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The Comics Alternative

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.


Jan 21, 2015

This week the Two Guys discuss three very different new titles. First, they look at Harvey Kurtzman's Jungle Book, another collaboration between Dark Horse Books and Kitchen Sink Books (an earlier such publication, The Best of Comix Book, was discussed last may). What's more, this is the first volume in the publishers' new Essential Kurtzman library. Andy and Derek begin by mentioning that neither of them had read Jungle Book before, although it has been on both of their radars, so they come to this volume as new contemporary readers. And that's one of the first things the guys discuss: the datedness of the stories. Originally published in 1959, Jungle Book comprises four shorter pieces, and in about all of them Kurtzman has embedded cultural references specific to the times. This is not necessarily an obstacle to enjoying the text, but both Derek and Andy appreciated this volume more as a cultural and historical artifact than they did a cohesive work of comics art. Kurtzman's original stories are accompanied by short supplemental material by the likes of Gilbert Shelton, Art Spiegelman, Peter Poplaski, Robert Crumb, and Denis Kitchen. Indeed, it is latter's essay that provides the necessary context, and the guys note that Kitchen's contribution is one of the highlights of this volume. Next they return to a creator that they discussed last summer, Conor Stechschulte, and his new book, Generous Bosom, Part One (Breakdown Press). This is a fascinating title that, while the first installment of a multipart narrative, easily stands on its own. Derek and Andy comment on the apparent raciness of comic, but they quickly point out that this is a much more sophisticated story than the title would suggest. The book has its share of sexual references (explicit at times), but it is a complex narrative that takes unexpected turns. Most impressive is Stechschulte's method of storytelling and the ways he uses his art to establish the interlocking narrative levels. Finally, the guys discuss Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich's Lady Killer #1, the first in a five-part miniseries. What drew them to this title is Jones's art, which they really enjoyed when they discussed Helheim back in 2013. Now Jones has turned to scripting, on which she collaborates with Rich, and this first issue does a good job of establishing the miniseries' premise: a 1950s/60s hitwoman masquerading as an innocuous housewife. But while the story is interesting, it is Jones's art that really captures the guys' interest. Although they may wait for the trade in reading the rest of the story -- they have some issues with the first issue's pacing -- this is nonetheless a title worth checking out.