Nice Art

§ I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Welcome to 2018. Let’s start this year with some nice art from Maddi Gonzalez, a Mexican-American illustrator based in Minneapolis. She’s worked on a number of anthologies, including Elements Anthology: Fire and Fresh Romance. I like her use of colour and the variety of characters she can draw. She’s working on a webcomic called Uncanny Valley High.


§ Please note that due to a combination of slower news month and the fact that I haven’t been able to devote as much time this column during the Christmas break, this is going to be much shorter than usual. It should be able to tide you over since the comics news cycle started again earlier this week.

§ Let’s start by showcasing the hard work of our team on the “Best of 2017” list. I think we managed to showcase a diverse array of books and everyone should be able to find a book they’d want to spend the gift cards they received in December.

§ Paste Magazine has a really good interview with Leslie Stein

§ Austin Lanari takes aim at comics criticism. Writing about comics doesn’t have standardized guides so each writes tend to have a different approach. Lanari takes exception to a specific type of criticism that analyze the individual page, the mechanic of it if you will, without explaining the effects of the choices made on the page. Don’t lose the forest for the tree basically. It’s an interesting read if you’re interested in how comics work and how criticism works

§ TCJ interviews Zainab Akhtar and Patrick Crotty of Peow Studio. They recently hired comic critic and entrepreneur Zainab Akhtar (Comics & Cola, Shortbox). Peow Studio makes really amazing book, it’ll be interesting to see what comes out of this in 2018

§ Joe Sacco, Sophie Yanow & Iona Fox were over at Process Party to talk about comics journalism

§ Osvaldo Oyola on the jerkiness of Professor X. Oyola uses the watershed #metoo movement to address the history of abusive behaviour coming from Charles Xavier. Xavier is such a creepy jerk, particularly when it comes to Jean Grey. A great article from Oyola once again

§ Daniel Elkin’s best small press comics of the year

§ Alex Dueben interviews Annie Koyama on 10 years of Koyama Press and the next 10 years

§ CBC’s comics coverage remains excellent, even if sometimes you hear the usual “Bam Pow Wham, comics aren’t for kids anymore”

§ Here we have an interview with Jillian Tamaki on magical realism in the digital age

§ CBC Ideas focus on how Shakespeare gets reinvented in the pages of comic books

§ Saskatoon-based artist Elaine M. Will on how mental health journey inspired her graphic novel

§ CBC has their list of the best of Canadian graphic novels and graphica (whatever that means)

§ Radio-Canada also has the best French Graphic novel

§ I had missed this interview with cartoonist Jay Odjick on his illustrated children’s book with Robert Munsch. My son loves it and that’s the best compliment I can give this book. It’s great

§ Samuel Cantin talks about the sequel to his 2016 graphic novel Whitehorse

§ Siris was on Radio-Canada to talk about his new graphic novel

Odd News

§ While you could make a strong case for Marvel being hexed with a curse to give them one of the worst PR year in recent history, the Akira Yoshida/CB Cebulski story was probably the oddest comic book news of 2017.

§ The CBC had a roundup on the whole Akira Yoshida thing

§ Priya Huq has a more in-depth round-up of the controversy over at Women Write About Comics


§ Lina Gaibeh’s comic Education in Fear: Growing up in the Assad Regime over at the Nib is pretty powerful stuff.

§ Moving forward, I won’t showcase comics in this column. The Beat has been focusing free comics for the last year and I intend on giving cartoonist making great comics a bigger spotlight rather than burying their story in this column. Look for the year of free comics feature on the Beat!


§ Ryan C reviews November Garcia’s Malarkey

§ Frank Santoro on one of my favourite comic of 2017, Wet Earth by Lala Albert

§ Diana Page reviews The Beast, the latest graphic novel from Nicole Marie Burton

§ Sally Ingraham on Ed Piskor’s new series X-Men Grand Design

§ Alex Hoffman on William Cardini’s latest Tales from the Hyperverse

If you see something I should know about, tell me in the comments or tweet at me @Leblanc_Phil. Happy New Year!


  1. The points from Austin Lanari are well taken. Way too much of “comic criticism” is what I would call book report style. Like elementary students’ book reports. The reviewer regurgitates the action of the book, highlights their favorite part, and then tells you if you should read it or gives a grade. In school we were eventually taught that proper textual criticism involves looking at the actual elements of a story – the allusions, symbols, themes, pacing, character development, etc. Those are what make each story unique, good, or bad. At least comic reviewers could cut some of the plot regurgitation to make for better reviews.

  2. That Austin Lanari “Comic-splaining” article is interesting.

    The paragraph about the Zegas page bothers me too, but for an additional reason: if I were the one writing a review/analysis of the story, I’d be talking about the poor placement of the objects and how they make the page difficult to read.

    For example, the motion line in panel six leads my eye to the panel-breaking ice cube…which leads my eye to the “Oh, please” balloon. But because I saw the motion line before the three balloons below it, I ended up skipping them entirely and going straight to “Oh, please.”

    Likewise, the second word ballon on the page starts in panel one and points at panel three, so I end up skipping panel two and have to go back to it. Sometimes confusion like this can be intentional, but I don’t think it’s the case here.

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