Info

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.
RSS Feed Subscribe in iTunes
The Comics Alternative - Smart Discussions on Comic Books and Graphic Novels
2017
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2015
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2014
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2013
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2012
December
November
October
September
August


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: 2017
Mar 24, 2017

On this month’s episode of the Comics Alternative’s Young Readers series, Gwen and Paul discuss two new releases: Lorena Alvarez’s Nightlights from Nobrow Press, geared toward younger readers, and Thi Bui’s graphic novel The Best We Could Do, from Abrams ComicArts, an all-ages comic that will be of interest to our teen and adult listeners. They also had a chance to interview Thi Bui and include that segment at the end of the review portion of the show.

Lorena Alvarez’s Nightlights, a beautiful hardback, picture book-sized comic, focuses on the early years in the life of a young girl, Sandy, who clearly has artistic ambitions and an abundance of creativity. However, Sandy also experiences doubts regarding the source of her imagination and fears about what might happen if inspiration were suddenly to desert her. Gwen and Paul love how Alvarez respects the creative process of a young artist, and they appreciate how Alvarez brings her own experiences growing up in Bogotá, Columbia, into the themes and artwork for Nightlights. For more about Alvarez’s biography and work, head over to her website. Those listeners who have enjoyed Vera Brosgol’s YA graphic novel Anya’s Ghost or Neil Gaiman’s novel and graphic novel Coraline, that features the “ghost children,” Nightlights will be a treat. In all three stories, the presence of the supernatural encourages the protagonists to think critically about their various gifts and emotional burdens.

Next, Paul and Gwen discuss Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Doa graphic memoir published by Abrams Comicarts. Bui, whose family came to the US as refugees in the wake of the Vietnam War, tells her own and her family’s stories, in a narrative weaving history and reflection. Given that the book addresses issues of war and loss, Paul and Gwen emphasize that this text is probably geared more towards the upper range of the YA category. Paul praises the text for its evocative depiction of parent/children relationships, and Gwen agrees, noting that she also appreciated Bui’s focus on the refugee experience.

After their discussion, Paul and Gwen play an interview that they conducted with Thi Bui about her inspiration, her process, and her work with young people at the International School in Oakland, California. Listeners can learn even more about Bui at her website. Ms. Bui also mentions an event at Oakland International High School featuring her students' comics work. She clarified afterwards that the event will be held April 14th, and listeners are welcomed to attend!

Mar 23, 2017

On this episode of the interview series, the Three Guys with PhDs -- Andy, Gene, and Derek -- talk with Brian Cremins about his new book from the University Press of Mississippi Captain Marvel and the Art of Nostalgia. During their conversation Brian discusses why he chose to focus specifically on the Big Red Cheese, what the comics meant to him growing up, and the superhero's links to nostalgia. As he points out, Captain Marvel isn't the most popular figure for critical or scholarly discussion, but the contexts surrounding the Fawcett property make it the perfect vehicle for the kind of analysis Brian wanted to bring. Gene, Andy, and Derek also ask their guest about the research that went into his book, the kind of archival investigations he conducted, the correspondences he struck up along the way, his efforts in securing a unique cover image, and his strategies for making this, in many ways, a very personal work.

Shazam!

Mar 22, 2017

For this week's show, Andy and Derek look at two examples of life writing and one Dracula-infused alternate history. They begin with Paula Knight's The Facts of Life, one of the latest in the Pennsylvania State University Press' Graphic Medicine series. This is the story of Knight and her partner's attempts to get pregnant, but more significantly, it's a personal account of the contexts and societal expectations surrounding motherhood. After that they look at Sara Lautman's Black and White Diary Comics, December 2016 - February 2017 (Birdcage Bottom Books), a collection of black-and-white strips that episodically chronicles the artist's life over the past few months. Finally, the Two Guys wrap up with with Anno Dracula #1 (Titan Comics), the next installment in Kim Newman's series of novels...this one in comics form. With art by Paul McCaffrey, this first miniseries, subtitled "1895: Seven Days in Mayhem," could stand as a solid introduction to Newman's vampiric storyworld.

Mar 20, 2017

The Two Guys are pleased to have Peter Bagge back on The Comics Alternative. His new book Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story comes out this week from Drawn and Quarterly. It is another in Bagge's recent series of historical and biographical comics, following his brief biography of Isabel Paterson (appearing in Reason in 2010), Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story (2013), and Founding Father Funnies (2016). In this interview, Derek talks with Peter about the genesis of this project, what brought him to the writings and personality of Huston, the socio-political contexts surrounding Hurston's work, and his research efforts in compiling the graphic biography. Fire!! is, in many ways, a companion piece to Woman Rebel, in that both focus on iconoclastic female figures, and their stories are told through an episodic, almost snap-shot, manner of narration. Although Peter and Derek spend the majority their time discussing Zora Neale Hurston, they also cover some of Peter's other works, such as his Founding Father Funnies collection, last year's Neat Stuff boxed set, and the possibilities of a similar treatment with Hate and other Bradly family stories.

Be sure to check out Peter Bagge's other appearances on The Comics Alternative:

Mar 17, 2017

After a month's hiatus (due to unforeseen circumstances), the on-location episode is back! And for the March visit to Valhalla Games and Comics, the topic is completely open. On this recording Derek is joined my several of the shop regulars including Craig, Matt, and Tristan. Among the many topics they cover are the recent Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad miniseries; the latest (and one of the best) X-Men films, Logan; the news surrounding the production of Star Trek: Discovery; and lots of manga talk. In fact, from the amount of time everyone discussed Japanese comics, it looked like this might turn into the month's manga episode. Along the way the guys discuss Stephen Hillenburg (the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants) and his recently announced fight with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, legally permissible uses of the word "mutant," Derek's shame at being so behind on Marvel's Netflix and Fox series, and Tristan's utter dislike of children.

Mar 16, 2017

For the month of March, Edward and Derek look at two very different European titles. They begin with Dominique Goblet's Pretending Is Lying, released last month from New York Review Comics. This is a creator whom Edward has read in the original French, and so some of their conversation centers on matters of translation. But more significant is the guys' discussion of Goblet's handling of time and memory, as well as the book's expressive and experimental style. And, as Derek is keen to point out, there are key passages that allude to the work of Brian Wilson!

Next, the Euro Comics Guys discuss the latest English-language release from Paco Roca, The Lighthouse (NBM Publishing). They've twice discussed Roca's comics before -- Wrinkles during their interview with Erica Menaand his contribution to the Spanish Fever anthology on last year's September episode -- and this one is markedly different. Edward comments on the story's simplicity, even it's pat qualities, while Derek is charmed by the novella-like qualities of this early work from Roca. And ever the sound effects aficionado, Edward nitpicks (but in a good way) over some of the translator's choices.

Mar 15, 2017

This week's episode is an exploration of surrealism and fantasy, and one guaranteed to both fascinate and disturb you. It begins with a discussion of Max Andersson's The Excavation (Fantagraphics). As the Two Guys with PhDs point out, this is a book that has been years in the making, and parts of it had originally appeared in other outlets, including Andersson's short-lived Death and Candy series. Derek enjoyed this book, as he does other works by Andersson, although Andy was less charitable in his assessment. He feels that the dream-like meandering of The Excavation ends up leading to nowhere, that there isn't much in the way of overt themes, and that it's too much like other indie comics discussed on the podcast.

Next, they delve into the first issue of American Gods, a series from Dark Horse Comics that's adapted from Neil Gaiman's popular novel. Scripted by P. Craig Russell, and with art by Scott Hampton, this inaugural issue does a good job at establishing the premise and making the story assessable to those who have never read Gaiman's original novel (and both Derek and Andy have not). However, the guys do have a little problem with the heavy-handed and spoiler-filled synopsis inserted on the first page of the comic book.

And finally, the Two Guys wrap up with Kurtis J Wiehe and Owen Gieni's Rat Queens #1 (Image Comics). This is the first issue in the series' second volume, and while both of the guys see the economic logic of a new #1 issue, Derek wonders about the narrative necessity of this publishing move. Nonetheless, both Andy and Derek are fans of the first iteration of Rat Queens, and they both feel that the first issue in its second volume is an effective jumping on point that could satisfy new readers.

Mar 13, 2017

For March, Sean and Derek check out three very different webcomics. They begin with Roger Langridge's The Great McGonagall, a biographical treatment of William "Topaz" McGonagall, known historically as the worst poet in the world. This is a very new webcomic, having begun in January 2017, and in it Langridge takes an already cartoonish figure and plays it up for even more humor. As the guys point out, the artist's style is perfect for this kind of send up.

Next, Sean and Derek turn their attention to Sufficiently Remarkable, Maki Naro's ongoing look at the struggles of a young artist trying to get by in New York City. Naro is one of the former contestants of Strip Search -- much like Abby Howard, whom the guys discussed back in October -- and, in fact, is how he first gained Sean's attention. As Derek reveals, this is a reality-based drama of interpersonal relationships, but one that struggles at times with the occasional pull into gag-strip formulas.

Finally, and after a brief check in with Jim McClain about the progress of his and Paul Schultz's Poe and the Mysteriads, the guys round out the episode with a discussion of The Boston Metaphorical Society. Written by Madeleine Holly-Rosing and with art by Emily Hu, this is a steampunk-inspired narrative surrounding the paranormal investigations of a former Pinkerton agent, his uniquely talented colleagues, and the scientific exploits of Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Harry Houdini. This is the second webcomic of the month that mines history for its content, although unlike Roger Langridge's cartoon biography, this one uses the past as a springboard for its fantastical flourishes.

Mar 8, 2017

It's the first part of March, which means it must be time for the Two Guys with PhDs to look through the latest Previews catalog. Before they do that, though, they alert readers to this month's #trypod social media campaign and encourage listeners to share their love of The Comics Alternative by using that hashtag along with #try2guys. Next, they give a big THANK YOU to Kristin and Thomas at the Secret Stacks podcast for their recent shout-out. Then they get into the March Previews catalog, highlighting a variety of upcoming titles from both large and small publishers alike. Among the upcoming comics they discuss are offerings from:

Mar 3, 2017

Time Codes:

blkfade

On this episode of the manga series -- a few days later than expected -- Shea and Derek discuss two new deluxe editions of older titles. They begin with Revolutionary Girl Utena Complete Deluxe Box Set, soon to be released by VIZ Media. This is a different kind of shōjo, one that the guys don't often encounter, and an aspect that makes this title stand out is its conceptual genesis. Revolutionary Girl Utena was conceived by the creative team known as Be-Papas but written and drawn by Chiho Saito (also a  member of Be_Papas). Shea and Derek discuss the "collaborative feel" of its genesis and the unusual mix of characters, costumes, and scenarios that define the series.

Next, the guys turn to a new deluxe edition of Masamune Shirow's classic Ghost in the Shell, just released by Kodansha Comics. The paperback versions of this title, and of the two follow-up volumes, are still in print, but Kodansha now has these wonderful new hardbound editions. The new Ghost in the Shell volumes stand out because for the first time in English, the story is presented in the original right-to-left reading order, they retain the author's original hand-drawn sound effects, the translation has been updated, and everything has been done under the author's supervision. Both Shea and Derek have a great time revisiting Ghost in the Shell, and they hope that Kodansha will be bringing back more of Shirow's manga -- e.g., Appleseed and Dominion -- in these nice deluxe editions.

Mar 1, 2017
blkfade

Capturing the Spirit of The Spirit

Every year for Will Eisner Week, always the first seven days in March, the Two Guys with PhDs like to do something special and Eisner-related for the podcast. This year is no different, and for the current episode Andy and Derek have decided to discuss the many uses of The Spirit since Will Eisner's passing on January 3, 2005. And there are a lot more manifestations of The Spirit than you might think. The guys compare and contrast the various uses of this seminal crimefighter, highlighting those examples that attempt to capture the original tone of The Spirit, that deviate from the original in curious ways, and that cross over into other narrative worlds. The many titles and creators they discuss include:

  • the one-shot Batman/The Spirit, by Joef Loeb and Darwyn Cooke in 2007 (DC Comics)
  • the 32-issue run of The Spirit between 2007 and 2009, by Darwyn Cooke, Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier, and many others (DC Comics)
  • Brian Azzarello and Rags Morales's 6-issue miniseries First Wave, published between 2010 and 2011 (DC Comics)
  • the concurrent-running The Spirit: First Wave series by Mark Schultz, David Hine, and others, going for 17 issues from 2010-2011 (DC Comics)
  • Mark Waid's 4-issue miniseries Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction, illustrated by various artists and released in 2013 (IDW Publishing)
  • Will Eisner's The Spirit by Matt Wagner and Dan Schkade, running for 12 issues between 2015 and 2016 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • the recent first issue of Francesco Francavilla's Will Eisner's The Spirit: The Corpse-Makers (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • and Joe Staton and Mike Curtis's current Dick Tracy strip and its team-up with The Spirit (Tribune Company).
There is a lot packed into this episode -- you'll hear plenty about Ebony White, Commissioner and Ellen Dolan, Silk Satin, Mister Carrion, Sand Serif, The Octopus, and, of course, P'Gell -- but, thankfully, almost no mention of the disastrous 2008 film. It's all about the comics.

Check out the various The Spirit titles discussed in this special episode:

 
Feb 22, 2017

Time Codes:

blkfade

Mods and Monsters

On this week's episode the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics do deep dives into two recent, and very different, publications. They begin with Chynna Clugston Flores's Scooter Girl, just released from Image Comics. This is a brand new color edition of a six-issue black-and-white series originally published by Oni Press is 2003-2004, and then collected as a trade in 2004. Derek describes this it as an adult Archie, and throughout their discussion the guys make reference to the series that Chynna Clugston Flores is perhaps best known for, Blue Monday. As is evident in the recent publication, her writing is heavily infused with music and pop references -- specifically, mod culture and the mod revival during the 1970s and early 1980s -- and her art has a manga flair. As Andy and Derek point out, much of the appeal of Scooter Girl is the author's ability to take a milieu out of time and set it in a time and place where in never really existed.

Next, the Two Guys spend a lot of time discussing Emil Ferris's My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol. 1 (Fantagraphics). This is a phenomenal new work from an artist that neither Andy nor Derek knew about until the release of Resist!, to which Ferris contributed a story. The range and depth of this narrative is truly impressive, and as the guys make clear, it's a text that requires serious research and sustained analysis. The storytelling is ambitious and multilayered, its engagement with identity and marginalized cultures is sophisticated, its art style is unlike any other, and its treatment of late 1960s horror culture is thematically resonant. In short, this is one of the most astounding works that Derek and Andy have encountered so far this year. However, as much as the guys agree on this book's significance, they disagree on what constitutes the narrative's turning point. On one occasion in their discussion, Derek describes a particular illustration that Andy feels is a spoiler and could potentially diminish the emotional impact of the story. Derek disagrees, and the guys go back and forth over role of Ferris's art in establishing the text's climax (or climaxes). As their debate demonstrates, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is a richly textured work that should generate future analysis. And the guys eagerly await the second volume, which is due out in the fall.

Check out the titles discussed in this episode:

   

Feb 20, 2017

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 - Introduction
  • 00:03:08 - Introducing Paul Lai as new YR cohost
  • 00:04:50 - A farewell message from Andy Wolverton
  • 00:07:12 - Bats: Learning to Fly
  • 00:31:39 - NewsPrints
  • 01:00:37 - Wrap up
  • 01:01:11 - Contact us

blkfade

Changes

 

The Comics Alternative extends a warm welcome to Paul Lai, who has taken over from Andy Wolverton as co-host with Gwen Tarbox on the Young Readers show. Everyone at The Comics Alternative family will miss Andy’s wise and engaging reviews and perspectives on children’s and young adult comics.

In their first show together, Gwen and Paul discuss the newest volume in First Second Books’ Science Comics series, Falynn Christine Koch’s Bats: Learning to Fly, as well as Ru Xu’s fiction (“diesel-punk,” as Paul terms it) graphic novel NewsPrints, published by the GRAPHIX imprint at Scholastic Books.

Since its launch in 2016, the Science Comics series has included volumes on coral reefs, volcanoes, and dinosaurs. Geared towards upper elementary and middle school aged readers, Science Comics take advantage of the elements of visual storytelling to put forward scientific information. As the editors point out: “With the increasing ubiquity of visual information,” young readers need to “learn to process and respond to visual content, and comics are an incredibly effective medium for exploring visual literacy.” Regular listeners to the podcast may remember that Gwen and Andy reviewed Dinosaurs by M.K. Reed and Joe Flood in their March 2016 YR show, and many of the elements that they praised, including the accessibility of scientific information, as well as the use of humor, appear in Koch’s volume, as well.

Bats: Learning to Fly encourages young readers to understand the important role that bats play in the ecosystem, to overcome their fear of bats, and to learn how they can become involved in protecting and caring for bats. In addition to providing a great deal of information on various species of Bats, Koch creates a narrative in which a teenage girl, Sarah, volunteers at a bat rehabilitation center after her parents overreact to a bat and injure it. Lil’ Brown, as the bat is known, is both a character in that narrative and a narrative presence in his own right, as he directly addresses the reader at various points regarding his own anatomy and role in the ecosystem. As part of their discussion, Paul and Gwen consider how young readers might respond to the way information is imparted in the comic, and they look forward to Koch’s upcoming volume for the Science Comics series, Plagues: The Microscopic Battlefield, due out in August, 2017. Koch recently graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and Gwen and Paul discuss how her precision drawings and humor-filled text combine to create a text that will delight readers, while encouraging them to appreciate how they can play a role in scientific study by volunteering to rehabilitate bats or building bat houses for their backyards.

Next, Gwen and Paul discuss another debut comic from a SCAD graduate. NewsPrints is written and drawn by Ru Xu, a comics creator who was born in Beijing, immigrated to Indianapolis as a young child, and has had a lifelong love of comics from a variety of traditions, including manga, European comics, and even superhero comics. NewsPrints takes place in a fictional diesel-punk world where the land of Nautilene is torn by war and a newspaper called The Bugle is the only media outlet left that is still reporting the truth. The protagonist, Blue, is a rare kind of newsboy in a society that counts on its newsboys to shout out the headlines and sell papers…and that’s because Blue is not a boy, but a girl, orphaned by the war and adopted by the family who owns the newspaper. Blue sets out to provide that one doesn’t have to be a boy to be vital in the news business, and along the way, readers are introduced to a cast of characters such as Jack, the eccentric and secretive inventor; Crow, a strange kid who remains wrapped in a scarf and in mysteries of his own; and Goldie, Blue’s loyal canary, who matches Blue’s welcoming of people and spirit of flight.

As part of their discussion, Paul and Gwen praise Xu’s mastery of many genres of comics, including her ability to meld various traditional forms into an entirely unique story world. Thus, while the text shares much in common with recent fantasy releases, including Faith Erin Hicks’ The Nameless City and Jorge Corona’s Feathers, NewsPrints stands on its own, with a vast, inviting story space and a focus on issues of truth and representation that are ever more a part of our own political and social climate. Paul praised Xu’s deft handling of interactions among characters, and Gwen expressed her admiration for Xu’s use of color and shading to help set the mood and to ease transitions across the comic. Given the book’s indeterminate ending, Paul and Gwen look forward to the series continuing into additional volumes, and they dwell on Xu’s treatment of gender and ethnicity in thoughtful ways.

Get your copies of the titles discussed on this episode:  
Feb 17, 2017

Time Codes:

blkfade

A Deep Charyn Dive

This month on the Euro Comics series Edward and Derek look at four BD, all written by Jerome Charyn and all released by Dover Publications. First they discuss three collaborations with François Boucq: Little TulipBilly Budd, KGB, and The Magician's Wife. These were originally published in French between 1987 and 2014, but they've been available in English translations over the past seventeen months (the most recent, Little Tulip, coming out this past December). They also explore The Boys of Sheriff Street, Charyn's project with Jacques de Loustal that was translated and published by Dover in July 2016. Over the course of their conversation Derek and Edward investigate Charyn's methods of storytelling, finding similarities and thematic links among the four titles, and they discuss the different ways in which Boucq's and Loustal's styles bring different resonances to their respective narratives.

Check out Jerome Charyn's bandes dessinées:

Feb 15, 2017

Time Codes:

blkfade

Bark-Free

 

This week the Two Guys with PhDs discuss three very different titles. They begin with Steven Tillotson's Untitled Ape's Epic Adventure (Avery Hill Publishing), a different kind of quest narrative that blends the anthropomorphic and the surreal. After that, they look at Phil Hester and Tony Harris's Blood Blister #1, the latest serial offering from AfterShock Comics. And finally, Andy and Derek wrap up with The Belfry (Image Comics), a one-shot horror title from Gabriel Hardman.

Check out the titles and creators discussed in this episode:

 

Feb 13, 2017

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 - Introduction
  • 00:03:03 - Setup of episode
  • 00:03:50 - The Specialists
  • 00:32:17 - Hominids
  • 01:01:33 - Checking in with Jim McClain and Paul Schultz
  • 01:16:16 - The Last Saturday
  • 01:38:20 - Wrap up
  • 01:39:52 - Contact us

blkfade

February Fun

For the month of February, Sean and Derek look at three very different webcomics. They begin with Al Fukalek and Shawn Gustafson's The Specialists, an alternate history superhero narrative set in the mid-1940s, with an undefeated Germany flexing its might with its own team of superpowered individuals, Die Übermenschen. The United States fights back with The Specialists, a diverse collection of heroes that is, at times, more propaganda than powered.

Next, the guys look at what is arguably the highlight of this month's episode, Jordan Kotzebue's Hominids. This fantasy adventure is set in world populated by varied creatures, the central of which are a race of jungle dwellers. This is a tale with complex moral undertones, but whose message isn't overbearing or preachy. Plus, Kotzebue's art is outstanding.

After a brief check-in with Jim McClain and Paul Schultz -- their Poe and the Mysteriads was launched just last month -- Sean and Derek turn to the last webcomic of the month. Chris Ware's  The Last Saturday appeared in The Guardian during the last half of 2014 and into September 2015, and the guys discuss the ways in which Ware employs the webcomic format. In fact, they both feel that this story never really utilizes the unique qualities of the platform. We could get the same effect in print. Still, this is an engaging narrative whose topic and style should be familiar to any Chris Ware fan.

Check out the books by creators discussed on this episode:

 

Feb 8, 2017

Hobos!

It's that time of the month, and on this week's regular episode of the podcast, Andy and Derek take a look at the February Previews catalog. Before they do that, though, they update everyone on current comics news and podcast updates, as well as share listener mail. Then they get into the current Previews catalog, highlighting a variety of upcoming titles from both large and small publishers alike. Among the upcoming comics they discuss are offerings from:

Preorder your copies of some of the titles mentioned in this episode:

 

Feb 6, 2017

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 - Introduction
  • 00:02:26 - Setup of interview
  • 00:04:01 - Interview with Karl Stevens
  • 01:26:32 - Wrap up
  • 01:28:02 - Contact us

blkfade

Diluted Horse Piss

On this interview episode, Derek talks with Karl Steven about Penny, his current weekly/semiweekly strip appearing in The Village Voice. The two discuss this ongoing comic and its genesis, but they also talk about a variety of Karl's other works. Of particular focus are the series of strips he created for the Boston Phoenix between June 2005 and November 2012. The earliest ones are collected in Whatever (Alternative Comics), and the later comics in two follow-up compilations, The Lodger (KSA Publishing) and Failure (Alternative Comics). In this way, Derek is able to talk with Karl about his distinctive realistic style and  how he has evolved from a heavily reliance on crosshatching to a more simple, even softer approach. Along with this, Karl shares is aesthetic philosophy of naturalistic detail and  how it differs strongly from that of creators such as Scott McCloud, Jessica Abel, and Matt Madden.

The guys also talk about Karl's first book, the Xeric Award-winning Guilty. This effort is what put Karl Stevens on the map in 2005, and even today it serves as a wonderful introduction to his style. They also cover the artist's efforts in the fine arts, including his highly informative Anatomy for Artists: A New Approach to Discovering, Learning and Remembering the Body (North Light Books), coauthored with Anthony Apesos. Karl also shares some information about The Winner, his new book that will be coming out this fall from Retrofit Comics/Big Planet Comics, and future plans to collect his and Gustavo Turner's Succe$$ comics into book form.

Discover the art of Karl Stevens:

Feb 1, 2017

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 - Introduction
  • 00:02:44 - We live in a political world
  • 00:12:13 - Love Is Love
  • 00:51:55 - Resist!
  • 01:29:14 - Wrap up
  • 01:30:20 - Contact us

blkfade

Mending Wall

This week Andy and Derek get political, and they do so by discussing two recent socially conscious anthologies. They begin with Love Is Love, a collection of short strips and illustrations. This anthology, originated and with an afterword by Marc Andreyko, was released in December by IDW Publishing, and the proceeds from sales go to supporting the survivors of and families of those killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016. As the guys point out, this collection is diverse in contribution and tone, with most comics calling for peace, some taking a more aggressive edge, and many adopting a quiet stance of commemoration. Both DC Comics and the Equality Florida organization had a large hand in bringing this book about, and you can still contribute to the latter's victim's funds via their GoFundMe page.

Next, the Two Guys discuss the very timely Resist!, a free tabloid-format anthology published by Desert Island and made available during the June 21 protest marches around the country (and around the world). This incredible effort, edited by the mother-and-daughter team of Françoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman, began as a special issue of Gabe Fowler's Smoke Signal, but then it evolved into something more far-reaching. The newspaper's front-page banner, "a woman's place is in the revolution!" is what this collection is all about. The individual contributions vary widely, but what is most impressive about this anthology is its truly democratic nature. Comics from notable names within the industry -- such as Carol Tyler, Bill Griffith, Alison Bechtel, Miss Lasko-Gross, and Lance Tooks -- stand alongside lesser-known, amateur, and possibly first-time cartoonists. Resist! may not be the easiest thing to find after the women's marches, but you can still support these efforts by checking out the project's website.

Get your copies of the titles and creators discussed in this episode:

Jan 30, 2017

  Time Codes:

  • 00:00:28 - Introduction
  • 00:02:36 - Catching up for the new year
  • 00:04:19 - Sunny
  • 01:09:40 - Other works by Matsumoto
  • 01:20:29 - Wrap up
  • 01:22:06 - Contact us

blkfade

The Young Ones

This month on the manga show, Shea and Derek discuss the recently completed, Sunny, as well as other works by Taiyo Matsumoto. Late last year VIZ Media published the six and final volume of Sunny, a series that began in December 2010 in the original Japanese (published in Monthly Ikki), and has been coming out in English translation since the first volume in May 2013. This is a title that the guys have been wanting to discuss for some time, but they decided to hold out until the everything was wrapped up so that they could look at the series in its entirety.

This is a realistic, evenly paced drama about a group of orphans and outsiders residing at Star Kids Home, a foster home that serves as a refuse for children without family or whose parents do not have the means, or even the interest, in caring for them. Although this narrative functions with an ensemble cast, Shea and Derek feel that the de facto protagonist here is Haruo, an angry, troubled kid whose parents remain aloof. The series unfolds as Haruo interacts with the other children at the home, each of whom gets ample attention in the text, and the adults who try to make things manageable for them. The one central refuge in their lives, a space of safety and imagination, is a derelict Nissan Sunny 1200 that sits abandoned in the front yard of the Star Kids Home.

The guys spend most of the episode mapping out the various characters and their struggles in Sunny, but they also take the time to discuss other manga by Matsumoto, including Blue Spring (the original collected in 1993, and translated into English in 2004), Gogo Monster (2000/2009), the untranslated Takemitsuzamurai (2006-2010), and especially the Eisner Award-winning Tekkon Kinkreet, which originally ran from 1993-1994 and was collected as a one-volume English translation in 2007. As Shea points out, this is one of their favorite manga creators -- for both guys -- and they wanted to use this episode to dig deep into his art.

Build your Taiyo Matsumoto library:

 

Jan 27, 2017

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 - Introduction
  • 00:02:19 - Setup of interview
  • 00:03:17 - Interview with Miriam Libicki
  • 01:01:17 - Wrap up
  • 01:03:11 - Contact us

blkfade

Exposure

Andy and Derek have the pleasure of talking with Miriam Libicki whose latest book, Toward a Hot Jew, was released late last year from Fantagraphics. This is a collection of various graphic essays that Miriam has written over the years, a style of writing she describes as a comics form of gonzo journalism. The guys talk with her about these various pieces and their mix of reportage, autobiography, and expository analysis. They also discuss Miriam's autobiographical series Jobnik!, which concerns her experiences serving in the Israeli army. Most of the talk revolves around Miriam's writing, but at times the conversation becomes more academic and speculative, in many ways reflecting the tone found throughout Toward a Hot Jew.

Get Miriam's books and others discussed in this interview:

   

Jan 25, 2017

Time Codes:

blkfade

Hwæt!

For this week's episode, Andy and Derek put on their English professor hats, and with a vengeance, when taking on the latest comics version of Beowulf (Image Comics), adapted by Santiago García and David Rubín. While this is not, by far, the only comics adaptation of this classic Old English poem, the guys feel that it's one of the best they've seen. Indeed, Rubín's artwork is particularly suited to the violent action and Beowulf's heroic exploits. And the ending of this text, which takes a significant self-reflective turn, goes on to underscore the guys' appreciation of this adaptation.

Next, the Two Guys look at one of the latest releases from Retrofit Comics/Big Planet Comics, Karine Bernadou's Canopy. Neither Derek nor Andy were familiar with Bernadou's work before this book, but they find this a fascinating introduction to the French illustrator. Canopy is an almost completely wordless tale surrounding a young woman trying to make it on her own. But she does so in a surreal wilderness infused with male-centered threats.

For their final title of the week, the guys discuss an author who's not gotten enough attention on the podcast...at least from Derek's perspective. The first two issues of Richard Corben's Shadows on the Grave (Dark Horse Comics) are now out, and the guys take on this anthology-like miniseries. These brief stories have a Night Gallery feel, but with an amped up creepy factor. This is all due to the wonderfully disturbing art of Corben, who opts for a black, white, and gray tone rendering, a change from his other recent Dark Horse work.

Get your copies of the titles discussed in this episode:

 

Jan 23, 2017

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 - Introduction
  • 00:02:38 - Setup of interview
  • 00:04:00 - Interview with Joe Ollmann
  • 01:21:27 - Wrap up
  • 01:22:58 - Contact us

blkfade

Of Human Bondage

On this interview episode, Andy and Derek talk with Doug Wright Award-winner Joe Ollmann, whose new book, The Abominable Mr. Seabrook, comes out this week from Drawn and Quarterly. Joe starts off by introducing William Seabrook and his writings, since this is a historical literary figure that most listeners have probably never heard of before. In fact, the guys spend a good bit of time discussing the ups and downs of Seabrook's career and speculating on why he's not more notable than he is. With a background in yellow journalism, Seabrook became a famed adventurer and travel writer who befriended a who's who of early twentieth-century literati, including Thomas Mann, Aldous Huxley, Gertrude Stein, Sinclair Lewis, Man Ray, Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali, and Aleister Crowley. As Joe points out, he was famously known at the time, not only as a writer, but as a cultural progressive, a cannibal, a bondage enthusiast, and the man who popularized zombies. What fascinates Ollmann most about this colorful figure is Seabrook's upfront attitudes about himself, refusing to hide the more salacious sides of his personality. At the same time, this cavalier manner may have contributed to his notorious alcoholism, tragically revealed in his memoir, Asylum, and a condition that stifled his career and helped lead to his eventual death. The guys have a great time talking with Joe about his 10+ years in researching and writing this biography, the differences between writing this book and his previous ones (all fictions), and the dynamics of visually narrating the life of such a controversial and conflicted character.

Joe is also writing about his experiences with The Abominable Mr. Seabrook on The Paris Review!

And read Derek's previous interview with Joe Ollmann for The Comics Alternative blog.

Check out The Abominable Mr. Seabrook as well as other works by Joe Ollmann:

   

Jan 20, 2017

Touch the Weird Love

It's the beginning of a new year, and on this episode of the on-location series, Derek is back at Valhalla Games and Comics to talk with customers and employees about the comics they're looking forward to in the coming months. He's joined by a couple of the regulars, Craig and Nick, as well as employees Stephanie and Freddy. Among the titles folks are anticipating in 2017 are The Unstoppable WaspHighlander: The American DreamJustice League of America, Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern, Hatchet, more Head LopperBlack History in Its Own WordsPsychodrama Illustrated, and the new Rat Queens. But the guys at the shop don't stop there. They also discuss other comics-related media, films and television series, that are planned for this year.

Check out some of the titles discussed in this episode:

   

Jan 18, 2017

Time Codes:

blkfade

This week the Two Guys with PhDs start off by getting political. While some listeners might not like it when Andy and Derek become polemical on the podcast, the guys just had to speak out about the brouhaha surrounding Congressman John Lewis's recent comments on Trump's illegitimacy. The Two Guys stand with Representative Lewis, a man of courage, honor, and action. And it's heartening that copies of March are selling out all over the place!

But enough of the bad Trump. The guys find more serious another entity of that name, this one orchestrated by the legendary Harvey Kurtzman. Trump: The Complete Collection is the second volume in Dark Horse's Essential Kurtzman series. This beautiful hardbound edition collects the only two issues of Trump ever published, as well as the many never-before reproduced illustrations from what would have been the third issue of the magazine, had Hugh Hefner not pulled the plug. Both Andy and Derek appreciate the collection -- especially Denis Kitchen's outstanding essay and annotations! -- and while some of the humor appears dated (or even falls flat at times), this text stands out as an indispensable historical contribution.

After that Derek and Andy check out two recent #1 issues, Sean Lewis and Hayden Sherman's The Few (Image Comics) and Erin Nations's Gumballs (Top Shelf/IDW Publishing). The former is a leisurely paced and extra-long issue centered around a future where the United States is now a fractured territory due to water scarcities (at least the guys think this is the series' premise). Sherman's art stands out here. And Gumballs is a single-creator anthology that's a mix of autobiographical sketches, character portraits, and poignant cultural observations. The guys look forward to seeing what transpires in both of these series.

1 2 Next »