At the start of this week I’d assumed my vague social media distraction from The Horror was going to be an asinine tweet from an art critic, but it ended up being an attempt to democratize shorting stocks and subsequent targeting of Wall Street traders by memelords via a subreddit, focused on shares in a video game retailer - words that would likely have made zero sense to me a month ago. And may make zero sense to you right now. 2021 is really coming out of the gate strong here.
The week for comics was far more sedate, but still as confusing - links below as evidence.
Marvel, pls check your email. pic.twitter.com/bDuJcPwMwU
— Kenny the Gardener is here (@CharlesForsman) January 22, 2021
I still don't care about cryptocurrency though… This week’s news.
• The dust has settled from 2020’s crowdfunding projects - a year where there was prolonged, and ongoing, debate over who should have “legitimate” access to such platforms - and Kickstarter saw a 59% increase in funds raised for comics projects, with over $25 million pledged last year, compared to $16 million in 2019, with unfunded projects falling from 712 to 612 alongside an increase of projects launched from 1,597 to 1,754.
• Le Monde has seen another cartoonist leave its ranks this week, albeit for more salubrious reasons than last week’s departure, as Plantu has announced he will be retiring from the newspaper in March, aged 70, after a career of 50 years - a gallery of his work can be found at the Cartooning for Peace website.
• Al Jazeera report on the arrest of Egyptian cartoonist Ashraf Hamdi, seemingly due to his posting of a video tribute to the 10th anniversary of protests against the regime of Hosni Mubarak - Egypt's security forces have not revealed his current whereabouts, and human rights organizations are calling for his immediate release, with this arrest bringing the total number of journalists currently incarcerated by the state to 33.
• Despite what was a fairly rocky year when it came to personnel changes, IDW Publishing have announced that their sales figures for Q4 (closing October 31st 2020) were their highest in 4 years, albeit through the book market as opposed to the comic store channel (where sales were down in Q3), with March and They Called Us Enemy contributing in large part to the uptick - you can find the Q4 direct market shares, from point of sale data, for updating your own personal tracking spreadsheets, here.
• Less than a year after the Diamond Princess cruise ship and all who sailed aboard her, was quarantined for a month at sea due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the early days of the pandemic, Image Comics would like to know if you want to join them for boat drinks in 2022. Sure.
TW/ anxiety, trauma, thoughts of self harm
Made a comic about my anxiety. I’ve been struggling with hesitation and self loathing/self doubt like woah over the last year. It’s always been a thing but it got worse recently. Im gonna be ok & I’m trying to cope in healthier ways. pic.twitter.com/DTz2R5LTr4
— Molly Mendoza (@thisismollym) January 24, 2021
The artist only creates… This week’s reviews.
• Hugh O’Donnell reviews the engaging maneuvers of Saladin Ahmed, Sami Kivelä, et al’s Abbot: 1973 #1.
• David Brooke reviews the intriguing juxtapositions of Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Evan Shaner, et al’s Strange Adventures #8.
• Dan Spinelli reviews the playful grandeur of Al Ewing, Simone Di Meo, et al’s We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #5.
• Alex McDonald reviews the fantastic variety of AHOY’s anthology, Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Blood #4.
• Nick Nafpliotis reviews the substitutional weirdness of Joshua Williamson, Mike Henderson, et al’s Nailbiter Returns #9.
• Arpad Okay reviews the dense playfulness of Sumito Ōwara’s Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! Vol. 1, translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian.
• Ricardo Serrano Denis reviews the small-town horrors of Alex Paknadel, Nil Vendrell, et al’s Redfork.
Rebekah Frumkin reviews the exacting details of Michel Rabagliati’s Paul at Home.
• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the manic satire of Mark Russell, Steve Pugh, et al’s Billionaire Island Vol. 1.
• John Trigonis reviews the cinematic narrative of Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips’ That Texas Blood Vol. 1.
• Holly Raidl reviews the uplifting sensibilities of Mark Dickson and Rebecca Burgess’s Cream Maid.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews the perfect finale of Colin Lidston’s The Age Of Elves #5, the dreamlike narrative of Lauren Hinds’ Jeremy, and the authentic energy of November Garcia’s (Even) More Diary Comics From A Relative Nobody #2.
House To Astonish
Journal of International Research in Children’s Literature
Mateusz Świetlicki reviews the comprehensive analyses of Michelle Ann Abate’s Funny Girls: Guffaws, Guts, and Gender in Classic American Comics.
• Johnny Hall reviews the powerful insights of Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Alberto Breccia’s The Eternaut 1969, translated by Erica Mena.
• Matthew Blair reviews the striking strangeness of Matt Kindt, Matt Lesniewski, et al’s Crimson Flower #1.
• John Schaidler reviews the intersectional intrigues of Saladin Ahmed, Sami Kivelä, et al’s Abbott: 1973 #1.
• Mark Tweedale reviews the rewarding layouts of Jeff Lemire and Tyler Crook’s Colonel Weird: Cosmagog.
The New York Times
Hillary Chute reviews the undisciplined meandering of Allie Brosh’s Solutions and Other Problems, and the propulsive styling of Dan Mazur’s Lunatic: A Wordless Story.
• Ryan Carey reviews the sublime cartooning of Moa Romanova’s On Tour.
• Charles Hatfield reviews the playful eccentricities of Alec Longstreth's Isle of Elsi: The Dragon’s Librarian.
• Rob Clough has capsule reviews of the latest from Silver Sprocket, including:
- The excellent playfulness of Archie Bongiovanni’s Yes I’m Flagging.
- The demented intelligence of Brontez Purnell and Janelle Hessig’s The Cruising Diaries.
- The terrifying details of Jenn Woodall’s Marie And Worrywart.
- The breezy exaggerations of Janelle Hessig’s Big Punk.
- The existential intimacy of Ashley Robin Franklin’s One Million Tiny Fires.
- The hilarious violence of Hyena Hell’s No Romance In Hell.
- The pop-art traditionalism of Rodger Binyone’s Miffed Ruffianz: Penultimate Subterfuge.
Women Write About Comics
もっともタフな彼なしにアメリカは語れない。https://t.co/fNWS5RNOyz#鈴木英人 #版画 #イラストレーター #イラストレーション #アメリカ #バス #グレイハウンド #ロードムービー #eizinsuzuki #art #illustrator #illustration #america #greyhound #roadmovie pic.twitter.com/RiTeoHWDgX
— 鈴木英人事務所 (@eizin_suzuki) January 27, 2021
A real back-and-forth… This week’s interviews.
• Ian Thomas interviews MK Czerwiec about Graphic Medicine’s mission, how the field of graphic medicine is evolving, notable recent examples in the genre, and the work of healthcare professionals under COVID-19 - “We are all living in finite bodies, so graphic medicine has something for every one of us. I think each person using graphic medicine may have a different goal, but as a nurse, simply put, I want to make things better. So I engage with and use graphic medicine in hopes that it can help make inevitable illness, decline, and/or caregiving easier to bear.”
• Tucker Stone helps RJ Casey and Ed Kanerva bid farewell to Fantagraphics and Koyama Press respectively, and comics in general, and discuss their journeys through the industry, while explaining that singular (lifelong) feeling of when a source of pleasure becomes a job - "[Kanerva:] Personally, I'd like to pretend that my leaving comics would be some great loss, but it really isn't. Therefore, it would be hard to frame it as a mistake. One of comics' greatest assets are comics people and there is no shortage of talented individuals ready to forge new paths or already well into forging them. I guess somewhere in the back of my head I feel like I will weasel my way back someday, but perhaps that will wear off the further away I get."
Chris Coplan talks to Matt Kindt about his writing on ENIAC, how it ties in to his wider body of work, and helping launch Bad Idea’s slate of books during interesting times; and interviews Robert Venditti about Tankers, fossil fuel satire, working with Bad Idea, and the pressures of a book being on a publisher's slate of launch titles.
• Joe Grunenwald interviews Gene Luen Yang about Future State: Batman/Superman, the core differences between the characters, and working on line-wide event books for DC; Stephanie Phillips about Harley Quinn, juggling timelines, and collaborating with multiple artists at once; and Matt Kindt about Fear Case, disliking the supernatural, liking slow creep scares, and the interconnecting lines between his other writing.
• Arpad Okay talks to Ann Nocenti and David Aja about The Seeds, writing for established characters and creating new worlds, and striving for cult classic status with blockbuster sales.
• Deanna Destito chats with Kwanza Osajyefo about White, the inherent politicization of comic books, getting the band back together, and the best part of the creative process.
Teddy Jamieson talks to Michel Rabagliati about Paul at Home, revisiting life’s difficult moments on the page, and cartooning during quarantine.
Milton Griepp interviews Dinesh Shamdasani, Warren Simons, and Hunter Gorinson about Bad Idea’s publishing plans, how they’ve been affected by COVID-19, bullish direct market growth, and publicity gimmicks.
The Korea Times
Kwak Yeon-soo chats with Keum Suk Gendry-Kim about Grass’ Harvey Award Win, the first for a Korean cartoonist, moving from sculpture to translation to comics, and the inherent problems in depicting acts of extreme violence.
Mark Tweedale talks to Christopher Golden, Bridgit Connell, and Peter Bergting about pandemic plans for Mike Mignola’s Outerverse comics, fresh faces and old favourites, and monsters galore.
Chloe Maveal presents part one and part two of an interview with Eddie Campbell, covering the Henley on Todd Regatta, comparing pandemic page counts with other creators, zines then and now, the joys of anthologies, Bizarre Romance and experimental challenges, and Bryan Talbot beef.
Penn State News
Talk to cartoonist Dave Blazek about Loose Parts, winning back-to-back Reuben awards, and a career path that involved self-taught drawing through necessity.
• Nicholas Burman interviews Tânia A. Cardoso about her history with Portugese and Brazilian comics and artists, and their influence on her artwork, collaborating with writers for narrative projects, and the Urban Sketchers movement.
• Alex Hoffman talks to Kumail Rizvi and Zain Dada about Khidr ComixLab, plans to mitigate the cultural impact of the pandemic (and Brexit) on artists from marginalized backgrounds, paying a fair rate, and digital futures.
Y'all ever get these pic.twitter.com/vDFVNfbhLB
— Abby Howard (@AbbyHoward) January 25, 2021
Deliver the full volume of the art… This week’s features and comics.
• Here at TCJ, Steven Brower writes on the career of Bruce Berry, his mental health problems, purple genre prose, and work as Jack Kirby’s inker - “Berry approached the inks like a schematic, using mechanical pens and tools, which produced a static even line width...The end result was that he broke Jack's pencils into shapes and patterns, an earmark of product illustration, to mixed effect. Oddly, none of these techniques are evidenced in Berry’s own artwork.”
• Also for TCJ, RC Harvey serves up another dose of Hare Tonic, looking back at the history of the Dutch Treat Club, the creative types who founded it in the heyday of illustrated magazines, and its place in the pantheon of old boys’ clubs - “The pictures of naked women in full frontal glory, as I’ve said, were unusual for the day—candid, unblushing, pubic hair displayed with innocent abandon (years before Playboy made pubic hair a cause celebre; but then the Dutch Treat yearbook was privately printed for an exclusive readership for which nothing should be left to imagination, including pubic hair). Today, pictures of naked women are no longer quaint. Nor are they even racy or risque. They are commonplace. And those who draw them are no longer revolutionaries. But they are still in a minority, a minority persecuted for their preoccupation.”
• Over at The Beat, Gregory Paul Silber kicks off a new series of columns by asking “wherefore art thou, Kevin Smith?,” assessing Smith’s hand in the “geek culture über alles” supremacy we find ourselves living out, and looking back at the comics he penned along the way.
• For Shelfdust, Steve Morris watches the mutant roulette wheel payout on #137, and considers how you count wins and losses in the world of Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s X-Men, while Stephanie Williams digs into the complicated past of Nightwing and Starfire for Infinite Crisis, leading to Osvaldo Oloya digging into the complicated past of Donna Troy, and Tom Shapira sees Jim Lee cry bullets in Deathblow #1.
• On the academic beat, The International Journal of Innovation and Education Research has an article by Lilies Youlia Priatin, Leni Irianti, and Zia Nurfauziah on the effectiveness of teaching translation using comic strips in the classroom - there have been quite a few studies like this recently, I’d imagine in response to the ongoing boom in comic and graphic novel sales for younger readers - the funny books ain’t going away anytime soon!
• For NeoText, Sean Witzke draws the parallels between Blade Runner: 2049 and Naoki Urasawa's manga Pluto, the sample/remodel science fiction storytelling that both embody, and the similarities of their taciturn protagonists.
• I liked this piece on The Far Side website, where Gary Larson is loath to let a joke about parasitic worms go, and so, instead, breaks it down in great detail as to why it’s funny. Never give up, never surrender.
• Over at Women Write About Comics, Anna Bloomfield makes the (In)case for erotic comics receiving wider mainstream acclaim; and Dani Kinney breaks down the problems with Dan Slott’s recent writing on Fantastic Four, and his response to the criticism he received.
• For 13th Dimension, Paul Kupperberg digs into the murky past of DC’s house ads from the 60s, selecting his favorites, and providing some much needed context for the more confusing among them.
• Illustrating interviews by Anya Kamenetz and Cory Turner, Ashley Rogers Berner and Hasan Kwame Jeffries for NPR's Life Kit podcast, La Johnson presents a comic on 6 ways to raise informed citizens, during the age of misinformation.
• Some recent longform comics from The Lily, as Issy Manley documents the memories stored in second-hand objects, Katie Wheeler tries to kickstart the creative engine, and Shan Horan documents the problems that masks and other pandemic staples cause for the hard of hearing.
• For The Nib, Max Easton and Lizzie Nagy have a comic on the need for research scientists to consider geopolitical ramifications of and on their work, at a time when expedited lab work is increasingly on the rise, and Ruben Bolling charts Linus' ignominious demise.
a Metal Gear from 2014 pic.twitter.com/zdGjU9DYO1
— musashinoelegy (@musashinoelegy) January 28, 2021
Buy, buy, buy… This week’s recommended watching.
• Some upcoming workshops for younger creators, as The Center for Cartoon Studies’ Saturday Cartoon Club returns, hosted by Daryl Seitchik - sign up details are here - but if you’ve got a budding artist who’s raring to go (or needs to be distracted for ten minutes to give you a moment’s peace) then First Second have a new SketchSchool video with Andy Hirsch, that you can watch right now.
• Also for younger viewers, there are some fresh Kids Graphic Novel of the Month Club videos from Comix Experience available, as Brian Hibbs spoke to Dan Jolley and Jacques Khouri about Mega Dogs of New Kansas, Jonathan Garnier and Yohan Sacre about Timo the Adventurer, and Tim Probert about Lightfall.
• The Believer and Black Mountain Institute hosted a new Friday comics workshop, as Jarett Sitter took viewers through how to draw comics about music, his living room/office/studio/dining room, comics inspiration for music posters (and vice versa), and visualizing the feel of music.
• A double header from Power Comics, as they tracked down Jontar #1’s illustrator, Tony Lorenz, for an interview on its creation, and what he’s been up to since (as it was published when he was in high school), and then provide a table read of the comic in question for a true multimedia experience.
• The Strand bookstore hosted a launch event for Steve Martin and Harry Bliss’ A Wealth of Pigeons, as the pair spoke to Susan Orlean about collaborating on cartoons, and Thursday 25th February sees the store hosting a launch for Gilbert Hernandez’ Hypnotwist / Scarlet by Starlight, where Hernandez will be in-conversation with author Marlon James.
• Returning to John Siuntres’ Word Balloon, and this week he was chatting to Ibrahim Mostafa about Count, Humanoids’ SF retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, and what else he’s working on; Sal Abbinanti about crowdfunding The Hostage, an taking viewer questions about the book; and Shelly Bond, Barbra Baker, and Heather Goldberg about Heavy Rotation and everything 80s.
• Looking ahead, Drawn & Quarterly have a new At Home With video coming up on 9th February, as John Porcellino takes over the D&Q Instagram for a look at the upcoming new editions of King-Cat Classix, Map of My Heart, and Perfect Example.
I don't know why I keep coming back to this idea. Here's the original one from several years ago... pic.twitter.com/f6rrKrMZm1
— Karl Kerschl (@karlkerschl) January 26, 2021
Sell, sell, sell… This week’s easy-listening.
• Dan Berry welcomed Keith Knight to Make It Then Tell Everybody this week, as the pair discussed anagrams, Hollywood’s hunger for IP, European comics (and teachable moments of racist characters featured therein), and new books on old administrations.
• Mex Flentallo was talking Trouble this week, as Ramon Villalobos and Daniel Irizarri spoke with August (in the wake of) Dawn about Mark Millar, Terry Dodson and Rachel’s 2003 comic, and why it wasn’t the return of romance comics that the team wanted, or the readers, or anyone else.
• SILENCE! was also talking Millar this week and his crimes against Mega City One, but first there was birthday business to be covered, and Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die began to choose their own adventure in the heady world of local radio reporting.
• Off Panel welcomed Polygon’s Susana Polo to the show this week, as David Harper checked in on what’s happening in direct market coverage, the digital future, when new issues of Saga may or may not appear, and conventions in the age of no public gatherings.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come featured an interview between Calvin Reid and Tim Fielder, discussing Infinitum: An Afrofuturist Tale, considerations of how Black characters are depicted on film and in comics, and making something out of nothing.
• Shelfdust Presents put the spotlight on Black Orchid #1, as Ram V and Matt Lune discussed its place in Gaiman’s wider body of writing, pacing through panel layout, and worldbuilding through scene placement.
• Thick Lines returned with episode 2, and this time around it was a discussion of Ghost World, and Katie Skelly and Sally Madden’s thoughts on letter pages, goat signs, figuring out who’s attractive when they’re not drawn that way, shoplifting, and why navy tights are a travesty.
• War Rocket Ajax welcomed Michael Sweater aboard this week, talking about The Wizerd, getting published and getting the pages in, and variations on the word ‘Wizard’.
— Bjenny Montero (@bjennymontero) January 25, 2021
That’s all for this week, I’m going to go and spend my weekend reading Bloomberg articles about hedge funds going into meltdown. You know, the good stuff.
— Marie Enger (@so_engery) January 23, 2021