Our favorite comics of 2020

See what comics, graphic novels, comic strips and more the Smash Pages team enjoyed in 2020.

As we continue our look back at 2020, the Smash Pages crew offer their personal picks and perspectives on their favorite comics, comic strips and graphic novels from the year. Hopefully you’ll see something in this post that you haven’t read yet but will take some joy in discovering.

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Comics Lowdown | Court OKs contempt complaint against Indian cartoonist

Plus: Authors Guild objects to PRH-S&S deal, a look at the Eritrean comics scene and more!

Legal: The Indian Attorney General has given the go-ahead for contempt charges to be pressed against Rachita Taneja, creator of the webcomic Sanitary Panels, because of several Tweets that, the AG found, portray the Supreme Court of India as “biased towards the ruling party.” A law student, Aditya Kashyap, requested permission to begin contempt proceedings, citing three of Tanecha’s tweets, all of which are basically political cartoons.

Other Indian artists have spoken out publicly in support of Taneja, and on Dec. 2, Taneja tweeted “Thank you for the outpouring of love. I am filled with gratitude. It’s a rough time for a lot of people, and we’ll get through it by sticking together” along with a comic showing hearts pouring out of her computer:

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Comics Lowdown | Paul Rainey wins Jonathan Cape Prize

Plus: New manga licenses, minicomics reviews, and more!

Paul Rainey has won the 2020 Observer Jonathan Cape Comica Graphic Short Story Prize for his story Similar To But Not, a memoir of a chance encounter with a celebrity in a local pub in 1975. Rainey’s story and the runner-up, Ellen Durkin’s The Worm, are both available to read online.

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Comics Lowdown: Con wars, comics in Spanish, new kids’ imprint

Plus: Asterix, Jason Lutes, Derf Backderf, James Romberger and more!

Creator Talk: At The Beat, Matt O’Keefe interviews Chris Eliopoulos about his graphic novels (Cow Boy, Cosmic Commandos), his picture books (Ordinary People Change the World), the difference between comics and book publishing, and how he began his career as a comics letterer—his lettering firm, Virtual Calligraphy, still does a lot of lettering for Marvel.

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Comics Lowdown: Batton Lash, Ron Smith pass away

Plus: News on Grant Morrison, Tintin, Stan Lee and more.

Batton Lash, the creator of the long-running comic-strip-turned-comic-book Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre (later re-titled Supernatural Law) passed away Jan. 12 at the age of 65 from brain cancer.

Lash’s comics career began in the late 1970s when Wolff and Byrd began running as a weekly comic strip in The Brooklyn Paper and then later in The National Law Journal. In the 1990s, he and his wife, Jackie Estrada, formed Exhibit A Press, which began publishing Wolff and Byrd comics under the title Supernatural Law. It later migrated to the web. His other works included writing the Archie Meets The Punisher crossover as well as Bongo Comics’ Radioactive Man book, which received an Eisner Award in 2002. He also collaborated with James Hudnall on Obama Nation, a conservative political comic strip that appeared on one of Andrew Breitbart’s websites.

Many of the creators and industry professionals who knew Lash have started to share their remembrances, including Heidi MacDonald and Rob Salkowitz. The Comics Reporter has a round-up of more of them.

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Comics Lowdown: Tom King’s CIA service

Plus: ‘The Arrival’ selected for Hong Kong’s first ‘One City, One Book’ campaign, the obituary Marie Severin should have received, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phoebe Gloeckner, Diamond Gem awards and more best-of-2018 lists!

Happy New Year from the Smash Pages staff! Coming back from the holiday break, let’s ring out the old and ring in the new with today’s collection of comic book news links.

Let’s start with a weird one: Last week Abhay Khosla, comics critic and past Superman writer, posted about his attempts to confirm with the CIA that Batman and Heroes in Crisis writer Tom King used to work for them. The topic of King’s former employer frequently comes up in interviews related to his Batman work (not to mention King’s Vertigo series The Sheriff of Babylon), and Khosla questioned whether any reporters who interviewed King about it had ever confirmed it. So Khosla sent the CIA a letter back in 2016 asking for confirmation, and the response he received from the agency was inconclusive.

This exchange occurred in 2016, and why Khosla decided to go public with it now isn’t clear. The point of Khosla’s post doesn’t seem to be to call out King as a liar (he starts his post by saying, “I don’t think this is really a story about Tom King”) but is more of a statement about entertainment journalism and fact-checking. He points out similar situations where a past DC writer, Micah Wright, lied about being in the armed services, as well as current Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski pretending to be Japanese early in his career.

The problem isn’t in asking the question — it’s posting about it without an answer or actually asking King about it. Like verifying facts, that’s also journalism 101. After the post went live, King was quick to respond on Twitter, showing proof that he was, indeed, in the CIA. Bleeding Cool, The Comics Reporter and Nick Hanover have more commentary on this.

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Comics Lowdown: Eric M. Esquivel fired from ‘Nightwing,’ ‘Border Town’ cancelled

Plus: Free Comics Book Day, George Freeman, Marie Javins and more!

Although it wasn’t yet announced, DC Comics has said Eric M. Esquivel will no longer co-write Nightwing. The news that Esquivel was writing the book was to be revealed today in DC’s January solicitations.

The news follows the cancellation of Border Town, a well-reviewed series Esquivel wrote with artists Ramon Villalobos and Tamra Bonvillain. Both Villalobos and Bonvillain announced on social media they had quit the title after allegations of sexual abuse against Esquivel became public. In a piece titled “X, my experience with my abuser,” toy designer Cynthia Naugle detailed a history of abuse by a co-worker at a comic shop, who has since been identified as Esquivel.

Neither DC Comics nor Vertigo have commented directly on the abuse allegations. Esquivel, who had changed his Twitter account to private following the allegations, has now made it public again and posted several tweets in response. At Book Riot, writer S.W. Sondheimer says she will no longer cover Vertigo titles as a result of their silence on the matter.

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Comics Lowdown: Chris Ryall rejoins IDW; Joe Illidge out at Valiant

Plus: top comics and graphic novels at comic shops in November! Next ‘Dog Man’ book gets a 5 million copy print run! Kieron Gillen plays ‘Die,’ for real! And much more!

Chris Ryall, who left IDW Publishing in March after serving as editor-in-chief for about 14 years, has rejoined the company as president, publisher and chief creative officer.

“IDW is where I’ve spent the majority of my career, and I consider the company and its employees like family, so I am grateful for this amazing opportunity to return,” Ryall said in a press statement. “I believe that IDW has very significant opportunities to become even more valuable and important, and I am excited to further expand on what I started with the company nearly 15 years ago. I am also eager to help the company celebrate its 20th year anniversary in 2019 in varied and creatively invigorating new ways.”

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Comics Lowdown: ‘Love Is Love’ brings in another $51,000 for The Trevor Project

Plus: Tumblr changes its guidelines, November comics sales drop, Olivia Stephens, Sophie Goldstein, Geoff Johns, Kieron Gillen, Todd Klein, more best-of-the-year lists and more!

The Love Is Love anthology published by IDW Publishing and DC Comics continues to raise money for LGBT organizations; earlier this week IDW announced a donation of $51,000 to The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people. This follows a donation of $165,000 in 2017 to the OneOrlando Fund to assist the victims and families impacted by the deadly attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016.

“This has so exceeded any of my wildest hopes for the amount of money it could raise and the attention it got,” Marc Andreyko, who organized and curated the anthology, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We were able to give $51,000 to the Trevor Project two years out, when the news cycle is so fast people don’t remember what happened five minutes ago. I’m happy and sad that there is an evergreen quality to this.”

The anthology is currently in its sixth printing, available via online booksellers, comic book specialty retailers and through digital platforms.

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