PFRSxLE2NB
— Chris Ryall (@chris_ryall) November 2, 2023