We’ve had so many bank holidays already this month in the UK that I am completely unmoored from time and no longer have any sense of what day it is, and yet I am compelled to linkblog, as I pinball between the seasons, spinning across the flat circle of reality, screaming wordlessly about the latest comics news, reviews, and feature articles, below.
& a couple of drawings pic.twitter.com/EAyXCqKROY
— Linnea Sterte (@turndecassette) May 8, 2023
This week’s news.
• Starting this week with news out of Europe, as France’s Mediapart last week published allegations from twelve women of sexual assault and manipulation against comics writer and artist Florent Ruppert, who has denied the findings of the investigation - longtime artistic collaborator Jerome Mulot subsequently announced that their professional partnership was at an end, posting on Instagram to “...salute the courage of the women who spoke and to give them my public support. Their testimonies revealed a behavior that upsets me and a reality of which I was unaware.”
• Comics awards news, and the winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes were announced, with The New York Times’ Mona Chalabi winning 2023’s prize for Illustrated Reporting and Commentary, and Matt Davies and Pia Guerra also named as finalists in the same category.
• Duelling manga app release news, as VIZ and Kodansha both launched their proprietary digital distribution systems, including same-day release of English-language translations for new chapters of certain series - time will tell whether readers prefer VIZ’s flat rate of $1.99 a month for access, or Kodansha’s Byzantine system of tickets and points.
• In memoriam, remembering those the world of comics has lost, and news was shared this week of the passing of comics author Chris Reynolds, creator of Mauretania, who died last week aged 62.
• News was also shared this week of the passing of prolific cartoonist Sam Gross, frequent contributor to National Lampoon and The New Yorker, who died last week aged 89 - TCJ’s 2011 interview with Gross can be read here.
• Finally this week, news was shared of the passing of author and illustrator Bruce McCall, whose paintings regularly appeared on the cover of The New Yorker, who died last week aged 87.
An early look at next week’s cover, by the longtime New Yorker artist Bruce McCall, who died on May 5th, at the age of 87. #NewYorkerCovershttps://t.co/fKnbMp84mu pic.twitter.com/vi8WN3QCcT
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) May 6, 2023
This week’s reviews.
• Chris Mautner reviews the pitch-perfect humour of Aisha Franz’s Work-Life Balance, translated by Nicholas Houde - “Franz’s loose, cartoony art style fits the material perfectly. Most of her characters are simple oval heads sitting atop a boxy frame with a lone curlicue or two to signify hair. Squiggles float or jut out from people’s expressions depending on their mood. The seemingly dashed-off linework (I’m sure it took considerable effort to appear that way) underscores the cast’s frenzied emotional states. “
• Henry Chamberlain reviews the consistent brilliance of Sammy Harkham’s Blood of the Virgin - “As if it was all meant to be, Harkham fulfills the promise of what he started so many years ago as a full-bodied graphic novel, complete with a bittersweet resolution. So much for cartoonists who seclude themselves away from the world at some artist retreat. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against it. But Harkham created his big book out in public. Maybe he needed that particular energy and pressure to see his work through.”
• Tegan O’Neil reviews the remarkable experience of Erika Price’s Disorder 3/3 - “It is a difficult thing to live in the shadow of so much incandescent hatred. Hard not to have that in the back of your head when you go about your business. It’s a background noise that enacts a toll on your consciousness regardless of how well you manage to insulate yourself from daily eruptions. There is no certain insulation against that kind of ambient sound. The fear becomes part of the furniture of your life.”
• Connor Boyd reviews the dreamlike world of Syzmon Kudranski’s Something Epic.
• Andrew Isidoro reviews the captivating personalities of Alyssa Wong, Haining, et al’s Spirit World #1.
• Lukas Shayo reviews the refreshing energy of Jeremy Adams, Xermánico, et al’s Green Lantern #1.
• Lia Williamson reviews the lighter tone of Karl Kerschl, Becky Cloonan, and Brenden Fletcher’s Gotham Academy: Maps of Mystery #1.
• David Brooke reviews the compelling premise of Emily Kim, Ig Guara, et al’s Silk #1.
• Christopher Franey reviews the captivating mystery of Neil Gaiman, Mark Buckingham, et al’s Miracleman: The Silver Age #5.
• Zack Quaintance reviews the artful abstractions of Reinhard Kleist’s Starman: Bowie’s Stardust Years.
• Beau Q reviews the mind-bending compositions of Wes Craig et al’s Kaya.
• Joe Grunenwald reviews the modern sensibilities of Jeremy Adams, Xermánico, et al’s Green Lantern #1.
• Avery Kaplan reviews the satisfying continuation of Emily Kim, Ig Guara, et al’s Silk #1.
Andy Oliver reviews the sinister atmosphere of Kevin Woodcock’s It May Never Happen…, the triumphant puzzle of Norm Konyu’s Downlands, and the accessible packaging of Dark Horse's The EC Archives: Incredible Science Fiction.
Four Color Apocalypse
Ryan Carey reviews the off-kilter personality of Darin X. Cape and Geoffrey Krawczyk’s EroTech #1, and the extraordinary creativity of Drew Lerman’s Escape from the Great American Novel.
House to Astonish
Paul O’Brien has capsule reviews of Marvel Comics’ Immortal X-Men #11, X-Men: Before the Fall – Sons of X #1, and X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #85.
Have starred reviews of:
- The riveting action of Bon Idle’s Henshin!.
- The focused urgency of Chuck D’s Summer of Hamn.
The Los Angeles Times
Noah Berlatsky reviews the varying styles of MariNaomi’s I Thought You Loved Me.
• Matthew Blair reviews the solid beginning of Dan Abnett, Damian Couceiro, et al’s Groot #1.
• Chritopher Egan reviews the enjoyable creepiness of Cullen Bunn, Arjuna Susini, et al’s Lamentation #1.
• Gregory Ellner reviews the unlikable characters of Szymon Kudranski’s Something Epic #1.
• Robbie Pleasant reviews the engaging beginnings of Jeremy Adams, Xermánico, et al’s Green Lantern #1.
Have capsule reviews of:
- The shrewd elegance of Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki’s Roaming.
- The wry fondness of Maria Bamford and Scott Marvel Cassidy’s Hogbook and Lazer Eyes.
- The poignant wit of Mel Stringer’s Fart School.
• Hagai Palevsky reviews the reactionary baggage of Matt Battaglia’s House on Fire.
• Kevin Brown reviews the joyful details of Leslie Stein’s Brooklyn’s Last Secret.
Women Write About Comics
Louis Skye reviews the gripping history of Francesco Barilli and Alessandro Ranghiasci’s Socrates, translated by Lucy Lenzi.
We're so thrilled to finally share with you our VanCAF 2023 Poster by the incredible KATHLEEN GROS! @kagcomix
VanCAF 2023 returns to The Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre May 20 & 21st, 10AM-5PM! SEE YOU THERE ✌️❤️ pic.twitter.com/CVcvJcZ03M
— VanCAF (@VancouverComics) April 17, 2023
This week’s interviews.
Paul Constant interviews Julia Wertz about Impossible People: A Completely Average Recovery Story, autobio and wider comics influences, looking back on old work, and not worrying about telling original stories - “I still get rejected all the time. The New York Times just rejected a big piece from me. And it's like, yeah, it's not like it's that easy, but because I do feel very lucky that a lot of things kind of landed in my lap. That's kind of where the aw-shucks attitude happens—it's almost just me feeling guilty about it. But I guess I shouldn't feel guilty, because I got them because I put the work in. I don't know. That's a tough one.”
• Chris Hassan speaks with Ann Nocenti about Storm, working with good editors, pre-internet comics days, and learning from Louise Simonson.
• Chris Coplan talks to Jason Copland about Full Tilt, the process of producing a 300-page graphic novel, and the challenges of black and white comics.
• Deanna Destito chats with Torunn Grønbekk about Red Sonja, throwing the character into brutal situations, and keeping the story accessible.
• Hayden Mears talks to Geoff Johns and Todd Nauck about Stargirl: The Lost Children, planning out spreads and splash pages, and twists in the tale.
The Gutter Review
Chloe Maveal interviews Glenn Fabry about the weirdness of comic conventions, selling original artwork, the art college and punk scenes, and homosexual robots.
Rob Salkowitz presents a multi-part conversation with the incoming CEO of IDW, Davidi Jonas, and if you like to hear a lot of business buzzwords, well, you’re in for a treat.
Joshua Rivera chats with Chris Onstad about Achewood, training a Large Language Model AI on your own writing, and where the RayBot experiment might go.
Elizabeth Lopatto speaks with Chris Onstad about Achewood, the return of Ray Smuckles and Roast Beef, the strip’s various retirements and returns, and embracing Patreon and ChatGPT.
Gleaners, an 11 x 17 inch print pic.twitter.com/RCdxc6j5qI
— 3rd Voice (@3rdvoicecomic) May 8, 2023
This week’s features and longreads.
• Here at TCJ, Bob Levin writes on Sammy Harkham’s Blood of the Virgin, the way in which the story is told, and the form it takes - “The situation is compounded by Harkham’s writing his book without captions. All information comes from dialogue and drawings. This is similar to how movies work in that movies only provide film frames and conversation - unless they have a voice-over. Harkham never utilizes the comic equivalent. If you do not pay close attention, you may not understand what has happened.”
• Also for TCJ, John Kelly writes in remembrance of the life and work of cartoonist Ted Richards, who passed away last month aged 76, and charts the history of the Air Pirates, of which Richards was a member, as well as curating tributes to Richards from family and peers - “Ted Richards steadily produced great work during and after the Air Pirates saga. In addition to the Dopin' Dan comic book series, published by Last Gasp, he wrote and drew syndicated strips—E.Z. Wolf's Astral Outhouse and The Forty Year Old Hippie—that ran in college papers and alternative weeklies throughout the country via Rip Off Syndicate, a division of Rip Off Press. Richards also created what may have been the first ever skateboarding-themed comic strip with his Mellow Cat series, which began running in SkateBoarder magazine in 1978.”
• Elsewhere, remembrances were also shared following the passing of Bruce McCall, who died last week aged 87, and Sam Gross, who also died last week aged 89.
• For The Gutter Review, Lillie Hochwender writes in appreciation of Bernie Wrightson’s illustrated edition of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
• Elizabeth Sandifer’s Last War in Albion continues, as the history of British comic creators intertwines with that of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the work of the Christic Institute, as later featured in Eclipse’s Brought to Light.
• Over at Shelfdust, T. Trewhella looks back at Si Spurrier and Aaron Campbell’s John Constantine: Hellblazer #6, and the evolution of the titular Liverpudlian in the face of political change across the UK.
• From the world of open-access academia, Leuven University Press’ Comics of the New Europe, edited by Martha Kuhlman and José Alaniz, is available gratis, with analysis of comics from countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain.
• In New Media & Society, Melanie ES Kohnen, Felan Parker, and Benjamin Woo present a case study on San Diego Comic-Con’s shift to [email protected] during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how this represents a wider restructuring of fan events and their markets.
• For the Journal of Creative Writing Studies, Mara Beneway presents an overview of the origins and defining of poetry comics, and the benefits of the form to those teaching and producing works of creative writing.
• In Research Involvement and Engagement, Joanne Marie Cairns, Helen Roberts, Geraldine Al-Khafaji, and Maria Kwater present a critical reflection on the process of collaborating to make a comic book about bowel cancer screening with members of the general public.
• 2012. Wolverine swaps the mask for a mortar board. Hey, Logan, leave them kids alone.
• Mike Peterson rounds up the week’s editorial beat, over at The Daily Cartoonist, as coverage of endemic gun violence gave way to the crowning of a new monarch, and Donald Trump’s legal liability for sexual abuse and defamation.
— Annie Wu (@AnnieW) May 6, 2023
This week’s audio/visual delights
• Ben Katchor hosted the 363rd meeting of the New York Comics and Picture-Story Symposium, as artist Alexander Roob, co-founder of the Melton Prior Institute for Reportage Drawing and Printing Culture, spoke about The History of Press Graphics, the period it covers, and the nascent development of the comic strip.
• David Brothers hosts this week’s edition of Mangasplaining, as the team discusses Tite Kubo’s long-running manga, Bleach, looking at the differences to be found between its first and fifty fifth volumes, as well as guesses (and confirmations) on the series’ ending.
• David Harper welcomed Heidi MacDonald to this week’s edition of Off Panel, as they spoke about a busy news period for the direct and digital markets, and what Free Comic Book Day brings to the retail space.
• Meg Lemke and Calvin Reid convened for the latest edition of Publisher’s Weekly’s More to Come, as they discussed recent graphic nonfiction releases in the form of Elizabeth Colomba and Aurelie Levy's Queenie: Godmother of Harlem, and Youssef Daoudi and Adrian Matejka’s Last On His Feet: Jack Johnson and the Battle of the Century.
• Cartoonist Kayfabe continues, as this week Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor dove headlong into Timely Comics’ The Human Torch, Garth Ennis and Doug Braithwaite’s The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, Steve Rude’s The Nexus Chronicles, Amid Amidi’s Cartoon Modern, and Andrew Loomis’ Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth.
— DAWNING CROW (@dawning_crow) May 9, 2023
That’s all for this week, or is it next week already, who can ever truly know?
08 May 2023 pic.twitter.com/zP5nei43rL
— actual heathcliff comics (@RealHeathcliffs) May 8, 2023