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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: June, 2015
Jun 30, 2015

This month on their manga episode, Shea and Derek discuss two very different works. They begin with Hirohito Araki's JoJo Bizarre Adventure, which is now being reissued in new editions from VIZ Media. The title has been published in smaller paperback form for quite a while, but this year VIZ began collecting Araki's world-famous -- and still ongoing -- series in larger hardcover editions, beginning with the first two volumes in the series' first narrative arc, Phantom Blood. (The third volume will be released this August.) Shea points out that one the distinguishing features of these new collections is Araki's more contemporary artwork that can be found on the cover of the volumes. This is markedly different, he mentions, from Araki's original style from the mid- to late 1980s, when the series first came out in Japan. In fact, the guys discuss how JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is very much influenced by -- or at least participated in -- the kind of over-the-top, extreme action narrative that defined that decade. As such, you can see these early JoJo stories as a cross between Sylvester Stallone, the Die Hard movies, and Rob Liefeld's art. What happens in the first two volumes is definitely melodramatic and strange. As Derek suggests, if elements of the story just don't make sense, if you feel that Araki is just getting a little too weird, just accept that and enjoy the ride. What else can you say about a series involving a Jane Austin-style setting, a sensei training premise, breathing techniques that can make your arm extend, and an Incan mask that creates vampiric zombies? Next, Derek and Shea look at a new release from Drawn and Quarterly, Tadao Tsuge's Trash Market. This may be the first English translation of Tsuge's work -- the guys are unsure about this -- and this book collects six stories that Tsuge had originally published in Garo and Yagyō between 1968 and 1972. One of Shea's favorites is "A Tale of Absolute and Utter Nonsense," perhaps the most political (intentionally or otherwise) piece in the collection, and one that he feels highlights Tsuge's defining art style. Derek is partial to "Song of Showa," a semi-autobiographical, unromantic tale of Tsuge's working-class roots, and especially the titular story, perhaps the collection's most sophisticated and complex when it comes to character development. But all of the stories here are outstanding: "Manhunt," about journalists investigating the phenomenon of "vanishing men," "Gently Goes the Night," about a psychologically atrophied father and husband still struggling with his experiences during the Second World War, and "Up on the Hilltop, Vincent Van Gogh...," another semi-autobiographical piece revisiting Tsuge's early years as an artist. Tsuge's grim, stark realism contrasts sharply with Araki's decompressed soap opera approach, but that's what makes these manga episodes so much fun, a study in differences.

Jun 29, 2015

On Friday of last week, the first day of HeroesCon, both Andy and Derek participated on a discussion panel, "Teaching Comics through a Historical Context." This was organized by Shawn and Adam Daughhetee of the Dollar Bin podcast -- who have been putting together these kind of panels at the con for several years -- and the focus of the discussion was on understanding comics within their temporal/cultural contexts and using them in the classroom as a way to teach history. Participating on the panel along with the Two Guys were Will Allred from the University of Arkansas, Tom Heintjes of Hogan's Alley, and Brian Puaca who teaches history at Christopher Newport University. Shawn Daughhetee moderated the proceedings. There was a sizable audience at the event, and the conversation was so congenial and productive that the moderator let the discussion extend beyond the panel's allotted time. This panel recording originally appeared on the Dollar Bin podcast. A big THANK YOU goes to Adam and Shawn Daughhetee and the rest of the Dollar Bin crew for making this recording at the con and for allowing The Comics Alternative to share it with its listeners.

Jun 26, 2015

In the second of two on-location interview episodes recorded at last weekend's HeroesCon -- the first episode went up yesterday -- Derek talks with a variety of artists tabling in Artists Alley. He begins with a conversation with Nate Simpson, discussing the recent release of Nonplayer #2, the long gap between the first and second issues, and Nate's plans for carrying the title forward. Next, Derek talks with Ed Piskor about the upcoming release of Hip Hop Family Tree, Book 3, Fantagraphics' landmark decision to release his title as a monthly series, and Ed's gold watch. After that, he discusses the webcomic Vattu with Evan Dahm, along with the artist's plans for eventually releasing the entire saga in hardcopy. Then Derek heads to the shared table of Gabriel Dunston and Aaron Walther -- which is almost next to The Comics Alternative's table! He talks with Gabe about Kickstarter and his work on the second Purgatory Pub book, and then he learns about Aaron's series, Zero's Heroes and Science Hero. Then, in one of the highlights of the con, Derek makes Ryan Browne laugh before learning the sad news that God Hates Astronauts will soon be going on hiatus. Following Ryan's talk, Jamal Igle discusses the new Molly Danger series as well as his work at Action Lab Studios, and then Frank Barbiere shares some word about the secrets to his prolific output...Five Ghosts, White Suits, Black Market, and Solar: Man of Action, anyone? Then, in the last hours of this year's HeroesCon, Derek is able to talk with Kyle Starks about his experiences after Sexcastle, with Jeremy Whitley about Princeless and ethnoracial issues in comics, and with Matthew Roberts about art and the success of Manifest Destiny.

Jun 25, 2015

While Derek and Andy W. were at HeroesCon last weekend, they were able to meet a variety of artists and writers tabling in Artists Alley. Many of these creators took time from their busy schedules -- talking with fans, signing books, and working on commissions -- to talk with the guys for a few minutes, discussing their works and sharing their experiences at the con. This episode of the podcast includes brief conversations with ten different artists and that, taken together, demonstrate the creative diversity to be found at this year's HeroesCon. First, Derek talks with Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan about their webcomic-turned-book, Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell, as well as Sophie's Ignatz Award-winning House of Women and the recently published The Oven. After that, Andy has a conversation with Michel Fiffe about his ongoing Copra series and his recent work on various Marvel titles. This is followed by another f**k-filled conversation with Tom Neely and Keenan Marshall Keller (who were just on the podcast last month) about the reception to the latest issue of The Humans, and then a more toned-down discourse with friend-of-the-podcast Craig Yoe on his experiences at HeroesCon, Weird Love, his enjoyment of cosplayers, and an awards message that he delivers for Steve Ditko. Next, Andy talks with Royden Lepp about his high-octane adventure series, Rust, and his process of writing for young readers. This is followed by conversations with Justin Jordan about Spread, Dead Body Road, and the return of Luther Strode, and with Hoyt Silva on the reaction to his and Josh Blaylock's Operation Nemesis: A Story of Genocide and Revenge. Finally, Derek wraps up this this on-location interview segment by talking with Max Dowdle about his fine art background and his graphic novel Shattered with Curve of Horn.

Jun 24, 2015

This week, Derek and Andy W. -- fresh from their trip to HeroesCon -- return with a discussion of three new, fascinating, and...well, whacked out comics. But they're all whacked out in their own, unique ways. They begin with the release of Gilbert Hernandez's Grip: The Strange World of Men (Dark Horse Books). This is not really a new work from Hernandez, as Grip was originally published in color as a five-issue limited series from Vertigo in 2002. (The new book contains only black and white art.) But the recent Dark Horse release marks the first time that the entire story has been collected. What's more, Hernandez provides four new pages that function as the setup of this strange narrative. And what a weird and twisted story it is, but it's one that distinctively bares the mark of Gilbert Hernandez. The guys attempt to follow the various narrative threads, but making sense of this story is beside the point. What matters is Hernandez's imagination and the fun to be had slipping into his narrative world. Derek even argues that the story comes at a curious time in Hernandez's career, several years after the end of the first Love and Rockets series, the beginning of the second series, and at a time when Gilbert is reaching beyond the more realistic confines of his Palomar stories. Next, the Two Guys turn to Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez's Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland (IDW Publishing). Andy admits that, at first, he was a little hesitant about this book, thinking that it might be nothing more than a mere retread of Windsor McCay's newsprint classic. But Shanower and Rodriguez -- known largely for their Wizard of Oz and Locke and Key comics, respectively  -- are up to much more than that. Their Little Nemo uses McCay's as a springboard into an entirely new narrative, pulling in some elements of the earlier comic, yet at the same time bringing in new figures to present a long-form story. Readers may recognize similarities to McCay's pacing, his humor, and his innovation, but this project easily stands on its own. Finally, the guys look at the first issue of a new twelve-part series from Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows. Providence (Avatar Press) is another Lovecraftian tale similar to the team's earlier Neonomicon and The Courtyard, yet this one has been described by the publisher as "the Watchmen of horror." That's a lot to live up to, as both Andy and Derek discuss in their coverage of this first issue. But the guys point out that if the inaugural installment is any indication, this may not be mere hype. While nothing much seems to happen in this issue, there are actually multiple stories being told, with Moore setting the stage for a larger, disturbing narrative. Much like the allusive Cthulhu, there is an unsettling presence lying just beneath the surface of what unfolds in this first issue.

Jun 23, 2015

This year the Two....no, the Three Guys with PhDs attended HeroesCon, and they had a table there in the middle of Artists Alley. Andy Kunka, Andy Wolverton, and Derek Royal were there to check out the action, rummage through the dollar bins, search for new and interesting titles, talk with creators, get their books signed, and just generally enjoy the fun and camaraderie. On each of the three days of the con, Friday (June 19th) through Sunday (June 21st), they made it a point to record segments live from the floor, discussing the highlights and the experiences they took away from the event. Among the many topics they cover are the incredibly long lines for Jason Aarons, Jason Latour, Chip Zdarsky, Matt Fraction, and Kelly Sue DeConnick; their luck in having a table so close to friend-of-the-show and overall great guy, Craig Yoe; the wonderful experience of having fans of The Comics Alternative come up and talk with the guys; the adventures of trying to find a place for dinner after the con lets out for the day; the kind of treasures they uncover when digging through stacks of back issues; the good and the bad of fan enthusiasm; their favorite discoveries of the day; the kind of encounters and conversations they had with the many creators in Artists Alley; and the weird effectiveness of the sign at their booth. For the most part, Derek, Andy, and Andy did their recordings at the end of each day -- providing a general wrap-up of the day's events -- but on Sunday they recorded two segments, the first one in the morning, so as to include Andy Wolverton before he had to head back home to Maryland (he was driving the long distance). The crowd at this year's HeroesCon was record breaking, and in the background of their recordings you can hear the constant buzz of attendees as they roam the floor. In fact, on a few occasions people came up to the table while the guys were recording, talking on the show and sharing some of the experiences they had. All in all, the Three Guys had a great time, and they plan to table at HeroesCon again next year. This is the first of several episodes of The Comics Alternative at HeroesCon 2015. In the coming days the guys will post two full episodes of conversations with creators in Artists Alley as well as a recording of the panel Derek and Andy Kunka participated in the first day of the con. Keep your ears open!

Jun 19, 2015

On this episode of The Comics Alternative Interviews, Derek has a great time talking with Tillie Walden, the author of a brand new book from Avery Hill Publishing, The End of Summer. This is her debut graphic novel, and, in fact, her conversation with Derek is the very first time she's been on a podcast. (Yet another Comics Alternative exclusive!) On the show, Tillie talks about the origins of her story, her process of creation, and the unlikely events that led to her first publication. The End of Summer is a narrative of purpose in isolation, an attempt to find meaning in a life defined by diminishing options. Walden's haunting art reveals the inner turmoil of her protagonist/narrator, Lars, as he negotiates the tangles within his family over the course of one long winter. Plus, she includes in her story a giant cat by the name of Nemo. Derek talks with Tillie about the balancing act of being a full-time student -- she's just wrapped up her first year at the Center for Cartoon Studies -- and creating a long-form comic. They also discuss her love of architectural illustration (evident throughout the book), the dream-like quality of her storytelling, and the many instances of Kubrick's The Shining that kept popping into Derek's head as he was reading the book. All in all, it is an illuminating conversation that will have you wanting to check out this promising young writer.

Jun 17, 2015

The Two Guys with PhDs are back for another Publisher Spotlight, and this time they turn their attention to recent releases from AdHouse Books. On this episode, they look at the publisher's 2015 catalog (so far), but first Derek talks briefly with AdHouse's founder and publisher, Chris Pitzer. He gives the lowdown on the origins of the press, how he translated his designer skills into publishing acumen, the process of artist acquisition, and some of his most notable (and unlikely) publishing successes over the years. After that, the guys plunge into their discussion of the five books that have come out -- or are about to come out -- from AdHouse this year. They start with the new edition of Jim Rugg's Street Angel. Both Derek and Andy Kunka had already discussed last year's Street Angel when they had Rugg on for an interview earlier this year, but this new edition gives the reader a different color experience. Whereas the earlier book contained black and white art, this one sets the illustrations on pink paper, giving Jesse "Street Angel" Sanchez's adventures a whole new feel as she keeps the world safe from ninja gangs, evil geologists, nepotism, and math homework. Next, the Two Guys discuss a truly offbeat book from Eric Haven. Ur is a collection of strange, absurd, and hilarious short comics reminiscent of the works of Michael Kupperman, Evan Dorkin, and Ryan Browne. Highlights include the heroics of Bed Man, Dream Lord of the Night Sky, and the demented adventures of everyman Race Murdock. Without question, this is one of the guys' reading highlights of the week. Next, they turn to the fourth issue of Ethan Rilly's Pope Hats. The guys bring different perspectives to Rilly's work, with Derek having read the previous issues and this being Andy's first exposure to the series. Fans of Pope Hats will find this a different kind of issue. The story of Frances and Vickie is temporarily put on hold while Rilly presents many of his previously published short comics, including the meditative "Stained Glass" and the psychologically moving "The Nest." After that, the guys look at Sophie Goldstein's novella-length work, The Oven. This is an alternate world, post-apocalyptic narrative about living off the grid and how empowering and life-changing such a move can be. Goldstein's simple, evenly paced art reveals  deeper levels of understanding than its small page count might suggest. Finally, Derek and Andy wrap up their spotlight with a discussion of Kathryn and Stuart Immonen's soon-to-be-released Russian Olive to Red King. Much like The Oven, this is a relationship story that unfolds slowly, allowing character to develop in organic and natural ways. In addition to the art, one of the most striking aspects of the book is it's last third, composed almost entirely of text. The guys note that while prose-heavy narrative can be a potential put-off in comics, Kathryn Immonen handles the story brilliantly, using the text to add depth to its more stoic art. Andy declares this one of his favorite books of 2015 so far. In fact, you could say something similar about all of this year's AdHouse books taken together.

Jun 15, 2015

The Comics Alternative is excited to have Rick Geary back on the show. The guys had last talked to him two years ago, after the publication of A Treasury of Victorian Murder Compendium, Vol. 1, and now Rick is returning to the podcast to discuss his brand new book, Louise Brooks: Detective (NBM). Although similar in tone to his historical murder mysteries, this is a very different kind of narrative for Rick. Here he uses the biography of silent film star, Louise Brooks, as a springboard for a fictional tale set in Depression-era Kansas (a setting with familial roots for Rick). After her heyday as a silent movie star, the toast of both America and Europe society, and a divorcée from two unsuccessful marriages, a still-young Louise returns to her family home of Wichita to regroup and assess her life. There, she attempts to readjust to small-town living, tries her hand at becoming a writer, and eventually becomes embroiled in an elaborate and seemingly indecipherable mystery involving a once-famous playwright. Andy and Derek tell Rick that this is one of the most tightly wrought narratives they've read this year, with the kind of pacing and art that define his best Treasury pieces. They even ask him if this is the beginning of a new series of tales, one where Brooks becomes a sleuth in the mold of Miss Marple or Nancy Drew. (There are no plans yet, but the very end of the Louise Brooks:Detective definitely leaves that door open.) The guys also talk with Rick about his other projects, including his previous book, Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White, his adaptation of classic works of literature for both Eureka Productions' Graphic Classics and Seven Stories Press' Graphic Canon series, his fascination of architecture and period dress, and his plans for future historical murder mysteries. Rick tells the guys about a few of his upcoming projects, including a new work based on the 1947 Black Dahlia case and his soon-to-be-launched Kickstarter campaign, "Murder at the Hollywood Hotel." Unfortunately, the guys didn't have the time to ask Rick about everything they wanted to discuss with him -- e.g., his upcoming appearance at the SDCC and his work on last year's A is for Antichrist: Obama’s Conspiracy Alphabet -- but there is nonetheless a lot packed into this interview. It is a fun and informative conversation, and the guys look forward to the time that they can have Rick back on the show for a third interview.

Jun 12, 2015

Once again, Derek is back at  his local comics shop, Collected Comics and Games in Plano, TX, to talk with customers and shop employees about comics culture. This month the topic was supposed to be summer movies and comics, with people chiming in on the recent releases of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as  the upcoming Ant-Man and Fantastic Four. However, there was only one of the on-location regulars who showed up this month, Shea Hennum, and much like Derek, he wasn't informed enough about the summer movies to help carry the conversation. So instead, Derek and Shea talked about a variety of other comics-related topics. On this show, they cover a broad and casual range, discussing the latest issue of Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve and the upcoming release of Killing and Dying, the recent collected Angry Youth Comix and the "appropriateness" of Johnny Ryan's art, potential problems in publishing a webcomic into book form, Jon Morris's new book The League of Regrettable Superheroes, the upcoming series wrap-up of Ales Kot's Zero, the current state of comics criticism/journalism, and Shea's uncanny ability to alienate creators through his own writing. So even though the guys had to wing it for this month's topic, it all turned out OK. Perhaps they'll hold over the summer movies theme for July. Tune in next month, dear listener, and find out!

Jun 10, 2015

This week on the podcast, Derek and Andy W. discuss three new and very different titles. They begin with a narrative based in reality, Mike's Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv, written by Jack Baxter and Joshua Faudem, with art by Koren Shadmi (First Second). This is the story of an American who travels to Israel to make a documentary, teams up with an Israeli film student, and then learns firsthand both the promises and the dangers of the conflicted culture. Mike's Place is beachfront bar in Tel Aviv where politics and religion are checked at the front door. It's sacred text is written with music, drink, and multicultural camaraderie. But the filmmakers soon learn that safe havens, political and personal, can be a tenuous proposition. Andy and Derek highlight the authors' evenhanded approach to their politically charged subject matter as well as their ability to make Mike's Place a story of community, not a single-minded treatise. And after all of that reality, the Two Guys head in the opposite direction with fantasy. Noelle Stevenson's Nimona (HarperCollins) is a story with supervillains, shapeshifters, and lots of cool scheming. This was a highly popular webcomic -- in fact, it's nominated in that category for this year's Eisner Awards -- that is now high-production trade paperback. Overall, both of the guys like the book, however, both of them also have problems with Stevenson's narrative. Andy feels that the author changes the rules of her storytelling as the book progresses, giving it an uneven feel. And Derek has problems with the pacing and overall story coherency. There are some scenes that are much too decompressed, and at times the dialogue is bloated and meandering. In many ways, the guys see Nimona as illustrative example of how popular webcomics may not successfully translate into other narrative platforms. Stevenson's style might have resonated with devoted web readers, eagerly awaiting each digital installment, but that kind of storytelling isn't always as effective (or as convincing) when presented as a singular text. Standing in stark contrast is the final title that Derek and Andy discuss, Optic Nerve #14, by Adrian Tomine. As he reveals in the issue's final self-depricating one-pager, Tomine has tried to resist the instantaneous, immediately gratifying world of digital publication and social media. This latest issue of his signature series, published by Drawn and Quarterly since 1995, is divided into two main stories. "Killing and Dying" is a family drama surrounding a teenager's desire to become a standup comedian, and "Intruders," dedicated to Yoshihiro Tatsumi, is an unsettling story about a soldier between tours of duty trying to reacquaint himself with his former life. Each is a brilliant example of Tomine's skills as a storyteller, his abilities to take common, everyday premises and invest in them profound themes. Issue #14 is reminiscent of the previous two issues of Optic Nerve -- structured similarly, presented similarly, and packaged similarly -- and all three will soon be collected together in Killing and Dying. Much like the guys felt about Seth and Palookaville last month, both Derek and Andy see Adrian Tomine as one of the most important comics artists working today, and his art is a careful, measured testament to medium's potential.

Jun 8, 2015

This month on The Comics Alternative's webcomics show, Andy and Derek check out three intriguing titles. As they usually do, they begin by looking at two current and ongoing titles. They get the ball rolling with Hans Rickheit's Ectopiary, This is a surreal story of discovery involving a young girl, Dale, whose family life isn't the most ideal. Sent to live with her aunt and uncle, she tries to come to grips with her parents' precarious state and does so through a series of unlikely discoveries on her relatives' property. Fans of Rickheit's The Squirrel Machine and Cochlea and Eustachi will find a similarly mind-bending, and beautifully illustrated, narrative in Ectopiary. This webcomic hasn't been updated in quite a while, but the guys are willing to wait hopefully for such a compelling work as Ectopiary. After that, Derek and Andy return to an author they had briefly discussed in a recent review show. Jen Lee's Thunderpaw is a story with anthropomorphic animals trying to find their way in the wild. As in Vacancy, the protagonists in Thunderpaw are domesticated dogs who must contend with a completely unfamiliar surroundings, and in this narrative that setting is a post-apocalyptic world where humans are nowhere to be found. What distinguishes his webcomic is not so much the premise, as fascinating as it is, but the storytelling strategies that Lee employs. She uses animated GIFs to set the tone and create a sense of urgency, and she utilizes design and panel layout in a way that brilliantly illustrates Scott McCloud's concept of the "infinite canvas." The Two Guys wrap up with the completed webcomic of the month, although technically this one is still in the process of evolving. Split Lip Comics is an anthology comprising individual short stories, all written by Sam Costello, but illustrated by a variety of artists. This webcomic's tagline is "Strange thoughts beget strange deeds," and all of its stories underscore that tone. Andy likens it to Rod Serling's Night Gallery series from the 1970s, short vignettes with a macabre twist. The guys don't discuss all of the stories on the website -- there are over forty in the archives -- but they do highlight some of their favorites and the ones that particularly stood out to them. In the Two Guys with PhDs' valiant and ongoing attempt to explore the realm of webcomics, this is another fascinating step forward!

Jun 3, 2015

We're in the opening days of June, so that means it's time for another look at the Previews catalog. At the beginning of every month, the Two Guys like to take a gander at the current Previews, flipping through its many pages and highlighting those upcoming releases that really capture their attention. And even if there are comics that neither Derek nor Andy W. plans on getting himself, if they think it's interesting enough for listeners, then they'll mention those titles as well. As with the May Previews show -- which had a running time of over two hours! -- this episode is quite substantial, since there are so many books that the guys feel are worth mentioning. Some are from popular publishers, some will be released through smaller and more obscure presses. But as always, it's a great mix of titles. So get out your checklists, and listen up! There are so many titles listed on this show that it would be impossible to review them all in the coming months. And in fact, Derek and Andy invite listeners to consider reviewing books for The Comics Alternative's blog. This is a way of covering material that the Two Guys aren't able to get to on their regular review shows. The blog already has an impressive roster of contributors, and if you have a penchant for critical writing and you love comics, then becoming a reviewer for the blog might be for you. And it will helping the guys get to as many of the books highlighted on this show as possible. So drop them a line if you're interested!

Jun 2, 2015

While Derek attended this year's Fan Expo Dallas, he had the opportunity to talk with Peter Bagge not once, but twice! On the Saturday of the con Peter was kind enough to sit down for a lengthy interview -- about 30 minutes -- in-between fans, commissions, and signings. Although their back-and-forth was substantial, there were subject matters that they didn't get to cover on that first day. So they decided to follow up with another interview on Sunday. What you'll hear in this podcast episode is an edited result of two-days-worth of recorded conversation at Fan Expo Dallas. Among other topics, Derek asks Peter about the response to 2013's Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, and that leads to a discussion of the creator's next project, a graphic biography of Zora Heale Hurston. Peter shares his experiences researching for the book, the politics underlying Hurston's previous biographers, and the challenges of putting the writer's life -- the palatable as well as the problematic -- into comics form. They also discuss Peter's recent work on IDW's Garbage Pail Kids Puketacular and the connections between card collecting, comics, and pornography. In addition, Derek talks with Peter about the release of Sweatshop, a series that was originally published by DC Comics in 2003, and then just recently collected in trade through Fantagraphics. It's the story of a newspaper cartoonist and his disgruntled assistants, and Peter explains that this is a title that he will probably never revisit, especially due to the fact that strip cartooning (at least in newspapers) is, unfortunately, a dying form. And the jury's still out on whether or not Peter will return to one of his most iconic creations, Buddy Bradley. Derek is a huge fan of Hate and the Hate Annual, and he specifically asks Bagge if there's any future for Buddy and Lisa. Although that fact remains uncertain -- as is a return of Guy Krause from 2012's Reset -- what is more assured is a collection of Peter's Founding Father Funnies that will be coming out through Dark Horse Comics in the near future. Peter even shares with Derek news that his Neat Stuff comics will be collected in nice archival editions through Fantagraphics. But the conversation doesn't stop with the comics. They spend a lot of time talking about Peter's love of pop music -- like Derek, he is a big Beach Boys and (especially) Brian Wilson buff -- and especially his work as a musician in The Action Suits, and more recently the band Can You Imagine? In fact, you can hear clips from the band's 2012 CD, Romance!, in this episode. Derek has previously interviewed Peter twice before -- first, at the 2013 HeroesCon  and then for the blog around the release of Woman Rebel -- but this time around, they cover entirely new territory. There's a lot packed into this conversation, so give it a listen. And a great big thanks to Peter Bagge for taking the time and being on the podcast!

Jun 1, 2015

Fan Expo Dallas was held May 29-31, and this year Derek was there in Artists Alley talking with a variety of creators. Some of those he spoke with are famous names and individuals who have been on the show before. Others were new to him and, and Derek used the opportunity to introduce himself and Comics Alternative listeners to their fascinating works. He begins by talking with two artists who have spoken with him at various cons in the past, Robert Wilson IV and Joe Eisma. The latter shares his experiences having illustrated Bitch Planet #3, the amount of attention that has brought him, and his warm relationship with Kelly Sue DeConnick. Robert also follows up on the success of Knuckleheads, which was released as a book last summer from IDW. Joe Eisma talks not only about his most recent work on Morning Glories, now in its second "season," but also about doing a variant cover for the relaunch of Archie. After that, Derek speaks with two teams of creators whose work he has just discovered. Through Stephen G. Totten and his friend Mike, he learns about the webcomic Angry Cuddles, and how this work (written by Stephen and illustrated by Joseph A. Valero III) has recently become a video podcast. Derek also talks with Mark Schmidt, publisher of Stratum Comics, and his partner, Vince Chuter. Their title, The Threat, is an action comic reminiscent of Heroes placed in a Judge Dredd-type universe. Next, Derek talks with Steve Epting about Velvet -- the second trade has recently been released -- and the kind of fan response he's been getting at the con. Steve shares a few words about working with Ed Brubaker on this creator-owned title as well as their collaboration on Captain America and Winter Soldier. After that, Jemma Young introduces Derek to her webcomic, Children of Eldair, her collaboration with its writer, Rachel A. Oaks, the title's dedicated fanbase, and the challenges of putting out installments on a regular basis. Derek also meets Hector Rodriguez whose El Peso Hero, published through Rio Bravo Comics, is a potent mixture of superhero stories, sociopolitical commentary, and an exploration of race relations on the Southwestern border. Finally, Derek wraps up with Ellen Natalie, whose webcomic Furry Experience provides a glimpse into young adult experiences as they relate to religion, relationships, and coming of age. This was a particularly busy convention, and The Comics Alternative thanks all of these creators for taking the time to share their thoughts and experiences with its listeners.

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