This week on The Comics Alternative, the Two Guys with PhDs review several #1 issues that have come out in the past couple of weeks. First, they discuss two Vertigo titles, Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s 100 Bullets: Brother Lono, and Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson’s Astro City. Andy and Derek spend a bit of time discussing the earlier series that these new comics are based on, but they also point out how both of these #1 issues are good jumping on points and accessible to readers unfamiliar with 100 Bullets and the earlier Astro City works. In addition, they argue that these two titles are just another indication that earlier worries about Vertigo’s fate might have been misplaced. Next they move on to Six-Gun Gorilla (Boom! Studios), written by Simon Spurrier with art by Jeff Stokely. The guys note the unique atmosphere of this title, science fiction in what appears to be a late-nineteen-century-like setting, and of course allude to the original pulp story, serialized in the UK magazine Wizard in 1939, that this comic is based on. Next, Andy and Derek look at another kind of science fiction mashup, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus (Image Comics). This new ongoing series has a lot of promise, and the guys point out how the creators do an incredible job of setting up their premise in this first issue. If these are the kind of #1 issues we can expect to see this summer, then hold onto your sunscreen…the fun is just beginning!
This week the Two Guys with PhDs review Gabrielle Bell’s latest book, The Voyeurs (Uncivilized Books), as well as two self-published comics from Becky Cloonan, The Mire and Demeter. This is the perfect episode to follow last week’s roundtable on the mainstream-indie comics divide, in that the work of both Bell and Cloonan exemplify many of the points raised in that discussion. First, Andy and Derek do an in-depth reading of The Voyeurs, placing it within the larger context of Bell’s body of work. They emphasize the semi-autobiographic nature of the book, while at the same time pointing out how much of The Voyeurs is more ambitious than her earlier comics, combining many of the best features found in her Lucky series (collected in 2003) and the more fictional Cecil and Jordan in New York (2008). The guys then move on to Becky Cloonan’s recent self-published comics, The Mire (a 2013 Eisner Award nominee) and Demeter. After briefly discussing some of Cloonan’s mainstream work, such as American Virgin (with Steven T. Seagle, 2006-2008) and Demo (with Brian Wood, 2003 and 2010), Andy and Derek move quickly into the independently published comics, highlighting many of the features that set these titles apart from her mainstream work. They specifically focus on the poetic quality of both The Mire and Demeter, seeing these comics as sophisticated and almost elusive narratives that challenge the reader in significant ways.
Andy and Derek are back for another of their Point One episodes, and this time they’re on the floor of HeroesCon, taking place on June 7-9 in Charlotte, NC. Andy was there for the entire weekend — as is his annual tradition — and Derek was able to get there for Sunday, the last day of the con. So the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics were able to join forces and leap into action, schmoozing and cavorting and interviewing a number of creators/publishers in Artist Alley. You’ll hear in this show some of the fruits of their encounters, brief conversations with John Layman, Duffy Boudreau, Peter Bagge, Evan Dorkin, Eric Powell, Andy Hirsch, Jim Ottaviani, and Maris Wicks, among others. Also on this episode Andy shares some of his memorable HeroesCon encounters, and Derek reveals his suspect use of the word “wacky.” A great time was had by all, and we hope you enjoy listening to some of the fun the Two Guys had this past weekend.
This week on The Comics Alternative Andy and Derek present another roundtable discussion, this one devoted to the mainstream and indie comics divide. They are joined by fellow podcasters John Mayo, from the Comic Book Page podcast, and Chris Marshall, from Collected Comics Library. On this roundtable, the four guys begin by defining their terms and asking some basic questions — such as What are mainstream comics?, What defines an alternative or indie title?, How does one inform the other?, and What are the differences between the readerships of these different kinds of comics? — and from there the discussion goes off into different trajectories, all filled with nuanced responses and unexpected twists. Chris, John, Andy, and Derek cover genre definitions, the expectations underlying mainstream titles, the difficulty pinpointing indie content, the influences of fandom, divergences of readership, title availability, the “literariness” of certain comics, and, of course, the historical inheritance of comics as a disposable medium of “kids stuff.” They cover a lot of ground, and with intelligent, substantive conversation. What’s more, everyone had such a good time that the four guys have decided to do another roundtable discussion in the near future.
The Two Guys with PhDs are back at Lone Star Comics in Plano, TX, and this time they are talking science fiction with the store manager, Rick Cromack, and his trusty sidekick, Shea Hennum. This is the first of a two-episode look at sci-fi comics with the guys at Lone Star (the second will come at the end of the summer). In this first show they kick off the summer movie season by discussing some of the recent movie releases — such as Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and Man of Steel — and how those films are related to the franchises’ comics…or vice versa. They also bring up a number of non-film-related sci-fi comics (such as Prophet and The Massive), attempt to define “science fiction” and emphasize its elasticity, play around with the boundaries of the genre, and even debate what comics may or may not be considered science fiction. Along the way Rick argues that Superman isn’t really a superhero, Andy’s head subsequently explodes, Shea reveals his need to be housebroken, and Derek finds that with some of his critical opinions he is the odd man out (again). They are joined later in the episode by a dedicated Lone Star Comics customer who poses the timely question, “Who will be the next Doctor Who?” They cover a lot of ground in this episode, and everyone has a good time…especially when Andy and Derek announce the winner of their June giveaway!
This week on the podcast Andy and Derek flip through the pages of the June Previews catalog, and there they find a whole slew of great upcoming titles. In fact, this month they find solicits on an exciting lineup of new alternative and indie books, including Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve and Seth’s Palookaville (both from Drawn and Quarterly), the Hernandez brothers’ Love and Rockets: New Stories No. 6 (Fantagraphics), John Lewis and Andrew Aydin’s March, Book 1 (Top Shelf), Zak Sally’s Sammy the Mouse Vol. 2 (Uncivilized Books), Ben Acker and Ben Blacker’s The Thrilling Adventure Hour (Archaia Entertainment), Jack Katz’s The First Kingdom, Vol. 1: The Birth of Tundran (Titan Comics), P. Craig Russell’s Opera Adaptations (NBM), Classics Illustrated Deluxe, Vol. 10: The Murder in the Rue Morgue and Other Tales (Papercutz), as well as Howard Chaykin’s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Walt Kelly’s Pogo: The Complete Dell Comics, Vol. 1 (both from Hermes Press).