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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: October, 2013
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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