Once You’re Inside You’re On Your Own – This Week’s Links

Well. That was certainly a week, but thankfully it's all ov- Wait... I'm being told it's far from over. Ah.

ANYHOO. Throughout it all comics kept on keeping on, and thus there are links to be read below, if you find yourself in need of a distraction, rather than simply collapsing into a heap of exhaustion due to nervous tension. 

The system works!



Literally no other stories matter… This week’s news.

• Kicking off the week with something of a recurring theme, as analysts look back over the sales figures of the last year and try to figure out if there are any conclusions to be drawn other than “the offline retail sector really does not fare well during a pandemic” - ultimately, there’s more hammering home of the 19/20 dichotomy, as comic sales’ hot-streak came crashingly to an end over lockdown, and the resultant store closures and publisher shutdowns, and the flip from comic store domination of sales figures to the book channel’s diversified distribution continued in the wake of Diamond’s temporary halt on business during the early months of the pandemic.

• Koyama Press announced the next in their series of Provides grants this week, awarding $1,000 to Dustin Harbin, who will use the funds to offset costs of 2-color risograph printing, and an increase in size, for this latest work - "Because of the greater than normal detail of this comic, and especially the scope and scale of some of the scenery I’m drawing (the wide open desert of Joshua Tree), being able to print larger gives me the opportunity to create something a little more impactful, lean into some of the details, and generally draw one million lumpy rocks littered everywhere."

• Some awards news out of Japan, as this week Kodansha presented the sophomore Noma Publishing Culture Award to Koyoharu Gotouge for the widespread success of manga series (and subsequent hot multimedia property) Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba; and the Japanese government’s fall 2020 Medal with Purple Ribbon was presented to Rumiko Takahashi, creator of Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha (among many others), for her contributions to academic and artistic developments in the span of a 42 year career, thus far.

• Bowing out on the most news-packed of weekends in the US calendar, The Washington Post’s Tom Toles retired from the political cartoon beat, with a final strip that looks back over his own career, and leaving behind the kind of legacy that 15,000 comics filed over 50 years (and netting a Pulitzer Prize along the way) will uphold in blood, sweat, and ink on the page.

• Via Animation Magazine, René “Pepo” Ríos’ Condorito comic strip, one of the biggest comic properties in Latin America, is to be adapted for screen as an adult animation - the strip currently has an annual readership of over 80 million, and the production team are aiming for the cartoon “to be enjoyed all over the world, not just in [Latin America]”.

• In red-hot, scorching corporate synergy news, we’ve got some more streamlining of verticals, as Aftershock Media absorb literary management firm Alibi into their ameboid content entity, and, bah gawd… That’s… That’s Marvel Worldwide Inc.’s music, and they just might be coming for the squared circle, which would probably include some kind of Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation tie-in, if I’m any judge, and my black-and-white-striped top suggests that I am.



Best of the best, depending on your point of view… This week’s reviews.


Jamey Keeton reviews the kinetic trajectories of Jason Howard’s Big Girls, one of this year’s roster of Kaiju-utilising cautionary tales - “Big Girls drew me in initially by tapping into a sort of cultural memory and imagination by re-presenting to me familiar tropes and images of giants fighting each other as they tower over cityscapes and the small people afraid of them. Despite the familiar feelings, the story reads fresh, fun, and most importantly—comic. Which is to say, its delicate balance between verbosity and active, vibrant lines and colors produces interesting storytelling at times.”



• Jordan Richards reviews the refreshing intelligence of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s eminently memeable Chainsaw Man Volume 1.

• Arbaz M. Khan reviews the discomforting paranoia of Jordan Thomas and Clark Bint’s Frank at Home on the Farm, and the confident spectacle of Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, et al’s Crossover #1.

• David Brooke reviews a pair of returning favourites with the uneasy poetry of Jeff Lemire and José Villarrubia Sweet Tooth: The Return #1, and the Bezos-baiting of Christopher Priest, Georges Jeanty, et al’s U.S.Agent #1.

• Alex Curtis reviews the assured aesthetics of Katie Skelly’s Maids.

• Nathan Simmons reviews the intriguing satire of Peter Milligan, Michael Montenat, et al’s Happy Hour #1.

• Sam Rutzick tosses a coin to the pleasant surprise of Bartosz Sztybor and Amad Mir’s The Witcher: Fading Memories #1.


The Beat

John Seven takes the Indie View and reviews the unassuming politeness of Owen D. Pomery’s Victory Point.


Broken Frontier

• John Trigonis reviews the sexy shortcomings of Alex De Campi and Erica Henderson's Dracula, Motherf**ker!.

• Tom Murphy reviews the unorthodox hooks of Peter Milligan, Michael Montenat, et al's Happy Hour #1.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan C reviews a twofer from Brian Canini, with the throwaway miscellany of Three Stories and the flawless populism of Two More Stories.


Multiversity Comics

• Robbie Pleasant reviews the misplaced punchline of Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok, et al’s Batman: Three Jokers #3.

• Noel Thorne reviews the dated cliches of Ralph Macchio, Simon Buonfantino, et al’s Black Widow: Widow’s Sting #1.

• Kate Kosturski reviews the happy climax of Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals #69.

• Jacob Hill reviews the effective terrors of Chris Grine’s adaptation of KA Applegate and Michael Grant’s Animorphs: The Invasion.

• Chrstopher Chiu-Tabet reviews the longwinded goofs of Robert Napton, El Garing, Kerry Gammill, et al's Bram Stoker’s Dracula Starring Bela Lugosi.

• Kobi Bordoley reviews the generic beauty of Clay McLeod Chapman, Jakub Rebelka, et al's Origins #1.


The New York Times

Gene Luen Yang reviews a duo of ‘Kids’ Graphic Novels That Turn the Superhero Genre on Its Head’, looking at the sparkling exploits of Jennifer Muro, Thomas Krajewski, Gretel Lusky, et al’s Primer; and the wondrous delights of Pascal Jousselin and Laurence Croix’ Mister Invincible.



Etelka Lehoczky reviews the saving graces of Ram V, Anand RK, et al’s Blue in Green.



Dave Gonzales reviews the Lynchian puzzle of Jeff Lemire and José Villarrubia’s Sweet Tooth: The Return #1. 



• Alex Hoffman reviews the harrowing themes of Celine Loup’s The Man Who Came Down The Attic Stairs.

• Ryan Carey reviews the meticulous immediacy of Derf Backderf’s Kent State: Four Dead In Ohio.


Women Write About Comics

• Zoe Tunnell reviews the dull self-indulgence of Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, et al’s Crossover #1.

• Emily Lauer reviews the kind quirkyness of Sarah Andersen’s Fangs.




Ask me about anything, just not how I’m  doing… This week’s interviews.


• Hillary Brown talks to Adrian Tomine about The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist, adapting to the pandemic lifestyle, the depressing psychology of perfection, and the response to the book since its publication - “It's always been easier for me to express certain aspects of my personality through art, and that's one of those habits that kind of reinforces itself over time. Subconsciously, I'm thinking, "Well, this is working out fine for me," and then it's kind of a wake-up call when my wife or kids say, "Well, actually, not really." I've got decades worth of suppressed emotions, and it would probably be healthier if I just unleashed it all in real life, but to be honest, I kind of think that's what gives the best comics their special, electric quality.”

• Ian Thomas interviews Aubrey Sitterson about his work on both sides of the comics production line, new crowdfunded comic Beef Bros, and the joys of wrasslin’ and the difficulty of conveying that through different media - “I think that just stylistically a lot of contemporary comics have moved away from the beauty of physical struggle in favor of other ways of using and exploring the medium, which is great. Let’s do all of it. But for me, what I like is people hitting each other.”


The Art Newspaper

Tom Seymour talks to Benedikt Taschen as the publishing company sharing his name celebrates its 40th birthday, the basic equation of comic collecting as investment, comic retail entrepreneurship in the 1980s, and taking the populist approach to art books.



As Doonesbury edges closer to retirement age, celebrating its 50th birthday last month, Hugh Delehanty interviews Gary Trudeau about the downsides of success, creating in real-time, and how editorial cartooning is faring in the digital age.


The Beat

• Joe Grunenwald interviews Peter Milligan about new series Happy Hour, the joys of dreaming up a fascist regime, lessons to be learned from Bertrand Russell, and lessons to be learned from 2020.

• Billy Henehan talks to Michel Fiffe about Copra's return to self-publishing, advice from Mr Todd McFarlane, and Copra achieving total world domination.

• Joe Grunenwald interviews Ivan Cohen about conjuring up new teen superheroes for DC, alternate realities, and bringing non-binary characters to gender-swapped teams.

• Avery Kaplan hops on a virtual plane and travels to Simon Hanselmann's Animal Crossing Island to sightsee, mourn the loss of Belgian cartoonist Ward Zwart, and dig into Hanselmann's use of the 12-panel grid.


The Guardian

• Sam Jones talks to Javier de Isusi about his iconoclastic graphic novel The Divine Comedy of Oscar Wilde, researching the history of the writer’s later years, and imagining the end for his favourite author.

• As England heads back into a second lockdown, Alison Flood interviews Bookshop.org’s Andy Hunter about bringing the indie-bookstore sales portal to the UK, just in time for a very odd Christmas retail season, and how the service has been working overall in 2020.


Multiversity Comics

• Kyle Welch interviews Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou about the art of lettering comics, making things legible and keeping them readable, and what the job actually entails.

• Rowan Grover talks to Aubrey Sitterson and Tyrell Cannon about new book Beef Bros, dissecting and encouraging the flip-side of toxic masculinity, and the bells and whistles of crowdfunding.



Michel Martin talks to Tom Toles about his career in political cartooning, retiring after 50 years of illustration, the history of editorial cartooning, and the nature (and responsibilities) of the medium.


Publisher’s Weekly

• Brian Heater interviews Peter Bagge about the upcoming return of Buddy Bradley in The Complete Hate, the aspects of himself he sees in the character, and why the character stuck with him (or vice versa) for so long.

• Brigid Alverson talks to Katy Farina about adapting best-selling novels Baby-Sitters Little Sisters, the way those adaptations have influenced her creator-owned work, and the challenges of writing engaging stories for younger readers.



Karama Horne catches up with Alex Paknadel and John Lê about new mecha comic series Giga, how aliens would truly view humanity and our petty squabbles, writing fictional texts within fictional texts, and depictions of disability in comics.


Zine Love

Have an in-depth interview with the one man wrecking crew of comics and manga, Jog the Blog, one Mr Joe McCulloch, about his comics origins, ghosts of Free Comic Book Days past, why you shouldn’t watch A Boy And His Dog with your parents, finding the writing groove, and more.



Genuine respect for people who managed to write anything the past seven days… This week’s features and comics.

• Here at TCJ, RC Harvey presents a fresh Hare Tonic, looking at the themes and sources of Adrian Tomine’s latest, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist, and the effectiveness of the sense of self it seeks to portray - “Tomine’s memoir is engaging and wonderfully persuasive. But its success depends entirely upon our knowing that Tomine is a published cartoonist whose works...are highly regarded. Despite that, his experiences don’t live up to his reputation—in his mind. He portrays himself as forever agonizing about one thing or another.”

• For The Middle Spaces, Osvaldo Oyola presents part 1 of an essay on the Legion of Super-Heroes depiction of race via the character of Tyroc, the extremely problematic nature of the character, and the template his treatment represents for superhero comics’ widespread disavowal of marginalising fictional Black communities.

• While the election itself descended into chaos, editorial cartooning kind of kept it together on the eve of in-person voting, as catalogued by The Daily Cartoonist, along with a brief history lesson of the electoral college, and even the cartoon cats were getting in on the action, as the counting went on and on into the night.

• For the New York Times, Norimitsu Onishi and Constant Méheut write on recent developments in France regarding cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, the legal history of France’s secularism, responses from Muslim groups to the inherent Islamophobia of hardening governmental defence of such cartoons, and extremist attacks that are being linked to their publication and (again) causing the conflation of Muslims equalling terrorists.

• Solrad continue their look at the current state of the comics industry, as Ken Eppstein weighs the living wage against page-rates offered by non-profits, and how to get the two to meet in the middle, so people can, you know, live off the wage paid for their craft.

• A couple of recent (open-access) academic papers, as the University of Warwick’s Doro Wiese explores narrative voice in Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Riad Sattouf’s The Arab of the Future, and how it subverts genre norms, while the University of Leeds’ Pier Simone Pischedda writes on patterns in translations of Italian Disney comics, across a span of 60 years.

• For The Beat, and because love of horror is for life and not just one month of the year, Ricardo Serrano Denis has a round-up of  recent horror comics to read as the nights draw in, while Broken Frontier’s Andy Oliver looks back to Marvel Comics’ horror boom of the 70s, including the underrated The Living Mummy.

• Over at Shelfdust Charlotte Finn says it’s time for superpowered animal companions in Astro City, Steve Morris says it’s time for vengeance in Amazing Spider-Man #327, Graeme McMillan says it’s time for The End in Scooby Apocalypse #36, Cori McCreery says it’s time for off-brand Galactus in Infinite Crisis, Corrina Lawson says it's time for journalistic ethics in Infinite Crisis, Mo Ali says it’s time for Batman to attack and dethrone Gotham, and Sara Century says it's time for Wetworks to continue to always and forever be Wetworks.

• For SYFY Wire, Stephanie Williams looks at the intimacy of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, and their romantic life together, which is actually quite nice when not being pulled apart by robot-armed maniacs or wished out of existence by devil-pacts. 2020, AMIRIGHT.

• Los Angeles Review of Books has a piece by DW McKinney on the rise of Korean manhwa, and the driving force of Webtoons’ platform for the medium in recent years, along with recent hits from Drawn and Quarterly and Iron Circus.

• Getting the jump on nearly every other outlet, Publisher’s Weekly have put their advance reviews to work and present their list of the best graphic novels of 2020, and if you’ve been reading along with these columns this year you can probably guess who they’ve gone for, but I won’t spoil *the prestige* for you.

• For NeoText, Chloe Maveal presents a look at the frenetic artwork of Simon Bisley, including mega-hunks Sláine and Lobo, and Benjamin Marra provides the intro to a nice gallery of Bill Sienkiewicz’ takes on The Shadow.

• Writing the entry for this one on the afternoon of Wednesday 4th November, it’s kind of stressing me out to read through Insider’s Donald Trump graphic novel, by Josh Adams and Anthony Del Col, but maybe you’re made of sterner stuff than me, a person with absolutely no skin in the game, as the game goes to overtime?

• Looking to the protests taking place in Poland, as the country passed even more restrictive abortion laws last week, Kasia Babis looks at the symbols the resistance to this status quo have taken up, and the media narrative they're fighting against.

• For The New Yorker, Carol Lay provides a how-to if you just want to go hog wild and behave how the founding fathers would have wanted.

• As a collaboration between Toronto’s Festival of Authors and Comic Arts Festival, the #insequencecomicjam brought together 11 artists to jam on the theme of ‘Bringing a New World Into Focus’, and you can read the results now.

• David Lee Roth multimedia comic project? David Lee Roth multimedia comic project.



Turn up, tune in, tune in, tune in, tune in… This week’s recommended watching and listening.

• The latest workshop from Believer Magazine and The Black Mountain Institute saw cartoonist and educator Sophie Lucido Johnson taking viewers through drawing what scares them, and overcoming any lingering fear of drawing, appropriately enough for Halloween. (starts around the 13 minute mark, once the fish mask is removed, which will make a lot more sense if you watch it)

• A trip back to summer, as Comix Experience revisited the July 2020 edition of the Graphic Novel Club, with Brian Hibbs welcoming Chris Miskiewicz and Noah Van Sciver to the show to talk about Grateful Dead Origins (reviewed on TCJ here), the collaborative process and quality control, and answer audience questions.

• The eyes have it, in this week’s edition of Strip Panel Naked, as Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou looks at the expressive work of Shuzo Oshimi in Blood On The Tracks, and how they’re an effective window for the reader to experience horror through.

• The virtual International Comics Art Forum is now well under way, and you can catch up on a recent round-table discussion on comics publishing and the growth of the market now, as well as this week’s series of videos on feminist discourse in female-led superhero comics - the full upcoming ICAF program is also up online to view here.

• Politics and Prose bookstore presented an interview with Jillian Tamaki this week, hosted by Heidi Yoon, discussing Tamaki’s new book, Our Little Kitchen, and the experience of volunteering at a Brooklyn community kitchen that inspired it.

• Cartoonist Kayfabe didn’t let a little thing like a down-to-the-wire election slow their roll this week, as they celebrated their second birthday, and took a look between the covers of Tim Hensley’s Sir Alfred #3, Russ Heath’s work on Son of Satan #8, Sam Kieth’s The MAXX Artist’s Edition, some classic Steve Ditko comics, the highly influential GI Joe Yearbook #2, and Michael Zulli’s work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

• A similarly busy week over at Word Balloon, as John Siuntres hosted a panel discussion on voting and politics in comics, and interviewed Brad Meltzer about his writing on comics for younger readers, and Mark Millar on his writing for readers who like a lot of fights and exposition in their comics.

• Another Inkpulp educational twofer this week, as you can learn how to paint the Dark Knight from Shawn Crystal and how to ink comic books from Jim Mahfood, Tim Sale, and Klaus Janson - now form a band!

• Shelfdust Presents welcomed Claire Napier to the show this week, joining host Matt Lune for a dive into Chris Claremont and Jim Lee’s seminal ode to excess, X-Men #1, and the diversion it took from the mutant comics that came before it.

• 2000 AD’s Lockdown Tapes continue, and this week MOLCH-R is talking to Greg Staples about his career journey from sign painting, to comics, to multimedia concept work and creating art for Magic: The Gathering.

• Chip Zdarsky joined David Harper for this week’s episode of Off Panel, talking about the end of Sex Criminals, working on Daredevil and the Marvel Method, as well as Stilt-Man chat, and working on his new book Stillwater with Ramón Pérez.



Well, we made it, and all that it took was the last remnants of our collective sanity. 

But... what’s that? Another week? And then again after that? Until the end of all things? Geez, Louise! 

See you again in 1 x [a long time in politics]!