The season of interesting times continues for the comics industry this week, with it increasingly looking like any history books that you may have at home should be taken out and thrown in the bin. In the meantime, however, there are This Week’s Links, a selection of which can be found below.
Got this costume/silhouette on the brain today. pic.twitter.com/GZnnolyz4w
— Annie Wu (@AnnieW) November 4, 2021
It’s bigger than that, it’s large… This week’s news.
• Starting the week off with big news for fans of collective bargaining, as the workers of Image Comics announced the formation of a union, Comic Book Workers United, represented by the Communication Workers of America. The union will not include comic creators, due to the freelance nature of those whose work is published by Image, a point that is made very clear on the publisher’s socials, but will seek to “...foster a more competitive industry as a whole, through salary and workload transparency for all existing and proposed job titles.” Image Comics released a vaguely positive statement following the announcement, and you can sign an open letter in support of CBWU here, as involved parties wait to see if Image will voluntarily recognise the union. A bit of extra background - the CWA has also been involved in recent unionising efforts in the board and video game industries, and The Beat ran a piece in 2019 that provides comics industry context for recent increases in union approval across the media and publishing industries. Unions and guilds, I just think they’re neat.
• Back to this season’s ongoing award news stories, and Lucca Comics and Games festival announced 2021’s Palmares Awards, with Comic of the Year going to Chris Ware for Rusty Brown, and Author of the Year to Marco Galli for Dentro Una Scatola di Latta, while Naoki Urasawa took home a fourth award for Best Ongoing Series, this time for Asadora!. You can see a full list of this year’s winners here.
• In other fall awards news, the National Press Foundation announced that Ruben Bolling is this year’s winner of the Clifford K. and James T. Berryman Award for Editorial Cartoons for Tom the Dancing Bug, with Tim Campbell receiving honours as 2021’s runner up for the prize.
• Koyama Provides announced the latest recipient of their grant program, awarding $1,000 to Kevin Huizenga, which will provide support while working on new Glenn Ganges stories, and new installments of Rumbling.
• The Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo announced the 32 recipients of this year’s MICE Mini-Grants of $100, with the winning mini-comics showcased here, and Special Guest Judge Joel Christian Gill also selected Arty Nicharee’s Sugar as the MICE Mini-Grand Prize Winner to receive $500.
• The American Library Association Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table announced that applications to this year’s Will Eisner Graphic Novel Grants for Libraries program are now open, running through February 13th 2022, and also announced the recipients of this year’s Growth and Innovation Grants.
• The US Department of Justice announced that it would be filing suit against the proposed merger between Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, citing the ‘unprecedented control’ this would give the resulting mega-publisher over the industry - for those keeping score, PRH and S&S have carved out a formidable territory in comics distribution in recent months, and an investigation by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority recently ruled in favour of PRH’s acquisition of S&S’ business. As we all know, you cannot spell ‘monopoly’ without ‘o no!’.
• In other lawsuit news, manga publisher Shueisha has filed an ex parte application to a California District court requesting information from Google and Hurricane Electric to allow for identification of alleged manga pirates’ account details, as Japan’s piracy laws have been tightened over recent years in attempts to combat popular bootlegging sites, although it’s likely that false contact information will have been provided to hosting services in order to protect identities of said alleged pirates, and the site in question appeared to have gone offline as of Thursday afternoon.
• We’ve got some classic comics industry personnel change news this week, reliable as the rising and setting of the sun, as AWA added some media big-hitters to its team, and Z2 bolstered its roster to expand beyond music-focused publications.
• Finally in the news this week, if you have a comics collection in storage in the wider Seattle area then the SPD recommends checking to make sure it is still where you left it.
drunk drivers/killer whales pic.twitter.com/xEcg5Slnj2
— kcggggg (@kcgreenn) October 31, 2021
Diamond S-rank… This week’s reviews.
• Brian Nicholson reviews the haunting quiet of Dash Shaw’s Discipline - “Both Discipline and Cryptozoo feature drawing that seems more considered and delicate than Shaw’s earlier comics or animation work, which favored a thicker, more inexpressive line. Cryptozoo features stop-motion effects applied to painted images, while Discipline’s pages are dominated by crosshatching. The images created are beautiful, but not particularly belabored, with Cryptozoo marked by limited animation at a low frame rate, while Discipline’s images never rise to the level of detailed engravure perhaps most associated with the 19th century.”
• Helen Chazan reviews the feverish urgency of Liby Hays’ Geniacs! - “Hays is clearly tapped into radically technological visions of the future -- the people and concepts could not have been depicted nearly so sexy if she weren’t -- but the absurdity her comic prods at incisively is the violent futility of building those dreams in a totally capitalist framework: the ridiculous and lethal compromises made to play a market to win while changing the world for everyone.”
• Ryan Sonneville reviews the whimsical magnificence of Rachele Aragno’s Mel the Chosen.
• Colin Moon reviews the quiet honest of Lane Milburn’s Lure.
• David Brooke reviews the jarring thrills of Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Ben Templesmith, Trevor Hairsine, Jonathan Glapion, Scott Hanna, Rain Beredo, et al’s Batman/Superman Authority Special #1
• Christopher Franey reviews the fun noir of Tom King, Greg Smallwood, et al’s The Human Target #1.
• Alex McDonald reviews the superhero satire of Mark Russell, Bryce Ingman, and Peter Krause’s My Bad #1.
• Vishal Gullapalli reviews the solid emotions of Si Spurrier, Sergio Dávila, et al’s Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade.
• Alex Cline reviews the charmless stumbling of Masafumi Nishida, Tadayoshi Kubo, and Kota Sannomiya’s Tesla Note Volume 1.
Zack Quaintance reviews the elevated mystery of Tom King, Greg Smallwood, et al’s Human Target #1.
Andy Oliver reviews:
- The varied styles of Matthew Dooley and Joe Stone’s Split.
- The empathetic focus of Beck Kubrick’s Coby, Alone.
- The meditative subtlety of Russell Jones and Aimee Lockwood’s The Wilds.
- The shallow shlock of Ian Newman’s Mollusc.
- The memorable absurdity of Fraser Geesin and Laurie Rowan’s Purple Hate Balloon.
• Matthew Blair reviews the abstracted introduction of Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, Robbi Rodriguez, et al’s The Harbinger #1.
• James Dowling and Mark Tweedale reviews the fascinating pacing of Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Matt Smith, et al’s Hellboy: The Bones of Giants #1.
• Kobi Bordoley reviews the fun twists of Iolanda Zanfardino and Elisa Romboli’s A Thing Called Truth #1.
• Gregory Ellner reviews the unique heroics of Tom Taylor, Yasmine Putri, et al's Dark Knights of Steel #1.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The stirring focus of Lane Milburn’s Lure.
- The lethargic dynamics of James D. Hornfischer, Doug Murray, and Steven Sanders’ The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour.
- The affecting profundity of Ken Krimstein’s When I Grow Up: The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teenagers.
- The skillful analysis of Jeremy Dauber’s American Comics: A History.
Alex Hoffman reviews the meticulous visciousness of James Albon’s The Delicacy.
Women Write About Comics
• Magen Cubed reviews the shallow compulsion of Jay Sandlin et al’s Grimm Tales of Terror Quarterly: 2021 Halloween Special; and the engaging quirks of Brian Hawkins, Allan Otero, et al’s Van Helsing: Beast of Exmoor.
• Latonya Pennington reviews the excellent romance of Kami Garcia, Gabriel Picolo, Rob Haynes, et al’s Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven.
• Alenka Figa and Melissa Brinks review the horror influences of Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle’s Squad.
— Abunchio Bulchetti (@vor_bokor) October 31, 2021
Soapbox derby… This week’s interviews.
Greg Hunter interviews Dash Shaw about Discipline, the clarity of research, Quakerist relationships to silence, and finding an artistic sweet spot - “I think my personality led me to make something that's more about the dissonance between what people are saying or thinking about or writing about versus what they're doing. And when I realized that’s almost the conflict of the book, what people are doing physically versus the text or what they’re writing about, then I thought, "You know, that only came from the letters". It wasn't a plan.”
• Chris Coplan talks to Christopher Sebela about .Self, the double-edged sword of technology, future anxiety, and business models; and to Colin Lorimer about Daisy, Biblical origins, occult inspirations, and parallel pandemic themes.
• Alex McDonald speaks with Mark Russell and Bryce Ingman about My Bad, favourite characters, expanding a back-up story to a full series, and what to expect from the book.
• Avery Kaplan interviews Siena Cherson Siegel and Mark Siegel about Tiny Dancer, dance community endorsements, conveying motion through static imagery, and Elton John inspirations.
• Joe Grunenwald speaks with Bryce Ingman about My Bad, villainous cliches, special character designs, and story connections.
Andy Oliver talks to Josh Hicks about Glorious Wrestling Alliance, creative journeys, publisher support, and adapting stories to full-colour.
Christian Holub speaks with NK jemisin about Far Sector, comics publishing realities, writing for visual media, and empathy for characters in positions of authority; and with Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale about Batman: The long Halloween Special, the enduring fandom around the original maxi-series, collaborative shorthand, and elevating background characters.
Rob Salkowitz talks to Junkoo Kim, Webtoon’s CEO, about market growth during the age of COVID-19, deals with American publishers, and cross-platform synergy.
Michael Maslin interviews Mort Gerberg about a complicated life in and out of cartooning, outliving the critics, the advent of Photoshop, and The New Yorker’s sensitivity regarding political work.
• Brian Salvatore continues a look back at DC’s New 52, talking to Francis Manapul about The Flash, truncated story runs, editorial deals, clean slates, and story-beat questionnaires.
• Mark Tweedale interviews Christopher Golden and Matt Smith about Hellboy: The Bones of Giants #1, adapting prose to comics and for different reading audiences, and how Big Red would dress incognito.
David Harper speaks with Sasha E. Head about an accidental career in comics design, working across disciplines, workflow lessons, and controlling the speed at which a reader moves through a story,
Alex Dueben interviews Siena Cherson Siegel and Mark Siegel about Tiny Dancer, writing as healing, evolving collaborative processes, and the pressures of the world of ballet; and Stjepan Šejić about Fine Print, lore simplicity, foreshadowed endings, and adding layers to sexy fun.
Daniel Elkin speaks with Conor Stechschulte about Generous Bosom, elevator pitches, adapting comics for screen, and the mutability of identities.
Women Write About Comics
Kate Tanski interviews Cliff Chiang about Catwoman: Lonely City, editorial experience and creative independence, organic page composition, and taking inspiration from The Limey.
Rocketmen from the Lewis/Leon The Winter Soldiers. Bid on this original art to benefit the family of John Paul Leon. Bidding starts at $500. Reply to this tweet with your bid and #wintermen. Highest bid wins. Add $25 for Shipping. Auction closes November 8, 12pmPST. @WeAreZoop pic.twitter.com/LgpO2cu9H3
— Walter Simonson (@WalterSimonson) November 1, 2021
Inconceivable… This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Robert K. Elder writes on the enigmatic nature of Jeffrey Catherin Jones’ model and muse Sandi Zinaman, and speaks to those who knew them about Zinaman’s place in comics history - “Zinaman wasn’t public about her modeling, but she didn’t hide it either. Her husband, Dan Green, was also a painter and an artist for DC and Marvel Comics and had used her in his own work. But, as Jones’ muse, Zinaman shows up in the work that would carry the artist from cartoonist and fantasy paperback illustrator to a revered painter in the Pre-Raphaelite tradition.”
• Also for TCJ, Greg Hunter and Uncivilised Books share an excerpt from the upcoming book New Realities: the Comics of Dash Shaw, specifically an essay examining Shaw’s comic Cosplayers - “Shaw reserves a mixed-media approach for standalone portraits of cosplayers, e.g. using scraps of comics behind an out-of-shape Cyclops and Phoenix or magazine clippings to encircle a Gambit with glasses. This is not to say Shaw’s visual decisions are altogether less evident in Cosplayers. For example, Cosplayers doesn’t attempt to conceal various digital effects.”
• White smoke issues forth from the chimney, as a new comics website makes itself known to the world, as Scott Cederlund and Mike Baxter’s From Cover to Cover launches with fresh pieces on We Run and Eternals.
• For The Washington Post, as books on a variety of subjects deemed incompatible with the minds of young readers are banned from libraries in school districts across the United States, Maia Kobabe writes (and cartoons) on the experience of having one’s work targeted as part of wider protests against the rights of transgender students.
• Over at The Middle Spaces, Monica Geraffo writes on Willi Smith’s design of Mary Jane Watson’s wedding dress for The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, and the context in which the gown (and Smith himself) appeared in the comic, published two months after Smith’s death from AIDS-related complications.
• For NeoText Review, Graeme McMillan writes in defence of Scott McCloud’s Reinventing Comics, and the extent to which it predicted the medium, and its attendant industry, would ride the digital wave of the internet.
• Over at Women Write About Comics, Laura Grafton explores the satire of Aminder Dhaliwal’s Woman World, the self-publishing afforded by social media, and the new context that the comic takes on in the age of COVID-19.
• Shelfdust’s Field Theory series continues, as Corey Smith considers the existentialism at the heart of Garfield; and X-Roulette sees the pill land on #209, and thus Steve Morris must view the world of the X-Men through the lens of the British class system, before making the correct argument that Bruce Wayne’s inherited ca$h money should indeed be invested heavily into beatdowns.
• We are now in the home straight for the test of everybody’s patience that was 2021 AD, and thus - best of year lists - early entries in the canon have arrived from Publisher’s Weekly and Comic Book Herald, but these will be far from the last, believe you me.
• Mike Peterson rounds up the editorial beat, over at The Daily Cartoonist, as the metaverse leaves a lot to be desired, the spookiest of seasons came and went, stupidity trickled down from top to bottom, Glasgow played host to bickering, and the electoral system tends towards entropy.
The time has come to part with a piece I've kept with me for a long time. I've had many inquiries about this one over the years, but wasn't able to let it go, until now
If you're interested in adding this to your original art collection, now's your chance:https://t.co/VwNDPu9ql5 pic.twitter.com/flbOEgfLum
— Casey W. Coller (@CaseyWColler) November 4, 2021
Dramaturges, Inc… This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Here at TCJ, Comix Experience’s recent Graphic Novel of the Month Club with Pornsak Pichetshote and Alexandre Tefengki was featured, as Brian Hibbs spoke with the pair about The Good Asian, and elsewhere on the channel Paul Pope discussed Heavy Liquid as October’s pick for Masterpiece Selection.
• Women In Comics Collective International hosted a panel discussion, moderated by Christine Pasalo Norland, with speakers Barbara Brandon-Croft, Bianca Xunise, and Steenz, celebrating the work of Jackie Ormes, how comics syndication has changed and evolved, and audience questions on the work and legacy of Ormes.
• Coming later this month, as part of Book Week Scotland, Kelly Kanayama will be hosting a live panel on the past, present, and future of comics with speakers Olivia Hicks and Shuning Ji, available to stream for free between 15th and 21st of November.
• Drawn & Quarterly’s Live in-conversation series continued, as this week Sophie Yanow interviewed Mirion Malle about This Is How I Disappear, creative processes, and the inspiring experimentation of manga. (Conversation proper begins around the 6 minute mark.)
• Cartoonist Kayfabe continued apace, as this week Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg (and sometimes Tom Scioli) to a look at John Byrne’s work in Alpha Flight #6, Josh Simmons’ Birth of the Bat, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction, Bernie Wrightson’s work in Frankenstein Alive, Alive!, Charles M. Schulz’ Unseen Peanuts, and Mike Allred/Joe Sinnott teaming up in Untold Tales of Spider-Man ‘96, plus an in-depth interview with Scott McCloud about a career in making and educating on the making of comics.
• A few trips up in the Word Balloon with John Siuntres, as fellow passengers included Andy Belanger speaking about the Psycho Goreman comic book, Greg Pak on cooking book memoirs and a little bit of comics writing chat, and Chip Zdarsky discussing Newburn and writing challenges thrown down by manga.
• Speaking of which, David Brothers hosted this week’s episode of Mangasplaining, as the team discussed the humour of Keiichi Arawi’s City Volume 1, before Brothers spoke with Nick Dragotta about the work of Tsutomu Nihei.
• David Harper welcomed Third Eye Comics’ Steve Anderson to Off Panel this week, as they spoke about the status quo of comics retail, and the various upheavals the Direct Market is being subjected to.
• Also on that subject, Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come saw Calvin Reid, Heidi MacDonald, and Kate Fitzsimons convening to discuss the various problems facing the Direct Market and the book supply chain in general, plus: Facebook issues.
child's play pic.twitter.com/AbVR3vquxu
— rii abrego (@riibrego) October 28, 2021
That’s all for this week, back again soon after we in the UK have celebrated an attempt on the life of King James I by spending a few evenings *checks notes* setting off fireworks and burning effigies. Ahhhhh, history!
take carrie to the prom pic.twitter.com/srf1UwvoGn
— fatima 🌻🌷🌼🌹 (@fatimajpeg) November 3, 2021