Today’s feature brings a rare instance of this week’s links, a selection of which can be found below, being written while in motion, as I ride the rails, savouring the blurry view of the countryside moving past at 125mph. My bindle (wheeled holdall) is jauntily perched over my shoulder (stored securely in an overhead luggage locker), as I chow down on a cold tin of beans (probably accurate thanks to the amenities available on British trains), and prepare to bed down later on in the cargo car (a reasonably priced hotel on the outskirts of a major metropolitan area surrounded by dark satanic mills). I’m actually getting motion sickness writing this, so let’s move right along.
Blood Moon pic.twitter.com/d5GiLjMKXu
— fruitblush 🪱 (@fruitblush) June 12, 2022
A brief respite… This week’s news.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi was found dead in waters off the coast of Okinawa on Thursday. Stories were filed across the globe, with CNN providing an indicative response in English. Takahashi was 60.
No other major breaking news from the world of comic books this week before I filed copy, but there’s always (a l w a y s) time to take stock on some of the recent and ongoing stories from the first half of the year that are affecting the industry, so let’s do that:
- Heidi MacDonald breaks down the recent publisher comings and goings, over at The Beat, summarising some big name departures from comiXology (still running up that hill) and Oni Press, with creators flagging that supporting the latter’s legal battle against censorship in Virginia should not also preclude calling out their alleged failures to promptly provide royalty statements to authors.
- Speaking of that very legal battle, for ICv2, Brigid Alverson recaps the major players in the obscenity case being brought against Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, and the potential ramifications the legal wrangling could have for retailers, and where things could go from here.
- In another piece for ICv2, Brigid Alverson covers ReedPop’s recent decision not to enforce any COVID-19 negative test or vaccination mandates at its upcoming high-profile comics events - current data place new cases of SARS-CoV-2 in the US at a 7-day average of ~100k, with the US’ death toll having surpassed one million people in May, the highest in the world.
- Another legal case that could have fairly large consequences for the ol’ comics industry is the Department of Justice’s lawsuit to block Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster’s proposed merger, last seen annoying various publishing personnel with subpoenas. NPR’s Planet Money recently did a deep dive into the case, assessing the monopsony the newly formed mega-publisher would represent.
- The other big ongoing news story, that’s been simmering for over a year at this point, is the no good, very bad decade thus far for the paper and printing supply industry, which has been hit by material shortages, industrial actions, war, and plague, all leading to a potent gumbo of failures to meet demand. Marketplace recently spoke to Mother Jones’ production director, Claudia Smukler, about the current difficulties of getting a periodical printed and shipped.
frog and toad are in love pic.twitter.com/iJ1Z210NEL
— jisu 🐤 @ SMASH! J04 🌸 (@jisoupy) July 5, 2022
Gaze into the heart of the sun… This week’s reviews.
• Leonel Sepúlveda reviews the rushed sales-pitches of DC Comics’ DC Pride 2022 - “At its core, I feel like this is my main problem with DC Pride; you can’t have it both ways, with half a book that’s using the celebration to try and sell me more books, and half a book that’s trying to show intimate, personal narratives about identity that might resonate with readers.”
• Tom Shapira reviews the thwarted greatness of Benoît Peeters and François Schuiten’s The Tower, translated by Stephen D. Smith - “As it reaches its conclusion, The Tower achieves yet greater heights of beauty, as the black and white world is intermixed with a different one - one we see mainly in pictures. Art becomes, quite literally, a portal to another reality: a way to achieve the sublime that the Tower itself offered, but failed. We can only imagine our way to God, never build one.”
• Chris Ready reviews the scratchy contrasts of Daisuke Igarashi’s Witches, translated by Kathryn Henzler - “Distinct from the maximalism of his vistas, Igarashi’s figures are often simple and sketchy, expressive lines animated with the same gutter gag Mad magazine liveliness as an aside in Shirow Masamune’s Appleseed. No matter the concentration of markings that make up their physical bodies, the fingers of these Witches are always moving; picking and prodding to find purchase in an elliptical cosmology beyond the ken of the closed-off menfolk.”
• Ben Morin reviews the unique twists of Liam Sharp’s Starhenge: The Dragon & The Boar #1.
• David Brooke reviews the conflict resolution of Skottie Young, Humberto Ramos, et al’s Strange Academy #18.
• Christopher Franey reviews the bold conflicts of Joshua Williamson, Daniel Sampere, et al’s Dark Crisis #2.
• Colin Moon reviews the literary trappings of James Tynion IV, Gavin Fullerton, et al’s The Closet #2.
• Rory Wilding reviews the stylish reinvention of Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz, Esau Escorza, Isaac Escorza, et al’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin.
• Zack Quaintance reviews the clean continuity of Chip Zdarsky, Jorge Jimenez, et al’s Batman #125.
• Hussein Wasiti reviews the grand farewell to Jason Aaron, Mahmud Asrar, et al’s King Conan #6.
• Harrison Stewart reviews the dizzying imagination of Liam Sharp’s Starhenge: The Dragon & The Boar #1.
• Zack Quaintance reviews the emotional punches of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga #60.
Andy Oliver previews this weekend’s South London Comic and Zine Fair, with reviews of:
- The effective creepiness of Patrick Wray’s Ghost Stories I Remember.
- The skilful construction of Sammy Ward’s Scavengers, Curse of Ymir.
- The beautiful interactivity of Mereida Fajardo’s Limpet Love.
- The inventive magic of Will Humberstone’s Hammer Girl #1.
- The intimate weirdness of Aled Lies' Other Truths 01 and 02.
From Cover to Cover
Scott Cederlund has capsule reviews of the dulled beginnings of Chip Zdarsky, Jorge Jimenez, et al’s Batman #125; and the atmospheric mystery of Mike Mignola, Gabriel Hernández Walta, et al's Hellboy and the B.P.R.D: Old Man Whittier.
Montreal Review of Books
Ian McGillis reviews the nuanced intervals of Emma Grove’s The Third Person.
• Matthew Blair reviews the solid mystery of Zack Kaplan, John Pearson, et al’s Mindset #1.
• Christopher Egan reviews the meticulous satire of Chip Zdarsky’s Public Domain #1.
• Jaina Hill reviews the simple fun of Rainbow Rowell, Luca Maresca, et al’s She-Hulk #4.
The inks and inkwash for the Ghost Rider cover. pic.twitter.com/6VaFf0jcjM
— Pepe Larraz 🌱 Viva Krakoa (@PepeLarraz) July 6, 2022
Brimming with facts and/or factoids… This week’s interviews.
• Brian Doherty interviews Barbara "Willy" Mendes about Queen of Cosmos, finding religion late in life, consciousness raising, and generational divides - “Everybody worships fame. But they don’t realize what sheep they are, how foolish they are, they have no mind, they have no eye. It’s just like a fame machine. And the museums are there. The exclusion of the women is so subtle. It's not by out-and-out rejection. It's by, like, never calling.”
• From the archives, Gary Groth presents an interview with Simon Deitch, originally published in 2008’s TCJ #292, wherein they discuss Deitch's Pictorama, the forbidden delights of comics, dropping out of high school, and life in the underground scene - “I discovered Marvel when it first came out, and before Marvel, I was reading all those cool monster books, Kirby and Ditko. I was reading the Charlton books, anything with Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby, before Marvel, I was really into. All of a sudden, they started doing these hero books, and I really liked Spider-Man and Fantastic Four and stuff like that. They were really good comics at first.”
David Brooke speaks with Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere about Dark Crisis, generational superhero comics, and getting the costumes right.
Andy Oliver continues the South London Comics and Zine Fair previews, talking to:
- Ramsey Hassan (aka RAMZEE) about LDN, indie comics-making origins, the accessibility of the medium, and the joys of genre fiction.
- Claire Scully about Outer Wilderness, happy accidents, and continually challenging yourself.
- Rachel House about Resistance Sustenance Protection and documenting the early days of the pandemic, and comics and fine art practice.
- Lucy Sullivan about Barking, drawing on personal experience of a mental health crisis, and the realities of comics publishing.
The team speak with San Diego Comic-Con's David Glanzer about what to expect from 2022's events, increasing revenue after two fallow years, and potential trepidation from attendees due to the still-occurring COVID-19 pandemic.
James Dowling interviews Hambonous about Amunito, layered influences, stylised geometry, and sticking to the plan.
Etelka Lehoczky speaks with Gina Gagliano about working against book censorship, the possibilities afforded by kids' books, and removing the stigma of reading purely for the fun of it.
Brigid Alverson talks to Ben Saunders about the Penguin Classics Marvel Collection, curating the stories to go into the individual volumes, and their place in the Classics canon.
The Washington Post
Michael Cavna speaks with S0fia Warren and Julia Salazar about Radical: My Year With a Socialist Senator, first meetings, avoiding hagiography, and creative freedoms.
Women Write About Comics
• Wendy Browne talks to Claire Scully about Outer Wilderness, the fascination of the natural world, the joys of the dangers of space, and teaching illustration to students.
• Paige Lyman interviews Magnolia Porter Siddell about The Golden Boar, video game and anime inspirations, characters arriving fully formed, and trying new colour palettes.
Something From My Run 07/01/2022 pic.twitter.com/F3RYOJgR6a
— Tom McHenry (@tommchenry) July 6, 2022
Punctuated for your convenience… This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Tom Herpich shares thoughts on some recent reading of not-so-recent publications, including Yukinobu Hoshino’s 2001 Nights and The Two Faces of Tomorrow, Jeff Nicholson’s Colonia, Manuele Fior’s The Interview, and Roberta Gregory’s Artistic Licentiousness - “When I was 16 or so, I worked at a public library, and would pick up all sorts of books that I can’t imagine reading now. I read Alec Baldwin’s nonfiction book about child custody battles, Caitlin Flanagan’s memoir about hiring a nanny... I can’t remember what I was getting out of these things, as not just a 16-year old, but an especially dumb, cloistered 16-year old. I think maybe I was so dumb and cloistered that almost any book about adult life, even these mundane sorts of things, was a kind of fantasy novel, about weird alien worlds and mythical conflicts.”
• Also at TCJ, Matt Seneca compares and contrasts the depictions of man's inhumanity to man that can be found in Roy Thomas, John Buscema, et al's Marvel Treasury Edition #23: Conan the Barbarian, and Frank Stack's Amazon Comics, and the example of a singular point in time for American comics that both represent - “The big difference is that while Buscema and Thomas are obviously committed, all they're committed to is intensity: a temperature of delivery that outstrips the weight of what they're actually saying. Stack has a point to make, one buttressed by familiarity with the Conanesque tropes most comics like this come adorned with.”
• A fresh Cartoonist’s Diary, for TCJ, as Rodrigo Reyes Rico charts a new beginning, a new creative endeavour, a changing perspective on the US, and things that will be missed, plus a final entry also going up today here.
• For The Hollywood Reporter, Richard Newby examines the problem with Marvel Comics’ handling of Miles Morales, and the paucity of Black and Afro-Latino creators on titles featuring the character, as corporate lip-service to diversity continues apace.
• Shelfdust 500 continues, as Austin Gorton writes on Uncanny X-Men #175, and Chris Claremont’s attempt to give Cyclops a semblance of a happy ending; and Steve Morris begins volume 2 of The Unwritten, as issue six of the series finds Mike Carey and Peter Gross’ hero accused of murder most foul.
• After Monday’s mass shooting in Highland Park, The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna surveys cartoonists covering America’s endemic culture of gun violence through editorial illustrations.
• For Slate, Douglas Wolk writes on the sex lives of those affected by gamma irradiation in Marvel Comics, and the Hulk’s storied forays into the dating scene.
• Elizabeth Sandifer’s Last War in Albion continues, as the literary lineage between Garth Ennis and Ernest Hemmingway is charted, and the storytelling playbook for one Judge Joseph Dredd is considered in the context of deepening the satire of Mega City One.
• A bumper crop of open-access academic papers this week, as Melanie Dennis Unrau has an essay for Imaginations, positing a hypothetical Kate Beaton comic strip to examine the legacy of tar-sands industry founder S.C. Ells.
• Kenan Koçak and Ebru Türk Öztopal write in İnönü University International Journal of Social Sciences, exploring the visual metaphor of caregivers as superheroes predominant in graphic medicine of the COVID 19 pandemic.
• Jason D. Dehart guest edits a special comics-flavoured edition of Study & Scrutiny, featuring interviews, reviews, and articles focusing in on the use of words and pictures in a scholarly setting.
• For CrossOver, Dinda Nur Puspitasari presents research analysing the translation of the sound effects in seasons 1 and 2 of instantmiso’s webtoon Siren’s Lament, and the categories of effects to be found, as well as the role of the translator in this process.
• Mattia Arioli writes in Iperstoria on the impact of the Korean War on comics, and the cultural importance of war comics focused on that conflict, which showcased the evolving dichotomy in the genre between patriotism and dissent.
• 2002. The Time Machine hits the box office, and Wolverine is out of sync.
— Genie Ink (@genniieeee) June 30, 2022
Not sport, but still good… This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Christopher Butcher hosts this week’s Mangasplaining, as the team dives into the wealth of talent to be found in the MASSIVE anthology, edited by Anne Ishii, Chip Kidd, and Graham Kolbeins, plus a quick look at Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s Lone Wolf and Cub Volume 1.
• Gil Roth welcomed Joe Ciardello to this week’s edition of The Virtual Memories Show, as they spoke about A Fistful of Drawings, exhibiting work from the book, plus some live audience questions, as podcasts get back out into the world again.
• A special episode of SILENCE! this week, as Gary Lactus flies solo and interviews Paul Jon Milne about CREEP HEAP, art books and comicked books, the delights of 90s comics and their inkers, and why more jocks are needed at comics events.
• A similarly interview-focused episode of Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come, as Heidi MacDonald was joined by Axel Alonso to catch up on the latest goings on at AWA Studios, and the finer details of developing a new comics universe.
• Off Panel returned, as David Harper spoke with Graeme McMillan about the changing world of comics and comics reportage, and the recent big news stories in that realm, as the last 18 months collaborated to provide an Interesting Time for the industry.
• A regular ol' Cartoonist Kayfabe week, as Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg took a look at some early Frank Miller work in Marvel Two-in-One #51, classics to be found in The Best of EC Comics Artist’s Edition Volume 2, Moebius tributes in Visions of Arzach, and the ultraviolence of Alan Moore and John Totleben’s Miracleman #15.
• Closing out the week with a few trips up in the Word Balloon with John Siuntres, as conversations on comics were had with Allison Baker and Chris Roberson on MonkeyBrain Comics’ 10th birthday, Ed Catto on the history and reprinting of Captain Action, and Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover about Bandette and projects with AfterShock.
our place pic.twitter.com/p6Is58anb8
— Kay (@strangelykatie) June 23, 2022
That’s all for this week, back again soon with more, as long as I don’t sleep through my stop.
— Simz (@SimzArts) July 4, 2022