Glaring at the tree which stands outside the window of my office does not seem to be doing much to encourage the appearance of spring, or even really the intermediary state that Vonnegut called ‘unlocking’, so instead I shall glare at this week’s links, a selection of which can be found below, until such time as leaves appear on branches once more. Anything to pass the time, really.
The first issue of The Maxx came out 30 years ago this month! I just found out. Here’s some fan art I did. I love Sam Kieth. pic.twitter.com/6lh1pNW216
— Dr. Derek M Ballard PhD aka thee line tamer (@derekmballard) March 14, 2023
This week’s news.
• Starting the week with news out of South Korea, as it was reported that Kakao Entertainment will be closing the Korean branch of Tapas Entertainment next month - The Beat has more information on the story, including details of layoffs at the US offices of Tapas and Radish, mirroring main rival Naver’s recent round of staff cuts at Wattpad, as the Korean tech giants’ previously aggressive, growth-focused moves into western markets are apparently being reconfigured, due to sluggish economic forecasts, in order to prioritise company streamlining and profitability in the face of looming global recession.
• The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum announced the winners of this year’s Lucy Shelton Caswell Research Award, with Margaret Galvan and Christina Knopf & Dan Yezbick receiving financial support to travel to Columbus, Ohio to access the BICLM collections materials on site.
• In memoriam, remembering those the world of comics has lost, and news was shared this week of the passing of cartoonist Bill Tidy, creator of The Fosdyke Saga and The Cloggies, at the age of 89.
A Thirsty Gremlin pic.twitter.com/8W8yT6KzCl
— Rebecca Mock (@rebeccamock) March 14, 2023
This week’s reviews.
• Martin Brown reviews the satisfying subversion of Erik Svetoft’s Spa, translated by Melissa Bowers - “It works because Svetoft makes choices throughout that allow you to track everything, even without fully understanding it. He draws the shadowy horrors way more realistically than he draws the central characters. Spa’s humans have minimalist, almost Cubist faces with dots for eyes. His artistic skill often hides in plain sight.”
• Hagai Palevsky reviews the early progress of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s Tatsuki Fujimoto Before Chainsaw Man: 17-21, translated by Amanda Haley - “Throughout, [Fujimoto] expresses only a certain rose-tinted nostalgia for the experience of making these stories at certain points of his life, rather than any great affection for the stories themselves. This attitude, I'm compelled to say, only carries the book so far.”
• Tegan O'Neil reviews the remarkable complexity of Geof Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel to be Kin - “I know for a fact Geof Darrow is a very popular and influential artist, but I also know just as surely the same aspects of his work that thrill his cult must surely irritate others. I’ve heard enough cogent objects to Chris Ware on the basis of the supposed challenging obscurantism at the root of his intricate style. There are similar impulses at root, I think. Same with Brian Chippendale, sometimes James Stokoe. Hell, George Pérez on occasion. Pages against the putative grail of accessibility.”
• Ben Austin-Docampo reviews the addictive bombast of Bartosz Stzybor and Akeussel’s All Talk, translated by Celina Bernstein - “Faces are often noseless, eyes simple dots or curved lines. These stylistic choices can disarm, making it easy not only to form a sympathetic connection with these characters, but to forget the real danger they’re all in. Danger they don’t quite grasp, either.”
• Andrew Isidoro reviews the interesting twists of DC’s Lazarus Planet: Revenge of the Gods #1.
• Christopher Franey reviews the tremendous beginning of Christopher Priest, Carlo Pagulayan, et al’s Superman: Lost #1.
• Lia Williamson reviews the uneven humour of Peter Milligan, Michael Allred, et al’s The X-Cellent #1.
• Nathan Simmons reviews the exquisite construction of Christopher Cantwell, Alex Lins, et al’s Hellcat #1.
• Collier Jennings reviews the tight pacing of Brian Buccellato, Kyle Higgins, Geraldo Borges, et al’s No/One #1.
• David Brooke reviews the establishing conversations of Christopher Cantwell, Angel Unzueta, et al’s Star Trek: Defiant #1.
• Keigen Rea reviews the epic scale of Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, Mike Henderson, et al’s The Forged #1.
• Eric Thomas reviews the twisted thrills of Joshua Williamson, Andrei Bressan, et al’s Dark Ride, Volume 1.
• Avery Kaplan reviews the excellent developments of Jordan Ifueko, Alba Glez, et al’s Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #4.
• Arpad Okay reviews the genre mixing of Sui Ishida’s Choujin X Volume 1, translated by Jan Mitsuko Cash.
• Lindsay Pereira reviews the astute surrealism of Nick Maandag’s Harvey Knight’s Odyssey.
• Andy Oliver has reviews of:
- The lively absurdity of Patrick Kyle’s Baby.
- The immersive chaos of Samuel Hickson’s Liquid Realm #2.
- The endearing humour of Huda Fahmy’s Yes, I’m Hot in This: The Hilarious Truth about Life in a Hijab.
- The important allegories of Giorgio Pandiani’s A Day on the River (& Other Stories).
Nick Smith reviews the interesting choices of Camilo Moncada Lozano’s Codex Black: A Fire Among Clouds.
Have starred capsule reviews of:
- The unique storytelling of Martin Lemelman’s The Miracle Seed.
- The mesmerising lines of Joe Kessler’s The Gull Yettin.
- The punchy complexities of Sammy Harkham’s Blood of the Virgin.
Montreal Review of Books
• Esinam Beckley reviews the important voices of Barbara Brandon-Croft’s Where I’m Coming From.
• Connor Harrison reviews the deadpan absurdity of Nick Maandag’s Harvey Knight’s Odyssey.
• Yara El-Soueidi reviews the beautiful activism of Drawn & Quarterl’s Movements and Moments, edited by Sonja Eismann, Ingo Schöningh, and Maya.
• Matthew Blair reviews the engaging ideas of Matt Hawkns, Ryan Cady, Paul Feinstein, Atilio Rojo, et al’s A.R.C. #1.
• Jaina Hill reviews the winning mix of Emma Kubert’s Stone Heart #1.
• Mark Tweedale reviews the charming characters of Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s The Night Eaters: She Eats the Night.
• Kobi Bordoley reviews the ambitious plotting of Kyle Higgins, Brian Buccellato, Geraldo Borges, et al's No/One #1.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The unflinching narrative of Darrin Bell’s The Talk.
- The sharp insights of Hayley Gold’s Nervosa.
- The straightforward primer of Julian Voloj and Wagner Willian’s Black & White: The Rise and Fall of Bobby Fischer.
- The baroque beauty of Benjamin Schipper’s Joe Death and the Graven Image.
- The masterful flair of Ayize Jama-Everett and Tristan Roach’s The Last Count of Monte Cristo.
Hagai Palevsky reviews the visceral immediacy of Sam Alden’s Sledgehammer.
Women Write About Comics
• Bishop V Navarro reviews the unclear stakes of Murewa Ayodele, Dotun Akande, et al’s I Am Iron Man #1.
• Joan Dark reviews the interesting magic of Katy Rex, Fabian Lelay, et al’s Jade Street Protection Services Volume 1.
. @emmaEWallen emailed me an article about alligators being found in NYC with the subject line “Any interest?” This is the result of that interest. Thank you everyone at the @NewYorker 🐊 pic.twitter.com/EZ3cqsCmfw
— Will McPhail (@WillMcPhail) March 13, 2023
This week’s interviews.
• Zach Rabiroff interviews Comic Book Workers United, the union of employees of Image Comics about their recent contract ratification, and the next steps to be taken - “From the beginning, our priority was to encourage the hiring of more staff to address untenable workloads and hopefully make a better work-life balance more achievable. To our dismay, Image management disingenuously interpreted this as the union requesting to be switched to an hourly pay rate and to be made eligible for overtime pay. We were all salaried workers and did not want to lose the security and flexibility that came with that, but the compromise we achieved was a structured annual wage increase schedule that we're all happy with.”
• Jason Novak presents an illustrated conversation with Lucy Knisley, as part of the Dialogue Balloons series of interviews.
• Chris Hassan speaks with Zac Thompson about X-Men Unlimited: Unbreakable, ranting to editorial, and making mutants relatable.
Ricardo Serrano Denis speaks with Justin Jordan about Harrower, eighties slasher inspirations, and pulling from a broad pool of horror tropes.
Andy Oliver talks to Jared Myland of OK Comics in Leeds, England, about childhood comic collecting, and the store’s sales philosophy.
Adrienne Gibbs interviews Shawn Martinbrough, Milo Stone, and Christopher Jordan about Judge Kim and the Kids Court, and teaching younger readers about the legal system.
Present a conversation with Taha Siddiqui and Hubert Maury about The Dissident Club, and the realities of exile from Pakistan.
Jim McLauchlin speaks with Trent Walsh of California’s BaT Comics & Games about the importance of a good employee handbook.
Montreal Review of Books
Anna Leventhal talks to Cesario Lavery about Der Eydes, braiding meandering story threads together, and wanting another person’s story to be seen.
Steven Heller chats with Vonn Cummings Sumner about the ‘Second Nature’ exhibition, feeling a connection to Krazy Kat, and the human-animal hybrid tradition of art.
• Cheryl E. Klein speaks with Matt Tavares about Hoops, the natural drama of sports stories, and interviewing the real-life people who inspired the books’ characters.
• Nathalie op de Beek interviews Dan Nott about Hidden Systems, the book's beginnings as a thesis project, and modular comics composition as a visual puzzle.
David Harper talks to Faith Erin Hicks about comic book inspirations, changing access to the medium, and comic strips that make a lasting impression.
Meghna Chakrabarti chats with Barbara Brandon-Croft about Where I’m Coming From, growing up in a cartooning household, and the changing world of syndication for Black cartoonists.
— 𝔐egalith (@Psychic_Driving) March 16, 2023
This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Paul Karasik writes on the publication of Into the Jungle! A Boy's Comic Strip History of World War II, and the social history and personal history of young cartoonist James Kugler that the comics, and their collection, represent - “Jimmy was not interested in why the war was being fought or who the good guys were. The chapters, made without any distinct story arc, can be read in almost any order. Jimmy cuts out anything resembling dramaturgy in favor of non-stop conflict, some of which is brutally graphic and much more violent than what he might have read in a real comic book.”
• For The New Yorker, Katy Waldman writes on the politicisation of book challenges in schools and libraries, and the reasons given for attempting to censor the titles at the top of the most-banned lists.
• Over at Solrad, Alex Hoffman writes on the stumbling engagement of the arts with technology, in this case AI generative programs, of course, and their use to rapidly generate #content - for a related round-up of current lawsuits in the field, Computer Weekly collates them all into one list.
• Shelfdusts Dust to Dust series continues, as this week Steve Morris looks to the end of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman run, and Bruce Wayne and Gotham’s story arc coming full circle.
• d. emerson eddy’s Classic Comic Compendium also continues, over at The Beat, with recent Morrisonian instalments on the muscle mystery of Grant Morrison and Mike Dringenberg’s Doom Patrol #42, and the bittersweet action of Morrison and Frank Quitely’s WE3.
• From the world of open-access academia, on arxiv, Kashin Sugishita and Naoki Masuda present data from a wide-ranging study of the character networks of popular manga, and how trends in these have changed over time.
• In the International Journal of Modern Developments in Engineering and Science, Lito L. Diones, Devie Rose A. Ravanes, Sheena Leigh V. Flores, and Dykembie S. Dingal share research on Mars Ravelo’s superhero Darna, and the representation of strong Filipina women during the Republic era.
• For Traverse, Wayan Redi Arnadi, Dewa Ayu Devi Maharani Santika, and Desak Putu Eka Pratiwi present a study of the onomatopoeia to be found in Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund’s Superman: The Doomsday Wars.
• Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s editorial beat, over at The Daily Cartoonist, as Tucker Carlson’s chronic stretching of the truth became a focal point, before access to legal abortions and climate promises took over the show.
— theo (@theo_plum) March 13, 2023
This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Christopher Butcher hosts this week’s edition of Mangasplaining, as the team discusses Inio Asano’s Goodnight PunPun Volume 1, and the sadness and humour to be found within its pages, and its similarity to the situation comedy Friends.
• Mangasplaining’s Deb Aoki also makes an appearance on this week’s episode of Off Panel, speaking with host David Harper about the manga markets in the US and Japan, and sales booms in the face of supply chain issues.
• Stepping into the ring for Cartoonist Kayfabe’s weekly offering, as Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg took a look at Simon Bisley’s work in Heavy Metal Dredd, and were joined by Tom Scioli and Warren Bernard to examine Mad #17 and issues of Amazing Stories, before chatting with Scioli about I Am Stan and with Erik Larsen about Savage Dragon.
• Jeff Smith spoke with host Calvin Reid on the latest edition of Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come, as they discussed Tuki, self-publishing the graphic novel series, and taking the stories out on the road on a national book tour.
— はれ✴︎ (@tenkiame_hale) March 16, 2023
This week draws to a close. Next week? More winter, probably.
Save the date: Oct 6-9, 2023! @AAEC_Cartoonist and @AccCartoonists will be joining with @cartoonart for the annual gathering of editorial cartoonists. See you in SanFran — details to follow soon! pic.twitter.com/j8OTnlzcvA
— AAEC (@AAEC_Cartoonist) March 10, 2023