Put on your mirrorshades and prepare to jack into the low-poly anarchist paradise of the world wide web in this week’s links, because we’ve stumbled onto a node of cyberpunks, running the latest tech, and dialing in on a cool 56kbps line.
We’ve got more console cowboys than a Hackers anniversary screening this week, and never mind that it’s a grey area as to whether the state we find ourselves in is because the architects of our grim future took away all the wrong messages from Gibson and Stephenson über alles, when you’ve got 24/7 on-demand high-definition culture at the push of a button! All hail the megacorps!
Say it with me now - “why, oh why, didn’t I take the blue pill?” - and ignore the masked gentleman in the corner, eating beans straight from the tin, it’d be for the best.
Sock it to me, baby… This week’s news.
• Broken Frontier report on the (somewhat confusingly titled) fourth First Graphic Novel Prize from Myriad, with Veronika Muchitsch taking home this year’s award for her story Cyberman, which will now be published as part of Myriad’s upcoming slate of releases.
• Coming hot on the heels of her Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year, Lynda Barry is the latest recipient of Oregon State University’s Stone Award for Literary Achievement, honoring American authors who champion the mentoring of upcoming writers, and bringing with it a $20,000 honorarium.
• Following the announcement that Archie Comics publications will see digital releases arrive to comiXology day-and-date alongside the print versions, they’ll also now be making the move into the brave (not so) new world of Webtoon and vertical scrolls in 2021, as publishers look for exciting new synergy options to get those gosh-darn zoomers at least reading on their phones if they won’t look up from them to do so, bah humbug.
• The Daily Cartoonist reports on the retirement of Tom Toles, cartoonist for The Washington Post since 2002, with 19 years for the Buffalo News and 9 for the Buffalo Courier-Express under his belt prior to that, finishing his career on November 1st - you can see selected highlights of his work here.
• As the internet is wont to do, following the arrival of Jules Rivera as the new scribe for Mark Trail, comments arrived under the longrunning strip, tiredly bemoaning the loss of the old ways, as proponents for change gave their support to the revamped comic, and it’s basically the “we fear change” scene from Wayne’s World that accompanies every changing of the guard, c’est la vie.
• If, like me, you’re morbidly fascinated with the trickle down effects that the machinations of parent corporations could have on direct markets, and how that may affect retailers, then the gears are once again turning, as Disney and WarnerMedia react to ongoing cinema closures and delayed blockbuster releases - won’t somebody think of the children, and the market share, &c &c.
• The Lakes International Comics Art Festival, hailing from the north of England, announced their Comics Laureate for the next two years, taking over from Hannah Berry in 2021, selecting retailer (hmmm) Stephen Holland, who is himself a patron of the festival (uh oh), and the news went over about as well as you can imagine, given the organization’s track record.
• Finally, Multiversity Comics had an obituary for Izumi Matsumoto, mangaka and creator of Kimagure Orange Road, who sadly passed away last week, aged 61, after a long battle with spinal stenosis.
Give a hoot, read a comic book… This week’s reviews.
• Derik Badman reviews the sterile abstractions of Ephameron’s (aka Eva Cardon) graphic medicine biography Us Two Together, considering the wider schadenfreude of such works that let you play tourist in another’s suffering - “As a genre it depends heavily on a mix of empathy and novelty. You want to empathize with the protagonist/author, to find some way to understand them, but you also want to see events outside your ken, or read about someone else experiencing something you too have or will experience, or maybe just get that small joy that comes from the sense of "that could be me and I’m glad it’s not."”
• Brian Nicholson reviews the middling novelty of David Lynch’s The Angriest Dog in the World, a collector’s curiosity, the creation of which saw Lynch take a distinctly hands-off approach - “...the content is phoned in, literally: Lynch would call an assistant and instruct them as to what the text, emanating from word balloons coming from the house, would be that week. Occasionally it would be a joke, but not always, and even the jokes fell flat enough to be considered anti-humor.”
• Helen Chazan reviews the grizzling hagiography of Liel Leibovitz’ Stan Lee: A Life in Comics, a biography that falls at almost every hurdle - “For Leibovitz, Stan Lee was not a life or even a life in comics, Lee is the cute old man who served as the mascot for a string of blockbuster movies, preserved in them perfectly like a prehistoric fly trapped in amber. Anything contrary to that sentimental image, be it negative or just more nuanced, is given little room to breathe, all for the sake of preserving the icon’s sanctity. This biography was written by someone who hates Stan Lee and cannot bring himself to admit it.”
• Christopher Franey reviews the return of everyone’s favorite masked vigilante in Tom King, Jorge Fornes, et al’s next cut from DC’s perennial cash cow, Rorschach #1.
• David Brooke reviews the bloody biblical horror of Takashi Nagasaki and Ignito’s King of Eden: Volume 1, and Kieron Gillen, Jacen Burrows, et al’s journey to the grim wars of the far future in Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #1.
• Keigen Rea reviews the rote swordplay of Taro Hitsuji and Kiyotaka Haimura’s Last Round Arthurs: Volume 1.
• Arbaz M. Khan reviews the pop sensibilities of Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, Leonardo Romero, et al’s The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem #1.
• Joe Grunenwald reviews the divisive existentialism of Tom King, Jorge Fornés, et al’s Rorschach #1.
• Avery Kaplan reviews the creative harmonies of Trung Le Nguyen’s The Magic Fish.
• Deanna Destito reviews the sanguine storytelling of Sebastian Girner, John Bivens, et al’s The Devil’s Bride #1.
• John Trigonis reviews the on-trend dystopia of Dave Baker and Alexis Ziritt’s Night Hunters #1.
• Moe Abbas reviews the homefront dystopias of World War 3 Illustrated #51, edited by Ethan Heitner, Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman.
• Andy Oliver reviews the thematic appropriateness of WIP Comics anthology double bill Success and Failure.
• Bruno Savill de Jong reviews the uneven terrain of Olivier Bocquet and Jean-Marc Rochette’s Altitude, translated by Edward Gauvin.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan C reviews the universal relatability of Lance Ward’s A Good Man’s Brother: Quarantine Diary Comics and Stories, as well as a pair of titles from Le Dernier Cri, with the transfixing grimness of Mark Beyer’s Sketchbook 2016-17 and the unique mundanity of John Broadley's Wild for Adventure.
Rachel Cooke selects Sophie Yanow’s The Contradictions as ‘Graphic novel of the month’, finding a perfect lack of beauty.
• Matthew Blair reviews the enjoyably low stakes of Sina Grace, Omar Spahi, Jenny D. Fine, et al’s Getting It Together #1.
• Elias Rosner reviews the singular narrative of Derf Backderf’s Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio.
• Johnny Hall reviews the expert rhythms of Dave Chisholm's Chasin’ the Bird: Charlie Parker in California.
• Gregory Ellner reviews the intriguing momentum of Steve Orlando, Davide Tinto, et al's Commanders in Crisis #1.
Etelka Lehoczky reviews the uncanny reflections of Katie Skelly's Maids.
• Graeme McMillan reviews the historical evidence of Tom King, Jorge Fornés, et al’s Rorschach #1.
• Jenna Stoeber reviews the perfunctory glamour of Alex de Campi and Erica Henderson’s Dracula Motherf**ker!.
Hans Rollman reviews the gorgeous redemption of Natasha Alterici, Ashley Woods, et al’s Heathen: Volume 3.
• Tom Shapira reviews the vibrant aesthetics of Peow Studio’s Ex.Mag #01: Cyberpunk, edited by Wren McDonald.
• Keith Silva reviews the guileless traumas of Katie Skelly’s Maids.
Women Write About Comics
• Cori McCreery reviews the irresponsible allegories of Tom King, Jorge Fornés, et al’s Rorschach #1.
• Elvie Mae Parian reviews the magical allegory of Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu’s Mooncakes.
• Masha Zhdanova reviews the contemplative joy of volume 1 of Sam Maggs and Gabi Nam’s adaptation of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.
• Sabina Stent reviews the energetic tempo of Sophie Escabasse’s Witches of Brooklyn.
• Jameson Hampton reviews the seasonal simplicity of Birdie Willis, Rowan MacColl, et al’s Over the Garden Wall: Soulful Symphonies.
• Rosie Knight reviews the aspirational creativity of Michael Sweater and Rachel Dukes’ The Wizerd! and the Potion of Dreams.
Screamed with increasing desperation… This week’s interviews.
Jeffery Klaehn takes a trip through the multiverse with Kevin Mutch, and considers the role of art in our corner of the quantum bubble, the 50/50 split of semi-autobiographical works, and the next stage of evolution for the ninth art - “For such a maligned medium, there’s plenty of room in comics for detail and subtleties in the drawings and texts that can feed into and complicate each other. The more comics I’ve made the more convinced I’ve become that they can be as deep and rich and problematic -- can call as much of the world into question -- as any other type of art.”
• Joe Grunenwald talks to Peter Hogan about the welcome return of Resident Alien, avoiding spoilers for the upcoming series, the arrival of g-men into the story, and a fair amount of “you’ll have to wait and see”.
• Heidi MacDonald presents a two-part interview with IDW’s new Publisher Nachie Marsham, covering Marsham’s history in the comics biz, and the future of IDW, the ol’ multimedia entertainment synergy game, and, of course, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Andy Oliver talks to:
- Shangomola Edunjobi about the diversity and expressive appeal of manga, dancing in the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, and combining traditional and digital creative processes.
- Street Noise Books' Liz Frances about the publisher's vision, the appeal of the comics medium for non-fiction storytelling, and aiming for that Gen Z demographic.
I think I’d be remiss in not linking to Tom Grater’s interview with Alan Moore, although I’d assume most have read it by this point in the news cycle - I will say, however, for my two-penneth, that if your work of superhero fiction is still topping sales charts nearly 35 years after its initial publication, and following your poor treatment at the hands of its publisher, then you’ve earned the right to say whatever you like about the genre - I personally like Moore’s tongue-in-cheek vitriol, so it’s a fun read - Alan Moore, does indeed, know the score.
The Hollywood Reporter
Graeme McMillan talks to Alejandro Jodorowsky about the fortieth anniversary of The Incal, the interplay with his cinematic work, and nihilistic enlightenment.
Milton Griepp interviews Axel Alonso about AWA’s upcoming COVID Chronicles, vertical scroll and the immediacy of web platforms, and what comics has to offer on-the-spot journalism.
Elias Rosner interviews Alex Paknadel and John Lê about what is best in life - giant robots - how the mecha-sausage gets made, and Neon Genesis Evangelion as urtext.
The Paris Review
Viet Thanh Nguyen interviews Adrian Tomine about titles, the autobiographical nature of The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist, the ritualism of comics collecting, and the gear-shift into parenthood.
Sachyn Mital talks to Tommy Siegel about his new book I Hope This Helps, the ‘500 comics in 500 days’ project that it collects, and finding comedic balance.
Andrea Marks talks to Allie Brosh about her six-year publishing hiatus, returning with a 500-page graphic memoir, and the therapy that writing it represented.
• Daniel Elkin and Sarah Wray present another edition of ‘Knowing is Half the Battle’, as Jessi Zabarski discusses the different paths to publishers and agents.
• Ingrid Cruz interviews Iris Jong about her journey into and through comics, including founding Comic Arts Los Angeles, treating creativity seriously, and the blurred lines between non-profit work and personal projects.
• Dana Forsythe talks to Commanders in Crisis writer Steve Orlando about what to expect from the upcoming series, Davide Tinto’s artwork on the book, and keeping things strange.
• Mike Avila interviews Scott Williams about his work inking some of the best-selling direct market comics of all time, the speed needed to work on those books, and the grind that becomes.
A fine old mess… This week’s features and comics.
• Here at TCJ, Justin Harrison looks back on Meredith Gran’s webcomic magnum opus Octopus Pie, considering the horological depths of the comics’ visual layouts and the manner in which it serves the wider metanarrative of character development and twenty-somethings growing up, as well as the smaller moments that build to larger personality changes - Gran is currently re-running the comic with daily commentary, and heading into the home-stretch of this undertaking, if you want to catch up and join in with, per Justin (and I agree), “one of the finest webcomics I’ve ever had the privilege to read.”
• Our second look at the life of Stan Lee this week, and this time it’s a reporting of the allegations of elder abuse that arose from his final years, from David Hochman for the American Association of Retired Persons, also detailing the suits and countersuits pending for slices of the empire derived from his stakes in various media properties.
• Over at The Middle Spaces, Osvaldo Oyola brings readers a revised version of a presentation on the unique space that graffiti and comics occupy, in terms of their perceived need for ‘legitimacy’, and the freedom that affords, looking at Gilbert Hernandez’ Human Diastrophism storyline from Love & Rockets #21-26, and its iconoclastic views and remixing of, so-called, high and low art.
• For NeoText, Chloe Maveal looks at the under-the-mainstream-radar adventures of Dylan Dog, and why Tiziano Sclavi and Claudio Villa’s paranormal adventure books have failed to find life in the North American market, despite its consistently gawjus artwork; and then looks at another foreign-language creator who has managed that leap, with an essay on the mixed-up files of Junji Ito, and the surreal worlds he subjects readers to.
• For The New Yorker, Peter Schjedahl covers the postponement of exhibitions featuring the works of Philip Guston, looking at the wider schism forming in the art-world, with regards to controversial pieces.
• Writing in Cleveland Magazine, Sheehan Hannan looks at the community surrounding Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop, the store’s history and family ties, and how the pandemic has been affecting every aspect of independent book-selling.
• Catching up with Sequart’s recent essay output, there are pieces on the parallels between Clark Kent and Providence’s doomed protagonist, Black Panther’s history and enduring role in Marvel Comics’ line-up, and the difficulties of trying to explain the plots of manga in the abstract.
• A couple of looks back to comics history from 13th Dimension, as Alex Segura continues his dive into Stern and Romita Jr’s run on Amazing Spider-Man, and Paul Kupperberg returns with his favorite of DC’s 80-page giant special issues, including Batman being extremely blasé about his parents’ murders.
• For Women Write About Comics, Claire Napier develops a mathematical proof for why Crying Freeman has such a catchy rhythm, and why writers should always tell artists that any deviation is “not quite my tempo” and then start wearing tight, black crew-neck t-shirts. Once more from the top.
• A couple from The Daily Cartoonist, as DD Degg presents some early strips from Ernie Bushmiller, and Mike Peterson reminds us that rolling coverage of an election is a thing that is still happening.
• Also still happening? Cha-boi Wolverine’s journey through time and space and participation in any historical event that was of import in the last century or so, including some lingering questions about the operating procedures of the US’ espionage services.
• For Multiversity Comics, Drew Bradley has another installment of Comic History, looking at the important events that have taken place in Octobers of yore, including the formation of Dark Horse’s answer to Image Comics and Vertigo - LEGEND.
• Continuing Shelfdust’s drive to cover every comic ever in single issue format, this week brings us Charlotte Finn’s look at Astro City #41 and why renumbering comics mid-run is silly, Steve Morris’ look at Amazing Spider-Man #55 and why fighting Doc Ock is silly, Ritesh Babu addresses the silliness of Green Lantern in general, Graeme McMillan covers why disliking Batman in-fiction is silly, and Andrea Ayres documents the pure farce that was Crisis of Conscience.
• Over at iO9, Beth Elderkin and Bryan Menegus attempt to once and for all figure out whether all publicity is good publicity, on behalf of Terrific Production LLC, and that whole ongoing… What is the word? Ah yes, feu de déchets. Mon dieu.
• For The Nib, Ben Passmore documents internecine conflict and reconciliation within a protest in Philadelphia over the summer.
• NPR has an illustrated reminder that the mask needs to go over the nose and stay there, by Connie Hanzhang Jin.
• As part of The Oprah Magazine’s Coming Out series, Noelle Stevenson shares her story in comic form.
• The Guardian have a longform comic on Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge collapse, 50 years on, by cartoonist Sam Wallman.
Sound and Vision… This week’s podcasts, vodcasts, and oddcasts.
• This week’s comics workshop from The Believer and The Black Mountain Institute saw Sharon Lee De La Cruz taking viewers through how to draw selfies, featuring secrets and making things funny, as well as lessons learned from Scott McCloud.
• A couple of upcoming events, as 19th October sees the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum hosting a talk from Egyptian cartoonist Ganzeer, as part of their Global Comics Lecture series; and October 22nd to 24th sees the University of Virginia hosting a symposium on The Future of American Political Cartoons, in honor of political cartoonist Pat Oliphant, with special keynote speaker, Keith Knight.
• A week filled with quick looks at more seasonally appropriate comics for Cartoonist Kayfabe this week, as Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg dove headlong into Elektra Lives Again, adaptations of classic slasher series, Jack Kirby’s Monsters Artist’s Edition, Mike Mignola’s enduring love of Dracula, Mars Attacks Image Comics, a little more of Moore and Campbell’s From Hell, and a look at the nightmarish art of Rory Hayes.
• Comix Experience presented a new Masterpiece Edition Book Club this month, as Brian Hibbs welcomed Steve Bissette to the show to talk Saga of the Swamp Thing, in depth (3 hours, plus a lightning Q&A round at the end!), and the importance of that series in the comics landscape.
• It’s another inside baseball episode of Inkpulp this week, as Shawn Crystal, Eric Canete, and Rode Reis discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of comics work-for-hire, including the compromises that are inherent with the schedule of the business, and seeing the positive in bad situations, along with some in-progress live-inking.
• A few trips up in the Word Balloon to check out, this week, as John Siuntres catches up with Kelly Thompson on her recent Marvel work, Matt Fraction and Elsa Charrettier discuss November and other Novembers in popular culture, Dave Gibbons pops in for a live Q&A, and Walter and Louise Simonson bring industry anecdotes galore to the virtual table.
• First Second were back at Sketch School this week, as Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter discussed their book Dungeon Critters, before collaborating on a pencils and watercolours piece of Goro from the comic.
• Shelfdust Presents journeyed into the dreamscape this week, as Kayleigh Hearn and Matt Lune discuss the opening of the dream laureate’s magnum opus, and look back on the magic of Sandman #1.
• 2000 AD’s Lockdown Tapes continue, and this week MOLCH-R is talking to writer Kenneth Niemand discusses his work on Judge Dredd and the Megazine, and then there’s a recording of this year’s virtual NYCC panel, bringing together critics Evan Narcisse, Chloe Maveal, and Kelly Kanayama, and Judge Dredd writer Arthur Wyatt to discuss the character’s satirical bent in a year when the unilateral lethal force of police around the world came under extreme scrutiny.
• David Harper welcomed Mark Sable to Off Panel this week, as the two talked about upcoming comic Miskatonic, Lovecraft becoming (or, more accurately, remaining) en vogue for horror media, and the important issue of the New York Knicks.
• Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come looked back on the first day of the NYCC Metaverse for this week’s episode, before the virtual event grew exponentially to consume all of humanity and thus it remains to this day, plus a Harvey Awards recap.
The reverse trace that’s being run on this node is almost complete, so I must leave the links once again, but I should have another worm program ready again in seven days. Until then, hack the planet.