My Year in Writing: 2016

My writing on comics and other books in 2016 appeared at Hyperallergic, the Chicago Reader, the Washington City Paper, and here at my site. Let’s work together: dominic.umile@gmail, and see more clips here.

writing comics books 2016


In January, online arts & culture magazine Hyperallergic ran my piece on Argentinian comics pioneer Héctor Germán Oesterheld, who was kidnapped by his own government in 1977. Rife with Cold War-era technophobia, mind-control horrors, and fear of an omnipresent enemy’s reachThe Eternaut, created by Oesterheld and masterful artist Francisco Solano López, was collected by Fantagraphics in 2015.

writing comics books 2016

I wrote a somewhat short review that went up in July of Threadbare: Clothes, Sex & Trafficking, an absolutely depressing but crucial nonfiction comics series reported by award-winning writer Anne Elizabeth Moore and drawn by artist collective Ladydrawers. Originally published at Truthout and collected at Microcosm, Threadbare’s comics and essays demonstrate how the apparel industry is “keeping women in poverty around the world.”

writing comics books 2016

writing comics books 2016Also in July, I wrote about the work of Vancouver, British Columbia-based artist and video game designer Sean Karemaker. His book of comics and surreal illustrations, The Ghosts We Know, is new from Conundrum Press.

I’m hopeful that some folks saw my recent piece on cartoonist and MacArthur Fellow Ben Katchor, who explored in comics the vanishing (or long gone) rituals we associate with life in America’s metropolitan centers. The 25th anniversary of Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay is celebrated in a new hardcover from Drawn & Quarterly.


In March, I looked at the history of Batman — in comics and onscreen — for a review of critic Glen Weldon’s book The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture. “No single image defines Batman, because any single image is too small to contain the various layered and at times contradictory meanings we’ve installed in him,” Weldon writes. “Since his first appearance, we have projected onto the character our own fears, our preoccupations, our moral imperatives, and have seen in him what we wish to.”

writing comics books 2016

Also at the WCP, my very short preview of award-winning cartoonist Chester Brown’s appearance at Politics & Prose bookstore, where he discussed Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus: Prostitution and Religious Obedience in the Bible, his confrontational new comics on sex work in Biblical stories.


I wrote only one piece that went to publication for the Reader this year (a second will have to wait). In January, I wrote about graphic reportage and comics scholar Hillary Chute’s new exploration of nonfiction comics, Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form.

writing comics books 2016


MINOR AT HEART (my blog, but it’s not branded very clearly I guess)

writing comics books 2016In January, I wrote about an English translation of an award-winning graphic novel called Les deuxièmes that was published by Pow Pow Press, an imprint of Montreal French-language publisher Éditions Pow Pow. Montreal creator Sylvie-Anne “Zviane” Ménard’s For As Long As It Rains follows two young lovers around an austere but enviably spacious mid-century modern cabin while they cook, laze around, and make love. My post is here.


In February, I put a short piece together on the recent sci fi-influenced comics and illustrations from Philadelphia-based artist Anuj Shrestha.

writing comics books 2016

I dug Shrestha’s Resident Aliens zine as well as his provocative “Hear No Evil,” a comic about technology and gentrification that ran in late 2015’s Future Shock Zero anthology, which is published by Retrofit/Big Planet. Read my post on Shrestha’s work.

writing comics books 2016A roundup that went up in April included blurbs on three things I’d been reading at the time: Horror by Heck, the March-April international comics-focused issue of World Literature Today, and Nick Drnaso’s collection, Beverly.

I was excited to connect with the editors and publishers of a new nonfiction comics email newsletter called The CoJo List for a post that I wrote in May. Comics journalists Josh Kramer and Em DeMarco (a sample of her work appears below) wanted to create a space in early 2016 for aggregation of good graphic reportage as well as news about nonfiction comics. Their newsletter is accepting submissions and is looking better with each issue (they’re eager to spotlight work that is by and about women, POC, and LGBTQ folks).

writing comics books 2016

Josh Cotter’s 2016 Fantagraphics comic and Jesse Jarnow’s reported book for Da Capo Press had me thinking about the marvels of Internet technology — both real and imagined back in July.

Belgian painter and comics artist Ben Gijsemans renders a believable portrait of a lonely bespectacled figure he calls Hubert in his debut graphic novel, but I couldn’t find myself getting past the uncomfortable request to excuse or sympathize with what is largely a maladjusted peeping tom.

writing comics books 2016

My last post of 2016 was another round-up of stuff I’d been reading in November: The Solar Grid ( a digital sci-fi comic from Egyptian artist Ganzeer), a porto-graphic novel called Soft City, and a new comic called Equinoxes by French creator Cyril Pedrosa.


Images from The Eternaut published by Fantagraphics Books © 2015. Image from Threadbare, with text by Anne Elizabeth Moore and art by Ladydrawers collective, 2016; this edition © Microcosm Publishing, 2016. The cover of Sean Karemaker’s The Ghosts We Know (© Sean Karemaker, 2016). Joe Sacco’s cover image for Disaster Drawn published by Belknap Press/Harvard University Press © 2016. For As Long As It Rains image © 2015 Sylvie-Anne Ménard. Translation © 2015 Helge Dascher. Image © 2015 Anuj Shrestha for Hazlitt. Beverly interior by Nick Drnaso © 2016 Drawn & Quarterly. Image © 2016 Em DeMarco. Image from Equinoxes © 2015 Cyril Pedrosa.