The Opaque Surface Begins To Clear – This Week’s Links

Writing what I believe is the first of these introductions to be penned in the great outdoors, unless we count one I wrote on my phone while waiting for a train last year, but… Looking at the referee and… Just a moment… No… They’re shaking their head, so this is indeed a first.

There’s also a selection of firsts, and depressingly-not-firsts, in This Week’s Links, which you can read, below.



But, of course… This week’s news.

• Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d'Angoulême announced that Chris Ware has been elected by his peers as the Grand Prix recipient of 2021’s festival - provisionally attending 2022’s event, scheduled to take place 27th-3oth January, as a guest of honour, Ware will also produce one of the festival’s official posters, and an exhibition of his work will be displayed.

• The Comic Studies Society announced the winners of their annual awards for work in comics academia, with Rebecca Wanzo taking home the Charles Hatfield Book Prize for their monograph The Content of Our Caricature: African American Comic Art and Political Belonging, and Anna Peppard receiving the prize for Best Edited Book Collection for Supersex: Sexuality, Fantasy, and the Superhero - the society also recently announced 2021's new Executive Board members, a list of whom can be found here.

• The Book Industry Charitable Foundation announced that it has distributed the $1.1 million in grant monies comprising its Survive to Thrive program, with 105 independent bookstores and comic shops receiving $7,500 or $10,000 grants.

The Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo have announced this year's call for applications to their mini-grants award program, with 30 grants of $100 available to help in the production of new, unpublished mini-comics, and one selected creator receiving a grand prize of $500 - applications open on July 1st, with a deadline for submission of September 1st 2021.

• Less than a year after somanyofus.com was launched, a website detailing the predatory and emotionally abusive behaviour of Warren Ellis, Image Comics have decided that now would be the perfect time to publish the completion of Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s comic Fell - a title that has been on hiatus since 2008. In response to the announcement somanyofus released a statement detailing Ellis’ failure to respond to their original request for transformative justice, and his subsequent reply to said statement, that arrived yesterday, both of which can be seen at the link above. The Beat has editorials from Heidi MacDonald and Tara Ferguson on Ellis' apparent return to having his comics printed under the banner of a major publisher, and Gizmodo and Multiversity Comics have round-ups of the online reaction to the news, which could probably be summed up best by closing your eyes and wearily lowering your face onto your keyboard.



Thumbs up, thumbs down - This week’s reviews.


• Tom Shapira reviews the stylistic smorgasbord of Juni Ba’s Djeliya - “Oddly enough, I find myself thinking of Frank Miller in his Ronin period. Partly because Miller’s own style bleeds into Ba’s through second generation influences: Miller begets Genndy Tartakovsky, which begets Juni Ba. Mostly, however, it’s in the way one creator manages to create something new by borrowing and remixing many previous styles and cultures.”

Brian Nicholson reviews the buoyant hijinx of Pascal Girard’s Rebecca and Lucie In the Case of the Missing Neighbor, translated by Aleshia Jensen - “...what may endear this comic to mothers of young children is that it reads easily enough to be a soothing balm to a harried mind. It’s perfect for someone who wants to read a comic, but not one that’s long, or depressing, or challenging in any way. You can read it while doing something else: I was only nursing a mild headache, but others have lives that force them to be more ambitious.”

• Ian Thomas reviews the surreal playground of Paul Kirchner’s Dope Rider - “Mandala designs, occult esoterica, high desert vistas, and dusty roads of the old west variety are what comprise the world of Dope Rider. But while the landscape may speak to Salvador Dali, Sergio Leone, and Alejandro Jodorowsky, the dialogue and visual gags, which are peppered with pop culture references  belie a certain “normal dude” sensibility. Kirchner serves this visual feast with a side of cultural junk food, much of which is past the expiration date.”



• Ben Morin reviews the narrative disappointments of Al Ewing, Crystal Frasier, Lan Medina, et al’s Gamma Flight #1.

• Noelle Reyes reviews the formulaic possibilities of Scott Snyder, Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, et al’s Undiscovered Country #13.

• Shamus Clancy reviews the slow-burn eeriness of Garth Ennis, Liam Sharp, et al’s Batman: Reptilian #1.

• Ronnie Gorham reviews the recycled thrills of Doug Wagner, Daniel Hillyard, et al’s Vinyl #1.


Broken Frontier

• Lindsay Pereira reviews the nuanced minimalism of Guy Delisle's Factory Summers.

• Andy Oliver reviews:

- The honest activism of Rachael House’s Resistance Sustenance Protection. 

- The haunting intensity of Alxndra Cook’s Wednesday’s Child.

- The mixed minutiae of Jonathan Baylis, et al’s So Buttons #11.

- The glorious camp of Chris Reynolds, Chris Maris, and Boyd Skinner's The Sands of Fear.



Gary Tyrrell reviews the deep mythology of Shing Yin Khor’s The Legend Of Auntie Po.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan C reviews the detailed doom of Samuel Benson’s Long Gone #4; the vibrant meanderings of Chris Russ’ Eddie The Office Goblin #2; and the enjoyable consistency of Jonathan Baylis, et al’s So Buttons #11.


The Guardian

• Rachel Cooke reviews the plangent tensions of Guy Delisle’s Factory Summers.

• James Smart reviews the fresh satire of Will McPhail’s In.


House to Astonish

Paul O’Brien reviews the grimdark angst of Ed Brisson, Roland Boschi, et al’s Heroes Reborn: Weapon X & Final Flight #1.



Lily Meyer reviews the expansive epiphanies of Alison Bechdel’s The Secret to Superhuman Strength.


The Los Angeles Review of Books

Bob Blaisdell reviews the evocative communication of Anne Carson and Rosanna Bruno adaptation of Euripides’ The Trojan Women.


Multiversity Comics

• Brian Salvatore reviews the subdued thoughtfulness of Vita Ayala, ChrisCross, Nikolas Draper-Ive, et al’s Static: Season One #1.

• Kobi Bordoley reviews the narrative friction of Robert Mackenzie, David Walker, Justin Greenwood, et al’s Compass #1.

• Christopher Egan reviews the unnerving momentum of Doug Wagner, Daniel Hillyard, et al’s Vinyl #1.

• Christopher Chiu-Tabet reviews the refreshing coming-of-age of Ethan Young's The Dragon Path.


Publisher’s Weekly

Have capsule reviews of:

- The appealing enthusiasm of Kaeti Vandorn’s Monster Friends.

- The vibrant hilarity of Adam Murphy and Lisa Murphy’s Corpse Talk: Queens and Kings and Other Royal Rotters.

- The stellar simplicity of Hugh Amano and Sarah Becan’s Let’s Make Dumplings!: A Comic Book Cookbook.

- The mesmerising uncanniness of Zuo Ma’s Night Bus, translated by Orion Martin.

- The stunning history of Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury, and Nate Powell’s Run: Book One.



Kenneth Laster reviews the promising energy of Vita Ayala, ChrisCross, Nikolas Draper-Ivey, et al’s Static: Season One #1.



• Edward Haynes reviews the relatable vulnerability of Keiler Roberts’ My Begging Chart.

• Ryan Carey reviews the juxtaposed struggles of Travis Dandro’s King of King Court.

• Sydney To reviews the melancholy limbo of Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan’s Welcome to the New World.

• Alex Hoffman reviews the eye-rolling camp of Mat Heagerty and Steph Mided’s Martian Ghost Centaur.


Women Write About Comics

Lisa Fernandes reviews the deft reverence of Mark Russell, Sean Izaakse, et al’s Fantastic Four Life Story #1: The ‘60s.



Now, back to our team in the studio… This week’s interviews.


Tiffany Babb interviews Juni Ba about Djeliya, artistic influences, developing comics scenes in post-colonial contexts, and the sociopolitical responsibilities of storytellers - “I think the biggest thing for most African creators is that without the Internet we would not be able to do what we do, either because of the lack of infrastructure in the countries themselves, or in my case, going to Europe to study, the lack of support there because they don’t really understand what its about and they have no interest in it.”



• David Brooke speaks with Daniel Hillyard and Doug Wagner about Vinyl, interest in emotionally flawed characters, dark nostalgia, and superior media formats.

• Chris Coplan interviews Jeff Lemire and Tyler Crook about The Unbelievable Unteens and ongoing collaborations, and Shaky Kane and Krent Able about Kane & Able and getting the band together.


The Beat

Avery Kaplan speaks with Krent Able about Kane & Able, who takes the credit, comics and film influences, and laborious production techniques.


Broken Frontier

• Lindsay Pereira talks to Brecht Evens about The City of Belgium, colour struggles, the purpose of cameos, and thoughts on Hergé’s work and influence.

• Andy Oliver interviews Ashling Larkin and Cat Laird about Working in the Arts, the work of Comics Help Inform People collective, the accessibility of comics, and aiming to inspire others.



Jonathan Ore transcribes Nahlah Ayed’s conversation with Art Spiegelman on Maus from the radio documentary Drawing Disaster, more on which can be found here.



Jude DeLuca speaks with Devin Grayson about Arsenal, the pros and cons of serialised superhero stories, returning to old favourites, and the realities of connecting a fictional character to the Navajo Nation.



• Ollie Barder interviews Tetsuo Hara about Fist of the North Star, early pop culture memories, career inspirations, and collaborative process with Buronson.

• Rob Salkowitz speaks with Heritage Auction’s Lon Allen about the current spike in the comics collectibles market, upwards trends across the board, surprising sales, and how the pandemic has been affecting things in the world of specialist auctions.


The Herald

Teddy Jamieson talks to Will McPhail about In, first submissions to The New Yorker, how a book gets made, and IRL connections.


The Hollywood Reporter

Brian Davids speaks with Emilia Clarke about M.O.M.: Mother of Madness, story origins, choosing creative collaborators, and menstruation as a superpower.


Publisher’s Weekly

Gilcy Aquino chats to Nidhi Chanani about Jukebox, career origins, story research, and future plans.



‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello, what’s all this then… This week’s features and comics.

• Here at TCJ, Tom Shapira looks back on the work of John Smith, a creator who eschews the usual PR merry-go-round, was overlooked during the British Invasion of the 90s, and became the bane of editors back home - “All this cosmic jumping around, the talk about sacrifice, salvation, rebirth, the dark womb of the universe... it sounds awfully pretentious. ‘Pretentious’ is, however, a word one uses to describe failure. When the work in question succeeds in doing all these things, we usually go for ‘brilliant’ or ‘beautiful’. Revere is pretentious, but it nevertheless is not a failure.”

• For Shelfdust, continuing the site’s Black Comics History series, Kenneth Laster looks back to 1984’s Blue Devil #1, and the journeyman career of Paris Cullins, “the Ricardo Montalbán of comics”; while Zoe Tunnell continues the Secret Invasion invasion of the site, examining the narrative worth of issue 4 of the series and finding it severely lacking.

• Checking back in with Elizabeth Sandifer’s Last War in Albion, as (an emphatically NSFW) chapter 11 puts the spotlight on Gaiman and McKean, taking the stage under the vesica piscis, and chapter 12 examines Violent Cases and Arkham Asylum through a Jungian lens - Sandifer has also started a new patreon-supported comics project this week, more on which can be found here.

• Lithub have an extract from It’s Life as I See It: Black Cartoonists in Chicago 1940–1980 of Charles Johnson's essay looking back on his career, and the tactile sensations of cartooning, closing with "One might ask, what causes this lifelong addiction to drawing comic art? The answer, I believe, is a time-honored reply: We think in pictures."

• Over at Inverse, Graeme McMillan covers the next round in the artists vs writers vs tech startups royal rumble du jour, as various of the players weigh in on why Substack is bad for comics and/or definitely *not* a scam that definitely *will* be able to compete with established digital/webcomic platforms. Magic beans for days.

• For NeoText, as an antidote to performative Pride month support from various comics publishers, Chloe Maveal takes a look back at the history of Gay Comix, and its eventual metamorphosis into Gay Comics, as well as the title’s influence on mainstream comics, and the creators and editors who made it possible.

• A couple of pieces from Cori McCreery, for Women Write About Comics, as the question of where the women nominees are hiding in this year’s Eisner Award shortlists rears its head, and Tom King’s Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1 appears to owe a whole lot to True Grit.

• Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s editorial illustrations, over at The Daily Cartoonist, as a new federal holiday joins the fold, while irony is dead in the history classroom, spoilers abound for an election in progress, the NCAA receives a supreme slap on the wrist, the voter suppression is coming from inside the House, and acceptance in the NFL may not extend to the fans.

• Some recent longform comics from online outlets, as, for The Nib, Emily "Moose" Hammersley-Ambroise documents the realities of coming out during quarantine, and Ted Closson shares the trauma of losing a child as reflected by media; over at NPR, Fred Chao illustrates director John M. Chu’s experiences of finding his cinematic voice, and Sarah Mirk looks at how the pandemic has changed pet adoption for those needing canine company during quarantine; and The Lily has comics from Pepita Sándwich on financial planning for freelancers, and Dabin Han explains the reasoning behind staying put.



Ceci n'est pas une pipe… This week’s audio/visual delights.

• Kicking off this week’s selection with some upcoming virtual events you may wish to add to your diary, as Steve Brodner will be in-conversation with Anita Kunz to celebrate the launch of Kunz’ Another History of Art on July 1st; Casa Con is running a weekend of events over the next three days on their discord server, including a chat between Ryan Holmberg and Brian Baynes about manga and self publishing on Saturday afternoon; and the Center for Cartoon Studies’ program of events for younger creatives kicks off next month, if you need something to keep a budding comics creator busy during the summer vacation.

• Looking back into the mists of time, The Kubert School have released another of the Joe Kubert’s World of Cartooning series from the archives, bringing the inking masterclass to their YouTube channel.

• Also looking to the past, as is their wont, Cartoonist Kayfabe’s week of #content saw Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor taking a trip down memory lane with the erotica of Wally Wood, B&W DC Comics, the pithily titled Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics, the gnarly Spawn/Batman, and The ‘NAM #1.

• Comic Con International shared some more of the educational strand of virtual events they’ve been hosting lately, with talks on Norse mythology in comics and transmedia properties; a triple-header with talks looking at the influence of the master of Sobha Singh, on the representation of the gurus in Sikh comics Bahadur comics in the context of 1970–80s India, and exploring ways in which comics can sensitize readers to the suffering of marginalised narratives in the context of the work of Clément Baloup; and a quadruple-bill with talks on the history of the word balloon, letter-page responses to DC’s Blitzkreig, moral considerations of recoloring comics, and advanced web-layouts in digital comics making.

• Brian Hibbs welcomed Jeff Smith to Comix Experience’s Graphic Novel of the Month Club, choosing Bone for June’s masterpiece selection, as they spoke about the comics that made them love the medium, knowing when you’ve got a hit on your hands, and choosing between colour and B&W.

• A new edition of Strip Panel Naked arrived, as Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou took a look at the convention-breaking lettering of Barry Windsor-Smith’s Monsters, and how it plays with the interstitial chronology of panel divides.

• Dan Berry invited Zara Slattery to Make It Then Tell Everybody this week, as they discussed reasons for changing drawing styles, reasons to use reference, and the difficulties in communicating the realities of trauma.

• Matt Lune was joined by Kelly Kanayama for this week’s Shelfdust Presents, as they spoke about, who else, The Punisher, and the adventures of one Frank Castle in the Secret Invasion tie-in Punisher: War Journal #25.

• David Brothers hosted this week’s edition of Mangasplaining, as the team looked at Mizuho Kusanagi’s Yona of the Dawn Volume 1, bringing the first shojo title to the podcast, plus discussion of the current hot-property Nozomi Mino’s Yakuza Lover Volume 1, and its emphatic depictions of open-mouthed kissin’.

• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come took a look at recent big stories in the comics-o-sphere, including the return of the Eisners, the return of various DC editors to Tapas, and the return of Fables.



That’s it for this week. Writing outdoor pros: sunshine. Writing outdoor cons: increased potential for getting stung by a bee and a My Girl situation kicking off, and occasional broadband drop-outs. Back soon with more in-depth research.