I think we can all safely agree that 2021 has emphatically proven to have literally zero chill in this first fortnight of the year, and I, frankly, am excited to see just how Thunderdome this can all go over the next 11.5 months.
Anyway, as we head into the weekend, wondering what fresh delights next week will bring, can I interest you in a fresh crop of comics links from the last week or so? They might help you regain a sense of place, or (as is more likely) serve to exacerbate your spiralling view of everything as a terror-spiced portent.
Let’s away to prison: We two alone will sing like birds in the cage!
— Patrick Kyle (@_patrickkyle) January 1, 2021
Christian Bale’s accent in Newsies… This week’s news.
• Kicking off the week with a look at that biggest of comics markets, (no-good) teen readers, as the Young Adult Library Services Association have announced their 2021 list of 126 great graphic novels for teens, as well as the top ten overall picks at a time when book channel figures are on the up, buoyed by sales of graphic novels for younger readers.
• One of the brightest stars of the above market, Gene Luen Yang, was recently picked as The Beat’s Comics Industry Person of the Year, selected by respondents to their Creator Survey following appearances on numerous end of year lists for his books Dragon Hoops and Superman Smashes the Klan (with Gurihiru). The link above also includes picks for various other industry veterans of note, from a year when, I think we can all agree, creating and selling stuff was a fairly fraught endeavor, and to be applauded.
• If you would like to bid on some original art (in the form of signage designs) from Chris Ware, proceeds from which will support of The Book Table, Quimby’s Chicago, and Quimby’s NYC, then that is now a thing that you can do!
• San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum has announced the first details for this year’s Queer Comics Expo, taking place 15th & 16th May 2021, and also opened up submissions for this year’s Prism Awards, winners TBA this summer - all the deets you need are here, along with last year’s winners.
• This week's auction news is a twofer, and they're both record breakers, as sale of an extremely high quality copy of an issue of Batman #1 from 1940 sold for $2,200,000, and the original (and unused, due to cost concerns) cover art for Hergé's The Blue Lotus sold for $3,800,000, showing that it's comics, not Bitcoin, that should be your main investment right now.
• The finalists for this year's Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics have been announced, with nods for George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker's They Called Use Enemy; Brandon Thomas, Khary Randolph, et al's Excellence; Lawrence Lindell's From Truth With Truth; Marcelo D’Salete's Angola Janga: Kingdom of Runaway Slaves; Roye Okupe and Godwin Akpan's Iyanu: Child of Wonder.
• The Daily Cartoonist reports on Twitter and Facebook’s suspension of, well, I guess I have to use the term “political cartoonist” (but take those quotation marks as read), Ben Garrison, following last week’s attempted coup, as various social media platforms decide enough is (now) enough, and start to posit hypothetical designs for a stable door, many (many) years after the equine left for pastures new.
• The sad news arrived at the end of last week that comics artist Steve Lightle has passed away, due to a COVID-related cardiac arrest - Multiversity Comics has an obituary, and NeoText provide remembrances of his work, while 13th Dimension has a gallery of his covers for Legion of Super-Heroes.
B v B pic.twitter.com/iQPI0prbOk
— Michel Fiffe (@MichelFiffe) January 13, 2021
Best of 2021 list planning starts right here, right now… This week’s reviews.
• Tom Shapira reviews the calculating brutality of Kieron Gillen, Jace Burrows, et al’s Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #1-2 - “I think the problem of Marneus Calgar is that it feels a bit too scripted. Overly tamed. Warhammer 40,000 is not Star Wars, it’s not a space opera, it’s a space death metal concept album. It should be a place to run wild, to be nasty and angry and over-the-top. But after the first few pages of action the first issue is simply too relaxed; there’s lots of walking and talking (Aaron Sorkin’s Ultramarines). There’s only one other action scene in the first issue, which is limited to a double page spread.”
• Hillary Brown reviews the gorgeous profanity of Kat Leyh’s Thirsty Mermaids - “Leyh’s work is a mess, or it would be if anyone else were doing it. She puts so much on the page, and it somehow works...She’s clearly been steeped in comics and this is the result, the ability to use whatever tools she wants. It’s a very down-to-earth kind of magic and a visual parallel to the inclusive world she writes. Why wouldn’t you use whatever tools you have at hand if they help you get your point across and make a joyful universe?”
• Helen Chazan reviews the restrained spectacle of Junji Ito's Remina, translated by Jocelyne Allen - "On the raw imagery level (a level that should not ever be neglected in a visual medium), the visceral horror of Remina comes not only from the weird grotesque abjection of its cosmic centerpiece -- in this work, Ito, traffics in the ghoulish violence of American pulp fiction that kept the likes Fred Wertham up and night fearing for the safety of children. Angry mobs, led by a fervent mysterious cult leader in hooded Klan robes pursue the girl Remina with religious fervor, seeking to make her a martyr and punish equally all who would protect her and any who would give her death an unworthy ignobility."
• Rory Wilding reviews the Brubaker riffs of Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips’ That Texas Blood vol. 1.
• David Brooke reviews the coulrophobic delights of W. Maxwell Prince, Vanesa Del Rey, et al’s Haha #1.
• Alex McDonald reviews the uncomfortable relatability of Tom Peyer, Alan Robinson, et al’s Penultiman #4.
• Ronnie Gorham reviews the rambunctious roughhousing of Eric Peterson, Joe Aubrey, and Darick Robertson’s Space Bastards #1.
• Dan Spinelli reviews the straightforward joys of Chris Claremont, Bill Sienkiewicz, et al’s Chris Claremont Anniversary Special #1.
• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the lackluster tropes of Jean-Luc Fromental, Phillipe Berthet, et al’s The Other Side of the Border.
• Andy Oliver reviews the esoteric misadventures of Aled Lies, Dylan Wyn Owen and Shehzad Ahmad's Idiot Corpse.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews the gothic inspirations of Lane Yates and Michael R. Muller’s If On Account Of Sunday, and the sturdy imagination of David Craig’s Brick by Brick and Brick Breaks Free.
House to Astonish
Paul O’Brien reviews the gleeful messiness of Zeb Wells, Stephen Segovia, Carmen Carnero, et al’s Hellions #1-6.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The essential examinations of Don Brown’s Big Ideas That Changed The World: A Shot In The Arm.
- The noteworthy normalization of Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan’s Let’s Talk About It.
• Brian Salvatore reviews the frustrating incomprehensibility of Cavan Scott, Ario Anindito, et al’s Star Wars: The High Republic #1.
• John Schaidler reviews the captivating shrewdness of David Pepose, Luca Casalanguida, et al’s Scout’s Honor #1.
• Matthew Blair reviews the languid competence of Conor McCreery, V.V Glass, et al’s The Last Witch #1.
• Christopher Chiu-Tabet reviews the sympathetic self-discovery of Julie Dachez, Mademoiselle Caroline, et al’s Invisible Differences, translated by Edward Gauvin.
• Jacob Cordas reviews the piratical delights of Stephanie Phillips, Craig Cermak, et al's A Man Among Ye.
Etelka Lehoczky reviews the unorthodox potency of John Jennings and David Brame’s adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s After the Rain.
• Ryan Carey reviews the warming body-horror of Michel Fiffe’s Panorama.
• Alex Hoffman reviews the transformative humanity of Kaori Tsurutani’s BL Metamorphosis.
Jacob Heilbrunn reviews the improbable mythologizing of Abraham Riesman’s True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee.
Women Write About Comics
• Claire Napier reviews the rainbow modernity of Charlotte Mei’s Pipette and Dudley Charming Dog Adventure Comics.
• Jameson Hampton reviews the niche mystery of Dan Watters, Kishore Mohan, et al’s The Picture of Everything Else #1.
• Louis Skye reviews the colourful embellishments of Cavan Scott, Ario Anindito, et al’s Star Wars: The High Republic #1.
— Sophia Foster-Dimino (@hellophia) January 12, 2021
Year 2 of “so, how have you been coping with everything?”... This week’s interviews.
• Ian Thomas interviews JB Roe about the Gutter Boys podcast, the resonance of Deathlok, Silver and Bronze age color palettes, and the allure of the small press - “Self-publishing and small press provides you the freedom to do whatever you want without restrictions or oversight. More importantly, it gives you a space to make mistakes and learn from them. I think every cartoonist should make zines, even if they're already being published.”
• Michael O'Connell talks to Giulio De Vita, artistic director and founder of the Palazzo Arti Fumetto Friuli (PAFF!) in Pordenone, Italy, about their Milton Caniff exhibition (that you can take a virtual tour of right now), Caniff's comics revolution, and the influence of American cartoonists on their European counterparts - "In the exhibition of Milton Caniff, it is possible to see in 61 original artworks, the evolution of the style of the master through the early years of 1934 [The exhibition includes a page from Dickie Dare dated 1933], the wonderful and precious cover of Male Call dated 1945 until a strip of Terry and the Pirates dated 1946. Thanks to the inputs from his friend and mentor Noel Sickles, Caniff learned an effective technique to use the ink and the brush to speed up his production. This practice let him give to language of comics a new layer of expression of the light. In the same years in the field of cinema masters like Orson Welles and Hitchcock made the same evolution on the film."
• Conclude their annual creator survey, talking to a variety of comics creators, publishers, retailers, and journalists about how they weathered the storm of 2020 and what to look forward to in 2021.
• Gregory Paul Silber interviews Stephanie Cooke and Insha Fitzpatrick about Oh My Gods!, reinventing mythology for a modern audience, and New Jersey pride.
Shelagh Rogers interviews Walter Scott about Wendy, Master of Art, placemat sketches and self-inspiration, multimedia variety, and potential next steps for the character in a post-COVID world.
Sean Z talks to Frederick Jones about manga anthology Saturday AM, making the move from video games to comic books, the difficulties surrounding conversations regarding diversity and representation in publications, and breaking free of traditional manga labelling.
Jim McLauchlin talks to Alan Gill about comic retail in the 21st century, the luck of hiring well, turning commercial competitors into business buddies, and why you shouldn’t fake your own death, beyond the, uh, obvious reasons.
Séamas O'Reilly interviews Mirion Malle about The League Of Super Feminists, the elitism of academic texts, the co-opting of feminism, and the radicalization of young men online.
Michael Tisserand (with Deborah Kaufmann translating) interviews François Schuiten about the bande dessiné that best reflects the time in which it was made, breaking out of restrictive forms when creating, and the complexities of saving the modern world.
Jon Kalish talks to Gary Trudeau, and associates, about Doonesbury’s 50th anniversary, the leeway of being a novelty, writing on his own interests rather than trying to predict the audience’s, and who the Snoopy of the strip is.
The Press Democrat
Dan Taylor talks to Stephan Pastis about the unfortunate synchronicity that's resulted in an upcoming storyline for Pearls Before Swine, involving a military coup, being pulled from syndication, after it was submitted over a month ago.
Steven Heller talks to Gary Panter about Crashpad, the ratio of dweebs in painting:comics, pandemic publishing schedules, and trying to offer hope through comics in 2021.
• Ashton Rice talks to Brian Ralph about Daybreak and notoriety outside of comics, the ups and downs as publishing, and the importance of maintaining a little mystery in life.
• Daniel Elkin presents the latest edition of ‘Knowing is Half the Battle’, as Dean Haspiel shares his tips for dealing with publishers and agents, and the organizations he looks to for support, along with his comic The Currency of Community.
Got to do a comic for the @MuseumModernArt this month, very very very hyped how it came out.https://t.co/FYM8MkOGbT pic.twitter.com/yHfbw2AVRM
— Ben Passmore (@DAYGLOAYHOLE) January 13, 2021
Request desktop site… This week’s features and comics.
• Here at TCJ, Andrew White looks to the lessons of Virginia Woolf and how they can be used to help marshal artistic expression, as well as placing these teachings into a wider context - “I’ve become increasingly convinced that [Woolf] can serve as a guiding light for artists, and maybe particularly for cartoonists, on how to construct a fulfilling creative life. This is not because she lived some perfect version of the artist’s life, or because her viewpoints on art or on life are unassailable – indeed, her opinions on race and class are always uncomfortable and often inexcusable. However, she wrote so thoughtfully and over such a long period about her daily rituals and her creative struggles that they can serve as a mirror, a specific and clear example of how to construct your days that you might either follow or ignore.”
• Following last week’s violence in Washington, D.C., AIPT and SYFY Wire pick back up on discussions around the use of the Punisher’s logo by white supremacists, and whether it’s time to retire the character’s iconography, which lead to further rumination on the subject from Kelly Kanayama and Cheryl Lynn Eaton that I thought summed things up pretty well, along with a look at Garth Ennis’ “interesting” take on the situation.
• Also from Kelly Kanayama, comes this piece on the horrors of The Boys, and how the TV show’s requirement that the viewer feels sympathy for abusers and monsters misses the overarching point of the source material.
• Over at Medium, Joseph Illidge writes on DC’s The Next Batman, the white supremacy inherent in superhero fantasies, and this new iteration of the caped crusader’s place in sociopolitical history.
• Returning to the subject of the Capitol riot - editorial cartooning threw its cap into the ring, and The Daily Cartoonist had round-ups of the illustrations from the immediate aftermath, and following the vague intimations that prosecution is on the cards, when the calls are coming from inside the House.
• Meanwhile, Quilette’s Jack Reilly has a piece on ‘The Death of Political Cartooning’, and how the demise has been a long time coming, but is of increasing importance in the 21st century, as censorship of freedom of speech, and the dangers of racist propaganda, butt heads.
• For NeoText, Chloe Maveal looks at the self-expression and queer history embodied in Tove Jansson’s Moomin books, and Benjamin Marra presents a look at the cover artwork of Paul Gulacy.
• Over at Women Write About Comics, Emily Harding looks back on the importance of a character choosing not to embrace parenthood in Excalibur, and the restrictive view that superhero comics has traditionally taken on the subject.
• Shelfdust’s Steve Morris hits unlucky 12 on the X-Roulette, and is subjected to the pains of X-Men #377, as ideological musings are shelved in the face of editorial control; and there's a guest appearance from Heidi MacDonald, digging into Matt Groening's comic strip past, for the continuing Infinite Crisis feature.
• AIPT have a piece from Alexandra Iciek on the centering of youth identities in Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's run on Young Avengers, and why pop culture makes more sense as a focal point, for titles with young protagonists, than the military state.
• For 13th Dimension, Paul Kupperberg dips into the multiverse and picks his favorite DC crossover stories, including some classic Silver Age “let’s have some superheroes fistfighting animals” action.
• A few papers from the academic beat, as the paywall currently holds back interesting looking articles on amoral shōjo heroines by Masafumi Monden, and the historical importance of Days of Future Past by Ryan Donovan Purcell, while there are free-to-read pieces on digital comics as distance learning tools and the potential limitations of this, and a piece en español on the rise and fall of Mexican comic books at the end of the twentieth century.
• As Dog Biscuits draws to a close, its author, Alex Graham, highlights some Instagram comics to be following in 2021, including jumping on points for Alabaster Pizzo’s Prayer to Sain Therese, Mitch Lohmeier’s Michael Mouse and David Duck, King Louie’s Lab’s Ant Story, Lane Yate’s Single-Camera Sitcom, Felipe Di Poi Tamargo’s Little Edy, Angela Fanche’s “Daily” Diary Comics, Karl Christian Krumpholz’ Diary Comics, Nick Forker’s Eyeland, and the comics of Ruby Lanford, while I’d also add Ben Sears’ Sweeper and the Bad Eggs and Gabby Schulz’ No Pencil comics to that list.
• Ringing in the new year, Cleveland Scene presents their 9th annual comics issue, with strips from local cartoonists Kelly Bahmer-Brouse, Matt Haberbusch, Grace LaPrade, Samantha Nunoo, Abriana Rosu, and Gabby Zematis, all curated by Vagabond Comics’ Sequoia Bostick and Amalia DeGirolamo.
• Over at The Nib, Nate Powell has a longform comic on keeping Nazis out of cosplay spaces at conventions, and Jen Sorensen looks at the issues in rhetoric when confronting the issue of the alt-right.
Cathode Ray YouTube... This week’s recommended watching.
• Kicking things off with some upcoming events for younger viewers, as The Billy Ireland Museum presents a free interactive paper charades session on 24th January with some top-name YA creators, and Aron Nels Steinke hosts an activity afternoon for budding graphic novelists on 31st January.
• The Schomburg Center's 9th annual Black Comic Book Festival took place over the last few days, and finishes up tomorrow, bringing a series of virtual workshops, panel talks, and in-conversation events to the internet - you can catch up on the program so far here, or watch today and tomorrow's events live here.
• Coming up next Tuesday 19th January, the 293rd meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be taking place, (virtually) welcoming paintoonist Jerry Moriati to present a narrative lecture introducing his upcoming graphic novel, Visual Crime.
• True Believer and the Black Mountain Institute started up their program of virtual comics workshops again last week, as Alexandra Beguez took viewers through tracking their dreams via journalling and comic making.
• Cartoonist Kayfabe had a Marvel homage flavor this week, as they dipped into the bootleg X-Men comics of John Byrne, Moore and Bissette's salute to Ditko in The Fury, and then a taste of the real-deal with some 90s Marvel Method™ action.
• The first Strip Panel Naked of the year went to the source, as Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou looked at the style choices that inform the narrative in Gipi's One Story, and the way he plays with form throughout the book.
We Recommend: Mr Boop by @alecrobbins
Look, we all wish we were married to Betty Boop, but only one man had the guts to do it. pic.twitter.com/zxjaSVhdEJ
— Silver Sprocket (@ssbcpunk) January 10, 2021
That's just noise... This week’s easy-listening.
• A double bill of Les Bandes Dessinées Brûlent en Enfer this week, as Tucker Stone, Matt Seneca, Chris Mautner and Joe McCulloch combined the 2020 comics playoffs and Super Bowl to pick the best of the year, and then paid tribute to the late Richard Corben and discussed how you solve a problem like The Punisher? Zut alors!
• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden have a new podcast endeavor, Thick Lines, and episode 1 is a doozy, looking at the cast of Peter Bagge's Buddy Does Seattle, why Lisa is a far better role model than Ghost World's Enid, and the secret truths that milk is bad and you really don't need to read Watchmen in two thousand and twenty one anno Domini.
• House to Astonish returns, and it's (possibly) the tenth annual Homies awards for the best comics/creators from the year that wasn't, more love for Superman Smashes the Klan, and news of their new side-pod on Marvel Comics' Thunderbolts.
• Mex Flentallo looked back on a week of insurrection, and the preceding festive season, through the only lens that matters - in-depth discussion of Grant Morrison, Ed McGuinness, et al's timeless JLA: Ultramarine Corps. Nuff said.
• There was a new episode of SILENCE! this week, as Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die discussed recent decent comics on screen properties, and looked back at the work of Larson and Watterson, before dissecting the good and the bad of 2020's 2000 AD Xmas Special, and what's going on with Rebellion's output in general.
• Make It Then Tell Everybody returned this week, as Dan Berry and Paul Savage discussed finding the time to draw during 2020, critical mass of people saying they'd buy a book of your drawings, and the reality of hourly comics about reality.
• Off Panel looked back on 2020 from a retail perspective this week, as David Harper and Patrick Brower discussed how Chicago's Challengers Comics weathered the storm, evolving tactics in the face of decreased footfall and product shipments, and hopes for the year ahead.
WHY IS SPIDER-MAN UPSIDE DOWN??? Find out HERE: https://t.co/bSg5ASQtvh#spiderman #marvel #comics #art pic.twitter.com/J34tnZ48RZ
— Todd McFarlane (@Todd_McFarlane) January 11, 2021
Links are done! Back to doomscrolling and endless screaming into the void’s maw! Return here one week hence!
— 浦沢直樹_Naoki Urasawa公式情報 (@urasawa_naoki) January 1, 2021