Tapping On The Aquarium Glass – This Week’s Links

There are a few previous drafts of this introduction bemoaning the current cold weather here in the UK, and the boredom of continued lockdown quarantines. However, in the grand scheme of things, they aren’t so bad, and will ultimately be temporary modifiers to a life well lived. 

Temporary, that is, unlike This Week’s Links (below) - for, even if the posts to which they are enjoined should be deleted, they will survive on somewhere as ones and zeros in cyberspace, a testament everlasting to just whatever it was that happened over the last seven days in the world of comix. 

So, click. Click with wild abandon, and celebrate in the name of the digital gods to which we have shackled our world! 



Breaking: wearing gloves when it’s cold makes typing difficult… This week’s news.

• ComicConnect have announced that next month will see an auction of items from the estate of Denny O’Neil, including his writing desk and electric typewriter, with lots closing at the start of March - you can find a listing of all items up for bids here, including a treasure trove of custom bound comics.

• ShortBox have opened a new round of mini-grants of £200 for 2021, with awards currently available in March, April, May, and June - details on how to apply, and how to donate to increase the number of grants to be awarded, can be found here, with a deadline for the first round of February 28th.

• The Center for Cartoon Studies have provided a number of merit-based scholarships to support the professional development for BIPOC cartoonists, granting free access to each of its summer cartooning workshops - applications by short written statements are invited with a deadline of April 15th.

• News arrived last week of the passing of S. Clay Wilson, aged 79, from complications related to previously inflicted injuries - Patrick Rosenkranz has a celebration of Wilson’s life and work for TCJ, with remembrances from well-wishers, peers, and loved ones in the comments.

• The Courier reports on the death of Scottish cartoonist Frank McDiarmid, aged 85 - named as the ‘Master of Cheekery’, McDiarmid was best known for his work on Cheeky, as well as a plethora of DC Thompson and IPC titles.



Judging purely on the basis of quality and/or quantity… This week’s reviews.


Hillary Brown reviews the faceless dolls of Jerome Mulot, Florent Ruppert, and Bastien Vives’ The Grand Odalisque, translated by Montana Kane - “It’s not clear which of the three creators is responsible for what in the book, so they can share the blame. I read and wrote about Ruppert and Mulot’s Barrel of Monkeys back in 2013 and gave it a pass on its shock-value content due to the fact that it had some beautiful and innovative cartooning, and I expect this book will also get the benefit of the doubt. But it’s not nearly as formally innovative as that one.”



• Ronnie Gorham reviews the straightforward thrills of Jason Starr, Dalibor Talajic, et al’s Casual Fling #1.

• Colin Moon reviews the memorable imperfections of Élodie Durand’s Parenthesis, translated by Edward Gauvin.

• Alexandra Iciek reviews the redemptive delights of Christine Larsen’s ORCS!.

• Rory Wilding reviews the murky flaws of Aleš Kot, Luca Casalanguida, et al’s Lost Soldiers.

• Holly Woodbury reviews the stellar promise of Stephanie Phillips, Craig Cermak, et al’s A Man Among Ye Volume 1.


The Beat

John Seven reviews the audacious triumphs of Jerome Mulot, Florent Ruppert, and Bastien Vives’ The Grand Odalisque, translated by Montana Kane.


Broken Frontier

• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the overwhelming accounts of Graphic Mundi’s COVID Chronicles, edited by Kendra Boileau and Rich Johnson.

• Andy Oliver reviews the entrancing existentialism of Grace Helmer’s Speck.

• Lindsay Pereira reviews the timeless profundity of John Porcellino's newly reissued King-Cat Classix, Map of My Heart, and Perfect Example.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan C reviews the striking placements of Lane Yates’ Single Camera Sitcom #1, and the indelible darkness of Garrett Young’s Sketch Zine 2020.


House to Astonish

Paul O’Brien reviews the inconsequential swashbuckling of Gerry Duggan, Luke Ross, Carlos Lopez, et al’s King in Black: Marauders #1.



Nick Smith reviews the consistent strangeness of Chip Zdarsky, Jason Loo, et al’s Afterlift.


Multiversity Comics

• Brian Salvatore reviews the zeitgeist incorporation of Daniel José Older, Harvey Tolibao, et al’s Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #1.

• Justin McGuire reviews the powerful density of Ben Passmore’s Sports Is Hell.

Joe Skonce reviews the uninspired plodding of Kyle Higgins, Marcelo Costa, et al's Radiant Black #1.


Publisher’s Weekly

Have capsule reviews of:

- The painstaking lavishments of Gary Panter’s Crashpad.

- The unforgettable viscera of Élodie Durand’s Parenthesis, translated by Edward Gauvin.

- The style-over-substance of Thomas Day and Olivier Ledroit’s Wika, translated by Christopher Pope.

- The dynamic advocacy of Wauter Mannaert’s Chef Yasmina and the Potato Panic, translated by Montana Kane.



• Ryan Carey reviews the likeable authenticity of John Carvajal’s Sunshine State.

• Alex Hoffman reviews the beautiful naturalism of Tommi Parrish’s Sufficient Lucidity.

• Eszter Szép reviews the genre-hopping reinventions of Yuval Noah Harari, David Vandermeulen, and Daniel Casanave's Sapiens: A Graphic History.


Women Write About Comics

• Danielle L reviews the repetitive frustrations of Tamifull’s How Do We Relationship? Volume 2, translated by Abby Lerkhe.

• Wendy Browne reviews the intense juxtapositions of David F. Walker and Marcus Kwame Anderson’s The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History.



Chattering teeth… This week’s interviews.


• Kate Lacour talks to Phoebe Gloeckner, Nina Bunjevac, Julia Gfrörer, and Dame Darcy about their shared endeavor of doll-making, and the intricacies (and darkness) of their individual projects on that front - “[Gfrörer:] I'm not sure whether I qualify as "serious" about [doll-making], because it's something I actively avoid doing. I hate having a bunch of dolls around the house, I feel responsible for them. But I compulsively make human figures in any medium, I always have. Ever since I was little I was making tiny rag dolls and clothespin dolls and worry dolls out of toothpicks.  Still now, if you give me a piece of clay I'll make a person, and then I have to paint it and make clothes for it.”

• Benjamin Marra interviews S. Craig Zahler about Forbidden Surgeries of the Hideous Dr. Divinus, comics x graphic novels x picture novels, the influence of tabletop gaming on his work, and historical research across mediums - “It is telling that the rewards for different successes I’ve had as a screenwriter, director, musician, and novelist were pieces of original comic art. Mixed up with all of this was my interest in animation, which is certainly equal to my interest in comics, and I have plenty of original cels in my collection as well—in particular, a lot of Richard Williams stuff. To address your question, I want to actively pursue almost everything that I have a strong interest in.”


The Beat

• AJ Frost interviews John Porcellino about the upcoming reissues of his comic collections, the freedom of not having an audience, realizing an audience has in fact formed, and eschewing labels.

• Avery Kaplan talks to Laura Knetzger about Bug Boys, nature as a focus for abstract concepts, keeping things wild and weird, and New York’s inspiration for a bustling insect metropolis.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan C interviews Mara Ramirez about MOAB, inculcation into comics-making, adhering to the truth in autobiography, and comic books as experiential decompression.



Rob Salkowitz talks to Sal Abbinanti about the market for original comic art, and how it’s weathering the pandemic storm, how sellers have changed over the years as big money’s become involved, and his own comics project, The Hostage.


Multiversity Comics

Elias Rosner talks to Hamish Steele about DeadEndia, media experimentation prior to choosing the comics life, the parallels between tv show formatting and webcomics, and outsourcing the artwork.



Alexandra Witze talks to Patricia Fara about curating historical scientific caricatures and cartoons, the important record of foundational advances (and the problems surrounding them) that they represent, and the favourite themes covered through the ages.



Paul Verhoeven interviews Naoki Urasawa about Mujirushi, his consumption of foreign media, depicting the courage needed to live in hope, and the failure that violence represents.



Sam Nakahira interviews Sunmi about their comics and illustration work, the sanctuary of fiction, using color sparingly, and the continuous journey of connection through stories.



I found myself in love with the world… This week’s features and comics.

• Further remembrances of S. Clay Wilson, following his passing last week, can be found in The Washington PostThe New York Timesand The Village Voice, chronicling his influential comics work, and the creators he inspired along the way.

• Celebrating classic and contemporary Afrofuturism, Michigan State University’s Julian Chambliss takes readers through American comics as a window into the transformative message of the genre, introducing a virtual exhibition on the subject, while Robert Ito writes for The New York Times on 2021’s wealth of Afrofuturist stories being published in the direct market, and how comics best serve its wider themes.

• For The Beat, Joe Grunenwald writes on Marvel’s latest failing in publishing apparent anti-Semitic images in one of its titles, and asks the main question - how does that happen in the first place?

• Andy Oliver wishes Annie Koyama an emphatic “thank you!” from Broken Frontier, as comics bids farewell to Koyama Press, and highlights a selection of reviews of the publisher’s books that will live on - Koyama Provides’ grant program starts up again today, so expect more on that next week.

• Over at The New Yorker, Stephanie Burt continues comics journalism’s digging into the legacy of Stan Lee, providing a round-up of the story of his life, career, and business decisions regarding other’s work and creator rights, aimed squarely at readers who likely know him mostly from cameos in superhero films and Mallrats.

• For The Daily Cartoonist, Mike Peterson looks homeward and abroad for recent political cartooning, before the impeachment carnival rolls into town, as 2021 continues to fail to surprise, and DD Degg highlights some recent sense of humour failures from right wing commentators, considering left wing cartoons. Classic.

• Shelfdust’s Steve Morris spins the X-Roullette again, and the pill bounces into the pocket marked “classic Lee/Kirby mutant shenanigans,” so all's right with the world, before Zoe Tunnell lays out the case for the defence in support of Nightcrawler’s bona fides, while Mark O. Stack questions Perry White’s journalistic credentials, and Zachary Jenkins mourns not for the Ratcatcher, nor Christian Hoffer of Mindboggler. Oh, cruel world.

• For Women Write About Comics, Adrienne Resha is also on a classic X-Men jag, writing on Claremont, JRJR, et al’s Uncanny X-Men #203, and how effectively it captures the mutant mood for new readers, while Zora Gilbert looks back over this year’s Hourly Comics Day, and the exhausting obligation/promotional opportunity dichotomy at the heart of it all (see also: ‘Inktober™’, and basically any other creative SEO-bothering hashtag).

• Over at NeoText, Chloe Maveal writes on the manga phenomenon that is Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&!, and where it succeeds in depicting the joy of viewing the world through a child’s eyes, before considering the emotive elevations of John Romita Sr’s romance comics work, and all the broken hearts it contained.

• The Middle Spaces’ Osvaldo Oyola revisits Richie Rich & Casper #31, and finds within a Freudian dreamscape that lends itself to freedom of queer identity and critique of the capitalist system, all within 4 chapters.

• A couple of recent open-access articles from The Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, as Anna Nordenstam and Margareta Wallin Wictorin look at contemporary feminist comics in Sweden, and the parallel movement of craftism, and how embroidered comics fit between the two fields; while Michelle Ann Abate looks back at Tom Wilson’s Ziggy comics, and overlooked aspects in the role of graffiti in shaping contemporary comics.

• Bubbles returns with issue 9 tomorrow, featuring interviews with Annie Koyama, Simon Hanselmann, and Jasper Jubenvill, and with a piece by Ryan Holmberg on Osamu Tezuka's American comics collection - get thee to a bubblery!

• The Lily had a couple of longform comics this week, as Katie Wheeler self-actualises through Tarot; and Tess Smith-Roberts draws from the oldest well of them all - bad dates - but not, you know, the ones that Indiana Jones almost eats.

• For The Nib, Sophie Yanow has a longform comic looking at the history, and contemporary resurgence, of collective action, and its importance in the modern political sphere.



Put on your 3D glasses now… This week’s recommended watching.

• Cartoon Crossroads Columbus are hosting a free webinar with MS Harkness speaking on the construction of graphic memoirs, and adapting and structuring real life moments and memories into comics, on February 25th - online signup can be found here.

• Drawn and Quarterly presented three more live readings of John Porcellino’s comics, as Caitlin McGurk, Kevin Huizenga, Eleanor Davis, and Zak Sally narrated selections of his work, in celebration of upcoming new editions of his classic comic collections.

• The Believer and Black Mountain Institute hosted a new virtual comics workshop this week, as Margaret Kimball took viewers through drawing maps in comics, and how they can help structure story writing, and chart important narrative (or personal) moments.

• Cartoonist Kayfabe presented three distinct flavors of Spidered-Men this week, from messrs Ditko, Ikegami, and McFarlane, along with visits to Conan the Barbarian and The Incal, and a voyage into adaptations of Moby Dick.

• Some contemporary direct market landings from Word Balloon, as John Siuntres spoke to Joshua Williamson, Scott Snyder, and Jim Zub about their current endeavors in the world of comic books.




Noise un-cancelling... This week’s easy-listening.

• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden considered the Thick Lines of Richard Sala’s The Chuckling Watsit this week, along with debating what type of telephone is best, whether 90s (male) cartoonists ever bothered to learn more than one zodiac sign, and some classic horror.

• CBC Radio’s Eleanor Wachtel spoke to Adrian Tomine about The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist, compulsive comics creation, and the madness of illustrating celebrities.

• Mex Flentallo were talking Spawn this week, as Ramon Villalobos and Daniel Irizarri took a Todd McFarlane deep-dive with The Nib’s Matt Bors, and asked whether the current crop of YA comics need more knives involved to appeal to a broader demographic, plus - what is the worst Alan Moore impression?

• War Rocket Ajax welcomed Robert Venditti to the show to talk about new book Tankers, the best of all film directors, and where precisely it is that ideas come from.

• Shelfdust Presents took a look back at David Mack’s Kabuki Reflections #1, as Wendy Browne and Matt Lune discussed its fleeting, but immersive, introduction to the comics’ world.

• 2000 AD’s Lockdown Tapes hit record with John Sanders this week, talking about his new memoir King's Reach: John Sanders' 25 Years at the Top of Comics, and the golden age of British comics, along with its heroes and villains.

• Campbell Whyte and Dan Berry Made It Then Told Everybody, as they discussed common misconceptions of comics-making in Australia, pitching books to publishers, and personal relationships with past work.

• David Harper spoke to Chris Samnee for this week’s Off Panel, as they pair chatted about Fire Power and Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters, moving on from Marvel, and choosing single issues over graphic novels.

• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come spotlighted a couple of recent book reviews this week, as Calvin Reid and Meg Lemke discussed David Walker and Marcus Kwame Anderson’s The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History, and Shira Spector’s Red Rock Baby Candy.

• Gil Roth ushered in our last visit with John Porcellino this week, as they discussed the evolution of King-Cat Comics, refining art and battling neuroses, and the inspirations of Lynda Barry and R Crumb.



All done for this week, time now to sit in quiet contemplation of the universe, until the next batch of comics stuff and nonsense rolls around in seven days time.