You would be forgiven for expecting a slackening of pace in this week of Holidays and football games, but no, dear reader, the comics news will persist through wind or rain. Plus, it's not a national holiday in the UK.
You think this letter on my head stands for Dan Slott!? It stands for naught but This Week’s Links - a deadline, my friends, is a deadline.
— Vlad Legostaev (@vladlegostaev) November 23, 2020
Bold of Marvel to assume the internet wouldn’t dunk repeatedly on their in-house documentary about poor working practices and conditions, tbqhwy… This week’s news.
• L'Association des Critiques et Journalistes de Bande Dessinée (ACBD) this week announced the five finalists of 2021’s Grand Prix de la Critique, with a shortlist comprising Anaïs Nin: Sur la Mer des Mensonges by Léonie Bischoff, Carbone & Silicium by Mathieu Bablet, Longue Vie by Stanislas Moussé, Peau d'homme by Hubert and Zanzim, and A Work Like Any Other by Alex W. Inker. The ACBD aims to "support and highlight, in a spirit of discovery, a comic book, published in French, with strong narrative and graphic requirements, marking by its power, its originality, the novelty of his subject or the means that the author deploys to it.”
• On a similar front, Festival D’Angoulême have announced 2021’s sélections officielle, comprising the longlist of 44 titles in the running for next year’s Fauve D’or along with shortlists for other specialist categories, with winners to be announced in January - you can download the full competition booklet (en français), and see if your 2020 fave is in the running, here.
• Sticking to the playbook that we’ve seen in use a fair bit this year, Penguin Random House chose the day before a national holiday to announce their intention to buy Simon & Schuster, thereby creating the first ever ‘megapublisher’ (read: monopoly), which definitely will not breach any antitrust laws… WINK WINK ;)
• In other corporate market news, following recent dismissals at DC Comics, Marvel Comics and convention conglomerate ReedPop saw high-level executive departures of their own this week, as the upheaval of 2020 continues apace, and apparently is hitting those usually protected by economies of scale and market dominance.
• The Daily Cartoonist brings us this week’s auction news, as some rare original Peanuts artwork is going up on the block, fresh from the 50s, with pin-ups of the cast (as was), used to promote the strip in booklet form under the guise of The Peanuts Album.
• Finally, some sad news via social media, as it was announced, via his Instagram, that Ralph Niese passed away at the start of this week - a memorial is being planned, and you can see more of his work on his DeviantArt.
In order to ease his increasing workload, Kirby began the recruitment process for an office assistant pic.twitter.com/CbQnzJIdjK
— James Turner (@JamesTurner_42) November 22, 2020
Thankful for the #content… This week’s reviews.
Keith Silva wades through the muck and the mire of Jason Aaron and R.M. Guéra’s nihilistic The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides, prior to its conclusion (possibly) arriving sometime next month - “Like his protagonists, Aaron’s plot centers on what the girls are escaping from and not what they’re escaping to. That would require faith, belief, intelligence beyond raw survival. Whatever that further shore, Aaron offers no salvation, only another metaphorical mountain to climb devoid of all meaning. When ‘fuck it’ becomes the prevailing wisdom it doesn’t matter if it’s the antediluvian age or today. If Aaron’s goal is to show how deep the rabbit hole of depravity goes, mission accomplished. So what?”
• Nathan Simmons reviews the bittersweet climax of Simon Spurrier, Aaron Campbell, et al’s John Constantine: Hellblazer #12.
• Ronnie Gorham reviews the rambunctious hilarity of Tenacious D aka Jack Black and Kyle Gass’ Post-Apocalypto.
• David Brooke reviews the empowering eroticism of Steve Foxe and Daz’ Cheat(er) Code.
• Ben Morin reviews the unique approach of John Ridley, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, et al’s The Other History of the DC Universe #1.
• Vishal Gullapalli reviews the high-stake vibrancy of Walt Simonson, John Buscema, et al’s work in Avengers Epic Collection: Heavy Metal.
• Justin Harrison reviews the leporine low-stakes of Stan Sakai and Ronda Pattison’s Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer’s Road #1.
• Keigen Rea reviews the pacy tropes of Paul Cornell, Sally Cantirino, et al’s I Walk With Monsters #1.
• Avery Kaplan reviews the subversive allusions of Jimmy Gownley’s 7 Good Reasons Not To Grow Up.
• John Seven reviews the disruptive warning of Michel Rabagliati’s Paul at Home.
Andy Oliver reviews the outlandish whimsy of Fancy Butcher’s Affordable Amazement #2, the dynamic collaborations of Inspiration: A Comics School Anthology, the distinctive intricacies of Bishakh Som’s Spellbound: A Graphic Memoir, and the humorous escapism of Jens K Styve's Dunce: Brego.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews a batch of recent mini-comics from kuš!, including the dramatic authenticity of Tommi Parrish’s Sufficient Lucidity, the enjoyable existentialism of Lukas Weidinger’s Pirate & Parrot, the accessible transcendence of Nicolas Mahler’s take on James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, and the enthralling fluidity of Aidan Koch's Man Made Lake.
Angelica Frey reviews the insightful poignancy of Elisa Macellari’s Kusama: The Graphic Novel.
Nick Smith reviews the twisting horrors of Abraham Martinez’ Plutocracy: Chronicles of a Global Monopoly.
Journal of Popular Romance Studies
Sydney Heifler reviews the interesting emergences of Return to Romance: The Strange Love Stories of Ogden Whitney, edited by Dan Nadel and Frank Santoro.
• Kate Kosturski reviews the imperfect consistency of Jody Houser, Roberta Ingranata, et al’s Doctor Who #1.
• John Schaidler reviews the commendable reclamations of Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices #1.
• Paul Lai reviews the imaginative inspirations of Kiki Hughes’ Displacement.
New York Times
Ed Park reviews some recent examples of ‘Studies of Darkness and Disguise at the Movies’, looking at Katriona Chapman’s Breakwater, and Pat Dorian’s Lon Chaney Speaks.
Pete Redrup provides this quarter’s bumper comics round-up with reviews of:
- Danny Noble’s Shame Pudding.
- Matthew Dooley’s Flake.
- Adrian Tomine’s The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Cartoonist.
- Simon Hanselmann’s Seeds & Stems.
- Sophie Yanow’s The Contradictions.
- Owen D. Pomery’s Victory Point.
- Céline Hudréaux’ Maelstrom.
- GG’s Constantly.
- Casanova Frankenstein’s Tad Martin #7 and Tears Of The Leatherbound Saints.
- Samuel W. Grant’s Life Is A Hologram.
Ryan Carey reviews the accomplished juxtapositions of Brian “Box” Brown’s Child Star.
Women Write About Comics
• Doris V. Sutherland reviews the tightly-packed puzzles of M.R. Carey, Peter Gross, et al’s The Dollhouse Family.
• Wendy Browne reviews the surprising poignancy of Bartosz Stybor, Amad Mir, et al’s The Witcher: Fading Memories #1.
Some thoughts (1/2) pic.twitter.com/NdehDfEt1J
— Maria Capelle Frantz (@mariacfrantz) November 23, 2020
Sing it from the Rooftops… This week’s interviews.
Brighton’s own Joe Decie and Hannah Eaton celebrate the (virtual) launch of Eaton’s new book, Blackwood, with a discussion of the deep roots of British folklore, anxieties channeled as fears, and ghost stories with a personal touch - “At the moment it seems that there are too many things, too many crimes being committed against people by states, too many extinctions – we’re constantly having to recalibrate ourselves to new places we can’t go back from. I also feel quite strongly about the way we often pathologize and label children who are just very sensitive or who are traumatized, and I’ve kind of laid this out for the reader [in Blackwood]. So I’m not sure whether it’s gentle unease or churning horror! Maybe a bit of both.”
Chris Coplan interviews Dan Watters about his writing in new book The Picture of Everything Else, the enduring legacy of Oscar Wilde, and Paris as a cultural focal-point.
Sean Z talks to Nick Bruel about his book series Bad Kitty, creating during the pandemic, the help that creators can put into the world, and the realities of health insurance and coverage for authors and freelancers, as well as the importance of unions.
Mark Tweedale chats with Tiernan Trevallion about Hellboy and the BPRD, getting work through social media, and filling gaps in Mignolaverse knowledge.
New York Times
George Gene Gustines interviews John Ridley about his work on The Other History of the DC Universe, community-minded superheroes, diversions from canon, and grounding perspectives of god-like beings.
Susana Polo talks to Lisa Hanawalt about equine ambitions and obsessions, video games as a stopgap, and relatable anxiety of horses.
DW McKinney interviews Lisa Hanawalt about recent book I Want You, drawing as catharsis, sharing the universality of the grotesque, and sex bugs and surrealism.
• Kyla Smith interviews Arantza Peña Popo about indie comic fair awakenings, balancing schedules, and clarity of thought in quarantine, and the universality of personal experiences.
• Tom Shapira interviews Rutu Modan about recognition and representation, the fear inherent in starting new projects, and compositional lessons to be learned from Hergé.
• Daniel Elkin presents a new edition of ‘Knowing is Half the Battle’ as Robert Sergel shares his thoughts on publishers and agents, and knowing your self worth in the age of social media.
I did a sketchbooky comic about giving thanks this year. I hope you like it; like with most of my stuff it's agonizingly heartfelt https://t.co/yPHTXqJ6U6
— Eleanor Davis (@squinkyelo) November 26, 2020
There’ll be a quiz at the end… This week’s features and comics.
• For TCJ, Oliver Ristau reports on Rotopol Press’ takeover of Bremen’s Room 404 gallery, bringing comics to the people during a year of limited personal interaction, and provides a primer on the recent Rotopol fare from a variety of indie comix’ big-hitters - “It seemed for a while that Germany was not faring as badly as a lot of other countries, though its subculture, suddenly working alone in front of empty ranks, had its own food for thought. Now...art life has slowly reclaimed its natural habitat.”
• Also at TCJ, David Schilter presents remembrances of Ward Zwart, who sadly passed away last month, and it’s a really lovely collection of memories and anecdotes, including a frankly amazing story about an interview in Vice, that I won’t spoil here, but it’s even funnier if you look up the interview itself after reading - “Ward was known for his atmospheric black-and-white pencil drawings that were published and exhibited internationally. His work often depicted deer, foxes, hares and other forest animals...Ward Zwart was strongly committed to the underground and DIY culture, but he also contributed many illustrations to Belgian newspapers such as De Morgen and De Standaard. He was commissioned to do commercial work for the Flemish Opera, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp and the Flemish Government, and internationally for Vice Magazine, Google+, The New York Times and others, always maintaining his instantly recognizable signature style.”
• David Malki, he of Wondermark, checks in with Garfield, and the pastel color surprise that each of the orange feline’s adventures present to the reader, for better or worse, as well as the modularity that syndicated comics require, as they’re manhandled into a variety of formats for print.
• Over at NeoText, Chloe Maveal writes in praise of the late, great Carlos Ezquerra, and his legacy of design that’s arguably influenced an entire generation of creators, while Benjamin Marra presents a gallery of Earl Norem’s paintings for various Mattel and Hasbro properties.
• For AIPT, Chris Coplan writes on the lip-service that big publishers are paying to diversifying their titles, both in terms of content and creators, and the lack of Jewish representation in a medium that owes so much to Jewish creators.
• If you’re starting your shopping for the Holidays, then my Local Comic Shop, Gosh!, has their comprehensive best of 2020 lists for younger readers and adults all ready for your perusal and cribbing from.
• If you’re not sick of the sight of turkeys by this point in the holiday weekend, then Paul Kupperberg has 13 of them for 13th Dimension, looking back at some questionable titles from the Silver Age.
• Over at Shelfdust, Charlotte Finn draws close to the end of Astro City, this week looking at A Very Good Boi; Sean Dillon explores the wider themes at play in Grant Morrison’s writing on Doctor Who Magazine, with a story that’s bigger than it looks from the outside; Steve Morris writes on Assassin Nation, and the power of listicles; Kelly Kanayama looks back on the one, the only, your favourite and mine, Youngblood #1; Caitlin Rosberg ships the protagonists of FF #17, as the memes are coming from inside the apartment; and SE Fleenor and Sara Century chart the evolution of Poison Ivy for Infinite Crisis.
• Sara Century also has a couple of witchy essays for SYFY Wire this week, looking at the comic book history of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Elvira, and the resurgence both are experiencing in their modern iterations, with changing sensibilities.
• Also at SYFY Wire, Mike Avila writes on the legacy of Chris Claremont, the risks he’s taken throughout his career, and his engagement with the characters he’s defined.
• For ICv2, Rob Salkowitz looks at (direct) market share realities for smaller publishers, and the crossroads of media tie-ins or comic focused brand management.
• One is compelled to wonder just what will happen with editorial cartooning, once this election is finally said and done, but for the time being business is booming, and The Daily Cartoonist has more comprehensive round-ups.
• Over at Popmatters, AJ Rocca revives the “comics or graphic novels” conversation, gamely giving it another go-round, as part of a much more interesting look at the works of Marjane Satrapi, tied up in exploring just what is “minor literature” anyway. Here’s a rhyme if someone asks you whether they’re comics or graphic novels in future: got a spine, then it’s fine; staple bound, pass it round! Good grief.
• Sent across by its author, Kent Worcester has an essay on post-World War II propaganda from the British Communist Party, and its prominent use of cartoons, in decrying the threat of American capitalism to the world.
• For 13th Dimension, Alex Segura once more becomes trapped in The Spider’s Web, this time out looking back at 80s gang wars, wedding bells, and Wolverine in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man.
• Speaking of Wolverine, House to Astonish’s journey back into his history continues, and the early days of the character, before he’d appeared in every title Marvel had to offer and died and come back and died and come back and died, etc.
• One nice thing to be thankful of in this weird year we’re collectively experiencing - issue 8 of Bubbles has arrived in the world. SCENE: You there, boy, what day is this? Why ‘tis Bubbles publication day, of course, sir.
• For The New Yorker, Ellice Weaver has a longform comic on the internal domestic life during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the things you notice about your living space when not leaving it very much.
• For The Nib, Rebecca Roher has a comic on senior citizens weathering the pandemic in care facility homes, and the wealth of social history that could be lost as COVID-19 weighs especially harshly on the elderly.
• Anthrax graphic novel anthology? Anthrax graphic novel anthology.
— GabaldónArt (@gabaldonart) November 22, 2020
Get that SEO, baby… This week’s recommended watching.
• Celebrating the launch of the new deluxe versions of Hate, Strand bookstore hosted an in-conversation between Peter Bagge and Everett True last week (starts around the 4 minute mark), as they tried to hand the blame for creating grunge off on one another, the various inspirations for Buddy Bradley’s misadventures, and why reading stories about 20-somethings is so popular.
• Continuing promotion for new novel The XX, Strand also hosted a conversation between Rian Hughes and Grant Morrison, as the pair discussed storytelling process, second-hand pulp SF treasure troves, and designing graphics to induce an emotional state in the reader.
• The Charles M. Schulz Museum hosted a panel discussion on the Black experience, as told through comics and graphic novels, with speakers Robb Armstrong, Darrin Bell, Keith Knight, Elizabeth Montague, and Bianca Xunise, and answering audience questions, including an in-depth discussion of Peanuts’ Franklin, and a certain thanksgiving image of the character.
• The Beat and Comix Experience presented August’s edition of the Classic Graphic Novel Club, with Brian Hibbs this time around welcoming Brian M. Bendis to the stream to discuss his run on Ultimate Spider-Man, Bendis’ cartooning background, and eating bugs.
• Politics and Prose hosted an in-conversation event between Gary Trudeau and David Stanford, in celebration of Doonsebury’s 50th birthday, discussing working on DBURY@50 during the pandemic, real-life character inspirations, and the storytelling necessity for tragedy.
• Cartoonist Kayfabe kicked off an Image “X” Month this week, as Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg sat down to flick through some Spawn, Cyber Force, Savage Dragon, and Shadowhawk, as well as taking a look at Flex Mentallo, Scott McCloud’s DESTROY!, The Art of Sin City, and Love and Rockets #2.
• Comix Claptrap returned this week, as Rina Ayuyang, Thien Pham, and Josh Frankel spoke to François Vigneault about new book Titan, the (literal) colour purple, science fiction, writer’s block, and telling an adult story for adults.
• Noah Van Sciver had a cartoonist chat with Jesse Jacobs, covering mind-vacations, comic festivals in the Before Times, art school and anthologies, and skateboard tragedies.
nsfw comic pic.twitter.com/UgRZI2gobn
— Raven (@spirantel) November 17, 2020
If moving pictures aren’t your thing, try just the noises… This week’s easy-listening.
• Shelfdust Presents covered The Wicked + The Divine #1 this week, as Matt Lune and Steve Foxe sat down to discuss the high concept deicide at play in the comic’s opening salvo, as it deftly juggles the light and the dark.
• NPR’s Rough Translation spoke to Jake Halpern this week, as Gregory Warner discussed new book Welcome to the New World, interviewed the Aldabaan family, whose story it depicts, and explored the realities of refugees fleeing conflicts to the US.
• 2000 AD’s Lockdown Tapes return this week, as MOLCH-R reboots and speaks to creators involved with the Misty Winter Special, including Lizzie Boyle, David Roach, Anna Savory, and V.V. Glass, about their work in the comic, the horror of the familiar, and hidden references in the special.
• Catching up with (the difficult to say correctly) Mex Flentallo, Ramon Villalobos and Daniel Irizarri spoke to Gleb Melnikov about DC Comics and 2020 chaos across the globe, and hosted an International Mens Day special with Aubrey Sitterson to chat Beef Bros and Latinx naming conventions.
• David Harper welcomed Tamra Bonvillain to Off Panel this week, as they discussed the arcane art of comics coloring, the Kubert School, realities of the comics market, and knowing your limits.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come looked at the DC debacle this week, which Tucker’s also covered here on TCJ, and I don’t know that there’s more to be said, at this point, other than - it ain’t great!
• Gil Roth spoke to Rian Hughes for this week’s Virtual Memories Show, discussing Hughes’ new book The XX, how ideas get out of one brain and into another, and the boredom of commercial design.
• Dan Berry induced Sam Hardacre to Make It Then Tell Everybody this week, as they discussed the ephemeral nature of the internet, the value of a good self-education, and streamlining that workflow.
— sweet hellfire (@SH0TZE) November 23, 2020
That’s all for this week - we’re almost in December, and once that clock strikes midnight on the 31st, and takes us into 2021, everything will be better! Everything!!!
Back in 7 days to trudge through the beginning of the end of this hell year. Peace!
it does not feel good pic.twitter.com/t0WlTo9rwk
— Tom McHenry (@tommchenry) November 25, 2020