We’ve reached that part of the year where everybody’s mind drifts to thoughts of naught but Test cricket, as the Ashes takes place at a selection of venues across Austra–
Sorry, I’m being emphatically told that I do not “just gotta hand it to cricket,” but if I move aside this copy of 2021's Wisden Cricketers' Almanack then… Yes, there’s a selection of links here that I kept back in case rain stopped play, so maybe they’ll suffice?
— eli spencer (@goyagoat) December 8, 2021
The reasoning for the seasoning… This week’s news.
• Starting this week’s headlines with (hopefully) our final dip into one of the recurring currents of 2021 - exasperating uses of the blockchain - as Kickstarter announced it would be launching a new company to develop a crowdfunding platform utilising said digital public ledger, presumably to compete with distributed autonomous organizations, before migrating the back-end of their current platform over to this new one. Kickstarter was touting 2021 as the biggest year yet for crowdfunded comics projects back in July, having already hit $17 million dollars pledged at the calendar’s halfway mark, so, once again, the wheel of fortune hits the space labelled “creators to now make an individual moral decision based on the machinations of a tech company.”
• Checking in on the b-plot of 2021 in the comics industry - flaming hot distribution news - and Oni-Lion Forge has added Lunar to its list of preferred direct market distributors, joining previously exclusive DM dance partner Diamond, who are still experiencing transportation delays to their Vancouver drop-point. The Beat have a final tally of who’s with whom vis-à-vis distro for 2021, and no news is still simply no news when it comes to Penguin Random House/Simon & Schuster’s mega-distribution antitrust worries.
• Elsewhere, and duelling announcements arrived regarding new homes for former publishing partners, as IDW bids farewell to both The Library of American Comics, with Clover Press serving as its new ‘primary home’; and the lucrative line of Lucasfilm-associated comics properties, as Dark Horse prepares to publish Star Wars comics once more, apparently also to IDW’s loss.
• In other Dark Horse news, albeit a story that appears to be couched in a lot of qualifying language, and Bloomberg suggests that the publisher may be looking for a buyer. The Beat brings the relevant details out from behind the paywall, and fills in some of the recent investment context for the company’s current majority stakeholder - Vanguard Visionary Associates.
• Following the merging of Wattpad and Webtoon's "unmatched IP catalogues" into the gestalt entity known as Wattpad Webtoon Studios earlier this year, ViacomCBS have decided that they would like a slice of that content cake, please, and will henceforth be mining said catalogues for their next [big hit/cancelled after one season] transmedia property adaptation (delete as appropriate).
• Creators for Creators have opened the call for submissions to this year’s grant scheme, looking to support original comics work from new creators - applications close on March 31st 2022, with the recipient/s of the $30k award expected to be named by June 2022.
• Finally this week, George Perez announced via Facebook that he has received a terminal diagnosis of stage 3 pancreatic cancer, and has decided that “...after weighing all the variables and assessing just how much of my remaining days would be eaten up by doctor visits, treatments, hospital stays and dealing with the often stressful and frustrating bureaucracy of the medical system, I’ve opted to just let nature take its course and I will enjoy whatever time I have left as fully as possible with my beautiful wife of over 40 years, my family, friends and my fans.” Well-wishes and messages of support for Perez can be left on the social media post linked to above.
Reminder that George Perez is one of very few creators to exist in the Marvel and DC universes.
And of course he looks great in both, since he was drawn both times by...George Perez. pic.twitter.com/8sEDQGyDNK
— Chris Ryall (@chris_ryall) December 7, 2021
Lumps of coal all round… This week’s reviews.
• Brian Nicholson reviews the attractive storytelling of Brian Blomerth’s Mycelium Wassonii - “Plenty of comics introduce media into their visual vocabulary for one-off panels to create a disruptive effect, but Blomerth is working within a tradition that prizes readability, and his stylistic excursions are integrated seamlessly.”
• Leonard Pierce reviews the singular oddness of Pier Dola’s From Granada to Cordoba - “For every moment of gross sex jokes, predictable Freudian nonsense, and dopey body-horror gags, there’s a brief flash of something greater, as when he shares a strangely touching scene with his daughter, or when he envisions his cartoonishly evil bosses as savage animals.”
• Timothy Callahan reviews the clunky experimentation of Matt Madden’s Ex Libris - “One might argue that Madden is providing a pastiche of Bechdel’s own verbosity along with a visual style that’s similar to Fun Home. But the writing continues to be abysmal even when the narrator explores volumes in the library and Madden slips into styles akin to Jerry Moriarty, Osamu Tezuka, Al Feldstein, and Frank Miller. The problem with the writing of the narration and dialogue isn’t that Madden parodies these creators too obviously, but that he doesn’t seem to be interested in the writing at all.”
• Joe McCulloch reviews the NSFW delights of V.A.L.I.S. Ωrtiz’ R.I.P. Mou, and Bhanu Pratap’s Dear Mother & Other Stories - “Out of the opaque ink that is the sky of his world, a star forms, and out of it emerges an alien that declares a new form emerged from him, and his body catches fire as he beholds a new tendrilled self undulating before him. I think this is a universal experience. The solitude and ecstatic terror of understanding yourself as a desirable being; of anticipating the attention of others on your body, feeling that as a physical sensation. These private emotions, made manifest in stock genre transformations, are the erotic engine of this cartoonist's work.”
• David Brooke reviews the resonant connections of Marvel Comics’ Marvel’s Voices: Comunidades #1.
• Lia Williamson reviews the solid beginnings of Derek Landy, Angel Unzueta, et al’s Captain America/Iron Man #1.
• Nathan Simmons reviews the balanced humour of Mark Russell, Steve Lieber, et al’s One-Star Squadron #1.
• Rory Wilding reviews the shallow action of Rob Liefeld, Chad Bowers, et al’s Snake Eyes: Deadgame.
• Colin Moon reviews the cohesive narratives of Colin Lorimer et al’s Daisy #1.
• Madeleine Chan reviews the impressive poignancy of Ana Galvañ’s Afternoon at McBurgers, translated by Jamie Richards.
• Benjamin Novoa reviews the engrossing mystery of Shobo Coker and George Kambadais’ Buckhead #1.
• Alex Cline reviews the satisfying ending of Yuki Shiwasu’s Takane & Hana Volume 18.
Avery Kaplan reviews the engaging celebration of Marvel Comics’ Marvel’s Voices: Comunidades #1.
Andy Oliver reviews the eclectic energy of Lawrence Lindell and Breena Nuñez’ Laneha House #1-3; the inventive impact of Anne Carson and Rosanna Bruno’s adaptation of Euripides’ The Trojan Women; and the meandering escapism of John Wagner, Alan Grant, and Jose Ortiz' The Thirteenth Floor Volumes 2 & 3.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews the agreeable entertainment of Jeff Ralston’s Buzza Wuzza, the organic earnestness of Isaac Roller’s Transmissions From Dreamtown, and the heavy emotions of Matt MacFarland’s More Seasons of Gary.
From Cover to Cover
Scott Cederlund reviews the empathetic clarity of Mirion Malle’s This Is How I Disappear, translated by Aleshia Jensen and Bronwyn Haslam.
• Kobi Bordoley reviews the sardonic experimentation of Elliott Kalan, Andrea Mutti, et al’s Maniac of New York: The Bronx is Burning #1.
• Christopher Egan reviews the bloated cliche of Casey Gilly, Joe Jaro, et al’s Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer #1.
Etelka Lehoczky reviews a trio of graphic novels that reflect the teenage experience, including Sophia Glock's Passport, Huda Fahmy's Huda F Are You?, and Kel McDonald and Jose Pimienta's Stars, Hide Your Fire.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The imaginative fantasy of Jonathan Hickman and Mike Huddleston’s Decorum.
- The resonant self-discovery of Jessi Zabarsky’s Coming Back.
- The rapid-fire tropes of Mark Sable, Kristian Donaldson, et al’s The Dark.
- The menacing melancholy of Thomas Ott’s The Forest.
Alex Hoffman reviews the beautiful tensions of Lane Milburn’s Lure.
Women Write About Comics
• Kayleigh Hearn reviews the consistent thrills of Gerry Duggan, Javier Pina, Zé Carlos, et al’s X-Men #5.
• Stephanie Burt reviews the rapid psychomachia of Leah Williams, Lukas Werneck, David Messina, et al’s The Trial of Magneto #4.
• Bishop V. Navarro reviews the hard-boiled twists of Chip Zdarsky, Jacob Phillips, et al’s Newburn #1.
• Louis Skye reviews the meandering focus of Marvel Comics’ Star Wars: Life Day #1.
• Magen Cubed reviews the bombastic silliness of Dave Franchini, Jordi Tarragona, et al's Cinderella Versus Zombies.
I’m so enamored with Witch Hat Atelier pic.twitter.com/bzlBtAXICs
— Nicole Goux (@NicoleGoux) December 3, 2021
Twenty seconds to comply… This week’s interviews.
Craig Fischer interviews Tom Kaczynski about Uncivilized Books, Uncivilized Territories, and Beta-Testing the Apocalypse, along with critiquing TCJ’s website, what the deal is with the MCU, and direct market distribution - “In terms of using comics for philosophy, philosophers use visual metaphors in their language, and comics can make those metaphors more explicit and concrete. I wonder if there’s a way to push comics in that direction; not all comics, but some. There’s a place for superhero comics, there’s a place for YA fantasy, but I’m trying to make room for philosophy in the medium, though I’m not sure where I’ll end up with all this…”
• Chris Coplan transcribes a group interview with Joshua Williamson about taking the reins on Batman, referencing Gotham’s storied history, and the Caped Crusader’s passive-aggressive sense of humour.
• David Brooke talks to Micol Ostow, Michael Northrop, J. Torres, and Jamie L. Rotante about Archie’s Holiday Magic Special, timeless love triangles, and favourite holiday special comics; and to Michael Avon Oeming and Robert Venditti about World of Krypton, design cues, fictional geography and history, and slow burn project gestation.
Julie Beck speaks with Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Clay Mann, and Evan “Doc” Shaner about being friends and colleagues, how the comics sausage gets made, and social dynamics.
• Rob Salkowitz talks to Ken Kim, Webtoon’s North American CEO, about the platform’s growth and global hunger for IP, readership numbers on direct market publishers making the jump to vertical scroll, and market share.
• Brigid Alverson interviews Mike Malve about the return of Arizona’s Atomic Comics, business redemption arcs, being at the epicentre of the 90s comics boom and bust, and the contemporary collector bubble; and Axel Alonso about untapped comics markets across the Latinx community, AWA's Primos, and developing the high concept and marketing plan for a new Mexican superhero.
Mark Tweedale interviews Matt Smith about designing the covers for Hellboy: The Bones of Giants, referencing Hellboy history, and favourite Big Red story arcs.
Libby Morse chats with Jon Agee about Otto: A Palindrama, bringing palindromes to life using pictures, competing palindromists, and starting with the words before involving illustrations.
Joyce Lee speaks with Choi Gyu-seok about Hellbound’s jump from Webtoon to Netflix, the manner in which vertical-scroll digital comics are consumed, and the financial realities of publishing on the Webtoon platform.
Alex Dueben interviews Tina Horn about SfSx: Terms of Service, personifying the antagonism of sexual freedom, developing story-structure know-how, and using spreads to convey a title’s inherent eroticism; and David Hajdu about A Revolution in Three Acts, looking closer at both the problematic and the radical aspects of vaudeville history, and the social change reflected in media consumption of the past.
— Liana Finck (@lianafinck) December 8, 2021
Words worth a thousand pictures… This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Ryan Carey looks back on the messy perfection of Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo’s Enigma, and the genius of its existentialism - “I don’t pretend to have any particular special knowledge as to why the Manson mythos came to be a factor in the Enigma mythos, but it’s strangely apropos - after all, it was Manson who said that he “create[d] his own reality” on a daily basis and who believed that, while imprisoned, he could “send his mind” out into the world to enact his will in a manner not unlike the kid in the well who “created” all those frighteningly oddball evil-doers just mentioned, as well as The Enigma himself, before subsequently assuming the latter identity.”
• For NPR, Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor, Senior Vice President for Africa at the Human Health Education and Research Foundation, writes on the unsurprising, but still disappointing, racism published in headline and editoon form, following the discovery of the omicron variant of SARS-Cov-2.
• Over at Forbes, Olga V. Mack states the case for the defence on using comics and illustrations to supplement traditional contract drafting, in order to make the legalese more easy to parse for lay readers.
• Elizabeth Sandifer’s The Last War in Albion continues apace, as book three features chapters on explorations of trans identities through the lens of the early days of the internet via Usenet and the Nifty Erotic Stories Archive, the arrival of DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint and our second look back of the week at Enigma, and Shade the Changing Man’s jumping the shark to said imprint.
• For NeoText Review, Robert Smith writes in celebration of the comics of Evan Dorkin, and how their rapid-fire approach to vitriolic comedy works best when the target audience is placed squarely in the firing line; Chloe Maveal decks the halls for Robert Loren Fleming, Keith Giffen, et al’s Ambush Bug Stocking Stuffer #1, and its festive critique on the 80s superhero comic industry; and Graeme McMillan calls ‘humbug’ on naysayers to Teen Titans #13’s co-opting of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
• Shelfdust’s Field Theory reaches the ultimate conclusion of all orange cat-focused features, as the artifice of comics’ construction collapses under scrutiny, causing Sean Dillon to shout “Garfield!”; and Chase Magnett makes sure that dog-lovers are not left wanting, considering how Hawkeye’s currently en vogue ‘Pizza Dog’ eschews superhero comics’ typical manner of speciesist anthropomorphising of man’s best friend.
• For Women Write About Comics, Laura Grafton writes on Andrew MacLean’s ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times, and the tragedy injected into its hero’s journey by the visual framing it employs, creating layered juxtapositions for the reader.
• Over at Solrad, Patrick Allaby shares the process of developing and performing hand-drawn slideshows, the intersection of these with animation, and adapting one of these, The Water Lover, for the static page.
• Continuing the round-up of this year’s round-ups of the best comics of the year, trying our best not to fall off the whirling carousel, and this week we’ve got two competing entries from The Guardian, and lists running unopposed from IGN, Library Journal, Looper, Publisher’s Weekly, Polygon, and Variety.
• 1995. A fancy new Windows™ OS is released. Wolverine goes back to basics.
• Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s editorial beat, over at The Daily Cartoonist, as omicron is an unwelcome holiday guest, saber rattling between the US and Russia continues apace, and not all doctors are created equal.
• On the open-access academia front, for The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, Alessandro Scanu writes on the construction of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, and how it represents the passage of time without using words.
LOSING MY EDGE as sung by Wilson Fisk pic.twitter.com/cNAKeHbJkA
— Dan Schkade (@DanSchkade) December 4, 2021
Looped video of a roaring fireplace… This week’s audio/visual delights.
• Starting this week’s selection with the inaugural Power Comics Live Hall of Fame Ceremony closing out this year’s awards season, hosted by Evan Husney, Benjamin Marra, and Gabe Dikel, joined by a cavalcade of glamorous guests from across the galaxy - inductees this year (spoilers ahead) include Tony Lorenz, André Poliquin, Steve McArdle, with a lifetime achievement award for Bill W. Miller.
• House to Astonish returned after a quiet few weeks in comicsdom, with Al Kennedy and Paul O’Brien catching up with the various goings on from the holiday season so far, before a live crossover event with SILENCE! made it to the airwaves from this year’s Thought Bubble festival bringing together an unsuspecting group of guests to be subjected to shenanigans.
• Speaking of Thought Bubble, festival director Tula Lotay was the first of two guests on Off Panel this week, joining David Harper live from ECCC to discuss Barnstormers, along with a traditionally recorded episode with Victoria Grace Elliott speaking about Yummy: A History of Desserts.
• Some classic Cartoonist Kayfabing this week, as Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg took a look at Jeffrey Brown’s bootleg comic Wolverine: Dying Time, the return of Akira’s storyboards, more Gaiman vs. McFarlane litigation, Alex Toth X Terry Austin, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Panic Fables, and a career-spanning interview with Sergio Aragonés, before Piskor himself was interviewed by Ariell Johnson about Red Room: The Antisocial Network over at Fantagraphics’ YouTube channel.
• A few trips up in the Word Balloon, as John Siuntres was joined by Jeff Parker to discuss comics’ enduring love of the super-spy, Tom King for a Human Target catch-up, and Mark Russell to chat about My Bad and One Star Squadron.
• 2000 AD’s Thrill Cast returned, and this week MOLCH-R was speaking with Lee Carter about Angelic, history with the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, freelance life in the north of England, and the perils of illustrating large chins.
• Deb Aoki hosted this week’s edition of Mangasplaining, as the team formed a shield wall and took on Makoto Yukimura’s Vinland Saga Volume 1, plus various media-related tangents, and a celebration of the series’ artwork.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come had some more tales of AnimeNYC this week, plus the return of SDCC, and the various movings and shakings of comics publishers in the back-end of 2021, as print publishers make forays into digital and vice versa.
• Finally this week, Gil Roth welcomed Sophia Glock to The Virtual Memories Show to discuss Passport, and the decision to write a memoir about growing up around her CIA operative parents for a YA audience.
Messing around / Making a mess pic.twitter.com/iDKgxZOfKq
— Patrick Kyle (@_patrickkyle) December 8, 2021
That’s it for this week, back soon with more, and the sound of leather on willow &c &c.
New article out: Ichiro and Manga, in Bubbles no. 12, a special issue dedicated to baseball and comics. It also contains an article about Takahashi Rumiko and the Tigers by @rumicworld1. Buy together with a copy of the new Inoue Kazuo's Bat Kid: https://t.co/etj2eWKBsL pic.twitter.com/VMh79WSDrY
— Ryan Holmberg (@mangaberg) December 9, 2021