Far too hot for much other than lying on the sofa hugging an ice pack, so lukewarm takes only in this week’s links, a selection of which can be found below, with long-term planning needed urgently for what will happen to the scorching hot takes industry as the ongoing climate crisis intensifies.
Argentinian-Spanish cartoonist Quino made generations of Latin Americans think and laugh with his beloved comic strip, Mafalda.
— Google Doodles (@GoogleDoodles) July 16, 2022
Feeling hot, hot, hot… This week’s news.
• Starting the week off by checking in with news of ongoing legal actions brought by manga publishers against alleged operators of piracy sites, and TorrentFreak reported on the somewhat convoluted prosecutorial process against popular site Mangabank’s operator, culminating in a fine of around $6,800 being issued by a Chinese court, where the defendant resides. The site had apparently employed geoblocking to restrict its access within China, preventing domestic copyright infringement, resulting in the fairly meagre penalty.
• The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times herald the return of San Diego Comic-Con, in full swing this afternoon, focusing on the event’s mask mandate and proof of vaccination/negative COVID-19 testing requirements for entry, amidst a surge across California in SARS-CoV-2 infections, undercounting of which may be hiding a wave bigger than that seen in winter 2021.
• Forbes reports on Webtoon’s annual spending figures, with the digital platform announcing that its monthly payments to English-language creators are now averaging more than $1 million dollars per month - the spending spree in the vertical scroll space looking set to continue, as The Beat covered the recent buyout of Korean digital platform Toomics for $160 million by investment firm NPX Capital.
• Conversely, in not paying creators news, The Hollywood Reporter covers the less-than-satisfactory sums paid out by Marvel to comic creators whose work has been mined for the Marvel Cinematic Universe under the company’s Special Character Agreement contracts, due to misleading terms found therein, reducing in one case the amount eventually received by 80% from the dollar figure predominantly stated in the agreement - parent corp the Walt Disney Company reportedly generated a net income of $2.02 billion in the fiscal year of 2021.
• Industrial action news, and Wednesday saw a pair of strikes take place, as unionised HarperCollins staff downed tools over the publisher’s failure to agree on a fair contract for employees; and Hilton San Diego Bayfront workers formed a picket line over wages and benefits which abruptly came to an end on the same day after the hotel decided that staff would indeed be necessary for the sold-out Comic-Con weekend, and offered up a fair proposal.
• In memoriam, remembering those the world of comics has lost, and news broke early in the week on social media that multidisciplinary artist Valis Ortíz, one of the principal forces behind comics and zine micropress and distro Gatosaurio, passed away last weekend aged 39 - tributes were paid from the Mexican independent scene, celebrating Ortíz' musical and artistic legacy.
• News was shared on Thursday of the death of storied comics writer Alan Grant, aged 73 - 2000 AD wrote in tribute to Grant, citing the writer’s “sharp eye for dialogue and political satire,” and numerous remembrances were shared on social media from fans, friends, and colleagues.
los últimos dibujos de la Valis 🖤🤍 pic.twitter.com/qx8o7GBwkq
— ༗.༗ (@niebla_tornasol) July 21, 2022
Flame emoji, flame emoji, flame emoji… This week’s reviews.
• Colin Moon reviews the striking secrets of Scott Snyder, Tula Lotay, et al’s Barnstormers #1.
• Chris Coplan reviews the missed opportunities of Scott Snyder, Hayden Sherman, et al’s Dark Spaces: Wildfire #1.
• Nathan Simmons reviews the frenetic action of Gene Luen Yang, Marcus To, et al’s Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #1.
• Ronnie Gorham reviews the raised stakes of Rob Guillory’s Farmhand #19.
• Steve Baxi reviews the mixed musings of DC Comics’ The Question by Dennis O’Neil and Denys Cowan Omnibus, Volume 1.
• Cori McCreery reviews the insightful deconstruction of Meghan Fitzmartin, Laura Braga, et al’s Dark Crisis: Young Justice #2.
• Rebecca Oliver Kaplan reviews the big ideas of Kieron Gillen, Valerio Schiti, et al’s A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1.
• Andy Oliver reviews the meta misadventures of Ria Grix’s Sick Chip.
• Anson Leung reviews the positive messaging of Tomohito Oda’s Komi Can’t Communicate.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews the impressive authenticity of Chad Bilyeu and Juliette de Wit's The Re-Up #1.
From Cover to Cover
Scott Cederlund has capsule reviews of the A.X.E. crossover build-up to be found in Gerry Duggan, Kris Anka, Russel Dauterman, et al’s X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1; Kieron Gillen, Michele Bandini, et al’s Immortal X-Men #4; and Kieron Gillen, Pasqual Ferry, et al’s A.X.E.: Eve of Judgment
Tom Batten has starred capsule reviews of:
- The keen insights of Yamada Murasaki’s Talk to My Back, translated by Ryan Holmberg.
- The cutting hilarity of Michael DeForge’s Birds of Maine.
- The disturbing horror of Antoine Maillard’s Slash Them All.
- The distinctive illustrations of Alex Ross’ Fantastic Four: Full Circle.
• Matthew Blair reviews the fascinating suspense of Zac Thompson, Eoin Marron, et al’s The Brother of All Men #1.
• Reid Carter reviews the glorious fluidity of Molly Mendoza’s Stray.
• Mark Tweedale reviews the everyday pulpiness of Mike Mignola, Thomas Sniegoski, Craig Rousseau, et al’s Young Hellboy: Assault on Castle Death #1.
• Robbie Pleasant reviews the well-defined conflicts of Kieron Gillen, Valerio Schiti, et al’s A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The whimsical eccentricities of Michael DeForge’s Birds of Maine.
- The inconsistent fun of Brian Level, Ryan Ferrier, Kate Sherron, et al’s Silk Hills.
- The profound intricacy of Jose Pimienta’s Twin Cities.
- The warmhearted bombast of Irma Kniivila and Tri Vuong’s Everyday Hero Machine Boy.
- The immaculate elegance of Guojing’s The Flamingo.
Kevin Brown reviews the stark tensions of Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s The Waiting, translated by Janet Hong.
Women Write About Comics
Kathryn Hemmann reviews the rich resources of Sarah Winifred Searle’s The Greatest Thing.
My morning last Tuesday when Russians hit Mykolaiv with more than 20 cruise missiles pic.twitter.com/rD4uIKbm9v
— Sasha Frantseva (@SashaFrantseva) July 16, 2022
Heated debates… This week’s interviews.
Presents a Summer Interview Extravaganza, as conversations are had between:
• Jason Bergman and Jeff Smith about Tuki, dream imagery, being a fan of the epics, and the evolution of the graphic novel - “What's important to me is that the reality that's established of the time period, of the real technology that was available and the fruits and the plants, and fire and multiple human species, I want that to be very real. I try to keep that feeling very real, but then to elevate the story, I'd like to put in the fantasy, not to cheat. Do you know what I mean?”
• Sommer Browning and Paolo Javier about O.B.B., the inescapability of comics, family trees of illustrating, and recent reads - “I used to draw as a kid. In fact, I had a very active drawing practice. I drew until it became uncool to admit it. My dad was a talented illustrator, and it was his secret ambition to be a professional animator, so he passed on his love for drawing via all the comics he would buy for me in addition to the cartoons he would let us watch. He wound up making the more sensible decision and pursued a degree in economics and accounting.”
• Evheny Osievsky and Oleksandr Grekhov about going with the flow, the importance of community, and drawing for yourself - “What I am earning now is, maybe, five times less than what I could have earned in IT or thereabouts. It is also very irregular, dependent on the specific project. If you have one, you have money, if you don’t - you are eating through your stash. I became an illustrator because of passion, not because of financial incentives. Wanted to be happy, really.”
• Tom Kaczynski and Keith Tilford about Chronosis, experimenting with the comics form, the burden of creative freedoms, and cultivating vitriol over metaphysical claims toward artistic creation - “I grew up as a teenager collecting comics in the '90s so the reader can infer how embarrassing that is in terms of what I might have been looking at! Really though, while I did take a very, very long break I would at least dip into a comic book store once every year or two, sometimes more, just to see if there was anything interesting. But nothing really hooked me the way comic books did when I was a kid.”
David Brooke talks to Scott Snyder about a new slate of books for comiXology, working across genres, creator-owned collaborations, and telling personal stories.
• Deanna Destito speaks with Tim Daniel, David Andry, and Sunando C about End After End, inventing the afterlife, character-focused fantasy, and Ralph Bakshi visual cues.
• Avery Kaplan interviews Alex Graham about Dog Biscuits, comics improvisation, COVID unemployment, referencing people you know, and the wonders of the internet.
Nikky Manfewdi talks to Julie Doucet about Time Zone J, the heavy sugar of the past, focusing on the work rather than the reader, and the visual inspiration of Charlotte Salomon.
Jim McLauchlin chats with Geoffrey Patterson about Geoffrey’s Comics and Hi De Ho Comics, generational retailing, ditching arcade cabinets, and knowing your specialties.
Kyle Welch interviews Dennis Hopeless about Heart Eyes, star crossed Lovecraft, charting the fall of civilisation, collaborative beat crafting, and nailing the cosmic horror.
Steven Heller speaks with Noah Van Sciver about Joseph Smith and the Mormons, childhood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and finding the narrative voice.
• Cheryl E. Klein talks to Jose Pimienta about Twin Cities, cultural distinctions and personal space, evolving story drafts, border politics, and the dualism of print.
• Brian Heater interviews Noah Van Sciver about Joseph Smith and the Mormons and As A Cartoonist, leaving comics for painting and returning again, and the creative path to this new work of graphic biography.
Alex Dueben chats with Brian Doherty about Dirty Pictures: How an Underground Network of Nerds, Feminists, Misfits, Geniuses, Bikers, Potheads, Printers, Intellectuals, and Art School Rebels Revolutionized Art and Invented Comix, and interview serendipity.
Senichiro Ozawa speaks with Eisaku Kubonouchi about Tsurumoku Dokushin Ryō, becoming immersed in the fictional world, compartmentalising past work, and observing when drawing.
— ながべ (@mucknagabe) July 9, 2022
Fiery discourse… This week’s features and longreads.
• For The Paris Review, Amber Medland writes on E.E. Cummings’ place in the Krazy Kat fandom, and the crossover between Herriman and Cummings’ controlling of time on the page.
• Over at The Washington Post, Michael Cavna profiles the editorial cartoonists reporting on the January 6th hearings, and the commonalities of depicting chaos in their work on the subject.
• Brigid Alverson rounds up the retail beat for ICv2, covering recent stories from the world of bricks and mortar, as various stores open, close, and expand in a somewhat turbulent time for commerce.
• Ahead of this weekend’s return of San Diego Comic-Con, Gizmodo presents excerpts from Mathew Klickstein’s upcoming oral history See You At San Diego, as various of the industry pass comment on the transmedia licensing and promotion extravaganza.
• Looking back on a comics event just passed, for Solrad, Pietro Scarnera has a scene report from the 11th Festival BD de Montréal, which returned to in-person eventing in May for the first time in two years.
• For Hyperallergic, M. G. Moscato looks at the enduring lack of diversity in independent comics and graphic novel publishing, and highlights creators making their own diverse spaces outside of this system.
• Previewing publication of Gabrielle Bell’s Career Shoplifter in September, Uncivilised Books’ Tom Kaczynski presented an updated essay on Bell’s work and the history of diaries and diary comics - Kaczynski also has an ongoing series on Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar, the latest entry of which went up this week.
• Over at Shelfdust, Tom Shapira writes on Bucky O’Hare and Larry Hama’s thwarted dreams of funny animals, while Holly Raymond begins a tripartite examination of Scott Summers’ internal and external power struggles starting with New X-Men #142.
• For Polygon, Jessica Crets looks back on Rachel Pollack’s Doom Patrol run, and the character of Kate Godwin, aka Coagula, charting the history of trans women characters in Big Two comics, and speaking with Pollack about the reader response at the time.
• For AIPT, Rory Wilding writes on the missed potential of Tom King’s Batman/Catwoman series, and its closing of the overarching Bruce Wayne-focused narrative of the last 6 years, as split chronology leads to a fragmented finale.
• From the world of open-access academia, for Ulumuna: Journal of Islamic Studies, D.I. Ansusa Putra highlights Indonesian depictions of heroism in Islamic comics, analysing their presentation of Muhammad al-Fatih.
— Brian Box Brown (@boxbrown) July 19, 2022
A virtual roaring log fire… This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden reconvened to assess the Thick Lines of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm’s Batman: Mad Love, compare the toxic ex vibes of Bruce Wayne and the Joker, and determine which is the best and worst Harleen Quinzel look.
• Christopher Butcher hosted this week's episode of Mangasplaining, as the team discussed the generationally separated cultural behemoths of Kohei Horikoshi's My Hero Academia and Yukito Kishiro's Battle Angel Alita, and the difference between those stories and contemporary superhero fare from America's Big Two.
• David Harper welcomed Jordan Blum and Patton Oswalt to Off Panel this week, as they spoke about Minor Threats, putting the d-grade villains in the spotlight, the draw of comics, and why everyone loves a loser.
• Calvin Reid and Heidi MacDonald were joined by Drawn & Quarterly’s Peggy Burns for Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come, as they spoke about making books during the pandemic, selling books in the current climate, and the publisher’s history.
• A few pre-SDCC trips up in the Word Balloon, as John Siuntres spoke with Dan Panosian about Canary, Ryan Alexander-Tanner about Muhammad Ali: The Greatest Comics Biography of All Time, and Ron Marz about Almost American.
• A continuing SummerSlam from Cartoonist Kayfabe, as this week Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor took a little look-see at Ten Years of Love and Rockets, We3, She-Hulk, Prophet x Bloodstrike, Marvel Fanfare #18, and Ghost Rider #1.
• If you’re reading this at the time of publication then you’ll still be able to sign up for the Billy Ireland and Charles M. Schulz Museum’s virtual event celebrating the life and work of the Peanuts creator, taking place tomorrow at 2pm ET.
— Alex Tomlinson 🪶 (@hootalex) July 19, 2022
That’s it for this week, back soon with more, unless my laptop takes flight from the amount of hot air its fans are currently firing out.
— ouhie 🥀 (@ouiouhie) July 21, 2022