Ah, to be young and a superhero comics fan in the springtime - informed through the medium of SEO-grabbing headlines exactly when, where, and how a character is to be unceremoniously bumped off, and all for a marginal flurry of column inches, before the news cycle rolls remorselessly onto the next big thing, crushing all in its path, leaving an ever-dwindling readership who’ll put up with such editorial shenanigans, as the direct market shifts its sights firmly to the manga shelves, and said character is presumably resurrected in time to market their next on-screen appearance anyway - but enough of that, on with the links!
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) May 15, 2023
This week’s news.
• Starting this week in Hong Kong, and it was announced that Ming Pao would no longer be running the political cartoons of Wong Kei-kwan, aka Zunzi, ending a run of forty years in the paper, after the editorial illustrations received repeated criticism over the last 6 months from public officials, with a number of books by Zunzi also subsequently removed from listings in Hong Kong public library - such restrictions on freedom of expression, and the government’s wide-reaching censorship of the press, are symptomatic of China’s controversial national security law, which came into force in 2020.
• Looking to the world of comic book distribution, as one is wont to do, and The Beat shares announcements on DSTLRY signing deals with Diamond and Lunar for their own distribution needs; and the launch of the Independent Comic Book Creators Association, which will offer print and direct market distro services for self-publishing creators; while Gold Key Comics apparently need to iron out exactly what it is they’re looking for in comic submissions.
• Comics prize news, and the nominations for this year’s Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were announced this week, with Image and DC receiving the most publisher nominations, and Zoe Thorogood receiving the most nominations for an individual creator - The Comics Journal #308 is nominated for Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism, with voting on the winners closing on the 9th of June, so vote soon and vote often.
• Finally this week, in further prize news, The Bookseller announced the winners for this year’s British Book Awards, aka The Nibbies, with Alice Oseman named Illustrator of the Year for Heartstopper.
— Frank Miller (@FrankMillerInk) May 18, 2023
This week’s reviews.
• Ben Austin-Docampo reviews the delightful weirdness of BLAB! Volume 1, edited by Monte Beauchamp - “BLAB! takes you back in time and shows you things you (probably) didn’t know existed, to bridge the gap to more familiar comics imagery that you (probably) know well, without the need for explanation beyond simply looking at the work. The wonder of BLAB! is the wonder of a ten year-old tearing into a fresh issue hot off the rack. Anything could await you on the next page. It is fun to hold, fun to look at, fun to read, and I have no doubt that it was fun to make.”
• Martin Brown reviews the cumulative craft of Nick Mandaag’s Harvey Knight’s Odyssey - “Once you’ve acclimated to the visual language, little gags jump out from all over the place. As an artist, Maandag’s timing is impeccable. He lays out pages and panels in beats, using pauses, reveals and cutaways to lead overlapping jokes into multiple payoffs, giving his stories a wholly unique rhythm that could only exist in this medium.”
• Tegan O’Neil reviews the insouciant charm of Caroline Cash’s PeePee PooPoo #420 - “On her own, in what appears to be her native line, there’s a delicacy that reminds me of the almost near-certainty that Cash has been inundated with manga from a young age, enough so as to form a kind of bedrock for anyone younger than 35. Just as Dan DeCarlo’s Archie was the bedrock for so many before that cutoff. That language has nestled into our own storytelling tradition, in a way that marks a genuine demarcation line in comics history.”
• Collier Jennings reviews the compelling depth of Morgan Hampton, Tom Raney, et al’s Cyborg #1.
• Christopher Franey reviews the enjoyable showcase of Tom Taylor, Nicola Scott, et al’s Titans #1.
• David Brooke reviews the uniform strengths of DC’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold #1.
• Lukas Shayo reviews the underwhelming setup of Gerry Duggan, Joshua Cassara, et al’s X-Men #22.
• Crooker reviews the colourful fun of Evan Stanley, Thomas Rothlisberger, et al’s Sonic the Hedgehog #60.
• Connor Boyd reviews the standout mystery of Kyle Higgins, Brian Buccellato, Geraldo Borges, et al’s No/One #2 and #3.
• Justin Harrison reviews the kinetic crunch of Chuck Brown, Prenzy, et al’s Flawed Volume 1.
• Cy Beltran reviews the solid setup of Jed MacKay, C.F. Villa, et al’s Avengers #1.
• Bryan Reheil reviews the admirable scope of Christopher Condon and Jacob Phillips’ That Texas Blood, Volume 3.
• Arpad Okay reviews the chaotic melody of Sui Ishida’s Choujin X Volume 2, translated by Jan Mitsuko Cash.
House to Astonish
Paul O’Brien has capsule reviews of Marvel Comics’ Free Comic Book Day 2023: Avengers/X-Men #1, X-Men: Red #11, Wolverine #33, X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #86, Rogue & Gambit #3, and Captain Marvel #49.
Tom Batten has a starred capsule review of the twisty thrills of Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, David Rubín, et al's Cosmic Detective.
• Ryan Fitzmartin reviews the engaging characters of Ray Nadine’s Light Carries On.
• Matthew Blair reviews the saving graces of Dylan Burnett, et al’s Arcade Kings #1.
• Joe Skonce reviews the impactful action of Al Ewing, Stefano Caselli, Jacopo Camagni, et al’s X-Men: Red #11.
• James Dowling and Mark Tweedale review the visualappeal of Mike Mignola and Jesse Lonergan’s Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea #1.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The essential manifesto of Samuel Machado, Cynthia Sousa Machado, and Steven M. Wise’s Thing: Inside the Struggle for Animal Personhood.
- The hallucinatory chills of Christopher Sebela, Hayden Sherman, et al’s Blink.
- The thought-provoking themes of Christopher Cantwell, Adam Gorham, et al’s The Blue Flame: The Complete Series.
Tom Shapira reviews the zesty nostalgia of Lewis Trondheim and Nicolas Keramidas’ Mickey’s Craziest Adventure and Donald’s Happiest Adventure.
Women Write About Comics
• Alenka Figa reviews the stunning range of Joy San’s Sugar & Other Stories.
• Lisa Gullickson reviews the lowkey haunting of Ray Nadine’s Light Carries On.
Emily Dickinson died on this day in 1886. Here is her poem, number 1292, that I adapted into comics a couple years ago. Published in NOW #10 from @fantagraphics (original is available and framed, pen and ink on paper 10 X 13”) #comics #emilydickinson pic.twitter.com/tDr8umJsjP
— Karl Stevens (@KarlStevensart) May 15, 2023
This week’s interviews.
• Ian Thomas interviews Robin Bougie about Cinema Sewer and Gutter Hunter, the Vancouver scene in COVID-19’s endemic phase, intermingled passions, and practicalities of portraiture - “I don’t really enjoy things ironically so much. I mean, sometimes what initially draws me to a cult movie is how crappy and funky-looking it (or its promo materials) is in terms of technical execution, but if there isn’t some kind of passion there, even with the low budget, I’m going to be bored and turn it off. So the things I get off on, I like earnestly, no matter if they are culturally respected and deemed legitimate and “cool” or not.”
• Zach Rabiroff interviews Laughing Ogre’s Gib Bickel about comics retail origins, broadening your audience, and diversification in direct market distribution - “In terms of annoyances, I really feel like the Big Two corporate comic companies have no idea what their consumers want. I think the Death of Superman may have been the worst thing that ever happened to comics. We sold a lot of them, but they bent marketing. Every time we get solicitations, it’s like, “Here’s a new character in this book.” Ok, well, who cares, you know?”
Chris Coplan presents a roundtable discussion from Ram V on The Vigil, superhero influences and conspiracy theories, and the technicalities of vigilantism.
• Zack Quaintance chats with Jesse Lonergan about Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea, joining the Hellboy universe, and working with Mike Mignola.
• Rebecca Oliver Kaplan talks to A Liang Chan about Far Distant, dream interpretation, creative processes, and losing yourself in your work.
• AJ Frost speaks with Jarrett J. Krosoczka about Sunshine, book chapters becoming books in themselves, and literature as a space to confront uncomfortable truths.
Los Angeles Times
Jeffrey Fleishman interviews Jen Cousins and Stephana Ferrell about attempting to combat conservative book-banning movements in the United States.
The New Yorker
Françoise Mouly chats with R. Kikuo Johnson about providing the cover for this week’s New Yorker, and introspection on your birthday.
Susana Polo talks to Al Ewing about Immortal Thor, baseball metaphors, aiming for hope and fantasy over horror and tragedy, and the powers of a god.
Eugene Holley, Jr. chats with Akashic Books' Johnny Temple and Chuck D about the rapper and illustrator's new imprint at the publisher, and what to expect from Enemy Books.
San Francisco Chronicle
Brandon Yu talks to Rina Ayuyang about The Man in the McIntosh Suit, playing with genre tropes, and exploring the history of Filipino migration to the U.S. during the Great Depression.
San Francisco Examiner
Greg Wong speaks with Gene Luen Yang about American Born Chinese, the book’s roots in San Francisco, and its upcoming adaptation for screen.
We'll be in Los Angeles next Sunday for PERMANENT DAMAGE, a one day comics & music fest, 1906 Cypress Ave. pic.twitter.com/O9tRvTbhZg
— KILLER ACID 🎷🐛 (@killeracid) May 14, 2023
This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Avery Kaplan writes on how the publication in print shifts the reading experience of comics originally serialised on digital platforms, including Simon Hanselmann’s Crisis Zone, Alex Graham’s Dog Biscuits, Grace Gogarty’s Little Tunny’s Snail Diaries, and LambCat’s Cursed Princess Club - “Even if you yourself are not directly interacting with a social media post of a comic, you are experiencing the sequential narrative as part of a larger community like viewing a movie or play in a theater. For better or worse, this leads to being influenced by other people’s reactions, whether it's just an assumption based on the number of “likes” a particular post has received, or a strong emotional response to a troll’s stupid comment. By contrast, reading these comics in book form offers a more intimate experience.”
• Also for TCJ, Ritesh Babu looks back on Pornsak Pichetshote, Aaron Campbell, et al's Infidel, the heart of the horror of the story, the relationships of its characters, and the twists in the tale - “It’s a harsh, brutal conclusion. It hurts. It’s depressing. But it also feels incredibly real. There’s a weight to it. A truth and an honesty that hits hard. This is no ‘Aaand we beat Racism, guys!!’ genre story like many a White creator has published. This is informed by reality and tempered with truth.”
• For The Gutter Review, Chloe Maveal writes in celebration of the 45th birthday of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s Strontium Dog, and the series’ eschewing of happy endings in favour of character development.
• Forbes’ Eisner-nominated Rob Salkowitz takes a look at the current crop of comics crowdfunders, and how platforms are allowing for more direct connections with audiences.
• Over at The Beat, d. emerson eddy’s Classic Comic Compendium continues, as Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris’ Ex Machina falls under the spotlight, with all the elements in place from issue 1.
• For Shelfdust, Kate O’Donoghue examines the ringing of wedding bells and the institution of marriage, as seen through the lens of Marvel and DC’s characters tying the knot, and how Fantastic Four Annual #3 set the tempo for those that followed; and Steve Morris looks to another seminal Brian K. Vaughan issue, this time skipping to the end of Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y the Last Man.
• From the world of open-access academia, in the Journal of Medical Humanities, Sathyaraj Venkatesan and Ishani Anwesha Joshi present an analysis of comics and cartoons by artists of East Asian descent to investigate Sinophobic attitudes in the wake of COVID-19.
• For Geoscience Communication, Oliver Wings, Jan Fischer, Joschua Knüppe, Henning Ahlers, Sebastian Körnig, and Arila-Maria Perl give an overview of palaeontology-themed comics, and their potential as instruments of scientific outreach.
Joe Kessler presents The Gull Yettin with an exhibit at AMP Gallery (1 Acorn Parade, Peckham) this weekend.
Open 11-5 on the weekend and 7pm on Friday with a private viewing (might mean party?) pic.twitter.com/Ts2bcTy0tF
— Books at NYRB (@NYRB_Imprints) May 15, 2023
This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden were joined by Sammy Harkham to discuss the Thick Lines of Blood of the Virgin, the design process of the story's collected edition, cooking and sex in comics, and letting the characters drive the wider narrative.
• Christopher Woodrow-Butcher hosts this week’s edition of Mangasplaining, as the team discusses the four-panel comedy of Bkub Okawa’s Pop Team Epic Season One, the peculiarities of gag manga in translation, and the book’s anime adaptation.
• Drawn & Quarterly shared a (very) mini-documentary from Northing on Air, focused on the work of cartoonist Woshibai, author of 20KM/H, and what goes into developing a character from scratch.
• Looking back to the past for a couple of podcasts, as Word Balloon serves up some previous conversations with David LLoyd and Bill Sienkiewicz to celebrate their respective birthdays, while Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come shares some interviews from comics festivals past.
• Now is the time for Cartoonist Kayfabe, as this week Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg shared glimpses of Penguin Classics’ Black Panther collection, Charles Burns’ X’ed Out, AC Comics’ Sentinels of Justice, Katsuhiro Otomo’s literary adaptations, Martin Green and Bill Sienkiewicz’s Voodoo Child: The Illustrated Legend of Jimi Hendrix, Matt Wagner and The Pander Brothers on Grendel, and A Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics, as well as conducting a career-spanning interview with Megan Kelso.
Another preview of the restored Den, on sale this August. It is so amazing to be restoring these pages since Corben's work is an endless source of inspiration. Hopefully, people that have never seen his early work will appreciate his masterful approach to sequential art. pic.twitter.com/gurRAa4VuE
— José Villarrubia 🏳️🌈🇪🇸🇺🇸🎨☮️🕊 (@josevillarrubia) May 13, 2023
That’s all for this week, and we’re all the better for it.
Cloud Dancer - watercolour and acryla gouache pic.twitter.com/nDrkc7QoI9
— Serena Malyon 🌞🌛 (@SerenaMalyon) May 15, 2023