I write from a hotel room, the first one I’ve been in for over two years, so, for the full immersive reading experience, please think of this week’s links, a selection of which can be found below, as room service, or a well-stocked breakfast buffet. Just don’t think of them as a mini-bar, because I’m not made of money.
— Daisuke Kondo (@kondonote) May 27, 2022
You can find it here… This week’s news.
• Starting off the week with First Amendment news, and the American Library Association shared a statement, supported by various other organisations, condemning attempts by a Virginia political candidate to halt distribution of Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer: A Memoir, with signatories urging “...Virginians–and all Americans–to stand against any attempt to use government action to dictate what we can read and how to think about what we read.”
• Corporate goodbyes news, as Joe Quesada announced that the time has come to depart from Marvel Comics, after more than two decades at the publisher, thanking readers for their support - colleagues at the House of Ideas offered well wishes in the wake of the news.
• Following up last week’s announcement of this year’s nominees for the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, the National Cartoonists Society shared this year’s list of finalists in the myriad Divisional Awards, which you can find here.
• United Workers of Seven Seas, the employees of Seven Seas Entertainment seeking to form a union with Communication Workers of America, shared news that their employer will not be voluntarily recognising said formation, deciding instead to “...respect the right of all eligible employees to vote on this issue,” by apparently hiring a law firm with a storied history of union-busting allegations under their banner. Classy.
• Setting a new speedrun record for the now classic ‘oops, we invited a hugely problematic guest to our event’ routine, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival announced the attendance of Saba Moeel (aka Pink Cat) as a guest at this year’s show, drawing widespread criticism on social media, initially for Moeel’s aggressive embracing of NFTs and Web3. Posters then cited examples of plagiarism, as well as a history of racist, culturally appropriative, and transphobic tweets/statements, leading to a pre-statement from TCAF 48 hours later, and then a complete rescinding of said invitation 70 hours after its original issue, along with an apology for the errors in judgement made. Life comes at you fast.
• Checking in with how comiXology’s migration to Amazon’s proprietary systems is going, and it was announced that Android users will be joining their Apple counterparts in no longer being able to make in-app purchases of comics, due to a conflict with Google’s Play Store policies, and will instead have to do so through the Amazon website, which is itself seen as not fit for purpose.
• Koyama Provides announced the latest recipient of their grant program, awarding $1,500 to Zak Sally, which will be used to “...buy some time at a new studio space to work on and/or produce a new issue of Sammy The Mouse, Recividist, or some other ridiculous print object. Who knows?”
Used up a bottle of ink Batman! pic.twitter.com/jBCF4kdzqu
— Kelley Jones (@kelleyjonesart) May 30, 2022
Books, glorious books… This week’s reviews.
Paul Tumey reviews the detailed dystopia of Fred Forham’s adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World - “This smart graphic adaptation is fully in service to Huxley’s story—and what a story it turns out to be, with sex, adventure, violence, love, tragedy, and vibrant characters woven into a philosophical treatise on God and the meaning of life with Shakespeare thrown in for good measure.”
• Christopher Franey reviews the hopeful aftermath of DC Comics’ Justice League Road to Dark Crisis #1.
• David Brooke reviews the nostalgic fun of Jonathan Luna’s The Phalanx #1.
• Noelle Modelo reviews the opening insights of James Tynion IV, Gavin Fullerton, et al’s The Closet #1.
• Robert Reed reviews the confusing stupidity of John Ridley, Stefano Landini, Matt Milla, et al’s Black Panther #6.
• Cori McCreery reviews the underwhelming payoff of Joshua Williamson, Stephen Segovia, Mike Henderson, Howard Porter, et al’s Shadow War: Omega #1.
• Deanna Destito reviews the inclusive world of Sam Beck's Verse: The Broken Half and Verse: The Second Gate.
Andy Oliver reviews the anthropomorphic action of Nigel Twumasi, Alexander Duval, Pinali, et al’s Serious: Through the Fog; the eerie set-up of James Tynion IV, Gavin Fullerton, et al’s The Closet #1; and the vital slapstick of Scoop Scuttle and His Pals: The Crackpot Comics of Basil Wolverton, edited by Greg Sadowski.
• Gregory Ellner reviews the focused bite of Matthew Rosenberg, Neil Googe, et al’s DC vs. Vampires: Hunters #1.
• Kobi Bordoley reviews the satisfying scares of Juan Doe’s Spectro.
• Christopher Egan reviews the dark horror of James Tynion IV, Gavin Fullerton, et al's The Closet #1.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The big-hearted humour of Michael C. Rex’s Your Pal Fred.
- The action-packed thrills of Liam Francis Walsh’s Red Scare.
Keith Silva reviews the genuine inspiration of Eddie Wright and Dave Chisholm’s Tyranny of the Muse.
— David Shrigley (@davidshrigley) June 2, 2022
People give your ears… This week’s interviews.
• From the archives, Gary Groth interviews Neal Adams, originally published in 1978’s TCJ #43, as they discussed adapting to different disciplines, reputations with deadlines, and getting the market used to new ideas - “One of the concepts I feel very strongly about is that rules are made to be broken. If you can break a rule and do it in an interesting and different way, then it’s almost your obligation to break a rule. I find it fairly common to discover that people find my stories rather easy to read as opposed to difficult to read except in those cases where I go out of my way to make them difficult to read.”
• Brian Nicholson surveys the world of graphic novels for younger readers, speaking with Gina Gagliano, Mike Dawson, and Betsy Bird about their perspective on this booming portion of the book market - “[Gina Gagliano:] I think what publishers are now doing is both publishing in the categories that they’ve seen work really well in graphic novels specifically, and trying out books in these other different spaces and seeing what works when you’ve got an amazing author and a great story. It’s hard to say what the market is going to look like in 20 years because so many different things are happening right now, and people are trying different things. And I think how the market looks in 20 years will be a response to what successes people have now and in the next 5 to 10 years.”
Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Patrick Orsagos interview the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum’s Lucy Shelton Caswell about the Celebrating Sparky: Charles M. Schulz and Peanuts exhibition.
• Joe Grunenwald talks to Brian Level and Kate Sherron about Silk Hills, biblical Appalachian cryptids, the symbolism of winged insects, and pathways to horror.
• Heidi MacDonald speaks with Hayley Gold about Letters to Margaret, the world of crosswords, doing your own thing, and the world of cliques.
• Avery Kaplan chats to Jadzia Axelrod and Jess Taylor about Galaxy: The Prettiest Star, story genesis and DC's alien superheroes continuity, DC's hands-off approach to the book, and the importance of David Bowie.
Rob Salkowitz interviews Denis Kitchen about Creatures from the Subconscious, walking the path of publishing, coming full circle back to drawing, and working with other artists.
David Barnett talks to David Roach and Olivia Hicks about bringing British romance comics back to print, the difficulties inherent in that task, and differences between these and the American form of the time.
Brigid Alverson speaks with Mark Doyle about the new IDW Originals line, building a brand and a roster of creative talent, and marketing to readers and retailers.
Susana Polo interviews Joshua Williamson about Dark Crisis, the many deaths of Superheroes, the 30th anniverssary of The Death of Superman, and landing the emotional beats.
Gabe Habash speaks with Nick Drnaso about Acting Class, looking for the threat in any situation, putting faith in the process, and living vicariously through fulfilled people.
Tony Wei Ling chats to Joe and Anka about SUPERPOSE, working from people’s floors, turning nuance into lines, and people’s relationships to production.
Women Write About Comics
Wendy Browne interviews S.E. Fleenor and Sara Century about Decoded Pride #3, working with creators through a collaborative editing process, and the pains of curation; and Jessi Sheron about The Sea in You, the influence of deadly legends, showing the visual communication of American Sign Language, and the fun bits of character design.
Take frequent breaks from work to stretch, hydrate, and watch 12 ANGRY MEN or another Sidney Lumet film of your choosing. pic.twitter.com/hg9BzUGjJR
— Annie Wu (@AnnieW) May 29, 2022
Written entirely in Caps Lock… This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Matteo Gaspari examines the current comics boom in Italy, and how it could leave key contemporary fumetti authors consigned to the history books, unrecognised by the home crowd, rectifying this by first shining a spotlight on the singular work of Giacomo Nanni - “Starting with Atto di Dio, Nanni refined his voice, setting aside the complicatedness of Cronachette without losing an ounce of depth and complexity; putting behind him the evocative but at times confused plots of Lara Canepa without forgetting its emotional values. In a world so obsessed with graphic novels, but which often and conveniently forgets what “novel” means in order to produce overinflated umbilical short stories that serve little more than the distribution system and the ego of authors, we have a lot to discover from Nanni’s work.”
• Also for TCJ, Tom Shapira writes on John Wagner returning to Judge Dredd's history in "The Citadel", and whether looking back to the past is ever in the best interests of compelling stories starring Old Stony Face - “It helps that Wagner is working with [Dan] Cornwell on this one, with strong color work by Dylan Teague. While Cornwell is not my favorite of the current crop of artists–gimme the detail-heavy brutalism of Chris Weston or the more comedic approach of P.J. Holden any day–he certainly knows his way around action storytelling. There’s something extremely Dredd-appropriate about the incidental way he depicts violence which particularly compliments Wagner's meat-and-potatoes scripting style.”
• For Solrad, Rob Kirby begins a new feature looking back at NOW, rewinding the clock to 2017 and the series’ inaugural issue, along with a brief history of anthologies at Fantagraphics to set the scene.
• Chloe Maveal bids farewell to NeoText Review in time-honoured fashion - by exploring the surprise success of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s absurdist classic, Al’s Baby.
• For the Mangasplaining Extra Newsletter, Deb Aoki writes on Osamu Tezuka’s Unico, tracing the character’s origins back to the world of cute merch, and charting its various appearances on page and screen, returning to the former later this year.
• 13th Dimension similarly heralds the return to print of Captain Action, in the form of a long-awaited collected edition, with writing on the DC series from Mark Waid, Paul Kupperberg, Jim Beard, Ed Catto, and Michael Eury.
• Steve Morris continues Sheldust’s retrospective examination of Mike Carey and Peter Gross’ The Unwritten, this week travelling back to 1886 for issue 5’s detour to chart the rise and fall of Rudyard Kipling.
• Ringing in the convention and festival season, for Publisher’s Weekly, Heidi MacDonald surveys publishers and organisers regarding what they expect from 2022’s comics events circuit, as the industry grapples with an ongoing pandemic and a return to in-person business.
• Elizabeth Sandifer’s Last War In Albion continues, as Garth Ennis’ writing in the same vein as Elmore Leonard gets to the core of John Constantine, and the importance of Pat Mills’ writing in shaping the British Invasion is examined.
• From the world of open-access academia, in Genealogy, Julian Carlos Chambliss, Nicole Huff, Kate Topham, and Justin Wigard “draw on the Comics as Data North America (CaDNA) dataset at Michigan State University to visualize patterns of racial depiction in North American comics from 1890–2018.”
— Ellis Rosen (@EllisRosen) May 31, 2022
Presented in Supermarionation… This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden returned to the Thick Lines of Julie Doucet this week, diving into Time Zone J's version of the infinite scroll, trying to acclimatise to a bottom up reading instruction, and seeing just how much of the author is really open to the reader throughout it's journey into the past.
• Drawn and Quarterly celebrated the launch of The Peanutbutter Sisters & Other American Stories this week, hosting a conversation between author Rumi Hara and Rina Ayuyang, as they spoke about the book’s creation and the process behind it. (Starts around the 8m21s mark.)
• Brian Hibbs presented a double bill of Comix Experience’s book club selections, welcoming Daniel McCloskey to the store to speak about Cloud Town and memories of angry teenage days, and speaking with Anneli Furmark about Walk Me to the Corner and drawing versus painting.
• NPR’s Planet Money’s comics economics experiment continued, as Kenny Malone and Robert Smith dove into the comics collectibles market, in an attempt to bring Micro-Face into the currently booming physical auction scene.
• 2000 AD’s Thrill-Cast returned, as MOLCH-R spoke with Garth Ennis, Keith Burns, and Patrick Goddard about their work in 2022’s Battle Action Special, and the storied history of depictions of war in British comics.
• Cartoonist Kayfabe? Cartoonist Kayfabe. And this week Jim Rugg, Ed Piskor, and Tom Scioli, took a look at Stephen Platt’s Moon Knight, Don Simpson’s Splitting Image, Will Eisner’s A Contract With God, Wally Wood on Daredevil, Ennis and Conner's The Pro, and the importance of Amazing Spider-Man #1 and X-Men #1.
• Dan Berry welcomed Kristen Haas Curtis to Make It Then Tell Everybody this week, as they discussed The Nun's Priest's Tale, the strength of comics in teaching Middle English, and the translation theory of John Dryden.
• David Harper spoke with Brian K Vaughan for this week’s Off Panel, as they chatted about Saga’s hiatus and return, what’s the deal with Substack, and breaking into comics.
• Calvin Reid spoke with Zestworld’s CEO Chris Giliberti for Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come, as they discussed the company’s digital publishing and distro ventures, and upcoming plans for the platform.
— Short Run (@shortrunseattle) June 1, 2022
That’s it for this week, back soon with more, once I’ve stuffed my luggage to the brim with bathrobes.
“Masters of the Universe” (1987) B&W Comp and Finished Art… pic.twitter.com/LSu37YQ3dO
— Drew Struzan 🎨 (@DrewStruzan) May 30, 2022