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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: May, 2014
May 30, 2014

For this interview show, Andy and Derek go down the rabbit hole in another conversation with the ever-talented, ever-entertaining Craig Yoe. They primarily discuss Craig’s latest projects, Alice in Comicland and the new Weird Love series (both from IDW Publishing), but they also bring up his other books (such as Comics about Cartoonists, Haunted Horror, The Best of Sexology, and Little Penis: Oh, the Places You’ll Grow!). They spend a lot of time talking about the various comics in the new Alice book, highlighting the more straight-laced adaptations, such as Chad Grothkoph’s “Alice Through the Looking-Glass,” classic parodies like Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis’s “Alice in Wonderland!”, as well as the truly bizarre and borderline-disturbing translations, e.g., Warren Kremer’s “Little Max Meets Alice in Wonderland” and Serge S. Sabarsky and George O. Muhlfield’s “Alice on Monkey Island.” After that things get a bit weird…with Weird Love! Craig discusses his new bimonthly series, compiled with his wife, Clizia Gussoni, and the inherently strange nature of classic romance comics. With titles such as “I Fell for a Commie,” “Love of a Lunatic,” and “You Also Snore Darling,” the guys have no problem in generating — and degenerating — offbeat and irreverent conversation. The several Golden and Silver Age stories collected in this first issue of Weird Love cover such topics as sexual politics, misogyny, the women’s liberation movement, Joe Gill’s cultural conservatism, bald creepy guys, and spanking. So get ready to step through the podcasting looking-glass with this sick, kinky, and bizarro conversation with one of comics’ inimitable figures. And remember: Just say “Yo!” to Yoe!

May 28, 2014

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for your weekly visit from the doctors! This week on the show the Two Guys with PhDs review two new titles. First, they look at the latest in Titan Books’ Simon and Kirby Library series, Simon and Kirby: Horror! This beautiful volume collects all of the Black Magic and The Strange World of Your Dreams (Prize Comics) stories that Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had a hand in, in one form or another, published between 1950 and 1954. Many of these comics have been collected before — for example, DC’s brief reissuing of Black Magic between 1973-1975 and Craig Yoe’s The Strange World of Your Dreams collection that came out last year — but this is the first time all of the Simon and Kirby contributions have been brought all together and in chronological order. As Andy and Derek point out, there’s some wonderful stuff in this collection, macabre stories in the vein of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone and the creepiest of Hitchcock. Next, the Two Guys turn their attention to issue #1 of Trees, written by Warren Ellis with art by Jason Howard. This is an intriguing first issue, one that teases…but in a good way. The guys are particularly pleased with this latest effort from Ellis, in that they’ve been wanting more original and ambitious (and non-mainstream) stories from him, as demonstrated in Transmetropolitan, The Authority, Planetary, and Desolation Jones. They feel that Trees promises to follow in this tradition.

May 21, 2014

On this episode of The Comics Alternative, Andy and Derek discuss three new titles, and boy, do they have great time! They begin with Box Brown’s new graphic biography from First Second, Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. While neither of the Two Guys are big professional wrestling fans, they did grow up in an era where Andre the Giant was a significant cultural figure, covered in news programs, starring in films and television series, and appearing on The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman. Next they look at another historically based comic, also published by First Second: Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey, by Nick Bertozzi. This work focuses on the expedition that Ernest Shackleton took to the South Pole between 1914 and 1916, intending to traverse the Antarctic on foot. As the guys point out, this is another of Bertozzi’s comics about historical explorers, a previous title being 2011′s Lewis and Clark (also from First Second). Finally, Derek and Andy wrap up with a fun discussion — beginning with references to a dog taking a dump — of the new series from Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, Southern Bastards (Image Comics). Both of the guys are familiar with the Southern setting serving as the backdrop of this comic — Derek is from Charlotte, NC, and Andy has been living in South Carolina for a number of years — and they can relate to where the two Jasons are going. Derek, in particular, is excited to see Aaron back on a creator-owned, non-superhero title, and both are enthusiastically on board for what appears to be another great Image series.

May 19, 2014

For this special episode of The Comics Alternative, Derek is back at the Dallas Comic Con talking with a variety of artists, writers, publishers, and even animation voice actors. Among his guests are Yanick Paquette (artist on the new Swamp Thing), Jimmy Palmiotti (creative force, behind Harley Quinn and Painkiller Jane), Joe Eisma (artist on Morning Glories), Andy Hirsch (illustrator of Garfield, Adventure Time, and Regular Show), Robert Wilson IV (artist on Knuckleheads), Tim Harris (publisher/creator of Renegade Comics), Don Rosencrants (production manager of Literati Press), Jeremy Shada (the voice of Finn on the Adventure Time cartoon), and Man of Action Studios creators Steven T. Seagle (creator behind Imperial, House of Secrets, American Virgin), Joe Kelly (writer of I Kill Giants, Bang! Tango!, and Douglas Fredericks and the House of They), and Duncan Rouleau (artist behind The Nightmarist and The Great Unknown). There was a lot of activity and a lot of fun talk. And now you can experience the con vicariously by plugging into this podcast episode! A very special thank you to Sophie Birdwell and Marc Bullard, who, as our press liaisons, showed us the layout of the floor, introduced us to many in Artist Alley, and literally took us behind the scenes for some special moments. And another big thank you to Joe Kelly, who gave Derek a signed copy of his wonderful book for adolescents, Douglas Fredericks and the House of They.

May 16, 2014

On this episode of The Comics Alternatives Interviews, Andy W. and Derek talk with Nathan Hale, a writer/illustrator and the genius behind the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series from Amulet Books. They begin with Nathan’s brand new volume about World War I, Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood, and the meticulous work that went into it. As the Two Guys point out, this is perhaps Nathan’s most ambitious book to date, not only in terms of the intricate and detailed art, but also because of its vast sweep of political and military history. They ask the author about his unique narrative frame – the historical figure, Nathan Hale (no relation to the author), about to be hanged as a spy, yet with a complete knowledge of American history due to strange flying history book –  and the way he applies it to all of the books in the NHHT series, including One Dead Spy, Big Bad Ironclad!, and Donner Dinner Party. The guys have a great time talking with Nathan about his work, asking him about his writing habits, his background in children’s picture books, his strategies in writing for an adolescent audience, and his responsibilities as a researcher and educator. So put on your historical thinking cap, plug in your podcast-listening device, and enjoy this conversation with Nathan Hale.

May 14, 2014

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another regular episode of The Comics Alternative! This week, Andy and Derek really strut their alternative creds by focusing on three titles that keenly define “alternative.” First, they discuss the recent Dark Horse/Kitchen Sink book, The Best of Comix Book. This is a collection of comics culled from the original five-issue run of Comix Book, Marvel’s ill-fated attempt to partner with the underground comix movement of the early 1970s. The project was originally initiated by Stan “The Man” Lee and edited by underground maverick, Denis Kitchen. This recent collection features the work of such major underground comix figures as Justin Green, Trina Robbins, Kim Deitch, S. Clay Wilson, Skip Williamson, Lee Marrs, Joel Beck, Art Spiegelman, and Sharon Rudahl, and it includes a wonderful historical essay by James Vance. The Two Guys discuss the various pieces that are collected, comment on some of the artists represented here, and even speculate on why certain comics from the original run were included in this collection and why others were not. Next, Derek and Andy turn their attention to two new single issues from Fantagraphics: Insect Bath #1 and Cosplayers #1. Edited by Jason T. Miles, Insect Bath is an anthology of comics that could be called contemporary manifestations of the “underground.” In this way, the book transitions well from Comix Book, in that it very much carries on in the tradition of the underground, although with much more of a minicomics feel (and minicomics themselves are arguably the legitimate offspring of comix). The guys feel that the pieces included in this first issue of Insect Bath are hit or miss, but they are more excited about Dash Shaw’s Cosplayers. This is the first of a series — how many issues might there be? — where Shaw brings his experimental approach to a study of pop culture fandom. As Andy points out, Cosplayers feels much like a Daniel Clowes story, a far cry from what we saw last year in Shaw’s unconventional 3 New Stories and New School. There’s a lot packed into this episode, so plug in your earbuds and let’s get it on!

May 7, 2014

It’s the beginning of the month, which means it’s time for Andy and Derek to flip through the latest Previews catalog. In this issue, they highlight a variety of books and comic-book series that will be coming out later this year, including new titles from Dark Horse (The Goon: Occasion of Revenge #1, Red Moon, and Sally Heathcote, Suffragette), DC/Vertigo (Bodies #1 and Trillium TP), Image (Low #1, Supreme: Blue Rose #1, Black Kiss 2: XXXmas in July Special, and Murder Me Dead), Adhouse Books (Youth Is Wasted), BOOM! Studios (Black Market #1), Dynamite Entertainment (The Devilers #1), Drawn and Quarterly (Benson’s Cuckoos), Fantagraphics (The Hip Hop Family Tree, Vol. 2, DKW: Ditko, Kirby, Wood, Jim, and Luba and Her Family), First Second (The Shadow Hero), Hill and Wang (Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me TP), and Knockabout Comics (Beatles with an A: The Birth of a Band). Among the highlights from this episode, you will hear: Derek’s frustration at not getting his copy of Previews in time, and thus, having to rely on a crappy text file; Andy renewing his ongoing resistance to anything with “steam” in the title; Fantasies about killing clowns; More gripes about series numbering and the shenanigans of Marvel; Derek going negative on Vertigo’s new attempt at an anthology, and then Andy advising Derek to readjust his expectations on anthologies.  This this a fun episode? Of course it is! And it’s the kind of good quality podcasting you’ve come to expect from The Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics™.

May 6, 2014

Part two of The Comics Alternative‘s coverage of Free Comic Book Day 2014. In this episode, Derek visits a couple of his local shops, Madness Games and Comics and Collected, both in Plano, TX, where he takes the opportunity to interview several creators at the shops for FCBD. First, he talks with illustrator and designer, Matthew Warlick. Derek had interviewed Matthew previously at last October’s Dallas Comic Con when he was there with the rest of the crew from Space Gun Studios, but this time around he talks with the artist one-on-one. Next, the Guy with a PhD Talking about Comics heads over to his home shop, Collected, to talk with several other artists and writers. There he finds Chad Ettelbrick, creator of the new beef-filled zombie comic, Bovine. Derek also talks with Garfield illustrator and good friend of the show, Andy Hirsch. The past year has been big for Andy — working on Adventure Time comics, doing more covers, expanding his presence at Kaboom! — and he talks about many of these experiences amidst the chaos of FCBD. Next, Derek speaks with an artist new to the biz, Jajo Rice, about his aspirations within the industry and his ideas for new comics. Finally, he shares words with Eddie Medina, a Dallas-based artist and designer who is also a podcaster! (In fact, Eddie was at Collected with Cole Houston, of the JediCole Universe, recording an on-location FCBD episode, as well.)

May 5, 2014

On this special episode of The Comics Alternative, Derek is on location at Collected Comics in Plano, TX, talking with customers, cosplayers, and critical readers during Free Comic Book Day 2014. Joining him via the wonders of Skype (and despite some sound issues) is Andy Wolverton, who, unfortunately, was unable to take part in FCBD at his own local shop, Third Eye Comics, in Annapolis, MD. Instead, he joins in the FCBD activities from a distance, enjoying the fun virtually. He and Derek discuss the activity surrounding them at Collected Comics, talk with customers to find out what FCBD titles they’re getting, get the lowdown on local cons from gorgeous cosplayers, and plunge into recent comics news with friends of the show. The Two Guys had a lot of fun on Saturday, and some of their guests included a great guy named Rocky and his family, and also: uperfan and Friend of the Show, Laura Rogers; Dallas Fan Girl, Laura Gasera; and Krystle “Selina Kyle” Starr. Having been some days in preparation, a splendid time is guaranteed for all. So be sure to listen to this year’s coverage of Free Comic Book Day!

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