A bad week for losing good people, but, with the speed of the modern news cycle, the experiences being shared under #comicsbrokeme over the last few days should not be overlooked, as the same stories of publishers failing to pay what they owe, or attempting to snare creators in predatory contracts, just keep happening, and will not go away on their own, likely requiring informed, collective action to see any meaningful change in the industry. This week’s links, below.
for wepresent on creative manifestation✨ pic.twitter.com/9tLHBDzuy5
— - ̗̀ ᴍɪᴄʜᴇʟʟᴇ ̖́ - (@meeshell_t) June 12, 2023
This week’s news.
• Starting this week in Tehran, as it was reported by political rights groups that cartoonist Atena Farghadani was arrested last week by Iranian authorities on as yet undisclosed charges, following the publication of a satirical cartoon on Instagram, the first cartoon Farghadani had published on the account in over three years - Farghadani had previously been sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison in 2015 under charges which included ‘insulting members of parliament through paintings', but the sentence was subsequently reduced to 18 months by an appeal court.
• Elsewhere, and Marvel this week filed decisions to terminate lawsuits against Larry Lieber and the estates of Gene Colan, Don Heck, and Don Rico, after reaching amicable settlements regarding the defendants attempts to reclaim copyright interests in various superhero characters - the legal dispute between Marvel and the estate of Steve Ditko, over the characters of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, however, is still ongoing.
• Artificial Intelligence news, and it was announced that Tezuka Productions will be releasing a new episode of Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack, created using the GPT-4 large language model, with Tezuka’s son Makoto Tezuka acknowledging that the idea “is an outrageous one,” and making the claim that “Osamu Tezuka would have definitely used AI if he were alive.”
• Webtoon news, and Apple announced that it has entered into an agreement with Kenaz, a webtoon production company, to supply Korean webtoons and produce original content for the Apple Books platform, as Kenaz looks to retain its independence from Naver and Kakao, the duelling giants of digital comics in South Korea.
• Comics publisher parent corp news, and Embracer Group, owner of Dark Horse Comics, announced this week that it would be undergoing a mass restructuring, with layoffs expected, following the collapse of a planned $2 billion partnership, with a view to shifting from a “current heavy-investment-mode to a highly cash-flow generative business.”
• Comics grants news, and Zainab Akhtar’s ShortBox announced this week the opening of a call for applications to a mini-grants program for Muslim cartoonists and comic creators, with four grants of £300 available, with a submission deadline of 14th July.
• In memoriam, remembering those the world of comics has lost, and news was shared this week of the passing of John Romita, Sr., who died earlier this week, aged 93 - Tom Spurgeon’s 2003 interview with Romita, originally published in The Comics Journal #252, can be read here.
• News was also shared of the passing of artist and musician Ian McGinty, creator of Welcome to Showside, who died earlier this month of natural causes, aged 38 - McGinty’s passing spurred the #comicsbrokeme conversation on social media sites, with friends invited to make a contribution in McGinty's name to The Hero Initiative.
Excited to say the @cartoonistcoop is running The 2023 Comics Worker Survey! We're tracking page rates, advances, royalties, and more!
— sloane (@sloanesloane) June 14, 2023
This week’s reviews.
• Chris Ready reviews the revisionist re-imagining of Rebellion’s Battle Action #1 - “When held up against the comparatively somber Battle, Commando is far more interested in depicting warfare as a rolling opportunity for valorous behavior, rather than the meat-grinder that soldiers actually experience.”
• Tegan O’Neil reviews the shining ambition of Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phil Jimenez, Gene Ha, Nicola Scott, et al’s Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons - “Even if Wonder Woman isn’t your cup of ouzo, the three artists here have come together to accomplish something, if you’ll excuse the hoary cliché, greater than the sum of its parts. A real showstopper for all concerned.”
• David Brooke reviews the bold premise of Robert Kirkman, Lorenzo De Felici, Mateus Lopes, et al’s Void Rivals #1.
• Ronnie Gorham reviews the awesome details of Doug Wagner, Doug Dabbs, et al’s Klik Klik Boom #1.
• Rory Wilding reviews the dense ingredients of Scott Snyder and Francesco Francavilla’s Night of the Ghoul.
• Collier Jennings reviews the breezy blend of Evan Narcisse, Charles Stewart III, et al’s Static Team-Up: Anansi #1.
• Lia Williamson reviews the satisfying ending of Kelly Thompson, Javier Pina, et al’s Captain Marvel #50.
• Zack Quaintance reviews the rare success of Robert Kirkman, Lorenzo De Felici, et al’s Void Rivals #1.
• Rebecca Oliver Kaplan and Avery Kaplan reviews the exciting celebrations of Marvel Comics’ Marvel’s Voices: Pride #1.
• Cori McCreery reviews the phenomenal fun of Jeremy Adams, Xermánico, et al’s Green Lantern #2.
Andy Oliver reviews:
- The important contrasts of Julia Kaye’s My Life in Transition.
- The resonant relationships of Edmund White, Brian Alessandro, Michael Carroll, and Igor Karash’s A Boy’s Own Story.
- The delightful positivity of Harry Woodgate’s Grandad’s Pride.
- The distinctive eccentricities of Yugo Limbo’s Be Kind, My Neighbor.
- The accessible magic of Melissa Capriglione’s Basil and Oregano.
House to Astonish
Paul O’Brien has capsule reviews of Marvel Comics’ Immortal X-Men #12, X-Men #23, X-Men: Before The Fall – Mutant First Strike #1, Bishop: War College #5, X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #90, and Deadpool: Badder Blood #1.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan Carey reviews the naturalistic joy of Elise Dietrich’s Pandemic Parade.
From Cover to Cover
Scott Cederlund rooted anger of G. Willow Wilson, Marcio Takara, et al’s Poison Ivy: The Virtuous Cycle.
Nick Smith reviews the interesting mix of BLAB! Volume 1, edited by Monte Beauchamp
Tom Batten has a capsule review of the affectionate insights of Luca Debus and Francesco Matteuzzi’s Funny Things: A Comic Strip Biography of Charles M. Schulz.
London Review of Books
Sarah Resnick reviews the deft pacing of Kate Beaton's Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands.
• Robbie Pleasant reviews the solid action of Chad Bowers, Rob Liefeld, et al’s Deadpool: Badder Blood #1.
• Christopher Egan reviews the plodding simplicity of Nadia Shammas, Dillon Snook, et al's Dead by Daylight #1.
• Matthew Blair reviews the fresh frights of Ryan Cady, Andrea Mutti, et al's Haunt You to the End #1.
• Mark Tweedale reviews the formal experimentation of Tate Brombal, Ray Fawkes, Jeff Lemire, et al’s Colonel Weird and Little Andromeda.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The charming self-examination of Navied Mahdavian’s This Country: Searching for Home in (Very) Rural America.
- The unorthodox idiosyncrasies of Sivan Piatigorsky-Roth’s Diana: My Graphic Obsession.
- The vivid gravity of Ibram X. Kendi and Joel Christian Gill’s Stamped from the Beginning: A Graphic History of Racist Ideas in America.
- The cutting sophistication of David Simon and Philippe Squarzoni’s Homicide: The Graphic Novel, Part One.
- The fraught vignettes of Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s The Naked Tree, translated by Janet Hong.
Tynan Stewart reviews the remarkable vulnerability of Julia Wertz’s Impossible People: A Completely Average Recovery Story.
The Washington Post
Rachelle Hampton reviews the delightful humour of Benji Nate’s Girl Juice.
Women Write About Comics
Bishop V Navarro reviews the changing tempo of Jed MacKay, Pasqual Ferry, et al’s Doctor Strange #1 & #2.
Daredevil commission pic.twitter.com/OjjQUotrVW
— Matt Lesniewski (@MattLesniewski) June 10, 2023
This week’s interviews.
• Jean Marc Ah-Sen interviews Arizona O’Neill about Est-ce qu’un artiste peut être heureux?, how takes on happiness from artists fit with their practice, and multi-disciplinary work as a shared universe - “I think the elusive nature of happiness is something that torments everyone. I have always believed that happiness was a social construct. It is an unobtainable goal that is dangled in front of us to keep us on track. We are led to believe that if you follow the steps of marriage, house, kids, [that] you can find happiness. After writing the book, I understood that being content is better than fleeting happiness.”
• From The Comics Journal #309, John Porcellino presents an excerpt of a conversation with Inés Estrada about Cartoon Spirituality and Alienation, and the problem solving aspect of creative endeavours - “I think there’s something really magical about drawing because it’s a way that you’re manifesting an idea, you’re invoking this concept for other people to see too, and with characters it’s very defined what that you’re communicating, it’s not just any animal or whatever, it’s a specific personification of an entity. I mean, it can be Ra or Bugs Bunny. Both are cartoon characters, except one had a spiritual meaning and the other has come to evolve into a brand.”
• Jason Novak presents a fresh edition of Dialogue Balloons, illustrating a conversation with Tom Kaczynski about artificial intelligence, mimetic contagion of the general public, and humanity’s relationship with tech.
Chris Coplan speaks with:
- Chris Condon and Nick Cagnetti about Xino and why works of fiction matter.
- Scott Hoffman about Nostalgia and drawing from experiences in the music industry.
- Eric Palicki about Black’s Myth: The Key to His Heart and collaborating with Wendell Cavalcanti.
- Michael Moreci and Nathan Gooden about Queen of Swords: A Barbaric Story and compartmentalising a story.
Heidi MacDonald interviews Robert Kirkman about Skybound’s plans for Transformers and GI Joe, and keeping licensed comics exciting for the reader.
Andy Oliver talks to Nicole Goux about Pet Peeves, getting to flex storytelling muscles on the book, and struggling to talk about its story due to its layers.
Brigid Alverson chats with:
- Ablaze’s Rich Young about successes in the webtoon market and picking winning titles, and translational sales predictions from digital to print.
- DC’s Katie Kubert about the publisher’s webtoon program, differences from the mainline DC audience, and print editions of the digital stories.
- Marvel's Jessica Malloy about the publisher's strategy for Marvel Infinity Comics, and the universal intrigue of Jeff the Landshark.
- Webtoon’s David Lee about the company’s program adapting webnovels to webtoons, and the decisions behind moving books from digital to print.
- Archie Comics’ Jamie Rotante about using Webtoon for long-form storytelling, and how Big Ethel Energy is faring in print and on screens.
The Mary Sue
Madeline Carpou talks to Julia Wertz about Impossible People: A Completely Average Recovery Story, thoughts on motherhood, and the changing face of the comics career path.
Heidi MacDonald interviews Jerry Craft about School Trip, book bannings, the readers being failed by book removals, and touring a new book in the midst of this.
JK Parkin speaks with Nick Cagnetti about Xino, video game influences, the collaborative process, and prepping Pink Lemonade for its collected edition.
— $corpion Millionaire (@ohnosam) June 14, 2023
This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Valerio Stivé reports from 2023’s Comicon Napoli, the first part of which took place at the end of April, with a follow-up event in Bergamo later this month, and compares the festival to Lucca Comics - “In addition, on the second day of the festival, S.S.C. Napoli was expected to win the national football championship. The title had not actually been secured yet, but the numbers were on their side; they only needed to win one more match. The team and the city had waited 33 years for a national title - it hadn't happened since the era of Diego Armando Maradona in 1990.”
• The passing of John Romita, Sr., who died this week, aged 93, received widespread coverage, including pieces from AIPT, The Beat, BBC News, CNN, Deadline, Entertainment Weekly, Forbes, The Guardian, ICv2, The Los Angeles Times, Marvel Comics, Multiversity Comics, Smash Pages, and Variety, amongst others.
• For Publisher’s Weekly, Heidi MacDonald covers how librarians in the U.S. are fighting back against book bans, and trying to keep challenged comics available for younger readers.
• Over at ICv2, Rob Salkowitz looks at how webtoon platforms are operating as businesses, and whether they are set to repeat the mistakes of print publishers when it comes to creator support.
• For The New Yorker, Stephanie Burt continues the magazine’s coverage of translating comic books to motion pictures, looking at the promise that the Spider-Verse films show in emulating the visual ingenuity of their source material.
• Shelfdust’s Steve Morris’ Dust to Dust series continues, as this week it’s a look back at the end of Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s She-Hulk run, and the panicked rush of a comic canned before its time.
• From the world of open access academia, in the Interactive Film & Media Journal, Özge Sayılgan examines various types of digital comics, comparing their interactivity and linearity, and how the former may not necessarily exclude the latter.
• The latest issue of Research on Diversity in Youth Literature is a special edition focused on diversity in graphic novels, featuring articles on LGBTQ+ characters of colour in comics, a framework for critical race theory in comics education settings, and focus studies on Lowriders to the Center of the Earth and the graphic memoir of Malaka Gharib.
Randall Park makes his directorial debut with #Shortcomings, based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Adrian Tomine. Watch the trailer and see it exclusively in theaters August 4. pic.twitter.com/psRHyqfeZ3
— Sony Pictures Classics (@sonyclassics) June 14, 2023
This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come saw Heidi MacDonald speaking with Austin English and Kristy Valenti about The Comics Journal Yearbook Best of 2022, Domino Comics, and the state of comics criticism in the age of market saturation.
• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden reconvened for more Thick Lines, as they spoke about Eddy Atoms’ Pinky and Pepper Forever and Becca Tobin’s Rock Collector, as well as thoughts on the art school experience, and what would improve The X-Files.
• David Harper welcomed Kyle Starks to Off Panel, as they discussed current creator-owned and work-for-hire, collaborating with Steve Pugh, DC’s Black Label imprint, dogs in comics, and plans for the future..
• Catching up with some recent Word Balloon live interviews, as John Siuntres talked with John McCrea about Mars Attacks Judge Dredd, Van Jensen about Arca, Howard Chaykin about Hey Kids! Comics!, as well as a typically freewheeling conversation with Rob Liefeld.
• Ending the week with Cartoonist Kayfabe, as Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor took a look at Hart D. Fisher’s Kill Image and Kill Marvel, Dan Jurgens and Ron Frenz’s Superman #123, Nick Manabat's Cybernary, John Byrne and Whilce Portacio’s X-Men 282 and 283, and Wizard #56.
— Fantagraphics (@fantagraphics) June 7, 2023
That’s all for this week, it’s too hot for any more links, just way too hot.
— rico. (@whoisrico) June 15, 2023