I hope everyone has had a nice week, and that you enjoyed celebrating (depending on your orthodoxy) Star Wars Day and/or National Cartoonists’ Day in suitable fashion.
I’ve spent the week preparing for a bank holiday, here in the UK, daydreaming about the Before Times when I could stand, bored out of my mind, in a bustling bank queue, waiting to talk to someone about my overdraft.
You know what won’t leave you bored out of your mind? This week’s links, which you can find below.
I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords… This week’s news.
• The Pulitzer Prize winners for 2020 have been announced, including this year’s winner of the editorial cartooning category - New Yorker and New York Times mainstay Barry Blitt, who beat out other finalists Kevin Kallaugher, Lalo Alcaraz, and Matt Bors, to take the award.
• Weekly Shōnen Jump have opened their next Jump Tezuka Manga Contest, which, for the first time, will be accepting international entries, and include an all-star judging panel of Akira Toriyama, Eiichiro Oda, Kazue Kato, Kohei Horikoshi, and Takehiko Inoue, as well as Tezuka Productions.
• The Book Industry Charitable Foundation continues to do good work, and has announced that next week will see the issuing of over $950,000 in grants to 637 US comic store owners, to help weather the economic storm of the COVID-19 pandemics, which is heartening to hear - you can find out more about their work here.
• Last Gasp are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ecologically-minded Slow Death anthology series with a trade collection of new material, titled Slow Death: The Comix Anthology of Ecological Horror, featuring a Murderers’ Row of contributors, including Bryan Talbot, Richard Corben, Rick Veitch, Peter Bagge, Mike Diana, Hilary Barta, Hunt Emerson, Kellie Strom, and more.
• The Center for Cartoon Studies have announced the graduating class of 2020. The commencement ceremony has been deferred, but you can view a digital exhibition of their work now - congratulations to all those who finished their work and projects under extremely trying circumstances.
• As award season continues (albeit in a fairly unusual manner due to obvious health reasons), this year’s Doug Wright Awards take place on Saturday 9th May, via virtual ceremony, hosted by Don McKellar. The full shortlists can be found here, if you want to start taking bets on winners ahead of the broadcast.
• The Vancouver Comics Art Festival have released their first wave of digital programming, for this year's virtual events - starting next Friday 15th May via the festival's YouTube channel.
• Koyama Press have announced the next recipient of their series of ...Presents project grants, this time showcasing artist Rae Spoon, whose project incorporating biometric data and liminal spaces sounds fascinating to this biotech nerd.
• More news out of Toronto, on what would have been TCAF weekend, as the festival announces a digital showcase for exhibitors no longer able to attend the COVID-cancelled event - submissions are open until May 11th.
• Closing out This Week's News with our weekly frolic in the world of high-stakes comics auctions, and a global economic downturn won’t stop collectors from paying top dollar for artwork and first-printings, as Heritage Auctions announces their recent lots of Frazetta and Wrightson artwork (among others) helped generate a total of over $9,000,000 in sales, and caused spontaneous outbreaks of 'dollar sign eyes' in onlookers.
Chaos AD… COVID-19 direct market upheaval
[The direct market for periodicals behaved itself a bit more than it has the last couple of weeks, but I’m still going to separate the relevant news stories out, in case you (understandably) wish to skip straight over them - Clark]
• Not wishing to be left out of the increasingly complex publication schedule game, following DC’s own forays in recent weeks, Marvel released an update as to how they’ll be operating for the next couple of months, followed by an announcement of certain titles shifting to a digital-only release schedule, as superhero comics mirror the tentative embracing of devolved distro that the movie industry is engaging in, and receiving pushback for.
• DC, not to be outdone on this front, doubled down on their indirect worship of the proto-Germanic god Tiwaz, sticking to their guns with shifting new comics day for their publications to Tuesdays, meaning that we can all now amuse and delight store owners everywhere by impersonating Wimpy when buying periodicals - I’d recommend going with “I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a Batman comic today.”
• As Diamond Distribution continue to do the market-reassurance shuffle, other publishers are reportedly eyeing the multi-distribution model that DC have settled on, again suggesting that maybe it’s not a great idea to break contract with suppliers during a global pandemic and then come out to talk up your cash flow and use extended metaphors about restaurants.
• Related to the above, if you’d like to see Gary Groth in-conversation with Diamond’s Steve Geppi on recent distribution developments, and who wouldn’t, let’s be honest, then Dan Shahin hosted a recent livestream, and if you head to the 24 minute mark of it, you can see just that.
Oh boy, is this great… This week’s reviews.
• Colin Beineke reviews the specter of productivity haunting Anna Haifisch’s The Artist: Circle of Life.
• Leonard Pierce faces the aptly existential question of “why is this a comic?” while reviewing Ben Argon’s The Labyrinth: An Existential Odyssey with Jean-Paul Sartre.
• HW Thurston reviews the strength and weakness of Frank Santoro’s Pittsburgh, and a lively debate kicks off in the comments, as they are wont to do.
• Vishal Gullapalli reviews the potential of Robert Kirkman, Chris Samnee, et al’s martial arts opener, Fire Power, volume 1: Prelude; and the high-concept toilet humor of Kieron Gillen, Jim Rossignol, Jeff Stokely, et al's Ludocrats #1.
• David Brooke reviews the deep-space horror of Cullen Bunn, Andy MacDonald, et al’s Rogue Planet #1.
• Nathan Simmons dives into the acrobatic YA pre-origin story of Batman’s best bird-named brother-in-arms and reviews Michael Moreci, Sas Milledge, et al’s The Lost Carnival.
• Ronnie Gorham takes on another of DC’s YA graphic novels, finding a lot to like in Dustin Hansen’s My Video Game Ate My Homework.
• Trevor Richardson reviews Haruichi Furudate’s smash-hit volleyball manga, Haikyu!!.
• Morgana Santilli reviews the horrifying charms of Junji Ito’s newly translated (by Jocelyne Allen) art book, The Art of Junji Ito: Twisted Visions.
• Ricardo Serrano Denis looks back at Joe Keatinge, Simon Gough et al’s wrestling tragedy, Ringside, and its place in covering the darker side of the sport.
• Andy Oliver reviews the comedic pathos of Danny Noble’s graphic novel memoir, Shame Pudding.
• Ally Russell reviews Jeff Lemire, Phil Hester, et al’s apocalyptic arboreal body horror, Family Tree volume 1.
• Jenny Robins reviews the dark mystery of James Tynion IV, Werther Dell’Edera, et al’s Something is Killing the Children volume 1.
• Tom Murphy reviews the narrative flux of Oliver East's latest comic, Wax Ever Grander.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C is digging into the vaults for this week’s reviews as he looks at a trio of Paper Rocket publications: the metatext of Jess Johnson’s Forward Looking Statement, the niche delights of Jess Rullifson’s Characters : Fifty Portraits Of Contemporary Cartoonists; and the formal experimentation of Robyn Chapman's Twin Bed.
Douglas Rednour reviews the daring experimentation of Scott Chantler’s Bix.
Illogical Volume has a collection of capsule reviews of comics that are free at the moment, and how you can support the artists if you’re in a position to, including One Beat Zines’ Identity: An Anthology, Gareth A. Hopkins’ Petrichor, and Douglas Noble’s Here Come The Beautiful People.
• Johnny Hall reviews the sum of the parts of John Pham’s J+K.
• Edward Haynes reviews the surreal vision of Connor Willumsen’s Bradley of Him.
• Justin McGuire reviews the childhood memories of Jurga Vilé and Lina Itagaki’s Siberian Haiku.
• Reed Hinckley-Barnes reviews the cartoony heart of S.M. Vidaurri, Hannah Krieger, et al’s All My Friends Are Ghosts.
• CK Stewart reviews the latest offering from DC’s rapidly growing line of YA graphic novels, Dustin Hansen’s My Video Game At My Homework.
• Richard Gray brings the second of the week’s reviews of another of DC’s new YA offerings, Michael Moreci, Sas Milledge, et al’s Bat-adjacent The Lost Carnival.
Chris Gavaler reviews the idiosyncratic style of Blutch’s Mitchum, as translated by Matt Madden.
Have capsule reviews of:
- Kuniko Tsurita's collection of manga shorts, The Sky Is Blue With A Single Cloud, as translated by Ryan Holmberg;
- Victor Santos' tale of violent retribution, Against Hope;
- Pat Grant's heartbreaking environmental post-apocalypse story, The Grot: The Story of the Swamp City Grifters, Book One.
- Leila Marzzochi's surreal modern fairytale, Nymph, translated by Jamie Richards and Kim Thompson.
Ryan Carey reviews the method acting behind the madness of Connor Willumsen’s Bradley of Him.
The Times Literary Supplement
• Alice Kelly reviews Joe Sacco’s new graphic reportage on colonization and resistance, Paying the Land.
• Tom Lathan reviews the disorientation of Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom’s graphic memoir, Palimpsest.
• Ella Bucknal reviews the curious contemplation of Yoshiharu Tsuge’s The Man Without Talent, translated by Ryan Holmberg.
• Ka Bradley reviews the kinetic chaos of Tian Veasna’s graphic family memoir, Year of the Rabbit.
• Lorna Scott Fox reviews a pair of graphic novels focusing on revolution in Cuba: Tiffany A. Sippial’s Celia Sánchez Manduley: The Life and Legacy of a Cuban Revolutionary, and Anna Veltfort’s Goodbye, My Havana: The Life and Times of a Gringa in Revolutionary Cuba.
• Ella Braidwood reviews Kate Charlesworth’s graphic memoir of the LGBTQ* rights struggle, Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide.
Women Write About Comics
• Lisa Fernandes reviews the next entry in the ever-expanding Archie Crossover-verse, Alex Segura, Matthew Rosenberg, Dan Parent, et al’s Archie Meets the B-52s.
• Wendy Browne reviews the doggy delights of Daniel Kibblesmith, Carlos Villa, et al’s Lockjaw volume 1.
• Another edition WWACommendations also brings capsule reviews of An Embarrassment of Witches, The Quintessential Quintuplets, Tokyo Tarareba Girls, Ouran High School Host Club, Witch Hat Atelier, Window Horses, Midnight Rain, and Devil Number 4.
Can you sum it up in a sound… This week’s interviews.
• Cynthia Rose has a new Art In Quarantine catch-up, this time with Parisian painter and novelist Jean-Philippe Delhomme, talking about working during the current pandemic; and collaborating with a musician, half a world away, while there’s no international travel on the table.
• Meanwhile, Alex Dueben has our second Art in Quarantine interview of the week, talking to cartoonist Nicole Georges about the weird career opportunities in comics that prep a person for quarantine, the importance of social networks, and baby squirrels.
• Keith Silva’s (virtual) Retail Therapy tour stops off this week in Ventura County, CA, as he catches up with Sterling Silver Comics’ Mike Sterling, who gets into the nitty gritty of supply chain logistics as well as giving an insight as to how the newer pandemic-induced systems are faring.
Dan Greenfield dips back into The Denny O’Neil Interviews, in celebration of O’Neil’s 81st birthday, looking at some of his greatest Bat-hits. Happy Bat-birthday, Denny!
• Ricardo Serrano Denis interviews Johnnie Christmas about his Afrofuturist scifi tale, Tartarus, and the influences on its world-building.
• Josh Hilgenberg talks to Daniel Warren Johnson about his superhero post-apocalypse, Wonder Woman: Dead Earth, his influences, and experimenting with work-for-hire properties.
• Deanna Destito interviews Anthony Marques and Taylor Esposito about the return of Green Hornet, and working during the pandemic.
• Avery Kaplan talks to Sergio Aragonés and Peter Kuper about everything MAD Magazine.
Elias Rosner interviews Valerie Halla about her webcomic Goodbye to Halos, her history with the medium of comics, and choosing to go the webcomic route over visual novels.
A timely interview, as Chris Arrant talks to Christina Merkler, co-owner of one of DC's new distribution partners, Lunar, about the realities of taking on that role, and long-term business planning to keep pace with a changing status quo.
Dan Kois and Noah van Sciver talk to (ahem) up and coming literary iconoclast Fante Bukowski, whose work has been featured in the Fire Water Journal, about his body of writing, and how he’s coping with the pandemic.
Alex Hoffman interviews Sara Hagstrom, Stephanie Bulante, and K. Theo Stultz about small presses and self-publishing via crowdfunding in the current economic climate.
Jacob Oller talks to George C. Romero about stepping into the business of zombies, and keeping the undead dangerous.
#ReadAboutComicsStayHome… This week’s features and long-reads.
• Here at TCJ, Zoran Djukanovic has an in-depth piece on the life and work of Warren Tufts, the paradoxes heavily present in both, and the legacy of his meticulous work on Casey Ruggles and Lance.
• At ShelfDust, Charlotte Finn’s Year in the Big City hits issue 18 of Astro City, and the pains of getting old; Steve Morris continues to chase down the journalistic credentials of J Jonah Jameson; and while Andrea Ayres reaches the end of Zatanna’s journey in Seven Critics of Victory.
• Masha Zhdanova checks in with the Russian comics scene, finding more joy in the small presses than the darkness of current fan-favourite, SHUV.
• Writing at The New York Times, Abdi Latif Dahir has a profile of Tanzanian political cartoonist Gado, now based in Kenya, as he attempts to keep asking the tough questions during the pandemic.
• Meanwhile, at The San Diego Union-Tribune John Wilkens checks in with various syndication strip cartoonists, getting the inside track on the difficulties of including the COVID-19 pandemic in daily comics.
• Drew Bradley is visited by the ghosts of May comics past, as they teach the true meanings of War, work-for-hire, and vengeance.
• The Paris Review asks what its contributors are reading this spring, and the very first choice, from Senaa Ahmad, is Emil Ferris’ My Favorite Thing Is Monsters.
• I’ve been spending most of my working days in video conference calls recently, trying to perfect my rictus grin to indicate that “this is fine”, but I do quite like these Winsor McCay themed backgrounds, from the Billy Ireland Museum, that would play into my wanting now to go to sleep and awake When This Is All Over.
• A dip into the 13th Dimension archives brings to the surface this piece, by Steve Engelhart, on connecting Captain America to Watergate, and contemporary politics, via the (original) ‘Secret Empire’ storyline.
• As the direct market for comics periodicals undergoes a period of metamorphosis, Heidi MacDonald looks at that other constantly fluctuating marketplace for funny books - crowdfunding - and how it's faring during the pandemic.
• Ritesh Babu has an in-depth look back at Ram V, Anand Radhakrishnan, et al’s Grafity’s Wall, as a new deluxe hardcover edition makes itself known and takes readers on a voyage through Frank Miller’s cinematic page layouts, and representation of the musical form in comics.
• Writing for The Middle Spaces, Adrienne Resha looks at Saladin Ahmed, Javier Rodríguez, et al’s Exiles as a jumping off point for an analysis of genetic mutations and the resultant storytelling evolution, in superhero comics.
• Caitlin Rossberg and Oliver Sava chart the shift from horizontal to vertical in the webcomics space, asking ‘how did Webtoon become a global comics juggernaut?’.
• James Dowling does the heavy lifting for anyone currently faced with friends asking for reading recommendations while bored in lockdown, bringing together a list of recent fantasy comics that may fit the bill, and then joins forces with Mark Tweedale for a deep dive into Mike Mignola’s The Amazing Screw-On Head.
• Lynda Barry has advice for anyone looking to document their quarantine experience via the medium of journaling, offering some excellent tips for reportage in general.
• Writing for Solrad, Elijah Forbes brings us 'seven indigenous comic artists changing the industry', showcasing the work of Kayla Shaggy, Mercedes Acosta, Weshoyot Alvitre, Shaun Beyale, Jay Odjick, Alihelisdi, and Maya McKibbin.
#ReadComicsStayHome… This week’s comics offerings from the web.
• A glut of pay-what-you-can comics content hit the web last week, on what would have been Free Comic Book Day, and we start with Kyle Starks’ Karate Prom. Sweep the leg.
• In The Guardian, Stephen Collins hits the wall with home-schooling, as tantrums hit their peak.
• Black Josei Press and Radiator Comics have joined forces to publish the Sun and Sand Comic Anthology, showcasing the work of South Florida creators, with comics about the region.
• Bubbles #6 only just dropped, but we’ve been blessed with #6.5’s arrival in short order, raising money for Richmond Mutual Aid Distribution, and featuring interviews with Chris Pitzer and Jason Hamlin.
• Benji Nate’s comics Catboy and Hell Phone vol. 1 are currently free/pay-what-you-want on Gumroad. Nice.
• We’re currently living in a time when, as my bank takes neverending delight in telling me, scams are at an all time high, and Josh Carter and Liz Enright have a related tale of parental defraudment.
• Danielle Corsetto is preparing to publish her new graphic novel, Elephant Town, episodically via Patreon, and the first four chapters are free-to-read, so get in on the ground floor.
• Andy Diggle and Jock’s “wish I hadn’t picked up that phone, tbhwy” crime thriller Snapshot is currently free-to-read on comiXology, which reminds me of the time Captain America’s phone somehow (???) picked up a distress call from Kim Bassinger.
• Panel Syndicate have a new pay-what-you-want offering this week, as Alex de Campi, Ryan Howe, et al’s new action thriller Bad Karma joins their digital line-up.
• Wes Craig is looking ahead to his new fantasy series, KAYA, and you can get a digital preview now in a pay-what-you-want style.
• Publisher’s Weekly has a ten page preview of Zao Dao’s upcoming North American debut, Cuisine Chinoise: Tales of Food and Life, but don’t read it on an empty stomach, like what I did.
• Vermont’s Seven Days has put together a ‘Quaranzine’ documenting the pandemic, including work from illustrator Jodi Whalen, and a new (!!!) American Elf strip by James Kochalka (again - !!!).
• As various legislatures start to ease lockdown restrictions, Seth Tobocman and Tamara Wyndham get into the why and wherefore of it all.
Hi, I’m in Delaware… This week’s recommended watching.
• Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s series Strip Panel Naked returns, with a new set of Creators Edition episodes, this time welcoming André Araújo to talk about the silent open of his comic, Man:Plus.
• This week’s AdvoCATES Book Club sees hosts Megan Hutchinson and Donny Cates dive into Afterlife With Archie and Spider-Man: Life Story.
• Shawn Crystal ushers in the new form of the Inkpulp Podcast, as episode 1 brings a video inking switcheroo with Jim Mahfood and Matteo Scalera, as they all ink each other’s work, and Tommy Lee Edwards refuses to be sold a car warranty.
• The Drawl’s Saga of the Disruptive Squirrel arc continues this week, and Jason Latour also finds time to talk to Nancy editor, Shena Wolf, about her career, how she views the role of an editor, her four cats, and the inside-baseball of syndicated newspaper strips.
• First Second have edited the livestream of their recent Comics Relief festival down to individual event videos, which you can watch now, taking viewers through the different steps in the creation of a comic book.
• Also having gone the digital route for their events, WonderCon@Home continues, and this week there are videos on IDW’s Artist’s Editions, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin, and weird (their word, not mine) manga recommendations from Kodansha.
• Also on the D&Q front, EIC Tom Devlin spoke to translator and comics academic Ryan Holmberg about the work of celebrated mangaka Yoshiharu Tusge.
• Another Instagram live happening is on the horizon, as SKTCHD's next Off Panel Live takes place Saturday 9th May, welcoming Brenden Fletcher onto the show for a viewer Q&A.
• Cartoonist Kayfabe keep on keeping on, and this week the boys have videos covering topics including (but not limited to) Lobo #1, Preacher #1, and a big ol’ interview with Gerard Way.
• Comix Experience’s graphic novel of the month club team-up with The Beat continues, as Brian Hibbs talks to Mark Russell about Wonder Twins for January’s edition.
• The Kubert School’s live series has a new episode, and this time hosts Anthony Marques and Fernando Ruiz welcomed J. Bone to talk about his work in comics, a formative love of fantasy and sci-fi novels, and ink intricacies.
• Noah van Sciver had another busy YouTube schedule this week, talking to Bryan Christopher Moss about searching out new comics during the pandemic and collecting letters from Alex Toth; chatting with Dylan Horrocks about his history with British kids’ comics and the realities of writing Batgirl; catching up with Summer Pierre about the inside baseball of awards and discovering the mini comics scene; and sitting down with comics scholar Jared Gardner to discuss the life and work of Percy Crosby.
Any jungle in, guy… This week’s easy-listening.
• The signal fires have been lit to summon content and Dan Nadel has answered from atop the mountain, with a new online radio show/podcast - Fumigating The Cave - and the first guest is public alienator extraordinaire Robert Crumb. Also, dig that Pokemon card promo art - gotta catch ‘em all.
• 2000 AD’s Lockdown Tapes continue both locking down and taping, as MOLCH-R talks to Patrick Goddard about his work on Aquila and his wider artistic career; Tom Shapira takes a look back at Judge Dredd’s very own clone saga, Brothers in Blood; and John McCrea discusses his career and how the industry has changed over his 30+ year tenure in comics.
• Gil Roth’s Virtual Memories Show is also continuing its own lockdown series, as the COVID Check-Ins caught up with cartoonist Keiler Roberts about working on her new book, and dealing with MS in the face of pandemic-induced changes to everyday life; and Karl Stevens discussed book postponements, finding the funny in trying times, and the work of Jack Kirby; while a non-COVID episode welcomes writer Paul C. Tumey to talk about his book, Screwball: The Cartoonists Who Made The Funnies Funny, which you can read more on at this very site.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come podcast welcomes comics retailer Jen King to the show, as she talks to host Heidi MacDonald about the Insider Art benefit, joining the CBLDF board, and more.
• AIPT’s Comics Podcast Book Club this time takes a look at East of West volume 1, as hosts David Brooke and Forrest Hollingsworth discuss the series’ cold open.
• NPR’s Bullseye with Jesse Thorn welcomed Ben Katchor to talk about his book The Dairy Restaurant, and the Jewish cultural history it explores.
• Shelfdust welcomes Sara Century to the ...Presents podcast, as she sits down with host Matt Lune to discuss the first issue of Eastman and Laird’s seminal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1.
• David Harper is talking hockey this week on Off Panel, as he welcomes Ngozi Ukazu to talk about completing work on Check, Please! and why comics and sports make good bedfellows.
• War Rocket Ajax is talking superhero comics and tv adaptations this week, with guests Allison Baker and Chris Roberson.
• The Salt and Honey podcast returns, and it’s the first of the pandemic episodes, as hosts Leslie Hung and Sloane Leong catch up with each other, and what they’ve been reading/watching/working on during quarantine.
• House to Astonish have a new episode out, during a time of scarcity for new comics, but that won’t put a damper on Al and Paul’s broadcasts, as they look to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe for guidance during this difficult time.
• Similarly, SILENCE! has never let a trifling thing like not having new comics to read slow them down before, so why would this week’s episode be any different? Reader, it is not; so buckle in for some Rogue Trooper chat.
• Make It Then Tell Everybody sees Dan Berry talking to Jason Chatfield about his role as president of the National Cartoonists Society, pens (and more pens), and his recent brush with (and recovery from) COVID-19.
The lesson is never try… This week’s links for younger readers.
• All the Wonders started a comic jam over on Twitter, which has contributions from James Kochalka, Jen de Oliveira, Jess Keating, and more, and have a panel grid set up for any younger artists wanting to join in the fun.
• Yuko Shimizu has posted part two of her ‘Can I Teach You How To Draw’ series over on Instagram, with an exercise on building up visual memory.
• The Kubert School’s Sketch Class had another free lesson, as Sergio Cariello taught some dynamic figure drawing through the medium of Conan the Barbarian, with new editions continuing every Saturday through May.
• First Second’s Sketch School welcomed Lucy Knisley to the classroom this week, as she teaches viewers how to draw a baby, which can apparently be classified as ‘round, ball-headed caterpillar type objects’, and this is how I shall refer to my nephew when next I see him.
• The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund have put together a list of graphic novels for younger readers, with a focus on helping younger readers understand their (and others') experiences, as part of Mental Health Awareness Month.
The links have drawn to a close once more, awakening again in one week’s time, so I shall enjoy this national day off for the UK, by staying indoors and reading some comics.
Wherever you are, stay well, stay home, be kind.