A quieter week than those preceding it, thanks to the holiday weekend just gone, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any links to be had, far from it, so you can check out this week’s simply by scrolling down. Neat.
*Looks to camera*... This week’s news.
• Following up on recent resignations from the staff and board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in the wake of allegations regarding former Executive Director Charles Brownstein’s conduct, Michael Dean reports for TCJ on more of Brownstein’s past behavior, previously protected by NDA.
• As lockdowns ease and brick and mortar comic stores reopen to widespread economic slowdown, The Hollywood Reporter talks to retailers who are accusing Diamond Distribution of price hikes as the direct market resumes; and ICv2 detail the PPP loans the company took out during the height of quarantine while halting payments to suppliers.
• Shortbox has opened its latest round of mini-grants for independent cartoonists, with five £100 awards up for offer; and there’s less than a month remaining to apply to The Massachusetts Independent Comix Expo’s mini-comics grant program, which has expanded to thirty awards of $100.
• As events in the latter half of 2020 cancel and shift to online formats, The Wrap reports that Comic-Con@Home, San Diego Comic Con’s virtual program of events, will consist of pre-recorded material, potentially offering a respite from ‘Zoom fatigue’ along with some higher production values, and the first wave of virtual conventions show some emerging trends, as publishers and convention organizers take stock of where the industry goes from here.
• Bumping this to news, rather than linking in the features/comics section, because, hey, returning from a 25 year hiatus is a big deal, so - there are new (digitally produced) Far Side strips, along with a short essay from Gary Larson on discovering new ways to create, now available for your reading pleasure.
Quantifiable qualities… This week’s reviews.
• Tegan O’Neil has “come not to praise but to bury” Robert Kirkman and Chris Samnee’s Fire Power: Prelude.
• Leonard Pierce reviews the powerful timeliness and timelessness of Joe Sacco’s Paying the Land.
• David Brooke reviews the otherworldly magic of Andi Watson’s Kerry and the Knight of the Forest.
• Rory Wilding reviews the social-commentary window-dressing of Charles Soule, Scott Snyder, Giuseppe Camuncoli, et al’s Undiscovered Country volume 1.
• Christopher Franley reviews the garish drama of Tom Taylor, Trevor Hairsine, et al’s DCeased: Dead Planet #1.
• Jordan Richards reviews the refreshing unconventionality of Tatsuya Matsuki and Shiro Usazaki’s Act-Age volume 1, translated by Camellia Nieh.
• Ronnie Gorham reviews the impressive emotionality of Sanford Greene, Chuck Brown, and David F. Walker’s Bitter Root #9.
• Morgana Santilli also reviews the drama and comedy of Tatsuya Matsuki and Shiro Usazaki’s Act-Age volume 1, translated by Camellia Nieh.
• Ricardo Serrano Denis looks back at the exemplary accessibility of Mat Johnson, Warren Pleece, et al’s Incognegro.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C has four more 'Mainstream Comics Worth Paying Attention To' this week, including:
- The rich atmospherics of Benjamin Percy, Brent Schoonover, et al's Devil's Highway;
- The horror noir of Rob Williams, Ollie Masters, Laurence Campbell, et al's Old Haunts;
- The addictive pacing of Jeremy Haun and Danny Luckert's The Red Mother;
- The breakneck comedy of Johnnie Christmas and Jack T. Cole's Tartarus.
• Matthew Blair reviews the subpar awkwardness of Joe Casey, Dustin Nguyen, et al’s All-American Comix #1.
• Elias Rosner looks back at the other Fables crossover, in Denny O’Neil, Klaus Janson, et al’s The Question Annual #1.
• Michael Mazzacane reviews the puzzling frustrations of Brian Haberlin, Brian Holguin, et al’s Medieval Spawn/Witchblade.
• Justin McGuire reviews the universal tragedy of Gipi's One Story, translated by Jamie Richards.
• Reed Hinckley-Barnes reviews the grounded teaching of Alison Wilgus and Wyeth Yates' The Mars Challenge.
Chris Gavaler reviews the fascinating collaboration of Vivian Chong and Georgia Webber’s Dancing After TEN.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The enthusiastic highlights of Willie Nelson: A Graphic History, edited by TJ Kirsch;
- The opaque rewards of Brecht Evens' The City of Belgium;
- The aching autobio of Allie Brosch's Solutions and Other Problems;
- The appealing follies of Sophie Yanow's The Contradictions.
Latonya Pennington reviews the visceral dynamism of Amandla Stenberg, Sebastian A. Jones, Ashley A. Woods, et al's Niobe – She Is Life.
Women Write About Comics
Paulina Przystupa reviews the scintillating sleuthing of John Allison, Max Sarin, et al’s Wicked Things #2.
And then they put it in the computer… This week’s interviews.
• From the archives, Gary Groth presents a conversation between himself, Bill G. Wilson, Duffy Vohland, and Joe Sinnott, who passed away last month, and the final answer he gives, especially, is a reminder that the more things change the more they stay the same - “...when you’re inking the same characters, the same background — I mean, basically the same type of thing over and over, it’s like an assembly-line production, which is what it really is.”
• Alex Dueben checks in with George O’Connor, who updates on how he’s faring during lockdown, the difference in approach taken by the book market compared to Diamond and the direct market, the realities of being a cartoonist during unprecedented economic slowdown, and getting into the whole social media thing.
• Dan Greenfield presents the next installment of The Steve Engelhart Interviews, as they discuss the introduction of Silver St. Cloud to Detective Comics, and attempting to get Batman in the mood for love.
• Shelly Bond talks to Mariah McCourt about her writing on Ash & Thorn, world-building through genre-mixing, and collaborating with series artist Soo Lee.
• Matt O’Keefe chats to Ben Rosen about moving from a career in humour comics to comedy writing for screen, and the overlap between the two.
• Joe Grunenwald interviews Drew Ford and Duane Leslie about their new YA graphic novel Steam, and the enduring appeal of steampunk.
• Avery Kaplan boards another (virtual) plane, and takes a trip to the island of Beans to visit Ahmara Smith, talking webcomics, graphic novels, and the disrespect of cowboy graves.
Aaron Long interviews Andi Watson about his creative process, his views on the comics industry and where it’s headed, and his progressive platform of kittens for everyone.
The Middle Spaces
Osvaldo Oyola talks to comics scholar Rebecca Wanzo about her academic writing on editorial cartoons and sequential works (and why the two shouldn’t be viewed apart), temporality in narrative, ‘equal opportunity humour’, and the importance of context.
Jim McLauchlin talks to a who’s who of direct market veterans about the important work Carol Kalish did at Marvel Comics, presenting an in-depth oral history of Kalish’s career, and the parallel establishment of the modern monthly periodical market, and comics distribution and retail.
Alex Spencer talks to Tom Scioli about the legacy of Jack Kirby, ahead of the publication of Scioli’s new graphic biography, Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics.
• Nicholas Burman interviews Tommi Musturi about his solo anthology series, Future, homebrew coding, fanzines, isolation, the Finnish comics scene, and the historical research that goes into depicting the future.
• Daniel Elkin and Sarah Wray present another edition of ‘Knowing is Half the Battle’, as Fumio Obata provides his tips on due diligence with publishers and what to look for in contracts’ fine print.
Sara Century interviews Andy Mangels about the history of the anthology title Gay Comix, his work as the series’ final editor, Todd McFarlane donating ad-space for the comic in Spawn, and the ongoing evolution and acceptance seen in the comics market.
You’re holding that book upside down… This week’s features and comics.
• For TCJ, Cynthia Rose has a piece on the 1870-71 Siege of Paris, as the city found itself battling a smallpox epidemic while surrounded by the Prussian army - an event captured by cartoonists and caricaturists attempting to survive in the city at the time, while also battling political repression.
• Over at The Beat, Brian Hibbs presents his annual comic sales breakdown, using a homebrewed analysis of BookScan data, and would you believe that 2019 was a very good one for comics indeed, especially if your name is Dav Pilkey, and those Scholastic numbers show why their recent deal with Marvel is a no-brainer on the latter's part.
• Confirmation, if confirmation were needed, comes via ICv2, that Mr Todd McFarlane’s personal opinion does not represent that of Image Comics.
• Taking on a Sisyphean task during a time of great upheaval in the world, House to Astonish’s Paul O’Brien presents the definitive Wolverine canon (part 1) - godspeed.
• For Shelfdust, Charlotte Finn hits week 27 of ‘A Year in the Big City’, as Astro City takes on video games and things get weird(er); while Sara Century reaches the end of Mister Miracle, as the New God attempts to escape the ultimate trap of the narrative imposed upon him.
• Another Sara Century joint, this time for SFYF Wire, looking at the queer erasure in Wonder Woman, and the vacillating nature of the book’s feminist ideals, as it’s changed hands between writers, through the publication's history.
• If you would like to pay $20 in exchange for $1,227 worth of comics, while supporting racial justice focused organizations, then that is something you most definitely can do.
• For The New York Times, XKCD’s Randall Munroe illustrates an answer to the question a lot of us have been asking ourselves over the last few months - could you make a snowball of neutrinos?
• A quartet of longer form comics over at The New Yorker this week, as Malaka Gharib offers tips on shaming people into just wearing a damn face mask, Ashley Franklin offers tips on how to keep track of those great ideas you have as you enter night, Kaitlin Chan offers tips on where to sing that stress away while in quarantine co-habitation, and Tess Gattuso and Natalie Dupille offer tips on how to get back into the whole physical contact thing once it’s not a potentially life-threatening way of interacting with people.
• The Nib also serves up a long-form trifecta this week, as JB Brager reports on the activists educating people on the colonialism inherent in ‘taking back the streets’; Allyson Shewd looks back at how the American suffrage movement succeeded in the face of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic; and there’s a new edition of In/Vulnerable, as Thi Bui, Nate Halverson, Sarah Mirk, and Amanda Pike cover the struggles faced by restaurateurs and food-industry workers in the face of COVID-19.
• Solrad has our final trio of new comics this week, as part of its Presents… line-up, as Sam Nakahira’s Food Adventures with Cappy and G kicks off, Ellen O'Grady's 55 Comics begins by looking at Pittsburgh's Freedom House Ambulance Services, and you can read the entirety of Mary Shyne’s x/2+7 which I would previously have described as NSFW, but now I guess that would be ‘not safe for home working’? Is that a thing? Just don’t leave the screen where a youngster could see it.
Haven’t been able to find the remote for a fortnight now… This week’s recommended watching.
• A couple of virtual events taking place that you can start planning for, as the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo’s schedule is live, taking place over the next few days, and San Diego Comic Con’s virtual schedule is appearing in increments, so act accordingly.
• Drawn and Quarterly are celebrating the release of Adrian Tomine's latest book with a virtual tour, giving you 6 opportunities to watch him interviewed, which seems appropriate, given some of the themes of it.
• Kicking off a new interview/live-drawing series, Drawn and Cornered welcomed Simon Roy to its inaugural edition, as he spoke about his process, why sci-fi is the best -fi, and moving to authoring his own work, all while drawing a caveman with a mech, which seems like a very Simon Roy thing to draw indeed.
• As his new book arrives in the world, Joe Sacco had an off the cuff conversation with Art Spiegelman, presented by the Society of Illustrators, covering the work involved in researching Paying the Land, the importance of accurately depicting a good knitted sweater, evolving page construction, and more.
• A trio of big-hitter interviews from Cartoonist Kayfabe this week, as Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg chatted to Felipe Smith on breaking into the manga market, Shelly Bond about her career in comics and moving to the crowdfunding market, and Ralph Bakshi about, well, being a legend in the world of animation.
• Mark Evanier continues his livestream replacements for SDCC panels that would have been, and this week talks to Peter David about their favorite cartoonists for live-drawing, sci-fi and comics fandom, and the changing face of comics.
• Inkpulp hits episode 11 of its new incarnation, and it’s a Black Lives Matter fundraiser, as Tim Sale joins in the fun, and provides the art to be inked, with Shawn Crystal, Klaus Janson, Jason Schachter, and Jim Mahfood on inking (and anecdote prompting) duties.
• The first trailer's gone up for Woke, based on the life and work of cartoonist Keith Knight (who's also on writing duties for the show), coming in September, and looking extremely timely.
Cut the midrange, drop the bass… This week’s easy-listening.
• Comic books continue to burn in hell, and this week the gang are discussing Walter Scott's latest entry in the Wendy cinematic universe - Master of Art - but who amongst them likes it and who does not? There's literally only one way to find out.
• Shelfdust Presents welcomes Tiffany Babb to the show this week, as she joins host Matt Lune to discuss Tom King, Gabriel Walta et al’s The Vision #1, and there’s also a follow-up essay on the portrayal of sinister suburbia in that issue by Babb as a chaser for the episode.
• Lockdown status has become a confusingly amorphous concept in the UK, but 2000 AD’s Lockdown Tapes remain enjoyably simple - MOLCH-R talks to creators who’ve worked on the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic about their careers, and this week it’s the turn of Bryan Talbot.
• Dan Nadel has two more caves to fumigate this week, the first containing Dash Shaw and Christopher 'CF' Forgues, as they discuss the newly translated works of Yoshiharu Tsuge; the second offering a glimpse into the mind of Johnny Ryan - abandon hope all ye who enter here.
• There’s a new edition of Make It Then Tell Everybody ready for you to listen to and be told, and this week Dan Berry’s talking to Sophie Yanow about those all-important drawing muscles.
• It’s been what could reasonably be termed an ‘interesting’ few weeks for the comics industry community, and Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come has a recap of those big news stories that have just kept coming, as various big names stepped down from their roles.
• Salt & Honey is back with a new episode, and this week Sloane Leong and Leslie Hung are talking characters - what makes them special, what makes them likable (or enjoyable to dislike), framing genre fiction through protagonists/antagonists, and the character of settings.
• David Harper welcomes Rob Guillory to Off Panel for the latest episode, talking the business of creator-owned comics, narrative drive via story beats and character development, and finding that ever-elusive audience for your work.
Wouldn’t you know it, those are all the links this week has to offer, but I’m reliably informed by my sources that there’ll be some more next week. See you then.