This week, I'm fairly sure, I once again hit the point of completely filling my available bookshelves to capacity, which means I now make the choice of whether to go back to using armrests and desk space to house new acquisitions, or break bad and just start shoving books in lengthwise to fill vertical space available on each shelf.
Divesting myself of some of the overflow was never an option, and I never really stood a chance, it was simply a matter of time, inevitable time.
As I ponder this decision, you can ponder this week's links.
Out with the olds... This week’s news.
• 2020’s submissions to the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics are now officially open. Running through September 1st, the selection panel has welcomed new members Colleen Doran and Marv Wolfman to their ranks for this year’s judging duties, with a virtual award event to come later in the year.
• A statement has been issued this week regarding Cody Pickrodt’s lawsuit against Whitney Taylor, Hazel Newlevant and Morgan Pielli, the legal action having been dropped, as a settlement was reached out of court, with eight former defendants of the suit having been dismissed last year.
• Owners of the Franklin County local paper The Missourian, Susan Miller Warden and Jeanne Miller Wood, resigned this week in protest of their father’s decision (for which he subsequently apologized, in a way) to publish a racist editorial cartoon by Tom Stiglich in a recent edition - The Daily Cartoonist has the story.
• Dennis Publishing, a UK-based magazine company that counts long-running British comic Viz amongst its titles has announced they will be implementing a large number of redundancies in response to the impact of COVID-19 on the publishing industry, as advertising and sales revenue crash market-wide.
• ShortBox’s next round of mini-grants are now open to applications, with 5 awards of £100 to be issued to independent cartoonists in need - the deadline for submission to this round is June 20th, and those who’ve applied previously and been unsuccessful will automatically be entered into this round of applications.
• Japan’s parliament have enacted revisions to the country’s existing copyright law, formalizing a bill passed in March that allows for prosecution of those downloading pirated manga, effective from January 1st 2021, and the new laws will also allow for the banning of sites that collate links to pirated material, which give honest linkbloggers like yours truly a bad name.
• While DC makes some “interesting” moves in the direct market, more on that below, Marvel Comics have announced that their Free Comic Book Day titles will be released in July, bypassing Diamond Distribution Ltd’s proposed plans for a rescheduled FCBD in the fall, and collapsing the quantum waveform by confirming that they do indeed exist.
• MAD Magazine’s Al Jaffee has retired at the age of 99, having worked in comics since 1942, a feat which earned him a Guinness World Record in 2016, with the next edition of MAD featuring Jaffee’s final iconic ‘Fold-In’ illustration, and tributes from The Usual Gang of Idiots. Have a nice retirement, Al!
• The New York Times has an obituary for Murray Olderman, sports journalist and cartoonist, who passed away this week, aged 98 - his career covering sports in both pictures and words lasted more than 60 years - from the NYT piece, in his own words, an excerpt from his memoir "I could draw a line no straighter than the next guy, I just liked the looks of a cartoon on a sports page. And I was willing to put in the time to try to learn the art."
A cloudy day in Metropolis... Direct Market Upheaval
• Continuing their trend of announcing big news stories on a Friday afternoon, DC Comics last week made public their decision to end their business partnership with Diamond Distribution Ltd completely, instead opting for their new multi-distributor model with Penguin Random House, Lunar Distribution, and UCS Comics Distribution.
• To say that the North American comics retail community responded negatively to this would be an understatement, as owners of stores, many of which are still in the process of actively responding to COVID-19 imposed restrictions, shared their opinions on the move on various social media.
• Diamond’s response to DC’s move gave an insight into the negotiations that had been ongoing (and subsequently collapsed), and while the PR blitz from their side is a positive (albeit mildly rebuking) one, as would be expected, questions continue to float regarding their liquidity.
• As Diamond’s functional monopoly wobbles, positive and negative spin is appearing, but DC’s other recent moves of announcing their exclusive digital product catalogue, implementation of cost-saving measures within the organization, and shifting direct market releases to Tuesdays (matching that of its book channel releases) all suggests a hunkering down to streamline and unify operations. Whether this will succeed in the long-run, and the repercussions it will have for bricks and mortar comic stores, remains to be seen. Watch this space, Bat-fans.
We must constantly look at things in a different way... This week’s reviews.
• Amy Chalmers reviews the disjointed whimsy of Louka Butzbach’s Whistle.
• Brian Nicholson reviews the numinous dreams of Alex Degen’s The Marchenoir Library.
• Robert Kirby reviews the caring craft of the Australia-focused š! Baltic Comics Magazine #37, edited by David Schilter and Sanita Muižniece, with guest editor Michael Fikaris.
• David Brooke reviews the Joker 80th Anniversary issue, celebrating the birthday of the Batman’s smiliest of villains.
• Frankie Sciulla reviews Alex Sanchez and Julie Maroh’s latest entry to DC Comics’ young adult graphic novel line, You Brought Me The Ocean.
• Rory Wilding reviews the return of Stan Sakai’s leporine hero, Usagi Yojimbo: Bunraku and Other Stories.
• Alex Curtis reviews the pulpy metafiction of Matt Fraction and Terry and Rachel Dodson’s Adventureman #1.
• Ronnie Gorham reviews the unforgettable moments of David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene's Bitter Root #8.
• Morgana Santilli reviews the romantic realism of Tamifull’s How Do We Relationship?, translated by Abby Lerkhe.
• John Seven reviews the formal experimentation of Scott Chantler’s graphic biography, Bix.
Tom Murphy reviews the cultural energy of Paul B. Rainey’s graphic adaptation of Starman: Freddie Burretti, The Man Who Sewed the World.
Four Color Apocalypse
It’s a bumper review week for Ryan C, who has reviews of:
- The grotesque punchiness of Andrew Alexander’s Twenty One Fifty Fiverr;
- The skin-crawling horror of Harry Nordlinger’s Softer Than Sunshine;
- The domestic absurdities of Stella Murphy’s Hometime;
- The curious sub-minimalism of Sean Christensen’s Performance Video;
- A Mandy Ord double bill with the slapstick horror of Galapagos, and the distinct fluidity of Kyoto Pants Down.
• Christopher Chiu Tabet reviews the inconsequential catharsis of Greg Pak, Valeria Favoccia, et al’s Stranger Things: Zombie Boys.
• Elias Rosner looks back at Denny O’Neil, Denys Cowan, et al’s classic opening arc of The Question #1-4.
• Jonathan O'Neal revisits the literary aspirations of Grant Morrison, Klaus Janson, et al's Batman: Gothic.
The New York Times
Ed Park reviews a pair of comics ‘That Are Down and Out and Happy That Way’, looking at Noah van Sciver’s The Complete Works of Fante Bukowski, and Gabrielle Bell’s Inappropriate.
Have capsule reviews this week of:
- The wide-ranging stories of the Broken Frontier Anthology, edited by Frederik Hautain and Tyler Chin-Tanner.
- The unusual charm of Zidrou and Arno Monin's The Adoption, translated by Jeremy Melloul.
- The raw subversion of Lisa Hanawalt's I Want You.
- The wordless allegory of Stanley Donwood's Bad Island.
Ryan Carey reviews the innovative history of Tian Veasna’s Year of the Rabbit.
Women Write About Comics
• Louis Skye reviews the evocative interpretations of Julian Peters’ Poems to See by: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry.
• Emily Lauer reviews the simple beauty of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Quarantine, edited by Melanie Gillman.
• Nola Pfau reviews Seth’s Clyde Fans.
• Masha Zhdanova reviews the plausible fantasy of Ari North's Always Human.
Would you please rephrase the question... This week’s interviews.
Nicholas Burman brings us a new installment of ‘Retail Therapy’ talking to Nico Rodríguez, of Barcelona's Fatbottom comic store, as translated by Isabel Palomar, about the history of the shop, sourcing new self-published material for the shelves, and how they’ve been faring during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chris Coplan talks to Maria Llovet about her work with Brian Azzarello on Faithless II, artistic intuition, and the abstract influences on storytelling.
• Zack Quaintance talks to Scott Snyder and Jock about their collaboration on a new story for The Joker 80th Anniversary one-shot, and their work with the character in general.
• Nancy Powell interviews Svetlana Chmakova about her new young reader series The Weirn Books, its place in her wider work, and the impact of her teenage discovery of manga on her work.
• Heidi MacDonald catches up with Valiant Entertainment’s Fred Pierce and Matthew Klein about their upcoming publication schedule in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Andy Oliver talks to the editors and creators involved in the upcoming anthology Insider Art anthology about what to expect from the book, and the importance of supporting female and non-binary comic book retailers during COVID-19 shutdowns.
Allen Thomas interviews Naseed Gifted about his writing on PB Soldier, black representation (or lack thereof) in STEM fields, and the increasing inclusion of the arts to form STE(A)M, including the work that’s needed in the area.
Heavy Metal’s Matthew Medney and David Erwin bring everyone up to speed on the publisher’s new VIRUS imprint, where the company is at after some fairly sizeable personnel changes, and the all important issue of distribution.
Kate Kosturski talks to Tommy Jenkins and Kati Lacker about their work on Drawing the Vote, how their collaboration came about, and the issue of elections during a pandemic.
New York Times
Raina Telgemeier waxes lyrical about the reading she's getting done in lockdown, and offers up recommendations of titles and authors to check out, including shout-outs for Barefoot Gen, Yotsuba! and the work of Lynda Barry, as well as book organization tips.
CK Stewart interviews Remy Boydell about the anthropomorphic coming-of-age apocalypse of 920London.
• Daniel Elkin and Sarah Wray start a new series on the realities of working with comic publishers, and talk to Katriona Chapman about clients, contracts, agents, friend networks, and power dynamics.
• Kristina Stipetic gives an insight into the Chinese comics scene, and interviews Zhao Chunlin about her background studying coloring, pursuing a Western style of comics-making, the realities of working for Chinese companies, and sourcing work online.
Women Write About Comics
Wendy Browne talks to Alex de Campi about her writing on upcoming all-ages comic Full Tilt Boogie, the long process of bringing characters to life, and switching gears from mature reader titles.
Skip to the end... This week’s features and long-reads.
• Here at TCJ, Bob Levin leads us on a journey through the history of Ivana Armanini, and the work of Komikaze, leading up to the anthology’s 18th edition receiving the 2020 Alternative Comics Award from the Angoulême Festival - picture Meisel giving a nod in appreciation of a life well-lived, like Michael Caine at the end of The Dark Knight Rises.
• Also for TCJ, RC Harvey looks back at the life and work of Henry Boltinoff, a prolific cartoonist who passed away in 2001 - here, Harvey recounts meeting Boltinoff in 1998, as Boltinoff recalls his changing working process, and a life measured in ink on the page.
• Inks, The Journal of the Comics Studies Society, is currently free to read, thanks to Ohio State Press lowering publishing restrictions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic; the latest issue, from spring 2020, is available here, so sew some leather elbow patches on your tweed jacket and get to reading.
• Gale Galligan has put together a work-in-progress build of a directory of resources for creators seeking mentorships from established cartoonists, or just looking to find information on the comics medium - check it out here - while #comicspaidme makes for some sobering reading on the realities of making a living from comics work.
• Brandon Schatz and Danica LeBlanc continue their pandemic journals for The Beat, and this week the topic is, well, what else - the direct market meltdown.
• As superhero comic iconography continues to show up on both sides of recent protests against police brutality, the question of how to stop police and commentators from co-opting the Punisher logo to their cause evolves into “is there a way for it to be used for good?” Hmmm.
• Continuing comics’ coverage of Black Lives Matter, George Carmona III has a list of comics depicting the racism of the police, from across the genres, SYFY Wire brings together a couple of lists of titles by black creators to read and support, and Publisher’s Weekly has a reading list of antiracist graphic novels, so plenty of prompts around for those wondering where to start.
• Also at Publisher’s Weekly, Heidi MacDonald has an in-depth look at how libraries are evolving to support graphic novels during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the movement to embrace digital lending.
• Sara Century looks back at queer comix history during pride month, focusing this week on the work of Mary Wings, George Gene Gustines looks at current and upcoming LGBTQ* titles that will be arriving soon.
• As daily cartoon strips struggle with reflecting the current state of affairs in their recent editions, Josh Fruhlinger talks to creators about the difficulties caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
• Mike Avila looks back at the work of Ross Andru, co-creator of the Punisher and the Metal Men, and argues for his place in the pantheon of great Spider-Man artists. Thwip!
• I probably shouldn’t have as soft a spot as I do for Marvel vs DC Comics, and the resulting Amalgam Age titles, but I most definitely do, and so I’m always up for more looking back on those publishing oddities, which seem like an increasingly impossible anomaly in the current publishing climate.
• Shelfdust’s ‘Year in the Big City’ hits issue 23 of Astro City, as Charlotte Finn weighs up where on the silliness spectrum a gorilla places a comic, meanwhile David Brothers unpacks the unstoppable momentum of Frankenstein #2’s journey of wrath, and Wendy Browne kicks off a new series looking at the history of black comics creators and characters through the decades with a deep-dive into Larry Fuller’s 1970 comic, Ebon #1.
Comic book characters never grow old... This week's comics.
• Following his recent Webby award win, Gary Larson has released some more new finds from The Far Side sketchbook vaults - with a plethora of early drafts and doodles to read in lieu of new material.
• The Nib has three longer form comics this week, as Ezra Claytan Daniels looks to the future of police defunding; Anayansi Diaz-Cortes, Sarah Mirk, and Amanda Pike bring us Sarah Alli-Brown’s story, as students across the world live through a hiatus on lessons; and Malaka Gharib looks at how protestors are keeping safe (or not) from COVID-19.
• For The New York Times, Eleanor Davis and Eric Kaplan have a longform piece on the mindfulness of grief, through the lens of the loss of a pet, which is a topic I can empathize strongly with.
• There's a big ol' comix lootcrate up for grabs in a raffle supporting the National Bail Fund - entries run until Sunday, and it's $5 entry - bargain!
• Valiant Comics are giving away free digital copies of a bunch of first volumes of their titles, asking for donations to the National Lawyers Guild in return - there's an ongoing thread of the comics you can get here.
• Solrad Presents... adds another new title to its list as they serialize Audra Stang's Star Valley, starting here.
And I don't want to miss a thing... This week’s recommended watching.
• If you’re reading this on the day of publication, then there’s still time to sign up for Ebony Flowers’ comics journal workshop, taking place virtually this evening, attendance on which costs a $1 donation to the Chicago Anti-Eviction Relief Fund.
• If you'd like another chance to join in with some communal zine-making via digital workshop, then Sarah Mirk is also hosting a session on Saturday, with admission thru donation to a racial justice group of your choosing.
• Drawn and Quarterly hosted another At Home instagram takeover this week, as Weng Pixin celebrated the publication of her new book Sweet Time with an audience Q&A and gave viewers a virtual tour of her studio space.
• Cartoonist Kayfabe welcomed David Choe to the show for an interview this week, preceded by a look back at his comics work, and Rugg and Piskor also had some quick dives into Chester Brown’s Yummy Fur, the black and white delights of Essential Swamp Thing (just don’t talk about the cover), and a viewer submitted copy of The Marvel Vault and its ooh la la production values.
• As the Eisner Awards’ voting deadline approaches (June 18th, if you’re yet to submit your ballot, democracy fans!) The Inkpulp Podcast crew put their pens to the pencils of the master Will Eisner, and a grand old time is had, as Tommy Lee Edwards, Troy Nixey, and Jim Mahfood are (mostly) kept on track by Shawn Crystal.
• Noah van Sciver has a double bill of episodes over on his YouTube channel this week, first talking about all things Canadian comics with Conundrum Press’ Andy Brown, and checks in with ES Glenn (who’s sporting a fresh neck strain, reminding that time comes for us all) for a chat about cartooning, and serving time in the navy.
• John Siuntres’ Word Balloon keeps on a-floating, and this week he’s joined in the basket (that’s what balloons have, right?) by Terry Dodson for an audience Q&A, Joe Quesada for some Marvel Knights history, and has a big old chat about the recent Diamond/DC dust up with Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool, Chad from Comic Corps, Brion Salazar of Around Comics and Patrick Brower of Challengers Comics.
While your feet are stomping... This week’s easy-listening.
• Katie Skelly has retired from hosting duties of Comic Books Are Burning In Hell, and so last week’s guests - Tucker Stone, Christ Mautner, Joe McCulloch, and Matt Seneca - have taken over, and they’re using their new platform to discuss Diamond vs DC, and what the likely ramifications are for the comics retail industry.
• Shelfdust Presents’ Matt Lune welcomes Colin Bell to the podcast this week, as they tear their clothes while growing to enormous size, and discuss the shift to horror for Marvel’s hit smash-focused series, The Immortal Hulk.
• 2000 AD’s Lockdown Tapes hit record with Dermot Power in the latest episode, as he talks to MOLCH-R about making the move from comics work to film design, and the joys of fully-painted artwork in comics.
• SILENCE! returns, once again, and this week the audio comics and lifestyle magazine sees host Gary Lactus talking to comics creator Danny Noble as her new graphic memoir Shame Pudding is welcomed into the world and the interdimensional space of the reviewniverse.
• It’s a double-bill from Off Panel this week, as David Harper talks first to Jeff Smith about all things Bone, and then welcomes Brian Michael Bendis to the show for a deep dive into a storied career in comics writing.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come podcast took a look at the big stories from last week, as they discuss comics and coverage that look at topics relevant to the Black Lives Matter movement, run down the Eisner nominees for 2020, and discuss the loss of another dedicated comic news outlet to business streamlining.
• The Virtual Memories Show continued its COVID check-ins, as Gil Roth spoke to Liza Donnelly about livestreaming and cartooning during the pandemic, and Dylan Horrocks about how New Zealand is faring as the country celebrates its success in containing COVID-19.
• Kwanza Osajyefo and Jamal Igle boarded War Rocket Ajax this week, to discuss their series Black and its crowd-funded sequel White, as well as a whole host of other topics.
If the kids are united, then we'll never be divided... This week’s recommendations for younger readers.
• The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has put together a step-by-step project guide for children wanting to make their own mini-comics and zines, as a way for them to tell their own stories and make their voices heard, including video resources and storytelling tips.
• First Second’s #SketchSchool returns, and this week Box Brown takes us through how to draw Owen Eugene from Child Star, and Andre the Giant. Anybody want a peanut?
• The June issue of The Phoenix' Q Club comic is now up for free download - with a rainy day's worth of drawing guides, writing prompts, and activities to get stuck into.
Those are the links for this week, there'll be some more again next week, I'm fairly sure. See you then.