Robin Laid An Egg – This Week’s Links

And lo we do arrive, exhausted and staggering, hanging on by a mere thread, at the end of the Gregorian calendar year once more, and thus are visited in turn in our four poster beds by a series of Best of the Year lists for comics and graphic novels published in 2022, a selection of which can be found in amongst this week’s other links, below, to nod in agreement with/bah humbug in refutation of/feel uneasy guilt towards with regards to the reading not yet achieved in the year almost gone. 

This week’s news.

• The saga of AfterShock Comics’ financials continued this week, as the publisher’s parent company voluntarily filed for chapter chapter 11 bankruptcy, along with Rive Gauche Television, which merged with AfterShock in 2020 to form AfterShock Media - statements released after the fact by AfterShock framed this filing as allowing the company to plan for ‘long-term success’ while also owing unpaid royalties, and printing bills, amongst other debts, to numerous creditors - just last week the company was touting a film deal to adapt Steve Foxe, Steve Orlando, and Alex Sanchez’s comic Party & Prey.

• Elsewhere, presumably having seen the way the social media wind is blowing, vis-à-vis unpaid debts, Heavy Metal would like to reassure people that checks will be in the mail.

• In comics making money news, the cover artwork for Hergé’s Tintin in America is headed to the auction block, and is expected to sell for over $2 million - the book has not been a stranger to controversy, finding itself the subject of library challenges in 2015, following allegations of racist imagery.

• Comics prizes news, and this year’s Black Book Award for Graphic Novels & Comics was awarded to Karama Horne’s Black Panther: Protectors of Wakanda: A History and Training Manual of the Dora Milaje, while 2022’s ELLE Grand Prix was awarded jointly to David Sala’s Le Poids des Héros and Jean-Marc Rochette’s La Dernière Reine.

• Comics prizes yet to be awarded news, and the nominations for the 2022 Broken Frontier Awards were announced with voting open until January 1st, and the 2023 Cartoonist Studio Prize from the Center for Cartoon Studies and The Beat is open for submissions until January 30th.

• Koyama Provides announced the latest recipient of their grant program, awarding $1,500 to Marta Chudolinska, which will “...help fund studio time for me to work on Babcia, my ongoing papercut comic. Babcia (Polish for Grandmother) is a historical memoir which aims to rebuild my connection to my late grandmother, cut short by immigration and illness, and explores Polish history through immigrant eyes.”

• The Toronto Comic Arts Festival announced a partnership with the Ontario Arts Council to provide grants to comic writers creating new pieces of work through the OAC Recommender Grants for Writers program, with awards ranging from $1,500-$5,000 for Ontario residents - the deadline for submissions is January 8th.

This week’s reviews.


• Leonard Pierce reviews the lunkheaded mess of Marc Guggenheim, Howard Chaykin, et al’s Too Dead to Die - “Guggenheim and Chaykin worked together for a year on Blade for Marvel, and it was superior in every way: it had a sense of energy, and a closer understanding of camp and subversion than can be found anywhere in Too Dead to Die. The plot is as thin as rice paper, the dialogue tries to be clever but just ends up being completely forgettable, and the motivations and backstory are essentially nonexistent.”

• Chris Mautner reviews the distracting construction of Mathew Klickstein’s See You At San Diego: An Oral History of Comic-Con, Fandom, and the Triumph of Geek Culture - “There’s a rambling, repetitive, start-and-stop nature to the book, however, that becomes less and less charming the further you plow through it. Far too many people keep making the same points again and again. Yes, we know: you really admired Jack Kirby, it was tough being socially ostracized for liking Star Trek. I understand that not everyone reading this book will be aware of the history of the comic book direct market, but do we need so many people reciting that history?”

• Masha Zhdanova reviews the effective perspective of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s Goodbye, Eri, translated by Amanda Haley - “In film, the delivery of dialogue and the speed and timing at which it's read is set by the movie. In a comic, these decisions are left to the discretion of the reader, though balloon shape and placement guide them. Letting the reader decide how exactly characters sound in their universe gives readers control over the flow of the carefully paced out narrative - and more effectively blends fantasy and reality.”



• Michael Guerrero reviews the thrilling suspense of Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, Geraldo Borges, et al’s Nightwing #99.

• Christopher Franey reviews the potent mystery of Geoff Johns, Todd Nauck, et al’s Stargirl: The Lost Children #2.

• Megan O'Brien reviews the stellar start to Sabir Pirzada, Francesco Mortarino, et al’s Dark Web: Ms. Marvel #1.

• Connor Christiansen reviews the forgettable adventures of Marvel Comics’ Star Wars: Obi-Wan— A Jedi’s Purpose.

• David Brooke reviews the smart spookiness of Cavan Scott and Nick Brokenshire’s Dead Seas #1.


The Beat

Joe Grunenwald reviews the solid landing of Joshua Williamson, Daniel Sampere, Jack Herbert, Giuseppe Camuncoli & Cam Smith, Rafa Sandoval, et al’s Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.


Broken Frontier

• Andy Oliver reviews the diverse curation of Jonathan Baylis, et al’s So Buttons #12.

• Tom Baker reviews the daring creativity of Re-Live's Coming Home #1.


From Cover to Cover

Scott Cederlund reviews the vivid revelation of Casanova Frankenstein and Glenn Pearce's How To Make A Monster.


House to Astonish

Paul O’Brien reviews the half-formed plot of Ann Nocenti, Javier Pina, et al’s X-Men Legends #3-4.



Steven Heller reviews the satisfying scepticism of Philip Guston: Nixon Drawings 1971 & 1975, edited by Musa Mayer and Sally Radic.


Publisher’s Weekly

Have capsule reviews from:

- The irresistible thoughtfulness of I.N.J. Culbard’s Salamandre.

- The spirited critiques of Barbara Brandon-Croft’s Where I’m Coming From.

- The eerie twist of Paul B. Rainey’s Why Don’t You Love Me?.

- The ethereal juxtapositions of Antoine Ozanam and Antoine Carrion’s Temudjin, translated by Dan Christensen.

- The raw tenderness of Timothy Goodman’s I Always Think It’s Forever: A Love Story Set in Paris as Told by an Unreliable but Earnest Narrator.

This week’s best of the year lists.

I’ve split these into categories, for some reason, mostly to keep myself entertained, as it is indeed the season of goodwill to all, including me, despite my many run-on sentences and other grammatical crimes perpetrated throughout the year:

• For a perspective from the frontlines of the markets, with picks from booksellers and book lenders, we have the American Library Association’s 2022 reading list nominations for adults and younger readers, Bookshop’s best of list, Gosh! Comics’ picks for adults and younger readers, Library Journal and School Library Journal’s best graphic novel lists, and best comic picks from the New York Public Library.

• For a region-specific look at the best comics from Canada for this year, look no further than CBC’s, aptly named, best Canadian comics of 2022 list.

• For a trio of lists from earlier in the year, jumping the gun somewhat, but still allowed in the running by ruling of the judges (a panel comprised of me, myself, and I), there’s Thrillist’s choices for best comics of 2022 from way back in July, Insider’s picks from September, and Looper’s list from November.

• For some original flavour best of the year round-ups, traditional in their formatting, from the usual pop culture suspects, you’ve got lists from Book Riot, IGN, Lit Hub, The Mary Sue, and Polygon.

• For a bit more granularity than the previous entry, but along similar lines, you’ve got extensive rankings from AIPT (in two-parts) and Multiversity, reader selections from Goodreads, and critics’ selections from Publisher’s Weekly.

• If you prefer your lists from the old(er) media, and here we’re talking your newspapers, magazines, and radio stations, then there are picks from Entertainment Weekly, Forbes, The Guardian, NPR, and The Washington Post.

• Eschewing the rote banality of a traditional end of year list, The Gutter Review’s Chloe Maveal instead flags up some longbox classics to go hunting for over the holiday break, if you find yourself with some time to spend amongst the bargain bins in the new year.

This week’s interviews.


• Jason Bergman interviews Michael Allred about Madman, self-publishing, creator-owned work, and work for hire, and spirituality and existentialism - “I love working with various collaborators so much, this Superman book with Mark Russell has been just such an amazing, wonderful surprise. I'm currently also working with Peter Milligan, who I've worked with so much. Dan Slott and I are making plans. I'm talking with Brian Bendis about doing something with him again. It's really frustrating to not have more time, because there's so many things that I want to do, and I want to do them now. I'm almost always working on at least two, sometimes three things at the same time. It can get overwhelming, but because I'm loving it so much, it just keeps powering me on.”

• Zach Rabiroff interviews Dallas’ Titan Comics’ Jeremy Shorr about retail origins, the resilience of the comics reader, and the realities of translational sales in the time of stands-to-screen adaptations - “I’ve got 150,000 or 175,000 back issues out for sale at all times. And in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, if you go to any store in town looking for back issues, that store tells you to come to me. There’s just no one else in town. And I can’t buy better advertising than that. So a lot of the people who frequent the store are old-line comic collectors. That’s not all the people who come here, but I’m basically part of a vanishingly small percentage of stores that only carries comic books. I don’t even carry action figures.”



Chris Hassan talks to Christopher Cantwell, Gerry Duggan, and Al Ewing about Dark Web, classic comic book crossovers, and collaborating on team books.


The Beat

• Zack Quaintance speaks with Mark Waid about Lazarus Planet, superhero relationships and crossover events, and giving a story breathing room.

• Ricardo Serrano Denis interviews Rachel Aragno about Leonide the Vampyr: A Christmas for Crows, and inventing worlds and their inhabitants.

• Deanna Destito chats with Christopher Priest about Draculina, being given free reign with a property, dysfunctional protagonists, and upcoming plans.



Jim McLauchlin speaks with Dr. No’s Comics and Games Superstore’s Cliff Biggers about moving from education to retail, and finding staff you can listen to.


The Los Angeles Times

Jeffrey Fleishman talks to Maia Kobabe about Gender Queer, the realities of having your book banned, the joys of Beatrix Potter, and the importance of seeing yourself and your truths in stories.


Multiversity Comics

• Brian Salvatoree chats with Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere about Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, telling an emotional story, and nailing the look of specific characters.

• Mark Tweedale interviews Christopher Golden and Thomas Sniegoski about Frankenstein: New World and embracing the teachings of Jack Kirby, and with Mike Mignola about a busy 2022.


The New Yorker

Françoise Mouly speaks with Chris Ware about providing the cover for the publication’s second Cartoons & Puzzles Issue, and the process of adding a z-axis to illustrations.



Scott Simon talks to Art Spiegelman about the reissue of Breakdowns, the contemporary relevance of Maus, the power of comics, and the weight of creative endeavours.


Publisher’s Weekly

Brigid Alverson interviews Chris Staros about 25 years of Top Shelf, keeping things moving in an interesting direction, and seeing the potential of the younger readers market.

This week’s features and longreads.

• Here at TCJ, Breakdown Press share an excerpt from Jon Chandler’s John’s Worth, an “unsettling tale of mutation and deceit is a page-turning, cinematic experience, injected into your brain via Chandler’s jagged lines and punchy dialogue.”

• For the Alta Journal, Michelle Cruz Gonzales writes on Jaime Hernandez’ Love and Rockets stories, and the importance of the representation inherent in Maggie the Mechanic.

• Over at The Gutter Review, Jim Falcone looks back on Roberta Gregory’s Abortion Trilogy from Naughty Bits #6-8, and why enduring, accessible cartooning like it is needed in the wake of Roe v Wade’s overturning.

• For ICv2, Rob Salkowitz summarises the year’s big comics business stories, as a look back on the highs and lows of 2022 encompasses record sales and widespread banning of books.

• As The Middle Spaces winds down its output, Adrienne Resha writes on the translation of Ms. Marvel from the comic book page to the screen, and the immersive, emergent dialogue between the forms.

• Over at Shelfdust, Jean Brigid-Prehn looks back on the refreshing depiction of Jessica Drew in Michel Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna’s All-New Ultimates #4, amongst the other frustratingly realised outings for the character; and the countdown of the top 50 comic book events of all time hits the halfway mark, with time still remaining in the year to read the entries from 50-41, 40-31, and 30-21.

• From the world of open-access academia, the third volume of the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies is now available to read, edited by Billy Tringali, with nine papers across the mediums, including writing on Stop!! Hibari-Kun!, No Bra, and Sailor Moon, amongst others.

• Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s editorial beat, over at The Daily Cartoonist, as the end of the year saw 2022’s main cast of characters - cryptocurrency, COVID-19, billionaire CEOs, NFTs, and January 6th facilitators - all take one final bow.

This week’s audio/visual delights.

• Sally Madden and Katie Skelly welcomed Bhanu Pratap to this week’s edition of Thick Lines, as the trio discussed Seiichi Hayashi’s Red Colored Elegy, deteriorating relationships, emotional peaks, and good hair.

• 2000 AD’s Thrill Cast returns with a tribute to Alan Grant, who passed away in July of this year, with recordings of a discussion between Garth Ennis, Dan Raspler, and Chloe Maveal on the legacy of Grant’s work, and a previously unpublished interview between Michael Molcher and Grant, along with John Wagner, on a career lived in comics.

• The Mangasplaining crew reconvened for a State of the Union on season 3, discussing the books that made the grade for them, as host David Brothers set the challenge of picking 2 volumes from the previous season that could be used to entice readers into the medium.

• David Harper and Brandon Burpee bid 2022 farewell on Off Panel, covering what could comfortably be called A Fairly Strange Year for comics, and looking back at what the Big Two were churning out with wild abandon, as people were once more able to get back out to physical stores.

• Calvin Reid, Heidi MacDonald, and Kate Fitzsimons covered the chaotic end to the year for the comics market in the latest edition of Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come, as all the news was fired off, scattershot, before the holiday period, with various dollar sign-branded chickens coming home to roost, financially speaking.

• Closing out 2022’s selection with a regular old Cartoonist Kayfabe week, as Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor took a little looksee at Steven Grant and Gil Kane’s The Edge, Alan Moore and Rick Veitch’s Supreme, Natsuo Sekikawa and Jirō Taniguchi’s Hotel Harbour View, Bernie Mireault’s The Jam, and Masaomi Kanzaki’s Heavy Metal Warrior, before Bryan Moss and Geof Darrow joined proceedings to discuss finds from a recent trip to Japan.

That’s all for this year, back in 2023 to see just what it has in store for all and sundry - will James Cameron have correctly predicted the inevitable end to mankind’s clumsy engagement with artificial intelligence in all its forms, or will the more boring, reductive future of Avatar ring true? We shall find out, as always, together.