We hit one year since pretty much everything shut down for lockdown number one (now of three and counting) this week, so it’s a time to pause and reflect on the books that could’ve been read, and the projects that were almost started, before being shelved in favor of playing some more Stardew Valley and/or staring blankly at a wall.
For a round-up of comics stuff that actually got done recently, you can read this week’s links, below.
— Darryl Cunningham (@AcmeDarryl) March 15, 2021
Never not breaking… This week’s news.
• The Center for Cartoon Studies and The Beat have announced the nominations for this year’s Cartoonist Studio Prize, with shortlists for the print and webcomics categories - the final selection of winners for both prizes will be announced on Thursday 15th of April.
• The Canadian Daily Newspaper Association have announced the nominations for 2020's National Newspaper Awards, including the Editorial Cartooning/Caricature category, of which The Daily Cartoonist has a rundown - winners to be announced on Friday 7th of May.
• Koyama Provides have announced a sponsored mentorship with Julia Breckenreid, with the ideal candidate being “an emerging illustrator or mid-career professional who needs a fresh perspective” - the deadline for applications is Friday 16th of April, with mentoring sessions taking place in May via Zoom.
• Comic art trading and the blockchain’s ongoing alliance of rampant profit and/or rampant environmental damage continued this week, as DC Comics announced that only they may mine this income stream when it comes to their characters, to keep those sweet, sweet bitcoins in-house, by selling digital tokens for physical statues, after laying off the entirety of the DC Collectibles department in November of 2020. Marvel Comics will presumably follow suit pretty quickly, to prevent third-parties from unfunging their tokens, and it’s all just a matter of time before the grift collapses into a singularity of money laundering and market manipulation. Ah, for the innocent days of 2020, when the ongoing comics market story was which companies would be delivering monthly periodicals in any given week.
• Speaking of, yet more publishers have joined the swelling ranks of Simon & Schuster’s book channel distribution, presumably soon to be Penguin Random House’s book channel distribution, as Diamond Books bids an au revoir to Ahoy Comics and Heavy Metal, but they’ll always have the direct market.
• In auction systems not reliant on the power output of a small country news, one of the three known copies of the ashcan prototype for Action Comics #1 is going up on the block next month, with a value estimated at $500,000.
• Meanwhile, as Free Comic Book Day 2021 is delayed until August to try and circumvent COVID-19 related problems, the line-up of this year’s gold and silver titles have been announced, with 50 comics up for grabs later this year.
• Moulinsart, the company set up to protect and promote the work of Hergé, have sued the artist Xavier Marabout, taking exception to his mash-up paintings of Tintin in the works of Edward Hopper, which (allegedly) “[take] advantage of the reputation of a character to immerse him in an erotic universe”, leading to pronouncements of censorship and a dive into Hergé’s thoughts on female characters.
• Charlie Hebdo has once more been accused of printing racist imagery, after the front cover of the March 10th edition of the magazine featured the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II kneeling on the neck of Meghan Markle, visually referencing the death of George Floyd - The Daily Cartoonist have rounded up the resulting commentary.
— Victoria Ying - City of Illusion- August 2021! (@victoriaying) March 17, 2021
Coming to a distribution channel near you… This week’s reviews.
• Pam Dawling reviews the characterful simplifications of Joseph Tychonievich and Liz Anna Kozik’s The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food - “Packed in this little book, you will find how to build raised beds, how to mulch, how to choose healthy plants to buy, which crops do better from seed, the most important bugs to watch out for and more. Joseph the writer has been gardening most of his life, and Liz the artist clearly knows her vegetables too.”
• Kelly Kanayama reviews the toothless satire of Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, et al’s The Boys: Dear Becky - “Ennis writing about the 1990s in 2020 just doesn’t have that same bite. Once again, we see the Boys tearing apart a superteam, albeit a British one this time, consisting of antiheroes meant to be “ambiguous, edgy, the kind of characters people can’t make up their minds about”. It’s likely a riff on the 90s’ insatiable hunger for characters cast in this exact mold, but without an angry, satirical drive to see it through, whatever it’s meant to be falls flat.”
• Paul Tumey reviews the revelatory effervescence of Trina Robbins’ The Flapper Queens: Women Cartoonists of the Jazz Age - “Sadly, the editing and production of this book make me grumpy. In particular, the lack of dates and identifying information in art captions is an egregious omission. In cases where dates are visible in the art itself, it is possible to discern the annoying fact that some pages are printed out of chronological sequence. A Fay King daily strip is printed twice, appearing on two different pages. Aside from this sort of sloppiness, the book’s structure lacks intelligence, being a rather randomly arranged portfolio without narrative. But, where it counts, namely the art reproduction, the book delivers and how.”
• Ben Morin reviews the assorted promises of DC Comics’ Superman: Red & Blue #1.
• Justin Harrison reviews the florid dynamism of Todd McFarlane, et al’s Spider-Man by Todd McFarlane: The Complete Collection.
• Ryan Sonneville reviews the effortless whimsy of Laura Knetzger’s Bug Boys: Outside and Beyond.
• Christopher Franey reviews the emotive imagination of Ibrahim Moustafa’s Count.
• Alex Richardson reviews the inconsistent polish of James Harren, et al’s Ultramega #1.
• Sam Rutzick reviews the rote grimness of Paul Allor, Chris Evenhuis, et al’s G.I. Joe: Castle Fall.
• Rory Wilding reviews the tangential oddness of Chip Zdarsky, Ramon Pérez, et al’s Stillwater Volume 1: Rage Rage.
• Alexandra Iciek reviews the esoteric abstractions of Michael DeForge's Heaven No Hell.
Trina Brain reviews the virtuoso suspense of Frederic Brremaud and Federico Bertolucci’s Love: The Mastiff.
• Andy Oliver reviews the oblique majesty of Mereida Fajardo’s Quark Soup.
• John Trigonis reviews the intense metaphor of Scott Snyder, Tony S. Daniel, et al’s Nocterra #1.
• Rebecca Burke reviews the relatable depths of John Carvajal’s Sunshine State.
• Lindsay Pereira reviews the universal legends of Shigeru Mizuki’s Tōno Monogatari, translated by Zack Davisson.
• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the tranquil muddiness of James Romberger’s Post York.
House to Astonish
Paul O’Brien reviews the repetitive gimmick of Marvel Comics’ Wolverine: Black, White & Blood.
• Brian Salvatore reviews the twisted understanding of James Tynion IV, Sam Johns, Guillem March, et al’s The Joker #1.
• Joe Skonce reviews the memorable impact of Vita Ayala, Bernard Chang, et al’s Children of the Atom #1.
• Elias Rosner reviews the masterful rhythms of Dan Watters, Max Fiumara, Brian Level, Sebastian Fiumara, et al's Lucifer Volume 4: The Devil At Heart.
Arlette Hernandez reviews the textured psychedelia of Patrick Keck’s Peepers.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The superb energy of Mike Mignola’s Quarantine Sketchbook.
- The violent ambitions of Jeff McComsey, Tommy Lee Edwards, et al’s Grendel, KY.
- The cinematic folklore of Ayize Jama-Everett and John Jennings’ Box of Bones: Book One.
- The soothing compositions of Manjit Thapp’s Feelings: A Story in Seasons.
• Ryan Carey reviews the sprawling intimacy of Mannie Murphy’s I Never Promised You A Rose Garden.
• Tynan Stewart reviews the humanizing narratives of Guantanamo Voices, edited by Sarah Mirk.
Women Write About Comics
• Louis Skye reviews the vibrant subversion of Vita Ayala, Bernard Chang, et al’s Children of the Atom #1.
• Doris V. Sutherland reviews the sophisticated subversions of Joe Hill, Leomacs, et al’s Basketful of Heads.
• Rosie Knight reviews the kid-friendly magic of Mariko Tamaki, Gurihiru, et al’s Thor & Loki: Double Trouble #1.
• Alenka Figa reviews the gentle beauty of the Sun and Sand Comic Anthology, edited by Jamila Rowser and Neil Brideau.
I missed my children so I drew them pic.twitter.com/86M0pPvJgV
— Pseudonym Jones (@pseudonymjones) March 17, 2021
Call and response… This week’s interviews.
From the archives (TCJ#280, Jan 2007), Gary Groth spoke to Frank Thorne about pornographic inspirations, the changing face of cartoon publishing, and a life lived through illustration - “I wrote [Alex] Raymond a letter after I was hacking away at Perry Mason for several months. I excoriated myself, pleading forgiveness for copying his style. To my surprise, he wrote back. The letter had the tone of a moral scold. I was justifiably reduced to the size of a repentant pickle.”
Chris Coplan interviews Garth Ennis about Marjorie Finngegan: Temporal Criminal, avoiding the traps of time travel stories, and keeping things innocent-ish.
Andy Oliver interviews Eve Greenwood about Quindrie Press, the publisher's core mission in amplifying marginalized voices, and the evolution of the Scottish comics scene.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C speaks with Sean Knickerbocker about Rust Belt Review, looking to anthologies to cover a period without conventions, and what’s involved in setting one up.
Alison Flood talks to Mike Stirling about The Beano’s Dennis the Menace turning 70, how the character has evolved since the 1950s, and the origins of the best dog in comics.
Jim McLauchlin interviews Jean David Michel and Brian Tamm about Rhinebeck, NY’s Megabrain Comics, controlling the retail spend, and the old standard - location, location, location.
Los Angeles Times
Bethanne Patrick talks to Amy Solomon about Notes From The Bathroom Line, sticking to the Hollywood snail’s pace, and giving credit where it’s due.
Shaenon Garrity speaks with Aminder Dhaliwal about the pains of not being able to share work with the public, joking about hardships, and viewing contemporary issues through the lens of genre fiction.
Daniel Elkin interviews Andrea Tsurumi about publisher expectations, the importance of contract negotiations, and lowering fees for good causes and artistic experimentation.
• Karama Horne speaks with Robyn Smith about Nubia: Real One, shifting from portrait to sequential art, and the blessings of a good editor.
• Mike Avila interviews Christopher Priest about The Falcon, code-switching in comics careers, and the clumsiness of Marvel’s 80s depictions of the “Black experience”.
Correlation not causation… This week’s features and comics.
• Here at TCJ, Robert Elder looks at the correspondence of Steve Ditko, coming to light since his passing, thanks to access provided by Ditko’s family, and the insights it gives into a singularly private creator - “Given some of Ditko’s responses—“I can’t answer questions about someone’s curiosity about me or what I did,” he told one fan—it makes you wonder why Ditko responded at all. It seemed like a compulsion, or perhaps just good manners, that Ditko replied to people who took the trouble to write him, even when that response could be brusque.”
• Also for TCJ, Michael Olivio's diary comics arrive in a single serving, eschewing tradition, in a cat-like manner, as the reader is invited to step through Ego's Door.
• For Solrad, Helen Chazan follows up her review of Rumiko Takahashi’s Mermaid Saga with an essay on the series’ themes of familial violence, power structures, and toxic immortality, and the characters’ varied defiances of these.
• Over at Shelfdust, Anna Peppard writes on the queer subversions of Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr’s Daredevil #266, and Infinite Crisis continues as Rowan Grover sings the well-earned praises of Phil Jimenez, while Dave Shevlin does the same for Kyle Rayner of the Green/White Lantern Corps.
• 1984. A year of event comics. One in which Logan T. Wolverine’s dance card was full to burstin’, Bub.
• Over at NeoText, Chloe Maveal writes on the fashion-forward cartooning rebellion of Jackie Ormes and the musically-linked cartooning evolution of Jamie Hewlett, while Benjamin Marra presents Burne Hogarth’s educational Arthurian illustrations and Milo Manara's earthy Fellini illustrations.
• On the open access academia front, for The Joural of Science Communication, Richard Wiseman, Jordan Collver, Rik Worth and Caroline Watt present a paper on using comics to promote skepticism about the paranormal.
• Australia’s Council for the Arts have published a report on cross-industry opportunities for cartoonists, illustrators, and comics-makers, following on from similar surveying of the US and UK industries.
• Over at The Nib, a few comics from this week, as Eleri Harris looks at the history of in vitro fertilization, Mike Dawson considers the wisdom of the young, Keith Knight proposes marijuana selling rights as reparations, and Laura Athayde documents the Brazilian government's COVID-19 response (or lack, thereof).
• Panel Syndicate have released a new pay-what-you-want digital title, as the first issue of Victor Santos’ Paranoia Killer is now up online to read.
One year since our world shut down. Kids’ worlds everywhere got impossibly small, strange, & anxious. Love to everyone who’s felt death in their lives.
Cautiously optimistic about real signs of progress. We can only do this together. (Panels from SAVE IT FOR LATER.) pic.twitter.com/JB5FBmSFas
— Nate Powell (@Nate_Powell_Art) March 12, 2021
4:3 or the highway… This week’s recommended watching.
• Graphic Medicine’s recent Draw Together event brought together artists for a collective online illustration session, enthusiastically led by Lynda Barry, taking the fear out of drawing people and anatomy, and focusing on the natural line, to open up visual storytelling for participants. (Starts around the six minute mark)
• Duke University hosted a virtual talk from Ryan Holmberg on the history of modern manga, taking viewers through 100 years of history in ten important titles from the early 20th century to the modern day.
• Power Comics have continued their tour through, well, power comics, and as ten years of Power Comics arrives there’s a handy primer video as to what a power comic actually is, and the DIY, self-published tomes to look out for.
• In a similar vein, Cartoonist Kayfabe continues their tour through comics liked by Cartoonist Kayfabe, which this week included Phantom Force, TMNT, Jim Shooter’s style, Wizard #41, Jim Starlin on Ghost Rider, and some early-career work from Jae Lee.
• Salt and Honey added a visual dimension to their podcast, as episode one of Salt and Honey Live arrived, catching up on quarantine projects, and reviewing BRZRKR, Crimson Rose and The Dreaming.
• The Black Mountain Institute and The Believer’s weekly comics workshop convened online once more, as Steve Teare took viewers through drawing the story of a place everybody should know fairly intimately by now - their home.
• March’s edition of the Comix Experience GN Book Club saw Brian Hibbs talking to Chip Zdarsky and Jason Loo about Afterlift, and what’s in a name when it comes to comics titles.
• Noah Van Sciver welcomed Brad Mackay to his channel for a cartoonist chat this week, talking about the work of Doug Wright, plans to collect more of the Canadian cartoonists’s comics, and their universal appeal.
Always Remember pic.twitter.com/HJDsovCpPP
— Evan Dorkin (@evandorkin) March 18, 2021
*20th Century Fox Fanfare*… This week’s easy-listening.
• Katie Skelly and Sally Madden looked to the Thick Lines of Vampirella: The Essential Warren Years Volume 1, this week, as the question of whether the page count or daring split-bang hairdos were more daunting raised its immortal head.
• 2000 AD’s Lockdown Tapes welcomed Simon Davis and Tom Eglinton to the show this week, as MOLCH-R spoke to them about new horror strip Thistlebone, British horror staples, and the classic lofi televisual delights of Time Team.
• Dan Berry chatted with Rachael Smith for this week’s Make It Then Tell Everybody, as they discussed Quarantine Comix, publishers and agents, and how much of the self you reveal when making diary comics.
• Deb Aoki hosted this week’s edition of Mangasplaining, as the team discussed Kunichi Ashiya’s What The Font?! – A Manga Guide to Western Typeface, an educational, one-shot manga, with some diversions on webcomics, doujinshi, Achewood, and discussions of various fonts, as you’d expect.
• David Harper welcomed Rodney Barnes to Off Panel this week, as they spoke about Killadelphia, coming to comics after a career in television, and the connective and holistic nature of comic book making.
• War Rocket Ajax, meanwhile, had Jason Horn on the show, talking to him about returning to comics making after quitting drawing for six months, missing conventions, and his new comic Settle.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come this week saw Calvin Reid and Kate Fitzsimons discuss recent outreach work by the CBLDF under Jeff Trexler’s interim directorship, what’s happening with conventions this summer, and the latest round of comic book publisher personnel changes.
— Pascal Campion (@pascalcampion) March 17, 2021
That’s it for this week, so now to consider the limitless possibilities that life holds, before doing yet another lot of washing up, just to pass the time!
"The Modern Prometheus", started Monday night and finished yesterday morning. Drawn with eyegaze technology. #DrawingWhileDisabled #DisabledArtists #ALS #LouGehrigsDisease #MND #EyeGaze #EyeGazeArt #frankenstein #MaryShelley #DisabilityTwitter pic.twitter.com/zUgZVDBY5k
— Patrick Dean: Exhausted From Laughing at Death (@PDean_Yeah) March 17, 2021