Trouble Every Day – This Week’s Links

I’m writing this with a dog giving me increasingly sad eyes as my attention remains focused on This Week’s Links, a selection of which can be found below, rather than him, so I shall keep this brief. Let’s start clicking, we’re losing light.

Where to even begin… This week’s news.

• Starting the week with a story that broke late last week, as outlets picked up on notices of copyright termination for various Marvel characters having been filed by lawyer Marc Toberoff on behalf of Larry Lieber, and the estates of Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Gene Colan, and Don Rico. As with prior cases on this front boil down to whether the characters in question were created under work-for-hire agreements, and Marvel subsequently filed countersuits asserting that they were indeed, in order to retain copyright control over Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Iron Man, and Thor, amongst others.

• Elsewhere in the world of legal proceedings involving the House of Mouse, Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter has been accused of leading a scheme to monetise veterans’ health records, breaking federal law along the way, and I am so shocked that I trip on the stairs, causing the three-tier cake that I am carrying, emblazoned with the words “Billionaires Are Inherently Unethical” in garish orange icing, to fall to the floor.

• Meanwhile, also in the world of corporate character control, the San Diego Comic Convention announced that Wonder Woman will be 2021’s inductee into the Comic-Con Museum Hall of Fame, presumably without legal ramifications, but only time will tell.

• In “I’m not calling you a liar, but I can’t think of a way to finish that sentence” news, London’s The Telegraph is suspending anti-vaccine political cartoonist Bob Moran over social media posts threatening a palliative care doctor, after taking exception to posts by said medical professional over wearing a mask on public transport; and anti-vaccine political cartoonist Ben Garrison has told Gizmodo that he has contracted COVID-19, and will be ignoring the CDC’s current advice for those in similar positions.

• As ongoing supply line chaos hits various aspects of everyday life (writing this from a thoroughly gasoline-deficient UK at the moment), ICv2 have brief pieces on Marvel extending final order cutoff lead times, and retailers chartering their own cargo ships, in a valiant/vain [delete as appropriate] attempt to circumvent backlogs at ports, lack of shipping containers, lack of transport drivers, etc, etc. It is now 85 days until Christmas.

• Koyama Provides announced the latest recipient of their grant program, awarding $1,000 to Whit Taylor, which “will help support me as I plan out my next graphic novel, a memoir/nonfiction comic, which will likely be in the style of my minicomic, Montana Diary”; and Bonfire Comics have received funding from the Greater Columbus Arts Council to reprint the anthology Stratos.

• In memoriam, remembering those from the comics world who have passed away:

- Multiversity Comics has an obituary for Jeffrey Huet, inker for various Marvel and DC projects, who passed away after contracting COVID-19 - a fundraiser to cover associated medical costs can also be found at the link above. 

- The Washington Post has an obituary for activist and editor Russ Kick, who passed away last month, aged 52 - publisher Seven Stories Press has a remembrance of Kick, including his anthologist work on the Graphic Canon series of books.

- News broke late last week that Takao Saito, creator of Golgo 13, has died, aged 84, from pancreatic cancer - Anime News Network also shared the announcement from Shogakukan, publisher of the Guinness World Record holding Golgo 13, that the series will continue posthumously, per  Saito’s wishes.

We’re going to need a bigger book… This week’s reviews.


• Leonard Pierce reviews the pleasurable ambition of Cherian George and Sonny Liew’s Red Lines: Political Cartoons and the Struggle Against Censorship - “The textbook style of Red Lines is inquisitive rather than polemical, epistemological rather than ontological, and self-questioning rather than self-asserting. It is not a work that is attempting to definitively answer questions about a subject, but to make sure those questions are asked. Structurally, it is interesting if not especially engaging; it walks you through its layout (its construction, its treatments of different kinds of political cartooning and different examples of censorship) and weaves its specific examples in deftly.”

• Timothy Callahan reviews the masterful directness of Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Jacob Phillips’ Destroy All Monsters: A Reckless Book - “There’s no extra layer of narrative artifice here. This isn’t the Archie comics gang embroiled in murder and mystery like we saw in Criminal: Last of the Innocent. It isn’t Lovecraftian weirdness with a noir twist like Fatale. It’s exactly what you think it will be based on the cover imagery – violence, tragedy, and maybe some redemption.”



• Benjamin Novoa reviews the enjoyable dynamics of Joshua Williamson, Howard Porter, et al’s Deathstroke Inc. #1.

• Colin Moon reviews the clunky setup of Steve Orlando, Cian Tormey, et al’s The Darkhold Alpha #1.

• David Brooke reviews the unfocused mayhem of Phillip K. Johnson, Manuel Garcia, et al’s Extreme Carnage: Omega #1.

• Justin Harrison reviews the terrific action of Buronson and Tetsuo Hara’s Fist of the North Star Volume 2.

• Reg Cruickshank reviews the spooky fascinations of Dan Watters and Beth McGuire-Smith’s Transformers: Halloween Special.

• Dan Spinelli reviews the rushed endings  of Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Schiti, et al’s Inferno #1.

• Rory Wilding reviews the shambling undead of Tsukasa Saimura and Kozo Takahashi’s Crueler Than Dead, Volume 1.

• Alex Cline reviews the cynical charms of Inio Asano’s Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction, Voume 10.


The Beat

Joe Grunenwald reviews the relatable intrigue of Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Schiti, et al’s Inferno #1.


Broken Frontie

• Jenny Robins reviews the resonant metaphor of Joe Callanan’s Burrow, and the playful cynicism of Jon Aye’s The Blame #1.

• Andy Oliver has reviews of:

- The experimental manipulations of Mereida’s Throwing Pennies.

- The anarchic rhythm of Jade King’s Tina & Britney & The Visitor Part 1.

- The claustrophobic devastation of Shiqian Pan’s Waiting Room.

- The complementary compilation of Stephen Morton’s Conniptions.

- The committed fantasy of Curtly Ferguson and C.H. Barnett’s Akio, Volume 1: Suigin Valley.


Four Color Apocalypse

Ryan C reviews the enthralling delirium of John Trubee’s Please, God – Help Me Be Normal!, the meticulous accessibility of Jim Blanchard’s Primitiva, and the vibrant nobility of Corinne Halbert’s Acid Nun #2.


Kirkus Reviews

Have starred capsule reviews of:

- The Skillful vibrancy of Yuval Noah Harari and David Casanave’s Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 2: The Pillars of Civilization.

- The winning suspense of Nathan Page and Drew Shannon’s The Montague Twins: The Devil’s Music


Multiversity Comics

• Corrina Lawson reviews the clever reinforcement of E. Lockhart, Manuel Preitano, et al’s Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero.

• Kobi Bordoley reviews the exciting history of Francesco Artibani and Werther Dell’Edera’s He Who Fights With Monsters #1.

• Alexander Jones reviews the foreboding dread of Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Schiti, et al’s Inferno #1.

• John Schaidler reviews the dull flatness of Robert Love et al's Children of the Plague #1.



• Ryan Carey reviews the vainglorious intrigues of Joe Casey and Benjamin Marra’s Jesusfreak.

• André Habet reviews the enviable snippets of Kawakatsu Tokushige’s Telephone, Sleep, Music from Glacier Bay Books’ Glaeolia 2.

• Tom Shapira reviews the shallow brutality of Alexis Ziritt, Dave Baker, and Robert Negrete’s Night Hunters.


Women Write About Comics

• Wendy Browne reviews the unsatisfying dramatics of Si Spurrier, Bob Quinn, et al’s The Onslaught Revelation #1; and the uneven action of Joe Brusha, Dave Franchini, Pat Shand, Ralph Tedesco, Rodrigo Xavier, et al’s Van Helsing: Invisible Woman.

• Lisa Fernandes reviews the strange frustrations of Marvel Comics’ Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1; the gory wit of Marvel Comics’ Deadpool: Black, White And Blood #1; and the gawking hagiography of Franckie Alarcon's The Secrets of Chocolate: A Gourmand’s Trip Through A Top Chef’s Atelier.

Increasingly frantic… This week’s interviews.


RJ Casey interviews Lunar Distribution’s Christina Merkler, Floating World Comics’ Jason Leivian, Uncivilized Books’ Tom Kaczynski, and Silver Sprocket’s Avi Ehrlich about the current state of comics retail and distribution - “MERKLER: It got to a point where I felt, personally, that Diamond was legitimately taking on anyone who was willing to publish a book. I’m not saying that in a negative way, but once you have that much, then the exposure is so much smaller for each of those publishers. We don’t want to be that kind of distributor.”



• Chris Coplan speaks with Si Spurrier about T.H.E. R.U.S.H., the realities of the Yukon gold rush, the joys of research, and the language of world-building.

• David Brooke talks to Eliot Rahal about Hotel Diablo, horror anthology classics, story placements, and jukebox musicals; and Stephen Byrne about Joy Operations, science fiction world-building, influence-soups, and flattening the layers.


The Beat

• Joe Grunenwald presents a two-part interview with Joshua Williamson discussing Infinite Frontier and Justice League Incarnate, team members and taking players off the board, and bringing back Batman’s oval.

• Ricardo Serrano Denis talks to Koren Shadmi about Lugosi: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Dracula, the realities of Hollywood rejections, writing biographies for comics, and avoiding Ed Wood.

• Avery Kaplan speaks with Dan Parent about the Kevin Keller Celebration! Kickstarter, positive sales due to negative voices, hypothetical horrors, and crowdfunding add-ons; and with Jasmine Walls and Dozerdraws about The Last Session, tabletop games history, good snacks/bad snacks, and the real magic of storytelling.


Broken Frontier

Andy Oliver talks to Ed Firth about Horny & High, expressing intense emotions via the comics form, the dangers of chemsex, and avoiding demonisation.


Multiversity Comics

• Brian Salvatore continues a look back at DC’s New 52, interviewing John Layman about Detective Comics, going from pitch to plotline, editorial mandates, and working in a team on Batman Eternal.

• Kyle Welch talks to Aubrey Sitterson and Fico Ossio about No One Left To Fight II, avoiding punny titles, cliffhangers and building on prior momentum, sagas and fightverses, and making sure readers care about those throwing the punches.


NBCU Academy

Edward A. Rueda speaks with Bianca Xunise and Steenz about the stress of syndicated comic strips, autobiographical influences for fictional characters, and lessons to teach to others on cartooning.



David Harper talks to Álvaro Martinez Bueno about The Nice House on the Lake, the realities of getting work-for-hire with publishers, evolving collaborations, and designing large casts of characters.



Mike Avila speaks with John Leguizamo and Todd McFarlane about PhenomX, thoughts on cultural sidelining in storytelling, realities of Spawn prosthetics, and the art of the pitch.


Women Write About Comics

• Wendy Browne interviews Molly Naylor and Lizzy Stewart about Lights, Planets, People!, instinctive storytelling decisions, adapting a stage play to comics, and the pains of lettering.

• Paige Lyman talks to Kami Garcia about Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven, collaborative processes, regular looking superpowered folks, and romances built on friendship.

Words galore… This week’s features and longreads.

• Here at TCJ, Tom Shapira writes on the dignified characters of Sophie Campbell’s comics work, looking back over a varied career thus far, focused through the lens of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - “In Campbell’s TMNT, things are never easy. The new community, composed of many people who didn’t ask to be like this, is fighting over everything - definitions, resources, leadership. People had their whole lives turned upside down in a moment, and are now trying to adapt.”

• For The Beat, Heidi MacDonald covers both days of Diamond’s 2021 Retailer Summit, during a year of strong industry growth, and positive messages from publishers still utilising Diamond for their distribution needs.

• However, also at The Beat, continuing The Indirect Market, Brandon Schatz and Danica LeBlanc present evidence that the growth in the periodicals trade is less than healthy, with numbers inflated by an increasing propensity towards variant covers stacking up alongside each new title that makes it to stores.

• On the other side of the collectors market spectrum, asking “qui custodit signa?”, Matthew Erskine unpacks the reasons why people may choose to buy into the market of Non-Fungible Tokens, and the logical fallacies driving this decision.

• Just to check in with NFTs in the comics space in general - the market crashed four months ago, DC, Dynamite, and other publishers think now is the perfect time to get involved, but only they may dance, and the technology underpinning it is still monstrous. Lovely stuff.

• For NeoText, Chloe Maveal writes on the family tree of comics leading to one Rafael Grampá, and how any artistic evolution and iteration is inevitably sparked first by innovation.

• Shelfdust’s Field Theory series continues, as Steve Morris appreciates Jim Davis’ playing with the comic strip form to exculpate a certain orange cat’s actions; and Anna F. Peppard examines the imperfect love story at the heart of World’s Finest #289, mirroring that at the heart of Batman and Superman’s relationship, and those of superheroes in general.

• Elizabeth Sandifer’s The Last War in Albion continues, as Grant Morrison’s early broadsides in Drivel lay the groundwork for creation of a persona backed up by increasingly high profile writing gigs, much like Pat Mills’ Third World War laid the groundwork for a revitalising of the British comics scene.

• Mike Peterson rounds up the editorial beat for The Daily Cartoonist, as the quiet parts were bellowed, political shadows loomed large, bold claims lacked in evidence, not all missing persons were created equal, and economies tended towards default.

• On the open-access academia front, Ben Proven-Bessel, Zilong Zhao, and Lydia Chen cut out the middle-man and attempt to design an adversarial network to create comic strips from text-prompts, conjuring up, er, original Dilbert panels.

Blow Out… This week’s audio/visual delights.

• Kicking off this week’s selection with virtual events you can attend over the next two weeks, as we head into Fall’s comics festival crunch season, with digital #content coming from Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (this weekend), the ShortBox Comics Fair (all of this month), the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists’ 2021  Zoom Fest (next weekend), the National Cartoonists’ Society NCSFest (weekend after next), and VanCAF’s BD à BC: French Comics Come West (the week after next). So find a suitably large diary and pop those in it.

• Speaking of VanCAF, Executive Director, and erstwhile host of Inkstuds, Robin McConnell has returned to the land of podcasting to interview Andrew Aydin about comics work, political work, and the ways those can intersect.

• Comic Books, and specifically Batman-focused comic books, Are Burning In Hell once more, as the dynamic duo of Tucker Stone and Matt Seneca drill into Doug Moench, Paul Gulacy, and Terry Austin’s Batman: Prey, and unpack the modern Caped Crusader’s greatest foe - Freudian psychoanalysis.

• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden took one last look at the Thick Lines of Kazuo Umezu’s The Drifting Classroom, including improvised surgery, cannibal children, subway water, and the correct manner in which to eat a pasta salad.

• Beginning an occasional series of podcasts on the topic of comicked books, Jeet Heer covers the issue of Steve Ditko’s legacy in superhero comics, and the influence of Ayn Rand’s philosophies on Ditko's views on property rights.

• A classic Cartoonist Kayfabe week this week, as a rotating selection of  Jim Rugg, Tom Scioli, and Ed Piskor took a look at Frank Miller et al’s Tales to Offend, volumes 1 and 2 of Eternity Comics’ The Uncensored Mouse, and R Crumb’s Waiting for Food series, before sitting down for a career-spanning chat with Frank Quitely.

• A busy couple of weeks from Comix Experience’s YouTube channel, more on that here at TCJ soon, as Brian Hibbs spoke with Terry Moore about Strangers in Paradise, Rashad Doucet and Jason Reeves about Pax Samson, and second time’s the charm for a chat with Dave McKean about Raptor.

• Christopher Butcher hosts this week’s episode of Mangasplaining, as the crew takes a look at Panpanya’s doujinshi An Invitation from a Crab, before interviewing the comic’s translator Ko Ransom, as well as discussing workloads in the manga industry.

• David Harper welcomed Christina Merkler to discuss Discount Comic Book Service and Lunar Distribution’s plans in the Direct Market (more on that above, TCJ fans!), and the current issues facing comics distro and the supply chain.

• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come covered this season’s latest episode Hey, What’s Going On With The Direct Market?, as Calvin Reid, Heidi MacDonald, and Kate Fitzsimons discussed IDW’s move to Penguin Random House for their comics distribution needs, and Archie Comics goes digital… again!

Back soon with more, as I’m sure you expect,  but for now it is time to walk in the outdoors, and consider the links of nature… Trees?