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The Comics Alternative - Smart Discussions on Comic Books and Graphic Novels

Two guys with PhDs talking about comics! The Comics Alternative is weekly podcast focusing on the world of alternative, independent, and primarily non-superhero comics. (There's nothing wrong with superhero comics. We just want to do something different.) New podcast episodes become available every Wednesday and include reviews of graphic novels and current ongoing series, discussions of upcoming comics, examinations of collected editions, in-depth analyses of a variety of comics texts, and spotlights on various creators and publishers. The Comics Alternative also produces "special feature" programs, such as shows specifically dedicated to creator interviews, webcomics, on-location events, and special non-weekly themes and topics.
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The Comics Alternative - Smart Discussions on Comic Books and Graphic Novels
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Now displaying: 2013
Dec 25, 2013

The Two Guys with PhDs (who talk about comics) like to end the year by highlighting their favorite titles of the past twelve months. These could be ongoing series, limited runs or miniseries, one-shots, trades, original graphic novels, webcomics, or archival collections. So for this week’s episode, Derek and Andy each choose their favorite ten comics from 2013 and then share that list with one another. They don’t necessarily rank them in any order — although Andy does reveal the #1 title on his list — and neither knows of the other’s ten favorites before they record the podcast. As such, the Guys not only have a great time discussing the year’s best comics, but also in discovering what each other feels is truly his favorite. There are a few overlaps between Andy and Derek’s choices, but even more significantly, there are some big surprises in each one’s list!

Dec 20, 2013

For this month’s on-location show, Derek heads back to Collected Comics in Plano, TX, to talk with Shea Hennum and other shop employees about the past year in comics. The conversation begins with a look at some of the highlights from 2013, the best titles to come out of the year, movies and television programs based on comics, and some of the most memorable publishing events — or just events, in general — in comics. Shea and Derek also discuss some of the trends they saw developing over the past twelve months, including the impressive output of such major creators as Paul Pope and Gilbert Hernandez. Without turning too negative, they also mention some of the disappointments or lackluster moments from 2013, but then they counterbalance that with their hopes for new things that will be coming out in 2014. This is the perfect show to set the stage for Andy and Derek’s much-anticipated end-of-the-year episode, where they will share what they consider to be the best titles in 2013.

Dec 18, 2013

This week the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics take their annual look at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s The Best American Comics collection (including material published between September 1, 2011 and August 31, 2012), this year edited by Jeff Smith. They begin by noting that this volume is significant for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that this is the last to be overseen by series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden. Andy and Derek marvel at the work the two have been doing since they began with the 2008 volume, and they wish Abel and Madden well in their future endeavors…and they look forward to seeing what the new series editor, Bill Kartalopoulos, will bring to the table. The guys highlight what they consider to be their favorite contributions to the 2013 volume, specifically commenting on the sheer number of entries that originally appeared in Dark Horse Presents. They also discuss the need for a book such as this to introduce readers to new material, the pros and cons of excerpting from longer works — Derek noted the potential pitfalls of the practice, although Andy was more accepting — how the 2013 volume differs from  previous years’ collections, the kind of trends they see in this year’s volume, the fact that Evan Dorkin has two different kinds of contributions in the book, the growing representation of webcomics in these yearly volumes, and the dominance of comics anthologies in Smith’s collection as well as the relatively little attention this year given to serialized titles. (Were there just not that many “good” serialized comics between September 2011 and August 2012?) The Two Guys also get into a larger discussion of the very idea of publishing a “best of” anthology of this type. The “best” according to whom? Might there be certain biases involved? What’s the role of editorial predilection? Who is included as part of the “best,” who is excluded, and why? They don’t attempt to second guess this year’s volume editor, Jeff Smith, but they do think it’s important to keep these questions in mind. Well…Derek does. He had a problem with the “Best” part of the title and would feel more comfortable with a different name. Andy thought that Derek was being too critical in addressing the series name. Derek said that maybe Andy should change his name, as well. But once again, the Two Guys with PhDs hearty recommendation the annual Best American Comics collection, marvel at the gargantuan task undertaken by the editor, and thoroughly enjoy the many contributions collected between the covers!

Dec 11, 2013

This week the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics review three new titles, and boy, are they geared up! They begin by looking at the Hernandez brothers’ latest issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories (Fantagraphics). Focusing first on Jaime’s contributions, they comment on how his narratives have evolved after the “Love Bunglers” storyline from issues number 3 and 4 of New Stories. They’re particularly interested in Jaime’s deeper exploration of the family of Vivian Solis, AKA Frogmouth, especially as it relates to Tonta and the reappearance of Angel Rivera (last seen in the “Ti-Girls Adventures”). Next, Andy and Derek delve into Gilbert’s contribution to the latest New Stories, spending a good deal of time doing close readings of the multiple narrative levels at work: the current story of Dora “Killer” Rivera’s visit to Palomar, the flashbacks to her deceased aunt and great-grandmother, and the films surrounding her great-grandmother, Maria. Here, the Two Guys bring up Gilbert’s new graphic novel, Maria M.: Book One (Fantagraphics), and how it plays off of so well the new Love and Rockets. They look at Maria M. not only as another installment of Fritz’s b-movie books — along with Chance in Hell, The Troublemakers, and Love from the Shadows — but also, and perhaps more significantly, as a point of convergence among the various generations of Luba’s family. While Andy feels that Maria M. is a kind of retelling of Poison River (one of the most significant storylines in the first volume of Love and Rockets), Derek sees it as more of a prequel or lead-up to that narrative. Finally, the guys look at the first issue of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos’s Pretty Deadly (Image Comics). They discuss the density of comic, while at the same time commenting on the decompressed nature of the series’ premise. There is a lot packed into this episode, plenty of close and detailed readings, and you’re going to have to listen to this show multiple times in order to savor every drop of the Two Guys’ insights…for what they’re worth.

Dec 10, 2013

On this interview episode, Andy, Gene, and Derek talk with Zak Sally, the creator behind Like a Dog,  Recidivist, and Sammy the Mouse…a narrative that Derek calls “the Waiting for Godot of comics.” His second installment in the planned four-book Sammy the Mouse series just recently came out from Uncivilized Books, and the guys discuss with Zak the genesis of that project and his strategies for plotting the story. Zak also talks about his beginnings with zines in the 1990s;  music and his time with the band, Low; his efforts with La Mano, his own publishing arm (pun intended); his work on the upcoming fourth issue of Recidivist; the artistic limitations of Tumblr; and his experiences in Duluth and Minneapolis. Along the way, the conversation (de)evolves into a discussion of Battle of the Network Stars, Telly Savalas commercials for Duluth, and how the name “Dylan” is actually pronounced in Hibbing, Minnesota.

Dec 4, 2013

It’s time again for the Two Guys with PhDs to go through the monthly Previews catalog. This time around there are a number of noteworthy solicits to mention, including Fatima: The Blood Spinners, The White Suits #1, and Someplace Strange (from Dark Horse); The Royals #1 and Daytripper: Deluxe Edition (DC/Vertigo); Red Panda: The Mask of the Red Panda (IDW Publishing); The Fuse #1, The Revenger #1, and The Mercenary Sea #1 (Image Comics); Sanctuary (Slave Labor Graphics); A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Bloomsbury); Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 (Dynamite Entertainment); Walt before Skeezix: 1919-1920 and the new printing of The Fixer (Drawn and Quarterly); Zero Hour and Other Stories, Insect Bath #1, and Cannon (Fantagraphics); The Bunker #1 (Oni Press); The Simon and Kirby Library: Horror (Titan Books); Tippy and the Night Parade (Toon Books); The Bojeffries Saga and Alone Forever (Top Shelf); and American Comic Book Chronicles: 1965-1969 (TwoMorrows Publishing). Also in this episode: Andy discusses the merits of buying local for his family dinner, and Derek shares a rabbit-induced trauma from his childhood.  Oh…and there’s some good general comics talk.

Nov 29, 2013

On this special “point one” show, we present a recording of the Comics and Social Media Panel held at the Wizard World Austin Comic Con on November 22nd. Derek Royal and Shea Hennum were two of the discussants on that panel, along with John Mayo of The Comic Book Page podcast and Russell Latham of The Longbox of Doom podcast. The title of the panel was “Comics and Social Media: The How-To, the How-Much and the Why,” and during the session the four presenters took questions from the audience and shared their various experiences. Among the topics discussed were how to set up blogs and podcasts; the kinds of ways to use social media; how to reach an intended audience via Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr; strategies for contacting publishers and creators; what to expect in terms of set-up and maintenance costs; what kind of software and hardware is needed for your intended purposes; and why anyone would want to make all this effort just to share their opinions and insights on comics. There was a lot of information crammed into that 45-minute panel, and we hope that our recording of the session will be of use to our listeners, as well.

Nov 27, 2013

This being the week of Thanksgiving, Andy and Derek thought that they would use this week’s show to share what they are thankful for regarding comics. And one of the first things that they are thankful for is the company of Gene Kannenberg, Jr., who joins the guys to give his own comics-inspired thanks. Together, the Three Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics reveal their thankfulness for a variety of things, including some of the comics events they have attended this year, the creators they have had the good fortunate to meet and/or interview, the publishers who consistently put out the best material, the innovators who continue to push the boundaries of the medium, the writing styles that never fail to disappoint, and the series that offer some of the most significant archival works and with the best reproduction quality available. There are no turkeys here…only the most appetizing menu you can imagine. And Happy Hanukkah as well!

Nov 26, 2013

On this episode of The Comics Alternative Interviews Derek and Gene talk with Vivek Tiwary about his recently published The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story (Dark Horse Books). In their conversation, Vivek discusses the genesis of his book, his personal and professional interests in Brian Epstein, the challenges of being a first-time graphic novel writer, and his dogged efforts to accurately represent the life The Beatles’ manager. Gene and Derek also ask Vivek about working with artists Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker, as well as information on plans to turn The Fifth Beatle into a movie. There’s a lot of information packed into this show, all part of an effort to bring renewed — and sorely needed — attention to the man who made The Beatles into a cultural phenomenon.

Nov 22, 2013

The Comics Alternative is back for its monthly on-location show at Collected Comics in Plano. Joining Derek on this episode is Collected employee and good friend of the show, Shea Hennum. This month there is no particular theme or specific topic of discussion, so the guys engage in general comics talk. Shea and Derek discuss the things that they’re reading, the titles that have been released over the past couple of weeks, and what to look forward to in the months to come. Shea is particularly excited about recent releases, and he waxes over the many titles that now make up his “to read” list. As always, it’s a fun time talking at Collected Comics in Plano, so come listen to the episode and experience the joy.

Nov 20, 2013

The Two Guys with PhDs (Talking about Comics) are back with another roundtable discussion, and this time the topic is licensed comics. Joining them again are their podcasting pals, John Mayo from The Comic Book Page and Chris Marshall from Collected Comics Library. Springing from Chris’s suggestion that they talk about licensed properties — and fostered by Andy’s uncanny fascination with ROM and The Micronauts — the four comics dudes cover a wide swath of pop culture history regarding the trans-media nature of certain properties. There’s a lot to talk about with this topic, and the guys try to get as much in as they can. Along the way they discuss comic-book manifestations of Star Trek, Star Wars, G. I. Joe, My Little Pony, Doctor Who, MacGyver, The Bionic Man, Doc Savage, The Spirit, The Monkees, various Disney properties, and personality-based comics such those published on The Beatles, Bob Hope, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (one of Derek’s favorites). The four guys all highlight their favorite licensed titles, and they even propose a few new possibilities as a sort of wish list.

Nov 18, 2013

On this episode of The Comics Alternative Interviews, Gene and Derek talk with editor, archivist, comics historian, and pop cultural Renaissance Man, Craig Yoe. The interview gets off to a wild start with a discussion of  Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator Joe Shuster, a book that Craig says helped to put him on the publishing map. From there they highlight several of Yoe’s more recent releases, including his Haunted Horror series, Jack Cole’s Deadly Horror, Strange World of Your Dreams, The Art of Archie: The Covers, and the Ditko Monsters books. The Two Guys also ask Craig about his time with Disney, Nickelodeon, and especially his close association with Jim Henson and his experiences working on the Muppets. One of the most moving parts of the interview, in fact, is when Craig discusses his last meeting with Henson, the day of the legend’s untimely death. But the overall tone of the conversation is upbeat. It’s a free-flowing conversation filled with humor, horror, and erotic references. And it’s one of the most enjoyable interviews the guys have ever conducted!

Nov 13, 2013

This week Andy and Derek return with another special Publisher Spotlight episode, this one devoted to Vertigo. Although the Two Guys with PhDs demonstrate superhuman abilities when tackling a variety of titles, it’s obvious that they cannot cover all of Vertigo’s history and output. Instead, they have decided to focus on the most recent wave of comics coming out from the imprint. This includes the many titles that have been released since the summer and in the wake of Karen Berger’s departure. Derek and Andy discuss the significance of these latest releases, what they suggest about the possible direction of the imprint, and how these comics fit within the larger history of Vertigo. The recent series that the Two Guys discuss include The Wake, 100 Bullets: Brother Lono, FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics, the new Astro City series, Trillium, Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril, Sandman: Overture, Hinterkind, Coffin Hill, and the new anthology The Witching Hour. They also focus on the narrative trajectories of some of Vertigo’s more established series, including the current run of The Unwritten, Fables, and Fairest. Here, they look at The Unwritten/Fables crossover and recent original graphic novels and collections such as The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice, Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland, and the upcoming Fairest in All the Land. As this episode aptly shows, Vertigo is still one of the most exciting places to find cutting-edge comics!

Nov 12, 2013

On this Comics Alternative interview show, Gene and Derek talk with Jeremy Whitley, the writer of the Eisner Award-nominated Princeless series and the outgoing Director of Marketing at Action Lab Comics. Jeremy talks with the Two Guys about the genesis of Princeless, his upcoming work on My Little Pony for IDW, the place of all-age comics, and the representation of women — especially in its impact on girls and younger women — in comics today. He also shares his experiences in marketing for Action Lab over the years, as well as his hopes for his new role as the publisher’s Education Outreach Director. All in all, Gene and Derek have a great time talking with Jeremy about his work as a creator and his efforts behind the scenes at Action Lab.

Nov 6, 2013

It’s the first of the month, so it’s time for the Two Guys with PhDs to look through the latest Previews catalog. Plus, Andy’s back on the podcast, so there’s a lot for him and Derek to catch up on. After Andy re-acclimates to the world of podcastdom, the guys plunge into the November solicits. They discuss upcoming titles such as Bad Blood #1, Serenity: Firefly Class 03-K64 – Leaves on the Wind #1, and Gasoline Alley, Vol. 1: The Complete Sundays 1920-1922 (Dark Horse); Showcase Presents: Men of War and The Unwritten, Vol. 2: Apocalypse #1 (DC/Vertigo); Basil Wolverton’s Weird Worlds: Artist’s Edition and Rio: The Complete Collection (IDW Publishing); Deadly Class #1 and Minimum Wage #1 (Image); the rerelease of the original Miracleman (Marvel); recent Archie comics; Revelations #1, Curse #1, and Hacktivist #1 (BOOM! Studios/Archaia); The Original Johnson Omnibus (Comicmix); The Twilight Zone #1 and Legenderry #1 (Dynamite Entertainment); Ant Colony (Drawn and Quarterly); Prison Pit, Book 5 and Nothing Eve (Fantagraphics); curious manga adaptations – Ulysses into comics? — from One Peace Books; Snow Piercer, Vol. 1: The Escape (Titan Comics); and USNA: United States of North America (USNA Publishing). Along the way, Derek and Andy see how many of their listening constituencies they can alienate…although Andy already has a head start, given recent reviews dissing him as closed-minded on The Comic Alternative‘s iTunes page. To that reviewer we say, “Bite us!”

Nov 4, 2013

For the first in this new feature, the Two Guys with PhDs are proud to have as a guest comics legend Kim Deitch. His new book, The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley, was just published by Fantagraphics, and Tof and Derek begin their conversation by asking him about the genesis of the project. Kim reveals the history of Katherine Whaley, its links to “The Sunshine Girl” (in Deitch’s Pictorama) and The Search for Smilin’ Ed (both by Fantagraphics), and his fascination with early twentieth-century film and popular music. Along the way, they discuss some of Kim’s characters that recur in Katherine Whaley, some that do not (most notably, Waldo), the evolution of Kim’s art style, his fascination with storytelling, his strategies for keeping the creative juices flowing, and the inside scoop on Kim’s next book project. All in all, it’s a wonderful way to begin the new Comics Alternative Interviews feature!

Oct 31, 2013

The Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics return with their 2013 Halloween Special! In this episode, Gene and Derek discuss a variety of this year’s Halloween special issues, very recent horror titles, and series annuals themed to the season. (We know, we know…Halloween Classics: Graphic Classics, Vol. 23 came out in 2012, but we weren’t able to discuss this book last year, so we wanted to be sure we did so this time around.) They cover a lot of ground, highlighting as many new Halloween titles as they can, recommending most with a severed thumbs up. The titles they discuss include: Halloween Classics: Graphic Classics, Vol. 23, by various artists (Eureka Productions); Afterlife with Archie, by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla (Archie Comics); Adventure Time 2013 Spooktacular, by various artists (Kaboom!); Herobear and the Kid 2013 Annual, by Mike Kunkel (Kaboom!); Hellraiser 2013 Annual, by Clive Barker, Brandon Siefert, Ben Meares, Jesús Hervás, and Janusz Ordon (Boom! Studios); Grimm Fairy Tales 2013 Halloween Special, various artists (Zenescope Entertainment); Vampirella Halloween Special 2013, by Shannon Eric Denton and Dietrich Smith (Dynamite); The Mocking Dead #1-2, by Fred Van Lente and Max Dunbar (Dynamite); The Walking Dead: 10th Anniversary Edition, by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Dave Stewart (Image); The Walking Dead #115, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Ablard (Image); Zombie Tramp, Vol. 2 #1, by Dan Mendoza (Action Lab); Vamplets, Vol. 1, by Gayle Middleton, Dave Dwonch, Amanda Coronado, and Bill Blankenship (Action Lab); Zombillenium, by Arthur De Pins (NBM); Boo! Halloween Stories, by various artists (MonkeyBrain). So put on your favorite homemade costume, slap on a little ghoulish greasepaint, grab your pumpkin head bucket, walk like a zombie, and enjoy the sweet, nougaty treats (no tricks here) of The Comics Alternative 2013 Halloween Special!

Oct 30, 2013

This week the Two Guys with PhDs review Seth’s Palookaville #21 (Drawn and Quarterly) and The Fox #1, by Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid (Red Circle Comics). They begin by providing a primer on Palookaville and the 16-year run (so far) of the serialized Clyde Fans. They spend a good amount of time talking about the latest installment of Clyde Fans, part four, and then move on to the two overtly autobiographical sections of this issue of Palookaville: “Rubber Stamp Diary” and “Nothing Lasts, Part One.” Both Gene and Derek are fascinated with the very concept of the former, using specially designed rubber stamps to keep an illustrated diary. And they are bowled over by “Nothing Lasts,” a section from one of Seth’s sketchbooks and a better story than most people’s finished comics. Next they turn their critical eyes to Haspiel and Waid’s The Fox, a new superhero title for Archie Comic’s Red Circle imprint. (Yes, we know that The Comics Alternative doesn’t focus on superhero comics, but this first issue is a notable and justifiable exception, especially since Dean Haspiel is a friend of Gene’s.) They comment on the history of The Fox, beginning back in the 1940s, and then discuss how Haspiel and Waid revive the character for current times. What the Two Guys discover inadvertently are the thematic similarities between The Fox – Haspiel’s critique of social and digital media — and Seth’s emphasis on the past and older printed materials. All in all, it is a fun review show for Derek and Gene, and they both wholeheartedly recommend Palookaville #21 and The Fox #1 to everyone.

Oct 28, 2013

To celebrate this year’s Halloween ComicFest, the Two Guys with PhDs (talking about comics) paid another visit to Collected Comics in Plano, your one-stop-shop for everything thrilling and chilling! Gene and Derek were joined by Collected’s co-owner Brent Irwin, comics artist and friend of the show, Andy Hirsch, and Andy’s “Bob’s Burgers” companion, Natalie Khan. It was truly a ghoulish experience, made more so by the mayhem surrounding everyone during the podcast recording. Amongst crowds of customers, face-painted patrons, kids with loud toys, and Yu-Gi-Oh card players breaking tables, the Two Guys and their guests talked about the free Halloween ComicFest comics, recent horror-related titles, Andy’s work on Adventure Time and Regular Show comics, the experience of watching Saturday morning cartoons in the ’70s and ’80s, comics and library community outreach efforts, contentious definitions of the “graphic novel,” Dell and Gold Key TV show-based comics, Gene’s challenge to keep up with new weekly comics, and Derek’s disturbing revelation that his favorite Halloween costume experience was when he was dressed as a baby, complete with diaper, pacifier, and nippled bottle. Despite the latter obstacle, everyone had a fun time, and they managed to end the episode before the Yu-Gi-Oh hoard descended upon them. Experience the fun on this latest supplemental show!

Oct 23, 2013

This week Gene and Derek review two new books (both translations from the French) and the first issue of a new series. They begin with David Prudhomme’s Rebetiko (SelfMadeHero), a narrative centered around a day in the lives of five rebetes, musicians who were a part of the Greek folk music subculture in the 1920s and 1930s. The characters are outcasts, living on the fringe because of their love of rebetiko — often called “Greek blues” — and treated as immoral influences. Prudhomme uses the music and the lifestyle as a structuring device for his narrative. The Two Guys then turn to Pachyderme (SelfMadeHero), Frederik Peeter’s surreal, dreamlike story of a woman who is searching — searching for her husband, whom she believes to have been in an accident; searching for her young female piano student, who elicits in her some sort of hidden passion; and searching for her own sense of self as a fully realized woman. The result is a free-flowing, associative story that seems to turn back on itself and resists closure. If you appreciate Charles Burns’s dislocated narratives, you’ll really enjoy Pachyderme. Finally, Derek and Gene discuss the first issue of Erik T. Johnson’s series, The Outliers (Panelvision Productions/Alternative Comics). Beginning almost two years ago as a Kickstarter campaign, this is Johnson’s adventure story of a speech-impaired boy who is able to see creatures living on the periphery of human consciousness, or outliers, that others cannot perceive. The guys are impressed by all three of the titles they discuss and heartily recommend that listeners run out to get these comics. This week is truly an alternative comics feast!

Oct 18, 2013

It’s time once again for our monthly on-location show at Collected Comics in Plano, TX. This month the discussion theme is horror comics, a perfect topic for the Halloween season. On this show, Derek is joined once again by Shea Hennum as well as the shop’s assistant manager, Freddy Rick, the resident expert on all things horror. (Another store employee, Sabrina, even makes a brief vocal appearance on the podcast, sharing her uncanny love of vikings and cheese.) Among the many horror titles they discuss are The Walking Dead, Hellboy, Rachel Rising, EC’s New Trend line from the 1950s (including Tales From the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear and The Vault of Horror), Revival, Weird War Tales, Richard Corben’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, Swamp Thing, Hack/Slash, Locke and Key, almost anything by Steve Niles, and the pre-Code comics that Craig Yoe collects in his many volumes. So get your freaky fright on for this ghoulish installment of The Comics Alternative podcast!

Oct 16, 2013

This week on The Comics Alternative podcast, Derek and Gene review Paul Pope’s Battling Boy (First Second), Geof Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy #1 (Dark Horse), and Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder’s Rocket Girl #1 (Image). The Two Guys with PhDs begin with Battling Boy, placing it within the larger context of Paul Pope’s body of work — seeing similar themes, stylistic flair, characterization, and tone found in comics such as 100%, Heavy Liquid, and THB – and also reading it in light of other First Second publications. Both are fascinated by what Pope is doing in this all-age (?) superhero (?) sci-fi narrative, and they are eagerly anticipating the next installment of the story, The Rise of Aurora West. Gene brings keen insights not only to the metaficational aspects of Battling Boy, but also Pope’s use of lettering and font choices. The Two Guys are not in the same kind of agreement with Shaolin Cowboy. Derek feels that it’s one of the most visually intriguing, and funniest, comic books of the year, while Gene wants more story. (And Derek recommends that Gene read the first Shaolin Cowboy series from Burlyman Entertainment…although even he has his problems with the way that first series unfolded.) But they do agree on Montclare and Reeder’s Rocket Girl, feeling that the series starts off with a blast — sorry for the pun — and promises interesting things in the issues to come, especially in terms of time travel twists.

Oct 9, 2013

This week on The Comics Alternative, Gene Kannenberg, Jr. joins Derek to talk about the many great finds in the October Previews. They begin by looking at some of the offerings coming up soon for Halloween ComicFest 2013, then they get into the nitty gritty of this month’s catalog.  Among the many titles they highlight are 47 Ronin and Breath of Bones (Dark Horse), Dead Boy Detectives #1 and The Invisibles Deluxe Edition, Book One (DC/Vertigo), Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground and The Illegitimates #1 (IDW), The Saviors #1 and The Complete Multiple Warheads, Vol. 1 (Image), Where Bold Stars Go to Die (Slave Labor Graphics), The Wonderful World of Lisa Simpson #1 (Bongo Comics), The Midas Flesh #1 (BOOM! Studios), Susceptible and Trove Jansson’s Moomin books (Drawn and Quarterly), The Blighted Eye and Sucker Bait and Other Stories (Fantagraphics), The Fifth Essence Part Two: Planet Difool (Humanoids), The Best of Wonder Wart-Hog (Knockabout Comics), Diesel Sweeties: Bacon Is a Vegetable, Coffee Is a Vitamin (Oni Press), The First Kingdom Vol. 3: Vengeance (Titan Comics), and World War 3 Illustrated #45 (Top Shelf).  This episode is jam-packed with sweet, nougaty comics goodness, and Derek and Gene discuss more good titles than humans should be allowed to read.

Oct 7, 2013

Another Dallas Comic Con was held this past weekend, October 4-6, at the Irving Convention Center. Derek was there looking through comics, taking in the sights, and talking with a variety of creators and publishers. He recorded his conversations, and you’ll find the fruits of his labor in this new episode. This con was filled wtih celebrities, cosplayers, and comics sellers, but Derek headed straight for the people who are actually the heart and soul of the event: the writers, artists, and publishers of comics. While on the floor Derek was able to get brief interviews with Joe Eisma, Cary Nord, Robert Wilson IV, Josh Howard, Andy Hirsch, Richard Dominguez, Michael Golden, Steve Niles, and comics legend Neal Adams. He also took the time to engage with folks at several independent publishers such as Terror Comics (where you can find Life Is Brutal and Thought Nog), Overground Comics (home of Absent Captain and Graduate), Space Gun Studios (publishers of The Old Ones and Dash Bradley), Comic Book Divas (with Miss Misery’s A Haunting Desire and Penny Dreadful’s Cauldron of Terror), and the local distributors of Vamplets. There’s lots of fun talk and interesting insights, so listen along as Derek meanders the convention floor.

Oct 2, 2013

This week on The Comics Alternative, Tof once again joins Derek to talk about comics, and this time they’re reviewing new books by David B. – Black Paths (SelfMadeHero) and Incidents in the Night, Book 1 (Uncivilized Books) — and issue #1 of God Is Dead by Jonathan Hickman, Mike Costa, and Di Amorim (Avatar). The Two Guys with PhDs begin by discussing David B.’s surreal and idiosyncratic style, and how that style manifests itself in his two most recent books. First they look at Black Paths and how David B. uses history,  the Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio and the ill-fated Free State of Fiume, as a scaffolding for his story. Tof and Derek also highlight the various narrative connections between that book and Incidents in the Night, pointing out the creator’s penchant for interlinking his narratives though iconic markers. They talk in-depth about David B.’s surrealistic style, his “flat” or two-dimensional art, and the dream-like world where most of his stories take place. Next, the Two Guys turn to the first installment of Jonathan Hickman and Mike Costa’s new six-issue miniseries, God Is Dead. Although Tof is a little uncertain about Di Amorim’s art (e.g., the depiction of women), Derek is fascinated by the way that Hickman and Costa set up their storyworld, giving us several events that promise to converge in the coming issues. There’s a lot to listen to…so start listening already!

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