This week on The Comics Alternative podcast Andy and Derek invite the creators of the new digital comic, Subatomic Party Girls (Monkeybrain Comics), into their virtual studio for an interview. Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, and Erica Henderson share with the Two Guys with PhDs (Talking about Comics) the origins of their new series; the unusual character lineup; their unique mashup of absurd humor, rock history, and sci-fi madness; and their working relationship, in all of its dysfunctional fun-filled glory. Along the way they discuss their other works, such as Awesome Hospital and their upcoming Oni comic Down! Set! Fight!, and how Subatomic Party Girls is providing them with new challenges. The conversation is jam-packed with trivia, pop cultural allusions, and sundry marginalia, and at times it seeps into crannies that you wouldn’t expect. But Chris, Chad, and Erica always bring it back to their new series and how being interviewed on The Comics Alternative has been the highlight of their careers. We couldn’t agree more.
This past Saturday, Derek attended the Dallas Comic Con, which was held at the Irving Convention Center, and ran from May 17-19. There, he spoke with a variety of creators and publishers, asking them about their comics and encouraging them to share with The Comics Alternative listeners their various projects, both recent and future. This was a heavily celebrity-ladened con — William Shatner and Brent Spiner were there, Nathan Fillion was supposed to be there (but didn’t make it), and Derek’s daughter, Zoe, was completely mesmerized by Adam Baldwin, who actually signed her homemade Jayne hat — and that part was fun. But Derek focused mostly on getting to the comics folk themselves. In his peregrinations around the convention floor, he was able to speak with Robert Wilson IV (artist of Knuckleheads), Jackie Cannon and Erik Reeves (writer and artist of Hoodratz in Space), creator Terry Moore (of Strangers in Paradise and Rachel Rising fame), Hunter S. Zombie (writer of Stillborn), Scott Chitwood (publisher of Red 5 Comics), Danny Allain and Paul Soileau (creator and publisher of Dead Reckoning), Dave Johnson (illustrator and cover artist for 100 Bullets), Amanda Conner (covers for My Little Pony and artist and co-writer of Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre), Kerry Gammill (publisher and editor-in-chief of Monsterverse Entertainment), and Steve Erwin (illustrator of the upcoming graphic novel version of Robert A. Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy). It was a lot of fun all around — the artists, the celebrities, the cosplay, the weirdness — and in this Point One episode, Derek shares with you his talk with several fascinating individuals. Listen and enjoy, won’t you?
This week Andy and Derek review two recent graphic novels, James Vance and Dan E. Burr’s On the Ropes and Matt Kindt’s Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes. As the Two Guys with PhDs make abundantly clear, both of these are incredible original works that are sure to end up on the guys’ year-end top ten lists. First, Andy and Derek discuss On the Ropes, a follow up to Vance and Burr’s original 1988-1989 miniseries, Kings in Disguise (Kitchen Sink Press, and latter published as a graphic novel in 1990). They discuss this earlier work, so as to set a context for the new book, and then go on to explore the ways in which On the Rope builds upon — and in some ways, even surpasses — the narrative reach of Kings in Disguise. If, as many critics have pointed out, Kings in Disguise is one of the seminal American graphic novels, then the latest collaboration between Vance and Burr is indeed a notable occasion. Next, the Two Guys with PhDs turn their attention to Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes, one of the most ambitious works they’ve recently encountered. They discuss in detail the ways in which this book bears the “Matt Kindt stamp,” especially in its use of fragmented storytelling, the themes of crime and intrigue, the intertextual uses Kindt makes of comics history, and the text’s metafictional play, where the work itself becomes a blueprint for the way we read comics. As Derek and Andy both point out, Kindt is definitely on an upward trajectory, with each work getting more ambitious and impressive than the previous. The two guys wrap up with a brief summary of other things they are reading, such as 1980s Marvel comics and recent first and second issues from Image, including Sex, Lost Vegas, and Ten Grand. The jury is still out on some of those new titles.
In this week’s episode of The Comics Alternative, Andy and Derek interview acclaimed artist Rick Geary. His new book, A Treasury of Victorian Murder Compendium, Vol. 1, was recently released by NBM Publishing. In it, you’ll find some of Rick’s Victorian murder classics, such as The Crimes of Dr. E.W. Prithard, The Fatal Bullet, The Beast of Chicago, and of course Jack the Ripper. The Two Guys with PhDs talk with Rick about his line of murder story comics — Victorian era as well as 20th-century — his meticulous research when preparing for each project, his strategies for storytelling and how he frames his narratives, and his fascination with crimes and unsolved mysteries. They also ask Rick about his many adaptations, translating into comics form such classics as Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, O. Henry’s “The Marionettes,” Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Copper Beeches,” and Mark Twain’s The Mysterious Stranger. Rick also talks about some of his work in other genres, including all-age comics such as Gumby and graphic biographies on the lives of Leon Trotsky and J. Edgar Hoover. All in all, Andy and Derek have a great time talking with Rick and are reminded, yet again, of why they keep gravitating back to his art again and again.
This past Saturday, Free Comic Book Day, Lone Star Comics in Plano, TX, sponsored a panel discussion on the current state of American comics. He invited a variety of individuals from different backgrounds and with different perspectives, but all participating in the field of comics in some form or another. The Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics were invited to take part in this event. Unfortunately, Andy couldn’t make it, but Derek was able to be there and provide his two or three cents. Joining Derek on the panel were Scott Fane, one of the writers from the blog Comical Musings; Chris Danger from live pop culture broadcast SCNS:Live; Brent Erwin, the Chief Operating Officer and one of the founders of Ape Entertainment; and Hunter S. Zombie, the writer of the indy title, Stillborn: The First Zombie. Introducing the panel was Shea Hennum, the scheduling manager of Lone Star Comics in Plano and a friend of the show. Shea got the ball rolling by asking the question, “Are we currently in a ‘golden age’ of comics?” What followed was a series of responses to that questions, insights and observations that led down several interesting paths. Much thanks to Rick Cromack, the manager of Lone Star Comics in Plano, for organizing this event. And a big thanks as well to Jason Dilworth, who helped us with the recording and who captured the panel discussion on video.
Despite its nefarious subtitle, this week’s episode of The Comics Alternative is all-age friendly! In it you’ll hear Andy and Derek discuss the shapely offerings in the May Previews catalog. They highlight the various sexy solicits from Dark Horse (Smoke/Ashes, The Best of Milligan and McCarthy, Sin Titulo, and Gamma), curvaceous tomes from DC/Vertigo (Batman ’66, Collider, Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril, and The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice), come-hither titles from IDW (The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror, Rocketeer/The Spirit: Pulp Friction!, Doctor Who, Series III, Vol. 2: The Eye of Ashaya), drool-inducing images from Image Comics (Satellite Sam, Ghoster, Sheltered, Kafka, and Masks and Mobsters), alluring visuals from Abrams (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, Vol. 3: The Donner Dinner Party), exotic bodies of work from Action Lab Entertainment (Molly Danger and Skyward), bodacious books from Boom! Studios (Day Men, Adventure Time: Summer Special, and Adventure Time: Candy Capers), provocative forms from Conundrum Press (Paul Joins the Scouts), voluptuous offerings from Fantagraphics (Child of Tomorrow! and Other Stories, VIP: The Mad World of Virgil Partch, and The Daniel Clowes Reader), seductive stuff from First Second (The Death of Haggard West, Genius, and Templar), inviting packages from Improper Books (Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale), arousing entertainment from Oni Press (Stumptown, Vol 2, and The Strangers), and titillating titles from Top Shelf (Monster on the Hill and God Is Disappointed in You). The Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics then go off on a tangent involving racy manga, erotic art, and Internet porn. And they’re not proud of that fact. How did they reach this low point? You’ll have to listen to the podcast and learn that answer for yourself!
Free Comic Book Day was Saturday, May 4th, and the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics were at Lone Star Comics in Plano, TX. They spoke with staff and customers about what FCBD titles people were getting, which ones were going quickly, what was in some of their FCBD issues, and how publishers were making the best of this annual event. Along the way they talked with a variety of folks, including aspiring comics writer Nick Bridwell, Jess from Rainbow Runners, Chris Danger from SCNS:Live (also on-location at Lone Star Comics), and of course their ol’ friend and the scheduling manager of the Plano Lone Star Comics, Shea Hennum. (A young comics fan in a cool Superman outfit almost came by to talk with Andy and Derek, but he was spooked out at the last minute by Chris from SCNS:Live.) The shop was packed with customers, and as a result, the Plano location of Lone Star Comics surpassed its previous single-day sales record! On top of that, the city’s mayor, Phil Dyer, worked with the shop to declare May 4, 2013 official “Free Comic Book Day” in the city of Plano. Later in the day, there was a panel discussion held at the store, including contributions from bloggers, podcasters, local artists, and publishers. All of that and some damned good comics. What more could one ask for on FCBD? Listen to this special “Point One” episode and experience the fun!
This week Andy and Derek review three new #1 comics: the Vertigo anthology Time Warp, Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s The Private Eye (Panel Syndicate), and Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta’s East of West (Image Comics). They have their hands full with Time Warp, given the variety of quality creators and engaging narratives contained in this plus-sized issue, but they still find the time to look at two recent examples at genre bending. Vaughn and Martin’s The Private Eye is a futuristic detective/noir tale established on the premise that technology and social media have gone wrong. The Two Guys with PhDs note that this narrative has much in common with Y: The Last Man, another series based on a faulty cultural contingency. East of West, on the other hand, is a genre free-for-all, mashing up elements of sci-fi,westerns, alternative history, and apocalyptic narratives, and topped with a generous dollop of violent gore. It’s not a title for those with a queasy constitution. Andy and Derek then turn their attention to the recently announced nominees for the 2013 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. They point out this year’s dearth of nominations for superhero-related titles and the sheer dominance of independent creators and smaller publishers on the list. In other words, the 2013 Eisner nominees are just up The Comics Alternative‘s alley, leading the Two Guys with PhDs to wonder if this year’s awards committee has been listening to and heeding the suggestions emanating from their weekly podcasts. Even if they haven’t, it’s clear that Andy and Derek have their fingers on some kind of pulse, and that The Comics Alternative is particularly poised to discuss the significance of this year’s Eisner’s nominations. There’s a lot of good, creamy comics stuff packed into this oversized episode — over two hours long! — and it’s sure to sit nicely on your shelf next to your collection of 1970s DC “giant” comics!